Second Dimension: The Warriors Code Interview

The fighting game community (FGC) has grown from holding local events to smaller venues to occupying ballrooms at four-star establishments with talent from all across the globe attending. Major sponsors such as Capcom, Namco Bandai, and others are responsible for the development of some of the world’s most famous franchises in gaming, and are showcased at a central tournament featuring the top fighting talent from across the world. With major prize pools, fighting games are now reaching a platform that can be compared to traditional eSports.

Each week, I’ll be posting interviews I’ve had the pleasure of conducting with members of the fighting game community. The interviews will touch upon their history in the FGC, where they got their start, and what they’d like to see from video games in general.

This week’s guest is one of the top east coast players as well as cereal rater, Angel Gonzalez aka TA | Moons.

Kash: Thank you so much for joining me today, please introduce yourself to the Broken Joysticks readers.

Moons: What’s up guys, I’m TA Moons (Team Arena) and I’m a fighting game player from Long Island mostly known for participating in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Kash: Could you tell us a bit more about your sponsor Team Arena.

Moons: My ‘sponsor’ is based in LI. It’s not a true sponsor in the sense that I signed a contract and get paid to travel and what not. What Team Arena is is a group of a few Long Island players (Myself, Marvisto, and Predator) who represent a storefront in Suffolk called ‘The Arena’. They sell comic books, trading cards, and allow us to play every Thursday for free. This gives us and plenty of other Long Islanders a place to gather, have fun, play games, and most importantly; level up. The Arena has been very instrumental in tightening the bond of the Long Island fighting game community as a whole by bringing us together.

Kash: A fighter’s tag is like their identity. Some would rather use their name and some nicknames; how did you decide what yours will be?

Moons: A bit of a long story but ‘Moons’ has been an online/video game alias of mine for a long time. It goes back to the days when AIM was really popular so making a name was difficult without it being taken. Out of frustration I just made my name ‘ijumpoffmoons’ (I was like 12) and it stuck. I used the same name to play Socom 2 on playstation a long long time ago. All my teammates would just refer to me as ‘Moons’. Bam.

Kash: Before we get into your FGC history and opinions, there’s something I’ve been curious about. Besides being known for your play, you’re also known for being a cereal rater. How did this happen?

Moons: Haha. The cereal gimmick goes back long before the FGC. My family and friends have always laughed about how much cereal I eat. I’ve just always loved cereal. Me becoming associated with cereal actually goes back to early Ultimate days. On Xbox Live shortly after the game came out I would always find myself discussing the game in group chats with a bunch of people from the community. Often times I would say ‘Be right back. Gonna get some cereal’. After a while Chris Matrix caught on to the fact that I was always eating cereal at night and would call me the “Cereal Monster” on stream at Big Two or at Bums House. After that people would ask me what the best breakfast cereals were in stream chats and everybody found it humorous that I would give very in depth responses to what makes a cereal good. It just stuck. I’ve actually been eating less cereal now a days and trying to stay more healthy. Still hard to resist sometimes…

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Kash: I rarely eat cereal because it’s one of those random cravings but the two I usually get are Fruity Pebbles and Corn Pops. How do they fare in your rating system?

Moons: Anyone who knows me will tell you one is absolutely fantastic and the other is terrible. Fruity Pebbles is one of the best things to ever happen. After I eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles I go outside and paint a picture. That’s how inspired I become. After a bowl of Corn Pops, I go to the doctor and get a check up to see if I’m alright. Just never been a fan of Corn Pops. They seem so unnatural.

Kash: You mentioned the game you’re most famous for is UMVC3. What characters are you most known for using?

Moons: Nova, Modok, Ammy, Taskmaster, and Shuma Gorath.

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Kash: What made you select the characters you play?

Moons: My character selection depends on how the character looks and plays mostly.I like a lot of the characters in Ultimate so a lot of my decision making is how fun I can make a character for myself. By chance in Vanilla I stumbled upon Taskmaster, Ammy, and Akuma early. I liked them a lot. Stayed with that until Ultimate and realized it wasn’t a winning team a couple of months into the game. Picked Nova in place of Akuma and switched my team order to Nova/Taskmaster/Amaterasu. I picked Nova early on because I felt like he had a lot of untapped potential and the fact that he wasn’t really represented at all on the east coast at the time. Stuck it out with that team for a long time before the game evolved to a point where I didn’t think having Taskmaster as a support character was a viable strategy. I dropped Taskmaster for another character I liked a lot who I felt wasn’t being used as often as he should be. That was Modok. Modok filled the ‘horizontal projectile’ requirement that I wanted for my team while adding tremendous layer of support that Taskmaster wasn’t able to provide. I wasn’t super confident that it was the right choice until I played my first tournament with him, which was Final Round. I managed to place 4th and that pretty much solidified Modok as a staple on my team.

Kash: Do you play any of the other fighters or do you keep your training to Marvel exclusively?

Moons: I’ve played fighters for a while but Marvel was the first one I played very competitively. I played a lot, practiced a lot, did a lot of researched, and watched a lot of match videos. I would say it payed off for the most part. Currently I’ve been playing a lot of SF4AE. SF4 was a series I was a little late to and never took to seriously but we’ve been playing a lot on Long Island recently and I’ve definitely improved a lot. I’m hoping I can be decent and compete by the time Ultra comes out. Injustice was hot on Long Island for a bit but everybody got sick of it quick. I was the only one enjoying it (I picked Superman… I love Superman!) and everybody else thought it was silly. Eventually I just stopped playing because there wasn’t really anyone to play with.

Kash: What is your highest placing currently at a tournament?

Moons: At a major my highest placing in Marvel is 4th. I’ve placed 9th at a million other majors but always have issues. My biggest problem being inconsistency. I’ve won many locals at least! Haha. Not really much to show for other games. Still early for me though. In the one Injustice tournament I ever entered I made it to winners finals in my pool then lost my next two matches. I’ve also placed 5th in Skullgirls at a major about two years ago. If that counts for anything! Haha, that’s about it though.

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Kash: Online play is something that many of the top players in the FGC prefer not to do or do it in secret. Do you feel online play is good and some players just don’t take advantage or do you think online play teaches too many bad habits that won’t help in a tournament setting?

Moons: I feel a little of both. Online play is definitely good for Fighting Games and definitely something people can take advantage of. There’s a lot of things you can learn online that you can’t offline, simply because the player pool is a lot larger. If you come from a less populated area, learning a lot of character specific matchups can be difficult simply because there will be characters that people in your local area don’t play. With that said, online can be detrimental, especially for newer players. This negative comes from the fact that netplay can reward you for acting on impulse. It’s harder to punish things in online play because of lag delays and what not. This makes jumping, mashing, and predictable play a lot more rewarding. Couple that with the fact that the skill cap is a lot lower, and most of the time you can win for doing ‘bad’ things. Things that may not work at a local tourney. Ultimately, online is a good thing, but like a lot of things in life, moderation is key. It’s a great tool if you know how to use it.

Kash: Do you think other people in the FGC like their characters because they like them, or because they need to use them based on the current tiers and meta game?

Moons: A bit of both. There are always going to be players who pick only the characters they like and just that. Sometimes that character will be top tier. Then you’ll have the players who only pick top tier to stay on top of the competition. Sometimes they’ll claim they liked the character. They’re all there.

Kash: Could be worse, all my characters end up being low tier in every game I play. As of late there’s been this push to get the FGC to eSports level. The community has a variety of colorful personalities as well as hype moments at events. What do you think is currently holding us back?

Moons: I think it’s as simple as it’s always been. Fighting games just aren’t popular when compared to other video game genres. Everybody knows of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, etc, but your casual, everyday person has never really delved deeply into the competitive aspects of fighting games. I think it’s the lack of appeal for a broader audience. It’s the essence of fighting games that prevents people from hopping on the bandwagon, it’s not the ‘colorful’ community that represents it. They require dedication and commitment. For that reason the genre has always lagged behind many others. If the audience really isn’t there, then rising to an Esports level is always going to be very difficult. The community related issues come after. Though I think community is the reason a lot of people stay.

Kash: Patching fighters is usually on a per company basis and if they currently have the resources with some companies doing it frequently than others. What is your opinion on patching fighters, do we require them frequently or annually?

Moons: Hmmm, a lot of people complain about the patching of fighters. Me, I’m fine with it. I’m fine with games changing often or annually though I can see why people can dislike both. Games should get patched if needed though. The times are different now. The complexities of a game get figured out quickly and tier lists are determined in a much shorter amount of time. It’s important that developers strive to keep a game balanced so that it never grows stale.

Kash: How difficult do you think it is for a new person to enter the community and feel welcome, from your experiences? Also how open are you for people to come to you for advice, guidance or to play a set?

Moons: I think it all depends on the persons expectations. For the most part I find the community to be very welcoming to new players. I remember when I first went out and started playing. Nobody really disrespects you. You kind of just play. You ask for next, you play, and you win or lose. After a while people will see that you’re returning. You’ll exchange names, people will let you in on where to play and when to play. That was my experience early on. As far as people coming to me for advice and guidance, most people know I’m very open to that idea. People approach me often at majors and ask about their team, my team, my mindset while playing and many other things. I feel like my outlook is a bit different from most players, so I’m always happy and willing to explain myself and hopefully help a player see things the way I do. Often times at the end of a conversation I’ll say ask a player if they’re interested in playing a set and that if they see me anywhere and have a set up I’ll play. I’m always down to play anyone in a set because I know it can help a player, and it’s also interesting to see their creative approach to Marvel.

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Kash: While it’s something that’s been going on for a while, what’s your take on pot splitting or throwing matches on stream? With tournament organizers and streamers vowing to work together to stop that, do you think we’ll see less of it?

Moons: You’ll certainly see less of it. Or at the least, less horsing around in final matches. I’m not against the idea of splitting the pot. I play Hold Em’ from time to time and used to play a lot more a few years ago. Splitting the pot is just a way to maximize profit without taking the risk. It’s smart in a lot of cases from a financial standpoint. With that said, it’s unfortunate that players doing this feel as if there is nothing to play for once it’s happened. I feel like if splitting happens and there should still be a competitive drive to win the tournament. At least that’s how I feel. Players like to take advantage of the fact that they don’t have to give it their all since the money is already in their pocket. That’s where it’s wrong. Players should always want first, no matter what.

Kash: Other than fighting games, what other styles of games do you play?

Moons: I play everything pretty much. I play a lot of PC games. I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto 5. I love indie games. Shooters, RPGs. If it’s not an old reused dried up idea, I’ll play it.

Kash: Was there anything at this years E3 that made you scream I need this in my life now, whether it was a console or game?

Moons: The Division looked pretty awesome.now I’m pretty sure I’ll be picking up a PS4. Haven’t looked to much into the games but The Division stood out to me. That and Super Mario 3d World are both the two games I definitely want to play the most.

Kash: As the first available fighter on next gen, how do you feel Killer Instinct will do considering it’s only available on one console and with a small roster of characters?

Moons: I really don’t know. It doesn’t appear like it’s setting itself up for success with it’s odd free to play model and small character roster. I’m interested in playing it and will probably give it whirl, but I’m not sure if it’s a game that will stick to be honest.

Kash: If you could grab any character from one game and put them in any other game, who would you pick, where would you place them and why?

Moons: I really wanted Leon Kennedy in Marvel over Chris. I know why Chris was chosen, but at the least Capcom should have given me a Leon alternate!

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Kash: The 6th generation of Pokemon was release to universal praise and sales numbers for Nintendo. Many former players from the first generation have gone back to try their luck in this new generation. What is your opinion with this new generation?

Moons: Group of players on Long Island have definitely gotten back into it. I’ve opted out simply because I’ve lost interest and don’t have the time. That, AND I don’t even have a 3DS unfortunately. It’s nice to hear all the talk about it though and knowing something fantastic about my childhood still has what it takes to be popular even today.

Kash: Super Smash Brothers 3Ds/Wii U revealed to us newcomers in the form of the Villager from Animal Crossing, Wii Fit Trainer from Wii Fit and a guest character, Classic Megaman, which we all know from the NES Megaman titles. Seeing how Nintendo can grab any character and turn them into a fighter, is there anyone you’d like for them to add both 1st party or 3rd party?

Moons: I’d like to see more villainous characters from some of Nintendo’s first party titles. I think Ridley from the Metroid games is worthy of being a character. Ghirahim from Zelda: Skyward Sword can work. Even basic enemies in the Mario games seem worthy of being playable characters. Things like Koopa or Boo. As for 3rd party characters, put Leon in there! Haha

Kash: Any upcoming tournaments that you’ll be attending?

Moons: The next major tournament I should be entering is NEC. That one is set in stone. Not sure about others after that as of now.

Kash: With stream sites like Twitch becoming the easiest gateway for people to view the community and players in action, is there any particular stream were people may see you play outside of a tournament setting?

Moons: The stream to catch me on usually is twitch.tv/deadly_bison . That’s a group of talented individuals who stream those Thursday night sessions at The Arena that I told you about. The other would my own stream twitch.tv/mo0nz where I play games and teach marvel every now and then.

Kash: Any last words for the Broken Joysticks reader as well as any way for them to contact you with any questions they might have?

Moons: Big thanks for the interview and I hope the readers enjoy what I had to say. If you wish to contact me it’s not too difficult. I’m very active on Twitter. People ask me questions about things all the time. Follow me on twitter.

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