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Quick-Fire Community Questions - Round 4: McHeisenburglar (Irakli)
By Ashlea Buckley
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Ashlea: Hello Irakli, thank you for taking part in round four of our Quick-Fire Community Questions series! We would love to ask you a few questions about your work as an admin for The Ones Who Came Before and your time as a Star Player at Gamescom.
As we already know you are one of the fellow admins here at The Ones Who Came Before, but tell us a little more abut yourself and the role you play in the Assassin's Creed Community.
Irakli: My name is Irakli, though I mostly go by McHeisenburglar online, and I’ve been a member of the community for a couple of years now. Most of my work involves graphic design for Assassin’s Creed-related projects, such as the yearly Assassin’s Creed Marathon, the Assassin’s Creed subreddit, and, of course, The Ones Who Came Before.
Ashlea: So when did you first start playing Assassins Creed, which game was the first you played? What intrigued you about the franchise leading you to start playing?
Irakli: The first Assassin’s Creed game I played was AC3, though I had heard about the franchise for years. It was when one of my favorite YouTubers started a walkthrough for Assassin’s Creed 3 that I was intrigued by the idea, the gameplay and even the graphics. A couple of weeks later I got the game, and I played through it right away. While I did enjoy the single player, it was AC3’s multiplayer that really got me hooked and kept me playing for months, and I still consider AC3 to have the best multiplayer in the series. PvP was initially the only reason I purchased AC4 the following year, though it wasn’t long before I played the story of that as well and officially became obsessed with the series. A couple of months later, I bought all of the games I had been missing and played through the series in a little DIY-Marathon.
Ashlea: We know that you do a lot of work behind the scenes work within the Community. Please tell us more about this.
Irakli: All the projects I am or have been a part of are team-based, so they’re often a cooperative effort with a lot of moving parts. For example, I help organize the Assassin’s Creed Marathon, and while I do take care of the designs you see online, I also help with the schedule of the Marathon, formatting and updating our daily threads, figuring out giveaway details and so on. On the subreddit, I help with updating the CSS, reworking the rules, wikis, FAQs, configuring AutoModerator.
Ashlea: How long have you been a part of the Community? How did you first become involved with The Ones Who Came Before? How long have you been involved with the AC marathons and as a Reddit moderator? What do you enjoy most about each of these roles you have?
Irakli: I have been part of the online/Reddit-based Assassin’s Creed community for a little over three years. I visited the subreddit for the first time in June 2015, after watching the E3 gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and wanting to discuss it online. There, I saw an announcement for an ‘Assassin’s Creed Marathon’ and was drawn to it right away, and decided to reach out to the team and offer to help out. That’s really when I first started taking graphic design and project work seriously. A couple of months later, as the 2015 Marathon was already underway, I reached out to The Ones Who Came Before regarding some of their designs. We had been working with TOWCB for Marathon promotion and I’d spoken with Colum personally, and I thought I would give feedback on their graphics and suggest things they could improve for their branding, and within a couple of hours I was offered to join the team as a graphic designer. I spent the next two years working on annual Assassin’s Creed Marathons and making designs for The Ones Who Came Before, and in 2017, in preparation for that year’s Marathon, I talked frequently with Dylan/Turul, one of the subreddit moderators, as the Marathon had always been a cooperation between our team and the subreddit mods, to allow things like custom user flairs and daily stickied posts. There were a lot of things we needed to get done, and some of them would’ve been impossible through Twitter DMs alone, so I was given a temporary moderator role on the subreddit. This was primarily for Marathon purposes, but I was free to help out with other subreddit matters, as a ‘trial’ for being a permanent moderator. Over the following weeks, I helped fix some CSS issues, rework the rules and open up the official r/AssassinsCreed Discord Server, and by the time Origins rolled around, I was announced as an official addition to the team.
I like these roles (and other ones I’ve had in the community) for different reasons, I suppose. The Marathon remains the project I’m most passionate and sort of ‘protective’ of, so whenever I’m not that free, I try to use most of my AC free time to help out with that. I really enjoy working on TOWCB because of how much graphic design experience and skill I get out of it. The logo we unveiled in 2017 remains one of my single favorite design projects to date. The subreddit, on the other hand, has taught me what moderating forums is actually like, and what goes into a well-managed and run subreddit/forum. Plus, 90% of the CSS I know is thanks to the AC subreddit.
Ashlea: What is your favourite part of being in the community?
Irakli: The memes are nice.
Ashlea: Your Twitter name is quite unusual, could you tell us where the name McHeisenburglar came from?
Irakli: Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how it all happened. A couple of years ago I had to register for some site, and I guess ‘McHeisenburger’ was pretty funny (I was binging Breaking Bad at the time), and I didn’t give it a second thought. Years later I had to register for Reddit, and I saw that ‘mcheisenburger’ was taken, so on a whim I decided to change the ‘burger’ to a ‘burglar’. It sort of stuck once I joined the community.
Ashlea: One of your main responsibilities with The Ones Who Came Before is you Graphic Design work how did you get into graphic design? Are you self taught or was it something you learnt at school?
Irakli: I initially got into graphic design when I watched some YouTube videos of people making graphics and wallpapers and whatnot, and thinking it was the most incredible thing in the world. I couldn’t fathom someone making their own wallpaper. So then I pirated a bunch of Adobe programs, including Photoshop, and tried it out for myself. I was not good AT ALL, but that didn’t stop me from making dumb crap every once in a while, including YouTube channel artwork and logos for fake companies. It was really the Assassin’s Creed projects that made me take it seriously, and really pushed me to actually be decent at design. The 2015 Marathon was the first project I worked on, and a lot of the tasks I had were things I’d never done before, so I learned it through trial and error, and they turned out good because I worked with a team that didn’t hesitate to criticize. Other projects followed it, including TOWCB, The Bureau Podcast, ‘Assassin’s Creed Legacies’, all of which helped me improve, even if incrementally. Now it’s fun to look back on those old designs and see the progress I’ve made.
Ashlea: As a star player you recently attended Gamescom, what were you most looking forward to about the event? Did it live up to your expectations?
Irakli: In the weeks leading up to Gamescom, I didn’t know what I was most excited about, though I knew it wasn’t Odyssey. As we got closer to the event, a Twitter group was created of all the Assassin’s Creed people that would be attending Gamescom, which made it clear what Gamescom was going to be about — meeting people. In the end, the best part of the event was really the opportunity to meet so many Assassin’s Creed community members and other Star Players. I had known a lot of these people online, and actually having a face-to-face conversation felt surreal. The event itself was also outstanding, especially with the VIP treatment we got from Ubisoft, getting to play the games early, etc. Overall, the two days were unforgettable.
Ashlea: What it means to you to be selected as a Ubisoft Star Player? Was it something you were expecting or was it a complete surprise?
Irakli: I would be lying if I said that I didn’t expect to be selected this year. I had been active in many parts of the AC community over the years, and had worked on various somewhat-known projects. However, I wouldn’t have been so confident if Sofija hadn’t been picked the year before. That invite made it clear to us that being a Star Player was actually realistic, even if by doing just project work like we were.
Ashlea: Were you excited to be able to play AC Odyssey early? What were your thoughts about the game?
Irakli: I had very, very little hopes going into the Odyssey demo. I was not excited for the game at all, and barely kept up with the news and marketing (definitely a first for me). I played the demo twice at Gamescom, and it was almost exactly what I imagined. It’s a beautiful, well-built game with a lot of stuff to do, but I have a hard time seeing its place in the Assassin’s Creed series. I don’t think it will be a bad game, in fact, I think most people that enjoyed Origins will have a good time with this game as well. Unfortunately, I don’t consider myself to be part of those people.
Ashlea: Do you have any hopes for things you would like to see in the game? Do you have any concerns about anything?
Irakli: Still have a bit of hope that the marketing isn’t telling the whole story, and there are more ‘Assassin’s Creed’ things in the game that we have yet to see. I’m hoping it enriches the lore and treats it carefully, though I don’t think that is too likely. As is the consensus, I’d love to see a lot of First Civilization exposition and involvement in Odyssey, as there is not much else to do in a time period that predates even Bayek.
Ashlea: Now that you have been to Gamescom what do you have planned next within Community?
Irakli: Honestly, I am not sure. Right after Gamescom I moved to Germany to start university, and so the last month has been a great change of pace for me. Unfortunately, this also means I don’t have as much time or heart to pour into Assassin’s Creed anymore, but only time will tell. I’ll try to stick around, but with university taking up more and more of my time and interest (and Odyssey… not), it might be time to take a small step back.