A Talk With ProtonJon (Part 2)

s a personal interest and for an article I was working on at the time dealing with the local game community, I contacted ProtonJon in the fourth quarter of 2010 to talk with me about his Let’s Play videos and his personal interest in the gaming community. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to learn more about the insane “Let’s Play” background and major players as well as call Jon a friend. Here is the recent follow up to my talk with one of the loudest Mario players online.

Paul Fleck: Tell me a bit about your podcast…

Proton Jon: I do a weekly video game podcast, original I know, with Nathan and Sean called The Top Down Perspective. We just talk about games we’ve been playing, news in the industry and answer questions. It’s pretty cool.

PF: Who are Nathan and Sean?

PJ: Nathan and Sean are some friends of mine, old co-workers from a previous job, and we randomly decided to do a podcast. As of February we’ve been doing it for two years now.

PF: Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Who’s idea was it to do this?

PJ: Originally Sean’s; he had wanted to do a podcast for a school assignment and we just continued doing it after his course was done.

PF: Where did the name “Top Down Perspective” come from?

PJ: We went on Giant Bomb and looked up different “concept” pages for video games and decided on one we thought sounded cool. We stuck with Top Down Perspective because it sounded like a decent podcast name.

PF: Since we last talked, you started playing what many people consider one of the worst games ever made “SuperMan 64”. This video series, however, you’ve been doing a little bit differently in more of a “book report” informative way with the game’s history as you record it…

PJ: Yeah, the thing was that everyone who’s done a Let’s Play of it in the past has treated it the same way; like a piece of garbage. All they did was complain and swear over it and just plain insult it. So I did the flip-side, wondering if maybe there was a story here. I looked deep into the history of it and at one point was even able to talk to one of the producers of the game.

PF: Who was the producer you spoke to?

PJ: Eric Caen; he’s currently the President of Interplay and at the time was the co-founder of Titus Interactive.

PF: Man, that’s got to be rough.

PJ: Yeeaaaahh..

PF: Based on what you learned about the game from what he was able to tell you, what do you think caused the shortcomings of this game.

PJ: They bit off more than they could chew and got a bit too ambitious with the project. DC and Warner Brothers kept shooting down some of their ideas; Superman wasn’t allowed to fight actual “people”, he had to fight robots or virtual reality characters. The green fog came in because they couldn’t show too many polygons in the game at once so they had to use “Kryptonite fog” to hide the draw distance…

PF: Well, Superman SHOULDN’T be fighting human beings, that’s a bit skewed in his favor.

PJ: Yeah I guess, to be fair though an earlier version of the game DID have him fighting humans… just kind of sending them off to the moon with each punch… it looked kinda cool.

PF: In a way, that actually sounds a lot funner.

PJ: Definitely. The funny thing is the version that got sent out to reviewers to check out was a lot better than the actual game release.

PF: How so?

PJ: It has more characters in it, it doesn’t have flying-through-ring sections, it actually looked like a well done game that just needed a bit more polish. This is not quite to that level.

PF: From Kaizo to Superman 64, you’ve done a variety of “bad” games now. What made you decide to do one of the worst games of the newer generations?

PJ: I kind of lost a bet, in a way. I bet that I could beat the game.

PF: …And did you?

PJ: Yes I did!

PF: So, your reward for beating the game was to play it again?

PJ: The reward was an actual copy of the game so that I could Let’s Play it. So it was free.

PF: All things considered, probably the best way to get this game. Do you have more than one copy?

PJ: I do now, one of my friends bought me a copy as a joke so I have two copies sitting around here.

PF: So not only did you have to place the crappiest game to win a bet to get the crappiest game to play it again on camera, you have two versions of it.

PJ: Yeap. Guess you gotta live with what you get. Worst comes to worse I can always record myself smashing one of them.

PF: Has your LP of Superman 64 been well received?

PJ: Yeah, it actually has gotten some good recognition and people seem to really like it. Some people feel it’s a little over the top with the information but other than that it’s generally positive critiques.

PF: How long is Superman 64 in terms of your Let’s Play videos?

PJ: It’s 14 stages so it’d be about 14 videos. I think on YouTube it’s a little bit longer because at the time there was a time limit on videos which they removed as I was doing it.

PF: What part are you on as of right now?

PJ: As of right now I’m on stage 6 which is sitting in my editing program waiting to be finished as I’ve been working on other projects.

PF: How long have you been on stage 6?

PJ: Ahem… a long, long time.

PF: No specific length of time?

PJ: If I say it, it makes me feel horrible…

PF: Why horrible?

PJ: …Because it was July.

PF: Oh. Yeah okay that’s a long time.

PJ: It’s really hard to sit down and do something when you finally have the free time and you’re not motivated to work on it. Say I really want to work on it one day, I’ll look at it and just think ‘I really have no good ideas for this’. I’ve done a few recordings on stage 6 and I haven’t liked the commentary so I’ve had to redo it and by then I’ve gotten sick and lost my voice or something else would come up. Unfortunately, there’s a million different reasons.

PF: So you’re part of Machinima now. When did that happen?

PJ: Yeah, I’m a partnered channel through Machinima. That happened October of 2010, right after the last talk we had.

PF: So now you get paid to be a jerk online?

PJ: Yeah, pretty much. It feels good.

PF: This has opened you up to doing another project, “The Runaway Guys”

PJ: Yeah. It’s a bunch of Let’s Players, myself, a guy named “Chuggaconroy” and another named “NintendoCapriSun”, doing LPs of multiplayer games. So far we’ve done Super Mario Party, Smash Bros Brawl and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

PF: Now when you say these are other Let’s Players, are they considered as popular as you on YouTube?

PJ: They’re both more popular than me… I’m the small fish in the big pond.

PF: That’s funny because although I don’t follow the Let’s Play scene much, I haven’t heard of them but had heard of you… Anyways, I’m guessing that the three of you had been wanting to LPs of multiplayer games and it just made sense to do them together but isn’t it kind of hard since the three of you are located in different parts of the continent?

PJ: Yeah, both of them are in the States and I’m in Canada so we have to meet up at conventions. Sometimes we’ll even grab a fourth person and they’ll record with us as well.

PF: Who’s the fourth?

PJ: We’ve only had one guy so far and his name is Josh Jepson.

PF: Is he as watched as you guys?

PJ: No, not as subscribed to but he’s moving up. He puts out a lot of good content and has a good audience of his own.

PF: In terms of your own audience who by now obviously know your style, how do you think they react to the mix of styles in this project with the other two who assuredly have their own?

PJ: Some people don’t like the contrast we have. I’m a more cynical person compared to the other two. One is a very shy and quiet guy and the other is a loud, exciteable guy so it’s just weird seeing the three combined. Some people like it and others don’t but it’s gotten a pretty good following so far.

PF: Isn’t it strange for a shy and quiet guy to be doing videos on the internet?

PJ: Yes! But when does videos on his own he’s very talkative. He’ll just start laughing at us joking or arguing with each other.

PF: How has this been going so far?

PJ: Actually really good. It’s gotten more subscribers than my own channel so far.

PF: Would that be because they post more maybe?

PJ: Yes. That is completely why. Also, it’s pulling from our three separate fanbases.

PF: So, I heard you like live streams.

PJ: Yo dawg, I love live streams. They’re usually hosted on YouTube since you can stream on YouTube now and are done randomly when my roommates feel like streaming. The first one we did was Super Nintendo games, there’s one where we did some Sega Saturn stuff and the last one my Nintendo broke in the middle of the live stream, so that was exciting.

PF: How many have you done?

PJ: Six or seven of mine but I’ve also done others with other people.

PF: What other live streams have you done?

PJ: I do stuff with a group called “The Speed Gamers” every now and then. They do gaming marathons for charity so they’ll play games for like 72 hours or a week long and do a bunch of stunts to try to raise money for charity.

PF: Sounds like a good cause, do they do well?

PJ: Yeah they had a marathon just in the middle of December and raised about $20,000.00 for a 72 hours marathon. They played all the Zelda games, including Skyward Sword.

PF: Many of your fans have been able to speak directly to you through various forms such as Twitter and, specifically, Formspring. How has that been?

PJ: Not bad, it kind of makes up for mu update schedule. I usually get to chat with cool people. Most of the Formspring people are okay although I get the occasional odd questions like “What would happen if you walked in to a room and ____ person was masturbating?”. That seems to be the most popular for some weird reason

PF: Any plans for the near future?

PJ: I have a number of projects and videos I’d like to do, not just Let’s Plays. Just need to find the time.

PF: Thanks for talking again with me Jon, take it easy.