The Early Days of smbhq/nc
This big birthday retrospective was co-written by
Sections in green are by Jay
Sections in red are by Kyle
It was August 1st, 1997. I got a call from the Pentagon. They needed their top agent, Jay Resop (me), to infiltrate a communist group activity. They wanted me to create a web page about the communist's mascot, Mario, to lure in suspected terrorists and bring them to justice. I selected the best computer science expert we had in the field, Agent Orlando, to set up the page. Then one day...
What? You're not buying that? Ok, heres the true story.
Location: 3rd moon of Zyarcon. Time: 25342 AD. This is Jay Resop, Captain of the Starship Hunkajunk, reporting log number 2. Me and my crew have landed upon a seemingly deserted alien planet. We are in desperate need of supplies and rest. Zounds! Whats that green creature! My God! We're doomed! Our only hope is to set up a webpage about the Super Mario Bros. in hopes of a rescue...
Not it either? You guys don't fool easily. Okokok, heres the real story.
SMBHQ was born on August 1st, 1997. He weighed only a few MB. Like all babies, he was pritty ugly, a little smelly at first, and didn't do much, but everyone loved little ol' SMBHQ. He cried and cried to be fed and updated. But year after year he grew and grew with section after section. Then it finnaly learned how to walk...
Not quite it either? Man, ok, i give up. Here you go, the absolute story, to the Early Days of SMBHQ/NC!
Part 1: The Dream
It all began when Kyle and I were in middle school at Takoma Park. This was over 6 years ago. We met because my mom taught his history class in 6th grade. Plus we were extreme Mario Freaks to the bone. Kyle would spend the days talking about the new fangled "Ultra Nintendo 64" while I would act like a nerd talking about how cool that new game Super MaRGPio looks but is stupid because it doesn't have Luigi and wearing my Super Mario Bros 3 T-shirt every day to school. Then one day, I remember Kyle, with the sun shining on him from the window, and with a flare in his eye, standing tall upon one of the desks, and after crossing his heart with a fist, say something like "I'm going to make me a Super Mario Bros webpage!" Now, I forgot exactly, but the first thing that came into my mind after that was either "Whats a webpage" or "Get off of my desk, you crasy fool!" So I wasn't exactly computer literate back then. But hey, the internet was just starting off and I was only a goofy middle schooler. So right there and then the Dream began. Kyle knew that he had to find a way to channel his emmence power of Mario Freakness. A webpage was the answer. So middle school ended. Kyle went off to Blair for high school and I went to Poolesville. But the Dream lived on.
Hey, I never got on top of a desk! I just stood on my chair, that's all =). Actually, I had my "web page project" in planning for about 2 years before I first uploaded the site. When I say planning, I don't mean drawing out site diagrams or writing a business plan or anything, I mean I was "thinking about" making a web page for about two years. At the start I wanted to make a general Nintendo mega-site, a place where you could go for everything you ever wanted about Nintendo. Then I realized there were tons of sites like that already (And that was in 1995... today there are even MORE!). So I decided to specialize. I thought about doing a general "video game mascot" page but I realized most company mascots outside of the Big Three sucked big time (Bubsy? Titus Fox? Zero the Acrobat anyone?). At one point I even considered doing a game magazine fan site, but decided the copyright hassles weren't worth it. I finally pinned it down to a "just Mario" site because he was the mascot I knew the most about and I could find no good Mario sites out there on the web (I didn't find TMK until a few months after I started the site). This was about a year before the site went up. For about 9 months after that I always had the site on my mind, but I could never settle on how to go about doing it. After all, I wanted this site to be a huge gathering of all Mario info., and that was no easy task. Every time I tried to start work on it, I felt overwhelmed by how musch there was to do, and just stopped. Finally, with the help of a book on HTML my mom gave me, some inspiration from The Mega Man Homepage, and a plan to update little pieces off Mario info. weekly (instead of doing it all at once to prevent that overwhelming feeling) I started work on the page in May of 1997. It took me a few hours a week for three months just to get the site started because of my inexperience with HTML and the many problems associated with starting a site, but finally, on August 1st, 1997, SMBHQ went up.
Part 2: The Page
Kyle and I stayed in touch in high school through letters and the internet. Yes, I did finnaly figure out what the "internet" was all about. Years went by, Kyle bought the new Nintendo 64 and beat Super Mario 64 in one week. Meanwhile I stayed stuborn and believed that the "SNES was good enough for me." But we still remained loyal Mario Fans, laughing at the new games like "Mowhawk and Headphone Jack" that couldn't even compete with Mario's greatness and always waiting for the next Mario game. Then one day I hear from kyle that "the webpage is up." For months and months I had heard him talk about making the page, but never anything serious. I don't really remember much about what the first SMBHQ looked like. But I remember that it was very quiet. It seemed empty in a way. Sure, Kyle had a few things up like lists, but no one really knew about the page then. It was just space on the internet, nothing more. So he started to advertize, put SMBHQ on search engines and the such. But the first few days of SMBHQ were definately quiet. So SMBHQ started getting a few people to see the page. Not much, just a few people a day. Or week. But there still wasn't much to see. I came to SMBHQ all the time to support my friend and because I was curious about this whole "webpage" buisness, something I was still mostly in the dark about. This seemed like something I wanted to be a part of. So I started talking to Kyle about ideas for the page. I was full of ways to make it bigger and more interesting. I wanted to see pictures, polls, and the such. But one idea stuck out. Of all my ideas one seemed special in a way. When I told the idea to Kyle he thought it was interesting but he didn't know where to start with it. So he wanted me to write it. And so began, Nelgected Characters.
According to the AOL counter, I was the first visitor to SMBHQ. My friend Ashutosh (the only person I knew online at the moment I uploaded the site) was the second visitor, and I was the third. That was our first day... three visits. In that first update, there was a two line news story (Announcing release date that were later delayed) the enemy and item lists (which only had a few games worth of listings) links (to some very bad random Mario sites) and the Mario Who and Misconceptions pages (editted versions of which are still on the site). There was also a game feature on SMB3 (now called the "game info. page). That's it. This was my excuse for a site. SMBHQ got 17 hits it's first week, and at least 10 of those were from me. That first month saw more work on the site than most any month since, and by the beginning of September I had 4 featured games page, trivia, products and polls sections, and a completed item list (which wasn't revised until a few weeks ago). There were about 100 visitors logged that first month, and about 50 of them were from me, which meant about 4 dozen other people had actually seen my site! It was exciting. It had begun...
Part 3: The Section
I don't really know where I got the name Neglected Characters. It just fit the section. But one day when I was giving Kyle ideas for the site, one of them was "a section for all the other characters like Luigi." For you see, Kyle's page the Super Mario Bros. Headquarters, like any good Mario page, was mostly about Mario. Because I was such a Luigi Freak, and had been all my life, I wanted to see stuff about him and the others who come to mind when you think about Mario. So, Kyle had me write up the section. At first, NC was just all information that I could think of about all the characters. I through in all the Nintendo Information we knew about the character along with a little of my personal humor. There was All the Mario Games Luigi had been in (to give him credit), All the Mario Games Luigi hadn't been in (to show where he was neglected) and a section of how specifically Luigi had been neglected (Neglected Heroism). Not much really. After I was done I sent the first never Neglected Character-Luigi, to Kyle. It was pritty small, so Kyle added a little bit of his own, What People Like About Luigi. And there was the start of NC.
This section doesn't apply to me, so I'll just mention some of my more important memories of SMBHQ's first days. The firs thing that comes to mind is the first visited TMK, about two months after SMBHQ started. When I saw this site, I was almost in denial. I couldn't believe a Mario site this good had beat me up by a good 4 months (I also couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before). Not only that, it was getting more visits then SMBHQ could even dream of (at the time). I was very discouraged at this point, and actually considered stopping work on SMBHQ right there, and settling for helping out Deezer. But I decided that I wasn't gonna quit that easily, and I'd work my hardest to catch up to TMK in terms of popularity and original content. I added new games every week and new sections throughout the year and before I knew it the site was rolling along pretty well. My other big memory is the moment I felt that SMBHQ had really made it. I felt this way when I had to start checking my mail daily instead of weekly because of all the mail the site was generating. This happened in the middle of November, 1997. OK, so I was only gettting about 4 mails a week, and we were still barely in the double digits for vists per day, but it was still exciting. It only got better from there, as I redoubled my work on the site, more search engines started listing SMBHQ higher, and people started volunteering to help with new sections. By August of 1998, SMBHQ had grown to 100+ visitors/day and the rest, as they say, is history.
Part 4: The Reason
Now, an interesting story is why I was so bent about making a section for Neglected Mario Characters. Why did I care about these "other guys" in the video games? Well, in a lot of ways I have felt like the "other guy" most of my life. I'm a quiet shy guy who usually aviods being the leader. In a lot of ways like Luigi. Thats why I feel for him and thats why I wanted to make something to recongnize him. I wanted to dedicate something to all of the "other guys" so that they might finnaly get their recognition. And the rest is history.
For me, SMBHQ started out just as an exercise in HTML. Then it became a fun and semi-productive thing to do with my free time. But now the site means a lot more to me than that. SMBHQ has become my way of paying respect to the hundreds of hours of fun I've gotten from Mario games. SMBHQ has also been my outlet for creativity over the years, letting me show my humorous side through the Mario 101 and speak out in the ranting section. But most importantly, SMBHQ has put me into contact with thousands of other Mario fans out there. By meeting all these fans I have learned two important things: (1) That I'm not alone in my Mario obsession and (2) There are some seriously weird people out there. This site is first and foremost for you guys... the fans.
Oh yeah, the money's nice too =D
Part 5: The Conclusion
It has been a great 3 years so far working with Kyle to make the Super Mario Bros. Headquarters. I have personnaly seen this page rise up from an empty shack no one knew about into a loud palace filled with people. Not only that, but I have contributed to that sucsess. And the feeling that I have worked on something so grand is something that I would never forget. Nor is it something I will give up. I plan to continue writing about the "other guy" until I can't see the computer screen. I would like to thank Kyle for this oppertunity I've had to reach out to so many people. And I'd like to thank everyone who has ever read NC. All the work I have put inot the page is worth it if I have ever made you smile. Or piss you pants. I hear that often. Well thats all for now. Happy 3rd Birthday to SMBHQ and Happy 3rd Birthday to NC on the 6th of September. And thats, the rest of the story.
I already did my thanks you's earlier, so I'll just finish by saying that it's been a blast so far. Here's hoping that SMBHQ lasts three more years at least. Cheers!
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