It was brought to my attention by a certain fellow with an affinity for large reptiles that PBS, also known as “that channel you used to watch Sesame Street on”, has quite a presence on YouTube. They have everything ranging from a show hosted by an actual child to radio shows from fucking Alaska and even an animated series whose trailer literally features Tupac and Ray Charles in the same video. That aside, you may be most familiar with PBS Digital Studios’ joint production with melodysheep, the Mr. Rogers “Garden of Your Mind” music video. It’s all quite fantastic and I’m pleased to see PBS managing to get by through the production of all of this Portlandia-esque crap but whatever, there’s a very specific “station” within the PBS YouTube network that is the focal point of this article: the PBS “Idea Channel”.
This whole mess started when Dracophile texted me three “titles” of videos from the PBS Idea Channel. He pointed out that two of them were fakes and only one of them was legitimate and my job was to guess which one was correct. Here’s the problem, every single video title sounded like a fucking joke. They literally all read like a @Horse_ebooks tweet and I was convinced I was being fucked with because nobody would name something “The Experience of Being Trolled” unless they were a socially crippled furry trying to get their Encyclopedia Dramatica page taken down. But no, Dracophile revealed to me that this was indeed an actual fucking video by linking me to said video.
From here, a game was created based upon this very concept and Dracophile allegedly tested it out on his roommate and colleagues. Apparently it was a hit because he informed me that the PBS Idea Channel game was worth pursuing and that I’d be the best candidate to make fun of this hipster bullshit so here I am writing up this stupid game. I’ve finally been typecast for my role as a cynical piece of Internet garbage, I’m a real eMichael Cera.
Okay, the rules of this game are simple and you yourself will be able to play it in this very article. Below is a collection of video titles. One of them is actually the title of a video from the PBS Idea Channel. The others are all really shitty jokes that have been written by either myself, Dracophile, or a guest writer who uses the screen name “Music Shemale”. Wonderful. I’m not sure where Dracophile found him/her but their name is a very redundant method of saying “RuPaul”. Anyways, here’s the game. There’s a link under each group of video titles that contains the answer presented by means of the actual YouTube thumbnail for the video because these things are fucking ridiculous.
“Can Twerking Save Your Life?”
“Is Instagram the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Photography?”
“Is the Selfie the Quintessential Expression of Sexuality?”
“Are MP3s & Vinyl Better than Live Music?”
“Is Music Piracy Helping TicketMaster?”
“Can You Download a Bear?”
“What’s the Deal With Unboxing Videos?”
“What’s Really the Deal with Airline Food?”
“What’s the Deal with Jerry Seinfeld Impressions?”
“Cartoons, Dadaism, and Yiffing: A Valentine’s Day Episode”
“Obesity, Diarrhea, and Dissertations: A Christmas Episode”
“Sandwiches, Modernity, and Lyrics: A Thanksgiving Episode”
“What if 13 was 14?”
“When Does a Song Actually End?”
“Is the Internet Cats?”
“Can Anime Cure Depression?”
“Does It Matter What Evangelion’s Creator Says?”
“Can You 3D Print a Fleshlight?!”
“Are Hologram Tupac and Hologram Freddie Mercury Nostalgia or New Aesthetic?”
“What’s the Psychology Behind Pornographic Disney Fan Art?”
“What if Jeff Foxworthy was the Second Coming of Christ?”
“Does Animal Crossing Promote Otaku Citizenship?”
“What Really Happens at a Furry Convention?”
“What’s the Link Between Sonic and Autism?”
“Was Mr. Hands Really in the Wrong?”
“Would You Date a My Little Pony Character?”
“Are Bronies Changing the Definition of Masculinity?”
“Could Chuck E. Cheese’s Save the Stock Market?”
“How Will The Animated GIF Affect The Presidential Election?”
“Should Trans People Really Have Equal Rights?”
“What do MP3s and Magic Spells Have in Common?”
“How You Can Hypnotize Yourself into Incontinence with iDoser?!”
“Could ‘To Catch a Predator’ Be a Movie?”
“Is The Universe A Computer?”
“If You Put a Shrinky Dink in the Microwave Will You Go Back in Time?”
“Is Stephen Hawking Actually a Crippled Cyborg?”
“Are Mens’ Rights Activists Paving the Way for Dating Rights?”
“Is Public Shaming Via Social Media the New Vigilante Justice?”
“Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person?”
“What if Bananas Were Purple?”
“Are Otherkin People Really Dragons?”
“Does Fiction Exist? (ft. Harry Potter)”
“What Happens When You Hold in a Fart Too Long?”
“What Do Santa and Wrestling Have In Common?”
“Can You Hide a Body Using Only Prayer Blankets?”
“How Did Sherlock Holmes Pave the Way for 50 Shades of Grey?”
“Is Nic Cage the Intersection of YOLO and Taoism?”
“Does Twitch Plays Pokemon Give You Hope for Humanity?”
How well did you do? If you managed to get a few of them right that’s probably because statistically you’re going to get at least one or two by guessing and you realized after the third or fourth question that using any form of logic on this exercise is a naff fucking effort. If you totaled up your correct responses and got over half of them right then you have some explaining to do and I implore you to reconsider your choices in online entertainment. Normally if you got all fifteen correct the predictable punchline might be “you’re the host of this channel hur hur” but no, I’m not going that route; if you got all fifteen questions correct then you’re not the host of PBS Idea Channel, you’re their retarded fucking PR manager whose job it is to sit there trying to be witty while rehashing tired ass memes in an attempt to clickbait pretentious hipsters looking to engage in some serious ego autofellatio. If you’re that person, fuck you.
By the way there is no “win scenario” for this game. By virtue of participating in the PBS Idea Channel game you have lost.
– Roastmaster, Dracophile, and Music Shemale
Open a new tab in your web browser of choice. Go on, do it. Punch “twilight foundry” into your search bar and check out the images that come up. Fair warning, if you use Bing you’re going to see a disgustingly large amount of My Little Pony pornography (Twilight Sparkle) and if you’re using Google you’ll see a lot of our logos and random pictures from various articles here that get a fair amount of traffic. I didn’t check with Yahoo because I forgot they existed. Also, before we continue I just want to point out how fucked up it is that in regards to Bing any instance of “twilight” in a search term brings up cartoon horse porn. It’s like Bing knows we’re far outside of the age of making fun of that terrible vampire movie and has moved right into what’s currently hot. Purple horse vagina. Anyway, no matter your search engine of choice in any case you’re going to see this thing show up somewhere in the first handful of results:
That is the most obtuse fucking thing in the world and hilariously enough it is and has been the most persistent result when searching for “twilight foundry” in any search engine for the past decade. The reason for this is because the graphic was hosted at the popular (and now defunct) Sonic HQ which if you rewind time thirteen years was one of many frequent hangout spots of the original Twilight Foundry lineup. Since Sonic HQ received tons of traffic, and because that picture’s metadata contained the phrase “twilight foundry” on their servers, this is what every single search engine saw when they crawled Sonic HQ’s website and that’s how they interpreted “twilight foundry”. A shitty “top anime sites” award. Anime, because when I think “Sonic the Hedgehog” I immediately default to goofy ass characters with giant eyes.
Wait, that may not have been a good example.
To be completely honest with you I was kinda hoping that stupid abomination would have gone away on its own because surely over the years it’s confused countless people who’ve searched for “twilight foundry” looking for a map of the bonus level of the same name in Blast Corps. Much to my dismay it never went away. A fun side note, that image comes before any pictures of Blast Corps in search results from Bing; this fucking thing will not die. As much as I personally hate that stupid award graphic I guess in a sense it’s Foundry canon and there’s a story behind it just like every other bogus artifact from our bygone years. Since I am the only remaining member of Twilight Foundry’s original cast I guess the responsibility to tell this story falls upon me, right?
The Sonic HQ award is a relic from an older Internet back when things like webrings and spinning email GIF’s were en vogue. Awards were one of the fads of the era and everyone was giving them out both because they wanted traffic to their own sites and because niche communities were and still are huge circlejerks. Most awards weren’t 320 x 240 splashes because in the early 00’s that would have filled up a pretty generous amount of screen real estate. The reason why that picture is so large is because I’m about 90% certain it’s simply a resized screenshot from a Sega Genesis emulator of one of the various wacky level titlecards from a Sonic the Hegdehog game or something. That text was clearly plastered on with MS Paint and that background is far too ornate to have been made by the same person. The layered opacity of the blue stripes is beautifully contrasted by the haphazardly applied lettering of which I count at least four different fonts and by “beautifully contrasted” I actually mean “ruins the entire picture”.
The aforementioned person, by the way, was Twilight Foundry’s resident autistic otaku Lewis. I don’t know if Lewis is actually autistic mostly because that particular epithet didn’t “exist” thirteen years ago but since I’m writing this article in 2014 about some nonsensical crap that happened in 2001 I believe I am entitled to use some updated descriptors to jazz this borefest up so that it can be obsoleted by whatever hip lingo people are using in 2024. Lewis was really big into video games and anime and all sorts of other nonsense made of plastic that was collectible. Twilight Foundry shared a communal forums account on places like Sonic HQ and I guarantee almost all of them were posts by Lewis. I know this because he was always idle in every single MSN chatroom that the four of us frequented. Any time I popped into the Toonami chatroom he was there and he was always talking about something. I honestly have no idea what he is up to these days but I’d be willing to venture a guess that he’s some wildly popular anime blogger while I’m sitting here in the dust with a bunch of old shit I can’t get anyone to read.
Anyways, Lewis had this idea to start this “contest” in our MSN chatroom where people who hung around with us could vote for their favorite websites in a bunch of random categories on our website. I honestly do not remember how he organized this because I’m fairly certain if he would’ve tried to code a script he’d have broken the entire Twilight Zone site and I’d have remembered fixing that. Regardless, apparently the “Best Sonic Site” category was nested inside of the broader “anime” subject even though the Sonic franchise is based largely in video games and comic books. Sure, that’s anime I guess. Whatever. I’m more impressed that he was able to name two more Sonic websites at the time because thinking back to those days there really was Sonic HQ and nowhere else for Sonic news and fandom. I have no idea why Sonic HQ — a site that boasted millions of visitors — ended up in third place. My best guess is that Lewis took input/nominations from the chatrooms and the people contained in said chatrooms ended up voting for their own websites. As screwed up as that is it’s still more “fair and balanced” than Fox News.
The stupid thing is that Sonic HQ straight up slammed that gaudy image on their website like it was some magical badge of humbleness because everything else on their awards page was “first place this” and “first place that” and smack in the middle of this ass pat parade was “3RD PLACE GREAT JOB”.
The Twilight Foundry award is so appealingly bad it’s actually hilarious. What’s even better is that apparently every other recipient of our prestigious award has gone belly up because I sifted through image search results until they dissolved into Internet oblivion and I could not find a single one anywhere not even on some ironic snark blog that uses The Wayback Machine to crawl old versions of formerly popular websites looking for trash to scavenge and regurgitate on Tumblr. I can’t tell you the names of the Sonic fansites that were allegedly “better” than Sonic HQ; I can’t even tell you what the other award categories were or if they used a different wacky background for that matter. All I have to go by is a fuzzy memory that Google simply wouldn’t let go of. As much as the Sonic HQ award bothers me with its affront to any and all typesetting conventions (even by 2001 standards) in a sense I suppose I’m glad it’s still floating around out there online. It’s the only relic from the original Twilight Zone website that is still a part of the Internet’s collective consciousness and its placement in search results has served as a bizarre “remember meeeeee” cry from the Foundry for longer than I can care to try and comprehend.
It’s a piece of our history that I have to learn to like and accept for what it is because if the past 14 years have been any indication that damned thing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
– Dracophile & Lewis
Below is a collection of photos taken during the various Battle Clash events held throughout the organization’s history along with additional relevant excerpts.
Battle Clash 1.0
No photos available at this time.
Battle Clash 2.0
The Battle Clash arena for the event’s second through fourth contests was a 16′ x 16′ square with walls 8″ tall. Due to restrictions placed on the event by the venue, hazards were not permitted for use. During the three events this arena was used it also doubled as the base for the obstacle course which was built inside of it.
Jimbos, builders and drivers of The Impaler, in the pits with some spectators. Their robot was based upon the popular BattleBots competitor “Vlad The Impaler”; instead of lifting spikes Jimbos opted to use two sharpened galvanized nails on the front and back of their robot. They used this weaponry to repeatedly punch holes in the armor of MetalHead II, resulting in a 45-0 victory over the returning champion.
The pit area where Twilight Foundry Robotics set up their station. None of the team members are present in this picture, however spectators are seen here checking out MetalHead II, the reigning champion from Battle Clash 1.0. Newcomer and massive crowd favorite Terminal Impact is absent from this photo as at the time the photo was taken Terminal Impact was undergoing safety testing for its weapon.
Death By Monkeys (left) vs. Terminal Impact (right). Terminal Impact’s operator (in orange) gets ready for a massive hit while an event official (in blue) supervises the fight. Death By Monkeys was disqualified from this fight moments after this photo was taken; the robot drove up onto Terminal Impact’s spinning disc and was thrown over the arena wall.
PokeBot II (left) vs. The Impaler (right). PokeBot II lost to The Impaler in its only battle at this tournament by a 40-5 judges’ decision. PokeBot II’s metal plow, built from a scrap hand saw and padded with cushioning to keep it focused on opponents, was torn off by a well-timed T-bone from The Impaler. The crippled robot suffered further complications from its long anti-flip bar that The Impaler would frequently get under and use as leverage to push the robot around.
MetalHead II in the obstacle course. MetalHead II completed it in 23 seconds, however it damaged its chassis on one of the bricks and became off-balanced (as seen in the picture). Despite taking damage, MetalHead II went on to win the obstacle course challenge.
Pannel in the obstacle course. Pannel was built from an amalgamation of scrap parts and was subject to frequent electrical failures. The robot was disqualified from the obstacle course after one such failure rendered the bot unable to complete the course.
PokeBot II in the obstacle course. PokeBot II was piloted by the event’s youngest competitor (Twilight Foundry’s very own FpS ref1ex, just 6 years old at the time) and finished fourth overall in the course. Pictured at right is a spectator and the designer of the Battle Clash arena cheering the driver on.
A promotional picture taken of all competing teams and their robots. Teams from left to right with the number of people in parentheses: Twilight Foundry (1), Big Fat Bananas (1), Jimbos (2), Twilight Foundry (4), Typhoon (2). Robots from left to right: PokeBot II and Death By Monkeys (front, back), The Impaler, MIST, Terminal Impact and DCOI (front, back), MetalHead II, Pannel.
Battle Clash 3.0
No photos available at this time.
Battle Clash 4.0
Pannel 3 (back) vs. Terminal Impact (front). Terminal Impact’s weapon was adjusted from chain flails to solid metal spikes resulting in much more kickback into the robot. The robot came out swinging in this bout, tearing into the side of Pannel 3, but ultimately the force of Terminal Impact’s weapon disabled itself and the robot lost by a self-inflicted knockout. This photo was taken after the fight with Team Typhoon getting ready to take their robot back into the pits for repairs.
Rexit 3.0 (left) vs. Terminal Impact (right). After losing to Pannel by a knockout, Terminal Impact attempts to make a comeback in its bout with Rexit 3.0, a robot that was prone to failure in the previous two events. Rexit 3.0’s short stature resulted in Terminal Impact’s weapon being unable to hit the robot, giving Rexit 3.0 an easy victory over the bulky spinner.
Menace (left) vs. Tantrum (right). In this highly-anticipated championship match Team Typhon’s Menace squared off against Tantrum from Team Inferno, driven by Twilight Foundry alumni Dr. Inferno. Both of these robots met each other in the championship round of the previous tournament where Tantrum won with a split decision. Tantrum was built from a Tyco toy of the same name and features a front face-mounted axle with two free-spinning wheels that flip around and cause the robot to turn and writhe (or “tantrum”); Team Inferno modified this front set of wheels and replaced it with blades and a drill.
Tantrum’s driver, Twilight Foundry’s Dr. Inferno, celebrates his second tournament victory at Battle Clash. Tantrum was the only robot to win more than one event, and for both championship finals Tantrum went up against Team Typhoon’s Menace. After beating Menace in a close 23-22 judges’ decision at Battle Clash 3.0, Tantrum went on to score a knockout victory over the two-time runner-up after a particularly harsh full speed charge from Menace missed and put the robot into the arena wall, disabling its battery.
The local newspaper arrived during Battle Clash 2.0 to take some photographs for a report. While their coverage was nominal, and they did not get the name of the event correct, this plug helped spread word of the event causing a better turn out for Battle Clash’s third and fourth contests. (Names have been omitted from this scan to respect the privacy of the competitors.)
Battle Clash 4.0 is notable in that most of the robots brought to the event by Twilight Foundry did not compete due to an electrical failure in one of them plus the fact that they wanted to give more spotlight to the growing roster of new participants. Twilight Foundry Robotics creations were available for “grudge matches” after the event.
This was the last Battle Clash tournament held.
The third Battle Clash event saw an increase in the number of non-Twilight Foundry participants due to many builders getting their friends involved as well as getting a feel for what to expect in a combat environment and adjusting their robots accordingly.
Battle Clash 2.0 was the first event held at the community middle school event center following several weeks of Foundry-sponsored “robotics club” meetings where students learned how to build their own robots from RC toys. This event would be their first opportunity to test their creations in a battle setting. Because of the venue of this event hazards were not allowed due to concerns over participant safety and property integrity. To make up for this, an “obstacle course” mini event was introduced at the last minute to give participants an extra activity at the event.
Battle Clash 1.0 was held at the personal property of one of the event’s benefactors. Participants battled in a rectangular arena inside a driveway and used the empty garage as the “pit area” for repairs and battery charging. The hazards for this event included a one pound “Pulverizer” replica made of wood.
Participants in this event were sparse due to a lack of word-of-mouth advertising and venue with a large outreach. Photos from this event have largely been lost to time, however participant records still exist.
The exact date that Twilight Foundry became a group is unclear. Likewise, the exact point in time we all sat down and said “this is going to be our logo” is also a giant question mark. Internet archive searches can only lead to so much, but there’s enough evidence floating around in the vastness of the Internet to suggest that the Twilight Foundry name, group, and logo all came into being during the year 2001.
It is believed that SumDude first suggested the name “Twilight Foundry” as a wink and nod to the Nintendo 64’s then-obscure game Blast Corps, a game that was only a mere four years old at the time. Naming the group and designing a logo for the Twilight Zone website was a team effort, however Lewis is credited with drawing the original logo pictured above. Yes, that’s an MS Paint creation combining the worst possible use of the line tool, the “Westminster” font, and a complete disregard for centering or cropping. The image is also a bizarre 184 x 97; back in the early 00’s however — when maximum resolutions were still in the triple digits — this was a pretty big graphic.
With the advent of “Twilight Foundry Robotics” the new term was shamelessly tacked onto the end of the logo rounding out the trio of primary colors and creating what is more than likely the loudest logo in the history of the world. This would be the logo the group would use until its dissolution in 2004. This logo was proudly displayed on the Twilight Zone website, on the group’s real life robot combat creations, and even graced the pages and iconography of the Battle Clash robot combat events.
The Twilight Foundry logo is a curious creation, however, because it seems to laugh in the face of a readily available source of design inspiration: the Blast Corps game that the name was borrowed from.
Arguably, a potentially easier course of action would have been to recreate Blast Corps‘ in-game titles and headers (created from the “Stencil” font with a gradient and stretched vertically) than to go through the trouble of designing a formal logo. At one point this was probably discussed but it’s important to look at the logo as it would have fit in with the group’s website at the time. The Twilight Zone was a gaudy amalgamation of flashing graphics, animated GIFs, and bright colors. Some of the website was designed poorly on purpose, but most of it was unintentionally high pizazz. When a website’s background is a tiled array of a spinning gray and blue GIF named “flipmode” having a quiet logo written in Stencil doesn’t seem like a good idea. You need something loud, louder than that stupid background.
You need a giant yellow rectangle with green and blue text and black accents.
Surprisingly, when Twilight Foundry was reformed in 2008 the group kept its original logo, though it was redrawn to look nicer at higher resolutions. There was some extended discourse about what to do in regard to the old Foundry logo; it was an older relic whose loud and flashy appearance didn’t seem to fit in with the group’s newer projects, especially when their production partners at the time all used quieter black and white designs.
The result of this clashing was a slightly muted logo with redrawn lettering:
This logo (nicknamed “Neon”) never saw public use. It was reserved for in-house titlecards of various video projects when the group was operating as “Twilight Foundry Films”. Speaking of “Films”, for a period of time the original yellow logo was actually put out of use altogether in favor of an even more minimalist design:
Twilight Foundry Films used a text-only approach (the font used is Kroftsmann) with a random video clip placed above it, usually one that had no relevance to the production (or one that wasn’t even made by the group for that matter). For a brief period of time these production bumpers featured clips from Twilight Foundry’s 2001 web series Code: BS, though these were phased out and replaced with more surreal clips after only a few productions. Pictured above is one such clip from a costume creator dressed in a Feraligatr fursuit.
Twilight Foundry’s stint as a dedicated film studio ended after only a couple years. With a more refocused approach — turning their attention back to video games and the Internet at large — they were in need of a traditional logo once again. At the time, Twilight Foundry had lent their talents to designing computer games which understandably required a developer logo. The following logo was introduced in 2012 and continues to see use to this day:
Originally drawn as a small in-game pixel icon, Twilight Foundry’s current logo keeps the same look and feel of the original from 2001 but streamlines it into a less obtuse and more portable and usable size. The green “laser letters” were kept complete with their black background which was adjusted and straightened out. While the Westminster font was ultimately retired from this logo the same design behind the typeface made its way through by means of the selected accents at the bottom of the letters. All of the text was given a gentle gradient and then placed upon a slightly three-dimensional yellow block. The end result is a re-envisioning of a 14+ year old logo that’s not offensive to look at.
Our logo is one of the most important facets of our group. Over the years it’s something we feel has been uniquely designed like no other graphic out there and has served to define us for the different group that we are. The logos seem to only last for a few years at a time, so who knows when this will change again, but there’s always room for reinvention.