We want to get more gamers in the spotlight on 365Gaming, gamers who have a special story to tell, have a long list of achievements/trophies, played a role in eSports or just gamers who have been nominated for a spot in the spotlight. These interviews can be done in English like the one we are starting with today, but also in Dutch for our native followers. Today is our first….hopefully of many.
We are starting today with somebody dear to me, the illusive Sashamorning, famous amongst the > 250.000 registered users on TrueAchievement and many others who come to visit the site for guides and help on getting achievements.
With the TA app on the Xbox One integrated his solutions will help sooooo many more and I’m sure that anybody who has ever looked up a solution on TA, probably came across one of Sashamorning’s 545 solutions or 42 reviews.
About 5 years ago I also came in contact with him, and he helped me as well. Not only with his solutions, but he helped me during a game session. Honestly, I cannot remember if this was an organized one or if he helped me personally after I called out as a damsel in distress 😉 As we had many other sessions in the years to come, I have lost count 😉
With his, almost 410.000 GS and over 360 completed games, he has a good track record when it comes to Xbox gaming. A very good candidate to interview in our opinion…and we hope you will enjoy it as well.
Thanks *****, ehh I mean Sasha, for taking the time to talk with me (oops, it’s hard not to call you by your name, but I know how you value your privacy, so Sasha it is 🙂 )
365G: I know you have been asked this sooooo many times, but it is the obvious question 😉 What’s with the female avatar and Gamertag?
SM: You can just call me Sasha. J First of all, I have a really common name, and there are 2 other members in my close Xbox crew with the same name. It just makes sense to refer to me as Sasha. Plus I’ve had a license plate, Jersey… I answer to Sasha. It’s a part of my identity by now.
I’ve been Sasha for almost 10 years now, from the days when I played a fantastic MMORPG (Puzzle Pirates, a combination puzzle/RPG). It was consuming my life so much that I stepped away, but you never get away from something when you’ve invested so much time living in that world. In any case, believe it or not, the choice of avatar was because the female pirates had better clothes. It’s true. And I always wore gold (a rather uncommon outfit), so I was slightly well known there as well. When I made my Xbox tag, Sashamorning just seemed obvious.
365G: I will understand if you want to keep a low profile when it comes to your personal life, but can you say something about the folks you share your day-to-day life with? And in relation to gaming….do they support your gaming addiction? Or maybe even join in on the fun?
SM: My wife isn’t a gamer, but she’s incredibly tolerant. A lot of it is that she gets motion sickness from FPSs, but her career keeps her incredibly busy. In any case, I couldn’t so what I do without her support (and to be clear, I have a day job of sorts… gaming isn’t ALL that I do. 😉
I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve been where I currently live for the past 3 years, but in the 4 years I lived in 5 different states, each over 1000 miles apart. Most of my close friends are on Xbox Live; a main reason is that they’ve been more constant than anyone other than my awesome wife. In fact, when we lived in SE New Mexico, we were so remote that gaming was truly the only thing that I had to do. And the monster was born. 😀
365G: Normally I see you online on the Xbox but I actually never asked this before, but do you game on other platforms as well? And what is your gaming background? (since your age is close enough to mine it will probably mean it started with Pong 😛 ).
SM: I’m pretty much exclusively on Xbox. Most of it’s the achievements, to be honest. Believe it or not, except for the occasional PC game (Half-Life, Deus Ex, the old NCAA Football and NHL, just to date me), I had no gaming consoles from the Atari 2600(!!!) until the original Xbox. I had a 360 at launch and never looked back. (And no, no Pong, but my father-in-law owns an original Pong system.)
Not to disparage the PlayStation, but the PS3 really turned me off with the constant updating…practically every time I turned it on. One update bricked my console and I had to reformat my hard drive. Losing all my game saves was the last straw. But I did enjoy the Uncharted series, Heavy Rain and, of course, the masterpiece that is The Last of Us. If only it was on Xbox… *sigh*
365G: Can you tell us something about your gaming set-up & game/merchandise collection…or even better show it? And do you have any favorites?
SM: Oy. My wife and I got tired of living in separate rooms, she with her TV and me with my console, so now we have two TVs next to each other. It makes it easier to double-box as well. I’m down from 7 to 5 Xboxes. I’d probably have less, but those 5 are the Reach, Halo 4 and GoW 3 special editions, an NTSC-J and a PAL box. Each one is unique.
I used to keep a box devoted to my GAEMS case, so that I could grab it when I needed to go out quickly. My wife has a job that sometimes meant she had to leave on a moment’s notice, and I went with her. That’s when I also learned that you can actually tether a 360 through an iPhone without a lot of data (even with MP gaming and chat), although I suspect that the One passes a lot more data.
I don’t use my GAEMS case nearly as much anymore, but hopefully when MS releases the inevitable smaller console, GAEMS will release a new model. It’s incredible. There’s a screen in the top of the case, and it’s simple to set up. I even have a picture of me playing it on a plane (offline) that they used on their Facebook page. It works with the PS3 too, or really anything with an HDMI output. I’m not selling the product, but for a while I would have just been lost without it.
I have… a lot of games. Probably not as many as some, but I stopped reselling games when I started realizing that I wasn’t getting any real value out of them, so I’ve kept them. I need more storage space.
Favorite stuff… I love Borderlands, and have the loot chest and the Claptrap-in-a-box editions. Also, Bioshock is probably my favorite series. Ken Levine and Irrational can/could really tell a story, and the Songbird has a special place on the shelf, along with my Bioshock 1 Big Daddy figure (even though I haven’t taken it out since it’s been infamous for how many broke out of the box). My Marcus statue and Halo 3 MC helmet are also prominent and always will be.
And then there’s the Titanfall statue, probably the centerpiece, just due to its size. I clearly have an issue with special editions. I probably would have pre-ordered the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Big Ben edition, but they sold out instantly. At least that means I probably won’t get it at launch, although the idea of the first purely single-player outing since AC2 makes me more optimistic about any game in the franchise since then.
365G: I already mentioned your awesome help to so many gamers with solutions & guides. Also you have created and helped with so many game sessions as well. Where did this urge to help come from? I mean, I enjoy helping others as well…but still it takes a huge amount of time…precious time. So what motivated you to start and continue this help?
SM: I just love gaming, and I love helping people. I used to be a teacher, and helping others is just part of who I am. Not only that, but I game with an incredible group of gamers. We all help each other. Also, I use other people’s solutions a lot, and my solutions are just a way of paying that back and paying it forward. Besides, if I find something really cool, I like to get that out there. Not all of the solutions are perfect, and if I see someone has made a better one, I have no problem with taking mine down.
365G: And to continue the helping of others…does that mean you will play a game just to help somebody or do you at least need to “like” the game in order to play it? I mean, there is limit to the amount of time you can spend in some horrific games 😉
SM: *chuckle* I’ll pop in a game if I have it, but I don’t go out of my way to get games just to help. That being said, I have a bad habit of picking up games and then not getting to them.
What ticks me off more than anything though is how I always find myself feeding into the annual Call of Duty cash grab. I still haven’t even played Ghosts, but there it is, on my shelf. I like the MP aspect if and only if I’m with my friends. The last multiplayer I played strictly for fun was CoD4. I’m just not into MP gaming, although I love being in parties with friends, all playing different games.
But yes, I’ve played my share of crap games. That isn’t to help others boost, but for the achievements. I’m completely addicted.
365G: Oh my manners, what about the rest of your hobbies and day to day routine? (some call it work 😉 ) And how do you combine this with gaming?
SM: Hobbies other than gaming? Those exist? 😉
I do like to travel a lot. My wife travels a bit, and I’ll go with her. I also just graduated from grad school, which was taking up a lot of my time. I’m an avid film buff, but that doesn’t really interfere with gaming. At this point, gaming really is a centerpiece in my life.
365G: Another cliché question…but which game (or top 3) do you like the best? And…did you complete it as well? And to get the list complete: the worse game(s) as well.
SM: I have 818 games on my card right now, so narrowing it is practically impossible. My favorites are Bioshock (I’ve played all 4 stacks) and Bioshock Infinite, which is better in my opinion. I was a huge fan of the original Fallout 1 and 2, and Fallout 3 took it to the next level. Red Dead Redemption was an unqualified masterpiece, as was The Last of Us. (I swear I’ve never been so emotional about a game as I was at the beginning of TLOU, although a point in Borderlands 2 also hit hard, and The Walking Dead Episode 3.)
EndWar will always have a special place in my heart; it was a really well-made game—Ubi really got voice commands RIGHT, even if they crushed me with the unobtainable Dog of War. And Metro. Wolfenstein: The New Order was easily the most underrated game of last year, and is definitely a true favorite. Okay that’s a lot more than 3 games.
I also loved the old System Shock 2 on the PC. It’s a true shame that EA let that die. And then there’s Half-Life. Ugh. I hope Valve leans to count to 3 someday. Maybe when their console picks up some steam (pun intended), they’ll use that as a way to move product. And I’ll totally buy into it.
Worst games… Eragon and Jumper, hands down. I’ve found good things in just about every other game out there, but those games could fall in a deep dark hole and I’d never miss them. I just miss the time I spent on them. I also can’t stand most of the EA Sports series anymore due to the Ultimate Team aspect. I know some people really love it, but not me. I see it as a naked cash grab, which it is, of course.
365G: As a true achievement hunter, which achievement is the one you are the proudest of? And is there one on the bucket-list? A so-called Nemesis amongst the to-do’s? Mine is Endure in Halo ODST btw…I tried it a few times and just stopped as I got to frustrated. But I still hope to get it and complete the game 😉
SM: Honestly, I’m most proud of the one that didn’t pop: Dog of War in EndWar. We had a group of devoted gamers that played daily for two straight months to fulfill the requirements. When it didn’t pop it was crushing, but the sense of camaraderie was incredible.
Beyond that, I’m really proud of my vocal achievements in Rock Band/Guitar Hero. I’ve never used a sound clip for those, and Mike Checka’ is super special because I know that the number of people who can legitimately pull that off is very small. It’s a shame that vocals can be faked while guitar achievements can’t (at least not easily; there are ways around them using outside equipment), which dilutes the value of the achievements, but that’s the nature of achievement hunting.
I was able to finally get Endure, almost completely due to masterfoofoo. She is incredible. I don’t think I’ve talked to her since, but she carried us through that glitch run through hell (it crashed once on us on the last wave). My job was long-range pistol headshots and holding the rocket launcher for Chieftain kills, but my team really did most of the work.
My nemeses… I will definitely get Bling Bling. Someday. I know there’s a glitch by playing with someone who already has it, but my fan has gotten quite the workout inching toward the $million. That was a sadistic move by Activision.
Also the last two achievements in Fight Night Champion. Will They Believe You is a nightmare, but I know it’s possible. (I should really do that before EA kills those servers.) I can actually finish FNC, so I need to knuckle down and git ‘er done.
I’d love to get the other two GRAW leaderboard achievements (the one took me six weeks of 24/7 five-console boosting against alts), and Seriously 3.0, but they don’t haunt me nearly as much as some others. I basically just don’t care about putting in the time… there are other games to play!
365G: When it comes to achievements and game sessions, are there those you will never forget? For example because an achievement took ages to get…or because something funny occurred during a session?
SM: Well, I already mentioned the Dog of War coordination effort. That group was amazing. Endure, of course. Squat Thrusting was incredible when it popped, but that was using a workaround. Really I just like the experiences along the way. Achievements aren’t always about the pop (no, seriously), but about what I experienced along the way. Red Dead was an amazing ride. So was Portal 2.
I was really excited to finish Skylanders: Trap Team first because it was my first (and my collection is… large). But really, seeing a final pop is often bittersweet for me. If I had to pick two that I was really relieved at seeing finally, they would be the GRAW solo leaderboard and Luck of the Draw in Texas Hold ‘em. That last one took about 60,000 hands, all done using my Hori controller. Luck-based achievements drive me crazy. (To me, getting one isn’t an “achievement,” it just means that the random number generator came up with your number on it.)
365G: You have been involved with setting up game events as well, challenges etc. What did you enjoy the most in getting these organized and how many gamers joined in?
SM: Sashapalooza has easily been the best. For the record, I didn’t name it and it wasn’t even my idea, but because I live in such a centralized location compared to a lot of my friends, some can drive, although others have to fly in. This is the third year. 5 big screen TVs, fireworks, concerts, baseball games… it isn’t just about gaming, but also seeing those people that we know from online and have become close to. Last year we had 10 close friends camped around the house. It’s a really tight-knit group, so we don’t really invite many people. Plus it’s at my house, and having complete strangers would be kind of awkward.
I’ve also run a TA score contest with a lot of gamers (I really don’t know how many were entered), which was stressful but fun. Again, Dog of War probably had 20-30 people working daily, and I’ve run Halo sessions with that many people as well. Of course, it isn’t about the number of people, but the quality. I like to make sure that those that participate are there to help, not just take their achievements and leave.
Of course, Sashapalooza 3.0 is going to be a bit special. I have a bit of a secret planned. I’ll let you know more later.
365G: I know you travel around the world a lot. Did you ever meet other gamers in real life during these travels? Or are there gamers you would like to meet? (or maybe keep them as far away as possible from your real life 🙂 )
SM: Obviously Sashapalooza is the big one. I’ve met quite a few others where they live (REVELATIONxJedi, fighterx93chipp, SuperTigerWoods, ChrisD0811, Darth Maul FTS, Cheese Touch, Hott Armante, oxBURN3Rxo, Chromium Stars, NastyMastaDaddy who actually lives rather close to me, Matrarch, Big Ell… I think that’s it), but none outside the States. Obviously it’d be fantastic to meet the elusive Weerwolff someday ;-).
As for people to stay away from… I won’t name names, but there are one or two.
365G: Being located in the US, you are “close” to certain big game events and geek-cons like the big Comic-Cons. Do you attend these as well? And which one is still on your wish-list? And did you ever visit the Gamescon during one of your travels to Germany?
SM: I haven’t really ever had the time. I’m close to New York right now, and I’ve had the opportunity to get to some of the ones on the West Coast. E3 would be frickin’ incredible, as would Gamescon, but when we’re traveling overseas, my wife would rather experience the local culture and sights (she’s a major history buff), and I don’t blame her. I don’t want to drag her to gaming events when we’re under tight schedules as it is, and she’s not a gamer so I doubt it would be much fun for her.
365G: Looking forward to gaming and the things to come. What are the games you look forward to these next years? A new IP or a sequel? Or what type of game would you like to see getting launched on current gen (or the future gen)?
SM: Oh goodness, if Valve would make Half-Life 3 (or whatever they want to follow up with…I can actually see them skipping over 3 and going straight to 4, since it’s been SO LONG) I’d be over the moon. I’ve been dying to play The Division. Ubi keeps punting it, but after some recent hiccups, I want to see it done right. The new Deus Ex looks incredible. More Metro would also be fantastic (and I think I’ve heard rumors). I’m also exited with Bethesda’s announcement for Fallout 4! And, of course, I’m very interested in the new Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
But the number one game I’d push everything else aside for is whatever Ken Levine comes up with next. His concept for a highly-malleable project sounds heavily intriguing, and his team has made amazing games, from System Shock 2 to Freedom Force to Bioshock… when he announces it, I’ll throw my money at him.
365G: I can go on and on asking you about game stuff, but I need to keep the interview below the 10.000 words hahaha. But is there anything you would like to share that I forgot to ask about but needs to be said?
SM: I think I’ve said plenty lol. I can’t really think of anything else.
365G: Thank you again for your time! It was great virtually talking to you again!
SM: You too! Thanks for asking me to chat a bit!
For the readers, we hope you enjoyed the little interview we had and that you got enough Intel on Sashamorning 😉 He has agreed to write an occasional guest blog on our site, so be sure to tune in for these! If there are any questions I failed to ask, just ask them in the comments below and we will ask Sashamorning to answer them.
More interviews will follow on 365Gaming, with gamers who have an impressive track record or something else that makes them stand out. If you know somebody who really needs to be interviewed…let us know and we will try to get them wiling to answer a few questions. If you have a good friend who deserves a spot in the spotlight, let us know via a message on the site or PM on Social Media.