E-Views with Boomer

Within the walls of this virtual library lay all of Boomer's written RCT related articles. A Room with a View features all of Boomers popular E-View series, his previews, reviews, mini-Views and E-Views.

The Sambo construction company built this special place as a tribute to Boomer. In that spirit, creating a place to also archive articles and interviews from other authors to keep the virtual library current and ever-changing, just like the "view".

Enter when you can, enter at your leisure. There's plenty of time and plenty of chairs to browse and read through these fascinating interviews and reviews with RCT legends and celebrities.

E-views with Boomer Boomer's E-View with Mike Robbins

I sincerely meant it when I sent a request for an E-View to Mike Robbins. Although I know that he isn't the Webmaster over at the very Popular RCT site called RCT Station, he is the Head Mod over there in the large forum section and he has been one of the long term, key players in keeping that site on an even keel on the Roller Coaster like ride that a large RCT website like the one that Jim (Red Phoenix) has put together and maintained at the Station is.

I had done an E-View with Red back in May but I wanted to go back to the Station and talk to someone else who had been a solid support for Red and a no doubt a grateful and trusted right hand man for Red and the site, through good times and bad times alike. Mike brought maturity, respectability and just enough law and order to keep a large public forum “greased up” and running smooth. And he's done it for a long time! So Webmaster or not, he's close enough to one in my book to qualify for this interview.

After he took me up on my invitation and “dropped by” for a while I was really glad I had chosen to do this interview at this time. Mike was more then cordial, he was also prompt; he had his answers back to me in record time, literally overnight! My, wasn't THAT refreshing, that record had previously been held by Skippy. You are about to find out a lot more about Mike Robbins then you ever may have knew before. We'll get into all that in the interview, but I must admit the more I got to know Mike, the more I realized that his life was similar to mine, only he was younger. He is 6 years into the Air Force and is a Sergeant; I was 6 years in the Army and left as a Sergeant. He was sent over seas (and resides) with his wife to England, I was sent over seas and resided with my wife in Germany. I could go on, it's an almost eerie list, but I won't bore you with all that right now. Instead I will invite you to read on and get to know Mike a little better yourself. I think you will agree that he truly is a Webster at heart!

So we have climbed to the top of this E-View lift hill and its airtime dead ahead, so throw your hands in the air, work up your best scream and lets plunge on down into this E-View with Mike Robbins!

Boomer It is a real pleasure and an honor to finally get to talk to you Mike. You have been around the RCT community for a long time and your name is very well known. So let's start at the very beginning, a very fine place to start. How long have you been involved in the RCT community?
Mike Robbins "I first bought the game when it first came out in March of 1999. I was walking around the local Wal-Mart with my girlfriend (now my wife) and I spotted the game on the shelf. I picked it up and got hooked immediately. At first I played all of the scenarios that I could and never knew about mega parks and trainers. I believe it was during the early summer that I found fan-based websites for RCT. I was at work during a very slow grave-shift and decided to search around on the computer. I believe Cav's RCT Depot was the first one I ever visited and it blew me away how much more you could do with the game. Danimation was probably shortly after. Corkscrew Follies came out in September of the same year and that is when RCT started to get huge. I was talking to Cav online a lot and decided to help him with his track section. That is how I first became involved in the RCT community.".
Boomer Yes, it's funny the different ways we all get sucked into the RCT online universe. One community but entered into from so many different places around the world. Would you mind telling us where you are from originally? Where were you born and raised?
Mike Robbins "I was born in Huntington, New York right on Long Island. My dad was in the Army when I was a baby so we moved to Fort Eustis, Virginia then to Hawaii for about half a year. After my dad separated from the Army, we all moved back to New York, my brother was born, and they decided to move to Virginia again because of the lower cost of living. I grew up for the better part of 15 years and graduated high school in Poquoson, Virginia.".
Boomer I've never been to Poquoson before but in my mind I picture you growing up on Main Street, USA, Disneyland style. When is your birthday anyway and how old are you now Mike?
Mike Robbins "My birthday is the 28th of October and I was born in 1976. I am currently 26 years old. ".
Boomer I know you are a Sergeant in the USAF. How long have you been in the U.S. Air Force and where are you stationed at now?
Mike Robbins "I first signed up in September of 1996. I went to basic training on February 19, 1997 at Lackland AFB, Texas. I was then sent to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi for five months of Tech School. My first assignment was to Hurlburt Field, Florida which is in the Fort Walton Beach / Destin area. I was there from September 1997 until August 2001. I am now stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England. This February will be my six-year anniversary in the USAF.".
Boomer What exactly do you do in the Air Force?
Mike Robbins ": My official title is an Aircraft Communications and Navigational Systems Journeyman. To make this easy to understand, I work avionics systems on planes. My job is basically to troubleshoot and repair any inoperable radio and navigation systems on the aircraft as needed. Systems I work on range from RADAR, radio communication, navigational aids, internal aircraft communications, Global Positioning Systems, and SATCOM.".
Boomer Aircraft communications and radar, GPS and SATCOM, all make for excellent career opportunities after you leave the Air Force. What planes do you work on?
Mike Robbins "I specialize on the C-130 airframe. I currently work on three different types of C-130's. I work on the MC-130H Talon II, the MC-130P Combat Shadow, and the C-130E 'Slick.' In Florida, I worked on the AC-130U Gunship.".
Boomer Working on planes and websites probably keeps you pretty busy. Do you have a wife or family living there with you Mike?
Mike Robbins "We do have a wife named Jeri. We don't have any kids.".
Boomer My bet is you got to know Hurlburt Field and Florida very well doing all that time there. As an American serviceman transplanted and living in England, how do you like it there?
Mike Robbins "The area itself is kind of bland. It is mostly flat farm with a couple of small villages scattered around. The closest city is Cambridge about 30 minutes away. But being in England itself is very convenient for two of my hobbies, traveling and theme parks. I have been to a lot of areas in England, Scotland, and Wales as well as Paris, France so far. My future plans are to visit Amsterdam, Italy, Germany for Oktoberfest, and Spain.".
Boomer Yes! Oktoberfest! Been there, done that, when I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany…. years ago. And would LOVE to do it again! Once your tour of duty is up and you head back to the States, where would you like to settle down? Where would you like to call home sweet home?
Mike Robbins "I don't think I will settle down quite yet. I would like to get stationed out west somewhere like Arizona, Washington State, California, or Las Vegas, Nevada. But when I retire, I am hoping to end up in Central Florida somewhere or maybe even Toronto, Canada. Toronto is a beautiful city.".
Boomer Well, now that we know a little more about you personally, I would like to switch gears and ask you this; how did it come about that you met Red Phoenix and get put on staff at RCT Station?
Mike Robbins "America Online used to have a very active RCT Message Board. I knew Red Phoenix from there as well as Steve Franks among others. After Cav's RCT Depot closed down, I didn't have any place to showcase my parks. Jim (Red Phoenix) then contacted me shortly after asking if he can put my parks on this new site he was taking over. This was all in January of 2001. Shortly after I was made a mod when we only had a member base of about 20 or so.".
Boomer I can't even imagine RCT Station only having 20 members or so. Tell us what your job is at the station. What are your duties there?
Mike Robbins "My position is the head moderator. I also do other stuff like reviews for staff member parks, contest judge, and I have recently taken over Survivor.".
Boomer and I know that RCT Survivor is a popular section of the Station forums. How many PM's or E-mails do you get from members of the site or others in a normal week?
Mike Robbins "As many people know, I am a private person. I usually leave an away message on my buddy list. But when I do talk, I get a lot of PM's. I also get a lot of email. These are mostly from people requesting to review their park or to help them build in their park. I always turn these down because if you can't do your own work, you won't get any better at the game.".
Boomer This next question is one that I have asked a lot, in many interviews, (Boomer laughs) in my never-ending quest for the ultimate E-View with Chris Sawyer himself. So I will make you no exception Mike and ask you, have you ever talked to or corresponded with Mr. Sawyer over the course of time that you have been involved with RCT websites?
Mike Robbins "I have never had any contact with Chris Sawyer, no. But if I had the chance to ask him a question, I would ask why he wants to limit our work without putting in a good workbench editor so we can have all of the rides and themeing.".
Boomer Yes, you and others probably would, If I could talk to him I would probably just say, hubba bubba, dribble drabble, spitter sputter and other psycho-babble beyond human understanding, before being ushered away by security. But my inferiority problems aside, above and beyond just playing RCT, being involved with a RCT website the size of RCT Station can take up a lot of precious time. The pay-off for the hard work that a Webmaster or committed staff member does, especially for a large site, can sometimes be non-existent. What is it that you get from working at the Station that makes it all worthwhile? What is the pay-off for you?
Mike Robbins "I do it as a hobby. I like to be involved and to make parks for everyone to enjoy. Benefits are, of course, being able to place my park threads in the Staff Projects forum. But I really don't expect much in return. After all, it is a voluntary position.".
Boomer In an interview I did with Red Phoenix back in May of 2002, Red told me, “RCT2 is only going to make RCT Station bigger”. Has that held true and if so, how are you handling the increase in membership and workload on the staff?
Mike Robbins "I haven't noticed a big change so far. The member posting seemed to have slowed down a bit. But once a new expansion pack for RCT2 is released, it will get busier. If you remember, the original RCT wasn't exactly popular. It wasn't until the release of Corkscrew Follies that made the game big.".
Boomer Busy or not do you ever feel like throwing your hands up in the air and saying in your best New York City voice,” forget about it”, and just walk away from the whole RCT online community and not look back? I know I do sometimes!
Mike Robbins "I've been tempted to several times. But I won't be doing that until RCT Station closes for good. I just try to ignore a situation and control it if it gets to be a problem.".
Boomer And that, my friend, doesn't show any indication of happening anytime soon! What do you think about RCT2 Mike? Do you like it, do you hate it or are you like me and have a love/hate relationship with Chris' newest creation?
Mike Robbins "I like it a lot better than RCT1. Yes, it is missing some stuff from the original, and yes, we are still limited to what we can do, but I feel like I can create better parks with RCT2.".
Boomer Lot of new tools in there for sure! What do you think we can expect in the new expansion pack coming out in June? (Besides a brief revival of the Infogrames outdated website)
Mike Robbins "Like most people say, more flat rides. Of course more themes and scenery will work too as well as a workbench editor. This would differ from a scenario editor because you can have all rides, scenery, and own all of the land, have all of the money you want, and no scenario goals.".
Boomer (Shakes his head) Man! You are a Sergeant in the Air Force, busy across the Big Pond working hard and driving our British friends crazy no doubt. So besides playing RCT, where do you get the time to help Red out over at the Station and stay on top of a HUGE RCT community forum?
Mike Robbins "Once I am off work, I am free to do whatever I want. I am working a night shift again, and my wife is fast asleep by the time I get home. Plus like I mentioned before, there isn't a whole lot to do around here. (Laughs)".
Boomer Then that must be your personal time, a good time for hobbies. What other games beside RCT do you like to play?
Mike Robbins "RCT seems to have put everything else away on the shelf. On occasion, I will play Risk II, NHL 99 (yes, I am behind), Madden 99, (like I said, I am behind) and other games. I did play Zoo Tycoon a lot when it was released, but it just isn't the same as RCT. It got old quick because you can't really make it personal like RCT. There is only so much you can do with a zoo. Plus those animals are needy! You can't make them happy!".
Boomer (Laughs) you must be talking about my kids. Seriously though, I know what you mean, same for me with Zoo Tycoon. Sports, what about sports? Have any favorite teams or sports games that you like?
Mike Robbins "My favorite is hockey. I bleed Toronto Maple Leaf blue. I also like the Denver Broncos in football (John Elway is king!), Duke University basketball, New York Mets baseball, and Virginia Tech football.".
Boomer Liking the Denver Broncos is another thing we have in common. What would a crystal ball possibly show in your future mike? Any chance you would think about tackling a new site of your own in the future?
Mike Robbins "A site run by me? (Laughs very hard) I don't know anything about running websites. If I did, it would be a site to showcase my hundreds of coaster and theme park photos. But for now, I have them displayed at Digital Coaster, Adrenaline Rush, and even a few at the Roller Coaster Data Base.".
Boomer Now we know where to go to check out your stuff! I don't want to keep a busy service man away from his duties so I will wrap this up and let you get back to more important issues of national interest. I have enjoyed doing this E-View with you Mike and appreciate the time you have given me. But before I can let you fly away into the wild blue yonder, I have to ask you one last question. Other then RCT sites, what other Internet sites do you like to visit the most?
Mike Robbins "I am very involved in fantasy sports at http://cnnsi.com where I play fantasy football, baseball, and hockey. I also visit http://lessthanjake.com, http://greenday.net, and travel sites. Then there are also the three sites I just mentioned, http://rcdb.com, http://www.digital-coaster.com, and http://adrenalinerush.rctheadquarters.com.".
Boomer I will check those out and be looking for you there. I've got to say it's been a real pleasure Mike Robbins! Say Hi to Red and the gang for me over at the Station and I wish you all the best in all your endeavors. Thanks again for coming by and visiting for a while.
Mike Robbins "It has been a pleasure.".

Mike Robbins has left the house! Long after he is gone. Long after the sound of jet blast and the smell of after-burners had faded away. Boomer slowly rose and prepared to leave the room, when a steely glint from an object on the fireplace caught his eye. It had not been there before the interview! Picking it up it was warm and felt pleasant in Boomers old hands. Holding it closer Boomer smiled at what he saw. It was a set of wings, Air Force wings! And inscribed nobly on them, right above the words “To Boomer from a friend”, were the proud Initials RCTAF. It was hard to detect but there was a strange glint in Boomers eyes too as he carefully laid the wings back down, turned out the light and still smiling, softly closed the door behind him.