You might know the story. I had seen fellow GameCola staff member Michael Gray's sometimes hilarious, sometimes cringeworthy blind playthroughs of the NES Mega Man games, and I thought it'd be nice to show our viewers what a more experienced playthrough looked like. I got to work on recording a casual-yet-professional playthrough of MM1, but due to the limitations of my recording software, I was only able to record 10-15 minutes of gameplay at a clip. My original plan was to record one continuous take and be done with it, but if I had to stop and take breaks, I figured I might as well make the most of it. I recorded a few tries of each stage, keeping the one I liked best. Concerned that viewers would be bored by a straight gameplay video, I scripted some commentary to go with it, ad libbing more and more as I discovered how time-consuming it was to type everything before saying it. In a matter of days, I had a complete video series of MM1.
The response was small, but positive. I wasted no time continuing with MM2, this time putting more effort into showcasing the special weapons. MM3 followed shortly thereafter, and despite tearing apart this fan favorite throughout most of the commentary, I managed to win over some fans who appreciated my critical analysis and—perhaps more importantly—all my goofing around in the last video or two. By the time I started on MM4, I had finally hit my stride, and I was developing a dedicated fanbase. This was no longer a matter of presenting an alternative to Michael's videos; this was creating a niche in the gaming community that I didn't realize we were missing. Other people might never take damage or might race through stages at record speeds, but I was taking creative approaches to achieving victory, highlighting strategies to support struggling players, showing off all the fun things you can do that have nothing to do with winning, critically reviewing each game, and keeping a family-friendly sense of humor. I wasn't playing games so much as playing with games, and I was floored by how many people found this as appealing as I did.
By the time I was ready to begin MM5, I had transferred all my Mega Man videos from the GameCola YouTube channel to my newly created personal channel, GeminiLaser. In retrospect, it was quite appropriate to name myself after a Mega Man weapon that moves incredibly slowly but always bounces back. Having an entire channel dedicated to this presentation of Mega Man garnered more attention more quickly than before, and as a strong proponent of cross-promotion, I was still directing traffic back to GameCola where possible. I continued to identify myself as a staff writer for GameCola through the end of my MM6 videos—the original planned stopping point for this recording project—and began embracing my solo identity with MM7. I may not always be with GameCola, but I'll always be GeminiLaser, and nothing says I can't continue to plug the website and its YouTube channel in other ways.
MM5 took longer than expected due to some technical issues with my original video footage. At the time, I thought it was a big deal to spend the better part of a year working on a game you can power through in just over an hour. The recording timeline for MM6 was more or less double what MM5 was. And MM7 doubled it again. At this rate, expect to see MM8 around 2020, around when SimCity tells us we'll have microwave power plants beaming down energy from space. Which would tie in nicely with MM8 if it's eeeeevil energy. But I digress.
What's stunning about this whole process is that I have fans who have been with me from the beginning. I have people who showed up late to the party and decided to stick around despite not seeing updates for months at a time. Every now and again, someone will voice their disappointment or displeasure, but the overwhelming majority of my viewers consistently tell me that each video is worth the wait. Nowadays, the delays between videos aren't simply a consequence of maintaining a job and social life and juggling too many side projects at any given time; the bar is set high, and I want to take however long I need to do right by my loyal viewers.
I will be honest: I am relieved to be finished with MM7. As fun as it was to record, the game had been a cloud hanging over my head for far too long. Or, if you prefer, the Cloud Man hanging over my head. Granted, I've still got 2-3 bonus videos to record. Aside from the game's numerous secrets, glitches, and differences from the Japanese version, spending three years recording leaves me with a lot of leftover audio and video footage I'd like to share as well. For now, I'm unofficially on break, and am getting caught up with other existing side projects alongside plotting out what the next video will look like. And once MM7 is completely done, I will take a formal holiday from the series to work on an exciting new project I've been discussing with my wife for a few months. You might not see updates from me all that frequently, but if I've designated something as my primary project, you can bet I'm either actively or passively working on it.
That's how it's been with Mega Man for the last six years. Responding to comments during my lunch break; piecing together the next bit of commentary during my daily commute; forcing myself to at least attempt to record anytime I've had the computer room (read: living room) to myself; keeping my fans updated about recording progress with posts, tweets, and video explanations... Mega Man has been a passion since I was a kid, but it has seldom been as much a part of my identity as it's been since I began recording it. Knowing that MM8 is going to be the single longest recording project in the entire Classic series (unless I play through MM9-10 as all characters on all difficulty modes, hahaha), I'm content to take some time now to rediscover myself apart from Mega Man. With my time and brainpower free to roam elsewhere, the possibilities are endless!
I think I'll start by digging into my video game backlog and trying out Mega Man X8.