Vahn Voyage, a made up name that is written across the back of a large yacht that floats aimlessly off the coast of France, and can be seen as a map on the new Black Ops 2 some are insisting is a riddled thank you to composer Phil Fischer, the lead singer of the rock band The Xbox Boys.
For readers unfamiliar with The Xbox Boys, it was a band formed in the summer of 2012 that lasted only a year and wrote incredible songs about Xbox games.
A comic strip by Stan Lee's son (his first), an album produced by Dave Mathew’s engineer Justin Armstrong, and it seemed that the stars were aligned for The Xbox Boys and the band shot to # 1 on MySpace (cool at the time) but Microsoft killed the band's hopes with a cease and desist order prohibiting the band from using the name “XBOX”.
The now infamous email sent from Microsoft legal in New York to the bands manager sent a shock-wave through gaming and retail circles like Game stop, who were poised to cash in on the band's success and already had the bands CD on shelves.
"When Microsoft sent the email to us, it cursed the band with the "mark of Cain", according to Brendan Aye, the bands manager. “Once news that Microsoft said cease and desist, no one wanted legal problems and everyone jumped off The Xbox Boys bandwagon with retailers running to pull the CD from store shelves" Aye said.
Even so, gamers pushed back with support and downloaded the music online at record rates making the band the most downloaded band on the internet in 2012 but radio refused to spin the band citing legal implications. The bands MySpace page, where you can listen to the band’s music for free, still gets 30,000 hits a day on average.
How this ties into a gaming map on the new Black Ops is fascinating, so here is the back story.
The band had many good songs. Matter of fact all of the songs are amazing but their bestselling tune was a slow and mysterious ballad named “Call of duty”. The song intimately described the difficulties of being a soldier.
In 2011 Fischer and McCracken wrote the song lifting up the game franchise up at a time when it needed a boost and at concerts, Fischer was known for throwing twenty to thirty units of Call of Duty into a screaming audience night after night and showing images of the game on the bands large HD video wall.
Readers will find it interesting that the song “Call of Duty” is actually penned from a letter that a soldier serving in Afghanistan sent home to his wife. The wife, a diehard Xbox fan sent the letter to Fischer in 2011. It reads in part:
“Thanks for the picture
I'm glad to see my son looks like me
And thank you for the letter
This ocean between us is eating me alive
Because I miss home, I miss your voice, I miss your eyes
I can't wait to hear our baby cry
Now I got to go and finish what I begun
Get my gun and run”
The music was tracked at Robert Lang Studios in Shoreline, Washington and according to Justin Armstrong the bands producer, "The band went in with a mission to write the best song we have ever written; and it was".
Fischer and writer Jesse McCracken burned the midnight oil at Lang studios and the two composers morphed the poem into one of the most beautiful songs the band ever recorded.
With the cease and desist still in effect, and the band since broken up, some are telling me privately that the gaming map is a riddled thanks to Fischer, without actually putting it in writing for the world to see, and most importantly Infinity Wards largest partner, Microsoft to gaze at.
So how is Vahn Voyage a thank you for writing “Call of duty”? The reality is that Fischer rented this same exact boat featured in the map for 3 days in Seattle at a cost of $35,000 a day to throw a final farewell party to Xbox Boy fans worldwide. Fischer named the boat "Vahn Voyage" meaning "the end" and had a huge neon sign displaying the name at the rear of the boat for everyone to see that entered the Port of Seattle.
Fischer used all of the money the band had made during its hay day to rent the yacht and over 180 people paid $200.00 per ticket to ride aboard the vessel and party for three days and three nights, all expenses paid.
The only people that would “get this” are "hard core" Xbox Boy fan because fans from Seattle who saw or heard about "Vahn Voyage".
Phil Fischer, when reached for comment in Bellevue said “It’s crazy that Infinity would recreate my boat because it was mostly Bungie people at the party but It’s an honor and it is my favorite map of Back Ops 2.”
The huge Yacht has become the most popular gaming map on the new COD series and allows players full access to the entire ship plus upstairs in the bedroom and the pilot house. Fischer's gamer tag is “Bellevue Dad” and maybe, if you’re lucky, you can see him playing “Vahn Voyage”.
Call of Duty can be heard on Fischer's website http://www.philfischer.com/chronicles-of-the-orb/