Interview No. 75
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is an interesting one, if you didn't find Newgrounds on your own chances are you found it through the website we're going to talk about today. I think it's important that I tell you how this interview came to be. You see MiniClip has a Newgrounds account here and I thought I'd take a shot and just send a PM to the account. To my surprise I got a response, from a person who manages contact information. He hooked me up with the Head of Games of MiniClip, Alexander Williams. He agreed to answer a few of my questions that I had for MiniClip. So today's guest is Alexander Williams, Head of Games for @MiniClip.
Q: The best place to start is at the beginning. When did you find the Internet and what about it appealed to you?
A: I first got on to the internet at school in 1993. At the time it's only use for me was in researching my schoolwork but it felt cool not to have to go to a library to find information and it felt so much more up to date and relevant than anything that had been printed.
Q: Whose idea was it to make MiniClip and why?
A: Miniclip was founded by Tihan Presbie and Rob Small. They wanted to create new online entertainment. A lot of the stuff at the time was old television cartoons being repurposed for the web and they saw an opportunity to do something new in games and small flash clips.
Q: What is your job at MiniClip?
A: I am the Head of Games. I am responsible for sourcing the content for the website.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: Newgrounds was one of the first places we found that was doing something new with flash games, allowing users to make and post their own games for review and comment by other users was pretty cool and it was a great place to spot new trends and talented designers doing what they loved.
Q: Your first game uploaded to Newgrounds would be entitled Dancing Ant. Looking back on that now are you still proud of it?
A: Looking back it is pretty obvious we have come a long way. I still like Dancing Ant because it reminds me of the early days of the company and the low barrier to entry for someone new to get in to flash development. Poser was a good friend to someone starting out and we cut our teeth on pretty rudimentary animations and games. It is very cool to see some of the work that is done these days but certainly for Miniclip Dancing Ant was a fun place to start.
Q: You have been a publisher at one point in your time. You brought us the game RuneScape. How did you acquire that and where does MiniClip stand with RuneScape now?
A: We were introduced to Runescape though the cousin of a colleague, he came back from a weekend at home saying "He was playing it all weekend and raving about it!" So we all jumped in, tried it out and were hooked. We were just beginning to look at the model of partnering with developers of larger game and Runescape seemed like a perfect fit for the growing Miniclip audience. We have enjoyed working with Jagex (the developer of Runescape) and are still publishing Runescape on Miniclip.com along with other titles from Jagex.
Q: You do tend to have connections with Newgrounds. One game uploaded on Newgrounds would be entitled Fragger, it was uploaded by Newgrounds user Harito. Then you would come out with Fragger Lost City. How did this come to be?
A: When we saw the original Fragger game we knew it was a winner and wanted to get involved in bringing it to a bigger audience. We worked with Harito on developing the new levels and sequels to Fragger and continue to see great success with the flash game as well as the mobile versions.
Q: How well do you know Newgrounds founder Tom Fulp?
A: We spent a fair bit of time in contact with Tom over the early years as we were keen to get featured on the Newgrounds frontpage.
Q: When it comes to doing your own game site, what problems tend to arise?
A: The size is now a 'challenge' so to speak. When we were a smaller company we could build out or components in a day or so, but now we have so many users everything needs to be scaled up to support them. Building a new highscore system that can handle 65m users a month is no longer a 1 day job. Along with that is the constant challenge of managing the hardware the site runs on. Whilst many people don't think a games site has to be a stable as a bank, you will soon lose users if the games are not available 24/7, if the highscores/player leagues don't work, if the games crash your computer. All these have always been there but at our current size they represent a problem to a LOT of users if things were to go wrong.
Q: Was there anything about your site that you regret doing?
A: I suspect our web designer would say "using nested tables" when we first built the site and I would say capitalising the 'C' in the original logo which now bugs me ;-) !!.However I don't think there is anything major we have done that we haven't learnt from and so no, we don't regret anything about the site.
Q: What can we expect from MiniClip in the future?
A: Plenty more great games, in many more places. We are pushing heavily in to Mobile, we have started with iOS as it is the most mature market but are investing in Android, WP7 etc. I am pretty excited about the updates coming to Flash in the coming months namely Stage3D (Molehill) which looks to be pushing the limits pretty nicely on what developers can do with Flash.
Thus is MiniClip. A small gaming website that exploded into something more. Some Newgrounds members probably found their ways here through MiniClip and people from Newgrounds probably found their way to MiniClip through Newgrounds. One thing I always saw MiniClip for was a junior version of Newgrounds in a way. Fun and friendly. If you like to make games and are debating on making your own gaming site, then please take notes.