If he was a lion, he would be breathing hot sauce.
Mike 'mikwuyma' Uyama
From Northern Virginia we have Mr. SDA himself Mike 'mikwuyma' Uyama. He formerly ran this very site and continues to be a pillar of the Speed Demos Archive community. At present, Mike contributes to SDA by moderating the forums, organizing and participating in charity marathons, and submitting speed runs for a wide variety of games on multiple consoles.
Interviewer questions are in bold.
What was the first video game you ever played?
Ikari Warriors II of all things. I was at a friend's house at a party and all the kids gathered together and were playing Nintendo. I played a bit and had no idea what I was doing but I was only 5 or 6.
What was the first console you owned?
It was the Nintendo (Entertainment System). I got it when I was 6 in 1990, and my first game was Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros.
What was the first game you really loved?
That is a good question because there are a lot of games from childhood that I liked a lot but don't like so much nowadays. The first game that I loved is Tetris Attack because I played it a lot as a kid and I really loved how fast paced it was for a puzzle game. There is planning involved but you can improvise a lot.
How did you first discover SDA?
That's a good question and I honestly cannot tell you because this is seven or eight years ago. I think I found it through an old super play site called Ark's super play site which is long since defunct. It had both Tool Assisted Speed runs (TAS) and console speed runs. Ark himself was a TASer. I think they had a link to SDA. I joined the forums about five or six months after I discovered the site.
What was the first super play or speed run that you saw and what was your reaction?
It was the one that everyone has seen, the Morimoto Super Mario Bros. 3. I thought it was real like everyone else, but of course we know it is a TAS now. It still was groundbreaking for tool assisted speed running work. My reaction was that I thought it was really incredible and thinking that this guy (Morimoto) was the most amazing guy evar!!1!1!!
Would you say there was a rivalry between TASers and speed runners at the time of the Morimoto TAS?
Yes, there definitely was. If I had to say whose part it was mostly on, I would say it was on speed runners especially the ones that were on SDA.
What really got you into speed running?
I was at a friend's birthday party and it was at the end when most people had left. I was looking at his game collection and I saw that he had a copy of Mega Man X4, and I knew there was a Mega Man X4 speed run on the site that I thought was pretty good. But I wanted to try my hand at that game because I played it a bunch as a kid and thought I might do well at it. So I asked him if I could borrow the game, and he said yes and that is how my speed running career started. To this day I have not returned that copy of the game to him, but I don't think he minds too much.
What are the games you currently have on SDA?
Ummm, it's a lot.
Do you even know how many runs you have on SDA and can you name them?
That's a really good question, and if I had to answer that I would say no. It is over ten and less than twenty. A lot are pretty old and can be improved but I feel like most have aged okay. The games I can actually remember are Mega Man X4 (both characters), Contra Shattered Soldier which is probably my oldest run on the site, Contra Hard Corps, Mega Man X3, Red Star, Sunset Riders, Alternative Beast with Mr. Joseph Stanski, and I am going to submit a run of Sub Terrania. I also have Metal Slug 3, 4, and 5. Gunstar Heroes, Shinobi III, Revenge of Shinobi, and Mega Man Zero 1 & 2. Oh and I have the super obscure Justice League Heroes: The Flash. I ran a lot of games back in 2004 and 2005 because I was a student and didn't have a job.
How did you become an admin on SDA?
It was pretty much decided for me back in 2006. Because Radix, who ran the site back then, got a full time job he had a lot less time to devote to the site. So he was getting continuously backlogged on submissions. So we were talking about it and they knew me from previous runs, and decided that I should handle the submissions, Nate should do the video encoding, and DJGrenola would do the updates. And that is kind of how I got to be an admin and eventually became the guy who was running the site.
You have been labeled as the "Dictator" of SDA. When and why did that start?
That was started by a guy named SpiderWaffle who isn't with (SDA) any more, not so sadly, unlike DJGrenola. He labeled me as a dictator three or four years ago, and the label has stuck. I was making some ruling for scripts about PC games, and he said "that was unfair, and you are a dictator, and you are running this site into the ground" and the label just stuck. I am fine with it, I don't really care, and I think it is all good.
Can you sum up your feelings on The Demon Rush?
The reason why it happened in the first place is UltraJman and romscout were talking about the game and they suggested I play the game. I had no idea what I was getting into, and looked at some screen shots and was thinking "is this a joke? Is this a virus?" I remember when J sent me his copy I performed a virus scan on it just to make sure it was safe. As for how I felt, initially it was fear because I had no idea what to expect. Then there was much laughter and comedy. And then the plot is convoluted and complex so I experienced much tragedy, and betrayal, and sadness when one of the main characters in the game is unceremoniously killed. Then I started enjoyed the game because it actually has a lot of legitimate game ideas. Upon completing the game I felt catharsis.
Talk about your beloved Sub Terrania and the bad game exchange.
The reason for getting the game is thanks to romscout and PJ for starting the bad game exchange when they got into a conversation in IRC about bad games and agreed to each send one another a mystery bad game and speed run whatever they received. The reason I received Sub Terrania in the bad game exchange was somewhat self-inflicted. I remember 4 or 5 years ago I talked with VorpalEdge about Sub Terrania and how weird/bad it was. When he said he had a Genesis game I PM'ed him and said "Your game is Sub Terrania isn't it?" He was like "How did you know, I even took it out of my backloggery?" and I told him "I just know." I had no idea what I was getting myself into because my previous experience of playing Sub Terrania included playing on emulator for about 5 minutes in hard mode (for those of you that don't know my thing is to always play on the hardest difficulty). I think I pissed away all my lives in a good five minutes or so, maybe less. Actually less because I lost them all in stage one.
Now that you have completed a submittable run of Sub Terrania that you are happy with how do you feel about the bad game exchange and the process you have had to go through with Sub Terrania?
I feel relief, catharsis and a little bit of ennui. Because now that there are no more attempts to go for, no more highlights on my stream, I think I will miss playing Sub Terrania. I am going to try and beat hard mode, but I don't think I will ever speed run hard mode unless you want me to seal myself in a hyperbolic chamber for two years. Many people are sad, depressed, and dejected that I will not be playing Sub Terrania. Look out for the bloopers reel; it will be at least four to five times as long as the run itself.
What brought on your decision to change your role at SDA?
I came to that decision because I realized I was getting slower and slower at processing submissions, and part of the reason was I was getting tired and sick of it. We eventually needed a replacement, and I announced this to the staff in October 2010 because I wasn't really enjoying doing my typical duties at SDA anymore. What I did enjoy was running and managing the marathons, so that is why I have continued doing that.
What are your thoughts on Classic Games Done Quick (CGDQ) and how did marathons get started?
The whole thing got started due to another group named The Speed Gamers who did video game charity marathons. When we caught wind of them we had some members who were involved with The Speed Gamers and a lot of us (SDA members) wanted to do a charity marathon. Someone started a thread about doing a marathon and I could see there was a lot of enthusiasm for it but it was very unfocused. So I felt like we had to focus it.
Were you surprised at the amount of money raised at CGDQ?
Yes, I considered it very successful. I set the initial goal to $5,000 which seemed astronomical at the time. We are repeatedly bad at predicting goals, because we almost always underestimate. Someone actually suggested $100 but I figured we could at least raise more than that. A lot of people told me $5,000 was too high. We had no idea how many viewers we would get and we peaked at around 1,500 viewers. We had determined that we were going to do it at MAGFest where we had met up the previous year. Unfortunately that did not work out because there were issues with the internet connection there so we ended up doing it from my house.
How do you feel things have progressed since the first marathon?
I have been very happy with the progression. I was unhappy with how the first Awesome Games '11 turned out. There was a bit of a sophomore slump because we were trying to figure out what to do with a bigger venue and there were things we could have handled better. The other thing was that a lot of people griped about the schedule and to me I felt like it was insulting my intelligence, like I had no idea that there was a problem with the schedule.
Do you think that marathons can continue to grow at the rate they have thus far?
I don't know because there might have to be an attendance cap, and we might have to do it on a stage and have an audience and stream it as well. Having an audience would change the dynamic a lot because there would be more pressure and not quite such a casual atmosphere and you would lose some of the intimacy. It is not something that I would hope for at this time, but it is something we will have to consider for the future.
Do you have any funny SDA stories that come to mind?
For Final Fantasy VI, the finale of CGDQ we were planning to sing the finale. But I saw there was a fight scene and I decided that we should re-enact that and I immediately thought of Frezy_man. I remember we re-enacted that scene and the chat just blew up and loved it. Everyone in the room cracked up and it brought us all together.
How do you feel about how people relate to each other at SDA?
Our community is collaborative and we work well together. For the most recent marathon we had over 80 people and somehow we all managed to get along.
What would you say is your greatest achievement/accomplishment in gaming?
Sub Terrania is a pretty big accomplishment. I spent a lot of time on that run on and off for eight months or so. I was constantly improving and the work really paid off because I finally got it.
Can you explain to me your obsession with games that have autoscrollers in them?
You know what? I never really noticed that until you brought it up with me, and I don't know what it is, I really don't. When I was forced to think about it, it's just by chance, by coincidence. I don't secretly love the autoscrollers and worship them on the side.
If you could be the best at any one game, which game would it be, and why?
Super Metroid, even though I have never beaten that game. Even though it has been extensively researched there is always new tech coming out. There is not only a high technical barrier, but the game is also hard to beat in a speed run setting. There is just a lot to it.
Where did "Serious Time" come from?
The reason that came about was during the first marathon I was playing during the contra block. Frezy_man had done a really good job with Contra and Super C. I was kind of nervous and a bit afraid because Frezy_man did really good with his games and I did not want to screw up. I wanted to put my full concentration for the game and I was really super focused, and really super determined to do it. There was a lot of stress going into CGDQ, and at one point I thought it was completely going to fail. Because of all that stress that was built up, I had the most unbelievably stressed out, serious, angry face and I said "everyone shut up because this is serious time and you should not speak out." And I remember someone spoke out and I told them to shut up. It has caught on and I am fine with it, runners need their respect sometimes. As long as it is not over done I am fine with it, you can't be the little boy who cried serious time.
Any final thoughts?
My final thoughts are that I hope to be with SDA for a while; there are still a lot of runs I want to do. I hope the marathons continue to be a success and continue to grow and we still keep our tight knit community as we grow them. I don't know if that is possible but we'll see. I hope that we grow in a sustainable way like we have.