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Five-Minute Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers
—by Jade Dragon

Have you ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love? What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.


 

DreamQuest logo

This week we are talking to Mr. Christopher Williamson of DreamQuest Software, one of the first multi-platform game developers that create games for handheld devices and other platforms. DreamQuest’s games can be played on PCs, Palm OS and Pocket PC devices, Nokia Communicator phones and on the Internet. Players can compete against each other in real-time in DreamQuest’s online gaming lobby. If you believe the multi-player real time wireless gaming is coming to the handheld platform, DreamQuest might just be one of the first pioneers to make it happen.

A little bit about Mr. Christopher Williamson:
Christopher Williamson is President of DreamQuest Software, a successful independent game developer and publisher of cross-platform wireless games. Their innovative handheld game, Championship Euchre Pro won an IGF Finalist nomination at GDC 2002 for being the first wireless game to provide live play on the Internet between 3 different devices. Since then, DreamQuest Software has continued to provide their card games on more than 12 different platforms, including PCs, handheld PDAs, and mobile phones. Christopher has a Masters in Software Engineering and spent four years focusing on system architecture and the software development process with IBM before launching his own company.

Interview:
Jade Dragon: You started DreamQuest in 1994 as a part-time hobby, now you are one of the most innovative game developers for mobile gaming. What inspired you to develop games and tell us about your journey?

Chris: While pursuing my Masters degree and working for IBM in 1994, I really wanted to learn the Windows API. I have always enjoyed playing card games on my PC, but I was unable to find one that was fun, challenging, and addictive. So, I decided to see if I could do better myself. After releasing Championship Spades, much to my surprise, many others agreed and started sending me money! As I continued to improve the game with better graphics and online play, its popularity grew. Emails demanding more games like Hearts and Euchre were flooding in. It was at that point in they year 2000 that I quit IBM pursued this full-time.

DreamQuest Team

Some of the DreamQuest Team: Chris describes them as: "Ben is our developer on the left. Cynthia is our VP of Marketing
Gwendolyn is our QA Trainee (and our daughter) Dave is our Webmaster and QA Lead in the middle. Christopher is our President/CEO on the right. Our artist and 2 of our other developers, Doug and Ketan, are not pictured."


Jade Dragon: DreamQuest's Championship card games are the first wireless cross-platform games for Palm and Pocket PC by using AppForge. Tell us what made you think of developing cross-platform games. How did you find the perfect combination between your Championship card series and AppForge?

Chris: We have this vision of allowing people to play anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Quite honestly, back in 2000 we were trying to take our card games and do something really cool and innovative with them. AppForge's cross-platform development toolkit provided us with a way to take our idea and make it into a product. We had online play in our Windows games and players wanted to take it on the road with them. Even though the technology was so new and unclear in wireless, we thought this made perfect sense and so we started working on getting our games on a wide variety of devices AND supporting full online play.

Jade Dragon: Your Live Game Lobby looks really cool! How does it work? How popular has it been?

Chris: I will be the first to admit that most mobile owners still don’t have reliable Internet connections on the road. As such, our online lobby is mostly filled with players of our Windows PC games, but we believe it’s only a matter of time before most mobile devices sport the all-time Internet connectivity that is now common on PCs. As for the technology we use, GameSpy provides our online lobby with full chat and player matchmaking capabilities for both Windows and Mobile players. Despite the popularity of Web clipping, SMS, and such when we started, we decided to go with TCP/IP since we figured the standard for the Internet would likely eventually find itself on wireless devices. Luckily, we were right! We now see more and more PDAs combined with cell phones, 802.11b CF cards, Bluetooth TCP/IP connectivity and more.

We are really excited about hosting the first cross-platform online card tournament in October! We have partnered with Sony and Nokia to sponsor this event, which will sport only mobile players playing cards in a way never before possible. DreamQuest Software enjoys being on the bleeding edge of technology and we hope that our vision will inspire other authors and device manufacturers to keep pushing the limits of what a mobile device can do.

Jade Dragon: DreamQuest is the winner of Shareware Industry Award and finalist at Independent Games Festival. What do these awards mean to you? What comes next?

Chris: We are honored to receive these awards and they help validate that DreamQuest Software is going in the right direction. However, the wonderful emails we get from our customers expressing their gratitude for a challenging game on their handheld is the best inspiration we can receive. With so many happy customers demanding MORE GAMES, we are focusing on delivering another 5 or 6 classic card and board games later this year, including 500, Cribbage, Rummy, Poker, and Blackjack. We welcome your avid gamers to signup for our free Beta testing program at http://dq.com/beta.html. We welcome feedback (and even product ideas!) from all of our players and would value their ideas for making our games truly the best.

Jade Dragon: What's your all time favorite game? How often do you play games?

Chris: On the Palm and PocketPC, I find myself playing Championship Spades quite a bit on my Samsung phone (running PalmOS) while traveling or even getting caught up in a demo. Playing and chatting online against other live players on a handheld just never gets boring.

When we are not playing card games, we do have quite a few traditional PC game fans in our office as well. We have been playing way too much Warcraft III in this office lately. In fact, our deadlines are slipping... But, it is refreshing to see Blizzard's success. We try to model our games after this leader that has shown that there is a market for quality, detailed, immersive games that the casual gamer can play. God help us if Blizzard ever comes out with a mobile version of Warcraft III...

 

 

 

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