"Best of Both Worlds"
QuakeWorld, Quake II and Quake III Arena
by Paul Campbell
There seems to be this misconception amongst QuakeWorld fanatics that we in the Quake II community only
favour Quake II because of its pretty graphics, and that our PII-400 Voodoo SLI super-rigs allow us to
lord it over our less well endowed comrades. That what "everyone" really wants is Q3A to be is a graphically
souped up version of QuakeWorld.
Well I can assure you that is most certainly what most Quake II regulars do *not* want and that we love
the very gameplay elements that the QuakeWorld fraternity pronounce as intrinsically bad and therefore
Well, the QuakeWorld community has continually lobbied (polite word for "pestered the living daylights
out of") id at every turn to forward their agenda, so I am seeking to address this imbalance by presenting
the views of the "serious" Quake II community in this article.
Because if Quake III Arena is going to be the game that unites the QuakeWorld and Quake II communities,
it must draw the best gameplay elements from both games and not just one of them...
Weaknesses and disadvantages are good!
The things which are often touted as being bad by the QuakeWorlders are the things like the weapon change
delay, the spin-up times of the hyper blaster and the chaingun, and their favorite - the slow rockets.
Far from being annoying or frustrating, these weakness and perculiarities of the various weapons provide
scope for the skillful player to manoeuvre his opponent into a situation that compromises the usefullness
of his current weapon. They favour the player that can predict his opponents next move over the guy who
just wants to able to instantly react to a changing or new situation.
The irony is that those QuakeWorld fanatics who complain about these things are often amongst the most
skillful, and would be the very people who would be the ones taking best advantage of these things once
they had assimilated them into their play.
Hard to use is good
Let's take the hand grenade - a brilliant weapon because it's so difficult to use well. It also has
features, like being able to time mid-air detonations, that means that occasionally hand throwing a
grenade is preferable to using the launcher.
Another subtle gameplay factor exploited in Quake II is that some of the best weapons have a combination
of powerful projectiles and yet slow fire rates (railgun, super shotgun, BFG, hand grenade). This means
that their use requires much greater skill than a comparable weapon with say a higher rate of fire but
each shot doing less damage. This is a large factor in making the railgun the universally hailed "classic"
FPS weapon that it is.
It's the greater satisfaction of wasting somone with a single well placed well timed shot versus
whittling them down with maybe two or three shots, combined with the fear that missing could make
Balanced doesn't mean boring
The weapons in Quake II are not all equally powerful but rather they all have a "niche" of usefulness
that depends on the surroundings and what your enemy is armed with.
To read some of the comments from QuakeWorlders you would think that the weapon balance equates to
people just standing there blasting away at each other without really caring which weapon they have,
because it doesnt matter as they are all equally effective.
This is most definately NOT the case! Each of the weapons in Quake II has it's own peculiar strengths
and weaknesses that you have to learn. You also have to take into account what your opponent is using
and factor in all the variables like spin-up time, fire rate, projectile speed, and spread (for the
shotguns), all in a split second to survive.
Again more scope for the skillful and enthusiastic player to make his skill a telling factor.
VWEP and instant weapon changes don't mix
Even if after reading the previous paragraphs you still believe that instant weapon changes make better
gameplay then you must face the reality that VWEP and instant change can't mix!
The reason is simple. Instant weapon change would make it possible to write console scripts that instantly
change to another weapon, fire, and then change instantly back to the original weapon. The net effect of
this is that a player would appear to be holding say a rocket launcher but actually firing rails, thus making
a complete mockery of the whole idea behind VWEP.
Even if such a script was somehow knobbled, the gameplay value of VWEP is precisely zero unless you have
some window of time to react to what weapon you see your opponent wielding.
VWEP and instant change are fundamentally incompatible, which means that for Quake III Arena we either keep
a weapon change delay which is long enough for someone to react to, or we go back to a single generic weapon
for the player graphics.
Quake II is good for teamplay
The UK hosts what is surely one of the world's largest competitive deathmatch teamplay leagues, and yes it is
a Quake II league called the UKCCL with over 90 clans playing games every week. Indeed, Europe in general has
a thriving Quake II DM teamplay scene with an event call EuroQuake being held in London fairly soon - this is
primarily a Quake II DM teamplay event.
Of course, it's harder to come up a gameplan for a level when it lacks an obvious focus like the QuakeWorld
rocket launcher, but there's still the BFG and the quad and other items like the mega health and red armour.
And when I say hard I mean *hard* - we have spent literally months in our clan debating and experimenting with
different sets of tactics for the standard DM levels, and for us this is a large part of what makes it so
It's also harder for players to keep to a set plan because of this relative lack of a single focus, but in the
end the game is as tactical as the participating players choose to make it. It also means that there is rarely
one obvious ideal set of tactics for a level, which I think is a good thing as you can never be quite sure how
your enemy is going to deploy their forces.
Then there's the issue of backpacks vs item dropping. Surely being able to selectively drop any weapon or other
item provides more scope for team tactics than just being able to drop your pack by suiciding?
The (hopefully) uncontroversial bit
Here are some gameplay elements from both games that, so far as I can tell, are missing from Quake III Arena -
the double-jump "bug", lifts and platforms, a good melee weapon, and/or a very limited default weapon for new spawns.
The double-jump "bug" in Quake II actually provides an extra dimension of manoeuvres which are difficult to master
but again reward the persistent and skillful player. Take a look at the enormous range of manoeuvres on the
UNR jumps site to see the possibilities this opens up...
I'm not too sure if stairs and lifts have been completely replaced by these new "bounce zones" or whatever
they are but I certainly hope not. Lifts in particular are a vital element of teamplay games because they
allow a skillfull injured player a possible escape route from an enemy. Yes there is the camping issue, but
the anti-camper lobby are just a highly vocal minority who are simply bringing too much attention to this
rather minor aspect of the overall game.
I must admit to being a little concerned that the default weapon (the one a player starts with) in Quake III
Arena is going to be way too powerful, if it is indeed comparable to the Quake II sub-machinegun. It's a hard
thing to explain, but starting with too powerful a gun just detracts from the excitement and fear of making
that first dash for a good weapon. A hitscan unlimited range weapon is not a good default - a better option
would prehaps be a poweful melee weapon.
Having our cake and eating it
One potential solution to all these things is that most insidious of evils - configurability. Why do I consider
this such a bad thing? Well, it's the difference between just a game and a true sport.
A sport is something that has the same rules and general playing conditions everywhere, and this is especially
important in an online game where you can hop on servers and pit your skills against players from all across the
If id are really looking to raise Quake to the status of a true international sport (and wouldn't we all like to
see that?) then one thing you certainly do not want is every server running different physics and weapon characteristics.
id have some tough choices to make and a difficult balancing act to create a universally accepted game, and they are
shirking this responsibility (and possibly forgoing the opportunity that it represents) by using the configurability
It is my honest opinion that Quake III Arena will have less depth of gameplay and be ultimately less
satisfying than Quake II if all of the gameplay elements discussed here are discarded.
I just hope that id will remember that there are a hell of a lot of people who like the very aspects of Quake
II that make it difficult to master. And also that they won't be too quick to discard all these things because
of a few high profile QuakeWorlders in the USA who present their own views as those of "everyone".
-- Paul Campbell
The views in this editorial are not necessarily those of PlanetQuake, it's
staff, cheerleaders or the American Chapter of QuakeWorlders Anonymous.
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