I come to, my head coming out of the cloud of darkness that enveloped me, and as I look around the dark, dank basement, I rather like the darkness better. It was then she stepped into the room, a walking knockout. Why I’m tied up I don’t know as it is not Saturday night, and we already played bad cop, bad spy. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Mirror? Hourglass? She might as well have talked Russian. Actually, she was speaking Russian. She shows me a mirror, a reflection of myself stares back at me. Why am I dressed like a suit in a black jacket, and what is with her Soviet uniform? The snap of my neck and the slap across my face tells me I am going to be in for a long night in Episode 25: In a Mirror, Darkly. She must have a lust for blood as the more I protest, the more I’m beaten. What strange world did I awaken in, and why am I talking to myself out loud?
Disclaimer: This interview is reproduced as written by the interviewee with the exception of spelling and some grammar corrections. Picture copyright of its artist/photographer.
Special signature created by Stupot.
Max: Welcome everybody to tonight’s thrilling edition of Maximal Ding! I’m not the host with the most, but I am the doctor of trophinomics, Max Platinum bringing you a very special edition of our show. Tonight’s guest is no stranger to the company as he is the host of the #1 hit show here on NGN, The Lasombra Files. Welcome to the show. Here at the studio we have been getting lots of fan mail for the show, and so we decided to dedicate Episode 25 to answer some of the questions mailed into us. In no particular order, here is the first zinger.
Do you fear or have you experienced a creative burnout or writers block when it comes to these interviews?
Lasombra: In short, yes I did, but it didn’t last long as it was a turning point for the series. Way back in the beginning the theme of the interviews were just that, interviews. I started with a nice little intro explaining the greatness of each person, and a nice little outro setting up the next person. Since the series was in its infancy I didn’t want to go too outside the box because of the insanity that happened in the sign-up thread, so I played it safe. But safe got boring, and there are only so many German jokes I can make as everyone seemed to have a Wolfenstein plat. I slowly kept pushing the intro/outros towards the wacky. I draw a lot of inspiration from anime and Japanese games because of how original they can get. The intros, pre-episode 25, are paying homage to one of my favourite game series, Disgaea. If anyone has played a Disgaea game, they should recognize a little bit of Etna’s crazy chapter intro’s in my episode intros.
The most writers block actually comes from asking the original questions because I don’t want the original questions to be so generic they become a standard question. I’ve interviewed a lot of people from many different countries, so it gets a bit hard trying to find new ways to say “what is the gaming culture/community like in Country X?” Basically, the more info a person gives me in their initial response, the easier it is for me to think of original and interesting questions.
Max: Have you ever questioned yourself and these interviews/commentaries and wanted to stop?
Lasombra: Not really. Like all people I suffer some exhaustion from time to time, but I just go bust through it. My resolve was tempered a long time ago in the sign-up thread. A lot of hate and insults were thrown around at me in that thread. I am the type of personality where if something or someone pisses me off and makes me angry I get more focused and say ”screw you, I’ll show you what I can do’. It automatically sets a bar for me to reach and try to surpass. For this episode I went back and re-read the whole thread and had a good laugh. Thankfully, as this is episode 25, I was able to prove all the nay-saying wrong and I keep looking at the sky to find another place to set the bar.
Max: What was your favourite reaction or comment to an interview/commentary been?
Lasombra: My favourite interview reaction was from one individual who wrote me a very long thank you for being interviewed, and was really humbled and honoured like he was selected for an Academy Award (I’m being dramatic). It made me feel good that there are people who believe in the series and take it seriously.
My favourite commentary comment has to be the most obvious one. The ‘Legend...Nuff Said’ under my name is a direct quote from AC after I did the marathon tournament promotion video. It made the 20+ hours making it worth it.
Max: What is your inspiration on the intros to the weekly interviews? I've noticed a sharp contrast between earlier episodes to the current episodes. They are becoming more obscure, albeit still very enjoyable.
Lasombra: The inspiration comes from a lot of sources. I watch/play/listen to a lot of various media from all over the world: Canada, Japan, Korea, America, Germany, England, etc. I take bits and pieces from stuff I like and try to create my own style. As mentioned earlier, the early episodes were me playing it safe, while now it is just like an acid flashback in a 70’s disco. There actually is a storyline in there for those who want to really dig deep to find it. One episode also has a joke that no one found out yet, or at least they never posted it in that episodes thread. Now we are entering a darker, film noir style of intro/outro as I keep expanding creatively.
Max: What has your favourite interview so far?
Lasombra: In2’s for a couple of reasons. The first being it is the anniversary episode, and I’m big about those numbers. Secondly it was an honour he accepted my request to be #10, and I felt it helped pass the torch forward from the In2views from pre-meltdown to the Lasombra Files post-meltdown. Lastly, it is always a joy to interview someone from my own country as I actually have more background knowledge on the gaming culture.
Max: Where does an interviewer find the time to conduct these interviews, posting Skip and Max commentaries, and everything else going on?
Lasombra: To quote the Spetsnaz “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. But seriously, I have a really good job that gives me a lot more free time than the average person so that helps. I just don’t waste time when it comes to getting it done. I set myself a strict deadline, as I am a deadline type of guy, which keeps me focused. I think now that I’ve got my groove with both series, I am a lot more efficient. I’m not spending time thinking of ‘how to do X, Y, or Z’, or setting up stuff.
Max: How much time do you put in per week on the various commentaries and weekly interviews for the site? Do you feel like it is a rewarding experience?
Lasombra: It depends from week to week, and tournament to tournament. With the interviews, how much time I spend on them depends entirely on who I interview and if they decide to spell check before they send me their answers. If it’s spell checked and the I’s are capitalized then it takes maybe an hour to get it done. That time includes the story, proof-reading, and setting up the pictures, thread, PMs, and checklist updates. If the person just wrote it and sent it without spellchecking, add an extra hour or more on top of it depending on how long their answers are. Please capitalize your I’s. Spending 20 minutes capitalizing I’s is really boring.
The commentaries are another matter in itself. Overall it takes about 2-5 hours per commentary. This takes a lot longer for a few reasons. The first is it’s all my own work. I have to think of everything and write it down; compared to the interviews where I just write a question and someone else answers it. Secondly I have to try and keep things fair and balanced. I have to analyze the stats, check back to previous commentaries to get a coherent timeline, and then dissect and comment on everything that happened in the style of a real sports broadcast. The time gap is really big because it depends on how big of an update it will be. The May Cup kept getting shorter and shorter since it was a knockout tournament, so there is less for me to talk about. The marathon is closer to the 5 hour spectrum because every stage is different. A big round from one person could shake up the competition and force me to backtrack and research my own previous commentaries.
The wrench in the whole time factor is sadly Badwolf is MIA at the moment, so being the commentator I need facts to do my commentating on. This forced me to become the unofficial scorekeeper until he comes back, which adds even more time onto getting Skip and Max’s segment done as I am doing two jobs in one.
Overall it has been a really rewarding experience. The reactions to both series have been overly positive and they are only getting better and more popular. The more the fans react to them, the more effort I put into making them.
Max: How did you get into journalism? What inspired you to do this (commentaries/interviews on ps3t)?
Lasombra: Back in public school I was really into playing Magic: the Gathering, and would go to tournaments in a neighbouring city every week. In high school, at a time I call the second zenith of popularity of the game in the region, a bunch of websites dedicated to the local provincial scene were created. One of them I decided to do interviews for. It was just a cool idea I had. I forget the name of the site, as it’s long since been closed down. But for about a few months in high school, and then again in university for a different site, I did interviews and tournament reports. The reports were just what I played and how I did at the major events.
For a few months I was just another guy who posted on the site, and then one day while I was surfing the site I saw a thread talking asking what happened to the ‘In2views’. Since they were defunct for over six months, at the very least, I jumped at the idea. It was something I knew I did before, and wanted something else to add to my resume to help distinguish myself from others in my competitive field (Education).
The commentaries were also a spur of the moment idea. The marathon tournament had been going for over a month but was just a wasteland of ‘ho hum’. No disrespect to anyone but it was just dead, with people making comments they forgot the thing even existed. When Goal setup the May Cup I didn’t want his tournament to be all ‘ho hum’ as well. I had been watching a lot of gaming documentaries at the time, especially one called FRAG detailing the US pro gaming scene. I thought it would be cool to take that idea and make it more legit, bringing some hardcore commentary to the competition and get people to care about it. Once I saw the initial reaction to the first edition of Skip and Max I knew I had to do it for the marathon, and it did its job bringing that tournament back to life. With 8K+ and 5K+ views respectfully, Skip, Max, Stan and the whole NGN network just signed a new contract deal.
Max: How does it feel to see all of the positive replies in your interviews from everyone after the rough start and animosity that was present when you first made the thread, saying you were going to bring the interviews back?
Lasombra: One word: Vindication. There was a lot of hate going on in that thread, and I am happy it turned out to be a positive influence for the site and a hit for the site as well. I am ecstatic the fan’s barometer needle is on ‘good’, and am humbled to be a part of people’s Sunday/Monday entertainment package. However, I keep striving to up my game constantly because in my mind the whole production I’ve created is now a hallmark of the site, as much as the site is about the guides, reviews, platboy, etc. That comes with a lot of pressure, expectation, and results I need to keep matching and exceeding each and every week.
Max: After 24 different interviews now, I guess you have the way you do them down pat. How do you decide who to interview next and how do you go about doing them?
Lasombra: I’ll blow people’s minds with this one. Except for the anniversary numbers, it is all random. There are a few ways I pick people to interview. I find them, someone nominates them, or they ask for one. I might one day be reading a thread and notice ‘hey, that guy has a lot of plats’ and then just send a PM asking if he/she wants to be interviewed. Or I could be writing a comment on someone’s wall and see someone I never saw before, or forgot about, who has a pro username colour and just PM an inquiry. The whole focus of the series is to spotlight the community so the minimum requirements to get interviewed are really low. A person just needs enough posts to make me think they are not going to be gone in a week, and enough trophies to give me an idea of what kind of hunter they are. A person does not need 10000 trophies or 100 plats to get an interview. Originally though, the first dozen or so interviews I first did (some still have not been posted yet. Thanks for your patience!) were from the sign-up thread, which is now defunct.
Generally I’ll have a backlog of interviews ranging from 4-10 people. When someone is nominated or asks for an interview I immediately send the initial questions when I see the request. Except for inactivity or a grand total of 5 trophies, I don’t turn anyone down for an interview. Unless something creative hits me, it is generally random when I pick someone’s episode.
If there is someone on the site you would like to see have an interview all you have to do is PM me and nominate them, and then I’ll ask them. If you do PM me to nominate someone please remember two things. 1) Some people I have contacted have refused for various reasons and 2) I might have already contacted them and they are backlogged. So please be patient and understanding if you do not see your request right away or ever.
Max: That is all the time we have on this special episode of Maximal Ding!: Behind-the-Scenes of the Lasombra Files. I would like to thank him for taking the time to answer the fans questions, as well as to the fans for asking some deep and complex questions. Remember to tune in next week, 9pm Tokyo time, for the next episode.
Fun Facts from the previous 25 weeks:
Views per episode
Episode 1: 996
Episode 2: 690
Episode 3: 667
Episode 4: 726
Episode 5: 508
Episode 6: 740
Episode 7: 765
Episode 8: 693
Episode 9: 850
Episode 10: 759
Episode 11: 795
Episode 12: 842
Episode 13: 910
Episode 14: 721
Episode 15: 472
Episode 16: 535
Episode 17: 1003 (Front Paged)
Episode 18: 463
Episode 19: 1298 (Front Paged)
Episode 20: 556
Episode 21: 774 (Front Paged)
Episode 22: 828 (Front Paged)
Episode 23: 329
Episode 24: 415
Episode 25: ???
Interviewees by country
America : 11
The blood caresses down my cheek as if it were some dame trying to soften me up for a night on the town. One eye is swollen shut. I know because I can’t see out of it. My head also feels like I was beaten up by an MMA fighter. The more I protest, the more she has her fun. I don’t know what cruel hand fate has dealt me but this is not the V I’m looking for. Her boot tip pushes into my shoulder and the chair flips over. As I stare into the hallway light, a silhouetted figure stands ominously before stepping out of the shadows in Episode 26: The Cut of your Jib. In a quick second the ropes tying me to the chair, as if we were going fresh, are cut and V stands me up straight, leaning on my shoulder. What dark and crazy city did I awaken in?
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