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Catchy something something... in Space!

The complete, long and slightly boring history of GGC Media

Many years ago, back in the day like, there was no GGC Media. Surely, back then the world was a bit dimmer and a view of the future seemed hopeless. The incidents, the places, my friend we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about GGC Media?

A picture of the GGC team at our headquarters,
as was used in one of the Space Quest
Documentary update pages.
The story of the GGC can't really be told without telling the story of the Space Quest community. Well, it probably can, but I'm writing this article and you'll just sit there and take it like I gives it. About four years ago, when the idea of another Space Quest game seemed feasible, there was #sq. #sq is an IRC channel for the Space Quest community that Justas and I both sometimes visited. Back then I only dialled up to the 'net on weekends. My IE cache was set high and my IRC client to logging. I was like a squirrel, gathering nuts for the winter which is five days of no-net-connectedness. So, it was on one of these week days that I found a link posted by someone I knew only in passing. I sometimes saw their names in the chat logs and didn't really think much of it. When I connected to the net again, I downloaded and watched that link. It was, quite appropriately the first funny flash file I ever saw, called Mario Twins.

The next time I saw this person that posted the link, a fellow called Justas, I struck up a conversation with him. I can't remember what exactly was said, but I imagine it had something to do with me making fun of him being Estonian and him making fun of me because I'm South African. Yes, we were easily amused.

The Jorks

We started chatting frequently, sometimes coordinating tactical strikes on the meek souls that inhabited the Subspace Channel, a message board for Space Quest fanatics and other forms of nuttery. Eventually, we broke away from #sq due to some, in retrospect, silly circumstances. We eventually formed our own chat channel and continued making fart jokes and making fun of each other's nationalities. Yes, we were still easily amused.

The GCI logo was designed to strike fear into the meek.
Around this time a fellow poster from the Subspace Channel, named Shadow, notified the board that he was offering up free web space to whoever wanted some. I seized the opportunity, which led to the creation of GC Interactive. As you can see from the logo, the goal was world domination. The GC in GC Interactive has been a mystery to everyone but me. Not even Justas, at the time this article is being written, knows what it means. Therefore, I will digress for a short while to another story.

Before many years ago, before back in the day like, I had nothing better to do than browse the net all weekend and play Grand Theft Auto (the first one) in the week. When I wasn't playing GTA, I was working on possibly the greatest achievement in adventure gaming that the world would ever see. So little knew I about adventure gaming, that I was not even aware that interpreters like AGS existed. I had decided to write my own. Using my Turbo Pascal 7 knowledge, I was well through the graphical component.

The backgrounds, the GUI, the layers and the animation were all basically done. All these components were loaded into pointers, that I called caches. Thusly, I had a bgcache, layercache, and an animcache. When it came to setting the variable for the GUI, the name 'guicache' struck me as particularly interesting. I know that I'm not very good at naming things. This is why, when in a pinch to come up with a new name for a website, I just picked the leading letters from GUI and Cache. It had no real significance, but it sounded nice. This is where GC Interactive came from.

The "cool stuff" specialists

Check out the cool amateur
web designer vibe, dudes.
We put up the page for GC Interactive around 26 July, 2003. We had nothing but a doomed-to-failure Space Quest fan project and half-hatched ideas of "writing cool stuff" in mind. The design was simple and we only did a few articles and updates for it before the host, now called ShadowOnline decided to discontinue free hosting on their domain.

By this time I moved from my parents' home to my new job. I decided that we could probably do with one of those fancy .com domains like we'd seen in books. We decided on the name together, a process which can be seen here. I wanted to retain the 'GC' part of the name, maybe because I'm such a sentimental shite. We decided on GGC Media, finally. The first G named after GW. Gozer, the Narrator in our then-failing Space Quest fan project. The name was Gozer GC Media, Gozer GUICache Media. That's left. Don't ever ask me to name anything.

A shot of the entire very first engine code.
We put up another simple design when we acquired the new domain. Justas had created a little flash called Dr. VO which was a Austin Powers'D spoof of Space Quest characters. This was after we'd decided on the name but before we had the domain. I pulled the very first logo design directly from his flash movie, which he'd designed to look like the BBC logo. The first site engine, which was the first time we used PHP, was very simple. It basically took the request, delivered by a GET variable, and output whatever file had that same name. We started posting articles, which we called 'loggs', to the front page, which we called the 'deskpot'. The naming of those two components was basically an in-joke, spurred by this conversation between myself and the one we call 'Olzen':

[18:37:31] <olzen> IE closes down and spits out a log-file
[18:37:48] <Pstonie_DSane> Does is give an error in the logfile.
[18:37:52] <Pstonie_DSane> ?
[18:38:01] <olzen> An unexpected exception has been detected in native code outside the VM.
[18:38:02] <olzen> Unexpected Signal : EXCEPTION_ACCESS_VIOLATION (0xc0000005) occurred at PC=0x75D46B8
[18:38:02] <olzen> Function=[Unknown.]
[18:38:02] <olzen> Library=C:\Programmer\Java\j2re1.4.2_03\bin\fontmanager.dll
[18:38:23] <Pstonie_DSane> Ah. You installed the sep. Java engine?
[18:38:41] <olzen> Yes. But I think that problem occured before I did that
[18:38:47] <olzen> I actually upgraded to get rid of them
[18:39:11] <Pstonie_DSane> What errors did you get before.
[18:39:13] <Pstonie_DSane> ?
[18:39:15] <olzen> The same
[18:39:28] <olzen> When entering certain websites, IE closed down and put a log on my deskpot
[18:39:33] <olzen> *desktop
[18:39:39] <Pstonie_DSane> I'll bet the library path was different though.
[18:39:46] <olzen> And no, that's not log as in "a log of poop"
[18:39:55] <Pstonie_DSane> Your deskpot? Is that like a bedpan?
[18:40:09] <olzen> I guess
[18:40:13] <Pstonie_DSane> You have a log in your deskpot?

Not completely not unrelated

As time went on we posted more and more of these loggs and later Gareth, of John Trout Productions (then SpoofNews), became interested in joining us in our venture. He joined the team shortly thereafter and posted quite a few loggs of his own. As our loggs became many and our archive impressive, we started adding more and more features. I had my first brief splash into flash with Cartoon #1, in which Boris threatens to pee in someone's teakettle. It was a short, silly little piece, but I became hooked on this magical new medium with which I could spread my stupid potty jokes.

As the site matured, we added yet more features, both to the site engine and the content. A random assortment of 'loggs' became available on the front page, so that first time viewers could see more than that slice of fresh content. After our forums had re-launched, one of us had the idea to start a collaborative story thread, which would later mature into a whole mess of sequels, spin-offs and related pieces, and later spiral off into obscurity. A list of the latest forum replies, similar to the random loggs table also became available on the front page.

Later we created the 'whuddup' section, which was there for us to post links with short descriptions. This accommodated the part of our experiences that could not be made into a full logg, which was then the size of rather large articles. All these were basically stopgap measures to make it seem like were being creative and productive while we were in fact playing Grand Theft Auto (the third one).

As the site and the engine slowly matured and became more impressive, our humour really didn't. Though, we kept updating the site and slowly producing more content, hoping that someone would notice and award us with hot chicks in bikinis and flashy red sports cars. The menu, once home to only the now-failed Space Quest community project, had somehow become larger, with links to our creations. The site engine now seemed less juvenile (from the outside) and included a search feature which ranked results by relevance. The design we had at this point had grown directly from that very first GCI page and featured a three-column design that incorporated the loggs in the center, first and foremost, and tables for random loggs, the menu, latest forum replies, rolling ads to our content, the whuddup section and a link to an RSS feed.

Just leave it as it is

It was about this time, when things were going smoothly, that I got bored and decided that the page needed to be revamped entirely. I wanted a front page that would show a preview of our new content, few and far between as it was, as the main feature on the site. One of us had the idea to include to the content a new section called 'updates' that would be like shorter loggs and enable us to do even less and get away with it. After much discussion we settled on a design which, I'll admit, seemed much better on the drawing board. It was a two-column design that advertised our two latest features top right, had a section below that which combined the new updates and news links (previously whuddup) and the latest logg, now renamed 'columns' on the left. The most notable feature of this design was the giant 'G' (in the old logo style) in the background, which seemed to be blurred impressively behind the text. It was a fine idea, I feel, but it just didn't look left. The implementation was clearly off, and much whining was had by the readership

So, a short time after that I redesigned the page again, this time making the updates/news section the foremost part, while placing the newest features in a column to the right, a reduced shortcut to the latest logg below that and more random content and links at the bottom. This version of the design also featured a 3-Dimensional rendering of a glass "GGC media", set on a blue background.

It stayed like this for a while, and we started producing more diverse types of content, such as more music and machinima videos and the first of the '-yo' series of flashes, which was a click-through parody of Star Trek : The Next Generation, using a type of speech bubble to insert our new dialogue over frames taken from the TV show. This type of feature would later become the staple of our productions, as it was the easiest way to make potty jokes with a minimum of work.

I soon became bored with that design, and once more redesigned the site, focussing on making the features more prominent on the front page, while making the whole thing a bit prettier. This design is the one the site currently has up. Later, I decided to add a 'YouTube Feed', since we started posting a lot of videos and YouTube also kicks a lot of ass.

That's it, the whole thing, basically. From four years ago to present in only about 18 paragraphs. Well, I guess it's not that impressive. My favourite part of this story is where I can tell you that after all that, we still play too much Grand Theft Auto, stopping only briefly to produce features with crude and unusual humour. We've managed to retain the true spirit of the concept. You just don't find that kind of commitment and reliability anymore these days. GGC FTW!