History of JGR

Quick note for everyone – I’ve added a new “history page” chronicling the ups and downs of our nearly 12 year (!!) history as a website. Take a read if interested, and feel free to leave your comments below.

11 Comments

  1. Ryan DiGiorgi says:

    Oh man, I’d forgotten about that intro! Those were the days.

  2. Mr Creosote says:

    Interesting read! What you seem to elegantly skip over is the part of former contributors leaving… In the case of the last relaunch, it seems fairly self-explanatory, but what happened to those two earlier guys from the times you were four? Also, somehow related, I would have found it interesting to hear something about the typical ‘workflows’ in each period. Although you mention it all used to be static HTML pages, where all these things handled by you alone or did the other guys make their own pages from the templates and uploaded them?

    Re. personal development and review quality, that’s something I keep thinking about as well. Much of my own old stuff is exactly the opposite of yours (but the phenomenon is still the same): overly enthusiastic, uncritical, gushing. And often even superficial. Although I have sometimes re-visited old reviews and revised (or rather rewritten) them, in the end, it’s just something which will never happen on a large scale. Old stuff is what it is, it’s a product of its own time – which I feel confident saying talking about websites which have lasted beyond the magical barrier of ten years. Even if it might irk me that those old reviews are about exactly those games which are called much more often by the visitors, so they might get the wrong impression of what’s going on these days. But even there, I keep telling myself that if a game is very popular, it’s not all that important that my personal testimony is all that thought-provoking or insightful. There is plenty of information about Monkey Island elsewhere on the Internet.

    Mentioning the plan to make a site design in the style of a computer monitor made me laugh: http://www.goodolddays.net/article/id,-11/ – look for the ‘v2’ section 🙂 Visually, I’m still very proud of that phase; it was just too inflexible as the site grew.

    • The J Man says:

      No real conspiracy with the departures, just not much of a story. I only knew the second guy through the first, and both were across the country. The second fellow only wrote about two reviews, and I heard less and less from the first over time as life moved on. I think they were just trying it out, plus it’s always been a volunteer project.

      Workflows haven’t changed really at all, the only difference is the transition from writing in Notepad to writing within WordPress (for its “cloud” nature). Beyond that, nothing special. I’ll usually drop in some preliminary notes or phrases while I’m playing, and then use those as a guide when I start writing. A number of revisions and passes happen from there. Nearly everything is self-edited (it usually never gets looked over by someone else before going up).

      Everyone would send their reviews to me in either .txt or .doc format and I would do the HTML. Usually using a previous page as a template and copy/pasting the new paragraphs in, for simplicity.

      The one thing I didn’t mention was screenshots. Either I or the reviewer would take new screenshots for every game, and not reusing the same images you can find off a Google search was a point of pride. Unfortunately, I never kept the original resolutions. Now that the site has a “click to zoom” function, I’m left with a lot of screens that have to be blown up, or more appropriately, replaced entirely. Not a joyful proposition when half the point a review is never having to play the game again!

      I’d forgotten about your v2 design (I read that history page a long time ago, and it was actually a catalyst for doing this one). I swear there was a Commodore abandonware site that ran with the same idea, but I guess it’s gone now. Couldn’t find it on any of the rings.

  3. Rik says:

    Just to second what’s already been said here – I enjoyed this very much, especially the intro sequence which raised a chuckle! (And reminded me of the Interstate ’76 intro where all the characters are introduced – presumably that was the point of using that music…)

    On the subject of older reviews – I couldn’t have put it any better than Mr Creosote. As much as some of my older stuff bugs me, especially as it usually covers games that are either favourites of mine or others (and more likely to be read by visitors), I’ve made my peace with leaving it alone. Tinkering (which I’ve done in the past) usually turns out to be an itch you can never scratch, and that way madness lies!

    I try to think of old reviews are the person you were, writing in the style you thought best, with the opinions you held about the game at the time you reviewed it. It’s annoying if (as I often find) you later don’t like the piece, or the indeed the voice you were using at the time, but far better to expend time and energy on producing new stuff. (Having said that, my resolve has been tested recently!)

    • The J Man says:

      The only thing that bothers me about leaving older reviews is that I think of any review as an “ambassador” to the site. You’ll never know what Google search or forum link will bring someone to your site, and that review will form the basis of what they think the rest of your content is like.

      And I think I did pretty well when I actually took the time back then, but there’s definitely a few where it’s been hard to resist the urge to tweak it (or just completely avoid reading – from what I recall, the NES Heroes of the Lance “review” was about 85% crowing about how I did’t play Dungeons & Dragons, and that’s why I dare not look!)

      But hell, I’m sure in ten years I’ll be disappointed by the reviews I’m writing now. Embarrassed that I didn’t write them in iambic pentameter or somesuch.

      • Rik says:

        That’s the very thing that bothers me too. But if I spend time on it, then that leaves less time for new content, which is slow enough in coming as it is! Plus there’s also that thing about saving yourself from your own madness.

        I’m toying with the idea of adding some kind of ‘old review’ disclaimer when we get the new site up and running.

        With screenshots, I seem to have made some rather foolish and short-sighted decisions regarding, uh, deletion. (I do have roughly 7 million extremely dull unused shots from rally games though).

  4. Mr Creosote says:

    Oh, and: Too many exclamation marks on the ‘JG’ cover 😉

  5. Yoda says:

    I actually found this site same time I found FFG in summer of 2011, so I’m a newer reader. However, I greatly enjoy all of the console and PC reviews.
    Has any of the reviewers who’ve contributed considered applying for a big time review mag or online publication?

  6. Yoda says:

    ^ NOT to take away from what you guys are doing, but rather bring it to a broader audience?

    • The J Man says:

      Nah. Ask me again when people are throwing sacks of money at me, but this has never been a resume for a professional gig. I’m not prepared to give up my day job, even if I was somehow offered the same amount to write full time. Also, I can’t imagine there’s much demand for the kind of retro writing we’re doing here. A funny video on Halo? That might get some hits on IGN. A detailed, written investigation of In Extremis? Doubt it.

      • Well, you know of Retro Gamer Magazine in the UK, right? I’m waiting for someone to come up with the US equivalent. I think it would do pretty good over here considering how much nostalgia sells and all of these guys and gals who grew up reading the likes of Nintendo Power, Gamepro, etc no longer have a physical publication to read anymore.

        Of course, the downside if such a magazine ever happened: you’d have 17,000 hungry retro reviewers coming out of the woodwork applying for writing jobs.

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