Community Spotlight - Aaron

Catch up with Aaron, one of our Sea of Thieves forum Deckhands!

Since we started the Community Spotlight series, our articles have focused on some of our most dedicated community contributors, ranging from fan site owners to the hardcore Sea of Thieves advocates who came to visit us earlier this year. As we’ve started to open up more about Sea of Thieves, we’ve been introduced to even more interesting people, including the fans that make up our Sea of Thieves Forum community moderators, the Deckhands.

Today, we’re speaking to Aaron, one of our Deckhands and a big Rare fan. He’s here to tell us about what it’s like having an important role on the Forum and being an aspiring Game Designer!

[Q]: Tell us a little about what got you into gaming?
[A]: For sure, well I owe everything to Nintendo for getting me passionate about gaming at a young age, as well as to the biggest kid I know, my grandfather, who was the first person in our family to own a video games console (SNES). Growing up my older brother got the PlayStation whereas I was always proudly waving a flag for Nintendo (and still do). The first console that was labelled as “mine” was the special edition Pokémon N64, that came bundled with the very first Pokémon Stadium game.

Some of my all-time favourite games came from that console and later from the GameCube that followed. Obviously, I realise that nostalgia plays a big part in this, but honestly my fondest memories all stem from that era of gaming.

A 3D Modelled Sea of Thieves Coin - One of Aaron's many creations

[Q]: What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
[A]: The easy answer here would be Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong Country. Both amazing games, don't get me wrong, but I’d say that Conker’s Bad Fur Day takes the award for “My Favourite Rare Game”.

A lot of the jokes were lost on me back then and the whole zombie squirrel section of the game gave me nightmares I'm sure. Now, now, don't blame bad parenting, because my mother is top notch and if anything, it would have been MY fault. Knowing me, I would have made a very strong case for owning the game and at the time there was a lack of games like Conkers’ BFD to draw an example from. Mum would have legitimately thought that the most violent thing to come out of a game was the “PLONK” sound those little brown mushrooms with eyes (Goombas) made when you stomped on them.

Just realised that I haven't actually answered the question so I'll summarize what I liked most about Conker’s BFD: Multiplayer with my brothers on a small CRT TV (looking back, how’d we do it?). The jokes I did get, like; peeing on things, the Great Mighty Poo and smacking things with a frying pan. Gorgeous visuals and a memorable soundtrack. Gregg the Grim Reaper.

Not jealous of this setup at all, nope.

[Q]: What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
[A]: Currently? Well thanks to Games with Gold I'm playing The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition on Xbox One and recently picked up Pokémon Sun because I heard there was a freaking bug Pokémon that looked like a bus and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. As for my favourite game(s), put all the GameCube first party games and the most well received games for that console in a line. Now close your eyes and then point at one. That game is likely to be in my favourites list.

[Q]: Since our Forums launched back in June you’ve been one of our most active members. How are you finding the community?
[A]: The Sea of Thieves Fo’RUM (as I like to call it) has become a part of my daily routine. I'll admit, I've never been this active in a forum before and certainly didn't intend to be this heavily invested in the community either. I joined the Forums on day one, purely in search of more information about Sea of Thieves and I haven't left since.

Everyone is so just so polite, inviting and hilarious. Also, considering that I'm currently studying game design in school it's really refreshing (and cool) to get to talk to the developers from Rare on an almost daily basis as they often jump right into our discussions.

We are already building a strong community of amazing pirate loving gamers from all around the globe and I'm extremely proud to be a part of that. I've made some amazing friendships already and can't wait to get a hold of the game so we can all set sail in search of treasure together.

[Q]: Aside from that, as of a couple of months ago you became one of five Sea of Thieves Forum Deckhands! For those who don’t know, tell us about what that means and how it’s been going.
[A]: Well, first and foremost it's been an absolute blast! Initially before we received the title, the Deckhands and I were just a small crew of users (scallywags) that simply took it upon ourselves to welcome new users, redirect people to active discussions and make sure that the Forums were inviting and fun for all.

This activity obviously caught the eye of the Forum admin and before too long we were “promoted”, receiving our official title of “Deckhand” and being equipped with some additional tools for our moderator tool chest. The way we use the Forums hasn’t really changed to be honest but we are always discussing new ways to help our community and streamline certain aspects of the Forums behind the scenes. To put it simply, we keep the place looking shipshape.

[Q]: One of the most popular threads on the Forums is the one you made about your game design course project, Shipwrecked. What went into putting it together?
[A]: Creativity has always been one of my personal strengths but at the same time it's also my biggest weakness. I have this tendency to start a project and then before completing it, jumpship onto a new project. One thing is for certain though, I'm at my happiest when I am creating something.

Behold, Shipwrecked!

After a change in career I started thinking more about what I actually wanted to do with my days. By this time I had dipped my toes in almost every type of creative medium, the only thing I hadn’t tried was Game Design. So I decided that my latest venture would be the designing and development of video games. It all started with free online tutorials as a “let's see if I can do it” sort of thing and after a short time I decided to take my education to a more formal level as I was really enjoying it. Recently I completed a Cert III in Media and I now intend to take on an Advanced Diploma in Game Design (wish me luck).

Shipwrecked was the game that I made over the course of my Cert III. Our task was to design and create a First-Person Puzzle Game. The idea for my game came from a conversation I was having with some of the SoT community members about hiding treasure in game for others to later find.

Due to time constraints (and lack of skills haha) my game went from being a “Treasure Hunting” game to a “Hidden Object” game. But overall I feel that Shipwrecked is a perfectly imperfect showcase of my current skill sets and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. The course was fantastic and took me through every aspect of making a game, from the pre-production phases all the way through to the completion of a playable game.

As I was learning the ropes week to week I thought it would be fun to update the community on how progress was made on my game. Nearing the end of the course I even uploaded my game to the Forums for the Community to download and play test for my assessment. It was so much fun and everyone who played my game gave helpful and constructive criticisms which opened my eyes.

Now that Shipwrecked is at a point where I’m happy to close off the project (Look, I totally finished a project! WOO!), I decided to make a physical hard copy game case so that I can proudly display it. As I continue to build games I’ll make more game cases to fill up that game library with a timeline of my works.

Aaron showing an eye for the small details with this island.

[Q]: Has doing a game design course and designing your own game made you think about videogames differently at all?
[A]: Oh, definitely and going in I knew it would. Before deciding to become a Game Designer I was actually working in videography. Filming wedding videos, making short films/skits and the like. I studied the art of videography all the way through college and the one thing you realise early on is that once you begin to learn the techniques that you start consuming that media differently.

As a result, I'll never be able to watch a movie again without trying to break down certain visual effects or over analyse as to why a certain shot was chosen to make the viewer feel a certain way. The same goes for video games...

Obviously, I'm no expert (yet) as I'm still in training but seeing first-hand how to prepare an idea and then convey that idea into a playable game has really opened my eyes to the sheer amount of work that goes into making a game. I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park by any means, but I now have a newfound appreciation for people who help develop games and will probably play games differently for the rest of my life as I try to deconstruct them.

The world is waiting for you, Aaron!

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A]: Ugh, I really don't know. I tried asking this question in the Forums. I’ve seen some fantastic answers and creative names been thrown about and yet I still can't decide on one for myself.

For the sake of having an answer I'll go with Kirkwood Hitch or simply “Hitch”. Which is the name I made up for a Forum story a few months back and was the character name I used in Shipwrecked, I don't know if it's really ME, but it will do.

[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: Hmm, let's see…

Yo-yoing, photography, videography, graphic design, podcasting, Twitch streaming, taking walks on the beach, staring into the sunset…This is starting to feel like a dating profile!

[Q]: What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
[A]: Mate! You should have put a word count limit on this question. Because I could go on and on and on about specific aspects of the game that I'm most excited for in Sea of Thieves.

But I'll try to keep my answer relatively short.

I think what it boils down to most for me is the teamwork infused mechanics baked into the heart of Sea of Thieves. The promise of banding together a crew of misfits (friends) and then going out on an adventure together sounds like the kind of pirate game I have only ever dreamed about.

Everything that's known about the game fills me with confidence that Rare is extremely passionate about this world of fantastical pirates they are creating and are striving for a unique gaming experience.

Love the art design, the soundtrack, the theme, the core mechanics (that we've seen) and don't even get me started on how gorgeous the ocean looks. *wolf whistle*

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: Being Australian, I can’t get enough of Vegemite, have it almost every morning on toast and I’ll shamelessly eat it directly from the jar sometimes. It’s always a blast watching people around the world attempt to do the same and pulling all kinds of hilarious looking faces haha.

Also, I was the guy that made and 3D printed the “Rare Coin” that you may have seen around on Rare’s social media channels! Thankfully I finished that coin in time to ship it to Joe Neate at this year’s SDCC. I’m actually in the process of making 100 more…100 Pieces of Eight, if you please.

I’ve got roughly 50 coins currently; they just need a good lick of paint. Then afterwards I might try and 3D model/3D print a treasure chest to house them in. Stay tuned!

That's a lot of coin...don't mind if we do.

And there you have it, another interesting chat with one of the many great people that make up our community. Aaron, big thanks from us for taking the time to answer our questions and for putting your all into being a Deckhand.

We’ll be back again soon with another Community Spotlight but until then, stay up to date with all of the latest on Sea of Thieves via our social channels!