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Editorial Index

Recent Editorials:

I WANT my CD key!
12/13 - id's decision to use a CD key is justified

Report Card to the NIMF
12/1 - A response to the NIMF's report on violence in video games

Violence and Gaming
11/16 - Quake responsible for youth violence?

A Purist's Rules for FPS Multi-Player Design
11/5 - Keeping FPS' clutter-free

Rebuttal to Essobie's Editorial
10/15 - Grapple Controversy-Part Deux
The Woes of Being a Multi-Gamer
10/12 - Game Loyalty?
CTF != The Grappling Hook
10/7 - Q3 Arena sans grappling hook?
Jailbreak and Free Lunches
10/4 - Do mod makers "owe" people anything?
Pixels and Texels
9/13 - A look at the future of video cards
Yes, Camping is Evil!
9/2 - A response to "The Evils of Camping"!
Give Me Cable or Give Me Death!
8/31 - Will we all be LPBs one day?
Does Age Equal Maturity?
8/25 - A look at the age factor in gaming.
HeadHunting
8/23 - Mods and intellectual property
To Smack or Not to Smack
8/12 - Trash talking and the FFF!
The Evils of Camping
8/9 - We love to complain!
Trends in the Gaming Industry
7/13 - A look at the shift to multiplayer only games
32-bit Graphics Shows 3dfx's True Colors
7/12 - A continuation about the Voodoo3...
Is She 7 or 17?
6/30 - About the Voodoo3...
Doom 2000 and Q3A
5/26 - Fragmaster speaks his mind
The L33T D00D Multiplayer Tutorial
5/11 - Addressing their needs
Sue 'em All...
4/15 - The id Software Lawsuit
(more)

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Comments or ideas? Feedback?

Shifting Trends in the Gaming Industry
Where are FPSs going?
  — by
Chris Smith (DragonMaster)

id Software has always been a trendsetter in the industry of computer games. Starting from way, way back when with Castle Wolfenstien, the Doom series, and more recently Quake 1 and 2, each release has been a breakthrough in technology. With the release of Q3A, id might just go and do it again. Certainly there are some new concepts in the game. But as you look through forums and newsgroups and talk to people, you inevitably come across people saying Q3test just isn't the same. Somehow it doesn't seem realistic. Has id lost their edge?

First of all, for those who say Quake 3 looks "cartoony," you have NOT seen it in 1024x768x32. That game is absolutely amazing with the right hardware. I had a Voodoo1 until recently, and I thought it looked cartoony as well... then I got a TNT2 Ultra. Wow.

Q3A will be a multiplayer only game. This is a big step for id, as it seemed they were getting deeper into the single player scene with Quake 2 (which had a single player game more developed and involved than any id game so far). This is an important thing to consider when you evaluate the game because, let's face it; Q3A isn't very realistic. The bubble health things aren't realistic. The floating, bobbing, rotating weapons aren't realistic (weapons that actually lie there are becoming increasingly popular). The damage tone isn't realistic. The voice saying "excellent" and "you take the lead" isn't realistic. The jump pads aren't realistic (and so on and so on). But Q3A is multiplayer only, so in order to make any money, it has to offer the best possible multiplayer experience. What we can see here is a shift away from realism and towards gameplay. Those bubble health things are easy to see and identify quickly from a distance; same with the floating guns. The damage tone is a great feature that enhances fights. The voice telling you if you gain or lose the lead lets you know how you're doing without forcing the player to look at the HUD. The jump pads add a whole new dimension to gameplay, especially when coupled with floating powerups (not possible previously).

Now I'm not saying realism doesn't have it's place. I spent the better part of a week playing Unreal and being amazed by the scenery. Half-life stunned me with its immersive environments. Those were great, and the realism was certainly not out of place. But once again, we have to consider the multiplayer perspective. That Quake 3 rocket launcher, while not very realistic, makes for great battles and fast-paced gameplay. Would you really want a rocket launcher like the one in Half life? There were enough complaints about the Quake 2 rocket launcher!

Let's look at this from another perspective. id software consists of about 12 people (I think). They're good at what they do, but there's 12 of them. Now look at Epic (makers of Unreal). They have many more people at their disposal. Dozens of artists, skinners, mappers, modelers and programmers contributed to making Unreal what it is, and are working to make Unreal Tournament what it will be eventually. Valve (Half-Life) has about 30 people. These companies can produce more than id, simply because they have more manpower. Back when Quake came out, the quality of its single play didn't really matter. The Quake engine was so revolutionary that it would sell regardless. But now competitors are catching up - the Unreal and LithTech engines are very advanced and serious competition to say the least.

Making a single player game is a lot of work. While id could probably whip up 30+ maps and some models, skins and sounds, they just wouldn't be able to compare to the visual beauty of Unreal, the awesome AI of Half-Life, or the haunting realism of either. For sheer lack of resources it would seem a pathetic attempt in comparison. So they dropped it. Now id is concentrating solely on multiplayer. They are making it better and adding more maps. This is not a bad thing at all.

We can learn a lot from this. Since id isn't trying as hard for realism, emphasis will, hopefully, be placed more on good map design rather than making the maps realistic. A good example of this is dm4. This is a simple map; it doesn't have any complex architecture and uses a total of maybe 10 textures. But it's designed very well and remains one of my favorite maps to this day. In addition, Quake 3 is not limited to one theme. In Quake2, for instance, there was a space marine plot. You were on another planet. All the maps id made had to stay in that theme at least a little. Now they're just making arenas. What kind of theme would q3test1 fit into? Some kind of demented castle? What about q3test2?

In conclusion I'd like to talk about the future. Will other companies follow id like they have in the past? Maybe. Unreal Tourney looks like it might be following the same kind of path. With Quake3Arena, id's taking a risk. Personally I think it'll be very successful, but we'll have to see. I don't, however, think everyone will follow. I enjoy a well done single player game, and there's still a large market out there for them. Both realism and id's vision have a place in the future of gaming - I know I'll be buying both.

Feedback? Questions? Comments? Mail 'em all to Feedback!


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