Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quake (Game)

Quake is a first-person shooter video game that was released by id Software on June 22, 1996. It was the first game in the popular Quake series of video games. It was made available on Steam on August 3, 2007.

A preview included with id's very first release, 1990's Commander Keen, advertised a game entitled The Fight for Justice as a follow-up to the Keen trilogy. It would feature a character named Quake, "the strongest, most dangerous person on the continent", armed with thunderbolts and a "Ring of Regeneration." Conceived as a VGA full-color side-scrolling RPG, The Fight for Justice was never released.

Pre-release and QTest
Quake was given as a title to the game that id Software was working on shortly after the release of Doom II. The earliest information released described Quake as focusing on a Thor-like character who wields a giant hammer, and is able to knock away enemies by throwing the hammer (complete with real-time inverse kinematics). At the start, the levels were supposed to be designed in an Aztec style, but the choice was dropped some months into the project. Early screenshots then showed medieval environments and dragons. The plan was for the game to have more RPG-style elements. However, work was very slow on the engine, since John Carmack, the main programmer of Quake, was not only developing a full 3D engine, but also a TCP/IP networking model. (Carmack later said that he should have done two separate projects which developed those things.) Eventually, the whole id team began to think that the original concept may not have been as wise a choice as they first believed. Thus, the final game was very stripped down from its original intentions, and instead featured gameplay similar to Doom and its sequel, although levels and enemies were closer to medieval RPG style rather than science-fiction. Praised throughout the gaming community, it quickly dethroned previous FPS titles and revolutionized the way multiplayer games were developed.
Before the release of the game or the demo of the game, id software released QTest on February 24, 1996. It was described as a technology demo and was limited to three multiplayer maps. There was no single player support and some of the gameplay and graphics were unfinished or different from their final versions. Nevertheless, the game's multiplayer support caused Quake servers to spring up everywhere overnight. QTest also gave gamers their first peek into the filesystem and modifiability of the Quake engine, and many entity mods (that placed monsters in the otherwise empty multiplayer maps) and custom player skins began appearing online before the full game was even released.

Quake was programmed by John Carmack, Michael Abrash and John Cash. The level and scenarios were designed by American McGee, Sandy Petersen, John Romero and Tim Willits. The graphics were designed by Adrian Carmack, Kevin Cloud. Music and sound design was by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame.
The game engine developed for Quake, the Quake engine, popularized several major advances in the 3D game genre: polygonal models instead of prerendered sprites; full 3D level design instead of a 2.5D map; prerendered lightmaps; and allowing end users to partially program the game (in this case with QuakeC), which popularized fan-created modifications (mods).

Quake has two fundamental modes of gameplay: single player and multiplayer.

Single Player
In single-player mode, players explore and navigate to the exit of each level, facing many challenging monsters and a few secret areas along the way. Usually there are buttons to press or keys to collect in order to open doors before the exit can be reached. Once reaching the exit, the game takes the player to the next level.
Before the start level, there is a set of three pathways with easy, medium, and hard skill levels; in order to reach the Nightmare skill level (described in the game manual as "so bad that it was hidden, so people won't wander in by accident"), the player must drop through the water before the Episode 4 entrance and jump into a secret passage.
Quake's single-player campaign is organized into four individual episodes of about eight levels each (each including a secret level, one of which is a "low gravity" level—Ziggurat Vertigo in Episode 1, Dimension of the Doomed—that challenges the player's abilities in a different way). As items are collected, they are carried to the next level, each usually more challenging than the last. If the player dies, he must restart at the beginning of the level. However, games may be saved at any time.
Upon completing each episode, the player is returned to the hub Start level, where he can then enter the next episode. Each episode starts the player from scratch, without any previously collected items. Episode I (which formed the shareware or downloadable demo version of Quake) has a boss in the last level. The ultimate objective at the end of an episode is to recover a magic rune. After all of the runes are collected, the floor of the Start opens up to reveal an entrance to the End level which contains the final boss, based on the God Shub-Niggurath from the Cthulhu Mythos.

In multiplayer mode, players on several computers connect to a server (which may be a dedicated machine or on one of the player's computers), where they can play against each other. Typically in multiplayer mode, when a player dies he can immediately respawn, but loses any items he has collected and so must start collecting them again. Similarly, items that have been picked up previously respawn after some time, and may be picked up again.
The single-player campaign can be played in co-op mode.
The most popular multiplayer modes are all forms of deathmatch. Deathmatch modes typically consist of either free-for-all (no organization or teams involved), one-on-one duels, or organized teamplay with two or more players per team (or clan). Teamplay is also frequently played with one or another mod. Typically, no monsters are normally present, as they serve no purpose other than to get in the way and give away the player.
The gameplay in Quake was considered unique for its time because of the different ways the player can maneuver through the game. For example: bunny hopping or strafe jumping can be used to move faster than normal, while rocket jumping enables the player to reach otherwise-inaccessible areas (or just move faster), at the cost of some self-damage. The player can start and stop moving suddenly, jump unnaturally high, and change direction while moving through the air. Many of these non-realistic behaviors contribute to Quake's appeal. The nature of the gameplay is often fast and frenzied, and has become considerably faster over the years as players mastered advanced movement techniques.
There is obvious skill needed to react quickly, aim precisely, dodge other players' shots, and jump across tricky spaces. As Quake did not include any automap, it also requires considerable knowledge of the sometimes confusingly-contorted maps (made more complex by the frequent use of teleporters) as well as careful planning in order to collect needed items and conserve health and ammunition. Strategies include regularly picking up items to prevent one's opponent from having access to them and controlling certain critical areas of each level. Duels often take place with opponents mostly out of sight of each other, jockeying for position and carefully stocking up on items, with sudden changes in speed of play when one player or the other gains an advantage. Sound also plays a central role in keeping track of other players and even items in the game, so many players use headphones to give the clearest sound and directionality. Teamplay adds even more tactical layers, with different ways to communicate and cooperate.
Multiplayer Quake was one of the first games that people singled out as a form of electronic sport. Most notable was Dennis "Thresh" Fong who won John Carmack's Ferrari 308 at the Microsoft-sponsored Red Annihilation tournament in 1997.

The player takes the role of an un-named protagonist sent into a portal in order to stop an enemy code-named "Quake". Previously, the government had been experimenting with teleportation technology, and upon development of a working prototype called a "Slipgate", this enemy has compromised the human connection with their own teleportation system, using it to insert death squads into the "human" dimension, supposedly in order to test the martial capabilities of humanity.
The sole surviving protagonist in Operation Counterstrike is the player, who must advance, starting each of the four episodes from a human held but overrun military base, before fighting through into other dimensions, traversing these via slipgate or their otherworld equivalent. Once passing through each slipgate, the player's main objective is to survive and locate the exit which will take him to the next level, not unlike that of id Software's previous hit, Doom.
The game consists of around 28 separate "levels" or "maps", grouped into four episodes. Each episode represents individual dimensions that the player can access through magical portals (as opposed to the technological Slipgate) that are discovered over the course of the game. At the start of each episode, the player is deployed in a futuristic military base and he has to find a slipgate that will take him to the alternate realm. The various realms consist of a number of gothic, medieval, as well as "fire and brimstone"-style caves and dungeons with a recurring theme of hellish and satanic imagery reminiscent of Doom (such as pentagrams and images of demons on the walls). The latter is inspired by several dark fantasy influences, notably that of H. P. Lovecraft; most notably, Dimensional Shamblers appear as enemies, the "Spawn" enemies are called "Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua" in the manual, the end boss of the first episode is named Chthon, and the final boss is named Shub-Niggurath (though actually resembling a Dark Young). Some levels have Lovecraftian names, such as the Vaults of Zin and the Ebon Fortress. Originally, the game was supposed to include more Lovecraftian bosses, but this concept was scrapped due to time constraints.
It should be noted, however, that by the time the game was released the specifics of the story had become relatively unimportant and somewhat disorganized. This is mainly due to a last-minute mix of two different game designs: lead level designer John Romero wanted to make a dark fantasy hand to hand combat/RPG hybrid game, while level designers Tim Willits and American McGee wanted to make a more futuristic, Doom-like game. Ultimately the Doom-like mechanics were implemented and many of the dark fantasy design elements were incorporated into the graphics and visual effects of the game.

After the departure of Romero, the remaining id employees chose to change the thematic direction substantially for Quake II, making the design more technological and futuristic rather than Lovecraftian fantasy. Quake 4 followed the design themes of Quake II, whereas Quake III Arena mixed these styles, as it existed in a parallel continuity that housed several "id all-stars", from various games, as playable characters.
The mixed settings occurred because Quake II originally began as a separate product line. Unfortunately, due to the failure to gain rights to the title they wanted, id designers were forced to fall back on the project's nickname of "Quake II." Since any sequel to the original Quake had already been refused, it became a viable way of continuing the series without actually continuing the storyline or setting of the first game.