Summary: Tired of the hassles involved in organizing your friends to play on a single server? Sick of playing alone because you don't know if your buddies are playing at all, never mind where, what or if the server is full? Xfire is for you. We explain how this amazing instant messaging client is going to do revolutionize multiplayer PC gaming like Xbox Live did for consoles, and we talk with Dennis "Thresh" Fong about his involvement with the project.
Jon: Yo man, you up for some ET?
How many times has the above happened to you? You’re trying to play a game, your favorites are full or offline, or you just installed and you need to find a server to play on. You’re trying to organize your friends to meet somewhere, using AIM or ICQ, combined with Ventrilo and All-Seeing-Eye or the internal browser. By the time you get everyone organized, the server is full or something comes up.
This is where Xfire comes in. It’s an instant messaging client for gamers. “Oh great, another…” I know what you’re thinking. If Dennis “Thresh” Fong himself hadn’t convinced me to try it out, it wouldn’t be on my computer right now and you wouldn’t be reading this article. Having actually tried it though, if I could have only ONE chat client, this would be it. It’s small, it’s fast, it’s quiet and most importantly, it makes playing online with my friends a whole lot easier.
Dennis Fong: Well, my game playing habits have changed quite a bit since I stopped competing professionally. I no longer only play just one game seriously, but rather several different ones casually. Because I don't "practice" anymore, I also much prefer playing with my friends than with random people on servers.
As I played a larger variety of games, I realized that it was a HUGE hassle to actually get a game going with my friends... even if we were playing from the same place! Some classic situations I experienced daily:
-I feel like playing, so I message a friend I see online to see if he wants to play too. It turns out he was already in a game and ends up crashing out of it because he received an IM while playing.
-I know some of my friends are playing, but I don't know what or where they are playing. When I look for them online, I can't find any of them because they've all turned off their IMs. (As most games crash when you receive an IM while playing)
-We're all on IM and decide we want to play, so I find a game server to play on, paste the server IP into IM so they can join me, turn off IM, then connect to the server. I'm playing for a few minutes before I realize my friends never connected. It turns out the server filled up before they could join and they couldn't IM me to tell me what happened.
Xfire essentially solves all of those problems - and it is designed to be free and super lightweight (it's only a ~400k download). You can see when, what game, and where your friends are playing. You can join them with just one click. And our IM doesn't screw up the game. Some games like CS (via Steam) do have built in buddy systems that work well - but only for their games. The benefit of Xfire is that it works for all types of games, including FPS, MMORPGs, and RTS.
FiringSquad: The instant messenger market is quite crowded already, wouldn't it have been easier to try and make a plugin for one of the big three messengers, or perhaps tap into their networks like Trillian?
Dennis Fong: Making Xfire as its own app is actually A LOT easier than trying to make it a plug-in for an existing IM. We can design our IM from the ground up as opposed to having to work around their technology. It's probably also a good bed that we would not have gotten any support from them. As for interoperability, that is something we are looking at, though we'd much rather focus on building gaming-related features rather than attempt to do what Trillian already does well.
FiringSquad: The Xbox Live interface and connectivity have really impressed a lot of people with their elegance and functionality. Do you think PC Gaming can compete with its myriad apps like Xfire, Ventrilo and All Seeing Eye, or is the Xbox's unified system the better way?
Dennis Fong: In a sense, Xfire is a lot like Xbox Live - we have a lot of similar features, only for the PC. Xbox Live makes it easier to play with your friends, and that is our goal as well.
FiringSquad: What features do you hope to implement in Xfire by the time the end of the beta?
Dennis Fong: One of our top priorities is to build in voice communication support. We will also be spiffing up the Xfire UI at some point, though right now we're focused on adding features that gamers really care about rather than worrying about aesthetics. Other than that, we pretty much upgrade Xfire every week with new features and support for new games.
FiringSquad: Have any final thoughts or comments? Thanks for your time and for Xfire!
Dennis Fong:Come find me on Xfire... my login is "thresh11" :)
SIDEBAR: Tell us what you think of Xfire on the forums!
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|