Built to scale.
A week ago today, Stephen Loftus, aka SoundEffect, dropped an article
examining the technical specifications of the UNSC's Halcyon-class Crusier, the SCS Pillar of Autumn
. If you aren't already familiar with his work, this exhaustive examination of the UNSC's warship is a great place to begin. But before you head onboard and check out the Autumn's decks, stay docked at the Bungie.net Cradle
for a few minutes of R&R and get familiar with the man behind the specs.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. My name's Stephen Loftus and I live on the east coast of Canada.
I currently work as a quality assurance test lead for a gaming company that produces video lottery terminals and games for casinos and bars worldwide.
When I'm not in the office on the computer and playing games, I like to be at home on the computer and playing games. Wow, when you write it out… :)
My major hobby is scale model building. For decades, I've built model cars, planes and spacecraft. Not only store-bought kits, but scratchbuilt models made from odds and ends. I'm a part of a group of sci-fi modelers and our site is: http://msfm.seryan.com/
What got me noticed by the Halo community was a scratchbuilt model I was building of the Pillar of Autumn. When finished, it will be about 4ft in length. I've stalled on it, but it's on the bench as I type this, so it's never far from my mind. I was absolutely thrilled when a photo of my in-progress Autumn model made it into one of the Halo 3 documentaries included in the Legendary Edition of the game. It's on screen for about a second and a half, but it's been a highlight of my time with the Halo community.
My other hobby involves research. I love to research the hell out of whatever interests me. I'll get more into that later.
Q. What kind of research went into coming up with your gamertag?
A. Well, I guess there are two names. The name most people know me by online is SoundEffect. The name is a fictitious Autobot from The Transformers (he says as though Transformers aren't already fictitious). It's a name given to me by my wife because when we first met, I was always making sounds with my voice for ordinary things like opening doors, cupboards, driving, walking, et cetera. As a kid I had the best fun with action figures because I could make the laser sounds and engine thrust noises with my voice. I can do a few cartoon character impersonations that aren't too far off from what I've heard from people. Anyway, my wife and I initially got together over our mutual love of Transformers so SoundEffect was a character I made up, sketched, and even wrote a fanfic involving him. I've gone by the name ever since.
If you were asking about my gamertag, it's ScaleMaster117. I haven't been on Xbox Live yet, so no grandiose stats to boast about. The name is from a scale-calculating program I coded after finishing my IT education. The 117 is for the scale work I've done specifically with the Haloverse.
Q. Are there specific areas of the community that you find more interesting than others?
A. I visit HBO
a lot; more than once every day. The only site I'm on as frequently is my email. I also regularly spend time at www.starshipmodeler.com
on their forums. I'm on Bungie.net for the weekly updates.
My major interest in Halo is about the technology, the vehicles, the weapons. One of my first visits to HBO was to add some of my Autumn research to a discussion underway about the Pillar of Autumn. When I looked for info online about the ship and found very little, I decided to write up my own article about what came out of those discussions and why. It got posted thanks to Claude at HBO...big thanks, Claude! I was then asked about various other vehicles in Halo and became the guy to go to for finding out the actual sizes of things in the Halo universe. I wrote another article or two and then Claude graciously gave me a spot of my own (on HBO's front page, no less!) to post any other Halo articles I cared to write. I still get emails from pretty much around the world either thanking me for the research I've already done, or asking what the next article will be about.
[Editor's Note: HBO has a frontpage? - Urk]
Q. What compels you to game?
A. What compels me to game? Well, I don't actually consider myself a 'gamer' in the contemporary sense. I play a few titles to the nth degree, but I don't sample from everything that's out there. I've played the Halo series, Half-Life series, and Splinter Cell series to DEATH, but I have never bothered to play Guitar Hero or even tried out the Wii. Halo is a type of game where I can go into a level and just look around at where trees and rocks were placed. Just the ambiance of the game makes exploring so much fun and increases the replayability a hundredfold. I seriously never get tired of visiting any level because no matter how many times I've seen it, there's something new to find or discover. Some new trick to pull off.
I have a few friends that I play Halo with, and I play Halo with my wife as well. I keep telling her I'll win 15-0 on any Halo 3 map she chooses, and then the score ends up at 15-13 or sometime she wins too. We're a pretty good match and that keeps it fun. (I'll get that 15-0 someday…)
At my workplace, we have an Xbox 360. On breaks and sometimes lunch, we play Halo 2 predominantly, but Halo 3 and some other titles are on the shelf there. In the 4-player Halo 2 matches, I'm hated for my ability to plasma grenade the faces of the better players, even from across the map. I guess it's become my weapon of choice with that crowd. There's a couple there that can routinely win against me 15-0 until I get out the stickies!
Q. What was the first Bungie title you played?
A. Halo for the Xbox was the first Bungie game I played. A friend had an Xbox and played it with him and fell in love with the game. The vehicle control was top notch and the control scheme was intuitive. I was primarily playing PC games at the time so I was used to keyboard and mouse control. I bought Halo PC when that came out in 2003 and play it to this day. I watched Halo 2 play out before I ever played it myself. I didn't even care…I just wanted to watch the story unfold! I didn’t get an Xbox until late 2005. I bought the Halo Edition 360 about a week before Halo 3's release and got the Legendary Edition of that.
Q. Are you surprised by your level of involvement?
A. I'm surprised the Halo franchise has sucked me in the way it has. I tend to be an obsessive personality when it comes to things I like…I go all out. Halo has certainly give my off time focus over the better part of 7-8 years now. I get into almost every aspect of it: I have tons of Halo figures, multiple copies of the games, all the novels, soundtracks, strategy guides, art books, statues, etc. I can't get enough Halo!
Q. Are you involved with any other entertainment-based community sites?
A. There are others? I don't visit a lot of other interests online actually. I still like a lot of the shows I liked as a kid such as Star Trek, Transformers, Voltron, GI Joe, and so on, but there have been few communities that have the level of interest or the quality of forumgoer like at HBO. I know there I'm among people as interested in Halo as I am. I haven't found that kind of camaraderie with any other entertainment property.
Q. Anything you would like to add?
A. Frogblast the vent core. There. Had to be said.
Big thanks to you Urk, you're the first to interview me about Halo stuff! Thanks also to Claude at HBO for giving me an outstanding place to go everyday. And most importantly my wife, Sarah, who loves Halo as well, but probably thinks I spend a little too much time with it. And replace 'probably' with 'definitely'.
To anyone out there that may not have seen my Halo articles, they can be found here:
Speaking of spending time, it looks like we've run out of the precious commodity where SoundEffect is concerned. Thanks for the words, Stephen - both here and in your articles. Technically, they're pretty damn awesome.