[Interview] Five: Chris Roper

Five questions, five answers. Simple as that.
Author: Marc N. Kleinhenz
Published: September 1, 2010

TotalPlayStation's Five interview series takes the brightest minds from the journalistic and game development worlds and asks them to expound on their personal benchmarks of the videogame industry, exploring the crucial components of narrative, music, gameplay, graphics, and character.

Chris Roper is a man who certainly needs no introduction, especially to the Sony crowd. After working at IGN for some seven years – the last few years of which he helmed the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable channels and co-founded the site’s incredibly popular Podcast Beyond – he now resides at Zipper Interactive, where he serves as a community specialist on the frontlines of the Shadow War.

And just because he can, Rope also heads up iPhone development studio Z Enterprises with his wife. They have had over one million downloads at the App Store.

[Plot Point/Character Beat/Story Twist]
The ending to Shadow of the Colossus is right up there for me and is probably my pick for this one. You might have been able to see it coming, but the events that took place during that final sequence were simply incredible.

I also really love the ending (and further story dive and dissection) to Braid. That's classic David Fincher stuff right there.

[Song and/or Soundtrack]
I can think of four big ones for me, two of which come from the same developer (but different composers/bands). One would definitely be Crazy Taxi. If you've played it, then no explanation is needed, I think. Those songs just fit it so well and it's hard to hear The Offspring or Bad Religion without thinking of that game.

Another is Burnout 2: Point of Impact. My friends and I played hundreds of hours of that game in its Crash mode (after perfecting the single-player), so we heard that main theme a countless number of times. I was really psyched to hear its return later in the series.

Though I haven't heard it in a while, I remember being floored by the opening theme to Black. I'd just sit there on the main screen and let it run through every time I started the game.

But, more than anything else, my favorite soundtrack ever, simply because it fit with what was happening so well, has to be Half-Life 2. It's more of an atmospheric approach to things, but I remember playing some of those bigger sequences for the first time with that soundtrack pumping away in the background. Simply incredible.

[Gameplay Mechanic]
Dune II's RTS elements would be a good pick here, as would Wolfenstein 3D's first-person view or the Pitfall guy's ability to jump, but if we're talking all-time, then I have to go way, way back to the high score. It's what kept people dropping quarters into Pac-Man cabinets and playing round after round of Space Invaders on the 2600. Had those games not had high scores, or at least scoring in general, then there wouldn't have been that massive level of competition, and gaming might not have gotten started as quickly as it did in the early days of arcades.

[Graphical Effect]
I'll give you three picks here from different genres. First, the Super Mario Bros. scrolling bitmap engine. The speed and responsive controls from that game defined everything to come since then, really.

Secondly, Doom, for pretty obvious reasons. Wolf3D started it, but Doom really took the 3D stuff to the next level and brought visuals that were able to set the mood and atmosphere by looks alone.

Of the modern-day stuff, I'd have to say the Source engine, and Half-Life 2 specifically. The engine's visual effects perfectly suited the art direction, and it actually still looks pretty decent to this day (nearly six years later). Its use of physics was almost perfect, and the game's character animation, especially in terms of realistic speech and all that, is still quite impressive.

Gordon Freeman, easily, simply because of the execution. It's not so much how Valve handles Gordon himself, per se, but, rather, it’s everyone else around him that defines the character. It's almost like you control the person, but Valve controls the mirror that lets you see him. You're not playing as Gordon Freeman, you are Gordon Freeman.

Freeman is certainly an interesting pick as he doesn't talk and you don't even really see him outside of art for the game, but the fact that he's such a definitive character despite all of that really says something.

[The Five Archive]

Dave Zdyrko

Micah Seff

Sam Bishop

Crispin Boyer

Rus McLaughlin

Chris Dahlen