Interview No. 110
Interview By: Members of Newgrounds
Today's guest is once again Tom Fulp. He has been interviewed on three different occasions, by myself. Today though is a different day, for I decided to give the power of The Interviewer into the hands of the Newgrounds Members. I allowed them to ask Tom questions in a thread and asked Tom not to enter the thread. I even sent the questions off to him as I normally would, so up until this point, the questions have been anonymous. I supervised the thread and chose which questions passed and which ones didn't. For the most part, some really good questions did come through. Also keep in mind that this was posted months after the questions were asked and answered, so for the Unknown person, chances are either their account or posts were deleted. So please welcome once again @TomFulp as interviewed by the Newgrounds Members.
Ryanson: What was the hardest thing about getting Newgrounds off the ground?
A: Newgrounds had such a gradual rise that nothing comes to mind as the ONE thing that was hardest to get off the ground. I would say that as an ongoing issue, the hardest thing about NG is moving it into the future when it has roots in so many legacy features. We are years into a plan to make the content on NG mobile-friendly and available on multiple platforms. For example we are wrapping up software that does best-ever SWF to MP4 conversions and we prepared the Project System so that it could serve out multiple formats for the same content. More than a decade of content will be working its way through that conversion process so that it can be available on platforms that don't support SWF.
II2none: Any plans to make a new IP or revitalize old ones?
A: JohnnyUtah and I are working on a new console game as well as Cathode Raybots, a web game we plan to release in January. As for old IP, I can't make any promises but I always hope to revisit Pico 2.
Zachary: Tom, you're the founder of Newgrounds, but can you see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
A: Because it has cinnamon swirls in every bite?
Amaranthus: Is Stamper gay?
A: Would it matter if he was?
Ryanson: What does an average day in the life consist of for you?
A: Wake up between 5-6am. Hang out with kids. Check on NG. Go for run. Drink protein and eat eggs. Shower. Try to be at work by 9am. Attempt to make a game while juggling all the NG stuff. Go home at 6pm. Hang out with kids. Eat dinner. Check on NG. Go to bed.
Amaranthus: Did you ever feel frustrated because some user on NG was heavily spamming and/ or insulting you?
A: The users who annoy me the most are typically smart guys in college who aspire to build something like NG but instead of doing that, they sit around and criticize us for our failings and inability to get things done sooner. It's a SMALL TEAM and we work really hard to try and make people happy. When you get shitty attitudes in return it makes you want to walk away and move on to something that doesn't involve people.
Amaranthus: Do you ever plan on giving credit to the current flash groups NG has?
A: It's gotten harder for crews / krews / groups to get collections. If you see something special happening and we seem to be missing it, let me know.
Entice: What's your favorite and least favorite part of Newgrounds?
A: My favorite part is when a bunch of people come together and make something awesome that wouldn't have existed if they hadn't met on NG. My least favorite part is when someone leaves for YouTube but only comes back to post links to their YouTube on our front page Artist News section.
Narcissy: Can we please have optional backgrounds?
A: I want user pages, submission pages and collections to have the ability to set unique backgrounds. In terms of letting users select what backgrounds they see while browsing NG, that isn't as high priority.
Luis: When will you bring back rebelious smoking Tank Girl with saggy boobs? I miss her.
A: Will try to fit her in somewhere some day.
Ryanson: If you had NEVER made Newgrounds, what would you be doing now?
A: If I kept doing what I was doing, I would be doing web development for other big companies. Or maybe Dan and I would have met on some other website, made Alien Hominid and still formed the Behemoth. Or maybe I would have lucked out and gotten into the game business some other way.
Sekhem: When will newgrounds get hashtag support?
A: We have tags, do you really need hashtags? I'm curious to know where you feel the need to use them. We are developing feeds based on @username in blog comments and forum posts, so you can say stuff to specific people and it will show up in their personal feed. I'm up for discussing hashtags.
DeftAndEvil: What are some of the visions for NG's creativity (both short-term and long-term) since NG has seemed to stagnate and languish, especially in regard to "intelligent,""groundbreaking," or even "provocative" works?
A: We're working on better collaborative tools and wider platform support. If the budget picks up we'll be able to sponsor more works. This past year had some of the most impressive movies ever, so the whole question is based on a bad assertion. I would love to see MORE great movies though and hopefully more people will realize how fun it is to make and release web games.
tonypar16: How many PMs do you receive every day/per week? Do you read them all?
A: I get around 50 per day nowadays and I do read them all.
Ryanson: What were the inspirations behind your more famous characters? Pico, Nene, Darnell, Samurai Asshole, Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, etc.?
A: Pico started off with just trying to make something that was "cute but not for kids" but the real inspiration came when Columbine happened right when I was trying to figure out what Pico's game would be around. Samurai Asshole was just me wanting to make a brawler. The character in Alien Hominid was created by Dan and I was wanting to make a Metal Slug style game when he showed it to me, so that's what we did with him! Castle Crashers evolved out of a combination of Dad 'n Me and a game we wanted to make about four adventurers, who became four knights. It was gonna be a platformer but became a brawler.
Unknown: What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
A: Be productive at whatever it is you like to do. Don't let other people drag you down. Be nice to people. Go for a run and work your core, you'll sleep better and have a better attitude.
Mr. Percie: When the hell are you going to give us Pico School 2? Is it being released for xbox and steam?
A: I still hope to tackle Pico 2 some day as a 3D (as in polygons, not glasses) game. It may be a free web game but could also end up being something people pay for, due to the sheer amount of time and resources put into it.
Unknown: Is the money you get from Newgrounds enough to feed your family and yourself?
A: Newgrounds makes enough to feed the people who work for Newgrounds and to pay a considerable amount to the people who contribute to Newgrounds (relative to what NG makes, at least), but NG does not feed me and my family. For the past few years my salary has come from the Behemoth, so keep buying Castle Crashers please.
Ryanson: Who was your hero growing up?
A: If a company can be a hero, I was a big SNK / Neo Geo fan. I was also really into special effects so maybe James Cameron since I had a big book about the effects in Terminator 2. Also, Optimus Prime.
DeftAndEvil: Are there any plans for another Newgrounds Writing Anthology? The Anthology has been released, but the average NG'er has the attention span and literary cognizance of a fourth-grader (no offense; feel free to debate this). Do you see any prospect in what is considered to have a "higher" standard (although it is not necessarily a "higher" medium)? Do you see NG embracing this?
A: It would be great if there was another Writing Anthology but that ultimately comes down to the community, as they pulled that together themselves! I still hope to introduce the Writing Portal (or Lit Portal, still on the fence) and integrate writers into more of the movies and games on NG.
Unknown: What is your least favorite thing about the current design?
A: I question whether we should have a more fluid design that adjusts in response to screen size. I wish we didn't have to fit ads into the layout.
MikeyS9607: Did you have a hand in any of the art/programming of this redesign?
A: I didn't personally do any of the art and programming, I just made mockups and writeups and bothered people to do things.
Sandremss128: Do you care about the users that want a real Newgrounds related chat?
A: Yes. The real chat has always depended on the launch of our social server and that is still coming. We just hired Brendon, the guy who was originally working on it with PsychoGoldfish years ago for multiplayer games.
Sandremss128: Do you think that the current featureless chat suffices and meets the quality standards of this site?
A: It gets the job done for now.
Ryanson: Did you ever expect the userbase for Newgrounds to be as... fucked up as it is, for lack of a better way to phrase it?
A: The userbase is a big mix of people. There are tons and tons of amazing people who you might not see in the forums but they are big parts of the community regardless. There are also fine people in the forums.
FBIpolux: Whatever happend to Bizzaro Tom?
A: He went back to Bizzaro World.
tyler2513: Did you ever see Newgrounds becoming what it is now when you were starting out?
A: I wanted to make it a big fun place but I never imagined it getting THIS big. A lot of the essence of NG still comes back to my childhood joy of going to the arcade; you never knew what new games might be there and sometimes something new would blow your mind. I want visiting NG every day to be like going to the arcade in the 80s.
DeftAndEvil: What are your current plans for the Writing Forum? What are some of the "tangibles" that would warrant a creation of a Lit Portal? (Increased output of decent literary works? Increased literary insight among members? Increased involvement in other NG media (via scripts, screenplays, or storyboards)? Financial potential; or, the success of the Anthology?)
A: The Writing Portal doesn't really need any tangibles for me, it just needs to find a good place in the schedule where it won't feel like too much added burden for the programming team to maintain.
big-jonny-13: How much time and effort do you put into running and maintaining the site and everything about it? Would you say it's typical to a 40 hour work week, or is it 24/7?
A: For the majority of NG's existence it was a full-time sort of deal that wrapped itself into every free minute. Now I have kids and it's a more typical 40 hour work week, plus check-ins at odd hours in the evening / morning / middle of the night.
tyler2513: How often do you watch movies or play games here on Newgrounds nowadays?
A: I check out stuff every day.
Sandremss128: What are your plans to increase the user base over the coming years?
A: We just launched NG Social which will hopefully get more people checking in regularly to see what their friends are up to in addition to the artists they follow. We've also been helping MMORPGs integrate with our account system, which has been driving a lot of new sign-ups. Next up is the NG Passport system, which will let players on other websites keep the medals, scores and shared items they get from games using our API. This will drive more people to create accounts, at which point we can encourage them to check out the rest of what NG has to offer.
DeftAndEvil: What is one to do when a man steals bread to feed his family? If this is too heart-wrenching and you are unable to come up with an answer, then what is your favorite book?
A: Did he threaten someone with a weapon or did he just sneak out of a store with it? I NEED DETAILS! And I don't really have a favorite book but I recently enjoyed the SILO series and Ready Player One. Now I'm reading Atopia.
big-jonny-13: Out of everyone that you've worked with over the years with the site, who would you say has been your most valuable co-worker and why? It can be either one individual, or multiple people.
A: I don't want to rank the staff but I will say that Ross gets the all-time prize for programming the automated version of the Portal back in the day.
I-smel: Is it annoying that content creators get good to the point that they move away from Newgrounds?
A: Yes. It doesn't feel necessary to move away completely but life gets busy and people need to make a living. NG is still the best place to get discovered but we need to be the best place to get paid if we want more people to stick around past their college years. Being a revolving door helps make a path for the next generation, as long as the next generation shows up. I'd love to balance it all.
tyler2513: Do you have any future plans to change systems such as the reviewing, whistle blowing, ect?
A: We still need to get the whistle back up and running, it has been lower priority because we have moderators now who have been doing a great job without it. We talk a lot about a massive voting overhaul but that goes back and forth a bit.
egg82: How did you get started being a game dev? Meaning what was your inspiration and how and where did you start learning?
A: I just always loved games and I spent a lot of time studying details while Wade and his friends played games. I really loved going to the arcade and playing games like Double Dragon and Rampage. I started learning programming with BASIC while I was in high school, then just worked my way up from there.
MikeyS9607: When is the Lit portal coming out?
A: No ETA at the moment. I hope we can do it in 2013.
Ryanson: Can you see yourself, 5 or 10 years in the future? What would have become of you? What would have become of Newgrounds?
A: Five years from now I expect to have another console game released and I expect Newgrounds to still be evolving. NG will likely be around for the rest of my lifetime, regardless of how successful it is.
I-smel: When you had the choice of selling shares of Newgrounds to help fund what the site was doing, what kind of things helped you make the decision not to?
A: I worry about being unhappy having to answer to people. I also know that if NG took investment, it would ultimately be expected to sell.
tyler2513: What is your general thoughts of the BBS and it's users?
A: I'd like the BBS to feel more integrated with what is happening on the rest of the site, with more discussion about game development, animation, etc.
TheCupcakeArmy: Anything you can tell us about Battleblock Theater?
A: It's getting close to announcing a release date!
Spretznaz Are we going to see any improvements to the search system in the noticeable future?
A: Hard to say how soon improvements to search may arrive. I'd love to just use a Google API that allows us to skin Google results into a page of NG but they charge money for that.
I-smel: Was the new Supporter Upgrade inspired by Penny-Arcade's kickstarter or what? (Penny Arcade made a Kickstarter to take all the ads off their site and be funded by users instead)
A: No, we were actually working on it well before that. The Penny-Arcade Kickstarter was still inspirational though. I would love to have enough user support to be ad-free.
egg82: What users do you miss the most? What people do you enjoy having now?
A: I don't really think of people as GONE, people just get busy with other stuff. I enjoy seeing guys like RicePirate and DeathInk who really embrace the wholeness of NG. There are other people I want to name but the more I name, the more I'll offend people I don't name. I really like users who get involved in organizing the community to make cool stuff. Also I-Smel for actually blogging about game development.
Unknown: When are you returning to the UK?
A: I have a feeling it will be a few years but I'm excited to go back. I just have to prioritize trips now because I feel selfish being away from the kids.
wreckr: Do you have anything up your sleeve to combat the growing animation community on YouTube? Maybe a way to bring them onto Newgrounds?
A: All we can do is strive to be the best we can. YouTube offers more money and more views to established animators. We still offer more views to unknown animators and people do make money on NG. We just have to keep improving and keep caring. We're a lot more personally available than anyone at YouTube.
Otto: Will there ever be another Beard?
A: I wouldn't rule it out.
I have to say that there were a lot of great questions asked. Some straight from a retired interviewer, that being Ryanson. Which if my nagging won't bring him back, perhaps you guys can nag him to come back. All in all though, Tom is just as polite with the many other members of Newgrounds as he was when I interviewed him. Tom truly is a very chill guy, it makes me wonder what he looks like angry. The members of Newgrounds had a lot of interesting questions to ask him about the site and there seems to be a lot more coming to Newgrounds in the future.