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2007 State of the ReMix Address


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This post/announcement was supposed to happen back in January, when 2006 was relatively fresh on our minds and significant portions of the new year had not yet expired, as has occurred with some degree of regularity in the past. Better late than never; that I'm making it in the middle of March probably reinforces a couple of the themes I planned to cover anyways, so in a way it's appropriate.

First, old business...

2006 was a landmark year for this site. The single biggest change was something that wasn't particularly visible to the average user, but which has made a huge difference in the direction the site has taken: it was the year that OverClocked ReMix was migrated off shared hosting and onto a dedicated server that I alone administer. Prior to this development, OC ReMix was hosted for free by ZTNET, L.L.C. in Michigan, who also host many emulation and gaming sites for free. These guys are great - if a book is ever written about the history of console emulation, they'd show up as the philanthropic web hosts of tons of emulators and news sites. Granted, all revenue generated from advertising and shirt sales also went to them, to help cover OCR's considerable bandwidth overhead, but this site wouldn't have existed without someone willing to front the cost, as it would have been prohibitive for me during the early years.

I'm happy to report that that's no longer the case - the combination of Google ads, affiliate revenue from eStarland, Zzounds, etc. and shirt/hoodie sales combined cover the complete operating costs of the site, with a little leftover to print more shirts and coordinate events. If you shop using Amazon, you can also use the OC ReMix Amazon Outlet, and a portion of each sale goes to the site. Every little bit helps, believe me.

As an interesting side note, a couple unsung heroes of 2006 were two donators that collectively donated $2000 to the site. I tried contacting them to thank them (profusely) and see if they at least wanted shirts, but it seems they preferred to remain relatively anonymous. Their combined donation was what me made confident enough to proceed with migrating the website to its own dedicated server, which was a smooth process that's been nothing but successful so far. Everyone who's donated or helped out in any way has played a part in getting OCR to where it is today, but these individuals disproportionately acted as a catalyst for this development, and for the ensuing shirt order that was made, and they deserve singling out, albeit in an unnamed manner.

So, what does being on our own server mean? For starters, the site's been faster and more stable. Sure, it was only a matter of degrees, not a quantum leap, but it's still been nice. The folks at LiquidWeb, where our box is hosted, have also been amazingly helpful when we've run into any issues, so our downtime has been limited. The increased speed of the site has also let me make more regular backups, so I feel more comfortable with our disaster recovery capability. But none of that's too sexy to the average visitor; one of the bigger things that's occurred as a result of all that, however, is that we (rather smoothly) transitioned from our old forum software, phpBB, to the more powerful and consistently updated vBulletin.

I hate to do this, but I feel like I philosophically have to... while I love the open source community, and this site runs largely on open source software, I think that phpBB represents a failure of a large, popular, and very visible OSS project to responsibly manage software development goals and operate on anything approaching a professional timeline. Sure, they responded quickly enough to the myriad security holes that were found with their forum software, and still do, but the confusion surrounding phpBB 3.x and the refusal to continue adding much-needed features to the widely-deployed 2.x line has made many admins wary of the package, and prompted just as many to jump to more powerful, more secure, or more streamlined alternatives. It's frustrating to see software that was at one point at the top of the heap stagnate for so long; when phpBB 3.x finally comes out, I'm sure it'll be great, but what about the years in between, when 2.x became obsolete and insecure? Alright, I've bitched enough about that... moving on...

OverClocked ReMix's site development philosophy centers around stability, gradual growth, and a consistent online presence. We've been doing this for over six years, now, and we've never been down for more than a couple weeks and have never gone more than a month without posting something. We've constantly added incremental features, rather than throwing the whole thing out and starting over, and I think the permanence and cumulative momentum of this path is something we can be proud of. There've been hiccups, rifts, layout additions that (ahem) took some getting used to (cough... sidebar), but I don't feel like we've ever really tripped and stumbled. This may come off as an implicit diss at another game remixing community, vgmix.com, so I'll just come right out and say that it's not - there's room on the INTARWEB for two sites about game mixes, they've got a radically different approach, and last I heard variety was a good thing.

Server migration and vBulletin weren't the only developments in 2006, of course. Far from it; here are some other items of interest, with apologies to anything or anyone I'm missing:

In addition to these highlights, we had judges and moderators come and go, we improved site searchability, added a Wiki (with limited editors) for better organized site information, some of us attended Video Games Live in Philly and hung out with Tommy Tallarico and other game composers of note, and special props should go out to Jill for coordinating many of these events and to Larry Oji for improving the quality and accuracy of our site database and guiding us through a second lockdown.

In a word, we grew. 2006 was phenomenal. Expecting 2007 to be better would probably be optimistic, since many of these events could only happen once in the history of the site. Also, it sounds obvious, but throughout all these releases, additions, events, and developments, we also did a little thing that happens to be why most of you visit in the first place: we continued to post some amazing music from some very talented artists.

And now, some new business...

2007 will probably be a less eventful year for OverClocked ReMix, at least from the perspective of major site changes. We've got more powerful forums, we've got a better server, we've got mirrors and we've got shirts and hoodies (or had them, until they sold out... more on the way!!), so those issues have been addressed. In talking about this year, I'm going to split my comments into two sections. First, I'm gonna get all mushy and talk about my personal life a bit. I rarely do this in these addresses, but it's pertinent... I think... and I feel like it warrants expressing. Secondly, I'm gonna address some of our tangible plans for this year, which is probably the more exciting stuff for most if not all of you.

How does a site like this come into existence? Better yet, not to pat myself on the back, but how the hell does one dude who works for a living find the time to administer it, develop it, participate in it, and also create ReMixes of his own? I'm gonna try to make this the only time I discuss this particular point about OCR, because if repeated it'd sound dangerously close to emo whining and livejournal fodder.

Running this site has had a severe impact on my personal life. Especially from 2000 to 2004, when I (arguably) should have been doing a lot of things that most people in their early twenties do, I was focusing an inordinate amount of time and energy here. In recent years that's changed and I've managed to reconcile having what most people would call a life with running OCR, but that's a four year dent that I can't get back, period. Do I want it back? If I could trade it for everything OverClocked ReMix has come to represent, would I do it? I think not. Nevertheless, in recent years I've focused on delegating more, streamlining where possible, not getting overly involved in dramarama and intersite/intrasite politics, and I've also gotten better at software development and administration, which has reduced the overall workload.

I still have plans for this site, some minor, some major, that still require significant investments of my personal time and the time that our site staff so graciously contribute, but more and more I'm also making sure that I devote time to living my life. For the last couple years, it's been working out, and in recent months I've barely spent a single weekend at home, as certain drunken IRC ramblings that were unfortunately logged will testify to. The moral of this story is, while I might be a little scarcer, I'm focusing on spending the time I do have to work on OCR more effectively, and it's been successful thus far. I'd advise anyone that spends tons of time on personal projects or other goals like OCR to take a step back every once in awhile; I don't regret the investments I've made, but I also don't regret refocusing and adjusting so I could spread things out a bit more.

(begin second, more specific, part)

That's all rather relevant to one of the themes for 2007, which is integration with some of the larger social networking sites on the Internet, and other relevant services. Some of you may have noticed that an additional field was added to your forum profile for storing a last.fm username, if you have one. This is the first of many planned steps to integrate not just last.fm, but other large networks, into OCR (and vice versa), to whatever extent is possible. Plans include:

  • Prominent links to OCR groups on Facebook, MySpace, and Last.fm
  • Integration with various aspects of Last.fm's data feeds and services
  • Additional user profile fields for other identities, such as Xbox Live gamertags, Wii numbers, etc.
  • Integrating forum threads with more areas of the site, potentially consoles, game series, etc.

These are all loosely coupled with the idea of making OC ReMix a bit more... social. I'm not naive enough to think that adding these features will create a stronger sense of community, more interaction, and an expanded user base overnight, or even at all, but I do think they could potentially open up some new doors, and I'm interested in seeing where it all could go.

Another big goal is for OverClocked ReMix to be registered as an L.L.C.; while this doesn't mean much for the end user, it's long overdue, protects yours truly should we ever get into legal trouble, and will pave the road for other developments by making me more comfortable with our official status.

Of course, there are some fantastic site projects on the horizon, more great mixes on the way, and we'll continue to refine aspects of the site that benefit from it - all of that's almost a given, but shouldn't be taken for granted. The expansion of our site database to include data not explicitly linked to individual ReMixes is also something I've been toying with, that may or may not happen depending on time constraints. A new release of Chipamp should definitely be expected, with support for even more formats. Bumper stickers may finally show up over at eStarland.

And... who knows? These are just a few of the ideas that I've got right now. Feel free to chime in on this thread about how you think '06 went, what you think of our plans for '07, and any specific ideas you think would also be worth considering in the months to come. As always, I'm grateful to have the privilege of running this site, and thank each of you for your varying forms of participation and support.


David W. Lloyd

President & Founder, OverClocked ReMix

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06 was effectively my first year here. I really didn't spend any time on the forums at all until after Video Games Live, which was such a great experience. I think overall 06 went really well for me personally since, well, I'm still here :]

So basically after my first year here I just wanna say thanks for such a rockin site, and thanks also to all of you that help with the upkeep of this place in any way.

Oh yeah and I am also really glad to have met a bunch of you cool dudes, both at Video Games Live and in New York City.

As far as suggestions? All I can say is keep doing what you're doing. It's been great so far and I hope that continues. I really like your plans for added profile categories and expanding the community.

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I've been coming to this site since late 2000, and I'm simply amazed at the growth and longevity it has. You deserve all the success you have, DJP. Congrats :D

And I second phBB's crappiness. I had to ditch it for my own forums recently, for many of the reasons DJP abandoned it here. I chose SMF myself...I can't comment on it in comparison to vBulletin, but I will say it's still a hell of a lot better than phBB. :P

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Your site and its popularity are built upon the genius and toil of your fellow man, yet we receive nothing for our labors. You stand haughtily upon the shoulders of giants, and style yourself a titan. You see the sword of Damocles shivering above, and sheepishly think it a crown. You are all that is ill and dark in the world, David Lloyd, and I shall take great pleasure in stealing the last breath of life you have from your slowly graying body. I shall kill you. Eradicate you. I will erase you from all history and all memory. It will be as if you never existed at all. And when the ash has settled and the embers have dimmed, nothing besides Wingless shall remain.

SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, and here's to a super OCR'07!

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I never heard about those rich guys donating $2,000 until I just read this. That's pretty... wow.

I'm very impressed by the crazy growth and changes of the past year, and even greater changes from my 2001 perspective [seriously, 6 years now? that's nuts]. The community seems smaller than before the vB switch for some reason, but that may be the lack of familiar faces [some good, some bad] as opposed to a big stream of newbies coming in that I'm not noticing.

Speaking of a 2001 perspective, I dunno if I pointed this out before but the vB forum software is kind of like the pre-phpBB forum that used to be here... it's been so long though that I forgot what we had, but it had the cool threaded mode that I missed a lot during the phpBB years. gg

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2006 has definitely been a huge year for OCR. Thinking back in late 2000 when I was first introduced to the site, all I can really say is wow. Anyone remember clicking on either a sorted-by-date-remix-dropdown-box or sorted-by-name-dropdown-box to wade through a list of like 250 ReMixes? Also, that orange design practically made me blind, which I can safely blame you for, President Lloyd. Joking aside, DJP's creation that is OCR single-handedly changed my life. Introduced me to plenty of talented individuals and also IRC (haha). Submitted some music here back when I had copious amounts of free time and also judged :) Serious props to you David Lloyd, you've changed my life [for the best] tremendously. I also have this community to thank for that; especially people I've known in #ocremix since 2001. Anyway, that's all I have to say. *tear in eye*

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