Conducted By Adam Ames
Andrew Tsai, the creative mind behind the ever-expanding, PCGamingWiki, chatted with TPG about everything PC gaming. You will read about the successes and failures of starting the site, what the future holds, his personal take on various PC gaming topics and much more. Here is a preview:
As of this interview, you have over 1,700 pages and 600 registered users in a little over 47 days. In addition, PCGamingWiki has been featured on many high-profile news sites. Are you surprised by this type of reception?
I was honestly shocked by the reaction that I had received. I kept expecting people to say, ‘you’re wasting your time. There’s already this great website that does exactly what you’re trying to do!’ In many ways, a wiki for PC game fixes is an obvious solution to the problem, and I’m genuinely surprised that it hasn’t been done already.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of PCGamingWiki.
My name is Andrew Tsai and I’m a 26 years old, living in London working as a web writer for a charity. I founded PCGamingWiki on the 9th February 2012. The site has boomed in popularity and has been growing steadily ever since. Most of my time is spent guiding and improving the site’s content and structure, and also spreading the word on news sites, forums and social media.
What was the motivation behind creating PCGamingWiki?
The decision to start the site was motivated by my experience with two particular PC games – LA Noire and Titan Quest:
The PC release of LA Noire was released in a completely unplayable an d hugely frustrating state for me. Although there was a lot of activity in the forums about how to fix problems, useful information was buried in multi-page forum threads. There was a great deal of forum clutter, and it was very difficult to filter the genuinely useful information about how to fix a game.
Titan Quest, a game from the now-defunct Iron Lore, is a great example of a modding community developing and improving a game well beyond the original developer’s ambition long after they are gone. However, when I researched the game in the forums, I saw countless newcomers asking the same questions over and over again about what patches, mods and improvements to install.
I wanted to harness all the relevant knowledge about these games from their forums and communities in an easy to read format and always kept up-to-date. My solution to this was to create a user-editable wiki with a single article for every game. I decided that articles needed to focus on two main issues – fixes and improvements. Over time, I have added other information to the article template such as save game locations, FOV fixes and performance improvements. My hope is that viewing the relevant game article will all the average PC gamer need to look at when they install a new game.
How do you go about moderating all of the user-generated content to ensure accuracy and keep entries from becoming reviews or opinion pieces?
There was a lot of internal debate about how much ‘game content’ to include in our articles. In the end I decided to stick to our original goal of only providing game fixes and improvements, and not to include any information about game synopsis, reviews, history and genres. I did not want to step in and decide whether a game fits in the FPS or RPG or a hack and slash category, which is completely irrelevant to whether a game can be fixed or not. This decision has drawn its critics, but I think it’s the right decision for the wiki in its current form.
In your short time online, what are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing PCGamingWiki?
The biggest mistake that I’ve made is seriously underestimating how popular the site would be and how inadequate my initial choice of hosting service was. The site was brought down a number of times due to very intense traffic, and the situation got so bad that my hosting company terminated my service and forced me to migrate right in a period of very high demand. Since then we have paid for substantially better service, and I have delegated server administration to Forrest Fuqua who has been doing a great job handling the back-end of the site and is actively working to improve the performance of the server and its ability to take high spike traffic.
I think our biggest success was gaining the support and confidence of the community, even though our site had very little content when I initially presented it to the world. It’s validating to see that other people have a strong emotional response to the site concept, and that people support the execution of the wiki and are happy that something like this finally exists. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed so far; this wiki couldn’t exist without the support of the community. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated money, edited articles and helped to spread the word about it.
Do you use any social networking platforms to help promote and receive feedback for PCGamingWiki?
The reddit PC gaming community has definitely been the biggest source of support for the site. The posts I made to the various subreddits have drawn tens of thousands of visitors, and they represent the highest percentage of our most active and dedicated editors on the site.
I now use Twitter (@Andytizer) fairly regularly to update about the site and take feedback, and it has provided lots of opportunities for me to be in direct contact with writers on news sites like Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun and of course TruePCGaming. I never really understood the power of Twitter until a single TotalBiscuit tweet sent 500 concurrent users to the site and brought the site to a standstill.
As a consumer, how do you feel about the various PC indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology?
I love the Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royale Bundles, I’m also a very keen supporter of the recent Kickstarter funds. I love the idea of contributing more directly to the developers of games, and rewarding developers who take risks to provide new gaming experiences.
My biggest problem at the moment is that there is such a large number of fantastic and original games being created by indie developers, that I don’t have time to play them all!
How do you feel about the online modding communities?
The modding community adds so much to the longevity and value to the long tail of a game, that I think developers should officially acknowledge and support them. I am fully in support of projects like the Steam Workshop, and I also like how Good Old Games often attempts to incorporate community patches and fixes into their releases. Developers should build games with support of the modding community in mind, rather than ignoring an entire aspect of PC gaming which actively works to improve their games.
What are some of your favorite PC games and genres?
My current go-to game is still Team Fortress 2 which I play when I have the time. I fall under the ‘patient gamer’ category and tend to buy games when they go on sale long after release. I also try to play as many co-op games with my wife, and we went through a few years of playing World of Warcraft, and more recently, Titan Quest. I try to enjoy gaming when I can, but it’s difficult when I am trying to hold down a job, a newborn baby and the website all at once!
What does the future hold for PCGamingWiki?
We recently begun a project started by Forrest Fuqua called the Citadel Project, which is a webseeding BitTorrent hosting service for files. Our hope is that this will solve the problem of losing important files such as rare fixes, mods and utilities, which are often lost as time goes on. This file hosting project has various measures in place so that even if PCGamingWiki were to cease to exist, these files could still be found in the future (and we also provide publicly available daily backups of the site).
In terms of the wiki itself, I am also working on PCGamingWiki becoming a resource for non-game specific articles, such as articles on tips and tricks using services like Steam and Origin, beginner guides to building a PC or troubleshooting issues, as well as articles on specific gaming hardware, such as overclocking tools and controller peripherals.
However, my main concern at the moment is bringing up the quality of the current set of articles, which is a huge task in itself. Luckily we have a large set of active users who are doing a great job editing and contributing, although we could always use more help! – End
We would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to answer these questions and hope to see bigger and better things from PCGamingWiki.
Follow Andrew on Twitter.