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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Jan 21, 2000

PQ Mailbag

I Make No Promises

You read it correctly. Of this edition of the PQ Mailbag, I make no promises about. I will not promise you insightful commentary on the witty and informative ramblings of those who write in, aspiring for a moment of fame on this, the Epicenter of Everything Quake. I will not promise to poke fun at and embarrass those poor fools who send incoherent, imbecilic and just plain stupid e-mails. I will not even promise Failed Pics of the Day. I will not promise that this will be the best PQ Mailbag there ever was. My dear readers, judge for yourself, as Hellchick and I endeavour to entertain.

Need We Speed?

Had enough of my brevity yet? Sometimes I just feel like I have to act like one of those stuffy old regular writers; I feel I have to prove I can actually write intelligently. So, id, if you need a technical writer, hint hint. Anyways, we had a jim-dandy excellent editorial this week, the first for a long time not authored by LeeMon. Seka authored the ever-so-impressive The Need For Speed, which, as you'll see below, stirred a mighty lot of poo. Read on!

From: Lee "Lee'Mon" Montgomery
Subject: Re: "Need For Speed"

Amazing... the first PQ editorial NOT written by me since I started writing. (/me feels his staff position being threatened...)

While there are several good academic and industrial reasons to make computers faster (CGI animation, finding the 283rd prime), the consumer has never had a better reason to upgrade their computer than games. While other applications take a step back from the development curve and simply write their new programs to take advantage of existing capabilities, games are always right there at the edge, writing in features and capabilities that won't be exploited by the average user for some time to come. Example: It was only during the Quake2 era that 3D accelerators became a necessity, instead of an expensive eye-candy enhancer.

We've begun the vicious circle already. As long as manufacturers, fueled by cutting-edge games like Q3A, keep devloping faster systems, the games will remain cutting-edge to take advantage of them. The 3D game designer's Holy Grail for the past five years has been "'Toy Story' in real-time". Compare "Toy Story" to QuakeIIIArena on a tricked-out Athlon/GeForce system sometime. Poly-wise, we may not be there, but with the advent of shaders, it's looking better all the time...

I'm currently playing Q3A on a K6-2/Banshee system I built 18 months ago. If I play online against more than four people (or if I host), I have to run a config file that drops the detail down to Quake2 levels in order to keep my framerate above 10FPS. Now, if I didn't play games, this system would be just fine for me for another year or two, easily. But after seeing what Q3A can look like, even on the bastard disowned child of 3dfx cards (Banshee owners know what I'm talking about), I'm already scrimping and saving for my next (home-built, natch) PC.

It's a cruel, expensive hobby to have. But considering the visual appeal and fast-paced action of Quake, as well as the immersive storyline of games like Half-Life, I wouldn't have it any other way.

--Lee "Lee'Mon" Montgomery

From: Schmerm
Subject: The Need for Speed

Erm, just one thing I would like to note:

"Quake, with REAL 3D (well almost). Instead of polygons, REAL enviroments and a hellovalot more fun network play than DN3D."

Since quake, every known 3d engine uses polygons. I think duke3d and doom/doom2/wolf3d used 2d raycasting techniques and it was quake that brought along true-3d polygonal rendering onto the mainstream gaming scene (well there were some other lesser-known games but that's not the point).

From: Jake
Subject: Mr. Seka's Interesting POV on Gaming & Hardware

I have to say.... all that makes sense. Look at 3dfx and nvidia: why were they made? For graphics, and games in particular. MMX : Remember POD? First game to utilize MMX. It's an amazing relationship between the two.

But there is a difference between the game running smoothly and the game running like Speedy Gonzales on speed. I've got a regular ol' Creative Labs TNT2, a Celeron 550 overclocked, and a hearty 64 megs of ram, and Quake 3 runs rich enough for my blood. Sure, every gamer dreams of the GeForce DDR, but is it a necessity? Not at all. I'm sure we'd all love to have top of the line systems, but even some systems from 6 months ago will still run well enough to show what Quake 3 can do, if not at some expense of the user.

He seemed to have skipped over the push of speed on the internet. I'm sure part of high-bandwith leaps have been because of games. But I'm quite happy on my 56k (not really, thats just my line to make myself feel better).

By the way, Duke Nukem 3D came out only when speeds were about up to 200mhz? Duke seemed like yesterday, 200mhz seemed like yester-decade.

ElfHerder From: David Paulsen
Subject: Re: Need for Speed

"Thank god for id Software!"??? Is he saying it's a good thing to have to come up with hundreds of dollars every four months when a new game comes out so you can play it? I don't really think that's such a great thing. I would like to spend my money on a system that's going to last me at least a year before I have to make any kind of upgrade. I think it's ridiculous how the gaming industry is forcing people to constantly upgrade to keep up. Going back to the console vs. computer systems, you don't see Nintendo or Sony coming out with a new system everytime a major title is released so that they can support some new coding technique. Admittedly, it is harder to make games for several different hardware configurations, and console systems don't even have the option of upgrading, but still, it is getting out of control. I, too, remember my old 486 with a 210 MB hard drive. Soon, games will be recommending more RAM than that to run smoothly. I'll admit, I love the new graphics in Quake III, and I don't want to be stuck back on the technology of Quake I, but I think the advance could happen a little slower. You started off the editorial saying it was silly what kind of system was required for Q3:A, and end up thanking id Software. What is your opinion? And the whole part in between makes me think you need to get some help with your gaming addiction. "I can quit any time I want."

the Miz

From: Crass
Subject: id isn't sole reason for speed

Okay, games are a big reason I upgrade my computer. But upgrade mania isn't only for gamers. The whole world keeps demanding more and more from their computers.

You think the movie industry is satisfied with the current state of special effects? Sure, they might think it's amazing what they can do know.. but what if they had faster processors and more advanced software?

What about the NYSE and NASDAQ, they rely on computers to keep track of their trading, without the automated power of computers, the market would be moving at an amazingly slow pace. I'm sure they want the most out of their cycles too.

Also, as embarrassing as it might sound,we can't forget the other great innovator of the home computer, the porno industry. Yes, they too are pushing the limits of what can be done with our home computers. Why, remember when CD's first came out, there were VERY few games that actually needed an entire CD, but I could always find plenty of listings of CD's with names like "Horny Humping Helen", "College Sluts hit Texas A&M", and "Horny Humping Helen 2" [and you thought Triple H was a wrestler].

Either way, it's not just games forcing us to upgrade.


Well first off, I like the last letter because it mentions wrestling. There must be a wrestling reference in every Mailbag. Now, this is the part where I express my opinion. Ignoring previous id games like Commander Keen, Wolfenstein and Doom, I'll start with the Quake series. When I first got Quake, I had a Pentium 120 with 16 MB of RAM. A nice, middle of the road system. It ran Quake very well. About 2 weeks before I purchased a better system, I got Quake 2. I somewhat knew that it wouldn't run very well on my system, but took a chance and installed it anyway. To my surprise, while loading times were helluva long, the game ran fairly well in software mode. Then I got the beast I'm using now. A P2-333 with 64 MB of RAM and a TNT. Absolutely fantastic for Quake 2, framerates out the wazoo. I haven't upgraded anything for Quake 3 (yet). I want to say it's pretty good, but it's not. I have to turn a lot of stuff down while playing more than one bot, or multiplayer. I have to turn texture detail down to the minimum. It sucks. I need more RAM, I need a faster CPU, and a new video card. I have to spend at least $1000, in the name of progress.

Wow, a two paragraph reply. But the question is, is it just id Software and their games that push the speed limit? Is it just the gaming industry, period? The answer is no. As we rely on computers more and more, for many different purposes, we put strain on them. If we were just doing word processing, there would be no need to even break the 100 mHz barrier. We're not going to stop figuring out more things to do with computers, and as we do that, there is a genuine need for them to go faster. And they'll go faster. Everything always does.

Hellchick: I'd just like to mention that until three months ago, I was playing Quake III Arena on a 233 MHz MMX with 64 Mb RAM and a Monster 3D (Voodoo 1). Seriously. When you finish laughing, we'll continue.

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