funny you should mention that, it's out this week!

I’m sorry, that title was a lie – these aren’t FAQs they are just Qs. Qs that you guys asked me recently on our Formspring page, so I’ve picked some of the best and decided to answer them here, a little like SentUAMessage from Xbox Live except none of the questions involve Call Of Duty or whatever conveniently happens to be this week’s Xbox Live Arcade release. Big thanks to everybody who sent them in (even the bolt question), it was actually quite fun to answer them; they are all good questions and, for me, one of the best things about games is talking about games intelligently with other gamers; the proper gamers – not the 12 year old kids with gamertags like “xxx BeA5T K1LLER xxx” that send messages to Pointyhead, and the other one, that go “wenz teh next cod out coz i wanna be playin it innit”.  When you eventually reach the bottom of the article feel free to carry on discussing and debating in the comments or over on our forums.

Oh and while we are talking about questions and yakking about games, a few times a week over on our Twitter we play Reply&ReTweet in which we set a question for the day. You guys reply to it and we retweet some of the best answers. Regardless of if we retweet your response on the day, all the replies go into the archive for all to see.  There’s a link to it at the top of the page.  So… enough pimping of our social networks, lets get on with it.

What is your favourite music to play games to?

Honestly, I normally just stick to what ever audio the game has.  Developers must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the audio design for a game, each and every note timed to be played at a set moment in the game or designed to make you feel a certain way about what’s happening on screen. I’m not going to mess with that; I like getting wrapped up in games, and playing Dead Space with the Kings of Leon or some other popular music band the kids like these days playing over the top is just going to destroy the whole “Oh shit what was that? What was that?? ARGHHHHHH!!” feeling that you get.

inside the helmet he's making a face like this :S

That said, there are some games that have a truly awful soundtrack – mainly racers.  I think the only two occasions where I have actually put music on my Xbox was back when Burnout Paradise came out; that gets painful after a few hours, so I put together my own soundtrack featuring Status Quo and the Beach Boys.  The other was when Dead Rising came out, I put Down With The Sickness by Richard Cheese on, just for a giggle. There’s a crap saying that you get taught should you ever be unfortunate enough to work in electronic retail “sound is more than half the picture”, but it is true and couldn’t be more so with games; you can hear the guy behind you, you know which side somebody’s going to overtake you on and you just feel the atmosphere of the game more. The lines between your living room and the underwater world of Rapture become blurry and for those few hours you can be Spartan 117 or who ever you want to be.  If you’re a gamer I’d recommend getting yourself a 5.1 system, even if it’s a cheap one, it’ll be better than what’s built into your TV.

Hey! :D


Ok now, that’s not a question for a start but you’re going to get a response anyway. Have you noticed how the :D smiley, when turned into picture form automatically by things like MSN messenger, forum message boards or the software that runs GamingLives never fully conveys the awesomeness of the :D. The only time I’ve ever seen it correctly put across in full awesomeness is in the picture to the left. Another thing that bugs me is trying to send somebody a :D on Xbox, and the PlayStation is such a pain too, why is it not mapped to a button? Even on a chatpad for the Xbox controller it’s a pain in the arse.

Do you stock 4.38 diameter bolts?

You ever write something on the internet that you wish you hadn’t? In answer to your question, no we don’t… but your question has oddly just reminded me of something. In the first Bungie ViDoc for Halo Reach there is a shot about four minutes in that starts off with the bolt and then zooms out to reveal what is either a section of the single player game or a multiplayer map, “Yeah? So what? Big deal”. Well we gamers take stuff like that for granted now but a few years ago something like that would have been impossible. Even though we don’t see it, that bolt head will most likely have something written on it too but you’d only ever see it if you got up close and zoomed in. That is how much detail the really good game developers like Bungie put into their games and they do it for us, just to make the world we are involved in that little more believable.

What’s your personal favourite gaming death of a character ever?

Ohh that’s a good one, I’ll give you few answers to this if that’s ok? Lara Croft in the PlayStation 1 Tomb Raiders for a start; there was something oddly satisfying about falling off a high ledge or shorting a jump and hearing her scream and then the crack as she hit the floor. It made you wince a little and go “Awwwww”, then you remembered you were playing it on the PlayStation and you hadn’t used a save crystal for ages and then you’d go “Ohhhhh”.

The first gaming death I ever truly felt was when Aeris got stabbed in Final Fantasy VII, I remember just looking at my brother in shock. What just happened? That doesn’t happen in games? I liked her and she had all my good cure magic.

Why... just... why?

Most recently was Mass Effect 2, there are a few ways that this scene can play out in the game so its not really a spoiler but Kelly Chambers died. I watched her die. I liked Kelly. She told me when I had messages, and if anybody wanted to talk to me. I actually screamed when it happened then I took a moment and it occurred to me “Gah! The auto save!” I jumped across the room and turned the Xbox off and I tried again. No joy. She died every time. This was the first time I think a character died as a result of my decisions, the decision in question was the one to go mining for ore I didn’t need before saving my crew. I thought “Oh I’d better stock up before I leave, I’m bound to need some”. How wrong was I?

The Companion Cube from Portal also deserves a nod. I was determined not to throw her into the fire; I must have spent twenty minutes trying to work out how to get her out safely. Then GladOS’ comment after you do it resulted in an under-my-breath “Bitch” – it really did make me feel bad for a while.

If you could pick any game ever designed thus far, and put yourself at the helm of the development process, what would it be?

Let us tell you how this will make you feel

If there is one person that shouldn’t ever be in charge of the development of a game its me, as I’d ruin it with explosions and tits. Commander Shepard would wear a boob tube all the way through Mass Effect (my Shepard is a lady), Halo 3 would have featured a level where you have to fight off ten Scarabs at the same time using a grav hammer and every decision you make in Fable 3 would result in a sex scene. As much as I would love to get my name in the credits on a game, truth is I’d rather be the one to play them when they are finished. I don’t want to know what’s about to happen; I love those OMG moments that we get in games now too much. There’s a core bunch of guys that are driving the industry; guys like Cliffy B, Peter Molyneux, The Houser brothers and the studios that they work at like Bungie, Media Molecule, Rockstar and so many other studios, both big and small, that are driving the industry forward and are responsible for where gaming is now.

I’m proud of these guys! They are pioneers and I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve from outside of the gaming industry, if it wasn’t for them we’d have nothing to do other than sit around watching Top Gear repeats and The One Show. If I was working at a studio I’d only get in their way.

How does Xbox Live work?

Like Xbox live as a whole? Just the matchmaking bits? Honestly though I don’t know, it’s something I’d like to know but I must have just spent the last hour trying to find the technically minded version of how it works, but I can’t sorry. The Xbox Engineering Blog is a good source of info like this and hopefully they will cover it in the future it’s worth a read regardless, and features info on how Achievements work, Xbox party chat works (which might be the closest answer to your original question) and much more.

Which game would you say has been most instrumental in changing the industry (in terms of gameplay, graphics, style) to how we see it today?

One game? Hmmmmmm I could give you a stack but I’ll try pick one… One game to rule them all..?

You all know how I'm going to answer this one right?

an hour and 45 minutes pass…

Right, I’ve decided – can only be Half Life. *gasp* Now the Half Life players among you are going “Yes, well done” but the truth is I never played it *gasp*.  So how can I give that an answer? Easy. I watched my brother play it; he was sat in the back half of our living room at the old house playing it one day and he called me over saying “Hey Lee, look at this” as he booted the game from the start. Like many gamers, when I first saw Half Life’s opening sequence I was blown away – it was so simple and brilliant. You played a bloke on his way to work, then you get to work and it all goes tits up. There was no cut scene, no ball-ache tutorial it very much was Gordon’s story from Gordon’s point of view. Sure, there was plenty of stuff going on around you and you got to see different sides of the same event with the add on packs that were later released, but the thing that made it the game that changed games is that it was the first one to pay attention to the little things that happen, the scripted events we now take for granted, blokes getting attacked by head crabs in an office you can’t enter, aliens kicking doors in when you walked past. Before this, FPS games where just that – first person shooters.  Nothing happened in them; you just ran around grabbing key cards and opening doors, the worlds they were set in were dull and stale, they weren’t alive and didn’t feel believable, you didn’t care – “Oh there’s a baddie, shoot it – oh I need a red key for this door”.

Wisely done, Mr. Freeman. I will see you up ahead.

Somebody who has actually played the game might want to correct me on this in the comments, but I love that you don’t actually know what’s going on as its happening in Half Life. It’s not until much later on that you know why events have occurred the way they have and what was actually happening, this represents another of those landmarks for gaming where the story telling side of games kicked in and it really started mean something. There’s a whole mythology built around the Half Life games and I won’t insult its fans by pretending to know what its all about, again another thing it brought to the gaming industry. I just had to phone Adam to check what I was saying was right and his response was “Ah well its actually quite complicated you see…” and in that half sentence he gave me all the info I needed. Half Life really was the turning point for story telling, physics, puzzle solving and even as a shooter it stands up with the best of them. Hopefully one of the other writers who have actually played it will cover its effects on gaming and give it the full in depth article it deserves one day.  It’s a much loved and timeless game, I cared for the Freeman’s fate and I wasn’t even playing the game.

…and you thought I was going to say Halo.

Last five articles by Lee



  1. Victor Victor says:

    Ha. Some cool questions and some cool answers there, Lee.
    Here is a question for you. Why do you think that Blue Dragon is an inferior game to Lost Odyssey?

  2. Kat says:

    I have to say I enjoyed this FAQ and hope maybe we could FAQ again sometime cos it was a FAQing good read… okay I’ll stop :D

    XBL works by magic btw.

  3. Samuel The Preacher says:

    No, but, really, do we stock 4.38 diameter bolts? I really have to know.

    I mean, err, I was nowhere fucking near the survey page. No sir.

    Funny article as always Lee, heh,

  4. fanboy prime says:

    nice but more ps3 please!!!

  5. Edward Edward says:

    This needs to happen more often.
    And thanks for answering my questions! :D

  6. Rook says:

    Now that I have started to skim over my Twitter account again I might decide to join in with this reply&retweet business, get involved, be part of the solution/problem.

  7. Ste says:

    FAQ off Lee. :D

    Good call on the Half Life though. It’s one of my favorite games of all time and arguably one of the most important games ever to be made.

  8. Lee says:

    Q-”Here is a question for you. Why do you think that Blue Dragon is an inferior game to Lost Odyssey?” – from Victor.
    A- Easy that annoying little yellow cat with a pot on its head, most annoying thing in a game ever without question, That said lost odessy was far from perfect, JRPG’s just kind of lost their way after Final Fantasy IX

    @Ed – not a bad idea, we’ll see how it goes

  9. Edward Edward says:

    As long as you make people more aware of the Gaminglives formspring (like putting it at the bottom of the post), and super maybe let other people answer a question or two next time, you should have something even more epic than this by the time FAQ Me 2: Electric Boogaloo is ready.

  10. Markatansky says:

    Fugging good read this. :D

  11. Samuel The Preacher says:

    Shouldn’t that be FAQ Me 2: FAQed Harder?

  12. Lee says:

    I’ll call it whatever the FAQ i like :D (dam you awesome smiley!)

  13. markB0SS says:

    He he, should of said Halo!!!

    Deffo agree on having music to play on the background on games like Burnout over single player games like Dead Space. UNLESS, its like the single player game of Bad Company 2, where the theme to the original Predator film matchs the jungle levels perfectly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSqw9Yn_RMQ

    Also I’m going to try my best to never use Formspring. Let’s see how long that lasts.

    p.s. I also have it on good source that Lee has a huge willy.

  14. Lorna Lorna says:

    Nice! Good save on the bolt question and your pick of Half Life was certainly a surprise, but fair play :)

  15. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Well I thought you were going to say Halo, but it just goes to show you eh? Like me, most people assume Fallout 3 is my favourite game because I have a shitload of Fallout artwork and a kick arse brotherhood soldier… but that’s mainly because other games don’t have an art style that appeals to me a great deal. It’s easy to assume that I’d hold Fallout 3 up as being the pivotal game for me but, as I always say, UFO: Enemy Unknown is what turned me from geek to gamer geek.

    Also, you didn’t answer my question: What’s Mad Moxxi’s phone number?

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