Flashback Friday: Just Push Play

jpp_bannerOut of my love and enjoyment of shoutcasting (see last week’s Flashback Friday) I had the opportunity to develop my own online radio show that was not centered around online computer gaming. In 2005, after making the switch from TsN, the Team Sportcast Network to Radio iTG (Inside the Game), management decided to add alternative online program to our gaming schedule. At this time, coverage consisted of Counter Strike, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Call of Duty, Quake III Arena, Urban Terror and Starcraft, just to name a few. The online personalities each came up with their own, unique program. My show was called Just Push Play (JPP), as I flashed back to the 1980’s!

Originally my show debuted a few years earlier preceding Blankz and his late night antics on Anything Goes. A deal was struck with Blankz and Radio Oz was introduced, a 2-hour all request 80’s radio show. Unlike JPP, there was very little on air conversation, as I let the music do the talking. Using IRC, I would take requests and do my communicating in the IRC channel. This worked well, as I was able to get some experience with a live listening audience, but I wanted something more.

When the opportunity came around, I did not hesitate. With endless ideas and a large collection of 80’s MP3s, Just Push Play took to the air on January 26, 2005. Episode 001 was challenging, wanting to come off as a professional production and not sound like a tool. Listening now to the first episode is hard but it was a learning experience and the second episode on February 02 was a hit (download and listen).

The two hour show featured lots of 80’s music, as well as segments that included; Pop Culture, Boob Tube, Flick Pick and Album Rewind. I had also planned a Button Bashers segment. Pop Culture took look at toys, video games, nostalgia, fads and fashion. This was sort of a catch all segment. Boob Tube talked about some of the classic, action television shows we remembered. Flick Pick dealt with movies that were playing on the big screen during the 1980s. The most iconic segment, Album Rewind took a closer look at classic albums of the 80s. when vinyl still existed. The Button Bashers segment never materialized, which was to feature the best local arcades had to offer in video games. Unfortunately, the station ran into hard times and I was never able to get this segment introduced before the station had their plug pulled.

aliens_posterEpisode 002 was one of my favorite episodes, not that is the best produced show, but the content made this a favorite out of all the episodes I recorded. The music was all one-hit wonders including Tommy Tutone, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Rockwell and Taco. Pop culture featured a few toys from my childhood, the Milton Bradley Big Trax, something I never did own as well as the Choose Your Own Adventure Books published by Bantam Books. Surprisingly enough, I just picked up a few of these books for my son and they are still a great read, just when I flipping pages back in the early 80s.

It could be said that many of those tuned into Just Push Play had no idea what I was talking about. Thankfully our listeners were quite diverse and many knew the music and movies, but the pop culture and TV shows seemed to fall by the wayside, unless you happened to be turned in to your weekly favorites. DVRs did not exist and VCRs were not affordable.

The Boob Tube segment featured one of my favorite shows a-teamas a youth, The A-Team. “If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.” An American action-adventure television series that ran on NBC from 1983 to 1987 about members of a fictitious former United States Army Special Forces unit. The members, after being court-martialed “for a crime they didn’t commit”, escaped from military prison and, while still on the run, worked as soldiers of fortune (wiki).

On the big screen it was the 1986 sci-fi thriller, Aliens. James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror film, Alien. The film followed Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ellen Ripley, who was found floating in space, as she returns to the planet where her crew first encountered the alien. The film grossed $180 million worldwide and was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Still one of the top 10 science fiction movies of the 80s and based on Rotten Tomatoes, ranked 31 in their Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy.

moving_picturesThe final segment, Album Rewind featured Rush and their undisputed best, all-time album, the 1981 classic, Moving Pictures. The album became the band’s highest selling  album in the United States, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200, was also the first to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. Moving Pictures includes some of the most influential rock written by the group including Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ and Limelight. All timeless classics that still rock your ass 35 years later.

Through out the show, during my breaks I would play music associated with the theme of the show. Episode 002 was ‘one hit wonders’ and included Dexy’s Midnight Runners with Come on Eileen, Taco, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Michael Damian with Rock On, Falco sand Der Kommissar, Eddie Grant took a walk down Electric Avenue while Wall of Voodoo went south of the border with Mexican Radio, Red Ryder sang about the Lunatic Fringe and Tommy Tutone with 837-6309/Jenny. These songs and more rounded out the shows for the week.

All in all Just Push Play was a great way to flash back to the 1980s and remember how good we had it. It was a passion providing my listening audience the things that made the 80s great and memorable in my mind. Over the run on-air I received many accolades and requests from listeners who heard the show live, as well as those who downloaded the MP3 after the fact. While the show will never return and I won’t grace the microphone, I can still flask back with Just Push Play.

Flashback Friday: Shoutcasting

tsnStarting in 1999 I became an avid gamer while living in Chicago with a roommate who introduced me to the PC game, Quake II. The rest, as they say is history. Never in my wildest imaginations did I think I would find so much enjoyment, meet gamers, developers and friends from all walks of line brought together because of video games, which has become a culture. In 2000 on an invite from id Software attended my first LAN event, QuakeCon as an amateur developer for Silicon Ice Development, the team behind the Quake 3 modification, Urban Terror.

Since that time and experience my online persona, Oswald or Oz, was taken in many different directions, but one thing remained constant. Video games were the central focus. Looking back years later on what I accomplished, makes me wonder what could have been. Riding a wave of success in 2000, our first meeting with Activision, on the heels of QuakeCon didn’t quite go as planned, but it could have changed my life.

Running the development team as a project coordinator and promoting the game as public relations, I met with some interesting opportunities. Trips to Boston, Colorado Springs, Irvine and Los Angeles were just some of the requests as part of an online community known as shoutcasters. As defined by Liquipedia, “a caster is a person dedicated to the broadcasting side of esports, providing commentary for games. Casters often double as hosts for tournaments, conducting interviews and player introductions among other things.” Over nearly 10 years I worked with two online stations, TsN, the Team Sportscast Network and Radio iTG or Inside the Game. Both featured some of the same personalities and brought video games to life through their knowledge and coverage.

While this was the next step, it was an unknown personality (to me) named, Blankz aka “DJ Too Pimp For You,” who interviewedme in May, 2001, while part of Silicon Ice Development that got me interested in shoutcasting. It wasn’t long after the interview that I preempted Anything Goes with my own 80’s radio show called Radio Oz. It was really nothing more than playing tunes on request from the 80’s. Very little talk or conversation but that all changed.

itgRadio Oz as it was know morphed into Urban Radio, which debuted on December 21, 2001, which featured music and information on the game Urban Terror. While not at the apex of development, the radio show was a success with the online community. The two hour show was written and produced by myself each week through 2008 and featured prominently during release cycles that brought new game files to the Urban Terror community. This took support to the next level and broadened my horizon as a shoutcaster.

On May 7, 2002 I began providing commentary and coverage for ClanBase, one of Europe’s largest and most respected gaming leagues. Coverage began with Urban Terror, which my was expertise providing Open Cup, Nations Cup and ladder based gaming. Along with CB I provided limited coverage of CAL, FMFS, OGL, STA and TWL but my first love was European coverage.

With a falling out at TsN, I followed a small group of devoted casters who built a new station, Radio iTG or Inside the Game. The format was similar, associated with specific online gaming leagues and LAN events, but the format wasn’t all games, all the time. We were able to expand and do individual shows, Just Push Play was born.

You can now view the online archives and download any show.

Friends of Terror

It is still hard to believe there is a group of dedicated individuals who have the desire and make the effort to keep Urban Terror alive. The fact we still have a very strong and dedicated community is a contributing factor to the longevity and success of the game.

I have been fortunate over those years to meet (yes, face to face) with many individuals on different levels as it relates to Urban Terror, from the invite to Quakecon in 2000 and 2001, to LAN parties in NoCal, SoCal and Colorado Springs and an appearance on TechTV (when it was around). There have been closed door, sit down meetings with Activision and id Software, which was more of a “wow factor” for me at the time since we did not know where we wanted to take Urban Terror.

If I knew then, what I know now, Frozen Sand (at the time, Silicon Ice Development) could be mentioned being on par with Splash Damage. Those guys had their shit together! They also had an amazing group of talented individuals. Not saying our development team hasn’t, because we have had over the years many contribute to the game.

Meeting gamers, executives, sponsors and personalities alike have been some of the best memories I have had. I mention this because I was able to meet Lt1 (aka Rob Bergman) last night, as he flew into NoCal for some training. Now, it’s not often that an opportunity arises, which will have gamers come in contact with each other, let alone team members. Remember, outside of meeting INVIS, BladeKiller and RabidCow I have not met the other talent on our team. But we have all worked together for nearly 4 years (if memory serves me correct).

It’s always interesting to put an alias to face, face to a voice and a voice to the online persona. I flashback to Quakecon 2001 when I was employed by TsN and our station was covering the event. I wanted to meet WarWitch, who at the time covered RtCW and was just an amazing announcer, complete with an entire online persona. With his voice, I expected something other than I got. Here stands a short, maybe 5′-5″ guy with a dark ponytail. Really blew my mental image of him, but nonetheless a great person and top class shoutcaster!

LAN parties are always interesting, especially when they were Urban Terror specific. Now I attended a weekly LAN in SoCal and Urban Terror was still rather new, but when our group made the transition to Quake III Arena, we played it every weekend. I did attend the .223 LAN in NoCal in 2003, which was also the first time I met Hottlipz face to face (little did I know we would marry a year later), along with many gamers from .223 and some other local Urban Terror players.

A few larger LANs featured Urban Terror and I was fortunate enough to attend those as well. Once in Los Angeles, where I was on hand to award the winner a custom Urban Terror case that was specially designed and constructed in Australia. I was also fortunate enough to attend EverLAN in Colorado Springs a few years, once when they did use an older version of Urban Terror.

Again, it is the people who make the game. I could sit here and rattle off a list of people who I have met and known over the years. I would love to have the time to go on a world tour just for Urban Terror. I know it sounds silly (Oh, remind me to talk about my East Coast trip!), but I think it would be a great time! I am sure there are enough gamers worldwide, I could shack up with, drink beer with and game with that could easily fill one month of travel.

The itinerary would include a trip south to Los Angeles and a stop by the GGL offices, where Epileptic Gaming transmits from, because djWheat is still Inside the Game. From there it would be on to Phoenix, Arizona to hook with Blankz, also of iTG. You can blame him for getting me involved in shoutcasting, thus the reason I can’t say Euro names correctly. I would fly to Colorado and check in with Spellbinder, because he has been a long time friend. This would be a coordinated trip to stop in Mesquite, Texas for Quakecon and countless people I know at that event including: Evil John, Tapper, Precious Death, the guys at id Software, especially Robert and of course, just to keep the list short Splash Damage.

The East Coast swing would include a stop to visit with Ghozt, AGBD and Fragging Newby. Hopefully we could find MFDoom, yes the now married Doomy and Capt. Porno. I went shooting with these guys and hung out with them years ago and it was one of the most memorable trips. Especially when you don’t know dick about some guy who goes by ‘A Giant Black Dude.’ Maybe a quick stop over in Florida to kick the shit out of BasiLisK.

The European tour would start with a stop in Portugal, why? Because I still feel they are the best community of gamers going for Urban Terror (yeah flame me, then fuck off, it’s my website and my opinion). From there it would be on to England to see Dick Dastardly and his flatmate, Qster and lord know who else we would find in and around the UK.

A trip would not be complete with traversing he frozen tundra of Sweden, Denmark and Finland (sorry Norway!). Definitely stop by House Valhalla! Many in the Danes and Swedes on the list who have been supporters for many years. A tour of the Rhine, well, Germany to meet Warbird (aka Wolfseye), since he has become a good friend.

An intersting stop would be Slovania, because of SLOfaca, Blaz especially and many of his countrymen have been wonderful to cover and talk to over the years. The Netherlands would mark one of the final stops, to meet “Whoa Keeley” or woekele. I need to forgive my lack of knowledge, but I would want to hook up with J0E and Preat of FROServers.com. Then again I would hope J0E is not nekked getting into the shower.

I could go on and on about the names, faces and places. But it would be an endless cycle. It has been many years and gamers come and go, but it is interesting to note how many names return to Urban Terror saying something like, “this is the only game I come back to play.” Hopefully this sort of comment is typical through out the community. It has been one helluva ride over the years and hopefully there is more in store for our community and us, as a development team.

Parting shot, I must apologize for not mentioning dokta8, Sam Hinton, one of the original coders. He was a big influence on me, a great friend and the one who got me involved.

Oswald has the floor…

Ah…I must give props to Brian Hill (aka MidgetKiller) who spent the past few weeks working on my theme for The 6th Floor. Keeping in line with one of the original designs (by Per Nyhaug) he whipped this gem up and now I am back online and ready to give it to you point blank!

Unlike years past where my commentary has focused primarily on gaming and level design, I am breaking out of the mold and giving it more of a personal touch. Hell, everyone these days has a blog or space in which they post whatever they want.

Along with a moderate dose of gaming related issues (usually my bitching and complaining) I will show off my newborn son, Zachary Stephen, possibly my wife (Hottlipz), who can still kick my ass in online gaming, along with the many other topics and hobbies of mine that are open for discussion. I am never lost for words.

It may take a few days to get everything up, running and configured to how I intend, but rest assured with this “leave” I am on from work, I have nothing but time. I know my wife is asking for more pictures of Zachary to be posted, as soon as my registration is confirmed I will get the gallery online and then wonder how he got to be so cute. Here he is a few minutes (if I remember correctly) after birth.

Anyways, I look forward to getting back into the swing of things and being able to post about whatever I damn well feel like it. By the way, I need to pimp Blankz and djWheat, both of Inside The Game. Why? Because they are both new fathers and because I have them linked to my site.

p1mp’n da good stuff

I would like to began by first saying, thanks to Blankz at Radio ITG for appearing in studio with him this past Saturday. It was a great time to hang with the “Ponbigi of Internet radio.” He truly is a “pimp!” A quick recap, we talked to Evil John, the Executive Director of QuakeCon, along with Colonel Lai who writes The Colonel’s Barracks over at Stomped. There was also a first time visit from VD-Kat, who helps maintain the IRC Network, Enter The Game, along with Whiz.

The next day was to be action packed, as Blankz and I headed to the world famous amusement park, Cedar Point. This park features three of the top four roller coasters in the world, including the Millennium Force. Just to give you a few specs on this thing: 310 feet high, 80 degree decent, 93 mph and 6,595 feet of track! Now that is one bad ass coaster! Check out these shots:

There has been a new addition to the Silicon Ice Development Team. dotEXE DOS was taken on board as a team mapper for Urban Terror. While he has only released one map, which was for Beta 1.27, called 101_Reykjavik. His current level has a development title of ‘202’ and is a terrain generated level. Think the map Sands on a smaller scale, with heavily fortified bases at opposite corners. Based on preliminary testing, the map show prove to be a success with the Urban Terror Community.

Off the record, SweetnutZ is nearly finished work on the “most impressive” level yet for Urban Terror. It is a well developed layout, with some very impressive texturing. The scary thing is, this is his first map and he really disproves my thinking of “first maps should never be released.” I guess there are exceptions to every rule and SweetnutZ’s level Casa is that exception. No word if this level will be ready for the highly anticipated map pack from SID for Urban Terror. For more sexiness, check out these screen shots:

I have also been in contact with Raunchy, whom some of you might remember was the level designer behind Office for the earlier beta versions of Urban Terror. His latest level, is completely different than what was gamer experienced in Office. This level is a cross between Village Austria [scheduled to be released in the map pack]. Much of the texturing is impressive and comes from Ricochet [by WetWired]. It should only be about a week before I get the map and can do some extended testing with Silicon Ice. Here are a few screen shots to give you a preview of his level:

As a reminder, I will be attending QuakeCon 2001 in Mesquite, Texas, August 9-12. I will be there with nine other Silicon Ice Development Team members. Based on the experience we had last year at QuakeCon, this year should be even better. So, if you are attending, be sure to stop by check Urban Terror out! More news as it becomes available.