We recently had a chance to ask Cody Dragon, the founder of Project Velocity, some questions on the genesis, vision and future of the platform, getting to know who he is, and what he hopes to achieve. The interview comes at heels of the Exhibition Match that recently he recently held, and just prior to the first European and North American events, which will kick things off in earnest.


Project Velocity Scheduled Tournaments

Project Velocity Community

The Interview

Tell us a little about yourself, who you are, how/when you got into Quake, and what your history in the Quake community has been?

My strongest early memories of first-person shooter gaming bounce between playing Halo on the original Xbox and getting absolutely destroyed in aerowalk duels.

I was raised by a father who played competitive ping pong. We used to travel to tournaments throughout my childhood and beyond just the sport of table tennis I realize now that I was being taught a lot about life through the act of sport. I always found those similarities present in Arena FPS titles and what I learned throughout the 20+ years playing table tennis with my father.

Admittedly, I played a lot more UT2K4 growing up than Quake as a youth, but would dabble in Quake 3, Reflex, and Warsow. They all have their own unique flairs that I think just add to the overall AFPS experience.

What motivated you to create Project Velocity?

I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to find ways to drive value for competitive gamers and connect them to commercial opportunities. Whether that was my founding of Ghost Gaming, leading scholastic partnerships for KovaaK’s Aim Trainer, and now what I do for work as Director of Education and Innovation at the largest Esports scholarship platform for high school students throughout the United States.

My north star has been providing opportunities for gamers who achieve excellence no matter the title. It made ZERO sense to me that AFPS has struggled to retain it’s position in the landscape. Tennis, UFC, other head-to-head based sports all have found ways to elevate the format into tier one spectating experiences. I see Quake esports as fundamentally possessing all of those same characteristics.

Project Velocity is an aesthetics and branding driven project, because of the game of Quake doesn’t need to be touched. It’s excellent. We’re here to slap a fresh coat of paint on the experience for players and viewers alike to help modernize the title and bring it into the 21st Century.

When did you come with the idea for Project Velocity? What was the inspiration?

Project Velocity is a project that’s probably been 15 years in the making. Again, I always wanted to do this. I just needed the resources and skills to pull it off. Whether it’s my own funding, my ability to drive partnerships, structure negotiations with partners, etc… That all took time, but my eventual work was going to be on revitalizing the AFPS genre by any means I had at my disposal.

Quake esports can be the Formula 1 of esports—we have the legacy, we have the foundation, and we have the community.

What are you hoping to achieve with Project Velocity? Or to ask it another way, how are you going to determine/measure success?

I want to create a new chapter for Quake esports, and with so few players left on the field supporting the space, the timing was right for us to step in.

The Super Smash Bros. community is an incredible case study in the power of community organized/supported esports. Where Quake now has a non-developer sanctioned circuit, I’d even go so far as to say that SSBM has a hostile-developer relationship. Regardless, they have found ways to create a meaningful community that draws in new players by the day and elevates their heroes into super stardom that transcends even just the esports space. I want to make the products and experiences that I always wanted to see for the space. Whether that it’s in the form of entirely new branding, music, data products, etc…

Quake esports can be the Formula 1 of esports—we have the legacy, we have the foundation, and we have the community. It’s now up to us to rally together to build it.

Why did you pick Quake Live over other Quake titles, such as Quake Champions?

Quake Live offers us an incredible amount of control over the game environment and the ability to hyper pinpoint player data via the demo system. All of the incredible visuals you’ve seen such as this example, are only able to be done through our extraction of game files and retexturing in Blender.

On a gameplay front, I believe less is more in esports. Quake Live has an incredible legacy and foundation for players to draw inspiration from, where the hybrid FPS/ability design of Quake Champions has somewhat failed to capture an audience. Hardcore Quake players seemed to prefer the original, and players from Overwatch preferred, well, Overwatch.

Cody Dragon

Now that the QPL has ended, what are your plans to capture those viewers who no longer have anything to watch?

The players themselves seem to be driving a lot of their own viewership for Quake Live. Whether that’s rapha, k1llsen, ZenAku, etc, they have all been prepping for the upcoming events and subsequently pull in their Quake Champions fans into the fold.

Have id software reached out to you to provide support, assistance, or any other form of help?

No, we haven’t received any sort of communication, nor have we solicited it. Quake is an incredible game, and it’s not up to them to maintain their esports presence. It’s up to operators like us to find ways to drive value for players and communities.

Recently we’ve seen Quake Live player numbers eclipse Quake Champions on Steamcharts, why do you think this is?

I think that’s pretty obvious ;)

There has been emphasis on an updated visual aesthetic for the Project Velocity tournament map pool, can players expect to see this map pool grow, and if so, any hints on what might be next?

Our initial competitive map pool was consulted with Quake thought leaders, so we're quite happy with the reception we have received. That being said, we are absolutely looking at bringing in some new maps into the fold and even creating entirely new ones. We tend to move methodically in our approach of anything, so any decision like this will be taken with great care. There is indeed a plethora of maps to pull from, but we want to make sure the design decisions are all deliberate and add a unique flair to the map pool that might not have existed otherwise. That being said, I'm not able to share any plans for our map pooling decisions at the moment but just know those conversations are being had.

What’s involved in re-skinning the maps?

It’s a rather technical process done through the extraction of the map files themselves and then reskinned/retextured in an application called TrenchBroom. I am not involved in the redesign process other than the work I did to help select the initial texture pack of our Silverchill map set.

We intend to roll out future map skins on a per season basis. So far, we’ve learned a lot of the technical hurdles involved with porting maps, accounting for player configs, etc... It’s a very tedious process and been a rather expensive one, but we see the investment worthwhile especially as we continue to bring new FPS fans into the fold of Quake esports. While we know players are always in pursuit of high frames-per-second, potato graphics, in 2024 they aren’t doing much to help grow the space for newcomers who are maybe more used to AAA games like Valorant and Overwatch.

How did you decided on Aerowalk, Bloodrun & The Camp Grounds?

These were the first three maps we had completed in time for the Exhbition Cup. Nothing more, nothing less. So far, we have completed Furious heights and Lost World, with Cure and Sinister left on the docket.

A strong infrastructure is our #1 priority as it enables the rest of things to fall into place.

What did you think of the Project Velocity Exhibition Tournament that just took place?

I was extremely pleased with it minus the obvious disruptions we received in the form of a very well-coordinated DDOS attack. We saw a lot of players and industry folk turn up to participate and just celebrate Quake. Every day it seems like players are complaining about aim-assist, meta changes, cheesy abilities, etc., and it was just refreshing to watch some high-level FPS gameplay take centre stage.

What did you think of the level of play? What surprised or disappointed you?

The level of play was exciting. There was a wide range of skill levels so we definitely saw some blow outs, and a number of close matches. From the streams I was able to tune into it was an absolute blast to watch skilled players duke it out on the new Project Velocity maps.

Did you receive any feedback, if so, care to share what the main points were?

Definitely. Lots of feedback from the players, but mostly about server integrity. Unfortunately, the disruptions forced players to play on non-Project Velocity servers and prevented them from getting acquainted with the new map skins. Other than that the event went fairly well. Quake players have been through events in the past and it showed. They were self-administering, whether that came in the form of server selection, dispute resolution etc… It was a really good experience overall.

We saw there were some bad-actors over the weekend? Are there any plans to tackle the “server issues”?

One hundred percent. A strong infrastructure is our #1 priority as it enables the rest of things to fall into place. Once we, and the community realized the impact it had on our event we mobilized our community through our Patreon to help reach our financial goal of 250 USD/month to support the deployment of North American/European dedicated servers. We reached this goal in about a week and a half, which is an incredible testament to how much people want to see Quake esports live on.

Who is your favourite Quake player?

It is Cypher.

Who are the top five Quake players of all-time?
  1. Cypher
  2. rapha
  3. evil
  4. Cooller
  5. Fatal1ty

Who were the best Quake CTF & TDM teams?

Always loved watching DaHang/ rapha duke it out in QC TDM. Their coordination was unbelievable and a real joy to watch.

Any last shoutouts or announcements?

Just the whole community—it’s been an honor being able to do anything that’s meant something to the AFPS space. I’ve kind of just kept my head down playing with my own internal play group of friends, but seeing our shared love for this incredible game has really restored my faith in the competitive gaming scene.

Quake stands for something—it stands for the pursuit of mastery, accountability, and excellence. I think those are tenants worth fighting for, and not just in esports. So, thank you everyone for your support and fighting this fight with us. We won’t let you down.