I’d like to introduce you to a new feature here on HaloGAF.com: Debriefings. With each new article I’ll ask a different HaloGAF member a few personal questions about his or her personal life and gaming habits. First up: Ramirez.
>> Welcome to Debriefing, Ramirez! Before we get to the gaming questions I’d like to get to know the man behind the avatar.
Well, my name is Stephen, I live in a quaint little backwoods county in Kentucky. If you’ve ever watched Justified, you know the county. It’s nothing like the TV show, sorry to say. I work in retail as a manager, shit job, but it pays the bills for now. I’m currently attending school to become a person in the human services field.(social work type deal) I also have a son, who will be turning 3 on the 1st of the March, time has really flew by with him. I’ve said it countless times on GAF, but he has the lung/digestive disease known as Cystic Fibrosis. I’ve tried to use my connections on GAF to spread awareness of the disease to anyone who would listen, props to 343 for sharing the video back in May in their weekly update! Other than that, I’m a pretty normal nerd, will play just about any videogame as long as it’s good, though I have noticed as I’ve gotten older I don’t bother playing/finishing a game unless it grabs me immediately.
>> Perhaps your gaming taste has refined with age. Personally, I have trouble finishing games because I waste all of my time on gaming forums. On that note, how long have you been a member of NeoGAF? What brought you to the site?
I’ve been a member of NeoGAF since about 2000 I believe. I was here when it was simply known as GAF, and probably not but a few hundred members. I also went through the EZBoard stage before it transitioned over to NeoGAF. I’m honestly not sure how I found the site, I think just through a news link. I do know that my first actual thread was on the EZBoard forum, where I posted the first ever screens of some cancelled Retro Studio titles for the Dolphin. I was in a secret forum on the IGN boards where Matt Casamassina would drop secret info from time to time with the understanding no one would speak of it. I think I was 13 or something at the time, so of course I took it to every message board I frequented. I believe it was a picture of some vehicular battle game & Metroid Prime way before it went into first person. Needless to say it caused quite a stir on GAF at the time, Retro was on the verge of being shut down at the time, so they were already a hot topic.
>> Considering how beautifully Metroid Prime turned out, I can’t blame you. It’s pretty cool that you’ve stuck with NeoGAF for such a long time. Are you an active member (or lurker) of any other gaming communities?
I am not. My first ever message board was a place called The Gaming Revolution, but the board has unfortunately been taken down. Made some really good friends there, it was a very tight knit group of about 30, I basically copy/pasted every news story from GAF on to their forums for discussion, crazy kid I was!
>> (Copying content from GAF? Blasphemy! I hope I never resort to such things…)
If you joined GAF in 2000, when did you start playing Halo? What got you interested in the franchise?
I started playing Halo right when the Xbox launched, maybe a few weeks after the fact. Funny enough, I had absolutely no clue the game even existed. I was sitting at Wal-Mart to get a NGC, was 2nd in line, and the guy that was 1st in line started telling me he had done the same thing for the Xbox a few days earlier. I was such a diehard Nintendo fanboy at the time, that I really didn’t pay attention to most of his ramblings, plus I was about 15 and he was in his 30s. But he started telling me about Halo, and described how these drop ships would drop enemies off for you to fight, and it just sounded so unlike anything I had ever played at the time that I decided to get one. I went to EB Games a week or so later and traded my entire Dreamcast collection in towards one, I had enough to get the XBox & Halo with my credit. I regret trading all of my DC stuff away, but I was so addicted to Halo once I played it I didn’t care. I remember it was supposed to be a Christmas present, but I convinced my mom to just let me open it for the night, once Halo went in, it never went back under the tree. Me & my high school buds probably beat the campaign on co-op like 30 times or something, it was insane. I also remember shitting on them in MP because none of them had figured out the Pistol was a beast, haha.
>> Keep it a secret, my high school friends still don’t know my pistol tricks! As a fan of Halo from the start, which campaign has been your favorite?
My favorite campaign is without a doubt CE, I think I replayed 3 twice, but CE is probably past 50 play throughs by now, and Anny was just as much fun as the other times I had played it. None of the games have captured the sense of wonder CE had when you stepped out of that escape pod. There’s just too many memorable moments in that game, the first time “Under Cover of Night” kicks in on T&R, or when “On a Pale Horse” kicks in when you’re going across the bridge on AotCR. Marty played such a huge role for me in making the game memorable, I’d never had music effect my enjoyment of a game in such a profound way. *tips hat*
>> Music to my ears! What about multiplayer?
My favorite MP is 3, the game has a load of issues, don’t get me wrong. The BR was unreliable, the netcode wasn’t that great, and the playlists were an abomination. But for me, when it worked, it worked better than anything else I have played in the series. I never got to LAN CE, so I’m sure I missed out there. Halo 2 was filled with so much cheating that it greatly affected my love for the game looking back. 3 avoided major glitches & cheating, which was such a breath of fresh air coming from Halo 2 where you’d play a game of Terminal & be dropped down into a Warthog chaingun over & over while an Elite killed you.
More than the game itself, the community that grew out of Halo 3 on this forum was fantastic. I’m talking about the same guys getting on every night for a solid 3 years, playing & having a great time with the game 90% of the time. I’m sure we’re more cynical now, but I really don’t remember as much bitching as I hear in Reach/4 when we played 3. The thread & the game went hand in hand for me, both were such a great time in my gaming memory.
>> A tightly knit community can make ANY game fun, but it sounds like HaloGAF and Halo 3 were something special for you. What are some of your favorite non-Halo games?
Here’s where I have weird tastes, my absolute hands down top 5 games excluding Halo would be:
3)Phantasy Star Online
5)World of Warcraft
Throw in an honorable mention for Hotel Dusk on the DS. <3
Metroid Prime was such a breath of fresh air, a FP game that didn't focus on combat at all. The level design, art, & music all came together for about as perfect of a game as you could make for me.
Shenmue was another one that just blew my mind at the time. I really felt like I was exploring a living virtual world, which at the time, was just mind blowing.
PSO was actually my first online game ever I believe, it ran incredibly well over a 56K modem, and was just great, mindless fun. Never forget the first time I fought the Dragon in the forest area, shit of that scale was just mindblowing back then, no game had ever done stuff like that in a cooperative online environment on consoles. (I can't even recall a PC game really, Diablo 2 lacked the scale that the 3D offered in PSO)
Diablo 2 & WoW kind of speak for themselves, Blizzard in their prime for me. WoW has gotten less & less appealing with each expansion making it more casual, but the vanilla game, and first expansion were incredible experiences. I made friends in that game 8 years ago that I still keep in contact with today, I'm all about the social experience!
>> A solid list. Speaking of social experiences, have you ever gone to any gaming meetups or conventions?
I’ve attended PAX ’08 & PAX ’11. The plane trips, both times about killed me with anxiety, I’m not a fan of flying, at all, so it was a challenge, lol.
In ’08 I was lucky enough to be invited to Bungie studios to play the Mythic maps, little did we know at the time it would be a year before we would ever play them again, lol. I’ve said this on HaloGAF once before, but I remember Lars Bakken being the most down to Earth guy, and he really looked genuine in his interest with interacting with us. I also remember being too chicken shit to approach Marty there, but ended up talking to him at the convention the next day anyways, so it worked out. It was truly an unforgettable night and experience, one that I’m still thankful for today.
In ’11 Cocopjojo from 343 was kind enough to let me & Capt. Blood shack up at his house for the weekend. We ordered some McDonald’s before heading back to his house on Friday night. Needless to say I awoke in a cold sweat about 3 hours later and started puking my guts up, thankfully not waking everyone in the house, lol. I spent the rest of the weekend about as miserable as I could imagine ever being. When we went to the 343 Studios play night, I got brave and attempted to eat some pizza. Shortly after I found myself in the 343 parking lot puking in the bushes and passing out from exhaustion in Coco’s car, hah. I tried to make the best of the trip, but it was probably the worst experience of my life if I’m being honest, nothing like being 3K miles away from home, sick & alone. :P
>> Sounds rough! I’ll try to avoid the McDonald’s next time I’m in Seattle. Thankfully, you made it back alive. What are your gaming habits like at home?
I used to game any time of the day, but since my son has came into my life, you’ll pretty much only find me online from about 12 EST til about 3 EST, and then I end up running the day on about 5 hours of sleep, not a good thing! Like I said above, I’m all about the social experience, so I’ve found that now a days, unless I have a group to play with, I’ll usually just elect to sit on GAF/FB & troll.
>> You’ve certainly mastered the art! ;) Thanks for chatting with me, Stephen, I’ll see you around GAF.
No problem, I hope to learn more about our fellow community members through future debriefings!
Ramirez has the right idea; this is only the first of many Debriefings. Keep an eye on your PM Inbox, HaloGAF.
If you’d like to learn more about Cystic Fibrosis and how you can get involved (or donate), be sure to go check out cff.org.