20 Years of Quake 3

Well holy crap, Quake 3 is officially 20 years old today.

And… it’s still the best DM shooter out there! But it was a long time to fall in love for us, like that funny looking girl on the bus that is into motorhead and jigsaw puzzles. While I had a kick ass time making levels for the game (I think I made a whopping 3 until my HD died and I couldn’t get my source files back and sorta gave up level making) other than to practice for LAN’s I didn’t play a ton the first 6 months or so it was out. I think it hit me when I was stuck in the house for a weekend with shitload of snow (big ass blizzards in ’99 I tell you what) and played vs the bots to 999 frags on a single map. That’s right, 999 frags. No one was around and when I told people they didn’t believe me. After this, I loved the game forever.

Oh how opinions change. Here is Keneda and I’s un-edited reviews of the game from the year 1999. At the bottom is the animated John Romero Gif from that day and age (sorry dude….we were kids).

Quake 3: Arena

(my new girlfriend)

littlemute

Predication is necessary as it is essential to provide my biases walking into this review.  I love Quake. Not Quake 2, Not Unreal, not Doom, but Quake.  I love the speed, I love the level design, I love the totally unbalanced weapon selection, I love the gibbes, I love rocket jumping over a shower of gibbes.  What this means is that any later incarnation of this game will be brutally scrutinized, as Quake 2 was. Quake was made by a bunch of people that had already tasted massive financial success with Doom and slacked in production.  The design of the game drastically changed in mid-development and by all rights it should have been shit.  The reason it wasn’t is that the game designers means of development was to play deathmatch, constantly.  I assume from rumors that they “playtested” the game instead of working for months and months. Look what happened: Dm2, Dm4, E1M2. It’s hard to compare the experience of running “The Bad Place” with 4-6 other people to any other game. Nothing comes close. So there I am, standing in the middle of Dm4 writing this review.

There are a lot of shitty things in Quake 3a:

  • Most of the levels are either built with only beginners in mind or are “trick” levels with a lot of jumps and silly lifts.
  • Prediction.
  • Some of the models are disappointing, and the bot’s “ai” feels like an slightly humanized omicron bot; no suprises there.
  • The weapon selection is also questionable. The Grenade launcher is disappointing for Quake players used to the creamy goodness of the OG GL. The plasma gun is the worst “no skill” weapon I’ve ever seen. It’s weapon effect slows everything down as well as crowding the screen so you can’t see what the hell is going on while firing it.
  • Some of the design choices are extremely questionable. Fat people running around? Vertically challenged levels? An Eyeball with legs? The bot chat feature is absolutely lame. The taunts, already meaningless coming from a machine, are so inane as to turn the stomach. The final boss is the best example of this. For example: Major says “just get my tombstone right” or something to that effect. Now since she’s been killed, this is ok, but instantly she respawns to be killed again. It’s just not internally consistant! If they are fragged but not killed as evident by their respawn, why then talk about themselves being dead?
  • The processor and video card requirements are astronomical. The box should read: “System Requirements: Computer not yet built to run this game, please wait until March of 2000.”

I completed (and I mean completed; ie never to play again) the single player in three hours. It felt like a chore. The bots, with their complete reliance on superior aim gave little satisfaction in tactical play.  You can ALWAYS get the armor or RL when you need it.  The bots ALWAYS run around, never camping anywhere.  There really isn’t anything “new” about Q3a except the engine and art. The game-play is the same, the weapons are the same and the style of game is the same.

With all these problems it seems impossible that Q3a is worth buying. But jesus H christ it is! What id has done with the single player is fine, but makes no difference. Some of the models suck, but it makes no difference. Most of the levels are aesthetics over game-play, but it makes no difference. No one I know has a system that can run it well, but it makes no difference. In four months time there will hundreds of new models, thousands of new levels and a dozen or so mods that ameliorate almost ALL problems. The Voodoo 5 should be out and people will have systems that will be able to run the game. And, of course, someone will remake Quake DM4.

Playing through the single player, I constantly said: “I hate this,” but then during tier five, I started having a bit of fun. Tier five is a stint with some rather good levels in it, like Brimstone Alley, and it contains some of the better models. A few of the levels in that tier are super tight, rather than the typical Q3a flat open area with some curves spread around, so I was in my element: fucking bot ass. It was during this tier that I was able to get the “haste” power up and I realized that there was a ray of hope in terms of runspeed slowness.  If server admins can set run speed…. Excellent!

After I finished off Xeroe (hi, yes bot you can aim better than I can but you jump to the same places every time) I started up a skirmish with nine or so bots on Brimstone Alley with a frag limit of 100 and went to town. Within 10 minutes I realized I liked Q3a, within 20 I loved it. It’s hard to describe the moment where I shifted from hating to loving Q3a, but it happened and here I am writing this review.

Basically the Q3a you get in the box is good, but it’s what you will be able to get off the net in four months that will make this game fantastic. Better CTF with the hook, better levels, more models and more fun and silly mods. With time and better processors we will be able to actually play without a ton of slowdown when someone is gibbed or uses the plasma gun. There is a lot more to be explored in Q3 so I’m going to cut this off for now. It’s not my beloved friend Quake, no, and only time will tell if it’s a worthy successor.  It IS certainly beautiful graphically.

Binary score: 1

[Ed: a Binary score of 1 was the highest possible award for a game. Either worth playing or not worth playing– no in between]

Keneda

» Wow, ID lost its soul, quake3a is proof.
» Anyone have a voodoo4 or voodoo5? You’ll need one to play Quake3a lag free on ANY system. Some people say a TNT2 or GeForce256 can provide a lag free experience, BUT why buy that shitburger when you can get a $600 voodoo5 6000 this spring/summer. Back to Q3A, it’s a beast of a engine, lagg’en the fuck out of my voodoo3 2000 on a p3 549 with 128megs of pc100 memory. Damn… I hate lag. I hate Q3A cuz it lags. Understand?
» The graphics are beautiful. MUCH better then the crap seen in Unreal Tournament. The Lighting, Textures and Weapon effects are bar-none perfect.
» Level design. None. Wastes of curved surfaces abound. My god there’s TONS of useless detail… time could have been spent forging through Fileplanet for examples of GREAT levels. Christ the could have remade all the Quake DM levels. Of the 20+ levels I can say I enjoy 3 or so.
» Sound. Fine. Nothing to great… the music is barely present in the game. Who the fuck listens to the in game music when they are playing DM or CTF? Only net nebbishes. So I guess who cares about music in FPS’ers. Not me, I just pop some Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, or John Zorn in and I’m ready to go.
» Gameplay is fine. Two people meet, one person dies. There’s not too much “getting away” like in Quake. Movement is faster than Quake2 but not nearly as fast as Quake. This makes for duels in which one person usually frags the other. The levels aren’t helping the gameplay at this point. In two months we should see remakes of all the gould DM levels for Quake/Quake2 so gameplay will see a improvement. I have not tried the CTF yet… more people in the clan have to buy the game first… and is it worth it?
» Q3A models are fine to TERRIBLE… and the animations are still VERY limited. I’m not saying that Q3A models are any worse than Quake’s BUT, they’re not any better…. more of the same, with little, barely noticeable, death animation tweaks. Of course they have a higher polygon count, but more doesn’t mean better… it just means more lag, and for what ends do we have to suffer to see a more detailed enemy get fragged?
» Gibbs are real nice in Q3A. They make lag for a voodoo3 like playing over a 2800 baud modem. CHRIST!!!
» Binary score: 0 until I have a voodoo5, at which time I will review the game a second time.

Links

Q3A = Lag

Rage 2 – solid shooter, missing car combat and really ugly women

I just finished Rage 2 this weekend and overall, I think the game is solid. I have yet to finish Far Cry 4, and yet Rage 2 kept my interest enough to plow through the game over a couple weeks, which is saying something, especially when I was playing Bloodborne on the PS4 at the same time, which is a holyfucking masterpiece.

Basically the story is fairly generic, the intro to the game could have been Serious Sam style funcheese, but it really felt like it took the middle ground of taking itself too seriously, sort of. The character you play (Walker… Ranger.. .get it?), while voiced well, is supergeneric action hero man with very little to cling to character-wise. The main guy from Bulletstorm or the a’fore mentioned Serious Sam are done quite a bit better. I was waiting for some more Chuck Norris jokes, but I didn’t notice any.

It’s got to be rough for a Bethesda studio to take on post-apocalyptic without it being Fallout, but for me, I was glad that it’s totally separate as Rage 2 has a different focus; one that I felt they hit right on the nose: the firefights and gunplay. This is where id software absolutely shines and damn the firefights are fun, especially the set pieces at various bases. Everything else in the game is just a distraction from the firefights really.

The guns are good, but I found myself using the shotgun for just about everything and then the assault rifle for the rest with occasional use of the rocket launcher. You can pretty much get through the game with those three weapons no problem. The ‘nailgun’ type weapon that does more damage the more it fires is useful for boss fights, but that’s about it. The ‘set people on fire’ pistol is solid fun, but I found myself just always wanting the shotgun instead. Overall, nothing really crazy here in terms of weapons except some are full on useless compared to others (the settler pistol for instance). I loved the fact that there was no sniper rifle! None of that wussy shit!

What I didn’t like is when you get in firefights, your enemies don’t drop ammo so you tend to avoid any fights while you are on your way to a mission zone, there isn’t any reason other than feltrite to kill stuff. They also don’t drop guns– you have special Ranger-only guns throughout the game so their guns are shytte anyway. However, I’ve found myself out of ammo and it would have been nice to pick up a crap submachine gun to finish off the last few guys without having to wait for my Ranger Power timers to cooldown.

Which brings us to the powers. The MEAT of Rage 2 is the creative and combination-al use of the environment, weapons and powers in the game. When you start to get access to powers, you start to be able to do all sorts of funky stuff and interact with the physics of the game. Some of the stuff I used a lot (the big ‘stomp’ power just like Saints Row 4) and some not at all (the hold-jump while aiming thing or any of the grenade knock back powers). My favorite thing was probably setting up an electrified shield and then throwing out the mini-black hole thing which would suck everyone into the shield to get electrified. There’s a lot of fun play here due to the chaos of the physics and what the powers do. If I play it again with the next expansion, it will be for this stuff alone.

I found the actual upgrade system really frustrating, with levels purchased with feltrite and perks and nanotrites and what the hell is all this shit? This is a game where I may have just wanted straight unlocks without any choice on my part, just to remove the hassle. Plus on PC, the UI for upgrading levels was so weird I had to look up on the interweb tubes how to do it.

If you get this game and want to get to the fun real fast to see if you like it, start the game, sit through the intro then press the FOCUS key when you get out of the first town. On the horizon you will see these rainbow colored beams shooting up into the air. Go to all of them as quickly as you can and get the stuff inside the arcs. Do this before anything else!

Cars and stuff

I liked this better than Rage 1, but … it was lackluster. What I wanted out of the game was TWISTED METAL and they just did not deliver. They had all these different cars, monster trucks, tanks, funny wheeled tanks, some advanced vehicles– but there simply wasn’t any meaningful car combat AT ALL. Yes you can go after the big rigs and their escorts, but the escorts don’t break off and engage, they simply stay in formation and let you shoot the fuck out of them. You do not get vehicularily attacked on the roads either except by a couple punks on bikes which do nothing. They have a big race track, but NO arena style combat. This was a fucking HUGE opportunity missed in my opinion and I’m not sure how this could have happened, it almost feels like they were going for it but had to cut it out.

Overall, there are two vehicles you need. The first one you get (that… talks….) and the flying Icarus bike. The first one is good for combat and is fairly fast on the road and the Icarus flies so you can avoid all the nonsense twisting around of roads to get to where you gots to go much faster. The racing cars were fun to drive too, but no weapons. All the rest of the cars and especially the motorcycles were not that fun to drive, and not fast enough (with enough control) to warrant using.

Encounters and set pieces are a mixed bag, with some being incredible and some being pretty boring. A lot of the random road encounters are of two types. First are just people standing in the road waiting. Not going anywhere, just standing around. That’s pretty odd. Secondly there are two groups fighting at very close range, also sometimes in the middle of the road. Every once in a while you will see a group carting something somewhere or carrying boxes or sitting around a fire, but it’s fairly rare. There are very few ambushes on the roads, I think I saw only two.

whachu waitn’ fo?

The set pieces, like bases and road blockers are all pretty solid, with some very interesting environments mixed in. Fights in big towers, cliff faces, all seem to be goon squad base which are the best. The Mutants have caves, which give interesting (but eventually repetitive) indoor environments. The River Hogs and the Shrouded have pretty boring bases compared to the other two, but the fights are more difficult as their weapons and armor are better. Many of the set pieces are similar in pattern, so when you’ve destroyed 2-3 bases, you sort of know what all there rest will be like, with the exception of the Goon Squad (punk looking dudes) which seem to have the most interesting and varied bases.

The boss fights are not too bad, but nothing awe inspiring. The boss designs are cool, but not really all that varied. Only fighting one type of boss during the game would have been better (like in the Souls series– you never fight the same boss twice unless it’s an early game one that shows up as a normal enemy late game. Early in the game, I got in a situation with one boss where I skilled through the fight before the boss and then with my load out at that time of powers it was impossible (I tried like 20 times) to defeat the boss and his respawning minions. At this same time I took down the Blood Starved Beast and Vicar Amelia in Bloodborne…so this was very frustrating.

Lastly the environments, characters and visuals. Graphically this game is fanfucking tastic. The places you can go are trashy and beautiful at the same time. There is amazing amounts of detail in the buildings and environments and, like ALL id games, it pays to look around at everything and how lovingly crafted it is. I loved loved loved the look of the explosions, GREASY explosions all over the place and could probably watch that shit all day.

Character wise, I was impressed at the visuals, but man the people in this game have all been beaten with the ugly stick, and I mean BAD. Especially the women. All of the women in the game with the exception of two that I remember seeing were made to be as physically repulsive as possible. Terrible haircuts, awful facial features, dirt and grime, puking on themselves, and generally women, even in the civilized settlements, that have zero concern for their attire or appearance at all. These are not irradiated desert dwellers, but people that live in rooms and apartments. I get that video game women are typically either supermodels or elderly with nothing in between (Kingdom Come does a good job of mitigating this a bit, since none of the women are supermodelesque, but they aren’t ugly either), but Rage has swung so far to the ugly that I can’t help but mention it over and over. Here are some examples.

And a shot from RAGE 1 of the hottie just for memories.

her sole purpose in the game is to teach you the wing stick…

And didn’t Moonbeam McSwine teach us that you can still be hot and live in FILTH?

My overall take on Rage 2 is that it has some bugs, it’s got GREAT shooting and powers combat, but is lacking in the Twisted Metal vehicle combat department, which I was really expecting. The bosses are underwhelming, which may be a product of it being very hard to make large bosses for a first person shooter. The story… doesn’t matter. While it has some flaws, Rage 2 finds it’s redemption in it’s core gameplay as a crazy shooter.

Quake haiku 1997

Man oh man I submitted these over 20 years ago and found them again on accident during the LAN.  Reposted again with some notations and context.

– I hook far above,
– Dark shaft in House of Chthon.
– Ride the lift for me!
—- littlemute[WM]

There is a single lift to get from the bottom level to the top level in the map the House of Cthon.  If the server has the grappling hook, the level becomes a contest on who can get the rocket launcher and sit at the very top of the lift (where you cannot be hit from either level unless directly below) and just camp for frags the whole time.  Great stuff.

– Server a chat-room!
– My macros end the babble,
– I am nuked again.
—- littlemute[WM]

The thing that quake also did was have an easy way to chat with other people in real time.  This was not something that was all that easy to do in 1996, so people would use the quake server as a place to chat with each other rather than play.  You could bind keys to macros and spam them over and over and over (they fixed this in later versions of the game) which would lead either to a denial of service attack from someone else or getting booted from the server.

– Lava-less level,
– The shame of negative frags.
– Reconnect again.
—- littlemute[WM]

You could reconnect to the server to instantly reset your score to zero.  Pretty useless unless you are at negative frags….

from: https://www.quakewiki.net/archives/que/haiku/97-07.htm

Great Quake Article

This got sent to me by multiple people , it is an excellent article on the development of Quake in 1995-1996.

There’s a lot of nostalgia articles about id around, but for this one I mostly I want to comment on Romero because really any non-technical article or discussion of Doom development or Quake development has to include stuff about him or frankly, it’s pretty boring.  At the time of Quake 2/3 there was a lot of hate on Romero about his alleged work ethic, playing games all the time, the Killcreek stuff and the general perception from the internet (mostly stuff on bluesnews) that he was fucking shit up all over the place, and then came Daikatana.

While all of these things may be true,  I beg to differ that it was detrimental in terms of the final deliverable of Quake, especially Quake (and Doom’s) deathmatch. This article confirms somethings people felt a few years after it shipped (no one really knew what was going on at id a the time of development), but if you read it, once the decision was made for it to be a FPS and not and RPG game, Romero helped make Quake beyond awesome, and part of that was his addiction to his own game.

JORTS!

While I like a lot of other First Person Shooters, Quake is still one of the most enjoyable free for all mutliplayer.  The engine is solid and it works extremely well with multiple players when they are all physically near each other– something that modern engines for FPS do not do.  That aside for now, I feel like the fact that Romero and American McGee played Deathmatch all day long when they were supposed to be ‘working’ actually made DM in Quake, Quake 2 and Quake 3 the absolute best it could be (yes I know Romero was gone after Q2).  Romero was more than a designer, he was the near ultimate consumer of his own creation, and for this, despite all the drama around him being let go from id, and the Diakatana debacle, was a critical component for the success of the game.  While I had dabbled in the Quake single player game, soon I was only playing CTF and DM and didn’t finish the SP for a year or so after it’s release, even though we played DM just about every day for 2-3 hours.   In fact, I cannot have imagined playing a game more fervently than we played Quake.  It was pretty much the focal point to everything we did for YEARS there– a bit after Quake 2 came out is when I started to go off the constant deathmatch (only to be revived again when Q3 came out).  And why was Quake’s DM so good and we still play it at every LAN? The tech of course, and american mcgee’s levels (the Bad Place for instance) but for the gameplay? I say Romero and his addiction to playing his own team’s games.

Chicken Dinner

I won a round of PUBG.  Wow.  Adrenaline pumping still.

How:

  1. hiding a lot
  2. not dropping in to known fucked areas (KFA’s)
  3. moving from cover to cover at the end
  4. luck.  I was in the first circle so didn’t have to take it on the arches or go find a vehicle.  Later, a guy one tree over from me ran to loot a guy he shot nearby and I hit him with a frag and then didn’t loot. Don’t loot at the end of the game.
  5. Final 1v1 shooting*.  I hit the guy partially hiding at a nearby tree with the shotgun and kept firing.  He couldn’t figure out where the shots were coming from and moved to the side of the tree that I was shooting at. He was standing up to try to see where I was shooting from (I have done this many times) and I was able to hit him 3-4 more times.

*I am a terrible shot with all weapons.

My final equipment (read it and weep!): Shotgun, Micro Uzi, dirty tank top, bike helmet, painkillers. I had lots of ammo though as I went through two houses that had already been looted and they left tons of shells and 9mm.  I never fired the micro uzi.

Pictures.

Feel the joys of bush.

Don’t be nervous

There’s quite a bit I should write about PUBG, but really it’s just a simple game that does what it tries to do very well.   If you’ve played a lot of battlefield games, you will really like it– it feels less pointless though you really won’t get the weapons you want when you need them.  A major studio (like DICE) could have knocked out in a few months and are probably kicking themselves that something like this got so big so quick– an idea that everyone has had, but they just didn’t go for it.  These guys did and it’s paid off for them and of course, for us.

APRIL LAN

It’s the APRIL LAN. We played a lot of Quake last night and Starcraft (now free with the latest update) which ended in the only outcome that could have happened in a FFA: a zerg rush by scooter.

Today we got in some HELLDIVERS and Ultimate DOOM, which is one of the best FPS games ever STILL for gameplay.

Of course, it’s one of those rare nice April days where everyone in the city is outside: except us who are languishing in a basement for the next 12-14 hours.