by Guest Writer Eric “Archangel” Berns
Back in 1997 I dabbled a bit in reviews of flight sims and hardware. Kind of interesting as I never really liked writing, nor did I even really like doing the reviews. But, getting my hands on software was always kind of cool as was talking to some of the developers. It kept me busy as I was single and in a new city. I guess I’d be lying if I said I had no enjoyment from it at all.
Around that time, Interactive Magic’s forums were the gathering space for a good portion of sim enthusiasts. They were putting out sims regularly, and many of us even did some beta testing for them. The forums were very active and even had an IRC channel that was frequently visited by people from IM. It was pretty good times.
I really “met” Frank through the IM forums. I remember his old “Crimson” web site. IIRC, it was mostly an up-to-date list of upcoming sim software and hardware, but it was something he put a lot of time and effort into, and it obviously meant a lot to him. He must of thought I was a decent guy or something (he obviously didn’t know me very well) but he invited me to “co-partner” with him for a “re-launch” of his new or “next” web site. Something to more directly compare with Combatsim… and I was invited… or offered my services. I can’t remember which. I guess he saw in me as someone who had some credibility as my reviews were put into Avsim (also freshly launched around the same time) and I offered to use my contacts in the industry to build the site. I suppose, at the end of it all, it did kind of work out that way after all. It was kind of interesting as I never, ever spent anytime on Combatsim, so I never even really knew what we were going up against, or I guess more accurately, were trying to accomplish. Not that it mattered to me.
I recall spending several evenings on the phone with him. It was late for me, and I was in Vancouver. So, it must have been really late for him considering he was in Montreal. We spent one evening in particular, trying to come up with a name for the web site. I remember walking around my apartment in the dark… cordless phone in one hand, beer and cigarette in the other, and we were bouncing names off of each other. At the same time, I think he was a system admin of something for some net company, and he was hammering in URLs to see if they were available. One evening in particular, we were probably on the phone for about 2 hours, if not more. Good thing he wasn’t busy.
We wanted words to have a “military” sound to them. I recall names like “Sim Zone” or the obviously not related “Simulation Zone.” We also had some others we had a good laugh about, but I don’t remember them anymore. I also remember the two of us getting excited when we heard one of us say something that sounded really cool — but dismayed the URL was already taken. I am not sure which of us actually came up with “Simulation Headquarters” first — but I think it was me. Not that I’m bragging. Either that, or I was drunk at the time so I want to believe it was me. Either way, after some more debate about long or short names (SimHQ) he did some URL checks and he settled on it. Since it was all in his name, it was whatever he was happy with. I just felt honored that he wanted my input.
Around that time, we also had some a few other people who ended up adding to the web site too. I recall John “Outlaw” Miller (whom I’ve never met, but his mom never stops calling me… to this day), Rick “Rattler” Carlson, and Ed “Skater” Lynch. It was the 4 of us (and I think Frank had another friend back east that I never met) that were around at the start.
I also recall when the old, original logo was unveiled. He was pretty proud of it. I don’t recall if it was just him that did it, or if Rick Carlson actually designed it… for some reason I think Rick was involved. But, he was pretty happy and I think all of us were too. I seem to recall him putting red or crimson as a main color theme as homage to his old web site.
It was Franks baby — all the way. All I did was give some reviews that looked like they were written by a 10 year old (I was about 24 at the time) but he did all the hard work of keeping the site going. Even after a while, when you could tell that not all of us were pulling our weight (me especially, dragging my feet putting in reviews) he kept plugging away at his baby… and being happy with its growth.
I don’t recall specifically how I officially left, but it was something obviously my heart wasn’t into anymore. I was sad when the news broke he left too — but it was obviously more work than he wanted to do as a daily hobby. He was young and had other things to do. As did most of us at the time.