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// article by Jeff

I've had this website for quite some time, slowly building it up with reviews and other articles related to video games, music, movies, and various other bits of personal bric-a-brac. Prior to random.access, however, I ran a site dedicated solely to video games. It was called "GamerBase". In retrospect, it was not the most attractive name, but it managed to stick with me from its entry into the World Wide Web in 1998 until I decided to shut it down in 2002 and move on to new projects. The site was quite ambitious, perhaps even more so than my current site, but when you're only 13, the world is open to endless possibilities. I had planned on creating a site that went into great detail about every game for every console out there, including enemy descriptions, boss strategies, codes, storylines, item information, and more. Aside from that, there were many separate sections on the site, dedicated to related things such as fictional biographies of popular video game characters and game reviews. Of course, that could not be done by one introverted teenager alone, such as myself back then, but I swear that I tried. Many sunny afternoons and dark nights were spent toiling at it, creating new pages, preparing graphics, and just writing. I eventually had a few other people help me out whenever they could, but ultimately I felt as though it was my creation and my brainchild.

Unfortunately, I eventually discovered that such a lofty goal was downright insane. Besides, there were other websites on the rise that did a much better job than I could have ever done, such as those of GameFAQs and MobyGames. Plus, they had, like, 800000000% more visitors than I ever did. In the end, I found myself defeated and low on interest for the project, eventually walking away in April 2002. I tried out a couple more websites, including something similar (called VGEncyclopedia, which buckled within a few months) and a website for my temporary passion, playing Day of Defeat online as part of a gaming clan (which I haven't played since 2005). I believe that I have finally found something that works -- a controllable and viable project -- in the form of random.access, which I technically opened in 2003 in a much more raw form and with content so horrible I regret having ever posted it, but retooled in 2005 in its current status. I think that things are going well here and that this is my most successful website endeavour yet. However, I shall not forget all the effort and all the fun times that I had working on GamerBase.

I present here a look back at another website that taught me everything I know about website writing and maintenance to this day. I hope that I can deliver a thorough retrospective here to inform you of what came before random.access. It also serves as a lovely bit of nostalgia for me. The only big problem that arose from compiling this article was an unfortunate lack of resources. Much of the earlier forms of my website have been lost over time, so I can only provide what I have left over. However, I hope that you enjoy what I can provide here for you.

* * * * *

After the closure of GamerBase back in April 2002, I was really unsure of how to proceed. I still wanted to continue with having a website, but I wasn't certain of which direction to go in. Do I continue with video games? Do I move on to completely different subject matter? One of the experiments I tried before finally stumbling upon brilliance with Random.access was VGEncyclopedia, my own vain attempt to mimic the many catalogues of games out there like GameFAQs, MobyGames, etc., but with my own personal touch and brief review of each game whenever possible. It was a ridiculous endeavour, clearly eclipsed by any and every other attempt on the internet. But at least it kept me out of trouble temporarily. Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine (the online archive for all pages large and small, sort of) hasn't exactly done an ideal job of keeping the page entirely intact, but here are a few snippets of what once was:

This was the original front page for VGEncyclopedia. I thought the logo was kind of neat, showing off all the key players in the video game world like Sonic the Hedgehog, uh... the ghost of Darunia the Goron... and a Dragon Warrior warrior. Everything necessary to your search was here: how you want to look up a game of choice; our many affiliates (okay, just one); some "hot stuff", which is simply the most recent games about which I posted information; how many games I had covered thus far (a whopping 83, which is getting pretty close to the over five million games actually available thus far), and all the latest news! How could it fail?

I changed the design somewhere along the line (likely early 2003), and this is more or less what it looked like, thus beginning my affinity for lime green on websites. Sadly, the Wayback Machine did not have the logo cached, so the top is now barren. You can see, if you squint really closely, that I had started something called the "Merchandise Database", where I had planned to showcase toys, soundtracks, etc. related to video games. It didn't get very far. Also, at the top, a random quote would appear from a video game! Snazzy.

Visitors wishing to search by console could do so using this handy list of possibly consoles. Look at how many of them have zero entries! Looks like I favoured the NES, a trend that managed to continue into the early Random.access era. I had great plans for this place. Great plans indeed.

Here's one of the few surviving entries that actually remained fairly intact, save for a missing background image. As you can see, I offered alternate titles (if released in other languages), the box art and basic information about the game. I still do much of that with reviews here, though I neglect how large the game actually is, information which isn't all that useful. There are also screenshots, my recapitulation of the storyline, and a brief game analysis (not shown here). I also see an "extra" tab on the right-hand side. What was that for?

Here's another one in the new format. Unfortunately, pretty much all of the images have been lost betwixt the creamy folds of time. I didn't even write a little review for this one, which just goes to show that I was lazy at times. Whoa, check out that quote at the top! "I am super Rich for justice!" Thanks, Terranigma. You make our lives complete.

Hey, here's an extra version of VGEncyclopedia with a much more vanilla layout and logo. I believe it was a transition layout between the first and third one. Hmmm, three layout changes within a year seems a bit extreme. There's also a little blurb about how VGEncyclopedia's lowly uprising. This was apparently short-lived, as the more vert-based design eventually wedged its way into our hearts... until I shut the place down. I still like green as a website colour.

Eventually, I realized that this was a ridiculous endeavour and shut it down in a less-than-celebratory manner. I eventually started Random.access, a stark improvement over what VGEncyclopedia was. Or thought it was. So ends another trip down Memory Lane. Not a great one, but a trip that kept us off the streets and out of trouble for a short while.


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