This is part 2 of a lil blog series I'm writing about my 2020. Here are the previous posts:
The Newgrounds Podcast was born (and looked nothing like it does now)
On February 20th, almost exactly two months after Grounds Patrol’s last episode, this trailer came out. (Hey, shoutout to @Snackers for leading the charge and making it amazing.)
The trailer said, “THE HEART OF GROUNDS PATROL, THE SOUL OF THE CRICKETS”. That’s mostly what it started as -- let’s take the camaraderie and live-recording aspect of ACOCk, and apply a Grounds Patrol level of editing and production value.
The first breakthrough, I think, came when @GoodL took a page from his experience producing TV news and suggested that we get a handful of people together, become a team, and divide into roles to fill for each episode. We have an “anchor” that leads the show, a “reporter” that talks about the community goings-on, another person “on the scene” to talk about the current front page, and so on. People can stick to roles they like, or they can switch around, and not everyone needs to be in every episode.
That exact news setup didn’t end up surviving, but I bring it up because the “people can switch roles, not everyone needs to be in every episode” idea has lasted to this day and is a huge reason the show has lasted this long (and IMO the reason the show will last for a long long time). It makes the recordings more flexible, the hosts more equal in status, and the show itself stronger for not being tied to the constant presence of any one person. We’re a Hydra -- cut off a head, we grow more heads. (Hail Hydra.)
In the beginning, it was GoodL, Snackers, @ninjamuffin99 (who’d helped me with GP and is always a champ), @HenryEyes (who I’d never known too well personally but who is charming and beloved/missed by all), and myself kinda behind the scenes. I wasn’t comfortable being in the mix myself yet, sort of because the embarrassment from ending Grounds Patrol made me not want to be in the spotlight, sort of because I wanted the show to feature people with NG experience talking about NG and I didn’t feel like I had anything to add. @littlbox helped out a lot with the concepts but had to duck out for real-life reasons before the show really started.
We put out an open call for a few more hosts, and @JohnnyGuy, @Staggernight and @RGPAnims joined almost immediately. @PsychoGoldfish came a little bit later -- we had stayed close after he guested on Grounds Patrol, and he’d been part of a big special I’d done with him and ACOCk the year before. He came into the loop as an occasional guest host, threw a meteoric drunken St. Patrick’s day stream-fest for us (that I’m surprised was ever recorded, much less edited into anything), and was soon pinch-hitting for NGP so often that he became one of the most central people on the show.
In that early period, I was happy that NGP was growing and that people were having fun with it, but I have to say that personally I was feeling distant. Everybody kind of knew each other and had banter and inside jokes, and I was mostly just the guy with the clipboard trying to keep everything organized. We’d have monthly crew meetings (a nightmare to coordinate with, if you’re counting, nine hosts) where I felt like a failing high school principle trying to get everyone to shut up and write a show schedule while nobody’s listening and everyone’s laughing and saying shit I don’t understand. I felt like I was producing someone else’s show, not one I had a stake in myself.
And I can’t fault anyone for this! The fact that everyone on the show knew and liked each other was great, it meant they could go on the air and have fun. It was nothing but my own feelings of disconnection from people, coupled with the responsibility I felt like I had to create and organize this big show, which probably made me come off as a boss rather than a friend or team member. Like when your office hires some uppity middle-management type from another building to come take over all your shit. (Which is something I’ve never experienced, I just imagine cubicle life to be exactly like it is on TV.)
Around the start of summer, I had no idea what I was going to do about my fading connection to the show we’d started. I kinda wanted to leave. But that felt like Grounds Patrol all over again, taking my ball and going home when I wasn’t feeling happy, leaving everyone else to figure it out.
Luckily, the show was about to take a giant turn. In a remote little channel in the show-planning section of our Discord, a random idea I’d thrown out earlier was starting to gain momentum. I’d figured it would just be a little fun thing to do; I had no idea it was going to change everything. *bum bum bummmmm*