#Challenge on ETG.
#Challenge on Quakenet.
Tuesday, 10 December 2002 -
I can see no reason, on the face of it, why skilled QW 1vs1 players should not also enjoy CPMA 1vs1. Skilled VQ3 players such as ZeRo4 and Daler have enjoyed it. Why not more QW players?
It's not as if QW players need to play one or the other - they could play both. It's more a case of 'giving it a go' and having fun with something else that is also very good and a little different.
QW players should really enjoy CPMA 1vs1 - it's fast, has a map which plays very much like DM4 (CPM3), and the sort of skills developed in QW transfer across well.
But all too often I get a sense from QW players that they regard CPMA as being nothing more than a poor imitation of the 'real thing' (which is, of course, QW). CPMA is not good enough for them to play - "because it's not QW".
This strikes me as being an immature attitude and indicative of a community with a 'superiority complex' and a closed mind towards other gaming alternatives.
I think it would be fair to say that members of the QW community often regard themselves as being the "most hardcore", and "least gayest" of all the Quake communities. And I think they box themselves in with this "we're superior to you" attitude.
The QW community has for a number of years reminded me of a small, closed religious sect. Members within the sect gain security and feelings of self-worth from the shared conviction that they play the best game and all the others are "gay". Outsiders are shared targets for derision - including other variants of Quake and other games (the best target of all - cs players).
From this perspective anyone who plays CPMA is no longer "a pure QW player" and I think the fear of no longer being accepted within the QW community is what prevents many QW players from having some fun by playing another good computer game.
If you want one demo to look at - matr0x vs szAjBus
Monday, 17 December 2001 -
Despite all this, I'm still around, and I check out the Challenge sites (and the other main sites, such as Cached, Shackes and the new XSr) daily. I continue to play computer games, though as far as Quake goes I really only play CPMA vs bots or QW on a ZQuake server using Priority and Frogbots. I also play other games, and recently finished RtCW and American McGee's Alice.
So what am I, on 'holiday' or something, or have I 'retired' from Challenge? Certainly, my life priorities have changed largely as a result of my second child being due in less than 2 months. With my wife to soon be on maternity leave, I go back to full-time work on 2 January as a "senior analyst" for an Internet research and consulting company. Basically my old job.
I have written a lot of "news" on Challenge over the years, since I started in 1998. I must admit, it's great not to have that pressure of 'needing to make an update'. I had hoped that I could turn it into a full-time job, if a very poorly-paid one, but with that hope dashed I just cannot justify devoting the amount of 'spare' time required to write regular news.
Even if I wanted to, my wife wouldn't accept it, and she's right.
The fact is, when I used to write news that I felt was of a sufficient 'quality' it took a lot of time and effort. Over the last year or so I had either been using time-saving techniques and accepting a lower standard or spending ages over some stuff and really pissing my wife off. But no more, and I am much more relaxed as a result.
Also, to be honest, my motivation to write about "esports" is not what it used to be. Q3A was never exciting enough as a platform to get me quite as involved with the events, the players, and the games, as I had been with Quake 1. That's why I created CPM (now CPMA of course) and as we all know that never really "took off" though it was enormous fun to build and be involved with, and it has always had a very strong and fascinating community.
So now I'm happier to just play CPMA for fun, watch a few demos, and check out the news. Let others write the "news" :).
The majority of the active people in the Quake community seem to be in their early 20s, or younger. They've got the time, without the commitments. I'm 38, married with a young kid about to turn 3, and another 'baking' in the oven. My wife unfortunately has no interest in computer games. Sitting on the PC for long periods indulging my interest in computer gaming just doesn't work. It's the main reason why I just can't spend time on IRC anymore.
But that's cool, I really enjoy the life I lead now away from the computer. And as for the time I do spend on the computer, I probably spend more time checking out sites like CNN, the WashingtonPost, the NYTimes, Salon, Drudge, AndrewSullivan, the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, and the BBC, than I do gaming sites. Having a doctorate in Political Science with a special interest in international relations, I follow what's going on in the world at the moment pretty closely.
I don't know if I'll ever write "news" again. I'm starting to think about some other aspects of this "hobby" to explore. As for Challenge, I talked with dethkultur this week (for the first time in ages) and we both agreed that Challenge was doing fine on "autopilot". A lot of the sites are dead, but who cares. Other sites are active, and some of them I find really interesting. It's always been in a constant state of change and evolution.
It's nice to think that, having created the infrastructure for this Internet community, we can go away and come back four months later and it's still there. When I dropped by #challenge pretty much all the familiar faces were still there. The #promode channel was as busy as ever. Things have their own momentum now, and I think it's great, everybody benefits.
But Challenge is, now, just a "hobby" for me, and one that I am increasingly less "hands-on" with. It's the same with promode, I have an interest and I follow what's happening, but I seldom get involved with "operational" decisions. It's only if something comes up that I really want to have a say on that I get involved.
The Dot.Com crash was, of course, a devastating blow for a lot of websites. It was for us because we were counting on the ad revenue to generate momentum by enabling us to pay our country sites. As they grew we hoped that the revenue would enable us to constantly expand the network, to increase the range of "services" that we provide. You can see some of that vision in the way Challenge promotes a mod, and an international league (Smackdown of course), and with our multimedia site, Challenge.TV.
But then we just ran out of time and with no source of revenue, the clock stopped ticking, especially for me. It didn't help that I'm based in Australia, while all the "action" was happening overseas, and especially the "market volume". Although we looked very hard, we could never see an alternative revenue source to advertising that we could (or wanted to) pursue on a global basis using the Challenge Network.
It's interesting to see these new sites like Gamers.nu and Esports-Sweden implementing a "user-pays" model, but that's not something we wanted to do. I used to work for a "user-pays" multiplayer gaming service actually, as the Business Development Manager. That was back in 1997 I think, and we charged a monthly fee and ran servers in conjuction with an ISP. It was venture capital funded to the tune of a million bucks and one of the original dot.coms in Australia.
It's pretty hard to squeeze money from gamers, who typically lack disposable income after buying computer gear and "stuff", which is why I preferred that we squeezed money from advertisers instead. It's also pretty tough when your customers are teenagers. I really wish Izn0 and the MGON boys luck with their projects (interesting that they are now competitors in Sweden - the MGON boys being Swedish-based of course). I'll have to keep an eye on their progress.
Interestingly, the guys who created the "esports-blah" sites, MGON, talked to us about buying Challenge before they launched esports-usa. The deal fell through (I think because we wanted to keep our staff and ultimate control ;-), and they said they would just go ahead and build it themselves anyway.
The international structure, in broad outline at least (esports-usa, esports-eu, esports-sweden etc), is recognisable. But their goals, and their style, are very different (much more commercial, for a start, and not as, erm, crude :-). Good luck to them, but we were never in a position to do what they are doing, and nor did I really want to do that sort of thing.
Of course GreySeer getting sick also didn't help us at all, but even before then we were basically rooted by the advertising crash. Luckily, we had already created enough of the Challenge infrastructure that the community was self-sustaining. That's why it can seemingly burble on now, with not much in the way of anything new in the works, and it doesn't seem to really matter.
So for myself and for dethkultur and GreySeer, it's a hobby now, and I think that having put in a lot of work to get it this far, we are thankful to our host, SpeakEasy.net, and the OGL, for enabling the network to continue to provide the service that it does, to (probably) several thousand gamers worldwide. When you put in that much work, it's nice to see the returns, and I'm not talking about dollars at all.
I don't see Challenge changing in any significant way in the near-term, though who can predict what happens in the future. I hope we can keep going for a few more years just like this, with various country sites producing raw, unrefined commentary and news, the Smackdown League providing QW with an international platform, and promode developing and offering constant enhancements and advancements to the high-performance FPS platform. Even if Challenge were to go away, these things would no doubt continue in another place, such is their level of development now.
So back to the original question: have I retired from Challenge? No I don't think so, it's just that Challenge doesn't require my "hands-on" management any more. But I still want to remain involved with any major decisions that may come up. Because, I'm still the Chairman of the company that owns the domains (dethkultur and GreySeer are two of my major partners). That company pays for those domains, as well as for the annual company tax return (AU$500), and the annual company registration (AU$200). Ultimately, that company is liable for what happens with Challenge, though if anyone sued us they wouldn't get very much ;-). And of course, as the original creator of the Challenge network, it's just my baby.
So I'm going to still be around, though not as visible. Although I'm not on IRC, I can be contacted by email, and most emails get replied to within a week. There are some that 'slip through the cracks', depending on what's going on at the time and how I feel. Usually, if they're important, then I get to them reasonably quickly. If you don't get an answer, send a reminder. After all, I am getting old.
Have a "merry Christmas", if you celebrate that holiday. If not, be just be merry :). Enjoy the Challenge Network for what it offers, and make the most of it as several people have. I'm still enjoying it, and if you are one of the guys "writing news" you can bet that I read your stuff and really do appreciate the time that you put into it.
Catch you around.
kt, god knows when I can find time to lan in the next 6 months, but I'd really like to. One of these days :).
Saturday, 21 July 2001 -
I've been watching some of this stuff over the past few days and it makes for some "reality TV" with a difference. The 56 kbps stream is good enough to run in the background while I do other things and I can hear the NASA commentator from the next room. There is a handy schedule too, and I'm looking forward to checking out the landing.
airlock. The Shuttle is pointing out to space, hence you
can't see the view he can see, of the Earth behind the
camera. The robotic arm is carrying one of the
pressurised gas tanks needed for the airlock.
What they've been doing in this mission is attaching an airlock to the ISS which will enable then to exit the ISS wearing US spacesuits (currently they either have to wear Russian suits and exit the Russian module or they have to use a docked Shuttle). To attach it they need to use two robotic arms (one on the ISS and one on the shuttle) and two space-walkers. The first spacewalk (EVA - Extra Vehicular Activity) was to attach the airlock itself (Quest). In the second they attached some Oxygen and Nitrogen tanks to the Quest airlock. In the third, which is just starting now as I type this, they will exit the airlock (rather than the shuttle) to attach the final tanks. That way, I guess, the guys installing it are the first ones who have to test it, which will make them concentrate on getting it right first time.
In other "space news", on Wednesday I got up before sunrise and drove half an hour or so down the coast to see a rare line-up of heavenly bodies from a lookout bluff overloooking the ocean (looking east). The heavenly bodies were (looking from top to bottom) Saturn, Venus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Mercury. They were all lined up and it looked kind of spooky, but that may have been because I was the only person on that clifftop in the dark. Right now is also a good time to see Mars in the sky as it's just passed very close to earth.
If you've seen that stupid program which put the "case" that the Apollo moon landings were all faked, you'll know that one of the "pieces of evidence" given was that there were no stars visible in any of the photos taken on the moon. Guess what, you can't see any stars in the live coverage from the many cameras on the Shuttle or ISS either. The reason, if you stop to think about it, is because in order to capture the stars the cameras would have to over-expose the foreground images. I can still remember in 1969 being woken up by my dad to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on a grainy black and white TV.