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Mojo: 10 Years and Counting Page Two

"Just don't make me look stupid or I'll kill you," warned Jake when Gabez told him that he was going to write this article. "HAHAHA I AM TEH STOOPID" he then added.

(For full effect, open the “Cook Chase” in a separate window)

But let us return to the Mojo community, and the memories and opinions of Mr Remi 1000, the power and the glory amen:

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"I first found Mojo back when it was hosted on Geocities. I seem to remember it being brown. And that it looked pretty much like any other site on Geocities... I'll be frank, it looked like shit and the content was awful

It was pretty much along the lines of 'I love Monkey Island, and let me count the ways... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!' It really only reached any state of greatness when it became Mojo the way we know it now (or the black and white design as it was.) I'm not even sure it was called Mojo when I first visited it. It might have been Spaff's Monkey Island Fanboy Site (or some variation thereof.)

Then later on, when I got more involved with the site, I seem to remember going on MSN drunkenly one time and convincing Jake to shave his head. His hair was thinning, and it was really the only way to go.

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And now he runs Telltale. I think that was largely my doing, with the hair shaving and all. Whatever action he's seeing now is all because of me then.

I also remember this other time, with Spaff... it was fantastic. He was gone for literally years. Then he comes back and says everybody's doing a shit job, and that he will bring FUN back to the site. And that was the last we saw of him. Later he returned with Idle Thumbs, and we all know how well that went. Yeah, if I was gonna put my trust in somebody it would be Spaff! [5]

I also like to mock Jake Rodkin. It all started when he mentioned something about how Schafer e-mailed him asking for the exact MI1 quote ("series of catacombs" or whatever) for use as an easter-egg in Psychonauts. Which really, is just the kind of bragging that is the perfect set-up for a life time of mockery.

Then when he also -- and I picture him doing this in a very douche-y way -- suggested changing the Censors "No"s to "Non"s in the Napoleon level... Well. That's asking for it. Sadly he also did a pretty amazing job on the Sam & Max intro, so it's not quite as funny anymore.

Really, I just like entertaining myself. I could be like the World of Monkey Island people and sit around with a stick up my ass and take it all seriously, but I only did The SCUMM Bar as something to do when I was bored. Then these people [the Monkey Island fans] took it all too seriously. It killed part of my soul. In fact, that sort of thing kills more than a part of your soul. It's like, worse than the war in Iraq! I'm kind of like a war veteran."

So sometimes we (meaning "Remi") haven't liked the people that visit the Mojo sites (namely "The SCUMM Bar"), but I think generally the people who've worked for Mojo have had nothing but endless love and affection for the site's readers. After all, we're all just fans together, right?

Mini-Mojo through the ages




Likewise, people who visit the site have sustained it through contribution and positive encouragement. There have been times, however, when tensions between staff and readers have run high, creating sweaty brows all round [6]. For instance, it may not have Spaff's shrewdest business move to have uploaded a picture of the Queen mother as a colossal swan-killing mecha droid on the day the she died. Described as a "truly horrifying display of really bad behaviour and a testament of back-breaking bad taste" at the time, and since referred to as "insanity" by Metallus, the event is probably not one of Mojo's most fondly remembered. I don't think that Spaff did anything wrong, but at the same time it's clear that politics and an Internet gaming site shouldn't really mix.

Luckily, the two don't, most of the time. One thing I like about Mojo is that it's a little corner of my life that's separate from anything else. The site doesn't have an opinion on wars, leaders, or who is number one in the charts. That can be left for the classroom and playground.

A short while after "KwEeN MuTHa," the site launched its very ambitious April Fools plans: sound clips allegedly leaked from Monkey Island 5, presented on Mixnmojo.com ahead of April 1st in order to crush the souls of as many readers as possible. Looking back now, the files are really brilliant. I mean, they really are. Dominic Armato did the voices and Andrew "Telarium" Langely composed the music with help from Jimmi Thøgersen. Have a listen. It really is great.

This is how Andrew Langely described the process of making the sound clips:

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"This was an idea that Jake told me about while waiting in line at Disneyland, and amazingly, LucasArts PR was totally cool with it. I wrote the script with Jake's input, and Dominic Armato agreed to record voices for us. However, being the busy guy that he was, he couldn't record the dialogue until right before April Fools Day, by which point I assumed he wasn't going to do it.

When he came through at the last minute, I had to scramble to write the music and do the sound mixing. Jimmi Thøgersen (of SCUMM Revisited fame) and I pulled an all-nighter to get it done. I guess it must have been fairly convincing, because I heard that someone in LucasArts PR got an internal e-mail from an employee saying, 'I didn't know we were doing Monkey Island 5.'"

The April Fools clips went down well with some, though others were annoyed that we'd play such a cruel joke on them (as they saw it). Mojo has also, in the past, been accused of getting too hung up on injokes crazy about Dan Petitt, and for being too imperialist in their relations with other LucasArts fansites. As one "Sparda Snake" saw it, every fansite was part of one evil Mojo Empire. Who would be brave enough to be independent from this ensnaring menace? Just one: DemonicSkull.com, Sparda's own site. He addressed his aims in an e-mail to me:

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"The idea behind our site was to bring a big Monkey Island site out, that was not owned by Mojo. We can't stand Mojo and hope to crush them (that's our long term goal), so we have decided to find some partners to create our own little ring of sites between us like what they have. Whatever happens though, if you join our up with this partnership, you must promise to never join Mojo...

We are hoping to make our site big (bigger than SCUMM's and MI Legend's) and we don't think it would be too hard"... "I strongly believe that your site along side our site, we can lead against The SCUMM Bar, Monkey Island Legend and the World of Monkey Island. I just wanna tell you how much I hate Mojo. lol. I can't stand them, and that is one reason for making this site."

Alas! Demonic Skull never materialised, and so Mojo's throne of terror was never usurped on behalf of the oppressed masses. We'll never know what the new republic would have been like.

Mojo did have a rivalry with a site that actually existed, though: Just Adventure +. This is mainly because Mojo staffers simply didn't like the site, though it may also have had something to do with Randy Sluganski, JA's owner, phoning up a Mojo staffer at three in the morning to wheeze complaints in her ear, incited, I would assume, because of some criticism Mojo made against the site.

Even when Mojo wasn't being attacked because of offensive images, mean jokes, or inter-cyber rivalry, it still managed to attract occasional disapproval because of downtimes, and, for a period, the painful slowness of the pages loading. Now we're on a better server (thanks LFN!) these things are in the past, along with the plethora of adverts we once had to put up with to pay for things:

<Gabez> Oh no! Mojo now has an evil flash advert that pops up from nowhere and follows you around!
<DJG> Time for me to conveniently /quit
*** DJG has quit IRC (Quit: Rearrange! )

Incidentally, DJG's quit message is a reference to the time – I think the only time – when LucasArts hosted a live chat and Huz, a Mojo staffer, came on shouting "DGJ" followed by "rearrange!"

Sometimes the relationship with LucasArts has been stormy. I mean, it was a positive tidal wave during the Sam & Max debacle, but even before that it had its sinking moments. Word had it that LucasArts were going to make a community section on their site featuring Mojo, but thought better of it after we published our mildly inconvenient Gold Guy article [7].

LucasArts did try to bridge the divide by hiring Ronda as a community PR relations person, who's job it was to help Mojo people (and other sites) get interviews and so on. Ronda, I heard, was a delightfully nice person, but one cannot help but feel that this was LucasArts attempt to be "cool," like a school teacher trying to fit in with their students by using the word "wicked" every few minutes: awkward and ultimately painful. Such was the effect when Ronda wrote a blog about LucasArts at Comic Con:

<RemiO> Comic Con sounds like oodles of fun in Ronda's highly informative blog!
<Metallus> it's E3 but more intense
<Metallus> because the fans are let in
<Metallus> and they wear costumes and are brooding 30-somethings for the most part
<RemiO> Really, those blogs are the best.
<Metallus> heh
<RemiO> No propaganda in them at all!
<Metallus> haven't read
<RemiO> Don't.
<RemiO> Actually, the one chick in the one picture wasn't bad looking
<Huz-Away> I see LucasArts has a highly annoying flash intro
<Huz-Away> Since when? :~
<Metallus> Ronda and Tom saw my name and started criticizing the book that the other Dave Eggers wrote
<Metallus> heh Tom Sarris fell asleep at the discussion panel that Purcell and Stemmle were presenting with the Earthworm Jim guy and some other people
<Huz-Away> Hah
<Metallus> also he doesn't want people to know that

Sometimes Mojo got behind LucasArts in a big way. Well, quite a small way actually, but it's the thought that counts. I am referring to the time that LucasArts ran a voting poll with the question: "what is your favourite fan-site?" Mixnmojo.com was an option, and we supported LucasArts' poll by launching a furious Jake Rodkin designed ad campaign. Naturally, Mojo ended up loosing, trailing behind BigWookieLoveFest.com.

It's a shame we didn't win, because we sure did deserve it. Mojo has always upheld a high standard of journalism and worked tirelessly to bring you the best reviews and features. Andrew Langely has more:

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"There was the time we were interviewing Simon Jeffery at E3, and towards the end, we just asked him to "say something exciting." His response was, "I can't think of anything." On the way back to the hotel in the car, we were talking about how we wished he had surprised us and just said something completely random like 'Booyah!' Against journalistic integrity, we put that in as his response instead of what he actually said. I think we saw him again a few months later and he mentioned, "I saw the interview. I don't remember saying booyah." But in our hearts, he did [8].

I think I may have been the one to start the Dan Pettit jokes which have since gone extinct. It was my first or second year at E3, and he was demoing Jedi Knight for us. I looked at his name tag, and being the huge dork I am, I recognized his name. "Hey, aren't you Dan Pettit, the lead tester on The Curse of Monkey Island?" He got this really freaked out look on his face, and any time he saw me at the LucasArts booth later, his eyes got kind of big like he thought I was stalking him. So from that point on, I liked to throw in Dan Pettit references in random places on the site for my own amusement... so much so that he eventually became the unofficial mascot of Mixnmojo. I guess the people at LucasArts noticed this, because when we interviewed him later, he said that people would send him links to the site whenever his name appeared.

We stood Simon Jeffery up for an interview at E3 one year. There was something going on in LA, and the parking for E3 was even more scarce than usual. (Plus we were late leaving the hotel.) When we arrived at the interview 2 hours behind schedule, he had already gone to meet with the legitimate press. The PR lady at LucasArts was kind of pissed at us, but Simon was cool about it. At least to our faces.

Then there was the time where we had written a negative preview of Gladius. I saw on the site that there were two reader comments that were defending the game and being really harsh about Mixnmojo's attitude towards non-adventure games. For whatever reason, I did a reverse lookup on their IP addresses.

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One of them was from LucasArts and the other was from Raven. Later on we met a LucasArts employee who was involved with the game in some way, and he did admit that there were some members on the team who were a little pissed at us.

Disagreements? Sure. I think Jake and Spaff hated that I updated the site with a lot of Star Wars game news. During my last trip to E3, they specifically told me in their hotel room, "We're banning Star Wars news on the site." I think I had a more traditional style of journalism which, in retrospect, was not in the spirit of Mixnmojo. I would attempt to clean up our in-person interviews a bit by cutting out some of the awkwardness or questions that went nowhere. Jake, Spaff, and the others would then accuse me of trying to cut out the best parts... and they were right. Playing it honest and unprofessional was more interesting by far.

One time, the LucasArts PR team took us and a bunch of other game journalists to a burlesque-type restaurant in San Francisco. The twist? They were guys in drag. I'm not sure everyone at the table was aware, except that they were referred to by the restaurant as "gender illusionists."

LucasArts tried to buy us all lunch once at E3, but their corporate credit card was declined at the counter. I guess maybe that was a sign that the company wasn't doing so well.

LucasArts used to mail every game they made to me... usually for systems I didn't even have or something I didn't want to play in the first place. (The Clone Wars? No thanks.) So I would sell the games on eBay, which I'm sure was very unethical. Whatever."

As you can see, we were upholding the highest standards then as we still do today (though LucasArts no longer send us any games, so no eBay listings for you!)

Speaking of eBay, there was this time when Mojo needed to raise money (translation: Spaff's beer fund had run low) and the decision was made to sell of a lot of swag that staffers had accumulated over the years [9]. Like disgusting "grog" and an insultingly childish jigsaw given out at the Escape from Monkey Island press launch. The auctions were pretty successful, but I think staffers perhaps felt bad for selling things they had got for free. Thus, a plan was launched: to make a competition where Mojo would give away every awesome thing it owned: the Best Contest Ever.

This contest was heralded by some as the answer to everything: that which would smooth tensions and secure Mojo's place in the annals of Internet history.

<ja2ke> btw, the new mojo contest will be a winner

Some doubts remained, however:

<ja2ke> the future lies in the upcoming mojo contest
<Mort-Hog> How?
<ja2ke> i dont know i'm just marketing it to you :)

In the end, the contest was never to be. I'm not exactly sure why, though the following IRC quote may shed some light on the matter:

<RemiO> Mojo needs to do the ULTIMATE CONTEST thing so I can upload the super secret Tiller concept art
<bgbennyboy> yes
<bgbennyboy> its been like a year nearly
<RemiO> Jake has probably lost the art :~
<bgbennyboy> heh
<bgbennyboy> I think he said sumt about Gilbert not returning the mi box that had been signed by Schafter and Grossman

This apparent inefficiency is surprising, as Mojo has mostly kept a very tight ship:

<jake|r> i think mojo's moving again too
<jake|r> heh.
<jake|r> spaff is screwing things up
<Serge|Away> I think I'm happy I no longer update sites on mojo.
<jake|r> he for some reason has decided he's not interested in changing the nameserver information, despite us leaving rackshack and running our own nameserver
<Courthold> jake - speaking of which, where is ad.com domain and why do subs not work with ad.com or ads.com?
<bgbb-semihere-bbq> :o
<jake|r> they should with ads.com
<jake|r> spaff hasnt renewed ad.com for some reason
<jake|r> even though lfnetwork has money and a credit card with which one could renew domains at no charge to ones own account
<jake|r> sort of frustrating.
<Courthold> "sort of" yes
<Courthold> can you hassle spaff for me cos we need the domain, heh
<jake|r> call him [10]
<jake|r> heh
<jake|r> i have his mobile number i can give it to you :)
<jake|r> (give his number do you.)
<Courthold> jake - i tried that several times before, never got an answer
<jake|r> .... :(
<jake|r> should haev got his voicemail at least?
<jake|r> i'll give him a call
<jake|r> muaha

[A while later...]

<Courthold> jake did you ring spaff? :)
<jake|r> nope
<jake|r> it didnt work
<PTDC> Heh.
<DJG> Spaff's in a hotel.
<DJG> Has no phone.

But really, who has the time to have a phone when there are hotels to visit? It's not like Spaff ever did anything really irresponsible...

<ja2ke> so, on his hard drive, spaff just found the password for his email address that network solutions wouldnt let him change
<ja2ke> but he couldnt access so he couldnt change any of his dns information for mixnmojo
<Metallus> hahahahahahahahahahahh
<Metallus> Network Solutions stole my pants
<ja2ke> if he'd found that address (which was on his HD all this time) mojo wouldnt have been down for 6 months
<Darth-Phenom> ...
<ja2ke> or at least mixnmojo.com would have pointed somewhere that whole time
<ja2ke> spaff says:
<ja2ke> 1:59:52
<ja2ke> it goes back to feb 2001 !!!!!!!
<ja2ke> and i just received a million emails about mojo domain transfer :P

Maybe this keyboard is starting to wear out because of all the sarcasm I'm hitting it with – but in fairness – in fair seriousness – Spaff, while not always the best leader, was at least as nice as a daisy:

<_emma_> Spaff is like the nicest/coolest person ever
<Marek`> there a hilarious pic of us brotherly together at ects
<Marek`> yes!!
<_emma_> I met him for the first time 2 years ago
<Marek`> yeah last year's e3 right?
<Courthold> Marek - i would have been at ects if i was not the ills :~~
<_emma_> Yeah, and he came up to visit me when I lived with my parents
<Mort-Hog> He went round your house one time too. Was that 2 years ago?
<_emma_> And half of my friends thought he was my boyfriend. Haha
<Marek`> lol
<Mort-Hog> Heh. I remember that as if it were yesterday.
<_emma_> What's that, Moot?
<Mort-Hog> When Spaff went and visited you!
<Marek`> i'm glad spaff is getting a bit more involved in his OWN WEBSITE again
<_emma_> Oh yeah. Haha
<_emma_> And we got pissed at 2pm in the afternoon
<_emma_> And went on IRC drunk
<_emma_> And spaff updated Mojo whilst drunk
<Courthold> is there where the photos of spaff and you in pub are from em?
<_emma_> With "Hi i am drunk at emmas house"
<Mort-Hog> And your sister got super-drunk. :)
<_emma_> Yeah, Court. :)
<_emma_> That was Yvonne, Mort
<Mort-Hog> Oh right, yeah.
<_emma_> And her dad was threatening to call the police on me
<_emma_> Heh.

Drunk newsposts haven't been the only time that sleaze and debauchery have crept into Mojo's otherwise pristine channels. Someone – I don't know who – ripped sounds out of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Grim Fandango, re-editing them together to make them sound like the characters were proposing monstrous sexual acts to each other. There was much use of the mannypanting.wav, if I recall correctly.

Someone else, using the same ripping tool, unearthed a curious animation frame from Monkey Island 2, apparently showing Guybrush in the process of stripping his clothes off. It was used to great effect by Huz in a contest Mojo ran to design the site a banner advertisement.

Next page... creativity; DJG; salvo honoris titulo, Sapienia et Doctrina.