Hey, everyone! Welcome to the second installment of #AskHuley, where I answer your questions about writing, video games, music, and pretty much whatever else is on your mind. Keep those questions coming!
Our feature question this week comes from Flickamatuta:
What video games inspired you when you were younger to pursue a career in the industry?
I’ve loved video games for as far back as I can remember. In some ways, the limitations of older systems forced us to use our imaginations more than we do now. Pac-Man was merely a collection of mustard-colored square pixels on my TV screen, but in my head he had arms and legs, and sprinted around 3D corridors with ghosts under each arm squirming to get away. He was a ghost hunting bad ass long before Zak Bagans!
Although this planted the seed, it wasn’t until I played Super Mario Bros. on the NES that it bloomed. Nothing had captivated me quite like Mario and Luigi, and there was no turning back. I was hooked, and played every cartridge I could get my grubby, peanut butter and jelly encrusted fingers on. I could literally go from Legend of Zelda to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out to Tetris to Strider to Gradius to Double Dragon all in a single afternoon. Needless to say, I grew up with minimal exposure to sunlight.
As I got older, my tastes gravitated toward story-based games. In particular, Chrono Trigger stands out as a watershed moment for me. Not only was it colorful and fun to play (Active Time Battle for the win!), but it had amazing depth and memorable characters, which were things I didn’t even know I wanted in a game. From there it was a steady diet of influential classics including Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil 2, Final Fantasy IX, Grandia, Lunar, Thousand Arms, and countless others. Even Mortal Kombat II, believe it or not.
All of this led me to one realization: I had to work in the games industry. Somewhere. Anywhere. So, I started my journey as a customer service rep for a specialty games retailer called Game Crazy. I worked my way up the ladder until I reached a buyer position at the corporate office, and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. At this stage I was still pretty hooked on Phantasy Star Online, and my tastes were evolving once again… or so I thought.
Around this time, a little game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic hit my radar, and everything I’d ever loved about story-based games came rushing back. Not only did it have the memorable characters and fun factor near and dear to my heart, but it introduced something new: the freedom of choice. The game threw tough decisions at me: scenarios I had to put some serious thought into because they altered the story’s progression. I was in control of my characters destiny, and I liked it! This was the precise moment in which I fell head over heels in love with BioWare.
I was happy in my role as a buyer, but I still longed for something more substantial. I didn’t just want to sell games, I wanted to apply my passion and knowledge to creating them. However, I didn’t know how to write code, so I chalked it up as a pipe dream and tried to put it out of my mind. And I did, for a time, but then came Mass Effect.
After I played Mass Effect, I was more determined than ever to pursue my dream of working for BioWare. It took everything I loved about Knights of the Old Republic, refined the concept ever further, and set it in outer space. I’ll never forget the first time I arrived at the Citadel. It was about 10:00 p.m. on a work night, and I figured I’d play for just a bit longer before going to bed. The next time I looked up at the clock, it was after 2:00 a.m., and I’d still yet to give the council my Eden Prime report. If you look up “immersion” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Mass Effect.
The games industry experienced significant growth in the late 2000s. Companies expanded and created new roles in effort to keep up with changing consumer habits. Suddenly, there were more opportunities for people to work on games who weren’t developers. It took some time and effort (and a whole lot of luck!), but I eventually made it to BioWare in July of 2012 and fulfilled a dream nine years in the making. Now after nearly four years here, I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that it was absolutely worth the wait.
Our last question this week comes from KO_Rollins2K16:
I see that you’re a huge wrestling fan, which is awesome. Who do you think wins the main event at Wrestlemania 32?
I don’t see any scenario in which Roman Reigns doesn’t win. Am I excited about that? Not really. I’ve got nothing against Roman—I think he’s got a lot going for him, and has “it” factor in spades—but he’s not connecting with the audience on the level he needs to. I don’t blame him for that, though.
I think the main reason the core WWE audience rejects him is because he feels forced upon them. WWE wants him to be the next John Cena right now instead of allowing it to happen organically. Reminds me of exactly what happened with Rocky Maivia in the late 90s. Although fans hated him at first, with a bit of work, he eventually became one of the biggest WWE superstars of all time.
So, that begs the question: how do you “fix” Roman Reigns? If I’m WWE creative, I completely repackage him and turn him heel in a meaningful, didn’t-see-that-coming sort of way. No more playing up his past with the Shield. No more coming down to the ring through the crowd. Ditch the faux-armor and army pants. Write his dialogue to sound like the most aggravating, ungrateful jerk on the roster.
For those that already hate him, you’re giving them yet another reason to boo, and he’d draw heat like few others on the roster can. Believe that.
Thanks for another round of great questions! Remember, if you’ve got a burning question for #AskHuley, here’s how to submit it. Until next time.