20 years is a lot to go over. It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of things done. This is a look back at all the places and people I have done community work for, Blizzard and non Blizzard games alike.
Total Perfect Dark (2001 – 2009 RIP Geocities):
Contributors: Kevin (close IRL friend).
I have covered Perfect Dark (Goldeneye 007 as well) and how they gripped me enough to want to share my love of the game with the world. Yahoo! Geocities was the place I built the site and my friend Kevin (who I still talk to today) created a great place to give advice, contemplate the future of the series, and come up with crazy ideas. We even took turns in writing chapters to our own fanfiction (not one of my proudest moments) but it’s in the past now, right? This is where I got my feet wet in a basic WIZIWIG site building. The site got a lot of hits for being just a free site, guess that was a good thing of the internet back then – anyone could make it.
Total Starcraft (2003 – 2009 RIP Geocities):
Contributors: Kevin (close IRL friend).
Personal Shoutouts: Cousin David.
Around 2003 is when I was getting into PC games. Also, my dad would finally let me load the games onto the computer…well at least the ZIP Drives; what a horror. My eldest Cousin, David, was the one person in the family that had the best computer and knew all the best games. During one Thanksgiving over his parent’s house, he showed me another in a line of great games – StarCraft. My mind was blown.
The game was great, the story was just as good, I had to have it. For holidays that year, I got StarCraft and Brood War and went to town. My friend Kevin and I made maps for each other and shared them out. The site was just our way of showing love for the game. Lastly, for me, StarCraft was my gateway drug into Blizzard games.
<|NUKE|> & Team (SF) (2004 – 2005):
Personal Shoutouts: Raven, White_Boy, Beaner, HonkeyJohn, Cheko, KFC, Creeping, Recoil, Bshit, Tenacious, Sanada, Pollux, Victimized, Virusmofo, Fivs7even.
Now before I got lost in Blizzard games completely I had a short stint in two separate Counter-Strike clans (1.5 for life!). The first clan was <|NUKE|>. My friend Matt (Raven) got me into CS and the clan even though I wasn’t really good enough to be on the team. However, the clan had its own server and about two dozen members so it was always a rather great time to play.
I eventually learned the Hammer editor along with the SDK and started making my own versions of maps I love to play; fy_iceworld, playground_x, cs_assualt, among other maps. The custom maps were always a hit and I made increasingly bigger and more geometrically complex maps. Team (SF) was the second clan I was in and I made dev texture maps for them to enjoy along with myself.
I was fortunate that my past self made a download package for the Team (SF) website with almost all the maps I made. My early computer days were marred by hard drive failures losing stuff forever. The video shows a walk through of some of the maps. My last map, a fully custom textured version of fy_iceworld in the style of Super Mario Brothers (NES version) with a working coin box was lost, but I still have the texture files so maybe one day…one day it’ll be remade.
Lucifer’s Hand (2005):
Personal Shoutouts: Yulric, Endo, Tangen, Raven, and Peace.
Here is where my very slippery, very steep fall into Blizzard games started. Again, my friend, Matt, got me into WoW (#Hordeforever #Alliancescum) and I joined up with his small group at the time. We went from server to server, starting on Spirestone, then Illidan, finally landing on Skullcrusher. Although I’ll never forgive them when we decided to move from Illidan to Skullcrusher was the day I hit 300 Tailoring and would have to start from scratch…UGHHHH!
Skullcrusher wound up being a great home. We joined the culture of the server as each one had one back in those days. Still remember the days of people asking, “Hey, I heard Skullcrusher is a good server and was thinking of starting a new character here,” and they get blasted right away. It wasn’t meant as an insult, it was the PvP that was fostered and dare I say admired by many was worth something to us and both factions on the server defended it. It was our PvP server.
Horde Border Patrol (2005 – 2006):
Personal Shoutouts: Keithz, Stagnito, Paramus, Fellbeast, and Synthul.
Most of the hand’s group fell away but with a loss there is gain. At this point, Matt and I spread the good infection…I mean sleep deprivation…I mean the good word of WoW to our local group of dozen-plus friends and we joined up with HBP.
HBP was where some of us got our first taste of guild leadership. I became an officer and Mage Class Lead. We got as far as doing 20 man ZG runs and doing pretty well. At last, as with all things in WoW, guilds lived and died like fireworks. I was made temporary Guild Leader and negotiated a merger with (foreshadowing…) Dark-Solace.
We merged in a chaotic hour of people leaving and whispering names to be re-invited over to the new guild and if that wasn’t enough, we attempted either guild’s first-ever MC run. It wasn’t the best but showed promise for the future!
Dark-Solace (2006 – 2008):
Personal Shoutouts: Beanking and Stonehoof!
The Guild Leader Beanking and the Raid Leader Stonehoof (again this was WoW, so for the most part) ran a pretty good ship. We got ourselves highly organized on our attunements, to the point where every Thursday was Ony attunement night, every Thursday for two to three months. I remember being a “Mage on Call” to get entire parties ported where they needed to speed up the process. I eventually rose as a Mage Class Leader again as we started plowing into raiding.
We got our Rag kill and did manage to get one pair of bindings. We tackled ZG along with AQ 20. We never got into BWL, let alone AQ40 or Naxx but it was a great time, with its fair share of drama. I will always remember the death runs with funny music after killing Magmadar.
The guild slowly withered and fell apart shortly after TBC came out, but not before we tackled Kara and had a few good months at doing Heroics.
Fist of the Empire (2008 – 2010):
Personal Shoutouts: Gonazz and the rest of the guild!
FoE – The Guild of Guilds. This is where my leadership skills were taught to me and honed for later endeavors. After leaving WoW at this point my wife, Alyssa, and I started playing Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. She was the first to be recruited by FoE and they got me after…lol! From there we fought hard in multiple RvR fights for the side of Chaos killing all the pretty Elves and dumb Dwarves along the way.
During this time another game was coming up that a good amount of the members were excited for – Fallen Earth. It was a MMOFPS and it was crazy. I got into the group being led by Gonazz who would be the designated GM of the game. This was determined by the overall guild leadership structure set up. Overall guild leadership with each game having its individual GM and support officers. It was a great testament to their previous experience as former military members.
As a personal note, Gonazz saw something in me and felt it be right to make me an “S1” Personnel Officer. Keeping track of members, handling the roaster, doing all the initial Ventrillo recruitment interviews, handling the backend stuff (remember I said highly organized : D). I learned a lot from Gonazz, and to this day have pulled a lot of his wisdom from those days in all the successive projects I have done.
Diablo Expressions (2011 – 2013):
Contributors: Enkeria, Sinister Demon (Beta), Hpnot1q, Drewgamer, Demonseye, Billskii, Motto.
Personal Shoutouts: Force, Sixen, Sibcoe, Nevik, Lanntonio, Breja, Vespertilio, Jen, deadgreed, Shazam, Tim, Dean, jcmonkey, scanline, Cybrwolf, DocOzz, HomeTownHero, mstephens55, TheQuadler, Crator, Reklaw, and Bulvine7x.
Oh boy is this going to be a tough one to sum up. For such a short time so much happened. Diablo Expressions was a news site but also had a heavy focus on community spotlighting and building. The seed for it was merely to build a place to gather other people to call friends and fellow hackers and slashers alike.
My passion for the site and really Diablo in general were spurred by Force (YouTuber) and Sixen’s (Old DiabloFans Owner) Diablo Podcast they were doing in early 2011. Also, a friend I made along the way, Sibcoe (Red Team Gaming) became a good debater of what we should expect from the game and critiquing it after releasing. Learned a lot of critical thinking from him. Lastly, my first podcast I ever listened to, the Shattered Soulstone gave me more insight to the world I was entering.The hype was real for them all and it got real for me too!
DE, as I called it, was my first real site built in a CMS. Enkeria, the first staff member of many, did all the graphics work. He also helped in mentoring me in the ways of Photoshop making me a better graphic artist. His work from a decade ago still holds up today – love ya, my Euro brother!I
I also found the same forum software Diablofans was using at the time and built forums for the site from scratch, not an easy or cheap thing. An army of staff members helped moderate and make sure the forums never got stale.
We formed the Ring of Fire, which was an affiliation network of up and coming fansites that all helped each other. Had nearly a half dozen by the time Diablo 3 launched.
We reached out to TypeFrag, a VOIP seller and got a massive 300 slot Ventrilo server sponsored. We created the Vindictive Order. It was a way to give clans (before official ingame support was a thing) up to 10 channels free, with moderation privileges over those channels, to everyone in their respective clan. This was the shining achievement of the website. We supported almost two dozen clans, almost maxed out the server when the launch of Diablo 3 came. It was an incredible sight to see as a community builder, but a player having people to enjoy and share your love of a game. While I got the groundwork in, this truly became Hpnot1q’s baby to take care of. I always feel I never gave him enough credit for the work it took to do. Will always appreciate it man!
During this time I also reached out and got sponsored from SteelSeries for giveaways. Made it to a high enough level that I got my first of a few Media Badges for BlizzCon, and got a lovely Christmas package of five Mini-Tyrael statues and five fully signed Collectors Editions of Diablo 3. I gave away all of them except one CE…until, it too, found a deserving home. That’s for a little later though.We also got an interview with Julie Humphreys at Pax East 2013 when the console version of Diablo 3 was shown!
All this because very early on in the site’s inception I had the balls to think I could just find an email to Blizzard PR, find a CM work email, and just shoot my shot…and it worked! Bashiok, the first CM I ever dealt with got me in and gave me a Beta Key. It was all magical.
DE was an amazing time filled with ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
GrindEXP (2013 – 2014):
Contributors: Enkeria, Sinister Demon (Betta), TheQuadler, jcmonkey.
This was part of the “Dark Times” for Diablo 3. A lot of the player base had left and the cool thing slowly became to trash the game, “for the views.” So a few key people from DE came over to this all new, all around Blizzard news site. Even though we were few, we managed to cover a bulk of the news. Did some early streaming and also launched three podcasts!
Grindcast was a general roundtable with whomever was available. Fun topics and conversations were had. The Rumsey Ramble was our Hearthstone Podcast that Betta and TheQuadler did. HS was really new. Blizzard had no idea what a hit they had. One piece of evidence to this was when we got our five beta keys to give away, the site saw a month’s plus traffic in two days alone. We hit a million hits that month! Lastly, Scythe and Shield. This podcast was to fill an angle and void in the podcast community. There were a bunch of good ones, but being who I am, I wanted to know more about the player behind the character. That’s what Scythe and Shield was, an interview based podcast meant for each of us to get to know each other with Diablo being the common thread. JCmonkey and myself handled this podcast.
We all learned a lot. I made better decisions, but also failed at points. As it was then, as I say now the name of the website caught up to us and myself. The Grind was too strong.
Scythe and Shield (2015 – 2016, 2020):
Contributors: Enkeria and jcmonkey.
JCmonkey joined me in going back to our roots with Diablo 3 and continuing the Scythe and Shield Podcast. We interviewed more people and it really kept me going when times seemed rough with the game.
It was improving, but I had lost a lot of fellow players due to the Dark Times and was finding it harder to log on. In 2016 I finally stopped my personal fan sites as I was exhausted from the backend work, video editing, and feeling I was losing influence in the community.
I’ll always treasure the interviews we did as they really opened up some people and learned a lot about what made them ticked. We took a crowbar to that battletag, and the guests often loved it too.
Vizjerei Clan (2015 – 2017):
Personal Shoutouts: Jaetch, Melkor, and the rest of the clan!
By this time I needed not just inspiration, but a big old push. These lovely bunch of Wizards were just the cure. Even though I had stopped fansite work I helped them first with the clans website and forums (I couldn’t help myself could I…sigh) but more importantly they brought me in and the way of the Wizard was open to me.
The conversations, the wealth of knowledge, the attitudes…the cockiness were all there but they earned it in leaderboard performance and old school Paragon farming before there was ever a true meta for it. It was hard to believe in those early seasons getting to 600 Paragon and feeling low comparing yourself to 800, 1000, 1200 paragon clan members.
I enjoyed my time, but little did I know an innocent event during a certain little podcast would change everything. A reignite of the forges per se, making me the graphic artist I am today. The grander perspective development theorycrafter. One of the fireces fighters for Diablo 3 and more so its community…even if it needs some tough love every once in a while.
BlizzPro (2015 – Current):
Personal Shoutouts: Eldorian, Miaari, and the rest of the team past and present!
This may be a little cart before the horse here. For you see the innocent incident involved mentioned above was with the Westmarch Workshop Podcast. Episode 21 Leviathan joined the podcast and the overlay was, lets say, not well adjusted for three hosts. Literally have a creative conniption fit at this I recreated the same overlay to properly display the three hosts. They loved it, it was pure community volunteer work, never asked for, just felt it needed to be done.
Or at least that’s what I thought. Eldorian (Co-Owner of BlizzPro) reached out to me if I wanted to do graphics and overlay work along with other items as they came up. He got my info from Leviathan when I sent him the fixed overlay. I accepted and started my now six plus year tenure there. I met a lot of exceptional people, some of which left to work at Blizzard itself. Everyone truly cared about getting the story, the news, while upholding that fansite feel all the time. I grew so much, and was pushed to be an ever better version of myself. To be challenged to bring better final pieces for the various podcasts, and eventually helping (in a small way) to re brand the site.
I also went back to my roots of writing about Diablo 3 and it’s future. The Development Hell series is my outlet for trying to bring new ideas with a focus on doing the most with the least. With this confidence, I would eventually become Diablo Site Manager as well.
I can’t thank everyone at BP enough for everything!
Westmarch Workshop (2015 – Current):
Personal Shoutouts: Archon, Neinball, Leviathan, and Lt. Lunatic.
These grammar goons, these Augchild fanboys, these ill mannered, “Sup Fellas!”…Sorry…not sorry…I had to. Throughout my time at BlizzPro, I have been equally in the background, helping the “Church of West” march East, always East. In my small way to help it be its best. While all four hosts lent their time to make this shining light for the Diablo community work, I want to focus on Neinball and Leviathan personally.
I always felt, and in some ways still feel weird when at a BlizzCon people associate me with the podcast. I never wanted to overstep my bounds. It was your podcast. I just helped you all look better. Whether (as stated before) giving Leviathan is equal space on the overlay on episode 25. Paying honor to Archon when he left and the birth of the WW icon itself in episode 35. Ancient-fying you guys on episode 51. Going back to Diablo roots on episode 100. Then moving to a cleaner look on 157 (which I almost forgot I hosted!)
The love and time I put into those overlays and graphics was only surpassed by the time we got together through Twitch chat. I became a mod for Leviathan and joined #LEVIBESTMODS!!! Many happy times. Neinball would also visit Alyssa and I at Disney World to just hang and get a few drinks on our tab. We weren’t a cheap date *wink*wink*. Let along the talks about RL, good and bad, and BlizzCon…oh how I can’t wait for our next in person BlizzCon!
In the end though, you two, while we may have had some fierce discussions on Diablo 3, are the closest to brothers that I have had. Two peers I only wish in these times I could visit and talk to more. Your perspectives are always welcomed and have helped make me better in so many ways, I only hope I helped you guys as much along the way.
I could say so much more, but I’ll end this with – you two individuals are the best thing to come out of this adventure. Keep being you, and know I am always here. Much love, my brothers. Lastly, remember, “You’re tubular to the max and bitchin kitchen off all these hooks!”
King of the Mountain: Kickedtripod
John was doing a lot for BlizzPro at the time, running and marketing two podcasts along with RL and general hustling as he always has. I wanted to show my appreciation and make sure someone noticed his hard work.
I made (admittedly kinda janky) wooden board, with angular looking mountains attached to it. I got a small tripod and made a flag with his personal logo on it that would be placed over the mountains. It was meant to symbolize overcoming your obstacles. This started the tradition of me just coming up with gifts for members of the community they got around or at BlizzCon.
Westmarch Workshop 100: Neinball and Leviathan
When the guys hit show 100 I wanted to get them something similarly for the same reasons as above. I had an idea, but needed help. Brandy, our fearless CM answered the call and helped make this work.
I had made 3D prints of the Westmarch Workshop icon for both of them as well as a shadow box with the podcast logo signed by the current dev team. Love the reaction to it to this day.
I had been watching sVr a lot at this time. Had talked to him about…nudging him to come to BlizzCon and working out the specifics. As he did back then, as he does now, he is a one stop shop for knowledge no one else can provide.
So, this creative leap was turning his !sudoku Twitch command and turned it into a cheesy but good natured drinking game with a custom made Thai food container as the box. I created 2 custom dice that were 3D printed and a rule set. Again, just a small token of appreciation.
“The King is Here!” Kingspin: BigDaddyDen76
The truth was, for one of the last old school streamers I had been thinking for a while to do something for him. It wasn’t until I saw his King Spin screen that I got the idea. I created a custom screen with good old King Leoric center screen and a spinning wheel looking like it is charged by D2 runes (thank Holy – you were a lifesaver with them.)
Community Gifts: Wolfcryer and Nevalistis
BlizzCon 2018 saw two huge gifts. I wanted to do something for Wolfcryer for his huge community gathering for his charity cause – Level With a Cause. He had been running it for a few seasons at that point and was a joy to help, in my own small way, because it was the height of community giving. Also, Neva (Brandy) had been our CM for quite a while and felt it was time to do something for her as well.
Even though both started as just gifts coming from me, it felt…wrong. It felt like it had to be from the community itself. With Leviathan’s help in starting the group, I laid out the plan and what I needed. The community answered the call!
Wolfcryer got a signed image of Tyrael I had made with his fellow peers in the community. I also gave him my last signed D3:CE I had gotten so long ago from the Diablo Expressions days as he was more than worthy to receive it.
For Brandy, she got a video of us telling our favorite memories and what we admired the most about her. A chair dance montage was also included to Rebecca Black’s, “Friday.” She hated the song so I had to make it so! It was a great time to make and eventually let her see. Lastly, she got a simple image, that was ironically made by an artist for the RoS shirt contest so long ago with a Death Maiden fighting a Crusader, which was perfect. Printed it up and put it in a ghostly black frame. I must also thank some members in the community group for helping to pay for the items too; you rock!
Diablo CAH: Diablo Community @ BlizzCon 2019
The brainchild of sVr and myself. This was one of those projects that I was happy I didn’t know how involved it would be at the beginning. A lot of time coming up with correct card templates, generating black and white cards, getting to the printer, cutting them out, sleeving them. All wondering if the community would enjoy the game at BlizzCon 2019.
We lucked out, it went great and had plenty of laughs. We did it sVr!
Everyone here (think I got you all…) I have watched, talked, hung out in RL or at BlizzCon, worked, and/or have developed great personal relationships with. These “credits” are a thank you for being part of my last 20 years in community work!
My Pillars of “Wisdom, Justice, and Love” Trio
Gonazz, Sixen, and Nevalistis
Graphic Artist Sensei
Westmarch Workshop Hosts
Archon, Neinball, Leviathan, and Lt. Lunatic
Westmarch Workshop Community
Juno, Longshotgm, and Watson221b
#LEVIBESTMODS!!! – THEBESTTHEBESTTHBEST!!!
Neinball, Wut101, DJCoil, 4shley, Rappram, no_ones_minion, sparksparksparks, Seraphina_152, and Jannajax
The “Four Musketeers”
Nite, Sheppard, Lionsword, and Lucas
The BlizzCon Group (Past and Present)
Neinball, Leviathan, Nite, sVr, Aludiana, Monstrous, MVP_MissCheetah, Lionsword, Lucas, Viperoman, kmile, Tim, Dean, DJCoil, 4shley, Rappram, no_ones_minion, sparksparksparks, lackofrealism, _Lynesta, Archaetect, N3rdwards, and Wut101
Crusher of Crushing Blow
“Community Good Guys”
Toioiz and kushisensei
The Chaotic Neutral Couple and Bringers of “The Jolly”
Brandy and Ashton
BlizzPro (Past and Present)
Eldorian, Miaari, Alebeard, Archon, Blu3, Crow, DJtyrant, Dray, Hotstreak, Lackofrealism, Kickedtripod, Ktjn, Leviathan, magistrate, Malon, Neinball, Otakumz, Overlordbunny, Pallimmanis, Studder, Tankthatreb, Twizz, Zenstyle, and Zexerous.
ibleedorange, Xiphirx, MaxLemon, Chaosteil, Thunderclaww, Listen2, Menagese, Mujarin, GharbadTheWeakIM
Con Before the Storm
Itsxia, Ceraphus, BrianPodcaster, VincentMinnucci, Fimlys, and everyone else that makes this shining star of the community work!
The “Would be” 6th Member of the Angiris Council & Mr. #LWAC
Westmarch Workshop, Shattered Soulstone, The New Meta, Danctuary, AARPG Vodcast, Hearthstone To Hell, Kulle Story Bro, and Immortal Podcast
Diablo Streamer Community (Past and Present)
Leviathan, Neinball, Rhykker, BigDaddyDen76, Bluddshed, Wolfcryer, Pandapants75, Zhanji_TS, TubaHero37, CinderfallTV, MuggleMama, Jmurda84, AdamADisco, Echohack, Spotainy, Deadset, sVr, Raxxanterax, Wudijo, Denipon, Rob, VanderForge, KensGamingSpot, Anncakelive, Dropaduski, MissMinervaDH, MarwanGaming, Lexyu, Lynxaria, JHow, ThaPchild, Neviriah, Quin69, Lord_fluffy (Yeah, Mr. Face, I get it), and for the ones I have yet to discover!
Diablo Immortal “Fresh Meat”
EchoThruMeGaming, Cpt_N3m0, Gregg2G, and for the ones I have yet to discover!
The Blizzard Devs (Past and Present)
Jay Wilson, Wyatt Cheng, Don Vu, John Yang, Jason Hughes, JulianLove, Kevin Martens, Travis Day, Zaven Haroutunian, Caleb Arseneaux, Joshua Mosqueira, Julie Humphreys, Joe Shely, Harrison G. Pink, Tiffany K. Wat, Daniel Briggs, David Kim, Matthew Berger, Don Adams, and Sean White. I only hope to meet more of you!
The Blizzard CMs (Past and Present)
Bashiok, Lylirra, Vaeflare, Grimiku, Nevalistis, Tyvalir, Whammo, LanceBlizzGamer, Zarhym, Zeriya, Kauza, itsLashes, PezRadar, Filthierich, and Tom Powers
It’s been a long, wild, and unpredictable journey. I only hope the next 20 years are just as fruitful, just as memorable, for others and myself.
Thanks for the time!