TwistedMods Interview - SpLiZaaT & Afturmath
Person(s) Interviewed: SpLiZaaT & Afturmath
Company Position: Partnership
Hello SpLiZaaT, Afturmath. First off I would like to thank you for both taking the time for this interview, I realize you are both very busy.
SpLiZaaT Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Name and occupation with Twisted Mods, etc.
Well, my name is Matt Fishler and I am currently stationed out of Portland, Oregon. I am 16 years old and am the Owner/Reviewer here at TwistedMods.com. Some other interesting things people haven?t heard about me include being a three time World-Champion in martial arts(Kung-Fu), a 4.0 accumulative GPA student as well as an Eagle Scout (received one week before my 13th birthday). As far as writing goes, I was never really big on English classes, in fact it?s not one of my preferred subject, but writing about things I enjoy really does make it enjoyable. Favorite music artists include a mix of rap (JaRule, Missy Elliot, N.E.R.D. and Snoop Doggy Dogg) and European imported techno (DJ Tiesto, Neophyte, Paul Oakenfold and LTJ Bukem).
I remember hearing about TwistedMods when I started getting heavily into LAN gaming. That was well over a year ago. Just how long has TwistedMods been going?
Well we have been an official URL site as of February 1, 2002. Before that, we were actually a site that began as an html site on geocities and later ended up on a subdirectory on a close-friend?s host. I don?t count those extra couple of weeks, but finally we have reached our FIRST full year!
How or what got TwistedMods started?
Well this might sound funny but I started TwistedMods (called Twisted Metal Case Mods at first) before I even did any mods at all! My friend, Stephen Hatherley from a site by the name of Napjunk, showed me pictures of mods which had me so excited for weeks on end which gave me the motivation to start the site. Originally, the idea of TwistedMods, was to be a new personal site of mine but later changed. FINALLY, I had the chance to cut the case I worked so hard to get the money for and it turned out great. Ever since then, we?ve upgraded the site to different hosts and that is where we are today! As I checked out all the modding galleries I could find, I figured out that I might be able to get things to review and eventually got into the whole sponsorship issue.
Did you have inspiration to start TwistedMods? Was there something that sparked your interest for it?
After my friend, Steve (mentioned above) told me about case modding, that definitely had to be the spark. I remember him showing me a picture of this black case with LEDs along the bottom that trailed like Christmas lights and he said that was what he was going to do ? the next day. Unfortunately I ended up doing my mod a couple of weeks later and he still, to this day has not finished his project.
What got you inspired to start TwistedMods and get into this line of business? Is there anything in specific you could tell us about?
The inspiration came from a simple future hobby for me. I had just started planning my first case mod and thought I would give my friends a chance to see what I wanted to do and give feedback before I ended up wanting to change designs.
What about Twisted Mods makes it completely different from all of the competition? Is there anything you could tell us?
Well I don?t know if ?competition? is the right word to use because in an essence we are all a big ring of affiliates. Either way, TwistedMods is different from the others because of the care that we put into product testing without dragging out review to 5 pages long. I do know that many people have turned TwistedMods down for sponsorship simply because of the length of our reviews, but I am putting what people put 5pages, into ONE page. Forget the fluff and BS ? we get STRAIGHT to the point and attempt to provide the user with all information on the product from construction, to what?s included and of course; performance!
Does TwistedMods plan on selling any products or services in the near future? If so is there anything you can tell us about it?
Haha, I had a feeling this question might come up during the interview. I can tell you that I personally as well as my brother, Isaac Fishler (25) are in the process of designing a couple of mods which may hit big. Other than this, I can?t tell you anything about it until they are for sale. Funding is currently the main concern at the moment so if you know any rich people ? let me know?.just playing! The only other thing I can tell you about this project is that it will be associated with TwistedMods in a sense without being directly on our site (separate site).
When I was a kid, I remember making a business. It took a lot to keep up with. How much does it take to keep up with TwistedMods? Is there a specific blood/caffeine level to keep your blood up to?
Well, I would say that I spend a good 4+ hours a day working on the site. When I wake up, I patrol the forums for a bit as well as attempt to post news if I have time. When I get home from school, at about noon, the first thing I do is post news then either post a new review, find an editor for an already written article, take pictures and edit the backgrounds or just start writing reviews. I constantly patrol the forums as well and try to answer visitor questions that are sent through email. I am already a caffeine fanatic as it is, so it?s not very irregular to see me drink about four cans of Dr. Pepper during the day. Don?t worry though, I am slowly cutting back on the caffeine?it?s overkill and keeping me from sleeping haha.
What would you recommend to any readers who are thinking about starting a business/site of their own? Also, what caffeinated beverage would you recommend to any of them?
If you plan on starting a modding business, I can?t express enough how important it is to carry something that none of the other site?s have. Sure, I can go to ANY site and buy a power supply or an LED fan, but I want to go to a store that has something no one else has! Originality is the key in this business. Also ? don?t be afraid to send out products to review sites for sampling, the only way we can recommend something is if we try it! If you are looking for a caffeinated beverage to keep you up late, I would suggest BAWLS. I can tell you right now that it DOES work for sure?no doubt about it, at LANs or during the weekends while I am trying to write.
What kind of responsibilities and other things go along with owning a business like TwistedMods?
Aside from the usual posting news, writing reviews and taking pictures come plenty of responsibilities. Such responsibilities include the ability to constantly have your sponsorship database growing. The last thing I want is to go a month without anything to review ? the site would be chaos! Posting news is quite the job that keeps me on my toes all the time, but another important thing that I must do is also expand our affiliates and news lists. The more affiliates and news sites you can send news to, earns you not only more friendships but a good reputation amongst other sites.
I noticed that TwistedMods got a Counter-Strike server up and going. The game seems to still be popular after so long. Who is in charge of the server and what made the staff want to take up the challenge of getting a server and doing this?
Yes, indeed we do have a Counter-Strike server for all you gaming fanatics out there! The current IP to the server is: 188.8.131.52:27017. The servers seemed to be quite a hit at first, in fact they were completely full for the first two weeks until one of the sponsors changed the main IP on us. Thus, people lost track of the server and they haven?t been as big since! We only have two admins on the server including Myself and Afturmath which is usually plenty to keep things in order. We decided to put up a server like this because I was tired of visiting other people?s servers that were full or always had one option set that totally ruined the game.
Many people have been asking if TwistedMods attends or sponsors LANs. Is this true? If not then does TwistedMods plan on this in the future?
Well ?TwistedMods? doesn?t actually attend the LANs, but any of them near Portland, I attempt to attend and Afturmath does his thing over in Virginia where he dwells . As far as sponsorship to LANs, we usually only make attempts to sponsor a LAN that one of us are able to attend (nearby). I am not sure if you would call this actual sponsorship, but we do try to give a lot of what we review away during the LANs in raffles and to tournament winners. One of the LANs that we have sponsored from the beginning can be seen at www.Oregonlan.ws .
Do you have any plans for TwistedMods for the future?
The only thing that I have planned for the future is the review of hardware. We are getting to the point where we have reviewed and guided almost everything we can think of, so we plan to kick it up a notch by moving along to hardware. So far, we have made contact and confirmed sponsorship with Abit as well as Maxtor and hope to pick up Gigabyte and Intel (in the long future) as well as Creative and others. Aside from this small change, we plan to keep playing it by ear ? updating the news, reviewing, guiding and having some more fun. Did I forget to mention our upcoming online Radio Station? Soon, we will have our own ?Modder?s Radio? which will play everything from techno to rap and more and we will be hosting a show where we answer fan questions, sent through email, on the actual radio so other people with the same questions can hear. We will also be giving things away during the radio show times and holding discussions about current technology issues and outbreaks. Debates? Sure why not!
The staff of TwistedMods has grown quite a bit since it has begun. What is it that everyone on the staff does?
Well, unlike most other sites out there, we try to keep a small and knowledgeable staff. Currently the staff consists of THREE main people, myself included. I do a lot on the site ranging from news posting, reviewing, sponsorship gathering, affiliate linking and forum administration. TwistedMods? other main staff member is Afturmath. Afturmath is here for one thing ? GUIDES. Probably one of the best staff members a webmaster could ask for, he knows his stuff very well and gets it done one time?I love this guy?The third and final member, but certainly not the least important is YOU (Koihoshi). Koihoshi actually met me at a LAN party and ever since then he has been a GREAT addition to the team specializing in interviews like the one you are reading now. He also gets things in on time and knows what to say and how to say it! Our staff is well rounded and very knowledgeable in what they do ? if we don?t know something, we?ll do our best to figure it out! Other great contributors to the site include SKY who edits articles for us, Beta447 who pays for hosting and webmasters our forums and NerfSniper who does our AWESOME graphics. Without this awesome staff we really wouldn?t be where we are today.
Thank you for your time Matt. Before we go to Afturmath is there anything you would like to say to the readers?
The only thing I can think of at this point is to stay tuned for TwistedMods case modding store as well as their upcoming radio station. Keep moddin?!
Hello Afturmath. First off, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for TwistedMods?
My name is Kevin Dougherty and I?m 17 years old. I?ve been a Guide Writer at TM since November 2002, and I?ve been an editor for about the same time. I have finished high school via the GED route, and I am currently working doing freelance web design. I like extreme sports and car racing(not NASCAR, real racing- FIA, LeMans, touring car, etc). I am also an amateur competitive gamer in the Cyberathelete Amateur League (CAL). I plan on opening a new company selling high performance gaming computers by the summer of 2003. I listen to techno music and any kind of hard rock. My favorite bands are Andrew W.K., ATB, KoRn, Systematic, Dragonforce, Static-X, DJ Irene, Darude, and Alice DeeJay.
Where did you first hear about TwistedMods?
I was just surfing the web and I came upon the site. I looked at all the cases and thought ?Wow, I should do something like that.? I became an avid forum poster and I really liked the TM community.
What got you interested in joining TwistedMods?
I really liked the idea of being a (semi)professional modder. I worked on my case heavily and submitted it to the gallery. I worked on a simplified LED meter and told Matt about it. He said to make it an article, and I figured I?d be a guest writer. This was around the time that he was looking for a new guide writer. I guess I just got lucky.
What kind of things do you see TwistedMods doing in the future? Do you see TwistedMods getting bigger, staying the same and expanding with services, or something else?
I see TwistedMods getting bigger. I see new divisions. We tried TwistedCS, but that didn?t really work out. Our forums get new users every day, and we keep getting better scores on the Alexa ratings. With affiliates like HardOCP and LANParty.com, I don?t think we can actually get smaller.
Case modding and computer modification is getting more popular it seems. How do you see it growing and getting more popular?
I?ve seen a lot of computer manufacturers starting to use modded cases. I see this as a big popularity gain for the industry, but it promotes pre-mods. I don?t particularly like pre-mods, but I?ll support anything that will bring in more modders. I noticed that Alienware is making a new case that is out of this world. I think that will make modding very popular with pro gamers.
Have you ever done your own case mod? If you have could you please tell us about it?
I think my case is pretty famous. At the last big (100+) LAN I went to, there was a line of people who wanted to see it. I thought that was really cool. I spent a lot of time on it. Here?s a condensed version of my work log:
Painted side panel black and painted WC3 Human logo on it
Painted case flat black with orange stripe along the front bezel
Cut out side panel that previously had WC3 logo and made a window
Stealthed DVD-ROM and painted floppy black with red button Loomed/rounded cables
Added 4? CCFL on underside of PSU
Moved NIC LEDs to front panel
Built and placed LED meter
Repainted case gloss black (paint stripper ruined my front bezel though)
Changed front LEDs to super bright red and blue, NIC LEDs to blue(100mbps), red (10mbps), and UV(link/act) Did top window
Placed 4? blue dual CFFL kit on either of the short end of top window
Placed 12? CCFL on back panel of inside of case
Placed 12? CCFL under case and extended feet with bottle caps (ghetto, but not one person ever noticed it)
Did bay filler logo mod of AFTURMATH in courier new font.
Etched AFTURMATH in bank gothic font down left side of window.
Logitech optical mouse LED changed to blue
MS Natural KB LEDs changed to blue
Window on top of monitor lit by 4? CCFL
Monitor LED changed to blue
Baybus installed in monitor
2 quad blue LED monitor fans added
What kind of experience have you had with computers, modding, reviews, and anything related to those categories?
I have been working with computers since I was 8 (1994). I know a ton about hardware, Operating Systems, web design, networking, building systems, and a few unmentionables that I?ll call ?programming.? I am on my 3rd modded case, although the second was never finished. I have done a baybus review, and I?m working on a case review.
Since you've been working with TwistedMods what have you seen about it that makes it different from anything out there that claims to be the same?
I?ve seen a lot of involvement with the TM staff in the forums. I noticed that there?s not any kind of ?Holier than thou? aura around the site. We?re just normal guys. Quite a few of the other sites think and act differently, in my opinion.
If modding and custom computer modifications got big enough and there was enough demand do you think you would ever take it up for a job or profession, or do you think there would ever be enough demand for such a thing?
I would definitely do it as a job. I get requests all the time to do custom mods. I think there may one day be enough of a demand that a mod company may spring up. I doubt there would ever be such a demand as to see courses in college on modding, but if there were, I?d certainly be a professor.
Sometimes you have to improvise. I ended up taking out my CD-Rom, having no room for it, and putting it on a coffee cup. Do you think if we gave you a pop can, a screw driver, and a blow torch do you think you could make a case mod? Don't worry, you won't be tested on this.
I think I could. I?d probably make it into a fan shroud. I could use the screwdriver to punch a hole and then tear it open. I?d use the blowtorch and screwdriver(shank) to smooth it out. I?d then cut it into a trapezoid shape and see if I could possibly weld it together to make a funnel shape. That might make for an interesting pair of intakes. Thanks for the idea.
You moderate forums for TwistedMods as well, what is that like?
This can be quite the job at times. I see a lot of people breaking the rules and pushing the limits. It gets annoying to have to keep deleting reposts as well.
How did you come across moderating forums? Have you had any experience with moderating before or was this a first?
I run forums on my CS clan site, but they?re not active at all, so I guess you could say this is a first. I was set as a moderator and later an administrator because I?m almost always on the forums, which some of the other TM admins aren?t. I neglect my duties sometimes, but usually only when I?m not home or when I?m at a LAN.
What do you think we'll see from TwistedMods in about a year or so from your view?
I see our guide database growing to 2 pages (maybe 3). I also see our forums gaining a few more moderators because it will be so big. I hope we can get a few new divisions like TwistedCS going. I guess we?ll just have to wait and see.
How long do you plan on staying with TwistedMods?
Until Matt fires me or I blow myself up. I don?t see either of these happening, but you never know.
Before we end the interview, is there anything you would like to say, or anything you would like to add to what Matt said?
Matt said something about letting him know if you know any rich people. He said he was joking. He isn?t really. The only thing that keeps us up with our content is sponsorships, but it?s hard to come out with new guides unless we have the money to spend on the materials ;). Also, I hope we can get AMD to sponsor us. I know Intel has more of a likelihood of sponsoring us, but I?m an AMD fan 100%. As for LAN sponsorships, I?d be glad to tap into my collection of CCFLs to sponsor giveaways or case mod contests at LANs. I may offer to mod a case for a prize at the next LAN I attend. I get emails from users all the time asking questions about my guides. If you do email me, I won?t joke you or call you a n00b, don?t worry. Feel free to email me pics of your mods, too. Please make them .jpg images. I don?t care how big they are. I must emphasize that I am not tech support(except for modding). I get too many IM?s asking me about hardware or OS issues that I find the answers to in my first 2 minutes of surfing Google. Post your questions in the forums(the correct forum, please) first. This will prevent me from answering the same question 100 times over. Good luck on the mods, guys.
Thanks for your time Afturmath, I appreciate the time that you and Matt took to answer these questions. Good luck with TwistedMods.