The TrueTrophies community interviews are back! This week, we are talking to darkjian92 about their trophy haul, favourite games, and more!
If you are interested in being interviewed, shoot me a direct message on the site for further details.
PSN ID: darkjian92
Hey all! I'm DJ, or Dan if you prefer — though I'll answer to "Oi you" in a pinch. I'm 29, and I live in Brisbane, Australia, which often makes things interesting playing with friends halfway or more across the world. I work in IT Security, on-call through the day, and then teach private music lessons through the afternoon and evening. Luckily, I have time to pursue some of my hobbies thanks to insomnia and on-call being only infrequently demanding, and a lot of my gaming tends to be late nights anyway as a result.
I enjoy cricket (particularly at the moment with the Aussies back in ascendency), tabletop gaming, puzzles and enigmas, and the study of languages, into which, as a singer, I've sunk quite a bit of time. Any average day might find me doing any number of different things, and I'm rarely if ever bored or stuck for something to do.
I also try to give back to online communities I'm a part of and participate in managing a few online boards, some of which have become defunct. Of these, the assistance I'm able to provide TrueTrophies (which is less than I'd like, but I'm working on that) is probably one of the privileges I take the greatest pride in, as a site and community I both respect and appreciate. Hopefully what follows isn't too uninteresting!
How did you start gaming and trophy hunting? The first games I remember playing were on an (antiquated even then) Commodore 64 at about age for — we had Pac-Man and Pitfall, and a few others that I've got less memory of. I do have a very clear memory of borrowing a video game book from my school library with game code scripts inside, and trying to copy it character for character into the system to play some new games — back when video game piracy was sometimes literally photocopied.
We got the first PlayStation when I was 7 or 8, with Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Wipeout 2097, and a little game called Klonoa which remains to this day one of my favourites. My gaming horizons widened with my first true RPG, Breath of Fire IV, which we rented for 15 consecutive weeks from our local Blockbuster store, and I played a lot with emulators through the 2000s and early 2010s.
2016 saw me buy my first PS3 shortly after moving out of home, at which point I became aware of Trophies. This was potentially dangerous for my productivity, as the completionist is a strong voice inside me. I've been untraining that part of me with Bean Dives and deliberately tanking my completion percentage, but the goal of one day recovering it completely still floats in my mind.
Which consoles do you predominantly play at the moment?PS4 and PS5 mostly, with some emulation, PC, and PS3 thrown in. Really, it's mood dependant — sometimes I'll play only enough PlayStation in a day to keep my streak going and then focus on something else. I also own a Switch but haven't really given it the attention it probably deserves.
Give us a taste of your favourite games!From bygone eras:
More recently, I have particularly enjoyed:
- Klonoa — Door to Phantomile. I rave about this game. I love it to bits. And the trauma it left me with has stayed with me for 20 years now. It was my first contact with the anime-Esque escalation of very simple plots and quests leading to world-altering events, and I cherish it still.
- Breath of Fire series — through Let's Plays in which I met some of my closest friends online. Pretty stock standard RPGs in hindsight, but nostalgia goggles tinge them for me, and BoF4 particularly had some excellent exploration into interesting mechanics — but they were sadly, like Legend of Legaia, overshadowed by the juggernaut that was the PS1 Final Fantasy Games.
- Final Fantasy — because of course. Mostly V, VI, and VIII — I'm still not 100% sold on VII, despite that being basically a heretical opinion.
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Death Stranding
- Kingdom Hearts series (I grew up with it, so nostalgia goggles again)
- Point and Clicks, particularly the Sierra style ones and remasters — Day of the Tentacle, Deponia, Grim Fandango, etc.
- Anything with good music — as a musician, it's an obsession point for me, and bad music is a major factor in my not enjoying a game.
What is your favourite genre?I'm a sucker for 80+ hour RPGs, especially if I can play them in small chunks and they're well written. Watching the plot threads come together when it's done well is a sensation like flying to me, and one that I've only felt with video games, and a few exceptional book series. I'm also an absolute sucker for Arkanoid/Breakout clones. The quantity of "Break" games on my profile is rapidly increasing, and I shudder to think how much money I've spent on them. But, as well as being stupidly easy platinums, I just like bouncing the ball and clearing the walls. Similarly, word and puzzle games tend to grab me pretty easily — Vita POWGI back when I had to commute on public transport was an excellent time, and those are games I generally finish to in-game 100% regardless of when in the journey I get the platinum.
Where in the world are you and what is the gaming climate like there?
I'm in Brisbane, Australia, and I actually don't have a really good grasp of the gaming climate here. I've always lived in rural or semi-rural areas, and the internet here was and is an embarrassment — our average broadband speed is somewhere less than Estonia and just above Ukraine according to Wikipedia. As a result, online play with other areas of the world, particularly with Europe and the US, has always been a problem of logistics, purely because of high ping and even just physical distance limitations. In fact, Australia's internet is still deemed insufficient for PS Now, which is a constant thorn and regret for me. This is slowly changing, though, and I'm hopeful that the gaming climate picks up as technologies improve.
Do you have any controversial hot takes related to gaming?
- Final Fantasy VII jumped the shark as far as that franchise was concerned, and the series has still not quite pulled itself out from under that spectre. The Remake has done this in an even bigger way, but since that point, the series has favoured form over function, and spectacle over content.
- To a lesser extent, this is true of most big AAA games. They generally play it safe, rarely innovating unless that innovation was tried and proved elsewhere, and gamers deserve more than an endless stream of focus tested 'masterpieces' generated by computer or checklist like the feelies in Brave New World.
- If a game intends to make you feel bad about the actions you take within it, then a game should not railroad you into taking those actions — unless that railroading is both plot-relevant ("just following orders", for instance) and leads to the character acting against those actions, in a kind of emotional Chekhov's Gun principle.
- If a target/primary demographic for a video game is too young to own a credit card, that game should not be allowed to contain in-game purchases of any kind. In all other cases, in-game purchases should absolutely be limited to non-game-impacting elements — skins, dances, fashion, include these if you want, but it's time and past to send pay-to-win and gatcha gambling models the way of the dinosaur.
- Elitism in gaming sucks, and the so-called self-titled 'elites' are an incredibly toxic community in what should be a welcoming community. Everyone should be allowed to enjoy games the way they want, whether that be as trophy hunters, completionists, challenge runners, speedrunners, or whatever. Competition is fine, but demeaning the person who plays on Easy or just runs the plot through instead of exploring every nook and cranny is a vile habit. As an exceptionally hot take, I believe that those who persistently demean in this fashion should be de-platformed and lose their accounts and progress wherever they may exist, in the same way a pro sportsperson would or should be if they were to demean grassroots versions of their sport.
- Finally, the gaming community as a whole should back off developers and publishers when it comes to release dates, both so that crunch overwork can be avoided, but also to slow the seemingly endless progression of games being shipped incomplete.
Do you have a love for a game that isn’t well-regarded by others?Klonoa! Yes, I'm gushing about this again, but I love it to absolute bits, and encourage everyone to experience it, even if only by way of emulation. It took a piece of my soul and never returned it, and, especially given the time in which it was published, it is a tremendous piece of art.
More recently, I thoroughly enjoyed Where the Water Tastes Like Wine — a game that didn't make its investment back despite being a really inventive experience. Ryan Ike's soundtrack for it was amazing, and the concept of collecting stories and watching them evolve while trying to get to the 'truth' to resolve your bargain with a devil was something I found compelling. Yes, it's more accurate to refer to it as an 'experience' rather than a game, but for whatever reason, I found it incredibly immersive and did not regret a single minute I spent on it.
What upcoming game are you most excited about?While I'm pretty excited for Elden Ring, Dragon Age 4, Plague Tale Requiem, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok, the excitement is tentative as I've learned more about each of them. I've respected the franchises and developers that have led to those games, and I desperately want them to be good. No preorders this time around, though — I've been burned too many times.
The game I'm probably most excited for, though, is Temtem. It's currently in Early Access for PS5, and I plan on waiting until the finished project is released before grabbing it, but as a new direction for monster catching/training/fighting games, it's got all the pieces of a very exciting picture. It remains to be seen if it can be pulled together neatly. But I hope it can.
The Trophy Case
What is the hardest trophy you have earned?To this point, hands down it's the platinum from Wipeout: Omega Collection — "Transcendence." As a pianist, I'm a reasonably precise person, but it took a lot of muscle memory remapping before I got close to the Beat Zico trophies. My final run to the platinum was a sphincter-gripping all-night affair that finally worked itself to completion just before 6am. I was visibly twitchy and couldn't actually unwrap my hands from the controller for several minutes. The thrill of beating it, though, was incredible.
What is the longest it took for you to earn a trophy?Ah yes, interminable grinds. Space Overlords on the Vita is the one that sticks out for me — a mindlessly repetitive action to break the buildings for the grind, and one that couldn't be done unattended. I've also got a few grind trophies still on the go that will eventually surpass that when I get them — most notably the wickets and coins grind in Big Bash Boom. I'm not that close, even — I reckon more than 100 hours of grind left still. I work on it here and there — often while I've got actual cricket on another screen. Special mention also to the mandatory extra play of daily challenges on Rayman Legends for months after the rest of the game was finished.
What is the naughtiest way you have circumvented the hard work to grab a trophy?Got a few grinds I did unattended — including Space Overlords on PS4 where I used a macro to repeat the button presses that I couldn't avoid on the Vita. But I think probably the naughtiest circumventions have been boosting ones. Yes, a lot of those happened for games with dead multiplayer, but I still feel less accomplished for them as a result. Abstergo Employee of the Month from AC Brotherhood on PS3, and the poker trophy in Red Dead Redemption on PS3 are the standouts here. With the multiplayer the way it was when I did them, there was no way I was getting those trophies otherwise.
What is the easiest full list for the best game?Bit of a toss-up here, between:
A few of the artier games I've enjoyed, like AER and Abzû, would also qualify.
- Puppeteer (PS3) — spectacularly enjoyable game. A few tricky collectables to track, but nothing exceptionally difficult, and the game was supremely enjoyable.
- Foul Play (PS4/Vita) — again, the hardest thing about this list was inconsistent multiplayer connectivity. The list covers what you'd expect to get out of the game without a lot of guff.
What is the trophy you are most embarrassed to have?Everything from Kotodama. The worst thing was, I enjoyed everything about this game except the central mechanic. It's a visual novel, the plot is predictable but tight. The problem is that there's this godawful minigame that you play, a lot, where the characters end up in various states of undress, as a metaphor for cracking through mental blocks to get at information or emotions that they're hiding. I wish I'd never picked this one up, honestly. Was definitely a long hot shower and scrub after to feel clean again.
What trophy are you embarrassed not to have?The few trophies I'm missing in Crash Team Racing — for beating the time trials and adventure mode on hard. This was my wheelhouse growing up, and it's disheartening that I seem to have lost the edge. I want to make it happen eventually, but I'm embarrassed to say I'm stuck on the second course, Roo's Tubes, until I can muster the motivation to relearn the systems.
Which lists have you given up on?None, really — though, I look with despair at Mighty No. 9 and Rayman 3, I'm determined that I'll eventually beat them. They're on indefinite hiatus, yes, but I refuse to say I've given up. It's hopefully not just arrogance talking, of course.
Best non-trophy related gaming achievement?I ran a few parallel playthroughs of games in both English and Japanese to highlight version and translation differences, which were well received on a now-defunct gaming forum that got abandoned when Tapatalk absorbed Zetaboards. I was particularly proud of doing Legend of Legaia and Breath of Fire IV in this manner. I learned some reasonably functional Japanese reading for and during it, and am working to translate the Tabletop books for a truly bizarre game called Hourai High which also had a SNES game with a pretty good fan translation. I'm also at work on some playable arrangements of melodic video game themes for piano and hope to publish those one day.
What was your favourite trophy list?Despite playing it with serious flu and a 40°C fever, I really enjoyed the structure of the Bloodborne trophy list — very little fluff with the exception of the Chalice Dungeons, but sufficiently dense that it required a proper exploration. Of course, with a fever that high, the nightmares were horrifying. To a lesser extent, I've enjoyed similar with the trophy lists of the other FromSoftware games I've played, but Bloodborne stands out. I also very much enjoyed the trophy lists for Dead Cells and each of the Supergiant games I've played (Transistor, Bastion, and Pyre) for making repeat journeys and new playstyles stay rewarding rather than mindlessly repetitive.
When you first skim a trophy list, what do you look for?It depends on if I'm skimming a list pre- or post-purchase. Anything that looks like it might be impacted by server closures or dead or elite multiplayer requirements, I tend to either set aside or deliberately smash through multiplayer first — I try not to end up locked out of completions where I can.
Beyond that, anything game spanning that's likely to be missable, particularly where there's no chapter select or equivalent. That generally dictates my approach to my first playthrough, whether it's cautious and thorough, investigating every corner, or a case of unlocking all areas/chapters first before going for the non-plot requirements.
How should a list be constructed?
Beyond a few do not's, I don't really mind. The only rule I would really suggest is to keep both the player demographic and the game genre in mind, and ensure that all trophies are fundamentally achievable by anyone playing. For the do not list: excessively grindy or repetitive can go away. Anything that depends on a server that might not be supported indefinitely should not be a trophy (or should be an in-game rather than a PSN achievement, so it can be patched out if necessary). Trophies that depend on ranking leaderboards are also a do not to my thinking. "Beat one friend at thing X" isn't too much of a problem; getting in the top X% of, or worse, the very top of an online multiplayer leaderboard, is unachievable for most, particularly if the game is old enough to have only seasoned veterans still playing.
Above all else, a trophy list should be fun, within the confines of its genre. The moment it ceases to be fun, by being too grindy, distracting from the game, or representing an insurmountable or actually impossible challenge, then it's time to reassess — before the game is published, ideally.
Any TT community shoutouts?Definitely! To my GTTSC team for last year, AtsumaKarin and LiquidCode — between us we gave that comp a proper try. To my team for this year, Cloud-side and frontzie — here's to taking the competition on. To the staff who keep this community running, and particularly at this time to Shadow_Kisuragi and BeardedScot86 who shoulder their regular staff burdens and the travails of GTTSC. And one for StuTheChief — may his fires never die out. To everyone else, best wishes for your gaming goals wherever you are, and feel free to give me a yell if you see me around the traps.
We would like to thank darkjian92 for taking the time to write all this! It was an awesome read. If you have any other suggestions or would like to have a swing at answering some questions yourself, feel free to let us know in the comments!