If you are familiar with this website, or me, you’ll know that I am a data junkie. I love stats, statistics, metadata, and pretty much any other metric that will allow me to qualify and quantify everything around me. This is part of the reason I started using Fourquare, as a way to track the amount of travel I typically undertake. Before now though, I had to tally all that data myself to get any use out of it. Now though, Foursquare has introduced Time Machine as a way to calculate and display all that wonderful information.
What you are about to read, should you decide to read it, is all true to the best of my recollection. I have had a long, strange, journey through the video game industry. I have hundreds of stories, this is just one of them.
It’s for breakfast now.
It’s interesting to see all the news about Nintendo recently and the expected fiscal loss posting. “First time in 30 years…” “Lower than expected interest in the 3Ds.” “20 billion yen.”, etc etc. I really only have one question: “Is anyone really that surprised?”
Ok, let me preface this with a few things.
- I am not a financial professional. I don’t analyze trends, stocks, or earning strategies.
- I am not a corporate business strategist. I understand the complexities of running a business, but I am by no means familiar with the intricacies of running a massive, multinational, corporation.
- I have worked for and with Nintendo in the past (2002-2007). In fact, I did through one of their darkest hours, the end of the GameCube lifecycle, in what was essentially “the trenches”, Marketing and Promotions. I was also there for one of the truly brightest moments, the launch of the Wii.
- Yes, I’ve met Reggie Fils-Amie. I sat across from him at a marketing meeting in New York City in 2004 and told him we should probably forget Geist ever existed and focus on Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime 2 for that particular holiday season. I’m not saying it affected anything either way, but we all know how that turned out.
In any case, all I present here is my experience with Nintendo, the frustration that came with working for them, especially as a fan of the company and their products, the insight it gave me to the insane swing-set-riding-a-roller-coaster that the company exists on, and why it should surprise no one that they’re on the big downswing yet again.
The surrealism of this journey never ceases to amaze me. When I toured for a living, and for a few years afterwards, it was a seemingly endless journey across the American frontier. I experienced more in those years, traveled and adventured more, saw and did more, heard, worked, played, and lived more, than most people will in a lifetime. I know what it means to be a nomad, a wanderer. To wake up in a different city every day. To adapt and learn and live completely different kinds of lifestyles. That vast array of experience has helped to forge me into the person I am today. It is why I can manage and function anywhere, despite never really being comfortable anywhere. I never mind anywhere. I can make do with almost nothing. I know how to just make things work. Very little bothers me, even less can actually stop me. I can go on for a while here, and I have lots of other notes to include, but I am exhausted. I’ll follow up later.
This morning I woke up in Santa Monica, CA after spending the previous evening on the beach, at the end of a stunningly beautiful day. The weather was gorgeous, I finally was able to take a long, hot, shower and get myself cleaned up, and I got laundry done. I slept in a bed. When you live on the road, days like that are few and far between. They are like pocket days, 24 hours of stepping outside of the reality you’re existing to recollect and recover. Personal days. Recharge days.
Tonight I am laying on a couch, in a home at the top of a mountain, hidden away somewhere in a forest outside of Santa Cruz, CA. Another unfamiliar ceiling. It was a very long, dark, winding, road to get here. I have no cell reception. I’m writing this offline before I hijack some bandwidth. I can see every star in the sky here, but there are no fireflies like where I grew up. Bluegrass music is coming out of the TV. In 8 hours I will be awake, collect the few things I unpacked, and climb aboard a motor home that is very similar to the tour buses I spent most of my 20’s on. This will become three days of driving across the desert with two men I have known collectively for less than five days until I am in Albuquerque, NM. They are both chain smokers, but I fear for the well being of my camera, clothes, and computer more than I do my own lungs.
That’s all for now. Just wanted to get it down here. Side note: Today’s photos were brought to you by my phone, not my camera.
Well, it’s been a week since E3 and I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t still feeling the effects. It’s like remembering an awesome party; you’re so glad you were there but it sucks that it’s over. While there’s no doubt that experiencing all that video game awesomeness was indeed amazing, the real part of it I’m missing is the feeling of “being on the inside”. That deserves some clarification.
If you’ve swung through my still incomplete Portfolio page, you’ll see that I’ve been behind the scenes for some really amazing videogame related events. I helped launch the Gameboy Advance SP, the DS, and the Wii, all for Nintendo. I helped produce and personally directed all the tech. on all 4 years of Nintendo’s Fusion Tour, so on, so forth. All of my experience though, comes clocked in as a freelancer. And while i love being a freelancer and the freedom that comes with it, the flip side is always feeling like I’m standing just across a line of implied acceptance. It’s a strange purgatory, a no-mans-land, between envy from one side for involvement and afterthought from the other. The common term is “disposable asset”. “You’re key figure while the clock is running but beyond that, don’t even attempt to associate with or be considered part of our world.” It’s not that i actively seek to involve myself in everything a client does, after all, i work with them, not for them.
E3 was different though, mostly because of the people i was working with. Barring my own personal feelings of being an outsider, the level of hospitality and involvement extended to me from MTV and Harmonix was amazing. I was treated like a part of their team. That’s a rare, but awesome, experience and I sincerely thank them for it.
Speaking of Facebook, I snagged http://www.facebook.com/dropslash, in case there was any doubt.
Anyway, while I was out, even though part of it was spent at E3, I missed out on some serious game playing. One of the things I was most looking forward to was the Broken Steel expansion for Fallout 3. It was the first thing i bought/started playing when i got home. The new level cap of 30 is badass and some of the new enemies are nuts. Nothing really cool weapon-wise for me though, since i play pure Stealth/Sniper. I’m a never-be-seen-one-shot-one-kill kind of player, my 1500+ saves and ammo collections will attest to that. I’m also a huge packrat, i love killing, collecting, repairing, and selling. I’m about to break the 100,000 cap mark in the game. Fallout 3 feeds my meticulous OCD tendencies to a T. It’s been glitchy recently, which drives me nuts, but overall i love the game.
Also on my playlist recently is Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2. I played the shit out of the first one and the 2nd installment has already sucked away dozens of hours from my life. They’ve made some awesome changes as well as leaving out some near-crippling features. Let’s make a list!
Things i love about DW:G2
- The new “Infinite Boost” system. This is how it should have been in DW:G1.
- Bajillions of enemies on screen. For melee fighters like me, it’s combo mania. (382! personal best)
- Tons and tons of missions. Keeps the game interesting and not repetitive during long plays.
- The Mobile Fighter: G Gundam pilots and Gundams got a huge upgrade. Domon/Burning Gundam and Master Asia/Master Gundam are far-and-away my favorite characters in the DW:G series (I’m a big G Gundam fan) and they really got brought up to the level where they should be in DW:G2. They’re amazing now. LOOK, THE EAST IS BURNING RED!
- New level designs. Combined with the number of enemies on screen, the level of possible destruction is astronomical.
- Free DLC missions. Hell yeah.
Things i hate about DW:G2
- The lack of voice sample diversity. So sick of hearing the same lines over and over again.
- That annoying fucking voice cue for notifications/objectives. Where the hell did that come from? I want it to die.
- The revamped parts/tech system. I appreciate the customization aspects, but it’s needlessly complicated.
- Some missions force certain difficulties/mobile suits. Weak. I don’t want to pilot a goddamn Zaku Tank, no matter how relevant to the story it is.
- Only one gamertag at a time in co-op. WTF is this crap?
- No co-op over Xbox Live. This really kills me, no… like fkn really. Of all the games that should have XBL co-op it should be this one. The whole mission structure is designed around multiple Aces working together to annihilate massive waves of grunts! You couldn’t ask for a more perfect co-op setting. Ugh. This took a massive amount of enjoyment out of this game out for me.
- Achievements based on play time/repetition, not skill. This was a huge problem with DW:G1 and DW:G2 amazingly manages to compound on it’s lunacy. I understand why they do it but, really, it’s astoundingly fkn lame.
Well, those are my impressions so far. It’s button mashingly wonderful fun. I love that Domon and Master Asia are insanely badass now (as they should be!) but the lack of real/XBL co-op is a huge disappointment for me. Really, there is no excuse, but I’m going to blame the Playstation versions anyway.
Also, I’ve spent way too much time in my local Starbucks recently.
Well, today wraps up my last day on the Can’t Stop Rockin’ 2009 Tour. It’s been a mixed bag. The production team i was placed with was absolutely fantastic. So awesome to work with. The crew on my bus was equally amazing, they made some of the long rides really fun. Styx and REO Speedwagon, while not really my first choice in music, we’re also really awesome, both onstage and off. They’re some of the most devoted bands i’ve ever toured with.
On the other hand, the marketing agency that hired me, and who iIve worked with before, seemed to not have really thought this tour through. It’s a shame too, because the sponsor, who I’ve also worked with directly, is amazing. There was potential here, but it wasn’t really capitalized on.
Anyway, speaking of amazing clients… i’m off to E3!
That’s right, E3 2009, All Access, thanks to the, wonderful, amazing, people at MTV Games/Harmonix. I’m going to be working the show floor, attending events, and checking out all the awesomeness. It’s like a dream come true for me. In the meantime, i’m going to be updating my portfolio and fixing some of the things on the site. I’ll be twittering live from E3, so you can follow the sidebar on this site or follow along at http://twitter.com/dropslash.
Well, this is how it all turned out. I haven’t ported this new design over to Blogger yet, but it’ll get there eventually. I’ve been busy with work recently, but I wanted to get this revamp up and all the bugs worked out before I head out on tour again. Speaking of which, if you’re a Rock Band fan and reading this, come visit/hang out with me while I’m on tour. Here’s where I’m headed:
Harrah’s Total Rock, Total Rewards Rock Band Tournament:
If you’ve been following my Twitter Feed, you already know all about this.
Here’s where you can find me:
- April 14 – 16: Las Vegas, NV. Harrah’s Las Vegas @ Carnival Court
- April 23 – 25: Chicago, IL.
Hammond Horseshoe Casino @ The Venue
- April 28 – May 1: New Orleans, LA.
Harrah’s New Orleans @ Masquerade
- May 6 – 10: Atlantic City, NJ.
Harrah’s Atlantic City @ Eden Lounge
After that I’m headed out on the Can’t Stop Rockin’ tour with REO Speedwagon, Styx, and 38 Special.
Can’t Stop Rockin’: (More dates coming soon)
- May 13: Albuquerque, NM (Sandia Casino Amphitheatre)
- May 15: Phoenix, AZ (Dodge Theatre)
- May 16: Las Vegas, NV (Thomas and Mack Center)
- May 17: Fresno, CA (Save Mart Center)
- May 21: Ontario, CA (Citizens Business Bank Arena)
- May 22: Los Angeles, CA (NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE)
- May 23: Kelseyville, CA (Konocti Harbor Amphitheatre)
- May 24: Mountain View, CA (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
- May 27: Seattle, WA (ShoWare Arena)
- May 30: Sandy, UT (Rio Tinto Stadium)
- May 31: Morrison, CO (Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
- June 4: Kansas City, MO (Starlight Theatre)
- June 5: Thackerville, OK (Winstar Casino)
- June 6: Oklahoma City, OK (Zoo Amphitheatre)
- June 7: Woodlands, TX (Woodlands Pavilion)
- June 16: Boca Raton, FL (Sunset Cove Amphitheatre)
- June 18: Orange Beach, FL (The Amphitheatre @ The Wharf)
- June 20: Roanoke Rapids, NC (Carolina Crossroads Amphitheatre)
- June 21: Atlanta, GA (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre)
- June 23: Columbia, MD (Merriweather Post Pavillion)
- June 26: Atlantic City, NJ (The Borgata)
- June 27: Gilford, NH (Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion)
- June 28: Mansfield, MA (Comcast Center)
- July 1: Uncasville, CT (Mohegan Sun)
- July 2: Verona, NY (Turning Stone Resort Casino)
- July 3: Scranton, PA (Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain)
- July 4: Saratoga Springs, NY (Saratoga Performing Arts Center)
- July 9: Clarkston, MI (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
- July 10: Chicago, IL (Charter One Pavilion At Northerly Island)
- July 11: St Louis, MO (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre)
I have a lot more to get done around here and it’s going to be a busy summer.
3 shows left, 4 days until i’m home. There’s no one left on this tour who cares anymore. We all just want it to be over. We’re all burned out, run down, and barely making it by every day.
I feel so broken down. I can’t wait to be home and just sleep in my own bed. By far the worst Fusion Tour to date.
Usually, when you’re on tour, you pick out something about the bands you’re touring with that is decent. A redeeming quality to nod your head at to prevent yourself from going insane having to hear them every day for 6 weeks… There is no such aspect to Hawthorne Heights. They fucking suck, 100%, through and though. It’s kind of astounding.
The Sleeping are just great guys, The Plain White T’s play a short set every night and have missed a bunch of shows, Emery… well, they’re similar to HH except you can’t hear a fucking word they’re saying because all they do is scream everything. Reliant K has the single guitar riff from Devastation & Reform that is better than everything by The Plain White T’s, Emery and HH combined. In-as-such Hawthorne Heights may be the worst band of all time…
5 more shows though. St. Louis, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Champaign, and Chicago. We found out today that the Milwaukee show has been moved from The Eagles Ballroom down to The Rave because ticket sales were so bad. I laughed for a good 20 minutes when i first head that. It still makes me laugh.
This tour, despite having a decent staff (minus the total douchebag tour manager, Matt), has been as close to a disaster as you can get without actually canceling the whole thing. We’re just scraping by now, with nothing but the end-in-sight keeping us moving forward.
I was thinking about crashing out in Chicago for a few days after the tour since i was thinking about moving there, but at this point i just want to get back to my beloved NYC and hibernate all winter and recover from this hell.
Quote from Dez, my Field Manager:
This tour is… baffling. BAFFLING. It’s like tracking Sasquatch… with no guide.
So it seems that i either have a blown circuit on my mobo, or the mobo is cracked near the power jack. It looks like the cheapest way to salvage my poor laptop is to get a docking station, which bypasses the power line input. Hopefully it will work, but at this point i’m loathe to spend any more money. I’m going to have to use the last of my battery power to unlock the HD so i can access it with another machine for the time being. Fun.
It’s freezing here in Portland. The last week and a half of shows are coming up and they can’t be over fast enough.
At least i get paid tomorrow.