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Apr 13, 2016

017 - The GRAW Special with Christian Allen

Christian Allen, CEO of Serellan LLC and lead designer for Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (amongst many other things) joins us for a chat about GRAW, achievements, game development, and lots more. Oh, and Crandy finishes GRAW (spoiler alert!).

Show notes are available on

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Opening/closing music: "Jive Bot" by Jake Kaufman from the game Mighty Switch Force! developed and published by WayForward Technologies

Break music: "Game Cool Dubstep Mode Logo" by Sparximer

All audio production and podcast backend support provided by Tarragon Allen.

Show notes by everyone!


Brandon Fream aka "Freamwhole" - TrueAchievements - Xbox

Tarragon Allen aka "zzUrbanSpaceman" - TrueAchievements - Xbox

Randy aka "Crandy" - TrueAchievements - Xbox


Christian Allen of Serellan LLC

0:00:00 - Intro

0:02:52 - Talking Zeds: Guest Christian Allen

0:51:27 - Talking Zeds: Achievements Suck

  • GRAW Terminology - Cycle: Moving up and down four levels (In ranked matches)
    • Invisible XP points
    • Based on ELO system, not TrueSkill
    • Designed before Xbox and Microsoft knew what achievements were going to be - Gary Stelmack driving the show on achievements
    • Originally layered achievements for the leaderboard - before 50 achievement limit
    • Seriously?
    • Shipped with 890GS
    • First time doing a ranking system in Ghost Recon
    • Set up like Chess (LINK)
    • GRAW Terminology – Blocking: Intentionally trying to prevent others from climbing a leaderboard and preventing others from earning the achievement.
    • Kane & Lynch Blocking Clan
    • BAFTA Game Of The Year Win and Worst Achievement Awards

1:07:15 - How Have You Seen Achievements Change and How Much Do You Hate Them?

1:14:10 - Are You Surprised At The Lengths People Go Through For Achievements?

1:30:02 - Microtransactions according to Christian

1:43:40 - Voice Acting in Epsilon

1:47:45 - Talking Zeds: The GRAW Journal

    • Starflight
    • 5.25” Floppy Disk
    • The GRAW Journal
    • Boosting
    • ~300 traditional cycles for for team/solo leaderboards
    • Yes GRAW is still possible! (just extremely time consuming)
    • Time to complete GRAW ~five months playing eight hours a day
    • Christian Allen thought "achievements are stupid" on original pitch from Microsoft
    • GRAW consistently winning worst achievements ever
    • Committed (Multiplayer) was not supposed to be eight consecutive hours
    • What achievements have become
    • Christian Allen on gaming habits of a game designer
      • Arcade games
      • The Division
      • Fallout 3/NV/4
      • Dead Rising 1/2/3
      • Ryse


  • "I'll get to it after GRAW"


  • Crandy's post GRAW ratio dive
    • My Horse and Me 2
    • Hannah Montana
    • Monster High
    • Barbie and Her Sisters Puppy Rescue
    • Even more!
  • Christian Allen on Takedown: Red Sabre and Kickstarter
    • Gaming nostalgia
    • Social media harassment
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Ubisoft corporate training
    • "you-be-soft" not "oo-be-soft"
    • Toilet logo
  • Ad nostalgia in GRAW
  • Dodge® cars are good cover in GRAW 2

2:37:25 - Talking Zeds: Zombie Interlude

  • Zombie books
  • Threat matrix (includes zombie apocalypse planning)


  • 3389 days 21 hours 29 minutes later

2:43:40 - Shovelware Cemetery: Hotel Blind

3:10:10 - Shovelware Cemetery: GRAW

  • Too Brown
  • Looks like a ten year old game
  • Those achievements, wtf
  • Too many big maps
  • Can’t use rockets akimbo
  • Gunplay, damage and movement is “unrealistic”, unlike COD

3:15:43 - Talking Zeds: Wrap up

  • Brandon offering guided tours thru Destiny
  • Randy offering to play GRAW 2 (More Drinking!)

3:17:01 - Housekeeping and Recap

3:27:11 - Listener Feedback

  • iTunes Canada feedback from TheNyghty
  • AB0MINAT10N: Clarify power brick tangent from Randy
    • In short, throw out the power brick not from your region on your import console, and just use an in-country power adapter.
  • Randy & Brandon explain how not to fix a RROD…
  • Sinicide IiI
    • Brandon apologizes for butchering the name.
    • When do you release the show?
      • Wednesday night Australia / Wednesday morning US.
  • Saucy Slingo: Tarragon makes a guest appearance in OXENFREE
  • Griffey95: Comprehensive list of demo games with achievements?
    • Tron Runner
    • Kung Fu Panda: Legend of the Legendary Legends
    • Dead or Alive 5
    • Killer Instinct
    • Make a ZedtoZed list?
  • Montana97: Do I need to eject external HDD before disconnecting them?
    • Unknown if you pull it while in use.  Maybe turn off the console before you remove. Editor’s note: generally it’s probably fine to pull it whenever, but you may cause some hiccups if it’s saving a game at the time. Note that game saves are always stored on the internal drive and the cloud though.
  • GRAW (Drink!) Questions
    • Facial: Favorite game in the GRAW series? Excited for Wild lands?
      • Brandon has never played a GRAW game
      • Randy has only played the original GRAW (No substitutes)
      • Jury is still out for Wild lands, but skeptical.
      • Don’t give a company money in advance for 2 years in the future.  Finance 101.
  • xXxB1G311xXx: That guy?
    • Please stop mentioning GRAW? (Drink)… Doubtful.
    • GRAW has uneven Gamerscore (So you have to do the leaderboard to be even)
  • Salsbar: How can I get the leaderboard achievements to even up my gamerscore?
  • Anno Mundi: Would you recommend I try for the leaderboard achievements at this point? How much did it cost you for the gold subs?
    • Randy says “No”. Cost of 8 accounts with Gold. So apx $80 a month.
  • jjaldana: The leaderboard achievements takes about 6 months of playing all day everyday. This account for 8 hours of sleep days.
  • YODA12320: Yes what other than graw do you talk about..
    • Listen to past Podcast episodes.  ;-)
  • IXI B1G3L1 IXI: Since GRAW is rated T for Teen, when does your mom say you will be allowed to play games that are rated M?
    • Randy’s mom will allow him to play rated M games if he chooses, since he is such a big boy.
  • People are still pulling a Fream! (Marknocturnal, Damien, WebChimp UK: did it in Roblox and Project Spark)

3:50:51 - News

3:59:03 - Game Delays and Backwards Compatibility

4:00:50 - Zombie News

4:02:52 - Outro


Glossary of Xbox Gamerscore and achievement jargon and terms: