Interview with Dan Dickinson, Founder of VJArmy and IIDXicon, Part Three

Continuing from part two, enjoy the last few questions as the interview winds down.

During your time as VJ Army’s moderator, how big did the community get in terms of active members?

I think our user registrations had topped out around 3,500 by the time we shut down last year. What percentage of those were “active” was hard to gauge. Our average daily users fluxed a lot because when a game would come out, there’d be a rush to enter scores, but in between months you’d have people pop up when they went in for score grinding.

What led to your stepping down from the role of site moderator?

I hope I detailed this pretty well in the site shutdown, but it was two main things. One, the forums had spiraled out of control. They were doing more traffic than the actual site, and very little of it was IIDX focused. The community’s main draw became the community, and while I can appreciate it, I wasn’t a part of it and didn’t feel a lot of motivation to keep it going. It being clique-like and a source of drama didn’t help.

The other reason: I didn’t have the time to maintain the site anymore. There were bugs that had been kicking around for years that I couldn’t find the drive to fix when I got home from work. People deserved better, and it put a surprising amount of guilt on me that I had this crappy website kicking around that I had half-abandoned. The date of the shutdown, June 6, 2009, was my 29th birthday; being able to pull the plug that day was something like a birthday present to myself.

The original intention was to just do a pure shutdown. I wasn’t interested in handing the code to anyone. Luckily, a team stepped up, particularly Geoff Mazzolini, who offered to pick up the code and get it rehosted and moving again.

Do you still play IIDX today?

I actually haven’t played since I went to Tokyo on vacation last winter, when I found a machine in one of the arcades. I still have all my home gear, and my Japanese PS2 is still powered up under the TV in case I get the urge, but not sure it’s going to happen.

How do you feel about the new generation of rhythm games, such as DJ Hero, Dance Central, Guitar Hero and Rock Band?

I honestly think it’s great, even with the market being a bit over-saturated. I play as many as I can get my hands on, and there’s generally something in every music game I can enjoy. As a big iOS guy, I’ve been really interested in touch-based games, and Konami’s recent is really well done. I hope Pentavision follows suit with a port soon.

And that wraps up my interview with Dan Dickinson. As someone who has utilized the scorekeeping on VJ Army and  Solid State Squad, and looked up songs and artist information on IIDXicon more times than I can count, it was really interesting to hear the story behind the site and its rapid growth. It seems like no matter how niche something may appear, if you provide a service that no one else does, the Internet will respond. There’s some entrepreneurial advice mixed in with a bit of a warning in that.

I’d like to thank Dan again for his time, patience and candor with me. Oh, and the whole giving me a place to revel in my love of Beatmania thing, too.

4 Responses to “Interview with Dan Dickinson, Founder of VJArmy and IIDXicon, Part Three”
  1. says:

    I really enjoyed this interview, although I suppose that has largely to do with the fact I love Beatmania IIDX.

    And use VJ Army.

    And know Dan. :P

    But yes, thoroughly enjoyed!

  2. says:

    I also enjoyed this interview, particularly the shoutout :) Thanks Dan. I feel a little regretful that I haven’t really had the time to completely overhaul the site like I wanted to (and develop a unified codebase that we could use across the board for IIDX, Pop’n and other games) but I’m happy that we’ve been able to keep it going and that I got the time to fix the important issues and put in a few cool features as well around 2009 or so.

    Since then the IIDX community has been on a sort of hiatus – a lot of people (such as myself) still play casually but not very often, some others still play regularly, but overall the lack of a new home version since Empress almost two years ago has pretty much put things on hold. I haven’t given up hope yet that they’ll eventually revive CS IIDX in some form, but until that happens I don’t have a whole lot of motivation.

    • aflaten says:

      Hey Xythar, nice of you to drop by!

      It is a bit of a bummer that we haven’t seen a console release since 16th style, but like you, I haven’t completely lost hope. The fact that the series is still seeing arcade releases in Japan, with 19th on the horizon, is something.

      At any rate, I know having Solid State Squad around keeps me motivated to get better at the games, so thanks for the hard work in keeping things running.

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