I first met Messi at the original Shots Fired, shortly after discovering the Salt Mines podcast. Since then, I've worked with him on countless projects for PMU, the Salt Mines, Mind over Meta, and much, much more. I'm proud to work with him, and even happier to call him a friend. As such, it was my pleasure to help edit this article for him (alongside the rest of the MoM team,) and I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors, both in PM, and in life. In any case, enjoy the article, and I can't wait to see what you have to write next, Mes.
~ MoM | PlayOnSunday
I recently turned 26 years old and realized it might be time for my quarter life crisis. I was a decent student in high school and became a better one in college. I was able to grab an associate’s degree in Human Services before I just came to the conclusion that, with my relationship & with whatever was going on at the time, I needed a full time job and I was going to put class on the back-burner. I know a few people who have been in this predicament before; you find a half-decent job, stick around, collect a pay-check and move forward. Now I am at the forward. My last day at the job was December 24th, 2015.
It was really kind of an abrupt ending to what was a good job for me. I was the highest paid sales person on the floor at my local BestBuy, I was friendly with everyone in the building, my General Manager was practically a big brother to me, and although my focus wasn’t all there, I had an incurable itch for what most people see as a hobby; What makes it worse is attempting to explain this to “grown-ups”. There is nothing more awkward than attempting to explain this: “Yea it’s a video game, well not really. It’s a mod. You know? Modification, of a real game, but it’s really good. You play on a Wii. Yea…A Wii, come over sometime I can show you. Do you have a CRT?” I usually get a blank stare at this point or that really great nervous laugh where I can sense the person wondering, “What year is this?” But I guess in the grand scheme of things, if and when I make it, it’s going to be great.
My name is Giuseppe Messina. I go by Messi for short, or, for even shorter, Mes. I am co-founder of PMTV, and host of The Salt Mines, a podcast that is interesting in its flexibility towards its audience, and co-creator (more like supreme overlord) of PM Underground, a website heavily influenced by its predecessors MeleeItOnMe & Smashboards. What do all of these things have in common? They are centered on one thing: Project M. “Project M was a mod of the 2008 Wii fighting video game Super Smash Bros. Brawl, created by the community group known as the Project M Development Team (PMDT or PMDev Team; previously known as the Project M Back Room). It is designed to retool Brawl to play more like its two predecessors, Super Smash Bros. (1999) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001), in response to fan complaints about Brawl 's physics, slower-paced gameplay, larger use of chance elements, and mechanics of certain attacks.”(Wiki Project M (Video Game)).
Project M is also my proverbial child. See, I’ve had a really interesting string of luck (or lack thereof) as a streamer. I became enamored with the idea of people wanting me to play video games and watch how I reacted or treated gameplay in comparison to them. I started streaming on February 1st of 2014, with a game called Strife. At the time, I led that game’s streaming charts with a player called Ryzen (now a very well-known Hearthstone streamer). I eventually went on to a private World of Warcraft server (I really have a knack for legal grey areas) where I peaked in viewership at around 145-150 and stuck around the low hundreds. I was getting pretty excited as I was slowly getting more and more attention with the help of strangers from the internet who became my friends. Some of my followers still check on me on a day-to-day basis regardless of my activity online. Then came Project M. This month marks the 1 year anniversary of me playing Project M competitively. Project M was where all of this takes a turn. I was streaming it, regularly getting 20-25 viewers that really supported me on twitch, and they didn’t know me from anywhere else. I didn’t stand out, and I didn’t go and give away huge prizes, but we chilled. We spoke about things that had nothing to do with games. Hell, I gave relationship advice to someone, and that kid is still alive, so I’m assuming I did okay.
The Salt Mines. I finally launched the podcast with basically an all NYC/Free Saltines cast. In fact, I wanted that. The Salt Mines was originally a Free Saltines thing, they had done one episode and kind of left it for dead, and since everyone in FS had been super great to me even before we met, it only felt right to give an homage to the old days of FS. The viewership went on to spike and I was slowly creeping back up into my old glory days. It was exciting to finally be able to feel wanted again, like I had brought something true and original to the table. Apex was around the corner and my excitement couldn’t have shown anymore. I was inviting Reno & Prog to do one on one interviews and discussing some great things about how Project M seemed to be steadying off as a game and how the community could really start to make some strides with rumors of a new version around the corner.
Apex removes Project M from the rotation (we already knew this), but Sky Williams goes on a bit of a rant on Reddit, no one is talking about what’s going on and GIMR & D1 seemed to have disappeared for questions and, more importantly, answers. This was the turning point for the entire podcast. All of us collectively saw different ideas and views about this, but all knew one thing. We felt like we had to do something. I got together with the help of Junebug, NZA, Gallo, and others and we called for an impromptu Salt Mines where we attempted to just calm people down, and to stop the witch-hunt after Gimr & D1 over things the community just didn’t have information on. Four hundred and forty four people watched and all of them wanting to hear us and follow our lead. It was a rush waiting for the show to go live with hundreds waiting, for a game that most people don’t know even exists (Until it’s on Reddit for ceasing development, but I digress). We felt accomplished, we had a viewership and a thousand new followers in a single day. I finally felt like I had my shot to gain a partnership. The show continued to hold numbers, about 200 viewers for a few more episodes.
I was denied for my sub button. I didn’t let this get to me; I knew it had no chance. Junebug & I both knew and we fought over this. In fact, we never really made up until August of this year. We did show after show, but still were kind of mad at each other, one of us wanted to go public with some information we had heard that said that Twitch just wasn’t going to acknowledge PM streams as time went on, while the other didn’t feel right coming forward and putting unsourced information out there. If things were going to be said, it needed to be credible.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the end of a rocky road for myself or my pursuit of breaking into the eSports world or even a decent start as a streamer. NZA & I have fought tooth and nail because of our constantly either being on the same page, sentence and word, or being so far across the room that it would take hours over the phone, skype or text to even remotely resolve the issue. We had fought over things that, quite frankly, I got wrong. I did know at the time how to really work with people, and this, of course, is really hard to pick up on when you have never met me face to face and there is screaming over the collaboration of a podcast and what direction it should be going in. I know how I came off. I came off as arrogant. I hated that. Look, I didn’t want to be the person that was impossible to work with. People have this fear that when they are all said and done they will end up being alone. No partners, no friends and no family. I felt that fear… Was I really that impossible to talk to? I stepped back and really just allowed NZA to talk, and if you’ve ever met NZA, he does that well. This experience was priceless, and I started to understand how he and the rest of the crew at Salt Mines felt. We finally started to gel and I knew something special was on the horizon.
Things started to calm down, Smash Con was coming. June & I were able to fix some things. I remember approaching him and he had this look on his face like, “oh great, this guy.” I guess it was a look similar to Nyle’s when we started to fix things up. I didn’t just allow this to happen though, it bothered me. I had nothing but respect for June. I knew he was important to not only the community, and he was genuinely a good person. I just bluntly asked him to talk about what happened. Funny enough, we still disagreed on the entire situation, yet it just felt good to get it off our chests in person. June said his part, I sorta just listened where I could and retorted where it allowed. It was all the things I learned at my job and with Nyle coming into play. I was finally using my previous experiences to move forward rather than assuming I just knew everything. An hour or so and a serving of Nachos later we started planning out our panel at Smash Con. June, SOJ, Emukiller & myself had gotten the chance to represent Project M at a convention that really didn’t need us there. It was well ran and had enough for people to do, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to fix a friendship and the experience of being on that stage with people wanting to genuinely see us four blab about something we feel is important.
I got to see NZA later that week at Blacklisted. We talked about how far the podcast was coming, how great the events had been all year and what we looked forward too. I had mentioned switching over to Hitbox in passing, and there wasn’t really a reaction to it. It was an odd statement really, we had already made a new twitch channel to separate the Salt Mines name from my own, giving my content a shot to grow and maybe hit that peak for a third time in my streaming pursuits, and people had already gone ahead and followed and supported the new channel again, so it didn’t seem to make any sense to switch. A few weeks later my friend Nox had texted me to let me know that Hitbox had opened up subscription buttons to all users and suggested to revisit the idea of a switch. I didn’t revisit it, I just did it. Project M always had an issue getting any monetary backing for individual content creators. People came up with ideas like Patreon and just simple donation buttons, but it wasn’t the same, it was lacking a certain credibility. It frightened away people from exploring the ideas of developing content and sinking time into it, but I just saw it as an opportunity. I attempted to recruit top smashers to make a “team” where we could start gathering viewers and get a real shift happening. It was painful, I was basically denied by most, or down voted on subreddits for suggesting the idea, and it was the first and only time I wanted to stop everything.
Paragon is tomorrow… Announcement: PMC To Stream Project M At Paragon! That is what everyone had woken up to or gone to bed too. The sky was falling hours before the biggest Project M event in history and we were forced off onto another streaming site and I was…ecstatic. Finally the shift we needed, we were going to be forced into finding a new home, one where we would be able to produce content without the fear of whether it was going to be misplaced or forced off of the site itself. Hitbox. A relief swept over me as the streams climbed into the thousands and the combined totals broke ten thousand concurrent viewers. It was a sign that people didn’t care where things were hosted or broadcasted, they just wanted their own content. We were like a Hitbox Original now.
I quickly got together with Nyle, re-pitching the idea of a group. We contacted people from around the country picking out regions and community heads to get a group going. I contacted Hawkeye and we had a conversation that went on for a couple of hours about the past, present and future of Project M as a game, as a streaming producer, and as a viable source of entertainment. We had finally started to make strides. I had 8 streams in one chat discussing ideas and unified goals for the first time ever. Rather than waiting to see the reactions of others, we just sort of came up with our own philosophies and structure. We came up with PMTV.
PMTV is the most interesting thing I am involved with because no one really has a clear definition outside of PMTV itself on what it is. So I will try to give you an idea: as of now, PMTV & I have direct contact to about fifty content creators from around the globe, all of which have different skill sets and ideas, but a unified goal to bring you everything we listed in our trailer. Spotlights, interviews, Top 10’s, Tournament Organization, and Growth. I do also like the idea of some transparency. I won’t name content creators or giveaway too much, but four projects are being worked on simultaneously and me? I hate it. Why? I couldn’t help it along, it frustrated me, seeing a different side of PMTV without me helping it. The left side of PMTV was doing fine, our streams started on time, we had weeklies on a near nightly basis and we hosted and supported one another. On the right side, I couldn’t tell you, not because it wasn’t good or wasn’t promising, I just had no time. The little time I had was put into our website and writing, everything else was retail. I worked and worked at a decent paying job, I had a great crew around me, but it felt empty, because I couldn’t oversee and guide my own project. I only saw the end results of what some of the content had become, I felt useless. So I decided to do something, I was going to give myself a real shot.
I quit my job on December 24th 2015. I needed and still need to know, can I manage all of this? Can this head me down a path in a career I can be proud of? Do I think Project M will give me a stable life? No. I do think it will give me the skills to do so. PMUnderground debuted to 15,000 unique visitors; that means new and fresh people, not just one fan boy. The Salt Mines Podcast is on the brink of 60,000 downloads and views via YouTube & our host. Our most recent article, which was by Reslived, had 20,000 hits on the first day. That momentum is not going to stop. I intend to start projects in other games if need be or if I’m fortunate enough to catch a break sooner rather than later, I intend to work WITH Project M through whatever means I have. PMTV might not seem like a big deal to some of you yet, because it is faceless and it doesn’t carry weight. It will. Starting 2016, PMTV will be restructured from within, to bring stability, to bring content that is original, unique, and featuring your favorite players in a more efficient way.
I quit my job on December 24th 2015, a year after I attended my first weekly. A year after I had invited Gallo to come over to play Smash 4, but we ended up playing Project M instead. A year after starting a podcast that debuted to the same 25 viewers I always had. I quit my job, not because I didn’t believe I was valuable to the company, or that I wasn’t able to perform anymore as an employee with high standards and lofty goals. I quit so I could succeed, and one way or another I am going to succeed, and I will never forget how I got started. Now you have an idea where that was.