The Broken Machinima.

Quick edit: I know the title doesn’t work, but it works for me.

Ahhh. Another failed effort, but never the last. I felt like typing a lot, and this video I made a few months ago is a good excuse. I wanted to make a machinima series (video series made within a game, usually recorded in real time; think how “Red vs Blue” used Halo.) The idea was to use the DMZ mode in Warzone 2. I hope context isn’t necessary for basic gags, but of course things always work better with context, which if you’re bored, you can read about below, along with my initial plans and why they’ll never happen.

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Jeff Meets Video Games

I said I’d be using this more, and I still plan to. However, I’ve actually started journaling pretty often. It’s eating at some of the time I’d planned to spend writing for this thing. I’ve been journaling a lot about the given day and my thoughts on it, but also sometimes older memories. One that came to mind? “I’ve loved video games as long as I can remember.”

That’s a pretty interesting phrase to me. I was born in 1980. I have memories of my life before video games. I may’ve known they existed to some degree, but I wasn’t enamored with them or holding in the high regard that I do now. But I remember when that changed. I was around the age of six or seven when I saw Super Mario Brothers on NES. My mind was blown.

My story starts with my uncle in Japan who worked for Nintendo… Okay, actually it wasn’t an uncle. It was a close friend of my father named Mike who I called “Uncle Mike”. And he didn’t work for Nintendo. But he had been in the military, and was stationed in Japan. My memory tells me either he was stationed there in the early-to-mid 80’s, or knew so many people that he was still in touch with the culture to some degree, because as I remember it from talking to him as an older (but still young) kid, he was really impressed by the Famicom. So when Uncle Mike got back to the U.S., and got some spare money, (and actually found a NES,) he bought one. And at some point, he brought it over to our apartment, to show it to my dad.

Now, I was born in 1980. And these two were in their mid-twenties at the time. They also had these huge robotic models of dinosaurs that walked around that kid-me thought was the most amazing thing. So, y’know, they liked cool things. (I just did a little searching and apparently those toys were called Zoids, and I distinctly recall at least the Bigasaurus and Garius, who had comically silly feet for a robot dinosaur so awesome. Of course, to seven-year-old-me, in 1987 or 1988, they were insanely complex, huge, and very cool.) And in early 1986, my younger brother was born. So I’m thinking this was either at the very end of 1986 or 1987. It’s quite possible Uncle Mike bought this for himself as a Christmas present in 1986.

But to the point, Uncle Mike brought over his Nintendo, and I loved it. Fuck the Zoids he’d brought over before, THIS was the coolest thing ever! I desperately wanted to play it, and my dad wasn’t having it. I recall strong tones of “this is no toy!” and “this isn’t for kids!”, which is funny now. But obviously being so young and it being so advanced of anything I’d seen at the time, that seemed reasonable. But ultimately, Uncle Mike let me play it, and Mario was a dream come true. Several deaths later I got the same stunned reaction from the adults (my parents, Mike, his wife,) that all kids do when they accomplish something the adult can’t easily do. “Look at him! Wow! He’s great this! He’s a natural!” But far more important, at some point I think my dad saw an opportunity to make his son happy.

Soon he came back from his parents house with something special. He had an old, thick, cardboard box, which contained a thick black garbage bag, which contained his old Atari 2600, and a couple dozen games. He’d left it in “storage” at his parent’s house when he moved out. But seeing the opportunity to give me something to make me happy, he brought it to our home, and my mind was blown again.

Now, we’re talking Pac-Man, Combat, Warlords (with paddles), Breakout, Defender, Vanguard, Yars’ Revenge, Berzerk, a couple of Sears games… Just several games here that I adored. And that doesn’t even count Adventure or Superman, which I didn’t play until like a decade later when I met a friend who also had an old Atari 2600 and we broke it out again and hooked it back up. That thing actually was kept in that same trash bag, and in that same box, and drug out at least a couple of times a year, for a decade. At that point it was hooked up every few years until we would’ve had to have bought new hardware to hook it up to modern TVs. Now those games sit at my cousin’s house in his collection of gaming stuff.

Soon after giving me his Atari my dad learned he could rent an NES from Sunland Visions, the premiere local video store in Sylvester, Georgia at the time. (It was where he rented his laserdiscs, because he was a nerd; see above: Zoids.) I should write about that place some time. It’s not very well remembered on the Internet.

This is a screen capture of a Google search that shows one result for the quoted term Sunland Visions. It shows a website at, titled The Dream Machine, on a page titled Video Stores File #21, showing an entry for a listing of Sunland Visions. It shows the address 109 N Isabella Street, Sylvester Georgia 31791-2157, and the phone number (912) 776-5268.

But despite having a relatively new baby brother, this was a boom time for my family. Money was decent. Several weekends we rented an NES and a new game. And one Christmas? I actually got one! It was amazing. I can’t tell you how awesome I felt showing my grandfather (my father’s father,) Duck Hunt. See, he took me hunting a few times as a kid, and I LOVED the idea of going hunting with him. But when we got there, the gun was too loud and freaked me out, and I just really loathed the idea of killing a duck. But Duck Hunt? All the fun of shooting them without killing them! I was sold, and he could not have been less impressed by the “Ninteengo”, as he called it for years.

In addition to eye-rolling from a previous generation, there was something else that also happened after that which was pretty important in my gaming awakening. I learned what arcades were.

I vividly recall my dad and Uncle Mike taking me to a place that I recall thinking was just a laundromat. Thinking back, (and for my own notes,) I honestly can’t recall if it was at 446 N. Westberry Street, or on Monroe, just off Highway 82… I’ll have to call and ask my dad sometime… But the point here, is that I remember walking around and seeing pinball machines, seeing all these video games cabinets, being in this big dark room full of games, lights, noises… And realizing this was not a laundromat. That was just next door. This was something amazing!

And in the far back corner? A large sit-down cabinet with an enclosure, stowed away from what was probably a more popular run years prior, but kept me enraptured.

An Atari press image showing the 1983 arcade machine for the Star Wars game. It shows the stand-up cabinet on the left, and the enclosed sit-down cabinet on the right. In the background are space ships on a blue background with crude representation of vector lines, which would be the style of the game, and written above this is Atari Star Wars.

It’s funny. I remember sitting in the Star Wars sit-down machine and I remember hearing it. The cabinet speaking lines from the movie sealed the deal; this is where I’d be spending most of my money. I was killing TIE fighters, and bombing the Death Star over and over again. I was the kid of nerds. Of course I loved Star Wars. I genuinely thought this was the best thing ever. And if you recall an early experience like this, well, it’s easy to understand how that can still be formative to a degree. Sure, games look better, play better, are more immersive, etc., etc., etc. But when you’re a young child it’s easier to not see the world as it is, full of cool things but also lamenting unrealized potential. As a young child see new things you hadn’t thought of, and it can outpace your expectations for the potential of the world. It’s like magic. It leaves an emotional gap of that childlike wonder that’s more difficult to cross when you’re older. And for young me, it looked like this:

Now it feels obvious that my dad didn’t want me to play Uncle Mike’s Nintendo because he didn’t want me to break it, and for him to have to pay for it. Realizing I loved the games, my dad digging up his old Atari, and eventually renting an NES, were holdovers until my parents could justify spending money at Christmas. Especially with my younger brother just being born. I was very lucky to even get so many game consoles throughout my childhood, but the speed at which they let me dive into games was, for lack of a better word, spoiling. Hah, or at least enabling. I’m gonna have to call up my father and tell him “thanks” this weekend.

Real Life
That Thing...

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Knocking the dust off. (And projects that fell apart.)

I think it’s time to start doing this more often. More personally, probably, so also probably less interesting to people in general. So if anyone still reads this, feel free to unsubscribe.

One thing to do, however, is link a few tiny projects that I’ve worked on. Some succeeded, some did not, and that’s okay. This will basically be a longer format of the pinned tweet from my Twitter account.

The last mentioned was in my prior post, Ghosts of the Living Dead, a legal fanedit. Before that I’d mentioned I’d messed around with ScreenLook, which I did a few times in effort to see how much work it would be. Turns out a lot. The response ratio to emails sent to independent creators was abysmal. Finding and emailing enough creators to fill a 30m block was pretty time intensive for someone with a job. Then when my job picked up, I put it on the backburner, from which it has yet to return. And that was 2016ish, I believe.

Crate Hunters

In May of 2019 I’ve took at stab at a more traditional “gamer video” with Crate Hunters.

In the game PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, teams of players compete against others. Occasionally a crate full of nice gear and good weapons will fall from the sky into the map at a random location. Securing these crates are intended to give you a leg up. Especially a good helmet. With a few wins under our belts, my brother and cousin, with whom I often do most of my online gaming, decided that chasing these crates were “spicier” than competing in a typical way. I recorded a game in which after a certain point we decided to go for every crate we saw, and though only I could record my perspective, I decided to take a shot at adding a tiny bit of production (read: color-coded-to-each-player words on the screen and throw in a cheap gag or two,) to make it a little flashier. I also played around with a few potential openings. The song, which is great, is ANGEL FACE (2) by the Van Buren Brothers. It wasn’t included in the above video because this video was intended to be a placeholder. I waited a few days for the artist to reply, and then made the video showing the options. (I’m big on permission, and they were all for my using it.) But within those few days, that’s why my brother and cousin both decided they didn’t want to play PUBG anymore. Though they also felt the music was too chill. It’s a shame. Regardless it was clear Crate Hunters was dead before it was born.

Baby Driver: Purple Paint Job

Around July of 2019 I finally decided to follow up to an idea, I always wanted to do, a fanedit of Baby Driver, a film whose editing is driven by its music. (See what I did there?) I came up with Baby Driver: Purple Paint Job.

It’s a “5 minute opening clip” because before the film released, the studio released “BABY DRIVER – 6-Minute Opening Clip” to give people an idea of what the film would be. It was a smart move, though I don’t know how well it worked. (I also used a promotional still that was a vertical poster with originally a pink background, squared up and made purple.) I’d initially wanted to re-edit the entire film with a musical theme. I’d considered a general metal theme, Baby Metal (Driver), Southern rap (as the film is set in Atlanta,) and some that now slip my mind. But I did have an idea that stood out. Prince. Of course, that’s a big no-go on YouTube. You get dinged for copyright violation instantly. So Vimeo did the job. The reason it’s ONLY that opening clip, however, is the same reason the sound effects run out very early into it. It’s pretty difficult to source good effects without music already drowning them out. And it’s impossible to remove parts of audio from film. I used a few I could find, but then called it quits before I decided to spend actual money on sound effects completely re-doing Foley effects on the whole film.

The Midnight Son

The Midnight Son is a film trailer I wanted to make (I didn’t want to make an actual film, just the trailer). Sadly that didn’t happen, but I did end up making storyboards for it back in May of 2020.

The name is a play off the summer daylight during the nighttime hours in Alaska. But it was really just an excuse to film Dave, my TV sports anchor that I worked with at the time, in this role. He literally looks like he IS a detective from a noir film. There’s just the small fact that he’s almost always smiling, is a very polite family man, and loves wearing Aloha shirts. Actually, the Aloha shirts thing still works, I think. Especially for that shot of him driving down 4th Avenue at the end. I didn’t have a strong plot in mind. I really just wanted to hit the noir tropes as they’re available in Anchorage, Alaska, and I think that’s very doable. If filmed at night with a heavy blanket of snow and some ice on the ground, with some falling (especially at that scene of the person approaching another to grab their shoulder, which would’ve been filmed at the docks with shipping containers behind Dave with his arm outstretched approaching the camera…) Well, I really think it would’ve worked. Sadly the TV station we worked for was purchased and we were all laid off toward the end of 2020, before it snowed, and before I could make this happen. Shame.

My (Production) Problem with Pro Wrestling

Somewhere in all of this, around 2017, I kinda began to watch pro-wrestling again. It’s a stunt person stage play, it’s great, and I will not be taking questions, unless you’re asking what to watch, when, and where, in which case I’ll gladly help you out. Pro wrestling is better than most other things, but I do have a problem with it. The production. So, I made My (Production) Problem with Pro Wrestling.

The video explains itself really, but in a nutshell the major US wrestling promotions, WWE and AEW, do a poorer job of their TV production than Japan’s NJPW does. With a single Reddit post it got 34.7K views on Vimeo (as of this writing), which is neat. I contest that if I’d been able to upload this to YouTube I’d have gotten well over 100k at launch, and more by now. The reason I wasn’t able to use YouTube is because I used a clip from New Japan Pro Wrestling, and they’re very overbearing about copyright. Now, you might be thinking “but Jeff, this is a clear case of fair use, given its purpose is to compare and contrast with similar production styles (in a favorable light,) as criticism/comment! It’s also only just over a minute of footage from a match that lasted for over an hour, and it betrays no substantial information from this match which could affect other market exploitation of the work! Hell, I’d argue it could only HELP them, given I praise them!” Yes, you might be thinking that, but New Japan Pro Wrestling are, in my assumption given their reaction, not caring about that.

I uploaded it on March 30th of 2021, and New Japan Pro Wrestling had a copyright takedown against it before I even hit “Publish”. So I used Vimeo, like I did with the Baby Driver trailer above. I submitted a counter-claim immediately, and YouTube sent the reply to NJPW, which was supposed to have some set time to reply. About two weeks I believe. They did. The site tells me that. But YouTube has still yet to issue a ruling, over six months later. Sigh.

/edit: They did eventually clear it! On October 29th, 2021, seven months later! Whew.

This Blog

So, that’s a few ideas I’ve kicked out. I’ve got a list of about 30 more things I’d like to make of varying sizes, budgets, and viabilities. Games, things to write, podcasts. Who knows. But one thing I’d like to do is write more in general, and that’ll include blogging/journaling. So this place will likely be getting a lot more personal. I don’t expect anyone to read it, and that’s fine. But I do want to write it. I think taking the time to process it and getting it out will help me, and that’s what this is for. This, the writing, is for me.


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