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Interview: Todd Hollenshead, CEO, id Software

by James Puckett

Interview Date: 9/22/99

The CEO of id was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Our questions are in blue, his responses are in green.

WGF: How about some background about you? How did you get from an MS in Accounting to being the CEO of id Software? What was it about id that made you want to work at there?

Todd H.: id was a client of mine while I was at Arthur Andersen and I was a fan of the games since Wolf 3D. I figured it would be a fun challenge to take the CEO position. I think it's safe to say I was right.

WGF: What is it like being the CEO of a company that sets the standards for much of the computer gaming industry? How do you feel when you see people referring to a games as a possible "Quake killers" before release, but so few are ever accepted by the press to the degree that Doom and the Quake series have been? Or the fact that Quake 2 is still used as the standard for 3D game benchmarks?

Todd H.: Really, it's an honor. It's certainly not lost on me how fortunate id has been as a company and how much we have our fans to thank. But it's been hard work, too.

WGF:Does working at id ever give you a swelled head? It must be somewhat of an ego boost to have thousands of people read your .plan file every time you update it.

Todd H.: I don't really think about that stuff too much. We're just people like everyone else.

WGF:How big of an affect do you see Quake 3 and Unreal tournament as having on the gaming community? Do you think that the success of these games will have a "make-or-break" effect on online action games?

Todd H.: Quake 3 Arena isn't what I would call an "online action game" because you don't have to be online to enjoy it. However, I certainly believe that the online market is enormous and we expect a huge audience for Q3A online. It will be the ultimate deathmatch game.

WGF: What are your expectations for Quake 3 bringing new people into the fold? Are you expecting the teaching aspect of Quake 3 to bring new deathmatch players out in massive numbers?

Todd H.: That's certainly something we're shooting for. The key is to bring people along slowly and try to dispell some of the negative conceptions of deathmatch for hard-core traditional single player fans without alienating the hard-core deathmatch audience.

WGF:How much does the competition affect what id does with its games?

Todd H.: Honestly, not much. We focus on making our products the best that they can be.

WGF:Quakecon was a really big deal this year, with several of the big gaming sites doing tons of coverage, not to mention the size of the event. Can we expect Quakecon to keep getting bigger in the future?

Todd H.: I hope so. We may have to have some more help in pulling the whole thing off because Anna was stretched pretty thin during the event trying to coordinate and oversee everything. As long as the fans keep coming, we'll continue to do our best to please them.

WGF: How much product licensing can we expect to see with Quake 3? Will we be seeing more of the Quake 3 clothing line? And if so, will it be available via regular retailers, or will it be a special order deal, like the Quake 3 hockey Jerseys are?

Todd H.: It will probably all be special order. And the only reason we did the hocky jerseys is because we had such a flood of mail asking where people could buy them. It wasn't planned at all. John's jersey that he wore for the Next-Gen shoot was a Christmas gift from Tim Willits and people saw it and just decided they had to have one.

WGF: During his speech at Quakecon, John Carmack said something about a new DOOM game having some support around the office. Any news on this front? (Sorry, but I would never be able to forgive myself for not asking that one.)

Todd H.: I think a DOOM2000 would be a great game, but we haven't made any decisions about what we want to do next. Everyone is working to get Quake III Arena finished. We'll address what we do next once we get finished with what we're working on now.

WGF: Any news on the Dreamcast-Quake 3 front?

Todd H.: I'd like to see it happen, but no news apart from the fact that we'd like to get a deal put together.

WGF: I know you're busy, so last question: What do you listen to when you deathmatch?

Todd H.: It depends. Most of the time I don't listen to anything other than the game sounds, but the Q3A tracks are really good and you don't get lagged by the game calling on the CD drive because the music isn't redbook audio anymore. If I'm not listening to game music, I'll just crank up the CD du jour in my stereo (normally NIN, Tool, The Cult, Creed, or something similar). Well, that concludes our interview with Todd. Thanks to Todd for giving me his time!



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