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Ask Me Anything - Volume #2

On 04/02/2013 at 04:00 PM by Nick DiMola

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Hey everyone! So this is something I did in the past with our then much smaller fan base, but I figured it would be fun to do it again with everyone that's new here. Straight hi-jacking the text from my last blog entry on this:

Running a game site always proves interesting (and stressful) and people typically ask me questions about it IRL. So anyway, I figure I'll open the same channel here on PixlBit. Whether you want to know something about the industry, the site, our policies, my gaming habits, whatever, let me know, I'll be glad to answer!

I figure I'll do these every once in a while and maybe it'll net some interesting discussions. So anyway, I'm an open book, ask away in the comments below!



Joaquim Mira Media Manager

04/02/2013 at 04:07 PM

Volume #1 in case our readers want to know more:

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:07 PM

Thanks for linking that, Joaquim. I was too lazy at the time, so that definitely helps.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/02/2013 at 04:10 PM

If you could replay any 3 games as if it were your first time playing them, what would they be?

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:39 PM

I'm going to say Psychonauts, Ocarina of Time, and Persona 3: FES.

True Gamer At Heart

04/02/2013 at 04:19 PM

If you had to rename the site what would it be??

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:14 PM

I'd probably opt for something with "game" in it. Naming the site was an absolutely grueling task. Chessa and I toiled over it for days, consistently debating over what exactly we'd call it that was catchy and game related but didn't have the word "game" in it. We thought it was kind of a tired naming structure.

In the end we landed on Pixel Bit, combining two words that were at least related to gaming. Unfortunately, wasn't available, so we went back to the drawing board, looking for something better, but nothing else felt right. Ultimately we decided to drop the "e" because it didn't really change the name and mimicked the timely trend of arbitrarily dropping vowels.

Anyway, in hindsight, there were likely some benefits we could've reaped if "game" showed up in the name in some form. People would know what we were about on a surface level on name alone and we'd have likely placed higher in Google searches as a result of it. On the flip side, I really love the branding we've been able to accomplish with the name and I don't know that I'd trade that for anything.

I wish I had a better answer beyond that, but I don't even want to begin thinking of names again. What a pain.


04/03/2013 at 12:25 PM

I was going to ask what happened that "e" in the name but I guess I was too slow in asking.


04/02/2013 at 05:46 PM

I've always wondered a couple of things:

1. Do you ever get burned out on gaming having a gaming site, and playing games?

2. When you review a game do you play on the default difficulty, or do you kick it down so you can get through it faster and have more time for reviews?

Again much appreciation for providing a cool home for us gamers! Thanks!

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:21 PM

1. Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, it has probably caused irreparable damage to my gaming habits. I now have an incredibly hard time seeing games all the way through because I've grown so accustomed to playing so many different games. Also, I have a little bit too good of a handle on what I know I like and what I know I don't like, so once I start playing a game, I almost immediately know what I'm in for and might just stop immediately if it's something I know is going to clash with my preferences.

In any event, there have been plenty of times where for a couple of weeks Chessa and I do nothing but veg out in front of the TV watching stupid HGTV type nonsense because we're so spent on games. It's a crappy feeling. There are definitely days I think to myself that I'd have been better never doing any of this and just continued on playing games just like everyone else.

2. I always play on the default difficulty. It's my reasoning that the developers made that the default because that's the way the game was meant to be played. If I take the game on in any other setting, I'm not likely experiencing the game in its "best" state. Doing this doesn't always translate to getting the review done quicker, but I think it produces better and more accurate coverage.


04/02/2013 at 06:28 PM

Do you have any other hobbies besides gaming and parenting? =D

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:25 PM

For sure. I'm also pretty enthusiastic about music. I listen to a pretty wide spread of different forms of rock/metal and acoustic stuff. I play guitar too, so I enjoy listening to people who are extremely talented at it.

Outside of that I'm into hobbyist type programming, which at the moment is solely upgrades to this site. However, I've dabbled in game programming (XNA) and will probably do some more of that in the near future using MonoGame.

And finally, I enjoy playing basketball. It's not something I get to do very often, but now that I live near one of my brothers I'm hoping I get a bit more time for it. My new house also has a pretty awesome regulation hoop put in by the last owner. So I'm looking forward to shooting some hoops when it gets a bit warmer.


04/02/2013 at 11:53 PM

Cool. I love to listen to music when I run. I always seem to go further and harder when I do. I'm horrible at basketball though. I'm way too short. I've never done programming though. What is it like? As for me, I like touring and bicycling, stuff like exploring. Also, beaches and state parks. I used to write a lot, but not so much anymore. I'm looking to get into something new, but nothing seems all that interesting right now.


04/02/2013 at 06:51 PM

If there were one game you would recommend we play that represents everything you like about games what would it be? Mine is Valkyrie Profile. This game basically describes everything I like in games.

On another note, are you a Developer? I have some programming skills and was wondering what the best way to approach setting up my own site from home. Thanks.

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:32 PM

Wow, that first one is a doozy. I love so many different games for so many reasons, it's hard to pin down just one that rolls all of that up conveniently. I'll cop out and say "Zelda."

I know it's not one game, but that series is indicative of what I love about games: exploration, adventure, puzzles, unique characters, and a story that gives you enough without overwhelming you. From the time I was young till now, I've always loved that series and I think that each one provides those core components in such a tactful and enjoyable way that nothing beats them (at least for the first time through).

I am a developer and I'd be glad to give you some pointers. My expertise lies in Java web applications, but I'm sure the concepts are pretty similar across other languages that do similar functions. If you have some specific questions that need answering, feel free to ping me via PM and I'll do my best to help you.


04/02/2013 at 07:08 PM

What games do you plan on introducing your kids to first?

As a parent, how good a job do you think the ESRB ratings do?

Jason Ross Senior Editor

04/02/2013 at 07:55 PM

I can answer this one, I bet!

He plans to get the kids to start with the NES, with things like the Mario titles, and then he'll work his way up from there. That said, games like "Once Upon a Monster," would be exceptions he'd have them play sooner, since they're age appropriate!

^That's from memory from talking a while back, though. And my memory can get some details wrong. So yeah, don't be surprised if the answer Nick gives is different. >.>

As far as the ESRB goes, I imagine he mostly ignores it. I don't think this is a discussion the two of us have had, but if someone's knowledgeable about video games, the ESRB is a bit unnecessary. If Nick didn't follow games, he might rely on them a little bit to make purchase decisions, especially now that they actually detail what content caused the game to receive the rating it received.

Although, I suppose that's more my answer than his, so I'm cheating there. What can I say? I like to nab a little bit of the spotlight here and there.

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:37 PM

Jason is pretty spot on with most of his answers. I do plan on starting them on the NES, probably specifically with Super Mario Bros. My son is nearing the age where he can play games and I've already cheated a little and got him playing Bit.Trip Runner with me. It's a tough game, but I was able to demonstrate to him the right times to hit certain keys to make different actions happen. He got a kick out of it, which was really exciting for me.

Part of the reason I started collecting was to share it with my kids one day and be able to play all the classics just as I did when I was a kid. So I'm really looking forward to that as my two sons grow older.

Also, I will probably break out some of the newer, more age appropriate games that I have in the collection for them, like Once Upon a Monster.

As for the ESRB, I think they do a pretty decent job for what they are. I'm not sure I totally agree with the rating system, but it's at least a cursory glance at the content contained within for parents to judge what their kids should be playing. Of course, I do think the onus is on the parents to research games and only purchase the appropriate titles for their kids.

No entity, government regulated or not, will be able to choose the right content for your kids. That's on your back as a parent, so of course, I plan on being quite diligent about ensuring that my sons play the games that are appropriate for their age.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

04/02/2013 at 07:56 PM

I have a question!

Back when the Wii U was waiting on a release date, we made a bet. For pizza. Now that you don't live in Florida, when will I ever be able to pay for that pizza that I owe?!

Nick DiMola Director

04/02/2013 at 09:37 PM

You'll just have to come up here and buy it then!


04/02/2013 at 10:11 PM

Hey Nick

Does anything shock you in gaming today or do you become desensitised after viewing and playing so much? and if you do get a shock, which games are guilty?

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 08:59 AM

I think the last time I was genuinely shocked was the airport scene in Modern Warfare 2. That was pretty grizzly and definitely unwarranted.

Most of my shock these days comes in the form of being shocked that game companies can't seem to get certain things right, even after all of these years. Funky Barn on Wii U comes to mind. It was a solid game, but it had no auto-save and as a result of a hard freeze, I lost a ton of progress. Had it been auto-saving, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but at the time I couldn't help but think "seriously, no auto-save!?"


04/03/2013 at 09:07 AM

Yeah MW2 was a stretch too far for me as well, I'll always remember my surprise at the guilt I felt when I first hit a pedestrian in GTA4 as well, it was so realistic it took me by surprise and I actually found myslef driving carefully...... for a while at least.

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/02/2013 at 11:59 PM

You mentioned in here you like music, any favorite bands/songs?

Also, you live in NY now, right? Have you been to Grimaldi's, and if so how is it? One here in Dallas is AMAZING, but the NY one is famous, and was #2 on some Travel Channel thing for Italian food I was watching the other day, Chowdon Countdown or some such. If you haven't gone, you should.

Finally, I've been thinking of starting a blog with adsense elsewhere. How many clicks does it take for the advertiser to start mailing haypennys in check form to my address?

Actually, P.S., between your day job and the awesome job you do here, as well as having a family, when do you sleep, and is it through cryogenesis? If so, what brand of freezer do you use? I hear GE likes the future, so I'd guess them, but I want an expert opinion.

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 09:14 AM

Let's see, favorite bands... I'd say Coheed and Cambria take the top spot pretty easily. Their side projects, The Prize Fighter Inferno and Davenport Cabinet, are really good too. Back in my teen years I had a love affair with System of a Down, but since then my love has cooled into a firm like.

Some other favorites include Liquid Tension Experiment, Led Zeppelin, Glassjaw, early All That Remains, early Atreyu, Third Eye Blind, and Andy McKee. There's a ton of other stuff that I have on my iPod that get a regular spin, but those are some of my top choices.

Yup, I'm living up in NY and I'm even from Brooklyn originally, but have yet to go to Grimaldi's. I'm sure I'll visit some time, but typically when I'm down that way we hit up L&B Spumoni Gardens for our pizza fix. 

As far as AdSense goes, you can make money pretty readily if you have people clicking links, but it takes a super long time for your CPM (1 CPM = 1000 ad views) to be worth anything. We still make nothing on ad views, only ad clicks, and even that doesn't amount to much. You need to rack up $100 to get a pay out from Google and our first pay out took probably a year...

Haha, sleep happens for me, but it's usually not all that plentiful. After doing this for years, I've managed to strike a pretty good balance that I think works out well. When my kids are awake, I don't spend any time on the site or playing games. After they go to bed, I usually have time to do either work on the site or play games or various other hobby type activities. Since Chessa and I both play games, that's something we get to do together. Whenever I do site programming or stuff she has no interest in she does arts and crafts, so it all works out pretty well.

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/03/2013 at 12:10 PM

Coheed is great, and I need to check out some you mentioned I don't recognize; I had about the same experience regarding System, man Hypnotize/Mezmerize was all the rage in high school, but now I still like it, but don't love it per se. I never owned Toxicity, don't judge me. lol I was surprised to hear a new one from Third Eye Blind about Ocuppy Wallstreet back when I was DJing in college, were they always political? I seem to mostly recall "Jumper," "Semi-Charmed Life," and "Graduate" from them, so not having owned their CDs, I was like "huh?" lol

I'll have to check out Spumoni Gardens if I ever go up there. And thanks for the CPM input; I've heard of that from the tgwtg reviewers before, and even did a paper on it in college, but always wonder if it's a little different for each site. Interesting stuff.I'll start clicking on these ads for you. Smile lol

I wish I knew how to program and be an artist, you two sound like one hell of a couple. lol

Nick DiMola Director

04/04/2013 at 08:00 AM

3eb isn't really a political band, though they have some light commentary in their third album with general Bush disapproval. That Occupy Wall Street song was a one-off, but it was pretty catchy, I thought. Non-Dairy Creamer is another one they did that touches on the topic of gay marriage and the war on terror. But yeah, largely they're not a political band.

Also, no Toxicity!? I started getting into them with the release of that album, before it became a big thing. I still love that album, while Hypnotize and Mezmerize were two I liked but didn't love. Steal This Album! and the self-titled one are also excellent, but I don't think anything stands up to Toxicity.

Blake Turner Staff Writer

04/03/2013 at 12:00 AM

What is the worst game you've played this generation? Not necessarily from a "Gameplay is broken" perspective, but from a "This makes me hate the state of gaming" way.

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 09:23 AM

Oh man, I've played a lot of bad games, but I think Ridge Racer on the Vita might've been one of the worst. In and of itself, it's actually a very competent racer, plus I like that series. However, on the actual cartridge itself, there were only a scant few tracks and cars. A code was included in the box that provided a few more cars and tracks, but there were still not many.

Namco sold that gutted game to squeeze players for every little thing via microtransactions, which is just despicable. I'm not going to say that microtransactions are inherently evil, but what the hell is up with their Ridge Racer strategy? Didn't we used to get ACTUAL FULL GAMES when we bought them from the store. This nonsense is just too much. Games like that make me wish we could rewind a generation or two to a better time.


04/03/2013 at 09:00 AM

Do you think video game journalism will be seen as respectable ever again? I miss the days of Electronic Games, Electronic Fun or the first run of EGM when you had real professional journalists writing some amazing articles. Nowadays, you have poseurs acting half their age showcasing their biases. I can't see it ever returning to their glory days, myself.

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 09:30 AM

I think that game journalism will eventually be turned around. I don't think it's going to come quickly and I don't think it's going to be easy, but I do think that as the medium grows and matures the coverage around it will too.

In some ways game journalism has improved from when the whole blog scene started, though we've stepped back in a few ways too. I think there's a movement currently by people like the Penny Arcade Report and others to help legitimize the field, but a lot still has to change in the industry in general before we're going to get there.

The onus lies not only on the press, but on the game companies themselves. But in short, yes, I do think it will eventually get better. It's just not going to happen quickly.


04/03/2013 at 01:17 PM

You said once that PixlBit is really close to getting on Metacritic. How recognized is the site by the internet and games industry at large? Do publishers send you review copies of games or do you have to buy them yourself (with ad dollars, for instance)? I know you've been to E3. Was it difficult getting in there because of being a smaller site?

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 03:43 PM

I don't know that we have a ton of traction in the gaming world at large. Some people have heard of us and have been to the site, but I don't know that we register in the same way some other sites do. Of course, being listed on Metacritic brings that visibility, so that's why we're hopeful to be listed there.

Publishers do send us review copies of games, but there's no consistency to it. Certain publishers are better about sending stuff than others, but if a game comes out, it's always a dice roll if they're going to respond to my request and then actually follow through with a code or copy.

If we didn't receive a copy, that means someone from the site bought the game with money from their own pocket and reviewed it. Up until this month, there haven't even been enough ad dollars to pay for a single game a month. Even at this point almost four years later, I'm sure the site is technically still in the red after figuring in the costs of the server and its operations.

We've been to E3 twice, the first two years we were around, but have been rejected each year following. They've made it almost impossible to get there for smaller sites. Even though we have this now active and amazing community, we're not hitting the raw unique hit counts to qualify to send even ONE person to the show. It's crazy and completely unfair. Bottom line, they'd rather have sites with no consistent users visit who simply rake in more unique users than sites with dedicated and active communities.

The industry seems to be constantly forcing out us little guys. From the point when I started the site till now, absolutely everything is harder for us. Nobody gives us a free pass and nobody makes life easier. It's quite frustrating at times. No matter what, we keep hanging in there and bearing it out. I hope we catch a break one day.


04/03/2013 at 04:00 PM

Yowzers, that all sounds kind of depressing. I do my part by visiting the site from work and home. It's like I'm two people!

So what's the holdup with Metacritic? Is it just red tape or does Metacritic do some kind of protracted site review or something? Definitely sounds like getting on there would be a helpful step in the direction we want to go.

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 04:06 PM

Yeah, Metacritic evaluates sites over very long periods of time and doesn't readily add people. Last year we were "wait listed," which essentially meant that we passed their tests and would get added after some others were removed.

I was hopeful that we could pretty much take 1up's space now that they're closing up shop. I haven't heard anything back since I last emailed them a month ago. I guess we'll see what happens, but it would definitely open up doors for us that wouldn't be opened otherwise.


04/03/2013 at 01:43 PM

What is your favourite colour?


Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 03:45 PM

I'm not really sure I have one. Generally speaking, I like bright, vibrant colors, especially in games.


04/03/2013 at 03:52 PM

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Nick DiMola Director

04/03/2013 at 03:56 PM


04/03/2013 at 03:57 PM

thank you, that made my day.


04/04/2013 at 09:13 PM

What are some things you'd like to do with the site? Say if you had all the time and resources you wanted. You seem to be the type of person who is always looking for ways to improve things.

Nick DiMola Director

04/04/2013 at 09:52 PM

I think my ultimate dream for the site has always been to have a highly active community that's constantly being engaged. In order to accomplish that, I'd love to have almost a calendar of sorts that conglomerated all of the events on any given day and presented them to a visitor of the site and allowed them to interact at their leisure.

I'd also love to do a live radio show with callers and the like that focused on games, gaming topics, and nerd culture. I'm a big fan of morning radio shows, so I've always dreamed of replicating that here, based around the stuff we all find most interesting.

Even beyond that, I'd love to better feature the writing that the community does. Rather than living in the blog section alone, I want to promote the best of that content as if it originated from the PixlBit staff. I think it would be amazing (especially if this site was bigger) to be a user and write something and have it "officially" published.

In general, bigger and better community stuff has always been what I wanted for PixlBit, so I've literally been chomping at the bit to get features out there for you guys to continue to improve your experience here. If/when I ever get the opportunity, I intend to make the aforementioned items a reality, along with plenty of other things that I haven't even dreamed of yet.

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