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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?

Taking The Demon By The Horns
Will id Become the Microsoft of the Gaming Business?
  — by Mitchell S. Honnert

Why would a feature that would improve gameplay and is technologically feasible not be included in Quake 3: Arena? The answer may be, ironically, when someone has already done it.


Wish List

Being that the Holidays are right around the corner, most people are considering their gift wish list. But as a Quake 2 fan, Iím more concerned with my Quake 3: Arena wish list.

Ever since I heard the announcement of a multiplayer-focused sequel to Quake 2, Iíve been thinking of cool features that I would love to see. Some of the features that had made it on my list have since been confirmed as being included, such as a personal frag indicator and automatic connection optimization. But others are either definitely not going to make it in (positional damage), are only possibilities (voice communication), or have not even been mentioned either way.

But as I tried to come up with a wish list for Q3A, I soon realized that many of the features were already available for Quake 2 from third-party developers, either through modifications or utilities.

I wished that Q3A would include an easy, built-in way to connect to an Internet server .. much like GameSpy.
I wished for a graphical server front-end .. much like OnTheWay.
I wished for a graphical client front-end .. much like GameLaunch.
I wished for runes and a grapple .. much like Lithium and CTF.

This realization led to an interesting question: would id include these features in Q3A, knowing that they had already been implemented by a third-party? In other words, would they deny me these integrated features for fear of "stepping on the toes" of some third-party developer?


Open Up and Say "Mod"

So far, idís general strategy has been to create an open architecture and let third-party developers implement their own enhancements. Using this paradigm (please excuse the buzzword), the user community could create any feature imaginable, and the "market" would decide which one was worthy. Using this technique, id wouldnít have to spend the extra time and effort implementing a feature that gamers might not like anyway.

But Quake is mature enough now to identify the most popular mods and utilities. id no longer has to take a risk on whether a particular feature change will be well received by the Quake community. For example, all it takes is a quick review of a server list to see that a large percentage of gamers prefer Lithium with its runes, multiplayer-friendly HUD, and off-hand grapple.

At his point in time, all id would have to do to determine which mods and utilities are "safe" enough to include in Q3A would be to review the server lists and the download stats on the major Quake web pages.


Itís in There

So, what is the value, you might ask, of duplicating a feature in Q3A that has already been created by someone else? It is the same value that id saw in putting together the Extremities Internet Pack: to increase public awareness of certain components of the game and to make them more standard.

Anyone reading this article is probably aware of most every Quake mod and utility in existence, but to reach the average gamer, these features must be made to be the lowest common denominator. Itís not much trouble to download a mod or utility, but it is some trouble. (If the rest of the people at a LAN party have to wait for even a couple of players to download the proper files from the server, the gaming experience is marred.)

In order for a feature to be universally used, it must be included, by default, in the game itself. And no matter how many people use a particular mod, it will draw even more people if given the implied "id stamp of approval" when included in an official add-on pack, a service patch, or in the game itself.


Resistance is Futile

Some readers may have already seen the parallel of id absorbing third-party modifications into Q3A and Microsoft absorbing third-party utilities into Windows. In both cases, a company puts out a major product, which inevitably has gaps in functionality. Third-party developers then come along and write programs to fill these gaps.

In the case of Quake, these programs can be mods or server config utilities, whereas in the case of Windows, these programs can be anti-virus programs or uninstallers. Tech news is flooded with stories about the Department of Justice's case against Microsoft, which contends that it is merely "integrating" features into the operating system. Iím sure id is already struggling with the same demon, albeit on a smaller scale.

I commend the spirit and talent of any developer who improves on an existing product, be it a game or an OS. But should the existence of the add-on/mod/utility that delivers a new feature preclude that feature from ever being integrated in the next version of the original product? Should the multitude of people using the original product be made to suffer because the add-on/mod/utility developer wants to remain independent? In my opinion, no.

This could lead into an entirely different article, discussing whether web-browsing is a feature of the operating system or indeed a separate application, but letís stick with gaming and, in particular, Q3A.

Wouldnít it be better to include in the shrink-wrapped Q3A box all of the coolest features that the Quake community has created, instead of leaving it to chance? Wouldnít it be nice to plan a LAN party and to not have to worry if everyone has the correct files on their machine? In my opinion, yes.


Legal Stuff

There would surely be logistical and maybe even legal problems with incorporating third-party programs into Q3A, but the precedent has been set with Threewave CTF and the Extremities Internet Pack. Zoid was paid to incorporate Threewave CTF into Quake II and the creators of the mods to be included in Extremities received not only credit for their efforts but monetary compensation in the form of royalties.

While some developers would likely volunteer their ideas and/or actual code for inclusion in Q3A just for the bragging rights or the possibility of being place on the id payroll, Iím sure no one would refuse the offered royalties.

The developers of larger third-party tools, like GameSpy, would likely not be so easy. GameSpy is to id what Netscape is to Microsoft because it blurs the line between "integrated feature" and "stand-alone application". (The lawyers can handle that one.)

But even with all of the possible hassles, I think it would be well worth the cost. If they can pull this type of thing off for Extremities and CTF, then they should be able to do it for Q3A.

I realize that working around the problems of incorporating third-party features into the next version of Quake would be difficult and that some developers would lose some or all of their independence. But I donít want to be deprived nor do I want the rest of the Quake community to be deprived of the universality of very popular features because id doesnít want someone, somewhere to compare them to Microsoft.

Idís mostly hands-off approach has worked in the past, but it is time for them to take the demon by the horns (so to speak) and play a more active role in the standardization of third-party features.

-- Mitchell S. Honnert




The views in this editorial are not necessarily those of PlanetQuake, it's staff, cheerleaders or the Department of Justice.

If you want to try your hand at writing an article or editorial, send it to [email protected]. All contributions are welcome.


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