Psyonic: I'm ready whenever you are.
Mark4: lets do it
Psyonic: Awesome. I just got done with Fox, we talked for about 30min. Didn't mean to go so long but we were having fun.
Mark4: =o I will try and live up to Fox!
Psyonic: Lol Think you can last longer then him big boy? ;) That's suppose to be a wink. *cough* Anyways...
Psyonic: Bad way to start an interview.. Ok, well Thanks Mark4 for taking the time to do this So I'll get started with this question: About how old were you when you started getting into online gaming? And what got you hooked?
Mark4: Stracraft was really my first online game in a wider community. I used to play Warcraft2 with some friends by directly dialing to each other in the old days, along with some FPS like Duke Nukem. How can you not be hooked? You get to play computer games with your friends! That's about 100% awesome right there, even though we take it for granted nowadays.
Psyonic: Warcraft 2. Those were the days...
Mark4: I think I was late teens when I started the dialup wars.
Psyonic: So you were impressed with what Battle.Net had to offer in online gaming then? As in, helping you to totally own your friends. =p
Mark4: When starcraft was first released I was in Korea, but I had heard of it from playing warcraft 2. So I got it when I got back to the USA and I started playing online within a few weeks of beating the single player game. I was so worried about losing I wouldn't play someone who had a 5-0 record or something for my first game, I searched for a noob like myself =]. Battle.net really impressed me.
Psyonic: Korea? What were you doing there?
Mark4: Defending freedom!
Psyonic: In your late teens?
Mark4: Late teens was for warcraft 2 vs friends, early twenties was when battle.net came out. I had just been commissioned in the army and korea was my first assignment.
Psyonic: Oh, I always knew you were in the military but not that young. That's awesome. =)
Mark4: I joined right before college in the national guard for college money, and I liked it a lot so I decided to try it full time for a while when I graduated.
Psyonic: So how is it that you came to meet up with Johnny_Vegas?
Mark4: Johnny and I met because of our mutual love for island games in starcraft. We had some wierd guy who also liked island maps (named shroom something) who played with us both seperately and hooked us up for some 2v2 games. Our styles were very complementary with Johnny loving the micro and cooperation of terran in team games, and I loved the macro/micro power of toss when played on islands. We would message each other when we needed a partner for our beloved island games.
Psyonic: Island Hop? =p
Mark4: Dire baby, Dire!
Psyonic: It's all about those Straits.
Mark4: Any and all islands were great though. Island Hop was a lot of fun too.
Psyonic: So you two meet before you began posting reports of your games on the B.net forums?
Mark4: Yes. In fact I never really had games that I was bursting to tell people about until Johnny and I teamed up. After we played a few times I had to start writing.
Psyonic: Mainly to let him know how you kicked someone's ass? Or you wanted to share with the community?
Mark4: I just loved the games. They were so new, so much fun, so many strats to share, and yes, bragging about my victories had a little part in it.
Psyonic: So how did the idea of BattleReports.com form? I 'm sure it was more then bragging about your victories. =p
Mark4: I mean, the number of winning games I wrote about vs losing games... lets say I like to win and like to write about what I like =]
Mark4: Johnny was a great web designer, and he liked my stories a lot. The idea sprung from our conversations but it was his. He was the driving force.
Psyonic: How so?
Mark4: If I remember correctly he said he just couldn't bear to see all my great stories get swept away on the tide of the b.net forums, so he started designing battlereports.com. I advertised and promoted it when it started, and he did the coding.
Psyonic: So how did BR.com first look? I assume it looks like nothing that it is today.
Mark4: Oh yes, it was a very old style look. All black and green neon writing. Johnny might have an old copy lying around if you ask.
Psyonic: I will. That would be interesting to see. Yeesh! Neon green writing! I think everybody did that when internet started getting big.
Mark4: http://web.archive.org/web/19991002101045/http://www.battlereports.com/ There you go, br.com in its 1999 neon green glory.
Psyonic: Whaha. That's awesome! =p So how did you create the Report Center? I'm sure it wasn't an easy task?
Mark4: The report center was all Johnny. He did all the code, I had little to do with that side aside from using some automated tools he developed to post news and delete spam etc.
Psyonic: So how did you attract people to the BR.com community? Did it start out small or was there already a large fanbase due to your reports?
Mark4: I did my thing mostly, writing reports, reaching out to i2e2 and other organizations to let us report on big competition finals etc.
Psyonic: Oh? And did they let you?
Mark4: It started medium sized due to the people we brought from the b.net forums, and it grew quickly from big sites linking specific report that were awesome, like YRM's stuff. http://www.battlereports.com/viewreports.php?reportnum=1927 i2e2 finals game report =o
Psyonic: Oh wow. I don't remember reading this and I've read alot of reports.
Mark4: from 2000 =]
Psyonic: So was that a pretty big success for you? Reporting on big compitition games like that?
Mark4: It was big in helping us get a lot of exposure, but then certain things led to a dwindling popularity.
Psyonic: How so?
Mark4: Starcraft started being less popular in the USA, replays came out which made battle reports seem silly to people who hadn't read one before... I mean here in Korea (where I am today) starcraft is still televised and the biggest companies sponsor teams, but in the USA it never made it that big and the momentum stalled and the popularity of starcraft as a whole declined. With BR.com being an english speaking website...you're only good as a website if you have compelling content and our content wasn't compelling to a huge english speaking audience anymore.
Psyonic: So. If we all started speaking Korean we'd be huge? Get to work Mark4! Translate everything!
Mark4: Hehe =] ha gaess sum ni da!
Psyonic: I'm kidding though. I suppose it'd be too big a question to answer but why did Starcraft die out in the US? I mean, tons of people still play it. Do you think Blizzard gave up on it too early? There weren't many ladder seasons.
Mark4: I think Korea was a great place for starcraft because they had a huge population of internet cafes and buying starcraft was very simple business decision for the owners, where in the USA people had other great games to choose from, and consoles became very popular as time went on. I think Blizzard gave excellent support to starcraft for a very long time, tinkering with balance and releasing brood war etc. They have done for starcraft what very few developers have ever done for any game outside of MMORPGS, which is continuous support and upgrades over a very long life cycle.
Psyonic: That is true. There was a patch released not too long ago and when I logged on I was, like, what?.
Mark4: For a game published in 1998? How great is that?
Psyonic: Very good! Speaking of games being published... Starcraft 2. Thoughts?
Mark4: I'm playing the theme to Team America: World Police in my head but I replaced America with Starcraft2.
Psyonic: Hahaha. So your just as excited as anyone. =p
Mark4: I have avidly watched all the news on it. I am hugely disappointed I didn't go to the unveiling here in korea.
Psyonic: I went to Blizzcon. It was great to demo the game. But we're not talking about me.
Mark4: I have watched all the movies and I think it will be everything starcraft was and more. The time has finally come for a 3D RTS. The technology has caught up in my opinion and the game to do it is Starcraft2.
Psyonic: You think Starcraft 2 will stand up to it's name? I mean, like you said. Starcraft is still a huge competetive sport.
Mark4: I think it will. I have some small reservations, like it seems that Terran will have some AOE stuff that was confined to Toss last time, etc, but it is way to early to sharpshoot. I believe it will be the best game that has ever been published to that point when it is released, just like starcraft was in 1998.
Psyonic: Do you have plans on returning to the Starcraft Universe yourself?
Mark4: I will buy and play the game without a doubt. I'm an old man now so I probably wont be as good as my imagination tells me I was at starcraft, but I couldn't possibly stay away.
Psyonic: You have plans on reporting your games? A return to reporting I should say.
Mark4: Well, I'll have to see how my time usage looks like. Keep in mind that I started reporting in part due to the job I had then where I had a lot of down time and access to a laptop so I would write stuff during my breaks and off time. In my leisure time I'll be playing the game, and hopefully I'll have an exciting job so I'll be busy at work =]. But I'm sure I'll have to write a report or two for old times sake.
Psyonic: That's good news to hear. Think you and johnny will own it up on islands like the good ol' days? =p
Mark4: Haha, I hope so! Johnny is a busy man with his family now though.
Psyonic: JV is a good man. We're glad he's still sticking with the site. Anyways, I know we've been talking for about a half hour or so but I have a few more questions. Are you still ok?
Mark4: Hit me.
Psyonic: So the way you reported, it was quite diffrent from what most people would write during that era. What would you focus on when you wrote? What point would you try to get across when you reported a game?
Mark4: I'd try to get across exactly how I felt and how the game looked to me as I was playing/watching it, and why I made the decisions I did. I tried to help people get into my mind and see how I'd percieved the whole game.
Psyonic: So was your aim to help yourself with your reports or help others?
Mark4: Other people had better graphics skills, better grammar, better writing styles, what I tried to bring was the visceral feel of the game.
Psyonic: So to help others then.
Mark4: Well, it was a combination. I would tell my story and people would help me with strats, and other people would learn from mine. Plus, I just like telling stories! Check out my AQD3 reports for a good example of that theme coming through strongly.
Psyonic: We know. =p "But it just might be enough to take out that chobo death star." Your humor really added to the reports.
Psyonic: So now that BR.com is almost 10 years old and with a new site design in progress. How do you feel about the site? That might be poorly questioned...
Mark4: Well, keep in mind I'm no longer affiliated with br.com.
Psyonic: Yes, but I assume you secretly drop by every one and awhilem or keep up with some old contacts from the community
Mark4: Of course. I like to read a report every so often, usually something from the front page news. And I lurk on Shox all the time. I think its still a great site, with a great idea (credit to Johnny) and it will have a very big comeback with starcraft2 being released.
Psyonic: Excellent. Well Mark, thanks for your time. Would you like to do any shoutouts?
Mark4: Also, I think the main strength has always been from two parts. The first from Johnny with his dedication and coding talent, and the other from the great fans and reporters and admins of the site. This is truly a user generated site and the users have been incredible. I really feel it has brought out the best in a wide variety of people who wanted to share thier great stories over the years. So my shout out goes to the all the people who have every written a report =].
Psyonic: =) I'm sure the fans apprciate your words.
Mark4: Hey, I'm a fan of br.com too, even in my decrepit old age.
Psyonic: Hahaha We'll make sure to keep you to your promise of coming back to chill with us for awhile when SC2 comes out. =) Thanks again for your time Mark.
Mark4: No problem. I would like to say one last thing though.
Mark4: Which maybe you could insert somewhere else but I think people might be curious about how certain behind the scene things happened.
Psyonic: By all means if you have something more to say, continue!
Mark4: YRM was a great part of br.com at the beginning, and he had great reports, even came onboard to do the current graphics for the site. He's the only guy I met in real life from the site. We even logged on b.net using his ID and had me own some people who thought they were playing him when he visited =]. But he had other projects and slowly faded away.
Psyonic: Nice to know he was such a good friend of yours.
Mark4: Also, a few years ago I started a professional school and career path that really took a lot of my time, starting with my tour in Iraq in 2004. So eventually I realized I couldn't really put the time in that br.com deserved and I let Johhnny know. He understood and wanted to try a new direction in a lot of the business aspects, (this is when he started doing google ads etc) and being the gentleman he is offered to buy me out for a decent amount. He definitely didn;t have to do that and it made me realize even more what a stand up guy he is.
Psyonic: I never realized you guys actually had shares in BR.com
Mark4: I still email Johnny every so often about games he might like and life stuff a bit, but I haven't been in touch with YRM for years now. Anyways, it was a gentlemen's agreement and Johnny stuck by it like a gentlemen when it came time for me to get out.
Psyonic: Well that's a good thing to know. When I do his Wiki Page I'll make sure to include that.
Mark4: Yup. Well, this has really been great, it brought up a bunch of really good memories of some of the best times I've had on computer games, so thanks for letting me say my piece.
Psyonic: No problem. =) Your an intergrated part of BR.com. You won't be forgotten anytime soon.
Mark4: ok big guy, I have to go. North korea needs invading.
Psyonic: Good luck!
Mark4: Well, in my practice scenario at least. =] Cya!