Hard and Fast
QuakeWorld, Quake II and Quake III Arena
by Ted J. Vessenes
Since we seem to have another QuakeWorld vs. Quake II debate on our hands, let's do something different
for a change - try and understand the other guy's position. After all, "Which is better, QuakeWorld or
Quake II?" is only a matter of taste.
There are four game design points that people are split on:
The number of weapons worth using is a measure of weapon balance.
In QuakeWorld, everyone knows that RL, Shaft, and Grenade are just better than the other 5 weapons. This
is simply accepted as part of a game. But in Quake II, all of the weapons are useful enough to fight with
in certain situations - RL, Rail, BFG, Chaingun, Super Shotgun, Grenade Launcher.
People who prefer QuakeWorld prefer fewer useful weapons on a map. People who prefer Quake II prefer more
useful weapons on a map.
Weapon Selection Time:
Most of the Quake II crowd agrees that Quake II switches weapons too slowly, but they are willing to work
with the problem. The real debate here is not whether weapon switch time should be faster than in Quake II,
but whether it should even exist at all.
Ironically, QuakeWorld would be hurt less from a weapon switch delay, than Quake II would benefit from the
removal of switch delay. You simply switch weapons more often in Quake II, and weapon delay is part of increasing
the number of weapons worth using on a level. Whether or not this is good is another matter.
Dropping a pack makes it much easier for a new spawn to get back into the game in QuakeWorld. This isn't as
necessary in Quake II because there are more than twice as many useful weapons - new spawns can get a deadly
weapon in seconds.
I think that the debate over air control is more a comfort complaint than anything. QuakeWorld players who
were in the air a lot did not feel at home in Quake II. Meanwhile, Quake II players who try QuakeWorld feel like
they move too far. But the impressions are just that-- impressions. I have yet to see a convincing case either
for or against air control. Most people just have a personal opinion based on what they are used to.
These game design points affect the gameplay in two ways:
Ability to Control Level:
People say that it's harder for a losing player to dethrone the current winner in QuakeWorld, but that's
not true. But because the Quake II railgun deals 100 damage, it's still difficult for a new spawn to get more
than one shot off.
The real difference in QuakeWorld vs. Quake II is that QuakeWorld's level control is centered around weapons.
Quake II is based around finding the opponent before they can get ANY weapon, and preferably before they get
armor, so your rail is more effective. Watch a Quake II demo by Thresh if you want to see this Quake II strategy
Speed of Gameplay:
QuakeWorld players hate Quake II because it's not as fast and furious as QuakeWorld. Quake II players hate
QuakeWorld because it takes less thought. The game design elements make QuakeWorld faster and Quake II more
This boils down to one debate: Thinking Fast versus Thinking Hard
QuakeWorld is all about thinking fast, dodging fast, shooting fast. Quake II is all about thinking hard, hearing
obscure sounds, and figuring out how an opponent likes to play a level.
QuakeWorld really does pack more frags per minute than Quake II. Maybe you find that fun. Quake II really is harder
to play strategically. Maybe you find that fun.
But neither is better than the other (graphics aside). It's just that one game is better for an individual person's tastes.
I have seen the future and it is Quake III: Arena
Quake III: Arena is essentially "The Greatest Hits of id Software Deathmatch". You might wonder how id can successfully meld everything that everyone loves into one cohesive game that we will rush to pay $40 for.
Think back to the list of game design points at the begining of this editorial. Number of useful weapons per level... Now think about the Quake III: Arena irc logs. "No level will contain all of the weapons". Anyone remember that quote? How about this one? "Weapon balance is a factor of level design".
I know a great way of making levels that QuakeWorld folks will love - put one weapon on the level that's just much better than all of the others. It will be abusive, deadly, fast, and fun in that action-packed, level control way. That weapon will be the BFG 10K.
What about maps that are fun for Quake II folks? Easy - no BFG 10K, but five other weapons that are useful in differing situations, about as often. Presto! The level can't be controlled just by camping weapon spawn spots.
Quake III: Arena will probably have a spectrum of levels. On one end will be the QuakeWorld style levels with the BFG 10K and nothing else worth having. And on the other end will be Quake II style levels with a wide variety of weapons. There will be plenty of levels in between too, hopefully this will be the place where QuakeWorld and Quake II folks can "settle old scores - and settle the hard way!"
As far as weapon delay goes, I'm certain the Quake II folks are willing to let this one go so that the delay is almost negligible. As far as dropping packs, I'm sure the QuakeWorld folks won't mind missing this because I expect the QW-style maps to contain more ammo, to make up for the loss of ammo in the packs. And air control? A happy medium between QuakeWorld and Quake II. I don't even care about this one.
Not much of a debate
This hasn't been much of a debate. I haven't once denounced either side! Allow me to remedy that...
There are only two statements I will not accept in the Quake II vs. QuakeWorld debate.
The first is that QuakeWorld doesn't take skill. Yes, it's easier to play QuakeWorld level strategies than Quake II strategies, and yes, QuakeWorld weapons are horribly broken. But that does not mean QuakeWorld doesn't take skill.
The second is that Quake II isn't fast. Quake II isn't as fast as QuakeWorld - a lot of game design points were toned down to slow play. But Quake II still has that edge-of-your-seat tension that we love.
I think the gain of strategy in Quake II more than makes up for the loss of a little action from QuakeWorld. I get more tense playing Quake II than QuakeWorld because I already know what will happen in QuakeWorld. As long as I have the RL, they will probably die immediately. Once I lose it, I will have a very hard time getting it back.
Even though it will be a blood bath, it lacks suspense. Sure it's very satisfying to dethrone them from the RL, but I'd rather play 20 mostly satisfying battles per map, as in Quake II, as opposed to 2 completely satistfying battles in a QuakeWorld game.
But this is still just an argument of personal taste, and even if you are a diehard QuakeWorld fan, I support you in the love of your game - may Quake 3: Arena bring you the same joy as I know it will bring me.
-- Ted J. Vessenes
The views in this editorial are not necessarily those of PlanetQuake, it's
staff, cheerleaders or a small spider monkey called Fred.
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