Friday, September 11, 2015

INTERVIEW: ChaseFace Talks Sonic and Ironic Body Pillows

This is Chase. If you've heard of him, chances are it's through his popular "Sonic: What Happened?" Series, which has gone on to amass hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube. He's also a voice actor who's provided his voice to such as CHANGE and more recently and Wasted, a game created by Adult Swim. He also allegedly has a nice ass.
A man after my own heart.
I was lucky enough to get any interview with him, so without and further ado, here is the reason you're here:
So... Who are you?
I'm a 25-year-old geek who majored in I/O Psych in college! I'm a bit of a introvert who never went to many college parties but somehow had a lot of friends anyway, and if I didn't go into this I wanted to be a human relations manager, clinical therapist or a massage therapist while doing voiceover on the side. Otherwise I listen to a lot of electronic music and play a lot of computer games, but not so much these days since I'm trying to stay busy with work.
What video games did you play growing up, and how did they influence you?
I played whatever my parents bought us and whatever my brother/friends wanted to pick up, so I've played almost every kind of video game. I've always loved RPGs and Adventure/Platform/Action games, but I have a soft spot for Puzzle and Racing games. I'm not into RTS games, but that's about my only dislike. Otherwise, I'm big into games with good music!
What's your absolute favorite video game?
That's a tough one. I'm a really big fan of Final Fantasy 6 and 9, but Resident Evil 3 and the REmake; they're all just really near and dear to my heart. Mischief Makers and Mystical Ninja on the N64 were huge for me, and I loved Pokemon Blue and Silver growing up. I really can't choose one or even 10, but I can say that I have an enormous passion for Japanese-developed games, although I still love a lot about American made ones like Doom, Duke Nukem, and lots of other modern titles, too, but I grew up playing Japanese games with feudal themes and cool Asian mythology and it just captivated me from a really early age.
Likewise, what video game has most made you want to light a basket of puppies on fire?
The only one that immediately comes to mind is The Evil Within. It was an abomination of a game to the Survival Horror genre that just straight-up misled player expectations. For example, you could sprint for 3 seconds before your character would kneel over and try to catch his breath, but you could eventually upgrade to a maximum of, I think 10 seconds. But this protagonist was a fit, young dude, so there's no reason he should have to upgrade his stamina. Similarly, they introduced weapon sway and long reload times so you could upgrade them to normal levels, making the gun more stable and the reload time more realistic. It was decently creepy at times but I found myself understanding exactly how the game worked, which is the last thing you want to do in a horror game. Just a big squandered opportunity. I was gonna do a video on how bad it was but decided I didn't care enough, and then I lost all the footage, and I'm not playing through that whole game again, haha. They basically made the same mistake they made with Resident Evil 6, where they hype it up to be super terrifying but it ended up being really action-y with a lot of gore, and not necessarily scary gore.
Why did you decide to pick Youtube as a medium?
Mid/late 2013 was when I started buying capture cards and various video/audio cables because I knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about, and early 2014 was when I invested in a ton of external hard drives, because I'm a total digital hoarder and I don't wanna lose any of my music/sfx/footage. I was blown away by how Outlast made me feel terror in a whole new way, and I made my video on it explaining why I loved it. Then one day ProJared made a Facebook post explaining how he probably watches the same channels as us, and I decided to pitch my channel to him because, well, why not? I just said "Hey, I only made one video but I'd love to hear your feedback on it."

About a month or two later I was at the Atlanta Aquarium with my family visiting for the holidays, and I got a Facebook notification that just said "ProJared sent you a message," and my heart started racing. When I opened it, it basically had about 3 paragraphs saying "This is really solid stuff! My advice would be to use a different font and increase the shadow/outline thickness of the font to help it pop out more, but otherwise your style will develop with time so don't worry about it too much" before ending it with "but hey, your stuff's really great, I'd love to get a YouTube Network knocking at your door!" and I was just so blown away. After that, he took the liberty of plugging me at SGC 2014 and again at Magfest, both times in front of all these other super talented YouTubers, and it was really gratifying seeing Jirard nod enthusiastically as Jared recommended me, and to hear the awesome pixel artist Michael Azzi shout "YES!" as well. It's mostly thanks to Jared that I maintained the momentum to keep editing and working hard on my stuff and not get discouraged, but I have an incredibly positive and encouraging fanbase that keeps me going and a circle of friends that are happy to help me with any product recommendations.
Long story short, I had a lot of support from a lot of different people who were eager to see me succeed, and it's been absolutely invaluable.
What gave you the idea of your insanely popular "Sonic: What Happened?" Series?
I had seen Egoraptor's Sequelitis series, and while his Castlevania and Megaman videos were great and on-point, I didn't like how they were narrow in their scope. He touched on lots of important stuff, but it was basically comparing two things and suggesting how one could be made better and why it was flawed in the first place. I saw the reception from his fans, people really liked the analysis, and I realized I have a lot of games I would love to see investigated and pondered upon, but it didn't seem like anyone out there was doing anything similar. The first thing that came to mind was how Resident Evil 1 was awful, then RE2 and 3 made the series better than ever, and eventually RE4 was the pinnacle. Since then, Capcom's been trying to please everyone with action-oriented shooters, and the original survival horror fans, including myself, were kinda pissed. So I thought "I think people would really like to explore the problems that arose when Capcom realized the profitability of multiplayer action games." But for some reason I started with Sonic.
Speaking of which, throughout the series you're going to be tasked with completing every main series Sonic game... Are there any that you're purposefully trying to put off as much as possible *coughcoughSONIC'06cough*?
I'm honestly really not looking forward to Secret Rings and Black Knight, and oddly enough I'm kind of excited to play '06. People are going to be really surprised when I address the things it did well. Like, I'm not gonna pretend it's a good game, but I'm gonna mention the things everyone else loves to gloss over, like how cool Silver's design is and how the backstory was a bit dark, something I loved about Sonic Adventure.
To answer the greatest '90s playground feud: Mario or Sonic?You know, they both have their share of good and bad games, but I prefer Sonic as a character because he's really well designed and stylish. Mario's a bit of a dork to me. Plus I just like the high-speed action more than jumping on turtles.
What about the best Pokemon?
I really have a soft spot for Darumaka. He's just so happy and bouncy. Wartortle is my spirit Pokemon mostly because he's so hot-headed and tries to look so tough, but he's clearly just not that intimidating, and I kind of relate with him in that sense. I also think Shaymin (both normal and Sky Form) is incredibly cute for being a legendary.
Figure A: HA! GET IT?!?!
I'll see myself out now. -Matthew

Circling back to Sonic, how do you feel about the inconsistency in quality of recent Sonic games?

I think the quality of the game depends on who's handling it. If you gave Sonic back to the original disbanded Sonic Team and gave them about 3-5 years to take their time play testing and coding the game carefully, I'm sure they could cook up something fantastic, but Sonic's been handed off to too many people who just think, "What is this, a platforming game? Yeah, I've worked on a few of those before." They don't understand that Sonic's success is due to responsive controls, intuitive level designs, charming characters, appropriately and simplistically designed music, and striking visuals. When you give Big Red Button a Sonic game, they correctly think "it would be cool if we rebooted this with an adventure-esque type of fun-loving spirit and give the characters a sassy personality flair," but then when they rushed the game and didn't think twice about how the characters would rub fans the wrong way with their cartoon-oriented scripts and cookie-cutter personalities [see figure A], it became apparent why they were former Naughty Dog employees.
At what point did you realize, "Holy crap! I made it"?
Oh hahaha I still definitely haven't made it. YouTube's a tough thing to do for a living; you're basically living paycheck to paycheck. Money's really tight right now and I'm working hard at my videos so they can eventually become profitable and then I can move into a nicer place with more room to do more live-action stuff. I spoke with my chiptune artist buddy and he told me 100,000 subscribers is generally the point where you START to be able to profit from videos. YouTube analytics, retention time, etc. are all very scary and complex things. I was talking with The Completionist (who's one of the nicest and kindest souls ever) and he explained to me that, if you don't upload once a week or more, Google will put less expensive ads on your videos, meaning you'll still get money, but less of it. So it's a panicky feeling for sure, but I have a lot of eyes on me right now and I'm working hard to meet my own unrealistic standards and entertain people in the process, but if I work really hard at this I can make it into a career.
What's it like knowing that you've been noticed by the likes of ProJared and Jirard?
It's really cool! I really like their stuff and they inspire me to try my hand at learning new things - I'm trying to acquire a tighter grasp on Photoshop's expansive toolset and eventually I'm wanting to learn Adobe AfterEffects and potentially some 3D programs like Maya or Blender. So knowing I'll probably get to hang out with them at a con in the future makes me want to work tirelessly so they can say "I saw that video you made and I thought it was really well-done!"

What's your opinion on otaku culture?
It's kind of in the trash, to be honest. I really like anime and games, but it's hard to be public about it when you have people acting the way that they do in the community. I don't mind lewd ecchi stuff here and there, but I think the people who talk about it so openly and shamelessly because "LOL SEX AND MEMES" are making the anime community an even more uncomfortable thing to get people into if they didn't already grow up with it. I feel like saying "I watch anime" has people convinced you're into a lot of weird perverted stuff. But I think people should talk about more story-driven anime with strong characters as opposed to magical schoolgirls talking about food or guys fawning over gradeschool girls. I kinda wish it would go back to the days of dudes with golden hair shooting energy beams out of their hands, or giant robot tanks killing each other. Diversity's always good, but so much anime now is so ridiculously sexualized to get attention or to "satirize" the trashier stuff, but it's just saturating the market in my opinion. A lot of people would probably tell me to chill out and not be such a stick in the mud about it, but I'm the type of guy who doesn't always need tits in his face to get my attention and it puts a bad taste in my mouth. It'd be like if you just ate a big sandwich and someone shoved a huge steak in your face, like "No dude, it's okay, I'm not hungry right now." I think body pillows and waifus are hilarious when they're done ironically - I was actually saying that I'd want to get a body pillow of Guts from Berserk just to be ironic, but I 'm afraid my family would see it and judge me forever. :p
When did you become interested in voice acting?
I think I was about 15 or 16 and I had some online friends from Newgrounds that did fandubs, and one of them told me I sounded like the Japanese seiyū for Sasuke Uchiha (we were pretty bad weebs back then) and insisted I try voice acting. The first was Kira Buckland and the second was Chris Zambelis, both incredibly talented people. Kira's pretty famous now and recently got cast as a character from Dead or Alive, and Chris took a break to work full time as a hotel chain manager to pay for him and his girlfriend down in Miami. I'm not really invested in the voiceover industry like a lot of my friends are because it wasn't working out in my favor, but I keep it in my back pocket as a hobby.
What's it like being able to provide your voice for projects such as CHANGE?
It's cool! It's one of those things where you audition for and forget about it for a while, so you say "Ah I guess I didn't get cast." Then out of nowhere it turns out you got the main character. It's really cool, but it's also kinda awkward, like "oh okay, that was unexpected." But working with Amber Lee Connors, the casting director, was loads of fun. She's got a great sense of humor and an enormous heart - I went into the booth feeling kind of nervous but she was making sure I felt at ease and free of judgement, so that's the best first impression I could have had for live direction!
Which is better: voice acting or reviewing games?I used to think voiceover was better because you get to be IN the games, but as I've had minimal success in voiceover and watched a lot of people get to where they are now through flattery and cronyism more than actual talent, I'm a bit jaded about the whole thing. Nothing can capture the feeling of giving life and personality to a fictional character, and it's really fun to take inspiration from other voice actors you enjoy (for me it's David Hayter, Troy Baker, Gideon Emery and Jason Marsden), but at the end of the day there's a gatekeeper. Casting directors are generally very particular, and if they decide you don't fit the part, you're out of work, which is inevitable in a competitive market. With YouTube, if I want to make a video or write a script or compose music or whatever, I just f    king do it, it's really empowering. I can do a collaborative video with a friend and we'll both get money and publicity for it, and if I want to cuss or flail my arms or talk about big, floppy dicks, there's nothing stopping me, except maybe shame and self-consciousness. 
Lastly, to answer the question I feel that you get asked excessively: how do you look so dapper?I shower a lot. And I use conditioner. Also working out does wonders for people's opinion of you, they'll see you take care of your body and immediately think more highly of you. BUT I'M MOSTLY JUST GENETICALLY SUPERIOR.

A big thanks to Chase for being, to paraphrase Animal Crossing, "as cool as a fair number of cucumbers." Like seriously, just check out his channel, okay? The guy's great. Also, support him on Patreon, 'cuz if you don't, you're a terrible person. 

Interested in more interviews? Here's the one I did with Dan from @BadMiiversePosts


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