QuakeCon 2002 Update
The PlanetQuake staff have made the journey to QuakeCon 2002 and they're sending in the goods as the event
by PlanetQuake Staff
Tech is the Key
Friday at QuakeCon, or Day two as most people call it, was marked with meeting so many old online friends that I barely got to go where I was going. It would actually take me half an hour to get to my seat in the BYOC from the entrance with people wanting to chat, but that's not a bad thing. It's quite a rush to finally meet so many of the creative community and readers of the "Big Fuzzy" who's comments helped confirm that PlanetQuake is indeed, "The Big Fuzzy" and a reflection of the community. My sincere thanks to all for the kind words and faith in the future. That's not all I did on QuakeCon Day Two, but it turned out to be a large part of it. Words escape me on just how happy and welcome you all made me feel.
Attending workshops, talks and roundtables was the order of the day as far as my written schedule went, but this was an odd year for announcements and new info from Raven and id Software members were all so limited in what they could say about the upcoming, drool inducing games that we're all dying to play; Doom III and QUake 4. The technology behind the two future games was the focus of available informnation in the Raven Workshop and keynote by John Carmack.
The Raven Workshop came first, but there was a slight snag in what we thought we'd hear as Rick Johnson announced they really hadn't prepared a presentation. The workshop was really not planned, but more of an "on the fly" question and answer period that just sort of happened. The guys were very upfront and honest about what they couldn't talk about, which was Quake 4 for the most part, doh!
They were on hand to talk to gamers and answer questions about the way the Raven achieved the success they've enjoyed recently with games like SoF2 and Jedi Knight 2, but I think they were on a fact finding mission to see just what gamers wanted from Quake 4. They are listening, and I'm sure I saw a gleam in Rick's eyes during the Raven talk and the second mod roundtable held later Friday night as community comments confirmed a direction the company had chosen for the game. From what I saw and heard, Quake 4 is in good hands.
An hour after the Raven session ended, the big moment had arrived and id Software was ready to present some very impressive Doom III juice with a presentation of audio, mapping, modeling, animation and of course, rendering info of this "next step" gaming technology. Tim Willits started off showing how the engine itself would lead to a much deeper and more realistic world with the help from the way we would now see and use light in the game and interact with the world we are all so anxious to explore for ourselves. Have you heard enough about how the new technology deals with lighting? That's been a huge part of all of the info we've gotten since the first peek at the new engine, but it sill has jaws dropping, especially when you see not only what the players can do during play, but what community designers and licensees will be able to achieve, as well as how easy it is to work with. Real time editing! I can't stress enough just how impressed I was to see the lights get changed in levels, with no complile time.
Sound as presented by Christian Antkow was just as quick and easy as the lighting. Real time placement of speaker entities is going to add so much depth to the levels, I actually fear what we may see from some of the new map makers the game will inspire. It's going to be awfully easy to achieve overkill, but practice is going to be so much easier than it ever has been, that we'll be seeing a population explosion in the level design community, and that's one very good thing.
Fred Nilsson ran through the modeling process, going from the high detail, high polycount models to the simpler model you actually feed into the game so that the power of the game's engine will make it look like it's high poly original. It's quite the transformation and this is going to do two things to the model making community. Models are going to be much more labour intensive to create, but the trade off in what people will be able to achieve for detail is going to be well worth it. The limits of the past have now been washed away and my head is swimming with thoughts of what the community will be creating for players. Your nightmares have arrived...suhweet!
The physics of the game are easy to explain. Go kick a box in real life and that's what it's like in the game. Throw something down the stairs in your home and you'll see what it's like in the game. These are the most realistic physics I've ever laid my gaming peepers on, period. The immersion into whatever worlds this engine touches will be near complete, spoiled only by the boundires of your monitor's dimensions.
Following the id team presentation, it was time for John Carmck to take center stage with his keynote speech, and he warned everyone right up front that this was gonna get technical, and it was. Bringing to light, not only the present state of game engines and hardware, he also went into the future of both. Hardware and game engines are settling into the best possible solutions and the future looks much more stable than the past. Hardware manufacturers are still in a state of disagreement on the best possible solution set and features, but the options are definately narrowing towards that one golden path.
One thing that really made me ponder the past and future of gaming was the way John talked about light. No longer trying to make a few pixels represent a recognizable image, game engines were now locking onto real life effects instead of trying simply get an idea of light and shape to the player. No more sun in the sky that is bright without an actual effect on the virtual world, but a believable source and effect system that will create worlds of wonder that are not so different than the one you see when you're living your daily life.
How immersive is the new engine and how far do we have to go was also a surprise as John let the idea loose on how many generations of game engines (rendering technology) we should expect before we get to the limits of matching our real world. The answer, is one or two more engines. Yes I said one or two and that's John's belief. People will never actually stop the creation process, but to "simulate" in a game what we see in life is well within the foreseeable future, and I have no reason to doubt the man with his past list of accomplishments.
Near the end of this tech-tacular discussion was something about the Doom III game itself that struck an audible chord in the creative communty present. The multiplayer aspects of the game. Not only is this like the Doom of old in name and mood, but in the multiplayer experince itself. Multiplayer will consist of a small four person maximum where all clients must join at the same time instead of the constantly joinable servers we're used to since Quake 1. But don't start twitching at the loss of your 32 player fragfest just yet as a multiplayer follow-up was also revealed as possible after the original game is set loose upon the masses. Simply put, id Software is making one helluva single player experience, with a small multiplayer component, and will look at the multiplayer aspect a lot closer after we've all saved mankind from the hordes of hell in Doom III.
It's now Saturday morning and I'm off to another day of fragtacular action where I hope to actually get to play some games. We did one round of dics givewaways for the custom PC and over half of the thousand discs are already in the sweaty hands of fraggers looking to upgrade with a free custom PC from OPC. Ladies and gentlemen..QuakeCon rocks!
PlanetQuake and GameSpy QuakeCon 2002 Coverage
More to come!
Next: Day Two Photos.