D1201 T2158 Y2008Greetings Reclaimers...

A week ago from today, Tied the Leader had the pleasure to play host to a live interview with Tim Dadabo, which Halo fans will recognize as the voice of 343 Guilty Spark. This interview was a bit different than any others you may have seen on this blog. We invited members and allies of Tied the Leader to come and join in on the action. Gamers were able to call in, submit questions they would like to hear answered, and listen to Tim answer their questions.

If you missed the action then fret not dear gamer. The interview is available below for you to listen to. We hope you enjoy it.

This may not be the last of these open format interviews. I wouldn’t expect them regularly, but I would keep an eye peeled if you want to join in on the discussion next time.

Posted by Dweezle

Reclaimers 10

D0118 T1017 Y2008117 Winners

Here it is, the moment you all have been waiting for. Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest and donated money. All the money used to purchase guesses was donated to our Foundation, and thus directly to the troops. So in a way [cheesy line coming…] we are all winners. The following is a screen capture of Bungie.net at exactly 1:17 PM CST on January 17, 2008.

Using that count as a guide, the following people are the winners of a brand new copy of the Halo 3 Soundtrack. Congrats to everyone.

There were some amazing guesses that got a lot closer than I would have ever gotten. If you see your name above then stop by the TTL Forums and send a private message to “Dweezle” [same person you sent your guesses to] with you shipping address so we can send you your prize. Thanks to everyone for entering and stay tuned for more contests and tournaments in the future that will give more support to combat wounded war veterans.

Posted by Dweezle

Comment 3

D1203 T2259 Y2007The Pit (of Despair)

Type: Retired Training Facility
Status: For Sale
Price: $12,000 or a new M274 Mongoose
Location: UNSC Training Camp (Back Lot B)

Welcome to The Pit where all Princess Bride, underarm and Brad Pitt jokes are welcome. This facility was once used to train the armed forces of the UNSC, but has now been converted to a duplex. Each side has a variety of different sized rooms with no doors to hassle with. You will find that both sides are wheelchair accessible in every area. There is a high-velocity air lift that makes loading groceries from your vehicle to the fridge easy. Plenty of gun racks are scattered around which can be used to hold canned goods, shoes, or dad’s golf clubs.

There are plenty of child-ready features that will keep the kids occupied for hours. If they are internet savy, they can meet up with the neighbors in the mission control room that was once used to coordinate Pelican takeoff and launch heat-seeking missiles. That should occupy them for hours, just make sure they don’t push the button labeled “MAKES BIG BOOM!” Also, if you have heard of laser tag, we have taken it to the next level. Your toddler or teen can find a variety of assault weapons around the house which they can use to empty shells into digital brute warriors that pop up on the walls. Talk about improving your child’s eye-hand coordination! Don’t worry about them getting hurt either, since most walls are lined with cautionary yellow pads.

When it is time to settle down, you will find the living room to be a lovely place to have family time. A large ramp provides easy access, and a skylight lets in plenty of sun. A medal brace which was once used to mount flags or anti-tank bombs, now provides an excellent stand for your family’s entertainment center.

We encourage all who are interested to attend our open house on Xbox Live which will be running daily until we fill both residencies. I can assure you, there is a high demand for this real estate, so you may want to bring an Assault or Battle Rifle to fight off the crowds.

Posted by Dweezle

Interested Buyers 3

D1002 T0644 Y2007Halo 3 Launch in Seattle

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a Halo 3 Launch event in Seattle. I was flown in to Sea-Tac and met up with other community people in the airport. We checked into our rooms, then migrated to a local sports bar for some football and wings. After our stomachs were full, and our bills were paid, we made our way to the local Best Buy, where in about 16 hours from then, mobs of Halo fans would grace the sidewalks and streets awaiting their copy of Halo 3. We scoped out the place, and saw the first 3 people in line. Photo op!

It was almost eerie to see the inside in such a state of calm. We all knew what was happening the next night; you could almost see the employees’ hands shaking.

We made our way back to the hotel, and were greeted by Tony and Chris from the Gamerscore Blog. We told tales of our own sites/communities as we sipped our drinks and relaxed. As things started to come to a close, Nelson Rodriguez, the newest addition to the Gamerscore Blog crew, showed up and went out to eat with a few of us to bar and grill called Joey’s. The massive burger and refills of Sprite were a nice end to that day; we found our way back to the hotel and no one had any trouble sleeping that night.

The next morning everyone met down in the lobby and were carted off to the Microsoft campus for a ‘Halo 3 Lock-In’. The anticipation was building. Everyone was eager to see what changes had been made since the Beta build, and we all wanted to sink our teeth into some Forge and Campaign.

The Front of Building B, Our Destination. If You Look Close, You Can See A Dood That Rocks.

This Was On the Secretary’s Desk. Who Needs Paperweights When You Have Spartan 117?

We were ushered into one of two rooms and greeted by LCD screens that were displaying the Halo 3 menu. We found our stations, and began chugging along in Campaign; some opting for co-op, while others going ‘lone wolf’.

As we met for lunch and relaxed, we decided to try our hands at Forge. Sandtrap was the map of choice for my room, since everyone wanted to play around with the Elephants while still have plenty of room to fly around and blow stuff up.

George (Aeropause) and I Talk to Tony About Plans For Multiplayer That Afternoon

Kiki kat (The Blue Skittle) and Myles (Grunts R Us) Dive Into Campaign Together

Everyone Has Their Eyes Locked On the TV

As we finished up our sandwiches and soup, both rooms prepared for some multiplayer glory. Each room had a theme; it was the UNSC room versus the covenant room. For eight and a half hours we played various custom games pitting each room against the other. We would play a few games, then swap some players in the rooms, then play a few more, and swap some more. By 8:30 that night everyone had played with and against everyone else there. As the multiplayer came to a close, we loaded up on swag to hand out, hopped on the bus and headed over to the big launch event at Best Buy. As we got there, we were greeted with “Bungie! We love you! OMG, its Bungie!!!” The Halo mob then realized we were not Bungie, so there was a moment of disappointment. That didn’t last for long when they realized we had a ton of free stuff to give away.

This Was Just the Start of the Line. It Stretched Around the Corner, Down the Side of the Building, and Through the Parking Lot on the Side

At one point, we got a chance to go inside early (essentially reserved for press or celebrities) to take some pictures and see what was going on. We found out the store was more than prepared for that night. Game discs were pilled up in huge stacks. Controllers and faceplates and anything else Halo were in mass number as well. Oh, and they had a couple Halo 3 Xbox 360s, just a couple…

All In All, There Are a Bunch of Bricks 360s In That Wall

Hundreds and Hundreds of Game Discs Ready To Spin in Your Tray

Also while inside, we got introduced to various sports stars. Pro athletes had been showing up hourly to play against people in line. Mariners’ and Seahawks’ players were hanging around with controllers in hand.

This Was the Gaming Station Set Up For Fans to Match Up Against Celebrities

We got introduced to retired NFL star Warren Moon and Microsoft Vice President of Global Marketing, Jeff Bell. It was all so exciting to hear the rumble from fans outside, and see the motionless stacks of games awaiting them on the inside. The store was empty essentially. It was the extreme calm before the most extreme storm that was headed our way.

As we went outside, we heard news of a surprise guest. It was still not confirmed to us, and many didn’t even know about it, so it is safe to say that everyone else in line had NO IDEA who was showing up. We waited at the front doors, cameras ready, and saw fans go pale in the face as Bill Gates came out of Best Buy and went around shaking everyone’s hands. He stuck around and signed the game for the first person in line, and really seemed like he was as thrilled about it all as everyone else.

Bill Gates and Warren Moon Standing Inside best Buy

As fans were rolling in to get their games, you could see all sorts of Bungie people roaming the crowds. They had arrived by buses to the event and were signing all sorts of Halo merchandise that people brought up to them. I got to meet and listen to Marty O’Donnell as he talked with Foo Mo Jive and JVB from Podtacular. It was amazing getting to see him first hand since I have a lot of admiration for him and the music he has done that makes the Halo series what it is.

Marty and JVB Posing In Front of Best Buy

As things began to settle down, we all made our way back to our bus, and eventually back to our hotel rooms. I think “tired” would be an understatement as we all found our way to our beds rather quickly. My roommate, DoodiRock from 2old2play, and I chatted about our sites and bit, then knocked out for the night. (Editor’s Note: Anyone else see the irony in a Timmy, since I am under 25, rooming with a guy from 2old2play?)

Those few days were one of the most fun and exciting experiences I have ever had. It was so amazing to be able to attend the launch event that night and see that many Halo fans first hand. JVB and I were talking about how much it meant to us to see ‘our people’ from the Halo community turn out in force like that. Beyond the launch, playing the game all day with great people that I admire so much was a blast. I have been doing various interviews here at Tied the Leader for some time now and being able to put a face to so many names, and shake hands with those I have talked and exchanged emails with before is the MOST exciting thing from that whole event for me.

Thanks so much Chris, Tony, John, and Nelson from the Gamerscore Blog for inviting me and letting me experience it all. Also, thank you reader, for showing up to your local store and grabbing Halo 3. Gamers brought so much attention to ourselves for the Halo 3 launch. Media and news really took notice. We broke many records with sales, and with that, many stereotypes as well.

For more information and accounts from others who were there, check out these sites:
Gamerscore Blog, Halo.Bungie.Org, On10, XBL 10k Club, Uncle Gamer Radio, Evil Avatar, Podtacular, Aeropause, Ace Attorney’s Pictures, and Grunts R Us

Posted by Dweezle

Comment 14

D0917 T2218 Y2007Under the Needler: Remembering Halo 2

There is only a week left until Halo 2 becomes a small stepping stone to the massive expansion of it’s sequel. Nostalgia is setting in hard. For me, the short length of 3 years seems like an eternity as I stumbled through the various clans I inhabited back in the day before Tied the Leader. Tied the Leader itself has expanded and evolved so much in such a short time. Throughout this expansion, we have maintained our same camaraderie for our team mates and opponents, and tried the bring the best experience we could to everyone. We are hoping to pay tribute to the past by using what we have learned over the years to lead us into the strange and unexplored lands of Halo 3. Others are going a bit further…

One of our own Gunslingers, Blood Fenix recently got a tattoo that would help him remember his Halo experience. The image, designed by ChubbyHands, our resident artist that deals in pencil lead, depicts shoulder skin be ripped back, revealing spartan armor underneath. There is no doubt that Halo 2 has played a major role in the lives of a lot of people. Whether it was your escape from the work week, the means of building a community, or the breaking storyline that got you interested in video games, it seems we will all have memories of how Halo 2 has affected us. For many communities, it was the platform for a fellowship that would lead to many friendships and real life meetings that followed.

Many people have chose to remember their good games by marking their bodies with a Halo memento. From small halo symbols, like the one above inked on ChickaChicka, to original comic pieces that stretch down your calf (like the highly popular one on The Don Wan’s leg, below), whatever the size, or the design, the meaning of the image means much more than a simple color change on your body.

Tattoos are of course a personal choice of the individual getting them. Some people love to get them, others only get one REALLY meaningful one, and some avoid them at all costs. My question to you, avid wearer of Mjolnir, is what will you do to remember Halo 2? Will you throw it in your 360 from time to time and reminisce about the woes of Backwash, and heavy BR battles on Warlock, or will you go to your local tattoo parlor at get a picture of a Grunt waving, inked on your back end?

I am sure we will all remember good times had in the previous iteration of our new found digital crack. There will always be a pastime for Halo 2 on this blog. There is no forgetting what has happened in the halls of Headlong or the streets of Turf.

In the meantime though, there is still a week left, and you will see me and other Gunslingers online. There will be no calm before this storm. We plan to go out with a bang and get in some final good games with this game while we have the chance. See you in pregame.

Posted by Dweezle

Comment 10

D0810 T0207 Y2007Christiaan Allebest

The 22 Questions are back this week with videogame enthusiast Christiaan Allebest. Do you remember the community profile of Game Almighty? Well Christiaan is the founder and mastermind behind that artfully presented gaming site decked out comic book style. Christiaan has had an interest in video games for a long time and has been behind a few projects here and there. Game Almighty is still running strong and you can also find him at his own site. Enough of the simple chat, let us get down to the details. My interview with Christiaan is below. Have a read and enjoy!

  • What is Your Gaming Alias:

    GameTilt

  • What Age Did You Start Playing Video Games:

    6-8, not really sure.

  • Who Would You Say is Responsible for Getting You Into Gaming:

    My parents. My Father was an early adopter when I was young – he was one of the first people to run out and buy a VCR, microwave, etc. So one day, years ago, he brings home a computer that took up a dining room table’s worth of space. It was gigantic. I started spending a lot of time on that before I graduated to the Apple II and then the Atari 2600.

  • First Game That Had You Hooked:

    I would have to say Combat on the 2600. My brother and I would play that for hours.

  • Little Known Fact:

    I have been stuck in quicksand twice.

  • If You Were to Make a Documentary, What Would it Be About:

    Sex. [Editor’s Note: Never breed a Master Chief and a Locust. You will wish you never had eyes.]

  • How Did You Get Involved In the Gaming Industry:

    I started doing some consulting on video game investments. I was at a military academy for part of high school and didn’t really have access to video games so I would read magazines to stay on top of what I was missing. Once I graduated and could play video games again whenever I chose, I still spent more time reading about them (and the industry) than playing them. A friend of a friend had quite a bit of money and was approached to invest in a video game related company. I was taken along so I could tell him if it was good place to put his money. Riding back in the Limo with him I discouraged him from putting his money into the project. He did anyways and things went bad. After that he realized I actually knew what I was talking about he recommended me to his friends and that’s when I started to see that what I knew about my hobby started to have real value to others.

  • What is Your Favorite Part of Your Job:

    The people I work with. When you start out you are excited about the games, the t-shirts, the travel, and the advanced looks at games everyone is drooling to play. Then it becomes the people you get to work with and the chance to shape the future of the industry.

  • Strangest Hobby You Have:

    I am a collector. If I somehow end up with three or more of something, anything, I feel the need to display them and get more. Right now I am on a big weird controllers kick – if there is anything out there that isn’t a standard gamepad or joystick I am fascinated by it.

  • Closest You Have Come to Death:

    That’s a tough one, so I will just throw out a few of the ones that come to mind: quicksand, a tiger, car accident, botched surgery, and a lightning storm.

  • Last Gadget Purchased:

    The chainsaw game controller for PS2 from Resident Evil 4.

  • Song You Are Currently Listening to:

    Oh that’s embarrassing. What bad timing! But I will be honest – Brooks & Dunn’s Hillbilly Deluxe

  • Favorite Ending For a Game, Movie or Book:

    Like most, I love it when the good guy wins and overcomes tremendous obstacles and himself. When I come away from something wanting to be better – that really sticks with me. I would have to say that my favorite movie ending can be found in either Braveheart or Saving Private Ryan.

  • What Person Has Had a Large Impact on Your Life:

    Besides my wife, I would have to say my Father. He is my best friend, mentor, partner, and confidant.

  • What Movie Inspired Game Would You Love to See:

    Red Dawn or I would like to see Monolith (made NOLF) do a take on the old Disney movie Condorman.

  • Favorite Arcade Addiction:

    Again embarrassing – skiball. It’s those damn tickets and the small plastic toys.

  • What is Your Drink or Snack of Choice While Gaming:

    Orange juice.

  • Game You Are Looking Forward to the Most:

    Like everyone else, the one in my head I have been working on for years. If only I had time…

  • Game That Was the Biggest Let Down:

    Lately I have been let down by games from the past. Another Editor here and a good friend, Chris Jensen, has got me into retro gaming lately. Most of them are still great, but when you are a kid everything is amazing and larger than life. Going back, most them are still fantastic, still some of them just don’t live up to my grandiose memories.

  • Biggest Change in Gaming in the Last Year:

    Sony’s trip. Fanboy or not, you have to admit that things didn’t go as planned. Sales were not what they expected, feet kept ending up in people’s mouths, and they took a lot of what they had for granted. I think there will be some long term changes in the industry in regards to marketing as a result of this.

  • Ideal Game That Has Not Yet Been Created:

    Megacorp Video Game Publisher Tycoon

  • What Message Would You Send to Gamers Everywhere:

    Other than go to GameAlmighty.com and that it helps us start to change the industry? Well excepting that, I would want everyone to realize that every time they are buying a game its just as if they were standing in a booth on elections day – you are voting. Where you spend your dollars is where the industry will go. Like crappy licensed movie games? Buy ‘em and you will get even more. Like games that think outside of the box and strike of into uncharted waters? Buy something from people like the guys over at Introversion. And if you like a game enough that you would buy it, then do buy it. Reward the developer’s efforts and tell the industry, “I want more of that.”

    Wise news that seems like it would be obvious, yet sometimes people don’t realize that effect of their choice to purchase or not to purchase a game. Thanks so much Christiaan for the interview. Readers, be sure to drop by Game Almighty. If you are a comic reading gamer like myself, or even a game playing comic-er [something like that…] then you will be sure to enjoy the site as much as I do.

    I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s interview. If you know of anyone who you think deserves a little time in the spotlight then feel free to send me an email. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you have as well at tiedtheleaderblog@gmail.com.

    Posted by Dweezle

Comment 1

D0803 T2217 Y2007Readers Poll: Whatever Clicks Your Chief

With the announcement of Wizkids Games producing a Halo version of their Action Clix line, it made me think, how many gamers are going to be putting down their controllers and picking up their dice and rulers?

I am a fan of tabletop games. In fact, I used to play MageKnight and HeroClix, Wizkid’s first two games, when they first came out about 6 or 7 years ago. I got really into playing the games, trading the figures, and picking out my lucky dice that I had a feeling would roll high for that night. One could almost claim that giving up these games and playing more video games was the evolution of this Dweezle. I used to attend tons of tournaments with my armies I built. GenCon and Dragon Con were conventions that I attended more than once to show off my tabletop skills and grab the latest exclusives. Now I play with my virtual army of Gunslingers on Xbox Live, and I find myself attending gaming LANs that are less focused on body paint and more focused on gaming, relaxation, and hanging out with community members.

It seems to me like the two hobbies, videogaming and tabletop gaming, are very similar. Both have strong communities and culture. Is it possible for someone to do both though? This makes me wonder, who are they marketing with the Halo Actionclix game. Perhaps I am off base, but I would not expect a Halo fan to put down their controller and stop playing Halo 3 to go simulate playing it on a tabletop. It would seem irrational for their audience to be videogamers, because gamers would obviously prefer to actually play the videogame than collect miniatures from it.

Maybe this is aimed toward those that already play miniatures games and would like to get in on the Halo hype; makes sense to me. It gets Bungie involved in another market, and essentially, another community. We already know they are expanding in the videogame genre by coming out with an RTS (in cooperation with Ensemble Studios). They have also made a graphic novel and are working on a comic series with Marvel. It would be logical for them to expand into another gaming genre like tabletop games. Bring Halo to everyone, unite the nerds of the world (and then get to them buy tickets to the Halo Movie?).

So, my question is, are you, the average Halo video game enthusiast, going to try your hand at the tabletop version of the Halo Universe? Do you see yourself balancing both games and playing both, or will you play the game and collect the figurines because you want another Master Chief in your room? What are your thoughts on this Bungie experiment? Are you going to pay extra to get a special edition Soccer Ball figure? I know I will…

Posted by Dweezle

Comment 8

D0618 T2316 Y2007Re - Spawn - ing

I am sure everyone has heard the news. If not, allow for me to be the bearer of some exciting Halo merchandise info. Not long ago, it was released that there will be special wireless ‘Halo 3 Edition’ controllers for the Xbox 360. Not only is this exciting because it gives me an excuse to go buy two more 360 controllers, but the art on the controller’s face was designed by none other than Todd McFarlane & Greg Capullo.

On top of that news, today, Spawn.com [The Official Website for Todd McFarlane] released that they would be producing Halo 3 Action Figures. I may worry if someone were to tell me they had never heard of Todd McFarlane. He is the genius behind the comic character Spawn, and has really taken action figure detail to another level and beyond. There is an amazing amount of detail on all Spawn figures, and it makes my mind explode at the thought of that detail being applied to the Halo Universe.

There are five figures and three vehicles that are being released in Spring this year. The announcement of the figures and vehicles themselves is a spoiler of it’s own as it discusses a new brute vehicle and talks about some oldies-but-goodies that will be gracing everyone’s shelves soon. Microsoft never fails to excite their fanbase, and I am sure this is not the last exciting thing we will see about Halo merchandise before the game’s release in September.

Posted by Dweezle

Action figure Collectors 3

D0618 T2230 Y2007Kevin Steele

Welcome back on the saddle again. Ready to ‘high-ho silver’ into another 22 Question interview? I knew you would be. After a Halo 3 sabbatical, things are back how they were [although we all still miss our Halo 3 though…]. For this welcome back set of 22 Questions, I had a chat with Kevin Steele from RetroBlast! I am not going to spoil the information, and instead will let Kevin tell you all about it himself. Enjoy, and welcome back to your favorite set of questions that are a multiple of 11.

  • What is Your Gaming Alias:

    RetroBlast (on XBox Live) EZ Target (for Half-Life 2 Deathmatch – can you tell I’m not that good?)

  • What Age Did You Start Playing Video Games:

    I’ve been a video gamer since there were video games (yeah, I’m that old!) Started off on arcade games, moved to Pong on my home TV, then the 2600…and well, I’ve “sampled” almost every video gaming system since then, although I didn’t really get back into console gaming until the XBox.

  • Who Would You Say is Responsible for Getting You Into Gaming:

    Probably just me. We travelled a lot when I was child, and I can remember trying to find an arcade everywhere we went – even a rest stop was an excuse to play a pinball or arcade game. I always had quarters in my pocket, just in case…

  • First Game That Had You Hooked:

    Asteroids had the “WOW” factor, but it wasn’t until Robotron:2084 that I became hopelessly addicted to a particular game. I played Robotron until my fingers bled, literally. I’d close my eyes after an extended session and I’d still see Grunts swarming towards me. My “holy grail” right now is to buy my own Robotron. I just have to find that “perfect” machine…

  • Little Known Fact:

    About me? I don’t know. I’m an open book. Guess my “hidden claim to fame” was being part of the Nancy Regan “Just Say No” television special back in 86 or 87. I know, not much of a breakthrough role, but I had my 15 seconds of fame…

  • If You Were to Make a Documentary, What Would it Be About:

    Most everything frivilous that I think should be covered already has been (video games, pinball, etc.), but I’d love to do something serious, like the Tiananmen Massacre. That was just a tragic moment in time, a chance for democracy that almost succeeded but ultimately ended in horrible bloodshed. It happened on my first wedding anniversary, and I remember getting glued to the TV watching it all unfold. The man standing in front of the tanks was such an iconic visual, and I’ll never forget it.

  • What is RetroBlast!:

    RetroBlast is a web site dedicated to the “Home Arcade”—arcade-style gaming at home. Now that I’m the owner and editor of GameRoom Magazine, RetroBlast’s mission statement has evolved slightly to cover “Home Gaming Entertainment,” but basically it’s still focused on bringing the arcade experience home.

  • What do You Do at RetroBlast!:

    RetroBlast is my place to write about arcade-style gaming, whether it’s vintage machines or modern attempts to reproduce the arcade experience. I write reviews of arcade hardware, gaming systems, and post news related to arcade gaming. From time to time I also do video reviews of products, but it’s been a while since I’ve had the time (publishing a monthly magazine is time consuming, to say the least!)

  • What is Your Favorite Part of Your Job:

    All the review goodies. ;-) Seriously, though, it’s never been about the “swag” for me – I love talking to people about arcade gaming, and RetroBlast has given me an avenue to do just that, to share my thoughts and experiences in gaming. Plus I get lots of “confidential” inside information on what’s coming down the pipeline.

  • What Are You Better at Than Anyone You Know:

    Being humble. ;-) Seriously? I don’t know—I suppose writing would be my “true calling,” being able to communicate ideas clearly and in a way that people understand. I’m not quite as good at actually saying what I mean as writing it, if that makes any sense.

  • When Did Coin-Op TV Start Up, and How Does it Fit in With RetroBlast!:

    Coin-Op.TV is the labor of love of Robert Welkner, and he and I joined forces last year to share our content. He’s the driving force for Coin-Op.TV, and with the recent re-purposing of RetroBlast as my personal blog, Coin-Op.TV will be moving back to it’s own site (surprisingly, COIN-OP.TV). He’s a great guy, and has had some great interviews with some very important important people in the gaming industry.

  • Closest You Have Come to Death:

    I had back surgery about three years ago, and had a bad reaction to the pain meds. I became “non-responsive” and stopped breathing—I passed out in my hospital bed and awoke to a nurse slapping me on the face. I was surrounded my medical personnel, was full of IV lines, and had a “crash cart” next to me. Scary stuff.

  • Last Gadget Purchased:

    I just got an HDTV – a nice 56” DLP 1080p set (all the fun letters!). Now that I’ve got it, I’m itching to get an XBox 360, but the budget’s been stretched already, so it’s going to be a while.

  • Song You Are Currently Listening to:

    Dancing in the Moonlight, by Men Without Hats (2003). It’s weird to find old 80’s artists still putting out albums, but I like this song.

  • Favorite Ending For a Game, Movie or Book:

    I love being surprised. The Sixth Sense did that (I was fortunate not to have anyone spoil it for me). I love when a game, movie, or book pulls the rug out from under me, even though all the clues were there. The PC game 7th Guest did that as well—mediocre game, but it had a surprise ending that stuck with me (it wasn’t a great ending, but there was a nice twist that I still remember). Sorry if I’m being vague, but I don’t want to spoil the endings for others!

  • Favorite Movie Quote:

    Don’t know if I have a favorite. I’m a true geek and can recite things like Monty Python and the Holy Grail almost verbatim, but picking just one line that resonates with me is tough. I guess one that sticks with me as a “philosophy” is Ferris Bueler’s quote “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

  • Favorite Arcade Addiction:

    Robotron:2084. It never gets old for me.

  • Game You Are Looking Forward to the Most:

    A tie between Crysis and BioShock—they both look absolutely stunning, and promise rich, deep gameplay. I’m already saving for a system upgrade!

  • Game That Was the Biggest Let Down:

    There have been a number of them, but I reserve a special spot for Duke Nukem Forever, as it’s the let down that keeps letting me down, year after year. It may be the greatest experience in gaming when released, but being teased for ten years is just cruel. I hate being told a game is going to be released, then having to wait months or years to actually get it, and it’s even worse when you know the game will be worth the wait (yes, I’m talking to you, Valve!)

  • Most Exciting Gaming Experience:

    Probably the first FPS game I played—I had a Mac back when everyone else was PC, so I couldn’t play DOOM, but I got to play Marathon, which actually had a much better story behind all the mayhem. I was so into that game, I started dreaming about it. Great stuff, and a great story behind the action (which was very similar to the original System Shock on the PC, I believe).

  • Ideal Game That Has Not Yet Been Created:

    I’ve always thought the original Die Hard movie would make the perfect FPS—you start off with almost nothing (barefoot, even), and have to get your ammo, weapons, and even footwear from the bad guys you kill. It just seemed like the perfect FPS setting: a building, with different “themes” for each floor (construction, party room, etc.) There have been Die Hard games, but none really did justice to what I thought was a movie just begging for a first-class FPS game.

  • What Message Would You Send to Gamers Everywhere:

    Have fun. Some of us get so “into” the gaming thing that we forget to just play the game and have fun. Letting go of everything else around you and just immersing yourself into the game is like meditation to a gamer: we need it for our well-being.

    Thanks for all the information Kevin! Readers be sure to stop by RetroBlast! and have a look around. Also, be sure to visit RetroBlast’s partner in crime, GameRoom Magazine.

    I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s interview. Stay tuned next week for another great person. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you have at tiedtheleaderblog@gmail.com.

    Posted by Dweezle

Comment 5

D0518 T1557 Y2007Map Feedback: High Ground

Welcome to the first of three Map Feedbacks that will be up on this blog. I will go over a few key things on each map and talk about pros and cons I see. I ask for your feedback on the maps, and on what I think about them. Feel free to disagree with me as these are just the views and observations of one blogger, based on the games he has played. Beware, there are spoilers ahead.

This week’s map is High Ground. For me it is a bitter sweet symphony of weapons, vehicles, key locations and gametypes. At first look, this map backed up the appropriate name it was given. From the back of the base to the gentle waves in the water, the ground slopes gently downward through the gate, then becomes a sharp downhill wasteland.

Looking at the base, it reminded me of the torn up stone that is Zanzibar [one of my favorite maps from Halo 2]. For each slick and smooth metal structure, there is a broken wall and bent fencing. Aside from high-spawning lasers and scattered brute spikers, the base is overloaded with carbines. If this was a map on Halo 2, those green laser-pumpers would not excite the average gamer. This is not Halo 2 though friend, this is the new hawtness. Each weapon is strong on it’s own and very balanced. The carbine has been turned into an excellent battle rifle competitor, where as it used to serve as placeholder until you could get the BR.

There are many twists and turns that don’t just serve as unique places to mount weapons. Gamers transformed from Spartans to Ethan Hunt when air duct crawling became an integral part of navigation to breach the base. There are loads of back hallways, small staircases, and tight rooms loaded with scattered grenades that make this map exciting at every turn.

All the detail and excitement is not isolated to just inside the gate of the base though. Once a brave soul ventures out of the safety of the base, they will find a rocket launcher, sniper, bubble shield and half-dead grass scattered on a deserted rock landscape. This hill made itself known to me as a kill zone that should be avoided unless a gametype sends you that way [which many do]. If the danger doesn’t come from nearby rocks, then it rains down from people perched in trees or the deadly laser tower which overlooks this beach.

I find King of the Hill and Territories to be the toughest gametypes on this map. The spawn points will make or break you as you try to achieve your objective. Territories is very stressful and tough to me, while CTF is a slightly more relaxed, but equally challenging gametype. this map was built perfectly for a flag game. There are so many entrances into the base to get the flag, but there are just as many nooks and corners to hide and defend it from. High Ground is also an excellent map for Slayer. There are so many weapons that no specific one becomes overpowered and makes each game challenging and exhilarating.

I find the first phrase of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground [later remixed by Red Hot Chili Peppers] to have a strong relation to this map and the Beta in general.

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warrin’
World keep on turnin’
Cause it won’t be too long

This map is one of three great maps Bungie decided to grace us with during the Beta period. Although very asymmetrical, this map proves to be very balanced in all areas. This may be my favorite map out for the Beta.

Readers, what do you think? Have any different feelings about weapon placement and gametypes? Speak up.

Posted by Dweezle

Comment 12

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