Quake II Will Rule the Cosmos
By Darin McNeil
Just as id Software followed up Doom with Doom II, arguably the most popular action game of all time, they are about to do it again with a second game using the Quake technology. Only this time, it's not just an extension of the first game. Quake II will be an entirely new experience.
To establish the greatness that approaches us in the form of Quake II, let's review the problems that plagued the first Quake. As Fragmaster brilliantly showcased earlier, Quake was originally intended to be a completely different type of game than the one we play today. When production first started, the artists busily created lots of Aztec styled textures. After only a few months, the team decided that a medieval setting would be more fitting for Quake, so months of work was thrown out. Later on, it was decided that Quake should be futuristic, but the artists and designers weren't about to just throw away months of work again, so their work was adapted to the new storyline, and what we got was a loose assemblage of work made into a semi-coherent game.
What we also got was a game engine light-years ahead of its time, a game that created an industry, and one which still rules the cosmos. It's been nearly a year and we are yet to see a 3D shooter that approaches Quake's perfection in a single area; not graphics, networking, nor sound. However, the engine's potential has yet to be fully realized.
This is where Quake II comes in. id has been extremely tight-lipped about their baby, so most information has been gleaned from third parties. That's not to say there is nothing to tell. Everyone that has visited id HQ has come away impressed with what they have seen. We'll get to that in a minute.
First, let's look at the differences in development between Quake and its sequel. Quake II was started with complete knowledge of the game-engine and it's capabilities. I'd imagine that it was hard for the level-editors when they first started Quake to judge if something would work, or if there were too many polygons in a scene, because they didn't have a finished engine to test it on. That is not the case this time. Quake was just practice for the id team. They started Quake II knowing what they could do and how they could push the engine even further.
American McGee spoke early on about the levels he was making and how they were much more interactive. He also gave out a screenshot early in Quake II development that showed how the levels look totally different than Quake.
|"The levels generally just look huge. Not just in total level size. Rooms are amazingly big in it, and they aren't using any old textures. It looks really cool."
-- Tom Hall (ION Storm)
Carmack has been working quite hard on improving the Quake engine. His efforts into improving network play over the Internet resulted in QuakeWorld, and his experimentation with OpenGL provided us with glQuake. His present work includes merging glQuake drawing code and normal software drawing code into a single executable that can switch between the two.
|This combination (QW networking and switchable rendering) will be the base that we move all of our Quake 2 work over to."
-- John Carmack
It has also been said that the engine now supports true brush rotation and I'm sure other new effects are being tested as well. Carmack has said there will be specific development for glQuake, adding new effects not otherwise possible.
Another area of change in Quake II will be QuakeC. John Carmack has decided to switch to using native Win32 DLL code in place of QuakeC. The main reason for the switch is speed. QuakeC was an interpreted language that was at least one order of magnitude slower than native code. That prevented it from being used for complex procedures such as good enemy AI.
|"As we do more sophisticated game logic, efficiency becomes more and more important."
-- John Carmack
There are lots of pros and cons to this switch, in particular for creators of QuakeC patches, but the main point we'll focus on for this discussion is that it will make Quake II better. The game logic is also getting more attention in Quake II, as the programmers are able to devote more time to it because the engine is mostly complete.
The area that almost all people who have seen Quake II comment on is artwork. The textures and 3-D models have been receiving great praise:
|"... got a sneak peek at some of the stuff in Quake II; it looked sweet. The textures were way cool, and the baddies I saw were much better polygon/model artwork. Very nice."|
-- Brian Eisorloh "squirrel" (ION Storm)
"We checked out Quake II (or whatever it will be called), which looked _gorgeous_. Adrian's textures rock."
-- Tom Hall (ION Storm)
id's artists expressed their desire to paint right onto 3-D models and so John Carmack whipped up his own model painter. Carmack also expressed that the 3-D models in Quake II were looking better than ever, both in number of polygons used and skin textures.
|"We also saw Carmack's tool to paint right on models--it looks amazing"
-- Tom Hall (ION Storm)
Other tools have been improved as well. The lighting in Quake II will be as realistic as computably possible, thanks to a complex process called 'radiosity'. Here are Squirrel's comments:
|"... Qrad, a program similar to Light which also calculates radiosity and texture light-dispersion. This will be a big help in level design, particularly in producing more convincing pre-rendered lighting effects."
-- Brian "squirrel" Eisorloh
This should produce much more realistic looking lighting in the levels. You will see things such as light reflecting off shiny surfaces, and beams of light brightening a room instead of leaving a single band of light on the floor.
All these changes will make for a game that is an entirely new experience. You will fight in a world that looks entirely different, against enemies that are much more frightening, using weapons that you've only dreamed of. If you haven't purchased a spooge bucket already, you may want to go out soon and stock up. No one is making bold statements of what is in the game and the specifics don't really matter anyway. There is no guessing of when we will get to play the game, but the wait doesn't seem so bad because we're busy playing/hacking/living the game that we love, Quake. The id team has been working steadily for over 10 months on Quake II and will continue until they have a game that they feel is complete. It is said that there is now an air of excitement and enthusiasm present as the team works on a game they love.
Quake II will rule the Cosmos!!
Darin McNeil brings considerable experience anticpating the coming of Quake to his anticipation of Quake II from his days running "Quake Will Rule the Cosmos," one of the original Quake Sites. Darin is currently working on his education at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, an institution he has apparently forgiven for pulling the plug on his website when they discovered its effect on their T1.