Never touch the core
Are ten casual players better than a single dedicated fan?
by Paolo "Nusco" Perrotta
So, Brian Hook from id Software tells us that Q3 must appeal to the Big Potential User Base Out There. They
don't want to make a game for Hardcore Gamers - they want to turn the elite hobby of Internet gaming into a
They're carefully avoiding anything which might confuse or frustrate a beginner. Their models of user-friendliness
are console games, or arcade games, where things tend to be very clear from the very first minute you play.
A Good Thing
OK, great. Making anything simpler is generally a Good Thing. Having more players online would benefit everyone -
the more, the merrier. Somebody might shudder at the thought of thousands of AOLers and clueless llamas jumping
on the Q3 servers around the world. But after all, this is Quake, not a newsgroup: this time around, you can
If Mr. Carmack and friends can make a game which satisfies both the community of Hardcore Gamers (HGs) and the
masses of beginners, then Q3 will seriously rock. But, as even an humble mod maker knows, satisfying all kinds
of users is often impossible. Now I ask myself: if they had to take a decision between a beginner-oriented
feature and an HG-oriented one, which one would they choose?
Hardcore Gamers suck
Admittedly, making a game for HGs can be a risk. Just face it, we're a lousy bunch. We're always ready to
yell that we don't like this or that.
When you talk about football, everyone believes he's a better coach than the coach. It's the same with
computer games, where every dedicated player believes he's a better designer than the designers. Quake,
Quake 2 and CTF 2 all received a lot of angry complaints when they came out.
And besides, as the guys from the industry like to say, HGs are only a tiny segment of the market.
Now, the question is: how much does this small segment weight?
"Normal" gamers suck even more
There are some big problems with your average Joe Gamer. He doesn't want to play the same game for two
years before buying the sequel. He doesn't want to spend hours daily mantaining a fan site on the web,
or organizing tourneys, or producing mods. He just cares about the latest fad - he wants to play the
game of the month.
If it were for casual gamers, Quake II would be just another boring old game from 1997, and Quake would
be a prehistoric thing from the ancient times, when 3D acceleration was still a luxury. Right now,
everybody would be busy playing Half Life, Sin and Shogo. Quake II would be in limbo, together with
Hexen II, Unreal and all the other great games which never really managed to keep a strong community
Sure, some console games manage to stay popular for a long time. But usually, it's the strength of the
main character or the lack of direct competitors that makes their fortune. And id Software is not reknowned
for its ability to produce interesting characters, nor for its lack of rivals. So, who wants a game that
sells an incredible amount of copies just to disappear after three months?
Love and money
Some might say that the main purpose of a software house is to sell a great number of copies, not to
produce artistic masterpieces. But in my humble opinion, the incredible longevity of the Quake games is
not just a reason to be proud: it makes money, too.
If some other company gets id's crown as the king of FPS games, nothing will be the same again. Once you've
lost your place at the top, you usually loose it forever. Your next game becomes just another game, not the
cool new thing that everyone's waiting for. And recent history shows that being second doesn't help - you
really need public awareness and fanatic following if you want a frontline position into the overcrowded
And that means conquering the love of Hardcore Gamers, not just getting a game into every home.
-- Paolo "Nusco" Perrotta
The views in this editorial are not necessarily those of PlanetQuake, it's
staff, cheerleaders or Joe Gamer.
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