Qbism, the one that managed getting Quake Expo 2016 off the ground, gave me some time for an interview. We cover his begignings in Quake, Quake Expo, and more! Click the "Read More" button down below for a gander.
The Happy Friar: First, a little background on yourself
Qbism: I was not interested in Quake until 1999. (Prior to that my game addiction was Starcraft LAN parties with a few friends.) That summer I moved to a new town, and in December the Quake source code was released. Pretty soon I ported to the free LCC compiler that many were using to compile Q2 game code.
You can see my old PQ website archived here: http://quakewiki.net/archives/qbism/
Wish I'd logged into the old firstname.lastname@example.org email before it was gone to see what kind of spam was there!
When I got hosting at PQ i was doing a stand-alone project with qc coder and modeller Christian Ice called 'timefrag'. Later did an almost-standalone called "qbismfusion" based on Vic's qfusion engine plus mods.
When I started thinking about self-hosting I began looking for a domain. The domain qbism.com was owned by a Thai architecture firm, which is funny because I'm an architect in RL. Sadly they must have gone out of business, because when I checked a couple years later the domain was available. Fortunately this was before domains were instantly grabbed by spam parkers.
The Happy Friar:So how did you come about to get a Quake Expo going?
Qbism: Although I'd been fiddling with Quake source code since the beginning, Qexpo 2011 was the first one I participated in and paid attention to. I liked how it brought different types of people and projects together, and I did get some interest in Super8 from the event. I found that the Expo gave the project some 'street cred'.
FFW to 2014. Although a few people mentioned interest, no one stepped forward and the previous host, Chip, bowed-out due to real-life (babies will do that to you, I know...) The traditional way to do the Quake Expo site seemed to be a hard-core homemade site that took a lot of energy before and during the event. At least that was my impression from the outside. Chip is a web ninja and built a great site, and not many in the community are up to that even with enough time.
OK, now to 2016. Much more interest early in the year, but by around March commitment is fizzling and despite some vocal proponents, nobody is standing up. Now, over the past few years I'd put together a couple Wordpress sites, one commercially, but just on the side with off-the-shelf components. So I built a prototype and with a few beta-testers determined that yes, a multi-user WP site could reasonably simulate a Quake Expo format. Plus a few nice extras. My favorites were image-handling, automatic YouTube video embed, and comments. The big question was, what happens when 20 people are editing while 100 are viewing? Fortunately it didn't blow up and only went down for 3 seconds once according to system monitor.
The Happy Friar: Are there any unique challenges on getting an event like this going?
Qbism: I like to list things...
1. You don't know who is going to show up. Who will help with the site? How many booths? The main help needed with the site was not technical expertise, but writing: news, interviews, event coverage. It all came together but not necessarily from those who were speaking out in the beginning. I guessed 50 booths and 100 registered users. (check it on insideqc!) The Expo wound up with 41 booths and about 80 members. So, a little short of prediction, but look at the quality of entries! People took a lot of care on the booths. Likewise not many events/ writing/ interviews, but intensive.
2. Promotion and communication. The good news is that promotional saturation in the community was near 100%. I'm not sure if news reached deep enough in Q3 realm but anyone visiting Q1 and Q2 forums and blogs would have heard about the Expo. We only got picked-up by one larger source, Blues News, whether that's bad news or not. If doing it again I'd funnel pre-expo planning to a single forum viewable by logged-on users (Spirit had the right idea about that). Conversation got too spread-out and fragmented and lead to confusion, and in one case unfortunately used to intentionally spread confusion. People can get emotional, and there can be too much hype both pro and con. Those that actually made booths thankfully ignored hype and just got to work.
3. Learning curve. Both mine and users. I'm used to the WP interface but explaining to others made me realize just how quirky it is, especially comparing to a forum post. Part of it was the prefab nature of the site- 100 options presented but only need to use 10. The underlying issue is that the Expo runs such a short time that users have to get up to speed quickly or may lose interest.
The Happy Friar: You mention you know about babies... I'm finding it harder it harder to dedicate time to Quake/Doom related projects because of family priorities. Are you finding the same thing? Do you see many younger gamers getting interested in Quake and “carrying the torch” for events like this?
Qbism: I'm finding more time now as my children become older more independent, but still a back-burner thing. Still hard to actually finish a project before getting distracted. I've played Quake and Quake 2 with my kids at various times, though, and showed them the basics of modding. Xonotic capture-the-flag was popular in our house for quite a while. FPS games build actual hand-eye coordination, 3D perception, and strategic skills that translate to real life. This nQuake slogan from Ake Vader is a guide for parenting: "Level yourself, not some stupid MMORPG character!"
Judging from Expo participation and the bit of forums and blogs I read- Quake is still bringing in a trickle new people, and I'm guessing they're averaging in age around 30 rather than teens, and nearly all like to get under the hood and tweak things, players and modders alike. The population is small but vocal. There's movement of players between the various Quake's and offshoots. It would be interesting to know what percentages of recent Quake buyers from Steam or GOG play mods, play on servers, or wind up mapping or modding themselves.
The Happy Friar: Where do you see Quake and Quake related events heading in the near future? Do you think Quake Champions will bring interest back to the series?
Qbism: It would be tempting to call a future event "IDtech Expo". All of the open-source IDtech game engines - Doom, Q, Q2, Q3, and D3 - share a bond of do-it-yourself communities with a lot of intermingling and cross-over. And of course there are many independent spin-off projects that mix code or philosophy from multiple IDtech releases. Another reason to expand focus is to reach a wider range of audience and publicity.
Quake Champions has the potential to be a good arena successor if players accept the addition of class-based abilities. If it fares well it may bring interest to QW/ Q2/ Q3 multiplayer. As far as good-old singleplayer Lovecraftian Quake, though, obviously not what we wished. Still, the worst possibility would have been a badly-done singleplayer sequel!