Black Squirrel

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Black Squirrel

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Black Squirrel's most accurate reference, also from the FIFAD Fad.
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Former & Other Groups
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Profile
Aliases: BS, Squirrel, Quackers
Interests: Spriting, fangaming, collecting retro games, etc.
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Black Squirrel is one of Mario Fan Games Galaxy's former loveable site staff members who joined the MFGG forums on January 16th, 2005. He had lurked around many months previously and has been in and out of the fangaming community since 2002/2003. BS has worked up MFGG's chain of hierarchy and subsequently worked his way down again. He was once admin of MFGG's main site and forums and a bureaucrat of this Wiki.

Contents

History

Black Squirrel discovered the fangames community through Sonic Fan Games Headquarters, where he took an interest in TGF Libraries while attempting to make terrible Sonic the Hedgehog fangames. He later moved onto sites such as MFGG, Metroid: Fan Mission and Zelda Fan Game Network. As such he has a practically complete backup of every sprite library around in 2004 and has even attempted to return Zelda Fan Game Network several times after the site experienced a loss of data.

Inexperienced at game-making and tired of failed attempts at making fangames, Black Squirrel decided to create his own gaming website titled "Black Squirrel's Domain", effectively teaching himself HTML. Again, not much luck was found there as the community was extremely inactive and small. However after registering on MFGG's forums Black Squirrel eventually disbanded his site and took up full-time residence there.

MFGG introduced BS to the spriting community in his first months at MFGG, which interested him more than game programming at the time, and he soon became an active member. His work on sprites had improved over time until the point where it had been highly regarded by other members, though Black Squirrel's main interests had returned to programming and web design.

Black Squirrel's MFGG Update Icon before the change to MFGG 2.0

BS was nominated for Best Newbie at the MFGG 2005 awards. Eventually having made his way onto the community and receiving many other badges for his sprites/reviews/submissions, he was nominated to become part of the Site Staff as part of the quality control team, where he remained in that position until the end of 2011.

On June 22nd, 2007, BS was nominated for but declined a role as a PPP moderator with full banning powers (this role was given to Tragic instead). He was instead given the smaller role as a "Janitor" which retained all mod functions apart from banning (along with Jas (and Hatman who resigned shortly after)). However when the Worthless Post Palace was removed his moderation powers were not often demonstrated. Black Squirrel's PPP Mod powers were carried over to the Casual Conversation Castle when the PPP was closed, and his title changed to "CCC Mod".

On January 26th, 2008, Black Squirrel was upgraded to Global Moderator and by May 28th of the same year he became administrator, with a very long acceptance speech with all sorts of pointless graphs. Squirrel lasted "a year and a bit" under this role before resigning on his own accord. He left MFGG from the time he resigned from admin until MFGG was updated to phpBB. During the phpBB era, he still technically had mod powers, but only uses them in case of emergency.

Black Squirrel returned to the position of Admin on the forums on November 3, 2010, shortly before The Split. While he rarely took an active role on moderating the forum, he remained in that role up until December 30, 2011, when he announced his retirement from running both the mainsite and forum, citing his declining interest in Mario fangaming and a desire to spend less time on the site after sorting a whopping 10,000 mainsite submissions.

Character

Black Squirrel's or character is, as the title suggests, a Black Squirrel. A poorly done recolor of a poorly done edit, the character has existed for as long as the name has, and is just as terrible and unoriginal. Its eye color is the same as his fur color, and the pupils are red, and it took numerous years for the blue bits to be sorted out. The character also has grey shoes and a tail. The character also has a lot of Dragon Ball Z-like abilities which show further how bad the character design is. It is mainly used nowadays as a comic relief character that nobody can stand in Squirrel's SHPDMBGWL4 series.

Known Work

Black Squirrel has produced numerous sprites and 2D graphics over the years, but the most successful have been his Super Mario background tilesets. Built for practicality rather than aesthetics, Squirrel's three sets of tilesets have been widely used in a number of fangames, one of the most recent being Super Mario Epic 3 by Captain Jeff Silvers. BS no longer thinks these sprites are up to his current standards, but are still liked by many people, of which he is thankful for.

Squirrel's sheets are purposefully bigger than rival sets, and use a fairly low colour count so that they are easily transferrable into ROMs via hacking. Squirrel's tilesets have accompanied many games by Hello, who is known for producing many similar high quality games. They have also been given extensions and are still used widely to this day, despite being over two years old. Due to the "overuse" of Squirrel's second tileset "Tileset 06", a poorly made palette was provided with Tileset 07 so as to encourage others to change it. This has had varying results, and squirrel still does not believe the sheet has been pushed to its limits. If Mario ground is an awful orange colour, chances are it was made by BS. These tilesets appear in just about all games made by Hello and most games referred to as "Hello clones," and as such tend to have a negative connotation in the minds of most members, even if it's not BS's fault they're overused.


" I've seen my tiles so many times I'm starting to believe they came from some SNES title made years ago. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, since I've seen enough Super Mario All-Stars to last a lifetime. "

— Black Squirrel

An early drawing request topic was also started by BS, involving him 'drawing' other people's characters in 'circle' form. They were quickly made and weren't of great quality, but many people liked them for whatever reason. These 'cicular drawings' have been dubbed many names; "Blob forms", "Circley characters", "mini versions" and many others. There is no official name for them, but for many years they appeared in numerous "tests".

Squirrel is also responsible for the not-so popular Dopefish fad, based on a popular enemy from the DOS Commander Keen series. It ran through for a couple of days before fading out of existence. BS sill continued to keep a dopefish in his signature. It was marqueeing from 2005 to the time the phpBB3 boards were released (though Squirrel has had Keen on his computer since 1995).

Super MFGG War, another half-fad based on the game Super Mario War was also compiled by Black Squirrel. However, all he did was compile sprites, music and levels created by other members at MFGG). Members like Lee and Akruru were largely responsible for Super MFGG War's content however. Also, Kitsune Yamato should be credited for the hosting of the first version. Many of the features of Super MFGG War have been made redundant as newer versions of Super Mario War have been released.

Black Squirrel has also made many rips from "obscure" games, submitting many obscure Mario sprite sheets to MFGG and achieving the "Most Positive Contributor" MFGG 2006 Awards along with Retriever II. His work is usually useless, ranging from mainstream games like "Wario Land II", to strange, pirate NES games such as "Kart Fighter" and "World Heroes 2", many of which have never been ripped from before. He has also ripped from many other games too, ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog, to Bomberman, and spanning many platforms that many don't have the patience to tackle (like for example, the Virtual Boy). In fact, due to the uselessness of a lot of these sprites, no major spriting sites would accept them, so BS had to create his own site "The Obscure Ripping Project" (a.k.a. tORP). tORP also contains information about a lot of the obscure games he has ripped from, so people actually know what these games are. This site has since dropped its focus on ripping and now is purely for research benefits. On 2008, Black Squirrel opened the Mario Ripping Project on this wiki, in order to help keep track of the status of Mario games when it comes to ripping on MFGG.

The Obscure Research Project, as it's known now, has been a surprising success. Due to the lack of research on pirate video games, Squirrel was able to pinpoint the author of the infamous NES port of Super Mario World, as well as making strides in documenting games such as Somari, and bringing titles such as the Super Boy series into the public eye. Having said this, tORP is still a very small site and is not widely recognized, "but it's a start".

BS's game making skills haven't vastly improved over the years, and because of that his games are vastly inferior compared to the top fangames of today. But he has taken advantage of this, and, being inspired by Waligie, he created the Player Adventure Trilogy, a series of badly made games made altogether in less than 3 days. More recently he has created the SHPDMBGWL4 series, following Mario through a journey of time and space, being captured by Space Koreans and rescued by a seemingly invincible time-traveling, tank-riding duck named Quackers. SHPDMBGWL4 3 was especially popular due to its hidden but working Stop 'n' Swop feature from Banjo-Kazooie causing a huge amount of replay value. The series pays tribute to other fangames, especially Lets Go Thingio! by Someguy and Keapora which BS is highly anticipating. One of Squirrel's goals in life is to put a Donley Kong cameo in a console game somewhere.

Squirrel has taught himself large parts of the HTML and CSS specification, and has a good amount of knowledge on Wiki syntax, but as he hasn't had a formal education on these subjects he's not a god. He is responsible for hundreds of main site thumbnails and preview images, most of the organization of this Wiki and numerous Wiki contributions at other sites such as Sonic Retro and even Wikipedia. His "greatest Wikipedia success" has been the article on the Sega Saturn/PlayStation game Hardcore 4x4, which went from "stub class" to "start class" in less than a month. Too bad the game hasn't aged well.

Nowadays Squirrel is mainly active on his blog, Blog Squirrel and has returned to research and development site, Sonic Retro, as well as being an active contributor to MFGG.

Black Squirrel: The Forum Admin

Black Squirrel in "Aliens ate my administrators". An edit of Commander Keen 6's title screen for Black Squirrel's long admin speech.

When Black Squirrel became administrator of the forums he took a very different approach to administrating, taking many of the concepts that Yoshiman had introduced and improving on them, but also attempting to restore order on the then hectic forum userbase. He was the first admin since ShadowMan to have administrative powers on all the official sections of MFGG (apart from Retriever II). He brought the main site and forum staff together by scrapping Forum 27, and has worked with various moderators to create a forum layout that works for them. BS did not want to repeat previous mistakes in which large sections of the mod team were left without a say in how the forum was run. Unfortunately for him, many moderators did not speak up until it is too late, and therefore this plan often backfired.

BS is the secret father of the Casual Conversation Castle Concept. Though he did not name it, he originally put forward the idea of needing a Happy Heart and a set amount of posts to enter. He also put forth the concept of the flag system, producing every one of the 260+ flags. He has helped release several skins, mostly those by Jazz and organised several events to keep the blood flowing. Most of the changes between 2008 and 2009 were a result of Squirrel's influence.

Squirrel adopted a quirky style of posting news. MFGG Monthly News, an expansion on Yoshiman's weekly news program, often contains various home made graphs and charts that BS made "to make things more interesting". He has continued ShadowMan's review drives and introduced the Game of the Month system to highlight quality fangames. Having had his news topics ruined by various complainers, Squirrel stopped producing these topics.

In later years, many of BS's ideas became increasingly controversial, as he became more and more disillusioned with the community and with fangaming in general. He also tended to push hard for a more autocratic and less democratic community, a risky position that, needless to say, ruffled more than a few feathers within both the community and administration.

Black Squirrel dropped the forum admin position in August of 2009 but still retained main site and Wiki positions. He has also done a large amount of work for the PHPBB3 iteration of the forums. On November 3, 2010, he became a forum Administrator again after Kyori, Dexy, and Chaoxys all quit.


" MFGG's forums are like a roller coaster. There's ups and downs... and lefts and rights... and a corkscrew, and a sweaty, underpaid worker running the thing... but as fun as it is you'll probably want to get off at some point and hook a duck "

— Black Squirrel


Trivia

  • The nickname or abbreviated name for Black Squirrel, "BS" is also the term used to abbreviate B***s***. Black Squirrel was unaware of this at the time he chose his username, but as it isn't used very often, it doesn't make much of a difference.
  • Black Squirrel won the "Best Reviewer" and "Most Positive Contributor" (Shared with Retriever II), and was nominated for "Best MFGGer overall" (which went to Klobber) for the 2006 MFGG Awards. He was also nominated for "Best Reviewer" (Which went to Parakarry), and "Best Newbie" (which went to NO Body(?)) for the 2005 awards.
  • BS is one of the few MFGGers who still plays and enjoys old DOS games. Many of his stuff is inspired by the works of Apogee, id Software and Epic MegaGames, especially the Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, Jazz Jackrabbit and Bio Menace series. He is also a big fan of Doctor Who and is responsible for The Doctor (though does not control him).
  • BS is not actually Black in terms of skin colour. He is a white, British, male (human).

Fad Creations

The Dopefish

The not-so-sucessful Dopefish fad was created by Black Squirrel not long after he joined the forums. The idea was simply to put some form of dopefish in your avatar or signature, a creature from the Apogee DOS game Commander Keen 4: Goodbye Galaxy.

A dopefish is a green fish which lives in the Shadowlands. It eats practically everything, and is regarded as unintelligent (Hence the 'dope' in it's name). Its lack of intelligence means that it only repeats the phrase "Swim swim HUNGRY". Only appearing in one level in CK4, the Dopefish have since started a cult throughout the internet and have appeared in Apogee's later games as cameos. Occasionally they are also spotted in games not developed by Apogee too.

The fad was successful for a few days, but due to many members not knowing what a dopefish was, it wasn't as popular as some fads.

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