Saturday, April 29, 2017

Early Morning Musings: Fun While It Lasted

This is sort of a first part of something that I'm not sure will have more than one part.

A while back, I mentioned that one of my favorite web sites in recent years, County Line Gaming, had been down for awhile, and that I've got a few ideas as to why that might be. I'll just be tossing a few of them out there as possibilities. I don't really mean them to be taken terribly seriously or anything. These are more just potential discussion starters. Speculation, really, and not much more.

Of course, a little history would probably be a good thing to begin with here. This is likely to be quick and dirty, even for my standards, but it'll do for the purposes of this post.

My first encounter with the group of YouTubers collectively known as County Line Gaming came by way of a little “TubeCeption” in 2007 or 2008, I believe. I'd been looking up videos relating to Final Fantasy 4, my all-time favorite video game, and I'd found a Let's Play of it by a guy calling himself AppleGodZMG, or Apple for short. I liked the man's commentary and the sound of his voice, so I started following him. It's why I'm still following him all these years later, really. I know I've linked to his channel a few times before, but here it is again anyway, just as a refresher. He was part of a group of Let's Players called County Line Gaming, or CLG for short

The County Line Gaming group itself started out as a YouTube channel, which can still be found here, for those who may be interested. There have been a few roster changes over the years, because, well, such things tend to be natural in these groups, really, but there have been a few core members that have been there the entire time I've been following them. Apple's one, GalufBlackMage is another, and I think users called RekiWylls and Aura have been long-time members of the group as well. What I think of as the “classic” CLG team is rounded out by users going by Dtothedon and Hypersquirell, as they've been with the group for awhile now, too

As time went by, the group gained a fair amount of followers, which lead to the foundation of a group website, sometime in 2008 or 2009 or thereabouts. As with so many sites, this one had a user forum, and I was among the earliest non-group-members to join it. It was a good place to keep in contact with other fans of the group and its members, and also a convenient place to find their latest videos. For as screwy as YouTube has been recently, it was worse back then, so something like that was a real help.

There were loads of group projects they did. The most memorable ones for me were the one where they did round-robin LPs of a good chunk of the classic Mega Man games and the group LP of Final Fantasy 8. The Mega Man one was a favorite because back in the day, I was quite a Mega Man fan myself, though that did change over the years, somewhat regrettably. The Final Fantasy 8 one I liked because I was doing a Text Play of it here on my blog at more or less the same time, and from the looks of things, they wound up stopping at about the same place I did. Not sure how close the reasoning would be, but it's an interesting coincidence either way.

One thing the group did that I wish I'd put more time into while I had the chance was a side feature called Fanfare Theater. The premise behind that was that they were going to do voice-acted versions of popular games. The only one they managed to pull off was Final Fantasy 9, but given how much of a chore it seemed like it was, from the behind-the-scenes stuff I recall having heard, I can understand why nothing much happened with it after that. I kind of regret not putting any real time into listening to it, now that it's too late, but that's my fault.

One other thing I remember from the main site's run was an early logo contest they did. It's one of a few artsy-type contests I'd at least tried to enter around that time. In this case, it was a contest to design a logo or image of some sort for the group and/or web site. What I had intended as an entry can be found here. I'm not sure I was ever officially entered, and I don't recall if there was ever a winner announced or not, but that's been seven years, as of this writing, so things are a little hazy. About all I really can say for sure is that it's most definitely the best piece of fan art I've ever done, and most likely the best piece of overall art I've managed to pull off as well.

But as I was mentioning above, I did that image seven years ago now, and a good many of the websites I was a fan of in college, for sure, and even the last year or so of high school, didn't even manage to last that long. I even remember doing a piece here about how a handful of sites I frequented actually wound up closing down or going archive-only after being active for a dozen years, more or less, with a lack of usage or new material being a common reason for such things.

And really, if I'm going to speculate as to why the group's site is down now, I think that's where I should probably start. Even today, and perhaps especially today, web sites aren't exactly cheap, after all, and I suspect the CLG site wasn't getting nearly enough traffic to make it worthwhile for whoever was paying for hosting to keep it going past the end of March or early this month. I'm not privy to the actual stats for the site, but from my last few visits there, I'm guessing viewership was pretty low, and that I may have been one of the only few left who even bothered with the site any more. I kind of wish I'd been able to post more in the forums than I had been at the end, but I'd had other things going on in my life that had to take priority.

I suspect similar things were going on for most of the core members as well. I get it, of course. That's how life is once one hits adulthood, and my impression is that most of the folks involved in CLG were at least college aged, if not older, which meant that there were concerns beyond gaming that had to be dealt with first.

With all that in mind, if the County Line Gaming website is history now, I've gotta say, it was a good run, fun while it was lasted. I got to experience a few things and do a few others that I might not otherwise have. I met and interacted with some interesting folks along the way, and I'd like to think I learned something from them.

I'd like to think it's not over yet, that there's a comeback in the works, and that there's more to come. The adult in me knows, however, that such may not be the case, and very likely that even the CLG site had to go down for good at some point. If that really is the case, it's been a good run, and I'm glad I got to be at least a small part of that something special in a few people's lives.

With that in mind, I'd like to say thank you to all those who were involved in the group and the site in some way, shape, or form over the years. It was fun. I really enjoyed it, and I hope everyone else did as well.

I would also like to apologize in advance for the things I've almost certainly gotten wrong in all of this. I'm sure there are things I'm wrong about here, but I'm not sure where to even really begin looking to correct them. I just want everyone to know that what I've said here is to the best of my knowledge and memory of these things, and speculation based on that.

Once again, I would very much like to thank everyone involved with the County Line Gaming website over the years. I'm subscribed to a fair number of group members individually on YouTube in addition to Apple, as mentioned above. Here they are:

Here's to the future, everybody!

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