Retrospective: How I got on TV (Nolife) talking about Tetris

Thread in 'Locations & Events' started by PetitPrince, 12 Feb 2022.

  1. On the discord:
    I'm not comfortable having a wall of text posted on the Discord silo so I dug up my old TC account (no activity since 2016, how time flies) to post it here. May the internet archive bot keep this thing forever.

    This is part snapshot of the niche I was frequenting, part some half-remembered memory of the event itself.

    Long story short
    I was contacted by Radigo, a shmup enthusiast, on October 4, 2007 on the Boule de Feu message board, where I was (and still is) a regular. He was working for Nolife back then and asked if I could somehow collaborate for an an episode of Superplay Ultimate. I was over the moon, but not having a Gm grade at the time and being a shy and insecure, I asked Amnesia and then mfm to also be present (Jago couldn't, as he was in Japan at the time). We filmed the episode one year later, in August 30, 2008. That was fun.

    Short story long
    All of this probably needs some context:
    • The year was 2007. There was no iPhone, no MCU, barely a Facebook, barely a Twitter, and Google were still known for their “Don't be evil” motto.
    • Boule de Feu (”Fireball”) : Initially a website showcasing retro and/or niche videogames; then mostly a message board as it took a life of its own. The owners, Aurélien “gentil_graphiste” Regard and Camille “Pharoah” Guermonprez, were working as some semi-crappy Java phone app company, but would later on found Arkedo studio. This was one of the early-ish small indie studio ; definitely not the same caliber as the Jon Blow / Team Meat / The Behemot (the indie heavy hitter of the X-box Live arcade generation), but still a bona fide game studio. They managed to release two DS games, and have one other game distributed by Sega. That's no small feat! The message board had a strong “lurk moar” mentality, but the quality of the exchanges were (and still is) generally high. As a consequence, it attracted some “industry people” (journalist, insides, ...) as well as some notable people from other message board with the same mix of videogame / Japan / arcade taste. One of them was Radigo.
    • I knew Radigo from being a contributor to (the premiere French speaking website about shoot’them up); he wrote an extensive guide for Radiant Silvergun along with his friend Ben Shinobi. At that time he was working for Nolife, and notably presented the “Superplay Ultimate” show, a showcase of various high-level play from video games, along with explanations of the game mechanics. The inspiration being the SHMUG Superplay VHS that were sold in the 90s in Japan.
    • Nolife : this was a very, very special French TV station. A little word about how French TV was organized: for a long time there was only at most 6 channels. But during the 90s and early 00s, we saw an explosion of the number of channel and the medium through which you could watch it: cable, satellite and then ADSL (it's not video on demand though). Nolife was an ADSL, then ADSL + cable TV. During the day this this was a music video channel, with a particular focus on European Indie and Japanese music (most of the daytime broadcast was this) . But when the night comes, on prime-time and throughout the evening, it turned into what is best described as a nerd and weabo safespace on TV. A real celebration of various geeky interests: You had your video-game news and review of course, but also board game reviews, anime news and broadcast, fictional shorts, in-house documentaries...
    • They barely had any money, and were more or less always on the brink of bankruptcy, but yet you could sense that they were passionate about what they were producing. They knew their subject well and were well connected where it counts. For instance the channel musical theme was composed by Yuzo Kochiro (of Street of Rage Fame), and the sound branding of their main programme was made (and updated each year) by Akira Yamaoka (of Silent Hill fame). They were also super sincere: there were regular communication with their watcher, and in fact many behind-the-scene segment showing how the sauce was made (including all the monetary concerns !).
    • Let’s play personalities, niche video game documentaries, niche topics in video game (retrogaming, music theory analysis of VGM, superplay and/or speedruns), close relationship with their viewer (behind the scenes, crowdfunding)... all of those staple of modern internet were already there. It’s probably too pompous to call them visionaries, but “precursors” is definitely a term I would call them. All of this may seems tame by today's standard but let me remind you again: this was 2007 ! No iPhone, videos in HD are still somewhat a luxury, Zuckerberg still competing with MySpace. And MSN Messenger was still a thing !
    With that being said, let's proceed to the story proper :

    How it came to be
    As I was saying, I got contacted by Radigo through Boule de Feu.

    My personal context : in 2007 I was still in high school in Switzerland, not even enrolled in university. I already wrote the “TGM essay” and the “TGM Guide”. The essay was first published on Gros pixels, a retro gaming website which was more or less part of the same nebula of gaming website Boule de Feu was part of. The guide was first written as a first post part of the dedicated Tetris thread in Boule de Feu. I also regularly posted my PB on this thread and nobody seemed to be bothered, so I guess this was well received.

    The first TGM European meetup (at Jago’s place in Strasbourg) was somewhat fresh in my memory (meeting was in July, Radigo offer was on October).

    I was, of course, over the moon. But the plan were initially fuzzy, as the initial offer were only talking about a collaboration without any specifics. Also, at that time I was a lowly TGM1 S9 / TAP S4 player at best, and I didn’t think any of my performance were good enough for TV. As a comparison, other broadcast were showcasing a player 1CCing Metal Slug or Double Playing Mushihimesama.

    I immediately thought of asking Jago for help, but he was in Japan enjoying Fanta grapes at the time. So, over the course of several months, I ended up asking Amnesia and mfm005, and all 4 of us discussed the matter over MSN Messenger. I wanted to show all 3 games, even if that meant commenting over KAN or Jin8 games, but mfm and Radigo were really pushing in having people commenting their own games. Authenticity and stuff like that.

    There were some brief discussion about playing live during the recording, but it was deemed logistically impractical: we had only one afternoon to record the thing (and no reshoot since I was coming to Paris from Switzerland), and I was certainly not good enough to perform a Gm on demand. So that would mean showing some recorded games, which sounds trivial nowadays with the constant Twitch streaming, but was a bit more technical back then. Fortunately, I was recording at the time all my games inputs (including my recent TGM1 Gm on 2008-07-26) and I was somehow already helping Amnesia transferring his TAP inputs into actual video. I remember feeling really bad because we would present two games but we were three players, meaning in my mind someone would be left out (and also, my ego really wanted to be on TV while my intellect knew that Amnesia and mfm were way better players). But at the end mfm didn’t want to appear at all, solving all my internal dilemmas. So at the end, I would present my PB at the time (TGM1 Gm, 12:58:46), and Amnesia his TAP Master M and Death M. Too bad people didn’t got to see mfm’s lefty style !

    Recording day
    Recording day was scheduled to be a Saturday (Radigo had a second job besides Nolife). As mentioned before, I was living (and still am) in Switzerland at the time, and Nolife HQ was in downtown Paris. So this was like a weekend trip for me. Not my first (remember I went to Strasbourg !) but it was certainly unusual from my part to do such things. The plan was to get there by TGV sometime in the morning, grab a lunch with the crew, spent the afternoon recording, and then sleep at mfm’s place. And uh, that’s exactly what we ended up doing.

    I have next to no recollection of the lunch, other than being mesmerized by the concept of Ticket Restaurant.

    Nolife HQ at the time was Nolife HQ 1.0 at Rue Cognacq Jay, and it was TINY. Like, really small (what did you expect, it’s Paris intra-muros and they had no money). There were like, 3 or 4 rooms total ? For a TV station, I was expecting something bigger. Anyway: because it was Saturday, I wasn’t able to meet the co-founders (Alex Pilot and Sebastien Ruchet). That was a bit of a shame, because I liked the documentaries they produced before along with their Sentai pastiche/homage. This was really a skeleton crew that day, as no one was here except us (I think Suzuka-san (Alex’s wife) was in the office room at some point ?). So there was Amnesia, mfm, Radigo and me, and behind the camera was Damdam (this was before her transition; weird to see this woman happily streaming on Twitch while the last you talked with her was when she was a he).

    Some trivia: we brought our own arcade stick as set dressing. So my very own Virtua Stick High Grafe was proudly on display, and, as for the other one I remember that Amnesia brought some really janky sticks at the Starsbourg meeting... So it must have been mfm’s Hori Real Arcade Pro 2. And I still find the VSHG sexier :) .

    Another pointless set detail: I was wearing a bright red t-shirt that day. This was one of my Swiss Biology Olympiad t-shirt. It had a cool illustration representing the nitrogen cycle, from the humble blade of grass to sole rand bacteria and finally finishing with an ibex poop. I though this would represent me quite well (Swiss biology nerd), and the idea of having a poop on French TV was hilarious to me, but alas none of the detail came through. It was standard definition television after all ¯\(ツ)/¯.

    Did you noticed I was super nervous? I had all my notes printed in front of me; a whole complete script of everything I wanted to say with words bolded and embiggened for emphasis. This was, of course, a terrible way to go to an interview. It 's better to have only key points and have confidence on your subject expertise (your the expert after all, not them!) so stuff flows more naturally! The contrast with Amnesia was striking, as he went went commando comparatively. I’m sure he had long thoughts about it, but he had no notes. Oh, and I found he's also way less impulsive in real life compared to his online persona.

    About the recording itself: there were some cuts (big mode, auto-synchro, double mode, big mode) and some pickups (additional footage recorded at the end), but what remained on the final cut was like 90% of what we recorded.

    At the end, they were certainly impressed by the depth of Tetris and how involved we were. I distinctly remember Radigo telling Damdam something like “... and have you heard how they talk?” while mfm and Amnesia were probably nerding out using a lot of jargon (as a reminder, Radigo can probably finish Radiant Silvergun blindfolded, and Damdam is scary good at Pop’n’Music and is also no slouch in the shmup department).

    Post production, reception and aftermath
    There were some animation I recycled from the TGM guide (Radigo liked them!), but I (re?)made myself the randomizer animation in Photoshop. Rereading the TC thread about this, there was some minor drama were I failed to mention Jago’s THE_TOOL software that were used to produce the animation, but that 100% non intentional from my part. Give this wide-eyed teenager with no sense of credits nor proper attribution etiquette some slack.

    The exact records are lost to the sands of time, but I recall that there was an very positive reception of this episode on Nolife’s own message board. I remember I wrote a pretty long post-mortem (including additional shoutout to the TC people) that mainly bitched about TTC because I was a rebellious teenager at the time.

    Anyway: this definitely put TGM on the map for the Nolife crew, as their “Team Superplay” would feature Jago and then Kan at Stunfest. I was already semi-retired at this point (engineering school is hard), so I don’t know the exact details. I'd also like to think that this had some influence over Qlex organizing the whole TGM @ AGDQ thingy, was something totally doable, but that's probably giving me too much credit.
  2. Good old memories !
    Tu aurais le lien du forum boule de feu ?
  3. I do not understand french, but is it here:
  4. Holy crap, is that amnesia ?

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