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Interview

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PresBMK of Quest For YAP
By: OMGN | Game Data | 1:42pm, July 9, 2003
Codemasters Generic UK Eshop Pop up
PresBMK is the creator/developer of the free browser-based space strategy game, Quest For Yap . Recently, he agreed to become OMGN's very first interviewee. Here's the end result:

OMGN: Let's start with a self-introduction of yourself, the person behind PresBMK.

PresBMK: My name is Bryan Krause, currently I'm a highschool sophomore. I'm 16 years old. I'm from Saint Michael, Minnesota, about a half-hour north of the Twin Cities, and I go to school in Elk River. Outside of the internet, I've played drums for a band as well as in a school-sponsored percussion studio where we do some crazy things like bang on trashcans for regular band concerts. I'm a general music addict. My computer's playlist includes well over 1000 tracks from a variety of genres. Lookin forward to gettin my drivers license
so I can leave the house a little more often.

OMGN: What was your experience as a gamer before you started Quest For Yap?

PresBMK: I had played a variety of games. A few of my favorites were the C&C series of games as well as the Age of Empires series. I was really into real-time strategy. Somehow I stumbled into the world of BBGs through Solar Empire . At that time, the game was really in its infancy. I joined the gaming clan House Forsaken and got into a few other BBGs, such as Space Merchant as well as Earth: 2025 and a handful of games based on that.

OMGN: Why did you decide to start your own game?

PresBMK: I felt my favorite game, Solar Empire, was going downhill. I'm a believer in actions being greater than words, and I felt like I didn't have any right to keep on complaining about Bryan Livingston's management of the game if I wasn't willing to step into his place and do something for myself. I grabbed a handful of talented people from House Forsaken and started work on my
own BBG.

OMGN: Has running a game enhanced your gaming enjoyment?

PresBMK: It has definately decreased the amount of time I have to play similar games. More than anything, though, it has really increased my respect for game creators. Those guys don't get enough respect. I thought I respected game creators enough before, but I realize now that I didn't fully appreciate their sacrifices. Especially in non-commercial games that are really just the creator's donation, those developers really deserve a hand. I've really learned to respect the man I used to despise for his management of his game, Bryan Livingston. At the time I left Solar Empire, my opinion of him was that he was lazy and didn't care about his game. Now, I understand that his reason for neglecting his game was probably that he got little back for the work he put in and that he had better things to do.

OMGN: What has the response to Quest For Yap been like?

PresBMK: Yap has gathered quite a few dedicated players. Almost everyone who plays considers Yap to be their favorite game, and some have even reported withdrawal symptoms during times they were unable to play. Even so, Yap is a small community. While many online games attract memberships well over 500, Yap's games rarely have more than 200 players in for a round. Yap has registered an average of about 700 unique visits per day during the busiest months, but no more than that.

OMGN: How has the interaction with Yap's players been?

PresBMK: With me or with each other? A few rivalries have popped up where flame wars result on the forum and it really hurts the game's feeling, in my opinion. Often, such things start as playful jabs people start in an attempt to create a role play with good and evil, and someone takes something that is said too seriously. I personally have a speaking relationship with a handful of players outside the game over AIM and such. This leads to many people claiming favoritism of Admin towards these players, but I try to just ignore such complaints. I talk to so many people from such a variety of factions in-game that I see no room for favoritism.

OMGN: Have you ever felt like you wanted to just quit, and just shut Yap down?

PresBMK: Most definately. Sometimes the game has an atmosphere around it that is very un-fun for me. So far I've stuck it out, but it's very difficult sometimes. It is hard to justify throwing money every month into a game that causes me a lot of stress and doesn't result in any return as far as monetary compensation goes, and while a few players really show their appreciation, others deem to only whine and complain and it can become very stressful, especially when things go wrong. When I am renting servers from companies hundreds of miles away, there is very little I can do to fix technical problems that may arise, and it becomes very frustrating.

OMGN: If you could go back in time and start all over, what would you do differently?

PresBMK: I would have managed my relationship with House Forsaken's players better. I had really made the game for those guys, but I think I might have gotten them involved too soon. I desperately needed people to try out the game, and they were the group I had most access to. Now, none of them play Yap. They all got fairly bored of the game early on while it was still less than 10% complete. The game is much different now, but few of them are even willing to come back and give it a shot again.

OMGN: How much influence has Yap had on other games?

PresBMK: Yap hasn't been around long enough to have much influence on other games. I personally had some influence on some versions of Solar Empire that are currently running in different places, and some of those ideas that I had for Solar Empire may also have been incorperated into Yap, but other than that Yap hasn't had too much of an effect on other games. In recent years, the number of BBGs has ballooned. Unfortunately, I feel that Yap has been overrun in this wave and too few people discover it.

OMGN: Some say that Yap is simply a variation on Solar Empire. How do you respond?

PresBMK: I ask these people if they have played Yap, and if so, how much time have they put into it. Yap takes much from Solar Empire, but I have been very careful not to take anything original from any game. While you can compare Yap to Solar Empire, the similarities end in format alone. Gameplay is dramatically different. Yap is built much on ideas from both Solar Empire and Space Merchant. Both games include shields and armor. Yap's system of weapons is comparable to Space Merchant's system of weapons. Drones in Yap are similar to fighters in Solar Empire. Yap's planets defend themselves much like Solar Empire's planets, but include construction and other things that I actually modeled from an old graphical DOS multiplayer game that I played. I'm sure you could take anything from Yap and compare it to something for another game. How everything fits is what makes the game unique.

OMGN: Running a game is often a labor of love as opposed to being a money maker. How active is Yap's community in helping to promote the game, creating fansites and clansites for the game, making good suggestions for new features and ways to operate the game or other help with the game?

PresBMK: A handful of people have made noble attempts. Few of the fansites have really taken off. Generally, they start out with the creator putting in a lot of effort, and then work tapers off and so do visits. A handful of clans have created clansites, but because Yap's clans tend to change around a lot between games, there are very few permanent clans to have sites for. Earlier in the game's development there were tons of suggestions. Some were very good; others were clearly leeched from other games and I refused to implement
them. New players suggest a lot of things that don't fit the game, asking for things such as more turns or a system to allow people purchase more turns. More recently, suggestions have tapered off and replacing them have been complaints. People are now tending to complain about a problem rather than propose a solution. One area that remains strong is in new strategy. Sometimes the innovative strategies people come up with are so powerful that the game needs to be altered to counter them.

OMGN: Recently, Yap was subjected to a hack attack. How have the players responded and how is the game recuperating from the ordeal?

PresBMK: There was a lot of anger towards whoever attacked the game, but who exactly did it has never been discovered. The general playership was very
supportive and very patient during the extended time the game was down. Unfortunately, many players were lost as well, especially people who were newer to the game and hadn't become fully addicted. Some old players have taken this as an opportunity to return to the game, though, and so membership remains decent. Now that the game is back up and running, the memberbase will
eventually return to where it was before the attack.

OMGN: Where do you see yourself a year from now, both personally and with Yap?

PresBMK: I feel Yap is fairly complete, at least the two main versions of the game I have running, Original and Melee. Melee is still being expanded, with new ships, weapons, upgrades, etc, but the general layout is finished. A potential addition of a new game type has been suggested and is very likely. Focus in the new variation would be on relations between races with complex NPC systems and diplomacy. Personally I'll be enjoying my newfound freedom as I experience life running at the pace of an automobile. I'm also looking forward to going to a brand new highschool next year.

OMGN: Prior to the hack attack, you started up a gaming productions place called Black Jack Productions, added Poseidon, and started work on a new game, Quest For Yap: Ground Wars. How are things progressing with them and what is your goal for them?

PresBMK: I have dropped Poseidon. Interest was minimal, many similar games exist, and I wasn't as willing to put the needed effort into a game that needed
more work than I had realized at first. The Ground Wars project has been dropped as well, but was a good learning experience in preparation for a new project tentatively titled Crunch the World which has taken its place. At first, I had wanted my move into the MMORPG field to run parallel to my previous work, Quest for Yap, but I have decided instead to distance myself a little bit and create a new world from scratch. I also had wanted to make some major changes to the GW engine and I decided starting over was the best course of action. CW's production has slowed in the past month or so due to problems with Yap and stresses on me as the school year comes to a close. I hope to speed up development with the onset of summer.

OMGN: Finally, would you like to add anything?

PresBMK: Come check out Quest for Yap at www.yapquest.com. There can be a bit of a learning curve, but you'll find plenty of people who are willing to help you out and get you started, just ask! I look forward to seeing you! Also, I need the help of graphics artists who are willing to donate their time and skills to my CW project. If you think you can help out, please contact me at bryan.krause@att.net.

Bryan Krause aka PresBMK
Quest For Yap

Written by Charles Rector
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