Flashback to the Best of Growing Up Otaku

giant_torayan_2We’ve been hanging out here for quite a while now. Four years at GrowingUpOtaku.com, five years since I started calling this blog GUO, and seven years from its original inception as da Toad’s Pad. Every once in a while I get a creative bee in my bonnet and surf off across the tubes of the Internet in search of some new endeavor only to report back after a couple moths with a new project and a fistful of links showing you where you can try it for yourself. These are known around the GUO homestead as “Crazy Projects”. I thought it might be fun to take a look back the booty yielded by my previous voyages. If you ever wondered where all those pennies you kindly donate to the site by using our Amazon affiliate link go, look no further. I thank you.

Growing Up Otaku – Obviously the earliest Crazy Project here at GUO is GUO itself. This humble little blog has worn many faces over the years. From personal journal to family communications hub to baby blog to mini-IGN, GUO has worn a great number of masks and fulfilled several different roles over the years. Many of those gems from before we were all about smartphones and interactive entertainment involved baby poop. The standout from this era is would probably be Jumping the Pig.

Still, there’s always been one underlying mantra: Share the love. Love is cheap and easy to mass produce, so why not give away as much as possible? It may not always be obvious but remember: We don’t complain if we don’t care.

Baby Pic A Day – Think they group up fast? Sometimes. Here we gathered together photographic evidence that kids only grow fast is short, sudden bursts. Back before the Giant Fire-Breathing Robot Baby became the GUO mascot, we had a much squishier masthead. Taken on the best webcam small amounts of money could buy, this feature chronicles about 400 days in the life of then infant Baby Girl. The album, while still online, is a bit of a wreck owning to Google dumping everything you post to Blogger into a single folder and lacking any automatic sort functions. Still, if you’re looking for baby pics (really? still?), here they are.

Click on through as we discover YouTube, create comics, and attempt journalism.

OMG, let me just take a quick timeout to tell you how much I hate the new version of Live Writer. Ugh! I had to reload my system a little while ago and, I swear, this new version has, like, half the functionality of the old one. Egad…

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. Doing a clip show. Man, I hope that page break worked.

The Xtranormal Era – Easily the longest running Crazy Project here, the amazing little web-based cartoon maker inspired me like nothing else. Where did it all start? Why, with threatening to sue  any visitor to the site, of course! The debut experiment involved my copy-pasting a gag from the blog into Xtranormal and letting the software do its thing.

And since I’ve already ranted at random once, let me just say that WhOLY CaRP the new YouTube TOTALLY SUCKS for finding anything!

Interviewing Video Games? – Even before the Let’s Play movement destroyed video game criticism as we knew it, you could sense change in the air. With mass market acceptance and affordable, easily understood, always connected devices people were finally looking for something beyond what we had become accustomed to from print media. It was the second multi-media revolution. This new mindset led me to consider a strange, new way to deliver a critique: Why not make a mock interview with the product in question? Fortunately, this was a short lived experiment.

Ask Grandpop – Yep. You knew it would lead here. This was the one that meant the most to me. My own little sitcom. The original scripts called for six episodes. The series would run for nine. Below you’ll find the one that is usually everyone’s favorite.

Special Report – For this mock news program I moved to Xtranormal’s stand-alone program State. This gave me a great deal more flexibility in scene composition and a higher quality output. Adding to the upping, I ditched Window’s free movie maker and took on the arduous task of learning Adobe After Effects for the intro and outro of the show. Special Report also marks the debut of the Growing Up Otaku logo that still punctuates most of my video uploads. My online persona, ryte2byte, really came into his own after appearing briefly as The Producer in Ask Grandpop. It is surprisingly satisfying to create a character you love to hate.

While the best episode of this project was undoubtedly 3 Step to Online Security, I believe I’ve posted it recently so here’s the episode where Special Report got the inside scoop on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 months before its release in 2011.

The ending of Special Report would also mark an end to the Xtranormal Era here on GUO. The company would abandon the State software. While the web version was updated with some of the functionality of its stand-alone brother, it became saddled with far too many micro-transactions to make continued production possible. In just under a year, I had produced nearly 25 Xtranormal features.

Game Reviews – Even through all the new-fangled video productions, the writing continued. The best work would be divided squarely between what you see on the site as Articles and Reviews. It took some time, but I believe I finally found my own voice and style for creating game reviews. While the most memorable and interesting to read are some the experimental pieces such as the FTL storytelling review, it is the more critical essays such as the U.F.Oinkers piece that I’m most proud of. Then there’s Guard the earth, the game with a broken Dick. I love writing game reviews!

Assembling the Crew – It’s good to have friends. Especially ones willing to help out with a project that, quite frankly, I had come to take far too seriously. Growing Up Otaku has never been just me, but my family, related or otherwise. 2012-2013 would see Lou, already the creator of some of our most popular reviews and strategy guides, post weekly with a series of articles detailing the latest happenings in space technology as Out of This World Weekly. The Mrs. would contribute anime recommendations in the Animaiden’d series, and GUO’s token, unpaid RedShirt Brandon would chip in on the heavy lifting with his take on the news around the ‘Net. The Airmech Let’s Play where we had the whole crew together was one of my favorite parts of this ‘group effort’ era of GUO.

Skyrim – While we’ve done batches of themed content on other subjects (Onlive and FTL come to mind), nothing achieved such widespread popularity as the articles on Skyrim, Heck, few things achieve popularity for as long as Skyrim these days. More than two years later, the latest Elder Scrolls title still tops Steam’s most played games chart. We hit it big with our first storytelling review, a photograpgic safari entitled “A Tribute to Skyrim’s Epic Beards”, and, finally, the little Crazy Project that made GUO’s YouTube channel popular, “Operation Have A Heart”.

And More Videos From Other People – Ah, the Weekend Watchlist. I really liked this feature. Scrounge up the best videos from across the web with a common theme and present them together with a bit o’ my own special commentary. Looking back over the list, I feel that there were more. WW always took a whole long longer to put together than it seemed like it should, LOL. The best from this series is pretty subjective to call, but I’m going to go with the special two parter “It IS Rocket Science!” with a honorable mention to “Master of Movie Monsters, Ray Harryhausen”.

GUO: The Comic – Where do you go after cartoon production gets too expensive? Comics. Using the GoAnimate.com online cartoon creator, a little screenshot magic, and a whole lot of copy/paste, the GUO comic was born lampooning our everyday lives in the Information Age. Sadly, my lack of art talent and the extremely limited tools I was using prevented the production of a great many ‘episodes’ I had scripted.

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And on and on and on. We didn’t even get to Hello Kitty or our Tech Tips. Seven years, more than 2,300 posts (I need to do some housekeeping!), and nearly one million pageviews. That’s a lot of stuff! And I’m sick of sifting through it ;) (See?! This crappy new version of Live Writer doesn’t even have emoticon icons!) But before I go, I want to leave a video I’ve been saving for a special event. Please enjoy part one of this documentary on Kenji Yanobe, father of GUO’s most visible member, the Giant Torayan.

Thanks for sharing this walk down memory lane with me. We love you! Thanks for reading.

Addendum: Alright, I just had to add one more thing. I couldn’t let this rest without mentioning the first four minutes of the Onlive Netbook experiment. Aside from being the only time my face actually appears in a GUO video, the improvised (and completely staged) introduction still gives me giggles. Coupled with the text commentary written by our fictional producer ryte2byte where I basically insult myself and you’ve got a keeper for the Best of GUO.

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