From SimHQ Towers: Pete “Pygmy” Marone

Wasn’t the Site Once Owned By…?

SimHQ has had six owners since it was started in 1997. They are:

Frank “Crimson” Morissette, Founder (1997-1999)
Robert “Baron” Litchfield (1999-2000)
Dan “Crash” Crenshaw and Pete “Pygmy” Marone (2000-2001)
Bubba “Masterfung” Wolford (2001-2004)
Doug “guod” Atkinson (2005- )

During this week of SimHQ’s 10th Anniversary celebration we will hear commentary and reflections from most of them. Each owner of SimHQ has had a unique challenge (or challenges) to deal with. During this week you’ll learn some of those challenges for the first time, and maybe remind you of events long forgotten.

I don’t recall all the dirty details of taking over SimHQ back at the end of 1999. Was it that long ago? Things seemed much more simple back then (does this sound like an old man or what! — I’m not even as old as Crash).

1999 / 2000 was an interesting time for SimHQ — we were the little guys on the block, and not sure if we wanted to really play with the big boys or just stay in our corner and watch. Those were the days of the simulation webmag “giants” — and we had no idea that those days were drawing to a close. Just as we were trying to get serious about the site and compete with those big boys, the gaming world turned on end, and the end of the big production flight sims came screeching to a halt — and all along SimHQ had the recipe for success — it’s a community of simmers for simmers. Had we achieved some goals of going commercial, SimHQ may not have survived — and I’m still glad to see it’s alive and kicking after all those others sites have closed or were subsumed by the larger, general sites.

"...and all along SimHQ had the recipe for success — it's a community of simmers for simmers."I started with SimHQ after some back and forth with Frank, sometimes mediated by John “Spoons” Sponauer. Anyway, I was writing sim reviews for a friend’s site, and being the only guy writing, and with a stack of sims up to my desk I was overwhelmed. The idea of sharing duties on a sim based site appealed to me, so I don’t recall if I asked, or if Frank asked, but I hopped on when the opportunity presented itself. In real life I was working on a helpdesk in the late evenings, so I had plenty of extra time to check for news and handle a review or two. In time, Frank decided to leave for a bit, so ownership did some quick changes of hand — Robert, Robert and myself, myself, Dan “Crash” Crenshaw and myself over a very short period if I recall correctly. I won’t go into details, but it wasn’t a pretty time behind the scenes for SimHQ. Luckily “Crash” got much of everything sorted out and moving forward after he hopped on board (our literally overnight exodus from one hosting company to another comes to mind) and I bowed out due to heavy work commitments.

What stands out? Our trips to E3 for one. Our first trip was Skater and myself — and one of the best of my trips. We partied like rock stars, flew AirCombat USA (where I learned that little sleep + lots of alcohol + g’s and acrobatics lead to one nasty case of vertigo, but I’d do it again in a heart beat), and got to meet the people behind the games for the first time. The 2nd E3 trip, where I believe we had a larger crew, and the official maroon SimHQ golf shirt (I still have mine, though it’s started to fall apart, but I wear it anyway!) — and if memory serves correctly, my first trip to enjoy a Tommy Burger with “KC” Cook and “Chunx” (Tommy Burger… the official burger of SimHQ!). A trip to the East Coast for my nephew’s first birthday, with a side trip to visit “Spoons” for a day. Trips to China Lake to visit with “Chunx”. Much intent (but no action) to head upstate to one of “Crash’s” psycho sim weekends with his squadron. Little victories here and there, such as acknowledgement by game companies, participation on the boards by the developers (the Janes / EA guys come to mind here), the Combatsim – SimHQ discussions and eventual migration of a great number of Combatsim forum folks to SimHQ.

There are tons of people, both good and bad, that come to mind. First is Frank, for having the idea and acting on it. I do recall him being a little hesitant about me due to my reputation from the IMagic boards! You cannot think of SimHQ without naming John Sponauer. John was key to much of SimHQ’s days around this time and forward — a behind-the-scenes guy that really held everything together for years. Even though management / ownership of SimHQ changed throughout the years, “Spoons” was the guy making things happen — the XO of SimHQ. I seriously believe if it wasn’t for all the effort John put into SimHQ, there’d be no more SimHQ. Bubba Wolford who had the industry contacts to give SimHQ a much needed boost, and who moved SimHQ away from a pure flight simulations site, keeping it relevant in a new age of gaming. Of course we now have Doug that hopped in and again provided a fresh kickstart to the site when needed, and continues to upgrade and tweak to keep the site relevant. On the opposite side, who could forget…. well, you know who.

Happy 10th SimHQ. Semper Fi!

– Pete

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