The Snakehead Interviews – Robin Armstrong

A relatively recent but very promising addition to the Snakehead household is the reclusive genius known to some as Proteus454, and to most as Robin Armstrong. As he patiently awaited his Geneva Convention mandated quarter-hour of freedom from the chains holding him to his desk, we sat down with him to discuss what was what and whom was whom…

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Robin.

Well, my name’s Robin, as you see. I’m a bit over 28.5 years of age, I enjoy a wide variety of creative pursuits, I have dreams of being one of those big-shot “Authors” some day in the future, I have a husky I love very much, I loves me a tall, frosty glass of ginger ale…

*ahem* Let’s try to focus a bit. Tell us about your training and prior experience.

Ah, right. Well, before coming here, I had a few different jobs ranging from paperwork at the hospital to several years as a grocery cashier. I bounced between schools as well, university and college, picked up a bunch of different skills and life lessons, but I always had an interest in games, creative writing and storytelling, and managed to stay JUST on the right side of technical/non-technical user.

So how did you come to Snakehead, and what do you do here?

Short answer? Stroke of luck. Long answer, I’d have to thank an excellent ‘agent’ who recommended me for the position. When Snakehead was putting out feelers for a local guy with my skillset, said ‘agent’ caught wind and put my name forward as the ideal candidate. An interview followed, in which both I and the bosses decided the job was for me, and I was in training days later.

Officially, my position is as Online Game Community Coordinator. In practice, I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. As I’m still a junior member, I don’t do a lot of “important” things or jobs on which lots of money and prestige are riding, but they’re handing me more and more responsibility. I started out with a few simple polls, moved up to in-game assignments and blogposts (like this one) and coordinating a new crop of inventory items in Spybattle.

Why don’t you walk us through a typical day for you?

Well, I wake up too late, etc etc. I’m lucky to work regular hours in this climate, though, so I make an effort to show up on time. Once I’m in, settle in, check the work mail account, prioritize tasks. The boss kindly helps me structure my time and prioritize according to the time of week, so I’ve always got one or more specific objectives for the day.

Whatever I might be doing – catching up with other companies, brainstorming and ironing out new ideas, Skype meetings – it’s almost always broken up with one eye on the mailbox and hourly/half-hourly jaunts into the Starcrash universe. Other companies might complain, but hey, it’s technically work, keeping an eye on things. Just another way I’m a lucky guy.

I don’t like to take my work home with me, and they don’t make me yet. But like I said, as I climb the ranks (so to speak) and they foolishly trust me with more and more responsibility, that may start to change. Maybe I need an office at home too…

So how much pull DO you have? Can you, for example, make me a mod?

*laughs* Heck no at all. Truth be told, I’m not as active in the community as I COULD be. The community is wonderful and accepting, but I’m still struggling to really internalize a lot of things. I lurked for QUITE a while, only coming out of hiding when people noticed that I, a newb, had been mysteriously handed some unusual powers and scope normally reserved for greeters and the like. There was even a contest in the forums as people spun tales about just who I was. Talk about flattering!

Anyway, as of right now, I’m still very much working within established canon, so don’t expect any invading alien empires bearing my stamp of authorship anytime soon. There HAS been talk of a canon-background related project under my watchful eye, but that’s all in the future.

Should I be worried that you don’t seem super confident regarding your knowledge of the games’ nitty-gritty?

Again, not at all. It’s true that my knowledge of the actual code and “rules” isn’t as encylopedic as the original creators, or even some veteran players, but that’s a strength as much as a weakness. For one thing, I don’t handle any of the actual programming, and any new ideas are scrupulously scrutinized by people who know better so I don’t throw off the game balance.

For another, I like to think I represent a truly Casual demographic in that regard. I like playing these games and I like winning, but if my stats are less than they could be or I’m not maximizing the efficiency of my smoking bolt ops, I’m sanguine. Nothing wrong with being competitive, but I’m still enjoying myself. And isn’t that what matters?

Very nice. So what else do you get up to for fun?

I play a lot of other video games, which adds up to a LOT of time spent in front of the computer, I can tell you. Fortunately, I walk the dog once or twice a day (a duty shared with the family), so I get SOME exercise. I’m also interested in a lot of tabletop wargames, especially the ones with interesting stories or mechanics that really challenge you to actually think. I can’t deny I get a kick out of a lot of exotic googly-eyed cartoons and other such things – I like to think I’ve not lost my sense of childlike wonder at the fantastical, flashy and just-plain fun.

Do you have a secret identity

If I TOLD you my secret identity, and I’m not saying I have one, it wouldn’t be secret anymore, now would it?

Which of our games is your favourite?

Oooh, that’s a tough call. Honestly? I love the Red-Dwarf-with-Explosions appeal of Star Pirates, but I find the slightly different mechanics of Spybattle fascinating, what with the specialized inventory slots and all. Not to mention there’s just the personal touch of obliterating your foes from inside a futuristic suit of armour with your own two hands (and attendant cannons), instead of just ordering your spaceship crew to accelerate to attack speed and lock on weapons.

What are your plans for the future?

Ohohohoho, I have plans. Do I ever have plans. I have work-related plans, which may end up getting held up or outright vetoed if they prove unsound or unfeasible, but I’m a big boy and I understand how it goes. I have plans for myself, but right now all my energy is tied up in not messing up at this crucial stage – bad for me and bad for all you nice people out there.

I suppose we’ll just have to see what the summer holds, hmmm?

Anything else cool you wanna share with us?

Well, let’s see. I always get a kick out of the mind-boggling comedy-adventure stylings of Andrew Hussie on MS Paint Adventures, and you can’t beat the Page 5 Spirit of our fellow pirate enthusiasts over at Privateer Press. If you’re a PC gamer like me, Rock Paper Shotgun is an indispensable source of information and Accursed Farms offers some of the best laugh-out-loud machinima out there.

And don’t forget ARGH! AGH! Yes, yes master, yes!

So saying, he bent back to his task under the insistent lash of electrified chain whips. As he resumed muttering about shoes, circuitry and banner ads, we thanked him for his time. Join us next time when we interview someone even MORE interesting and important from the crack team of awesome fellows at Snakehead Games!