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    CRR Gamer Bio - Wizminkey - Computer Programmer - August/13

    Featured Gamer Bio - Wizminkey

    What is your name?
    Andrew Paul Sleight

    How did you hear about and join Canadian Rifles Regiment?

    I stumbled across some of the gents years ago while playing PS3; canít remember which game specifically but it was a fairly early title. I was still somewhat new to PS3 and wanted to have people I could play a game with as a team instead of a conglomeration of bunny-hopping chuckleheads. I remember being impressed with how well the gents worked together, so I Googled the site and read up on the charter and it sounded like Iíd be a good fit with my supportive playstyle.

    What is the story behind your online gaming name?
    I have two, both of which share the same origin; the Sony MMO Everquest. My first significant character was called Branaddar, which was just a random name generator button press. I tend to use that one when naming a character in a game.
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    WizMinkey is a nickname which falls back to the Lost Dungeons of Norrath, where one set of dungeons had flying monkeys with bat wings that happened to be the Wizard class. The friend I was exploring the new content with at the time laughed at the realization that they were Wizard-Monkeys like me. My main character was a Wizard, and my second was a Monk, which tended to be called Monkeys. WizardMonkey led to WizMinkey, and itís sure unique enough to not be taken when I register, so I stick with it now.

    It beat the other nickname that came from those two characters; Razormaw and Branaddar becomes Raz n Bran (Raisin Bran.) Also better than Bran Muffin or Oatsnake (synonyms of Bran Adder.) I earned a lot of odd nicknames in EverquestÖ
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    What do you do for a living?
    Iíve been programming since my parents first got me a Tandy 1000 EX when I was about 13. Iím 32 now, and only the outcome of that programming has changed over the years. Iím the kind of person that enjoys creating things, solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles while not requiring heavy lifting, bodily harm, or an artistic bone in my bodyÖ so programming was a good fit for me.
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    With both of my parents having spent decades in the innovative areas of the computer industry with plenty of contacts, they encouraged me in my teen years by setting me up with summer jobs helping develop business apps and database front-ends for their staff or clients.

    Currently Iím taking a break from making other peoplesí business apps, and Iím developing my own village-building Sim/RPG game which will focus heavily on the engine behind it. I want people to be able to create their own stories to share with other players, and a heavy focus on replay by releasing new worlds or maps in updates to choose from in new game modes. I may even let players make their own worlds/maps, but I havenít decided on that yet.

    So I do contract work to pay the bills, and work on my game when the workload is light. I have some residual income for the next 6 months, so Iím using the opportunity to push hard on getting as much of my game done as possible while building hype. Iím hoping for at least a prototype, maybe an alpha in that time frame.

    Where are you living?
    Cobourg, Ontario. Itís a small rural/tourist town with some great festivals and a Waterfront that hosts festivals that draw people from Belleville and Scarborough. Iíve lived in Ontario all my life, though Iíve travelled Europe and the US, and my wife and step-kids are from California originally.
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    She had two kids from before when we married, a boy (currently 16) and girl (18!) We also have a boy (3) and girl (5) between us, which makes for funny looks when weíre out in public in odd pairings. People tend to think big sister/brother is young teen mom/dad.

    What is your favorite game to play, currently?
    Itís a tough call, as Iím a very mood-based gamer. I game when Iím craving a mental process, like a thought-filled strategy game or a slow-paced zen game or an adrenaline-fueled warzone. If I had to pick one favourite, I love my co-op games and have a lot of fun with the sneaky, strategic Monaco on Steam. Defiance would be a close second, but I have a hard time playing MMOs by myself and not many people are playing it.

    What is your all time favorite game? The one game you could play for the rest of your life.
    There are a lot of games that hold a special place for one reason or another; Journey for being the first games to bring me to tears without speaking a word, Everquest for being the social gaming experience of a lifetime back in the day, Quest for Glory for blowing the adventure game genre out of the water, or even Defiance for bringing the best parts of MMO, shooter and casual together in a way that doesnít demand vast playtime to get something done.

    In the end, I think the one whose gameplay would keep me going the longest would be Dungeon Keeper 2. It was a great strategy/sim game where you would dig out tunnels and rooms and set them up with traps. I always enjoy games that I consider ďant farms.Ē
    Your focus is on building the perfect home in order to attract new critters to fight or work for you. Combat wasnít the main focus, though it was obviously the key to winning a map, but rather smart building and planning of your base against invaders and carving out new layouts to try out. Itís one of the main influences behind some of my gameplay decisions.

    What was your first video gaming system?

    The first one I ever played was my older brotherís Sega Master System. From there, my parents saw that I really enjoyed games and got the NES when it came out. I have fond memories of going to town with my parents and perusing the $0.99 rental wall for games every week. I would always try before I even thought of asking my parents for a game; I was a very pragmatic child! I also spent a lot of time with the aforementioned Tandy 1000, playing Sierraís Space Quest, Kingís Quest and Quest for Glory games with my dad.

    How many gaming systems do you own and play?
    I play with my PS3, 360, PCs and Windows Phone currently. It flexes how much focus each system gets depending on moods and what new games are out. Right now my focus is between PC and PS3 mainly. I love some of the great indie games available on PC, but love the ease-of-use and multiplayer potential of the PS3 more. Plus I canít share my PC games with my kids without locking myself out of my own Steam account.

    Do you prefer single or multiplayer, why?

    Very situational, but on average I always prefer playing co-operative multiplayer if itís an option. I play games to ďexperienceĒ something, and I get more of an experience when chuckling it up or game-facing with friends. But for a story-driven game, other players can sometimes ruin the experience by force-skipping cutscenes or such.

    What was the first multiplayer game you played?

    Growing up in Uxbridge, Ontario, we were stuck with dialup until I moved into residence at University. Luckily, some other nerdy fellows and myself figured out how to bypass the computer labís security to get Doom running over the LAN. We later progressed into games like Quake or Duke Nukem 3D.

    The best thing about online gaming is....

    Working with a team, sharing an experience and making new friends.

    The worst thing about online gaming is....

    Trolls and people that just canít be bothered to play strategically. ďIf I keep zerging that killbox, weíll eventually win, right?Ē I donít mind if itís a lack of skill or youíre willing to learn, but the type who sprint through stealth games or hide in the corner as everyone else does the work.

    Your most memorable online/multiplayer gaming moment?

    My first raid in Everquest. I was very under-levelled, but my friend who had brought me back to the game in 2001 was in a small guild of hardcore players that allowed me to tag along as they were desperate for Wizard DPS. Unfortunately for me, they decided to raid the giants whose feet you have to stand under in order to do magic damage to (never liked that mechanic.) I died about a dozen times, almost wiped the raid out once when I targeted the wrong enemy and pulled 15 giants at once down on them.

    But I got to listen to perverted Haikus, jokes about bear scat, and a dozen other good times with the guild in the future. We were a load of weirdos, but damn if we werenít awesome. In those days, MMOs were competitive because a boss mob would spawn once every 3-7 days in a public zone. We would slaughter the boss with half the force and mobilize before the serverís top guilds.

    With your software programming background, specifically working on your own game, do you ever find yourself thinking (when playing a video game on any platform) I could make that look better? Or, the mechanics just were not right? Or, I would like to know how they did that? Then pull back and say to yourself, "wait I need to just enjoy the experience good or bad"?
    I find that my programming knowledge can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes me appreciate some of the hidden gems out there that lose credit due to bad voice acting or graphics or other artistic elements. I love to see the new ways games can be interacted with, whether in the game world or not. The recent trend towards cross-device communication is especially exciting to me, as itís something I was starting to dabble with on my own when SmartGlass was first announced. Now weíre seeing the PS4 communicate with our phones as well, so the future of gaming is a little more diverse.

    But then it makes me much more critical of games that I feel stagnate or dilute more than they should. I donít mind fast sequels if you have a lot of good story to tell and the games mechanics hold up. I donít necessarily expect every sequel to radically change the formula, but I donít like feeling like I bought a $60 expansion pack. Iím also not a fan of games that push multiplayer map DLC where the pressure is to buy, or else you canít play with your friends any more. A map has no story, no additional programming, no ďmeatĒ in my head. Itís just a new window dressing to play the same game in.

    So thatís the jagged, abrasive edge of my programmer brain. The kind thatís sometimes bitterly biased against certain business strategies, or that leaves innovation behind for better marketing.

    Your favorite gaming developer & why?

    Ubisoft, hands down. Forget patriotic pride, as a programmer I swoon over the game mechanics they come up with. The way NPCs interact with the player, each other and the world around them. The interesting new levels of gameplay they add to their existing franchises. They like experiments, and build worlds that feel alive thanks to little details of programming that most players ignore.

    It seems that you have a personal rating category for "programming" when deciding developers which is a valuable and unique perspective, so, who is your least favorite gaming developer and why?
    I think my greatest dislike is for Blizzard right now. I watched the MMORPG game dynamic shift when World of Warcraft came out, catering to the masses, making MMOs so easy an 8-year-old could play solo. It brought my sacred little niche of weirdos who subscribe to one game to the millions. As the apparent definition of current MMOs, it has continued to strip away what I consider essential to MMOs; positive social behaviour.

    To me, the old Everquest was a microcosm; a small community of strangers who sorta liked this weird game and wanted to fight hard stuff together. That was all we had in common. I met housewives, househusbands, lawyers, politicians, gay, straight, redneck, posh, European, Asian and many more players that I became friends with before even knowing what pigeonhole they fit into. It was an interesting concept, and sometimes personalities clashed and there was drama (and LOTS of it,) but we had fun overall. Your reputation followed you like a resume as you entered or left guilds, so people did their best to follow a flexible code of conduct.

    These days, itís all trolling and swearing and Chuck Norris and gameplay that doesnít really require any teamwork or positive social interaction. Pop open the window and queue up for that endgame raid, and easily beat it with a bunch of strangers who never talk. Hand out loot and levelups and achievements and lots of rewards to push your endorphine levels, while continually watering down the gameplay so everyone can get a hit without getting frustrated.

    I used to love their games; I thrived on their pre-WoW games. But every game theyíve made since then has been more watered-down mush that pushes real money trading and ladder competitions and other features that arenít interesting to me. The fact they hacked the StarCraft 2 story short because more people played multiplayer than didnít was a big brain-scrambler, followed by the Diablo 3 issues and I think Iím done with them.

    PS - I realize I can be very strongly opinionated in how I write, and I do my best not to be insulting to the people who do enjoy the games or companies I dislike... but please donít be offended by my disdain for them. I have nothing against their customers, just the way they handle their various franchises or business models.

    What do you find to be more important in a game, story or gameplay? Why?

    I love story in games, but if the gameplay isnít there, I canít stomach the game long enough to finish the story. I love a good emotional story like Heavy Rain, Journey, Mass Effect or the Walking Dead. Anything that can bring a tear to my eye usually wins a spot on my Never Sell Shelf.

    Though being a mood-based gamer, I have no problem diving into a game that I love that has little to no story to it if there is some compelling gameplay mechanic that keeps bringing me back.

    What is your preferred genre and why?
    I wouldnít say itís a particular genre that draws me, but rather games that have good progression mechanics. Skilling up through skill use in Skyrim. Earning EGO levels for pursuits, xp and weapon skills in Defiance. Performing all the secondary tasks during missions to unlock new abilities. I want to face a somewhat difficult situation, struggle with it, overcome it and feel rewarded for that. I want goals that I can chase down that work towards something else. Typically, RPGs fall into this category. These days, everyone is tossing genres in a blender for their games, and some take the progression system too far and end up turning their game into a grind.

    What do you hope Microsoft and/or Sony bring to the table in the next generation of consoles?

    More social features that people will use. Iím a bit socially awkward, and the few friends I do have donít or barely play games. So I donít get to blab about games to anyone except the internet and my wife, who just kind of nods and smiles.

    Iím hoping to see Facebook-like features for our games. I want to share funny screenshots and videos, I want to set up a co-op game session with somebody and have it pop on our calendars, I want to have integrated clan support, public message walls, whatever. I donít want to play social Facebook games on my consoles, but I want to experience gaming at a social level.

    Would you consider yourself a ďsuper fanĒ of any specific game? If yes, which game?

    Defiance. I used to be an MMO addict, and I appreciate a casual no-subscription MMO that makes the day-to-day gameplay fun with lots of things to do like a sandbox/GTA game. Itís flawed, and wonít be everyoneís cup of tea, but I still say itís one of the best blends of 3 very big genres Iíve seen in recent years.

    It doesnít out-Borderlands Borderlands, or out-MMO WoW, or out-sandbox GTA. But itís a fun mesh of them all, and I even ended up buying myself a copy on PC as well so when I canít access the PS3 I can still play if I want. I just wish it shared characters somehow.

    If you had an unlimited budget what would your dream gaming room look like and consist of?

    The largest portion would cover the consoles; two large TVs on the same wall, but distanced and hooked up to a large hub capable of routing any two consoles or the computer to the TVs. Included would be two PS4s, two X1s (for the games that lack splitscreen) and one each of: 360, PS3, PS2, Xbox, N64, Dreamcast. Iíd probably get a Wii and Wii U for the little ones to grow into, but they seem to enjoy the Kinect games. Anything older is pure nostalgia, and rarely holds a candle to todayís games.

    The ďmainĒ TV would be routed through a sound system that includes in-wall surround speakers in the back. Iíve never had a good sound system at home, always relying on the TVís speakers.

    In one corner would be my computer desk. It would be custom-made to fit my imaginary 3-monitor setup, fully-adjustable floating keyboard and mouse trays and easy ways to dock devices and drives to the computer on top of the desk. One of the smaller walls next to the desk will be painted with magnetic dry-erase so I can write and post paper for the times when I need get my ideas out of my head and into words, instead of directly into code like I normally do.

    Any forum threads or part of the site that have your attention, if so why?
    I love the new review system, and feel bad that I havenít given enough time to write one yet! I still have half-finished Defiance and Monaco reviews if I ever get around to it. Iím just splitting all my non-family time between gaming and making my game right now. All the writing urge spills out of me working on marketing material for it.

    I suppose itís partly due to my lack of friends who game, but Iím eager to socialize and discuss gaming, so reviews are a good way to give an honest opinion of a game Iíve played so other people can make an informed decision.

    Plus, Iíve always wondered if I wouldnít be a decent gaming journalist.

    What does gaming mean to you and why is it, so to speak, a part of your life nowadays?

    Gaming is more than an escape for me. Thereís something to be said about forgetting your own somewhat boring life and jumping into the shoes of an alien-stomping space marine, or a heroic warrior vanquishing the demonic horde.

    But I think what I enjoy the most is discovery. Reading lore, finding secrets, earning rewards, feeling the feels. I think itís also part of the reason I donít finish a lot of games; after a certain point, the gameís shown me everything apart from how the plot plays out up to the end. If the gameplay or story arenít pulling me in hard enough, or the gameplay is too long for me to devote to it, I lose interest and it ends up on my Play Again Later Shelf.

    What do you enjoy doing when you are not gaming?

    Iíd have to say that gaming has always been a big passion for me, so the rest of my hobbies seem bland by comparison. When not spending free time playing games or with my family, itís spent soaking in gaming culture online, participating in forum discussions or learning how to build my own game.

    I also watch a fair amount of TV and movies while working or relaxing. Doctor Who is a massive favourite that my wife and discovered last year, and weíre excited to be part of our first live regeneration. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	1655Weíre obviously watching Defiance as it airs, and my wife is enjoying both despite usually disliking science fiction. Iím excited to see how Season 2 pans out, and if the game is going to start blending with the show more.

    Weíve spent a lot of time finding old shows we never gave a fair chance or forgot about and rewatching them from the start. Weíre currently working through Bones and Haven, and have found a lot of good shows that were confusing if you missed an episode like Lost and 24.

    Iím also a big fan of medieval stories in any form, most notably the King Arthur legends. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	1656I will soak up movies, shows, books or anything else relating to Camelot including the recent BBC series Merlin, which I highly recommend. Jack Whyteís book series is an interesting factual take on the story of Excalibur, ending with the birth of Arthur. He does a great job wrapping it in the times; Rome has fallen and left its outlying colonies without structure or support, and the remaining Romans clash or mingle with the natives, religions and ideals and using early science to bring about the illusions of ďMerlin.Click image for larger version. 

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    "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his" - General George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Thanks for participating Wiz. That truly was a pleasure to read.
    "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his" - General George S. Patton

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