Special articles, columns and features exclusive to the MDb.
Out with the Old
An MDb Retrospective
by TJ Rappel
Welcome to the new Metroid Database.
Change is good, they say. I tend to agree, as long as it's a change for the better. Of course, the MDb has changed gradually over time since its 1996 inception. But in January 2002, with new Metroid games on the horizon for the first time in eight years, it occurred to me that the site needed help. Samus was coming home and the place was a mess.
I considered just slapping on a few new colors of paint and calling it good, but that wasn't enough. After taking a careful look around the entire site, I realized it not only could look better, but it could function better as well.
There was only one solution: complete overhaul. Total reorganization, total redesign. It was time to prepare the MDb for the new generation of Metroid games coming down the pipe.
Proposed ETA was "spring or early summer," as I told the faithful minions. But as I began work on this massive project, something occurred to me: there would most likely be news and announcements regarding Metroid at the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo, and I wasn't about to update the old site while working on the new site, then launch a new site and have to add that new info to the new site as well, in effect reporting the same news twice. Result? The new MDb had to go live on or before May 21, 2002 -- the first day of E3.
The result is the site you are at right now. I'm happy with it, and I hope you MDb visitors like the new format. For me, it feels like the site is ready to receive and report any news and new developments on the Metroid scene in an efficient and effective manner. It's also designed to be easier to continually expand and tweak, and to work better as a potential playground for any graphic design concepts I may come up with. I'll enjoy that aspect of it most of all.
However, as beneficial as change is for continual improvement and character-building (that's what your dad always tells you, right?), there is also a place for nostalgia -- particularly within the context of fandom for a videogame franchise which has been around since 1986. Though we bravely forge ahead into the future, we still wish to hang onto a piece of the past to remind us from whence we came. Therefore, it is with pride, honor, and perhaps a little embarrassment that I present to you the following brief retrospective on the Metroid Database of the past.
Remember this? If you were visiting the MDb when it first launched in 1996, you will. I have painstakingly re-created, to the best of my recollection, this reasonable facsimile of the Metroid Database as it first appeared when it was still pretty new. I first learned to create websites out of a book entitled "Making Cool Web Pages With HTML," or something to that effect. It was basic, but it got me started. (Come to think of it, if you look at my code now, it's still very basic. I've learned a few new tricks over the years, but my HTML is still simplistic. Hey, it works.) The graphics at first were created completely by hand in that crappy paint program that comes built in to Windows. Yes, that one. Pixel by pixel, I created logos, icons and sprites of Samus, and even a disturbingly accurate rendition of the Metroid NES game box cover. Not long afterwards, someone introduced me to Paint Shop Pro, and it was like going from crayons to oil paints. Anyway, these are the true roots of the Metroid Database...the end result of 6 months of research and hard work after one afternoon in a boring college class thinking "Hey, I should make a Metroid website..."
Though the MDb surely evolved in many smaller, subtle ways between Version 1 and this version, this new logo and layout was essentially the first major change in the MDb's format. Though the organization of the site stayed largely the same, various tweaks and tweezes were made to make the site more pleasing to the eye. It looked a lot less "1996" and held up fairly well for a few years. I also made the standard left-side navigation menu on each page, making the site easier to get around. It was during this time that the MDb became quite popular, moved to its permanent home on Classicgaming.com, and became widely recognized as the mecca of online Metroid fandom. (Was that arrogant? Sorry.) This is the version you would have seen up until May 2002.
Here's a surprise for you: the MDb that never was. I had been thinking about redoing the MDb for a long time before January 2002. However, the total redesign idea was just too daunting at the time, so I considered keeping mostly the exact same code and layout and just changing the graphics to make it look better. I actually got most of the site changed over to this version on my hard drive, but for some reason I was just not happy enough with it to ever make the change on the site itself. However, you can see that a couple ideas sneaked their way into the new MDb. So here, for the first and only time, is a glimpse at the mysterious, never-before-seen "Version 2.5" of the Metroid Database.
And here we are...the Metroid Database 2002. Obviously, this is the first truly significant change in format for the site. Not only does it look different, but it's organized in a more efficient manner for easier use. Plus, loads of new content was added, making what was the largest Metroid website on the Internet even larger and more complete. Changes also occurred behind the scenes as what was a one-man operation for five years turned into a team effort when I added new staff members to the MDb -- volunteers who enjoy devoting their time and talents to Metroid fandom.
It's 2010, and times have changed. TJ has passed the torch to a new team of editors, new Metroid games have been released, and the MDb has been outgrown by its ever-growing collection of information and multimedia. By the combined efforts of Jesse D and Infinity's End, the MDb has been brought into the new decade with a sharp and modern look. While incorporating some distinctive design ideas from its predecessor, Version 4 retains the influences of TJ's design asethetic. With a new domain name, a custom blog-style news system, an intuitive Comics & Manga browser and even its own Podcast series, the MDb has regained its status as the premiere Metroid fan resource!
I hope you enjoyed this trip through the past of the Metroid Database. What does the future hold? Who knows -- we just hope the MDb continues to inform and entertain Metroid fans from all over the world as it has done since 1996. Thank you for your continued support throughout the years. See you next mission!