Category Archives: Interviews

An interview with a web series star

Matt Maassel is one of the stars of the new video game studio themed web series filmed by and starring Purdue students. The series is titled, “Development Hell” started filming its pilot episode today. Development Hell follows the trials and successes of a video game development company started by college friends. Matt plays as Dominic Warrick, one of the main characters.

Matt is a senior studying health fitness and senior member of The Crazy Monkeys improvisational comedy group. Matt knows his video games. When I interviewed him in his living room he introduced me to his SNES, Nintendo 64, and Playstation 3. As soon as the interview was over we talked for over fifteen minutes just about the games that he has played most recently. Most importantly, he’s single, ladies!

You can't say "no" to that face.

I was lucky enough to hold a Q and A with Matt about the project and his experiences working on it. Watch out, “Inside the Actor’s Studio”!

Q: How would you describe “Development Hell”?

A: “Development Hell” is “Mad Men” for the video game industry. It’s a drama and a really good look into the video game industry: how it works, the programming an the business behind it. Behind the scenes in the video game industry is an area that not many people really know much about so its exciting to have a chance to explore it with this series.

Q: How would you describe your character in “Development Hell”?

A: Dominic is the head programmer and one of the main designers. Using my “Mad Men” reference, I’m sort of the Don Draper character, but a little less responsible. Dominic is very carefree and very excited. He gets very enthusiastic and pumped up about things. He’s also very confident which sometimes comes off as arrogance.

Q: What do you like best about playing Dominic?

A: I really like playing arrogant or someone mean. (Matt laughed after saying this.) I like playing characters that think that they are brilliant, and maybe they are, but they have a little too much bravado. I find that fun.

Q: How do you get yourself ready to be Dominic and have his arrogance and bravado?

A: Oh geez. Well, I suppose that naturally I try not to have arrogance or bravado, so I just play the opposite of that. I believe that there is the opposite of everyone inside them: where you can be the opposite of who you are. So in me there is an opposite side of me that is a know-it-all who thinks he’s really awesome at everything and can totally dominate whatever he wants to do. I try to just tap into that side, I guess.

Matt channeling his opposite.

Q: So what part of development is “Development Hell” at right now?

A: Right now we are just getting ready to film the pilot. We’ve had read throughs so far. We are planning on shooting the first season in late April or early May.

Q: How long do you anticipate Season One will take to film?

A: Season One shouldn’t take any longer than a few weekends, actually.  The whole project is solely dependent on how popular it gets. So, based on the popularity of Season One it could continue indefinitely.

Q: What are some of the ways that you will determine the shows popularity? How will you get out the word for the shows popularity?

A: Definitely YouTube is where we’ll start, just seeing how many views the show has. To spread the show we will flood as many social media programs as we can. You know, Facebook and Twitter. Have constant interaction with and fans that we might have. If we start to have consistent fans then cater to them and take care of them and make sure that they know what is happening with the show.

Q: How many people are working on the project currently?

A: I would say about 20.

Q: How many of those people are actors and what are some of the other jobs that people have?

A: There are about 12 actors, I think. The crew has a camera guy, a main set guy, a director and writer, and then, another writer, and maybe other people (laughs) I’m not sure, but I’m sure that there is someone to deal with the business end of it too. Because we need to get some financial support. That’s actually the goal of the pilot, to get some financial support.

Q: How many episodes are currently planned for the first season?

A: I am not sure… The episodes are going to be about five to10 minutes long each, so we’re keeping them short. We can easily see ten episodes at least.

Q: What has been the most fun part of the project for you so far?

A: Personally, it’s just been getting to know the crew and the cast. Just getting involved with the whole crew and getting to know everyone that will make this project great. I’m excited to see how far we will go with this.

Q: Who is the target audience of “Development Hell”?

A: Definitely college students, college and high school students that are interested in video games. As the culture becomes exposed to video games, it becomes available to a wider and wider audience. Right now our demographic is definitely right around college aged because that demographic is very involved with video games. They know about them and they’ve grow up more consistently with them than any other generation. Since this show takes place in the early 2000’s they’ll be able to see certain homages to their past and their childhood.

Look! It's my old babysitter!

Q: What are some of those homages that audiences can expect?

A: Well, we talk about the Sega Dreamcast and how it died really fast. We’ll make a video game in the show that we designed for the Dreamcast and we’ll reference certain games as the show progresses. Certain ideas that we’ll come up with that weren’t necessarily ours and then you’ll go, “Oh yeah! So that’s how that got started, or how this got started.” It’s really gaming nuanced.

Q: Is there anything that you would like to add?

A: Check out the new website, developmenthell.net. Not .com. .com was taken. Tell all your friends about the show too!

I’d like to give a big thank you to Matt, and to remind everyone should check out “Development Hell” when the web series launches in the near future!

…Oh and you better what out James Lipton. You better fight hard to defend that interviewing throne. I’m coming for you.

I'd better be careful. James be from the street.

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Starcraft Stars – A profile on Ravi Pareek and Starcraft 2 competitive season 6

The South Korean flag.

Starcraft 2 has a pretty rabid following as a competitive e-sport. In some places it  is a sport bigger than American Football …well in most places that aren’t America, really. Famously, Starcraft is a national sport in South Korea. Finally, my interviewee this week estimated that around 200,000 people play Starcraft 2 competitively online in just North America alone.

Now you’re up to speed with just about everything that I know about Starcraft 2 or its competitive play. I loved the original Starcraft, but I’m not what you would call a challenger to a competitive player.

That’s why I called in the big guns and interviewed the best Starcraft 2 player that I knew, Ravi Pareek, about the e-sport. (Although, he will modestly say that he knows many people in the Purdue Starcraft Club that can best him.)

Who is Ravi Pareek?

Ravi is the event coordinator of the Purdue Starcraft Club and a member the Diamond League of Starcraft 2.

…and handsome

Diamond League is the highest standard league in Starcraft 2. To get into Diamond League you have to be in at least the top 18% of players in your region. That means that Ravi is in the top 18% of Starcraft 2 players in North America.

I was impressed by Ravi’s ranking, but he said that he wants to try and make it into the prestigous Master League. (Master League is the top 2% of a region).

Ravi’s pretty danged good, but its a skill he’s picked up over 13 years. Listen to that sound clip. You can hear my nervous laughter as I realize just how unworthy of his presence I am.

Ravi sounds like a credible source to me! Let’s learn some stuff about this competitive season of Starcraft 2.

Quick Competition Facts

  • Starcraft 2 is currently in the early rounds of its sixth competitive seaon.
  • The season should last about three months in total.
  • You compete only against players in your region. (Purdue students are in the North America region).
  •  The game matches you with players that are about of equal ability to yourself. (This is your league. You only play against players in the same league as you, which is why Ravi only plays against Diamond League players.)
  • You can improve your league status by winning in the off season. (For example, raise from Bronze League to Silver League).
  • Most prizes are awarded to Grand Master and Master league players.

Ravi’s Tactics

Ravi likes to play as the Protoss race in all of his 1v1 ranked matches. He says that he enjoys playing as the race because of their razor wire playing style, where one wrong move spells disaster.

Ravi’s favorite unit is the Protoss Templar.

Ravi has had some fun matches with the Protoss. Listen to what he considers to be his favorite game in recent history.

A serious player, Ravi watches many videos of the best players playing Starcraft 2 tournament play. During a season, like the current one, Ravi says that he watches up to nine hours of other players games a day. He says that many people are more interested than watching Starcraft than actually playing.

In fact, Ravi says that a handful of the members of the Purdue Starcraft Club never even play; they just attend meetings to watch others play.

Quick Do’s and Don’ts of Tournament Play (For New Players)

Do:

  • Macro hard and Micro soft
  • Macro level = your base and resources development, Micro level = your army and individual movements
  • Listen to Ravi’s awesome definition of Macro Hard and Micro Soft
  • Try out the Protoss. Ravi swears that they are the easiest team for a beginning player.

Don’t:

  • Play as the Zerg. The Zerg are awesome too, but they are usually the most difficult race for new players to grasp.
  • Use any keyboard macros. (Of course it had to be easily confused with Ravi’s catchy saying about macro management.) Most keyboard macros will get you disqualified. Unless you use one key for one single action you will be disqualified. Check out some forums on the issue that know a lot more about the topic than I do.
  • Don’t use map hacks. You’ll get the ban-hammer for that too.
  • Worry if you lose at first. Starcraft is a competitive e-sport that takes time and practice to master.

Shouldn't have started with the Zerg! ...Don't worry, I don't get it either.

Thanks for all the awesome advice, Ravi! You can play with Ravi in the Purdue Starcraft Club 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday in SC 289.

Be sure to check out the entire interview here! StarcraftInterview

At least listen to the Embarrassing Zerg Noise that I made during the interview.

If you’d like to be interviewed for The Gamer Guy Rants, then comment on this post with your name and gaming specialty. Rant away gamers!

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