5.28.2007

How a Russo-Nigerian Stallion Found Video Game Music, Part 5: Scintillating Data Entry

If someone had told me back in 2002, when I first found OverClocked ReMix, that I'd end up handling much of its day-to-day operations I'd be surprised. But not too surprised.

It doesn't happen at the drop of a hat, but when I'm passionate about something, I invest a lot of personal time in learning everything I want to know. When I first started choosing ReMixes to keep at OCR, I researched tons of information like the artists' real names and websites, the original composers, and the source tunes. One other byproduct of that passion is the desire to befriend the people involved and offer my assistance if needed.

From 1999-2001, I spent a lot of time around LatestWrestlingNews.com, a now-defunct pro wrestling news site that had a reputation for only posting hard news. After establishing myself as someone who could present their point of view articulately and getting to know site creator Derrick Flippin, he offered me a position as an opinion columnist. After proving myself as being dedicated, I moved onto posting news, providing show coverage, handling discussion moderation, and handling some limited administrative duties, and we talked on the phone a good deal.

Derrick closed down the site in 2001 to focus on his music (and he's a great musician; at the time he was friends with artists like Pearl Jam, Lisa Germano & Neil Finn), and I haven't heard from him in a while, but working for him and with him was one of my first experiences on the web learning everything I could about a site I cared for, befriending its head honcho & joining the staff, and amassing more and more responsibilities over time.

After finding OCR and becoming very familiar with the material there, I private messaged djpretzel in January 2003 hoping to help fill out the vastly empty OC ReMix informational database. I'm not sure how much flack djp received at the time, but aside from the strong core of the database actually existing, there was virtually no complete information for anything. Given the amount of work involved, I can see how it wasn't a priority vs. evaluating and posting new material. Nonetheless, games frequently has no composer listing, no release year, and no publisher. The major majority of ReMixers had no information filled out as to their real names, websites, email addresses of forum profiles. With the actual skeleton of the database there, it was up to someone else to flesh it out and realize its potential.

Back then, I worked through an Excel spreadsheet to amass the data, focused on game information (year, publisher, composers), but in retrospect it was a pretty cumbersome task as djp would have to transfer all the Excel data into SQL query strings he could use to add the information. I would never actually get to hand over that Excel information as my laptop at the time fried in the middle of my work. After recovering the data a few weeks later, I didn't revisit the project until 2004 after I had officially joined the staff as a judge.

My largest projects have involved populating the site database with information on the games, composers & source tunes, and details on the ReMixers, with most of the work as well as research acumen already cultivated by the years my own personal interest. Being able to collect and (finally) apply that information to the site itself is arguably something that would have otherwise taken a team of people to accomplish.

In case you don't know, by far the most important aspect of OCR are the ReMixers who contribute their material. Even on the sidelines, I was disheartened by the lack of readily available information about them in the OCR database. Again, djpretzel is only one man. But, to me, empty information meant that fans would have fewer resources for learning more about the artists themselves, as well as what other works they created. One thing that's obvious over time is that people are inherently lazy. I don't even mean that in a bad way. But in terms of information, most want it at their fingertips; they don't want to dig around the internet the way I did. Then you have the contingent that don't even know they want the information, but end up appreciating it once they find it available.

Thus, the first major improvement to the database was filling out the ReMixer information fields, of which the major majority was done from 2004-2005. I ended up having to redo about a third of the work after that aforementioned laptop disaster, but I was able to retrace all of my steps and discover some new information.

Back around 2003, OC ReMixer Zac "Psychrophyte" Brier also spearheaded an community effort to fill out the nearly empty source tune information fields in the database, which I was a small part of. Much of the work done amounted to cataloging the original songs from popular games, amounting to about 300 added and associated tracks. After taking over and continuing the effort in 2005, I've updated incorrect and unofficial track names for existing songs and added over 700 other songs. In short, if a ReMix on OCR is associated with an original song, you probably have me to thank about 80% of the time.

Those initiatives explain much of the development of OC ReMix into a more useful tool for promoting the knowledge of both original video game music and the ReMixers who make it all happen at OCR. To the average person, however, that stuff is all pretty cumbersome, all unsexy research and data entry. The real fun of joining OCR's staff was being invited to join the site's judges panel. To be given a say in deciding what music actually makes it into OCR...that'll take us to Part 6...

2 comments:

BlueToYou said...

You neglect to mention that your data entry is one reason why I sometimes refer to OCR as OCStupid :). I guess I'm jealous. OCR is like his mistress. Sometimes I'll wake up at 3am and LT still hasn't come to sleep. I'll find him asleep on the couch while he was working on data entry or other various and sundries until 4am or later (earlier). Then he's up for a full 9-5er. I couldn't do it.

Tony said...

That's very interesting that you used to be a columnist for a wrestling website. Does your stint there have any bearing on your choice of "Liontamer" as a handle? After all, the Liontamer was Chris Jericho's old finishing move :) Would love to hear the story on how your handle came about!