Staff Farewell Tribute to Tony “RadarX” Jones

After spending four years with the Ten Ton Hammer network, Tony "RadarX" Jones is moving on. His destination is Tucson, Ariz., where he's taking over the Community Manager position at Sony Online Entertainment's studio, the same studio that released the well-received Pox Nora online miniatures game. In this article, the Ten Ton Hammer staff looks back at Radar's many years with the team, and the many lives he influenced in the process. It was on a late September evening a lifetime ago in Internet years (2005), fittingly at an SOE community summit, where I first bumped into Tony. EverQuest 2 was a huge part of our network at that point, and I was looking for someone to take over the site. Through a fuzzy alcohol haze, I discovered that mild-mannered, even-keeled Tony had the knowledge, skill, and especially the sense of humor necessary to be our EQ2 lead. To read the rest of this tribute to Tony, click here!

Since the network’s birth, Ten Ton Hammer has been constantly shifting and evolving. While the network was growing from a fledgling few community sites to a sprawling swath of guide goodness, the staff was also churning, adjusting, and coming into our own. On a relatively frequent basis, new staff members are brought on board while others find jobs in the gaming industry or move on to different fields of interest. But through the years, a few staff members have stayed with the team for the long haul, and one of the longest careers on the network has been established by Tony “RadarX” Jones. Eventually, the developers at Sony Online Entertainment’s Tucson studio (the development house behind Pox Nora) came calling, and Tony couldn’t resist the urge to join his longtime friends at the online gaming conglomerate.

Tony will become the community manager for SOE Tucson.

For the staff members that worked with Tony at Ten Ton Hammer, his absence on from our forums, email exchanges, and instant messenger alerts will be heartbreaking. However, if there’s any method for one of our own to leave us, it’s always the most exciting when they can become an active part of the gaming industry. Tony will soon be an official Community Manager over at SOE Tucson, and I’m sure he has dreams to one day guide the community of EverQuest IV to their Norrathian paradise. Now he has that chance.

Though many of you already know that Tony got his start at Ten Ton Hammer, it’s certainly important to chronicle the list of games, columns, and events that Tony has worked on or been a part of over the past few years. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

Tony was recruited to Ten Ton Hammer while staring at Antonia Bayle.

Back in 2005, Tony “RadarX” Jones was just a mild-mannered Floridian attending SOE’s latest FanFaire and hoping to see his fair share of the latest bikin-clad Antonia Bayle. He probably wouldn’t have guessed that he’d quickly be brought on board to help the network’s current Editor-in-Chief, Jeff “Ethec” Woleslagle, manage and operate the quickly expanding EverQuest II community site.

It was on a late September evening a lifetime ago in Internet years (2005), fittingly at an SOE community summit, where I first bumped into Tony. EverQuest 2 was a huge part of our network at that point, and I was looking for someone to take over the site. Through a fuzzy alcohol haze, I discovered that mild-mannered, even-keeled Tony had the knowledge, skill, and especially the sense of humor necessary to be our EQ2 lead.

While the graphics may have been bright and the displays nowhere near as slick as our current version of the network’s community sites, Jeff and Tony managed to hammer out a variety of content that brought in people by the droves. Tony’s spelling wasn’t going to win him any awards, but the overall EQ2 community had grown to love the polite, intelligent, RadarX.

After Jeff was promoted beyond the realm of EverQuest II, Tony took the reins of the site and proceeded to make it his goal to become the top EQ2 site in the world. To help him accomplish his dream, Tony helped bring in a variety of individuals to the site, but Savanja was the first.

Tony is the reason why I hooked up with Ten Ton Hammer.  I was off doing volunteer pieces for Casters Realm, and he had landed a nice gig with “these new people.”  He had just started a month or so before me and was given lead of the EQ2 site and a couple of unruly writers.  Training those days consisted of "We need this done...do it" and that made for a lot of late nights and a lot of good fun in-game.

EverQuest 2 was where Tony spent his initial TTH time.

And Tony’s influence would spread far beyond his individual staffers. Through his position at Ten Ton Hammer, Tony was able to influence people in ways that most of us try to emulate. Too often, the gaming industry feels like some sort of VIP club, where only people who know people tend to get in. Tony helped people break down those walls and experience the hard work and thrill of working in a field of pure entertainment. Anna “Morvy” Dotson was one of those individuals, and she absconded a life of accounting to eventually land a place as a game tester at Microsoft.

Having given up on ever having anything to do with the games industry, Tony urged me to come join Ten Ton Hammer even if it was only on a volunteer basis.  That volunteer bit turned into a job, and that job eventually landed me my current position as a Game Tester Lead contracted to Microsoft.  Meeting him last spring at the ION conference in Seattle is probably my happiest memory of him.  Talking to the man for two-ish years, having him convince me to turn my life around (who needs another accounting job?) and then finally meeting him was quite the event in my eyes.  It was like meeting a rock star!

Throughout his tenure at Ten Ton Hammer, the man known as RadarX has been a frequent participant in the network’s busy summer conference schedule. From that first meeting at SOE’s FanFaire in 2005, the future SOE staffer consistently maintained a presence at the FanFaire’s while managing to attend E3 in Los Angeles, ION in Seattle, and the Games Convention in Leipzig, German. Managing Editor Ben “Machail” de la Durantaye remembers his first meeting of Tony Jones at SOE FanFaire 2007:

Due to his success with EQ2, Tony's reputation preceded him.

When I first started at Ten Ton Hammer, I was playing Vanguard and EQ2. Often while looking up guides for EQ2 though Google, TTH articles would pop up and Savanja and RadarX' names were all over them. Wherever I looked, there was another article by RadarX.

I went to Fan Faire that year, and made my rounds introducing myself to many of the SOE staff. And wouldn't you know it, almost every person I spoke to and told I was from Ten Ton Hammer immediately asked, "Oh, is Tony here?" or "Oh, TTH, I really like RadarX."

This guy was an icon in the SOE gaming community, and it was well earned. Hell, how many people can say they have their faces printed on trading cards? Quite frankly, I was a little intimidated by the guy.

I never got the chance to work with Tony as a fellow CM, but I was fortunate enough to cross paths with him on a few projects at Ten Ton Hammer over the next year or two. It didn't take long for my feelings of intimidation to turn into admiration. I simply can't think of anyone else I know that's better suited for a job in this industry. He has the passion and personality, and what SOE gains is our loss here.

*Shakes fist* Curses to you SOE for nerfing our network!

And truthfully, few people can claim that they’ve gotten their mugshot hand painted onto a trading cart (he's the bottom left). Few professional athletes can claim that precedent, let alone your average, working class individual. Yet with his constant knowledge of EverQuest II and the constant influx of humor into his writing, RadarX and his long time compatriot Coyote Sharptongue, made the impossible happen

Between RadarX and Coyote, the Ten Ton Hammer network was not only a daily place to get your best guides, news, and interviews on any given game, it was also one of the funniest MMO sites on the web. Between Coyote’s constant derision of Tony in his retired column Not Funny Ever to their MSTing of EQ2’s patch notes to the Ten Ton Turnip to their gaming podcast Game Over, the pair has been constantly waging war on the cynical, jaded gamers out there.

Coyote had this to say about Tony’s departure from the Ten Ton Offices:

Tony is more than just a guy on the internet, or another writer I've worked with. He is a friend, a confidant and someone that I not only trust, but I respect - words that aren't easily given by me.
 
No one works harder, takes this shit more seriously, or can be called more dedicated than Radar. He lives, breaths, eats, sleeps and craps this stuff with a passion and ability that we should all envy. For him to move on to SOE - I knew it was coming.
 
Not because I have super secret leet infoz, or because of some inside scoop. But because this was his next logical step, and we should all be happy for him. He will be making the worlds that we love, in a word, better.
 
Congrats man.
 
...
 
......I have no idea what I'm going to do without you.

Tony (in the middle left) with the group from E3 2006.

All of the Ten Ton Hammer staffers feel the same way. Tony's constant dedication to the MMO medium has kept us all enthralled with our tasks, and his knowledge of the industry put many of us to shame. Our trips to Los Angeles and Leipzig would have been far from the quality events that they were without Tony’s presence at them. Ten Ton Hammer’s Chief Operating Officer John “Boomjack” Hoskin describes his first encounter with Tony and his influence on the network:

I first met Tony at E3 2006 and though we didn't knock ideas back and forth very often, when we did, good things were always the result. 

I think what struck me most about Tony was that no matter how much I tried to find perks and rewards for him he always said, "No thanks.  I already get enough."  It wasn't true of course.  His contributions to this network have been literally priceless.  

I count myself fortunate to have worked with him, especially on our trip to Leipzig where I got to know Tony on a more personal level. 

I knew that he would eventually move to a development team and I hope that it is everything that he wishes it to be.   If for some reason it isn't, his home is always here and he can always come home. .

Jeff Woleslagle also remembers the many trips he enjoyed with Tony throughout the years:

There were plenty of fun memories, too. For some reason, they all revolved around food. Tony sat next to me at our first "family" meal at E3 2006, and graciously endured a barrage of meaty veggie chunks along with a discussion about third rate MMOs as I stubbornly pressed my meager chopsticks skill to the limit. Then another meal in Leipzig where we all watched in stunned amazement as Tony took a call from Brock, paying a veritable assload a minute on his cell, to deliver the week's WAR site assignments. I think he actually said, "I have to take this."

Tony (lower left middle) with the gathered group at E3 2006.

Finally, Karen “Shayalyn” Hertzberg describes her E3 2006 experience with Mr. Jones. Poor Tony:

My favorite Tony memory would have to be being teamed with him on the Dark & Light interview at E3 2006. That year (the last year E3 was at the LA Convention center, but the first year they tamed it a bit by making press jump through more hoops to get in) we sent a huge contingent of thirteen Ten Ton Hammer staff members to cover the event. A few of us were E3 virgins, and we were all a bit dazed by the circus atmosphere.
 
Tony and I met up in the press room to head out to greet our Dark & Light contacts. I asked him if he wanted to be the one to write the article about the game while I took some pictures, collected press assets, and shared my notes. I already had several articles on my plate, so Tony, being the nice guy that he is, offered to do the write-up. He told me he'd been assigned this game on the fly and hadn't done any homework about it, so he asked me to get him up to speed. I gave him what little intel I'd been able to gather, including the fact that D&L's developers were French.
 
We went to the interview, and the developers were indeed French. Very French. In fact, despite us leaning in and listening with all our might (listening is hard to do under the best of circumstances during all the E3 commotion) we caught about every 3rd or 4th heavily-accented word they said. I saw Tony scratching down a few notes, but the whole exercise was pretty futile.
 
As we left the interview, Tony looked at me and said, "Did you understand a word those guys were saying?"
 
"Barely," I answered.
 
"What. the. hell?" he said. "We've got--what?--at least two Canadians on staff who live close enough to the French-Canadians that they MIGHT have a chance of understanding a French accent, and who do they send to this interview? The guy who lives about as far south as you can get without being in Cuba!"
 
We laughed, and Tony bravely tackled his article. It was a short article, but he pulled it off. And I felt mean but relieved that I'd conned him into writing it.

That wasn’t the only moment that Tony “bucked up” and took one for the team. Although Tony had rarely been in front of a camera, when he was urged to do interviews with developers at the Leipzig Games Convention, Tony didn’t hesitate.

Tony with WAR’s Josh Drescher




Tony with WAR’s Jeff Hickman



As always, he did an admirable job and really put the Ten Ton Hammer network’s best foot forward.

Eventually, Tony became our “go-to-guy” in the Ten Ton Hammer staff. If there was anything that needed to be done, especially concerning community sites, Tony was the first individual we brought on board. After we pulled him away from EverQuest II, RadarX was moved to and helped create the community sites for Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa, and Warhammer Online. And, believe it or not, Tony learned the ins-and-outs of all of these games within a matter of weeks. Not only that, but again Tony was responsible for new staffers at each of those positions.

Tony was my first boss as a paid staffer when I was hired to work on the LotRO site at Ten Ton Hammer. He was pretty much responsible for teaching me everything I know. The skills I have developed over the years stem from all that he taught me. I pretty much owe my development as a writer to him. He was a great guy to work with and we had a few good laughs over the years. I wish him the best in his new position.

As his final destination, Tony came to work with me on the main portal of Ten Ton Hammer where he penned the now retired Comic Book Guy weekly column along with a slew of other features and the daily news. As the least focused of all the Ten Ton Hammer sites, many individuals find the main site to be daunting, almost an overload to the senses. Between news, interviews, reviews, and editorials, the main site crew has to be well-versed in everything MMO.

Tony feeling the hurt from Leipzig GC 2008.

Did that stop Tony?

Not for a second. He dove in head first, churning his way upstream like a salmon. These last few years have truly been heartwarming as I got to know Tony, read his early morning, bleary-eyed emails, and share some wonderful experiences with him.

My favorite memory of Tony isn’t one particular moment, but of a week we shared in Seattle at the ION conference. Although Tony hadn’t been to a conference in a few months, I was just coming off a slew of early year press events and conventions, and my internal battery was running low. Tony’s enthusiasm kept me going throughout that show, and even when my taxi cab driver escorted me around Seattle for three hours, Tony lightened the mood with one hilarious comment. He was also eager to see Seattle, so I pointed out particular places while we careened through downtown and by the Space Needle.

Tony with his booth babes.

With Tony’s help, the coverage from the show was well-received, and I know Tony will continue to bring that sort of experience and commitment to Sony Online Entertainment.. Again, all of the other Ten Ton staffers agree that you’ll continue to excel wherever you land.

I think my lasting impression of Tony is simply that he is extremely passionate about MMO gaming, which lends him a great deal of versatility. In my time with Ten Ton Hammer, I have seen Tony cover EQ2, LOTRO, Tabula Rasa, Warhammer Online, and comic-themed MMOs. He always knows something about every game, and his penchant for research fills in any possible gaps so that readers never know about them. Tony has been an anchor of this staff, lending wisdom, humor, and perspective--each in an appropriate way and with precise timing.

- Danny “Ralsu” Gourley

**

Glad to see you go to work for SOE, man, it was probably inevitable no matter how much we tried to assign you to Tabula Rasa, WAR, and the comic book MMOs. Though we're all incredibly sorry to see you go, way to pick the part of Arizona with an actual forest, though, and the arid climes of Tucson are a good trade for summer in Jacksonville any day of the week in my book. Good luck bro!

- Jeff “Ethec” Woleslagle

Keep up the good work, Tony. You’ll be missed, but we know that you’re going to do what you love. Enjoy your time, and we’ll talk to you soon!

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