Bagdadsoftware: Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what's your association with the Speed Demos Archive?
Karol Urbanski:: I had been watching SDA runs for quite a bit of time before finally joining the SDA community around April 2006. A year later, around March 2007, I was drafted in the Quake staff and I've been doing various stuff ever since.
Bagdadsoftware: You too are a speed-runner holding both records in Quake and in other games like Deus Ex. Did you start speedrunning before or after you've found SDA?
Karol Urbanski: After I found SDA, but before I actually started contributing. I am a huge Deus Ex fan, and I naturally saw the speedrun on it first. I wasn't very thrilled, and spent the next week actually recording my poor, first attempts at speedrunning. I've managed to improve it by 20 minutes without any external help, thinking up new strategies on my own, which is definitely an achievement for someone who was around 14-15 at the time :). I didn't decide to publish it, though, and good that I didn't - thanks to that my first actual contribution to the Deus Ex page was a much more substantial 45 minute improvement.
Bagdadsoftware: Which speedrun are you the most proud of?
Karol Urbanski: I think my Deus Ex speedrun is the one. It's a good display of route planning, something I consider one of the funniest things in speedrunning. On Quake, I have a few runs on map e4m8 I'm very proud of, too.
Bagdadsoftware: What prompted you to join the staff and why did they let you in?
Karol Urbanski: Around January/February 2007, I was sent a personal message from one of the staffers and drafted to work on The Nolans - an award 'ceremony' for the best Quake runs done the earlier year. I was to work on it with a fellow speedrunner, NahkahiiR. After the ceremony, we were offered a position in the regular updating stuff, and well, here I am. Then, the forum needed a moderator and I volunteered for that, as well.
Bagdadsoftware: How many staffers are there currently?
Karol Urbanski: In the main SDA Staff, 3 people (Mike Uyama, Nathan Jahnke and Kevin 'Enhasa' Juang), 4 if you include me, however I am mostly taking care of Quake matters. In the SDAQuake team, there's about 4 'regular' staffers, and also one very important contributor who was earlier a staffer (Thomas Stubgaard)
Bagdadsoftware: Are all of them themselves speedrunners?
Karol Urbanski: I believe all of them have runs either on Quake or on other games, yes.
Bagdadsoftware: So what are your exact duties on the site?
Karol Urbanski: Mostly managing the Quake section, and also making sure the forum stays clean.
Bagdadsoftware: Managing the Quake section? Is there really that much still going on there? Or are only a few hardcore runners left that try to skimp off one more second?
Karol Urbanski: Undoubtedly, the Quake section sees less traffic lately, but we're planning on re-hauling a few things in order to get new people 'into the game', so to speak, in fact some changes will probably be going on at the time of the publication of this article. Also, that it sees less traffic might be true; but we still get a pretty significant amount of demos, though indeed there are less people making demos nowadays.
Bagdadsoftware: From your perspective: How has the site changed from three years ago to today?
Karol Urbanski: Hmm. The verification system changed significantly. Back in the day, it was mostly cheating control; now, in addition to that, there's way more quality control. Obviously, the community grew a lot. Also, the 'main' updaters changed over time, which means a significant change of how updates are done. Finally, the video quality changed a lot. Back when I started watching videos, most of them were in a pretty hideous DivX low quality format. Nowadays, there are all kinds of qualities, and we're using a much better codec with the encoding settings refined by our video quality whiz, Nate, and of course the irreplaceable SDA community.
Bagdadsoftware: In contrast to pages like GameSpy or even the normal WordPress-based-blog, SDA keeps it simple. But by doing so it not only looks somewhat dated, to find a specific run can also be rather difficult at times. With all the effort going into the quality of the videos themselves - is there no time to improve the website as well?
Karol Urbanski: The SDA philosophy was always to keep it simple and readable. I don't think the layout will change much in the foreseeable future. However, the site indeed lacks a bit of features that would improve it (searching by runner, for example). We do have plans on bringing the new features around, and there are certainly efforts to do so, but the problem is that we're basically on a constant stream of updates, and it's hard to find the time to work on all that has to be done well. We don't want to put out a half-assed job - so I can't promise much will be done very soon. But in a few months? Maybe :). We'll see how it goes.
Bagdadsoftware: What about the community? Do you often see new faces submitting a valid run or is there only a solid base of people that do most of the runs? Is there a growth?
Karol Urbanski: There's definitely a growth, especially on the main SDA section there are a lot of newcomers making new stuff (less of those for the Quake section, unfortunately…). However, one thing that I feel important is that the viewer base grows faster than the runner base. I think that's a good sign of how the site is becoming more and more popular around the casual watchers.
Bagdadsoftware: What is the community like anyway? Riddled with idiots that can't even read less understand the rules or for the most part dedicated people that care about SDA and their hobby?
Karol Urbanski: Fortunately, the community is for the most part made up of dedicated people. In fact, the user base is so well 'connected' we never needed to make a topic about
explicit forum rules. Almost everyone manages to avoid being destructive to the site; and even if someone 'steps out of the line' it usually takes just a simple warning to get that person back on track. I think that shows just how well built the community is. If someone looks for help making a speedrun or searching for routes and tricks, they can bet they'll find several helpful contributors, even on less popular games.
Bagdadsoftware: What do you think will SDA look like on its twentieth birthday in 2018?
Karol Urbanski: With a bunch more features, a bunch more runs, probably different updaters and different staff. But the page background will probably still be black, and the letters gray ;).
Bagdadsoftware: As a speedrunner yourself: Where do you personally want to see speedrunning in general in 2018?
Karol Urbanski: I want to see it develop as a whole (what a surprise). I want to see the community grow, and I want to see more runners making kick-ass runs. Most of all, I want it to be even more fun to both the watchers and the makers of the speedruns.[CH]
(Veröffentlicht am 05.07.2010)