Thursday, September 4, 2014

The History of Netto's Game Room

Over the years a lot has changed here at Netto's Game Room. We've had quite a few major website updates, staff members have come and gone, and a lot has happened in the gaming world. Looking back at it all now, it's crazy to think about all that has happened, and it is also hard to believe how fast time has gone by. But you know, after all this time, have we ever told the story of how this all got started? Even if you're a long time reader (and one of the reasons this site is still here to this date), do you know where it all began? Other than the "about us" description, I can't recall a time I brought it up. So, today I would like to take the time to do just that. If you've ever wondered just what "Netto's Game Room" is, well, you're finally about to find out. This is the complete history.

2003: Introduction to the Web

As a kid, the internet was something strange to me. I used to wonder what it was like using it, and I used to dream of the day when I could have it in my home. While this may be hard to believe today, but back in the 90s computers with a dial-up connection were a rare sight to see, and I only knew a few people who had one. Sure my school had some early version of Windows, but they were mostly to play basic learning games, and were we never allowed to touch the internet. It wasn't until Windows 98 came out and my grandpa got one that I really got to experience what a computer could do.

Back then a PC was nothing more than a gaming machine to me. Thanks to the dial-up connection I was only able to play games with discs initial, but once cable internet came out things did change. My cousins introduced me to Yahoo Games, and I started to learn how to use search engines to find what I was looking for--mainly gaming sites. During that time websites such as Nintendo.com were amazing to me. Not only did they tell me about what was going to be coming out soon, but a lot of the time they even offered mini games to play. When Yoshi's Story was coming out on the N64, I played with the Yoshi virtual pet (keep in mind virtual pets were popular), and when Paper Mario was on its way, I was there reading every bit if information I could find. I just thought the idea of being able to find out almost anything about a game was great, and slowly my interest in the world wide web began to grow.

A few years or so went by and 2003 rolled around. After lurking the site for who knows how long, my parents allowed me to join the official Sonic Team BBS (which I joined for the Chao BBS), and I got my first real start with the online community. This is when my interest in web design actually began, and when you could say Netto's Game Room was "born." Despite it being a site to discuss Sonic games, a lot of the members there actually had fan sites based off of Sonic, and I thought it was simply amazing. Up until then it had never crossed my mind that I too could create a website, and I wanted to get started on one as soon as possible. The only problem was, I didn't know how...

I'm not sure how much time passed, but near the end of 2003 my aunt's ex husband (who was still my uncle at the time) came over, and I decided to ask him. He had been working in the computer field for quite some time, and I figured he would be the best chance I would have at ever making a site of my own. So, I asked him, and that night he went over the basics of HTML with me. Although I was only 12 at the time, it actually made a lot of sense to me, and he helped me code my first "webpage" (which was only locally on my grandpa's computer, but still). After that I slowly started learning more and more about coding in general, and after discovering Geocities I took my creations online. My goal was to make websites which provided information about things I cared about, such as Sonic and Mega Man, but I never really thought about where it might lead. I was just having fun, doing what I wanted to do. Then, things changed.

2004: The Mega Man BBS

It's no secret that Netto's Game Room has its roots in Mega Man, in fact most of you may know that "Netto" is the Japanese name for the main character from Mega Man Battle Network (which also translates to "Network"). It is a theme that we've kept over the years, and it's first real debut was in 2004 with the "Mega Man BBS."

After making countless smaller websites, I jumped into the world of message boards. Once again a lot of people over at the Chao BBS had message boards related to Sonic, so I figured "why not do one based on Mega Man?" The Mega Man BBS was what came from that idea, and with the help of some friends (you know who you are) the forum slowly grew. Despite the name being "Mega Man BBS," we really didn't have any set rules on what games could be discussed, and that may have been what kept people coming back. A lot of the members of the Sonic Team BBS joined, and the community lived on throughout that summer. A second forum called "The Chao Hideout" spun off from it, and it too gained some success on its own. With both communities a few hundred members strong, and a strong staff (made up of friends and volunteers), we later on decided to move to a better forum software and continue to expand on what we had. Although, sadly Mega Man BBS didn't make the jump. Rather than bringing both Mega Man and Sonic fan sites over on their own, the two communities became one for the "next generation."

Late 2004: Cyber Net

For awhile "The Chao Hideout" (or TCH for short) was all that we had, and it was all we really needed. The community continued to grow, those from the Mega Man BBS seemed to be happy at their new home, and there were no intentions to split the site back up. However, after including a role play system to the forum, our original plans changed.

While TCH continued to live on and do its own thing, I, along with some of the staff, decided to go back to our roots and revive the Mega Man BBS as a new forum called "Cyber Net." Just like the MBBS before it, Cyber Net had a Mega Man Battle Network theme, but this time with a heavy emphasis on role playing. As kids, me and a lot of my friends used to role play Battle Network during recess at school, and that was something I personally wanted to bring online. Although role play forums wasn't something new, I wanted to go farther with it, and the end result was something none of us had ever imagined.

2005-2011: Cyber Net's Life

What started out as a reboot of the Mega Man BBS soon evolved into something all its own thanks to its RPG systems. Using the forum's signature system as a base, members were able to create their own navis, build their own chip folders, and battle it out in RP battles in the arena. By posting and being active on the forums members gained experience to make themselves stronger, and they also were given the freedom to come up with their own story arcs. Then in 2005 the "evil" group "Grave" appeared, and for the first time the forums really took off.

Grave was a group that had seemingly endless power, had max stat characters, and could do almost anything they wanted. Of course most of these members were actually staff and friends on alternate accounts so they never went too far, but the other members (and even some of the staff) didn't know that. Grave was a secretive group which everyone wanted to bring down, and they even recruited friends to join the site to help do just that. Although the battles with Grave only lasted for a few months, their attacks inspired others to form their own teams to take their place, and carry the forum on through the years.

As time went on, the RPG systems continued to evolve, copycats began appearing making their own versions of CN (many of which were too lazy to remove our copyright from the content they had stolen), and a homepage was finally added as well. Rather than just being a forum, CN became a place for news updates, reviews, and blogs, and it was the first time we really got back to our roots. Sure TCH had a homepage which provided members with information about chao, but by this point in time that site had died down in popularity, and Cyber Net had become our full time focus.

Throughout the rest of its life, CN continued to grow. With the inclusion of the RPG adventure areas we called "Net City" (based off of the city found in the anime), Cyber Net continued to draw new members in, and we were constantly making new additions based on feedback as well as the new features Capcom released with each new game. The site continued to thrive, but around 2008 things changed.

The biggest issue with a fan site is, it can only go on as long as there is a fanbase. Sadly Capcom ended the Battle Network series with Battle Network 6, and the newer Star Force series which replaced it just couldn't compete with its predecessor. Despite incorporating Star Force features into the site, a lot of people began losing interest in the series, while new members had no idea what Battle Network even was. The site was able to continue on as a Mega Man fan site, but the focus of the RPG had begun shifting away form its original concept, and people became less and less interested in Mega Man in general. Sadly, as interest in the forum died, Capcom's interest in making new Mega Man games died as well.

After 7 years of role playing and discussion, Cyber Net had reached the end of its life. Over 4000 members had joined it during its time, and hundreds of thousands of posts were made (sadly many of which were lost), but once Capcom put a stop to its long running series, things took a turn for the worst and CN was unable to recover. Instead, it moved on to yet another "generation."

2011: The Birth of Netto's Game Room

In 2011 Cyber Net made its move to a new home; Capcom-Unity. I had personally been a member of the Capcom message boards for quite some time, and I joined Capcom-Unity when they made the upgrade. The idea behind the Unity website was for it to be a place where Capcom and its fans could come together, and that was something I really liked. Capcom allowed members to make their own "websites" within Capcom-Unity, and connect with everyone else a part of their community as well. Although at one point Cyber Net had formed a partnership with other sites with one acting as the hub (a mistake we will NEVER make again), this time was different. Capcom-Unity was Capcom's official site, and was a community we had always felt we were a part of, and now, we truly were. Even so, things had to change to make this move.

Since Capcom-Unity was Capcom's site, it already had everything Capcom related covered. Considering the official Mega Man group rarely had any active members, there was little to no reason to keep Cyber Net as a full on Mega Man community, and instead we decided to focus on gaming in general. So, keeping with the Battle Network theme, Cyber Net took on the name "Netto's Game Room" and became dedicated to bringing gaming news to the people of Capcom-Unity, as well as video game reviews. Up until that point our reviews had mostly been Mega Man based (not counting reviews I had personally written for other sites and on forums), so it really was the first time we fully branched out. Although there also really wasn't much of a "we" at that time. Most of those who were involved with Cyber Net didn't make the jump along side me. While later on long time members returned, and old staff members got involved, for awhile there it was stand alone.

Over the next year NGR continued to live on at Capcom-Unity. New staff members joined the team, old staff members returned, long time members made their way back, and the community at Capcom-Unity got involved as well. The group became one of the most popular member created groups on the site, and once again we were starting to regain the steam we had once lost.

2013: NettosGameRoom.com

After spending two years at Capcom-Unity, NGR broke away and once again took on the web alone becoming a full fledged gaming blog. Originally the plan was to stay at Capcom, but after fellow staff member GlacialLeaf coined the idea of moving, we did just that. Making use of an old blog I had registered as a placeholder, Netto's Game Room became its own site once again.

While the name may be different, Cyber Net's spirit continues to live on within it. Old staff members have returned, those who were involved with other projects (such as the MMORPG KDW) have joined the team, and we continue to expand as each day goes by. Just as our description says, new content is being added (almost) daily, and one day we hope to return to what we once were. Still, we have a long road ahead of us, and we've come too far to turn back now.

Thanks again for the support everyone. I know I've said this hundreds of times, but it truly is because of you guys that we are even still here to this day. Also, to all my friends who have helped me over the years, you guys have no idea how much I owe to you. I'm thankful for everything you've done for Mega Man BBS, The Chao Hideout, Cyber Net, as well as all of the other projects we've taken on together. You all mean a lot to me, and I'll always treasure the memories we made together.

No comments :