What prompted that design? Why not a more straightforward method like a small executable?
JC: Well, we really wanted it to be something where people go in and out of the website. The core concept here is that one of the major things that PCs do much better than consoles is the web browsing experience -- looking at lots of data and navigating around, finding different things, refining queries in different ways. PCs are still just plain better than consoles at that.
A lot of this project was about doing something that the PC was going to be better at than the consoles. Our modern triple-A stuff has to be somewhat more console-centric, with the PC as a peer, while this is an opportunity to do something where the PC will really stand alone.
The browser experience was a major part of that. We want to be doing things with the social networking, the communications and friends lists and inviting friends, ranking all the different things, drilling down through all the different games played and all the leaderboards.
These are things that certainly appear to some degree or another on the consoles, but are just a lot more fleshed-out and have more depth with what we can do here.
It'll be interesting to see if hardcore people play full-screen still. You can go full-screen and focus on the game -- keep all your attention on there. But I suspect that probably there will be a lot more people, as our user base grows, who are playing it just in the browser window.
They may be never even having to learn or care to switch to full-screen because they want to get all the notifications when their friends are signing on and doing different things, or they have other windows open with other things going on there.
I'm curious to see how that actually plays out in the end -- how many people look at it as a serious gaming experience and just use the portal to get there, versus the people for whom the portal is a large chunk of the experience.
For years, I've often thought about the fact that a lot of people spend vastly more time on websites and forums about the games that they're playing than they actually spend playing the games themselves. We hope to have some aspect of that here.
On the social note, do you plan to do integration with sites like Facebook, where you have an actual app that will run the game and tie the accounts together?
MS: Definitely. Actually, our PR agency has a woman that specializes in those types of things and hooking up us with developers if we need that assistance. I'm looking at hiring an intern, honestly, who's done that stuff through college, for a few months to investigate.
We already have some people who, even on their own in the beta, have created forum signatures that you can transport to other forums that dynamically pull information from our stack and show which character you are, your win-loss record, and what your favorite arena is. Cool integration like that is already being followed up, even through people in our beta community.
Going back to the people who run full-screen versus those who run in a window, that probably to some extent reflects a more or less hardcore attitude. Do you have any idea as to the ratio of the people have that decade of experience, and the people who are newer to the game? Is it trending in either direction?
JC: Since it's been a closed beta and we seeded it with just the hardcore community that were still playing the game from its original release, we're definitely skewed pretty hard towards the serious players right now. And that's actually made it a little bit of a challenge to get some of the automatic skill-ranking stuff looking right.
Even a big influx of brand-new users we probably won't even see on the opening day, because it's going to be mostly people that already are familiar and aware of this. It's going to be real interesting, a few months down the road, when it's percolated out towards people that weren't necessarily in the Quake or id or even FPS community.
MS: Or that were eight when Quake III came out.
MS: Honestly! When Quake III came out, 18-year-olds were eight years old at that time.
There really is, I think, a pretty fertile ground for guys in college who've heard about Quake and know id and Doom, to then hear, "Hey, here's a free game that's a first person shooter. It's totally what you'd expect to get in a retail package, and it's free at this website." There's a lot of potential there.
JC: And certainly, for the business model to work out, we have to wind up getting many more people playing than ever played the original game.