The Two-Year Revolution
One Planet, Two Years, and millions of Quakers...
"The Blue Planet" was PlanetQuake's first major redesign. Most old-school PQ readers still remember it fondly, despite (or perhaps because of) everything being smooshed on one page...
Despite this, PlanetQuake hosting snowballed. Unlimited free webspace, techsupport, and promotion was too great of an offer to pass up! Scanning the BluesNews archives reveals a lot of action those opening months:
"Sujoy's Quake Page has moved... sucked in by the impressive gravity of Planet Quake." - Blue, Nov 8
"PowerBall (note the new URL, PlanetQuake sucks in another one)..." - Blue, Dec 10th.
"Meanwhile PlanetQuake strikes again, as the WorldCraft FAQ has moved there..." Blue, Jan 1, 1997
"Mergers and Acquisitions - Freeform Interactive (home of Future v. Fantasy Quake) has moved to PlanetQuake.... The Quake-C Archives has also moved over to PQ ... and just to know that it's contagious, the QSoccer team has moved their pages over to the Quake-C Archives ..." - Blue, Jan 10th, 1997
In order to facilitate all of the new content, PlanetQuake's first redesign was launched on January 11th, 1997. Gone at last was the huge-ass grinning planet splashpage, to be replaced by a streamlined homepage with news and links. "1000% improvement," Blue reported. "One menu down the left frame that navigates the entire site, (rather than the cryptic hierarchy of the past) which is crucial, since the site's so big."
Meanwhile, the rush of sites continued unabated.
"Quake Superheroes - The Quake Superheroes page has moved to (yup) PlanetQuake." Blue, Feb 7, 1997.
"Haiku Move - The Quake Haiku page has moved to... oh, hell I'm sure you know where they've moved. The new URL is http://www.planetquake.com/haiku/." Blue, Feb 23, 1997.
...The list goes on. "PlanetQuake Empire" references abounded. Maybe some people even feared it. :)
"Time to clarify: I kid PQ about absorbing sites, and I don't think I've done a good enough job of expressing what an invaluable service to the Quake community that I feel they're performing. There are many people with wonderful sites and projects out there that don't have a lot of options as far as webspace, etc., and PlanetQuake is there for them (for free, no less), and they should be praised for it (I'll make a Borg joke next time)." Blue, Jan 21, 1997.
Bastard: At this point something significant began happening: Other sites
began hosting services of their own - most notably Stomped, which was at
that time still a high traffic / high visibility site. It was as if a
light bulb switched on and they realized that we were building something
greater than the sum of the parts. At times over the years there have been
a lot of accusations back and forth about site stealing, etc. It was ugly.
Ultimately we continued to offer far more involvement, support and
promotion to our hosted sites than anyone else. I still think that we
alone understand exactly why we host sites. Others seem to understand a
smaller part of it. And no, I'm not going to elaborate :)
Fargo: Believe it or not, I didn't really see the significance of all those Quake sites moving to one place. I just thought it was kinda cool that there was a place for them all to go, that the community now had a "center." I was just sorta chugging along with my news page and shooting ideas to Bastard about different content we could do. The sheer scope of what was happening online hadn't occurred to me. We were changing online media--nobody knew it yet, not even us. But we weren't slowing down.
PlanetQuake was ready for some major changes. Having grown in size and traffic, it was time to become more than just a place for sites to call home. PlanetQuake was ready to turn into a full-featured mega-site, with a daily content rollout.
It was also about to drop the bomb on everybody, entering into a whole new phase in its development that we liked to call -- "The Blue Planet."
The Blue Planet
March 28th, 1997, readers of Blue's news and PlanetQuake were surprised by the following announcement:
"Invading the Planet
I have a remarkable announcement. I am taking over PlanetQuake... You heard me right, not absorbed; taking over. Basty is going to run the hardware, and administer the back-end stuff (and I plan on having him write his own column), but I will be running the show...
PlanetQuake is a remarkable place, host to much of the finest Quake content on the net, and while I've been able to create a site that I'm really proud of from few physical resources here (I don't mean to get the gerbils that are running my server angry), the opportunity to have the kind of toys PlanetQuake represents (Quake Servers, Web Servers, IRC Servers, message boards, mailing lists, and on, and on) makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. The goal here is to take this terrific resource, and try and push it to the next level..." Blue, March 28, 1997
Fargo: When I heard the news I was pretty excited. Blue and I met in one of those whack-ass New York coffee shops (the ones full of antique couches) one afternoon to rattle off ideas with one another while rain poured down outside. And then there were the three-way conference calls between us (we were both in New York) and Bastard (who was, of course, out here in Southern California.) It was a cool time for the Planet.
Bastard: It looked like the perfect marriage. A great content guy (Blue)
with a guy that had a vision of how to grow and where to grow the
community. I think that ultimately it didn't work out long term due to
lack of sex. I'm told that a lot of marriages fail when the sex goes out
of the marriage. We never did get a chance to consummate and I point to
that as a problem.
Actually, it's fair to
say that Blue did tremendous work and I was unable to really take advantage of
it and support him from the biz side. This all happened at the same time that
we were coming to grips with the fact the developers and publishers did not
care about us at all. GT Interactive wouldn't return my calls. I realized
that game fan sites had an image problem when GT advertised the action shooter
"blood" on a site about UFO's and parapsychology instead of on PlanetQuake. Blue was forced to move on and I was forced to figure out how to get publishers
to pay attention to us. Fortunately things worked out for the best. FYI - A
producer from GT will be flying out to the oct 25th Beatdown to show off Blood
Within a period of days, PlanetQuake had a brand new look. The "Blue Planet" launched on March 31st and lasted until February of 98 -- almost a full year. Its blue color and starfield background must've become pretty ingrained in people's minds -- so much so that when PQ tried to get rid of the starfield a year later, people clamored to bring it back.
With the new look came a schedule of regular content to be rolled out. Articles, reviews, editorials, etc... Here's where Fragmaster came onto the staff in a big way, writing what is perhaps PlanetQuake's first official article (a review of the Blood shareware, of all things) and soon stepping up to be PlanetQuake's first content director and hosting manager.
Frags: Before blue came along, all I really did for PQ was some crappy news updates. When
blue came aboard, he convinced me to move some of the content from The New Vore
Times (the site I was running at that time) to PlanetQuake. One thing I was really
upset about was the fact that he said I should only publish one interview a week. I
was like "Only one Interview a week?" I had been doing as many as four interviews
a week on the NVT, and this seemed really limiting at the time. I shudder to think
how many interviews I churned out during my time at PQ... and people still rip off
my "complete the sentence" thing to this day. Dammit.
Two PlanetQuake staples began here, as well: "Dear Mynx" and the PlanetQuake Mailbag.
Mynx: When I started writing Dear Mynx (way back in March of 97, yow), I was
certain it would fizzle out and die within a few months. I had trouble, at
first, finding my niche - people wanted desperately to talk to me about
their overly-hairy nether regions, or cry about their dog's quake
symbol-shaped wooky, while I carefully tried to avoid offending the
Planet's loyal readers. After a few tentative columns where I tried so
very hard to be a good girl, I got to the point where I couldn't hold it
all in anymore, and Dear Mynx grew into the wild beast we've all come to
know and love today.
do get saucy and tangy at times, but no matter how "interesting" they get,
Planet Quake has always been great about backing me... especially those
times when the Planet catches heat for things I print. Remember the
infamous condom column? ;)
Frags: Mailbag was originally handled by Blue, but I took it over within a few weeks. I
hated doing mailbag at first, and I think it showed. It wasn't until a few months
later where I started trying new things and stopped trying to be so "know-it-all"
that it started to pick up. It eventually became my favorite feature.
Another great feature was introduced to the community around this time. May 1st, 1997, saw the launch of "QuakeFinger," a finger-tracking service that displays the latest .plan updates of the developers. QuakeFinger was a project of Dweomer and Hank, who approached PlanetQuake with the idea of putting QuakeFinger inserts at the top of pages who wanted to keep tabs on that sort of thing.
Dweomer: In mid-April 1997, Hank and I had completed QuakeFinger and were planning on
launching on our own webserver at our little consulting company. I contacted
both Bastard and Blue about getting the insert on their main pages -
intending to play the two off each other to secure my best deal. Of course
at this time they were working together on PQ and my little tactics served
only to amuse.
Ultimately Blue's direct involvement with PlanetQuake lasted maybe three months, although the changes that took place during that time were substantial and continue to be reflected in the Planet today. But web content was just one arm of what was happening with online gaming, and during this time PlanetQuake made another move to continue the revolution...