"When they were done, they posted the episode on their Web site (surreptitiously hosted on computers at work). They figured maybe a few hundred people would see it and get a chuckle or two.
Instead, ''Red vs. Blue'' became an instant runaway hit on geek blogs, and within a single day, 20,000 people stampeded to the Web site to download the file. The avalanche of traffic crashed the company server. ''My boss came into the office and was like, 'What the hell is going on?' '' Burns recalls. ''I looked over at the server, and it was going blink, blink, blink.''
Thrilled, Burns and his crew quickly cranked out another video, then another. They kept up a weekly production schedule, and after a few months, ''Red vs. Blue'' had, like some dystopian version of ''Friends,'' become a piece of appointment viewing. Nearly a million people were downloading each episode every Friday, writing mash notes to the creators and asking if they could buy a DVD of the collected episodes. Mainstream media picked up on the phenomenon. The Village Voice described it as '' 'Clerks' meets 'Star Wars,' '' and the BBC called it ''riotously funny'' and said it was ''reminiscent of the anarchic energy of 'South Park.' '' Burns realized something strange was going on. He and his crew had created a hit comedy show -- entirely inside a video game. "