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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Feb 25, 2000

PQ Mailbag

You People Will Be The Death Of Me

I guess this paragraph does have a point to it this week, if only somewhat. We got a lot of e-mail this week. I would even dig down, way down, deep into my expansive vocabulary, and call it "a poopload of e-mail". Yes, that's right, a poopload. And sorting e-mail takes a lot of my time. And it's not nearly as fun as actually compiling the Mailbag and commenting on the letters. Everything that's not fun for me is slowly killing me. So you people will be the death of me. Either that or the naked bungee jumping into rosebushes.

Platforms - Not Games, Not Shoes

You people will be on me for saying "not games" in the header. Remember that there were platform games like Commander (swoon) Keen, okay? Good. So this week, we had an editorial by Schnapple called "On the Quake 3 Arena Platform". In this article, Schnapple went into great detail on how Q3A is more than a game, but a development platform. Here's a small percentage of the astounding e-mail we got on this!

From: peter
Subject: RE: On the Quake 3 Arena Platform editorial

Congrats to Schnapple for a right-to-the-point editorial.

In my book, id (or should we say John Carmack?) was on its/his way to what Q3A now is for a good time now - even with Q2.

If you followed the rare interviews with John, you could sense for quite a while that he was up to more than "just a game". Q3A easily might be the biggest step he has done so far to fulfill his dreams - oh wait, we still have to see an announcement for a QuakeOS. *g*

But you'll be pleased that not only my humble opinion goes with your editorial - let me quote a few lines out of "Maximum PC" from Sept. 1998 which underline Schnapple's fine work, written by Ex-Microsoftie Alex St. John:

"[after visiting id]... Bill Gates sent me an e-mail asking if I thought id would ever become a competitive thread to Microsoft, then he asked if we should buy id Software. [...] To date, Microsoft is the only company that has actually mastered platform power and refined it to art. But Microsoft is blind to the game industry, and id's technology is increasingly showing the hallmarks of a developing platform. [...] but id has created a network infrastructure, it has OEM's who license the technology and of course everyone buys the client software. John is making a completely new kind of OS for the PC, one based on the delivery of 3D content via the Internet. [...] The game he puts _on_ his engine is just the best content offering, just as Office is Microsoft's best content offering for its own platform. [...] As an OS, Quake is already powerful enough to demand support for its own driver model from the entire 3d hardware community."

Greetings from Vienna, Austria

Hellchick: Buy id Software?! The world will end that day.

  From: Ken Lem
Subject: Re:On the Quake 3 Arena Platform

>Then it dawned on me - Quake 3 Arena isn't a game! id isn't thinking of Quake 3 as a game -

No, id thinks and acts like Q3 is a game. Notice all of the ads, website and various interviews with id. I ask you to show me where they say is a SDK. Its a game, just a poor one and its only strong point is the programmability. Plus, compared to some other games its pretty lame at that. One can get the entire source code for various games, e.g. Angband. There are even open source 3d engines.

>The deathmatch experiences in Q3A aren't complicated affairs, they're templates for you to take and "roll your own".

How is this different from UT or HalfLife or Quake1 or Quake2? If I wanted only one weapon type can't I "roll my own" in everyone of these games? Doesn't every single mod for every game do this already? How is Q3 special in this regard?

>This brings us back to the fact that Q3A uses platform independent .QVM files. The same mod can be run on Linux, Macintosh, Win32 and (maybe) eventually BeOS and the Dreamcast.

Well that might not happen. Because of .qvm is interpreted people are playing with straight dlls for performance. Qvm's might not get supported by the mod community. There goes that idea.

>why didn't they release the editors, manuals, SDK and so forth on the Q3A CD? .... there's also the fact that anything on the CD is generally seen as supported, guaranteed to work and guaranteed not to mess anything up,

But I thought that Q3 is a SDK and yet the key software is NOT supported?!? Doesn't this point just goes against your assertion that Q3 is an engine? The game part is supported but the SDK is not. Its sounds like Q3 is considered to be a game more than an engine.

>id was probably also leery of any looming controversies on the horizon (like the .QVM versus .DLL debates) and wanted to postpone them until after New Year's.

What does New Year's have to do with anything?!?!? Y2K? How would that settle any controversies, except that marketing people will be at work?

> instead id has released a development platform in the form of a highly extensible and closed source game engine to the retail market under the guise of a "game".

Why release it at all? I mean really there are engines out there that other companies develop for but the public doesn't buy. The only conclusion I can come up with is that id wants either publicity or money or both.

The real damage id has done is to its reputation. I wanted a game but I got a development platform. I paid $50 to wait until its finished by the community.

Kenneth Lem

Hellchick: This concern was also expressed by a friend of mine after reading Schnapple's editorial; as a result, look for a rebuttal this coming Monday.

From: Treff-Miester
Subject: Q3 Arena Platform

Horray for schnapple!

At the school I go to, every day I am hounded by the hordes of UT lovers, and every time I champion the cause of Id, I get flamed out of exsistance: "The bots are stupid... I hate that stupid eye... they only have three different sky textures... The levels suck... oh, gee, Id are so crap they have to use black as a sky texture (this particular person had only played the space level in the demo)... How can you like that crap game... UT is 100 times better...(shows the kind of shallow retards UT attracts)"

Blasphemy I know! oh the agony! but when I read that article, I realised many of the points being raised where my very own. Sure, Id may not have created the smartest bots ever, but its not designed for single play! Sure, Q3 may not have assault or domination, but the mods will more than make up for it. Sure the story may suck, but it serves its purpose. I agree with scnapple when he says that id are catering for a specific ethic, and Id have my full support for what they do. And one only has to spend 30 seconds at PQ to know that they have the support of the loyal hordes as well. While they may have lost some of the other fans, they have certainly done the gaming comunity a big service, and perhaps even they have set a precedent for the rest of the industry to follow.

Just my 2c

Hellchick: Not that you asked for my opinion, but UT and Q3A are each designed for different people. I'm not what you'd call a "team player" -- I prefer shooting everything that moves, which is why I won't be asked to join the military any time soon, you know what I mean? If I want to play a team game with some strategy, I'll play UT. If I want to kill them all, I'll play Q3A. I usually just want to kill them all.

From: Karl Koscher
Subject: Q3 Platform Editorial

I must say that Schnapple's editorial on Quake 3 being a platform is great, but there's a few things I have to say about it. First, even though Quake 3 may have been designed as a platform, the base game is simply the BEST FPS out there. Period. Quake 3 is simply the most fun you can have on a computer without being naked. Some people do think Quake 3 is shallow, but that's where the fun lies. I personally don't like games that require you to bind 84 or so keys and that are overly complex or overly realistic. Let's face it, blasting the crap out of you opponent with a rocket launcher is a lot more fun and gives you much more of a rush than tactfully planning out your attack, buying weapons, dropping items to pick up others, ultimately to face your opponent for a few seconds who manages to kill you in one shot to the head, even if he wasn't aiming anywhere close to it, because of the randomness and inaccuracy of his gun. In these games, you die and redo the whole process just to get shot down luckily again. In Quake 3 however, if you get fragged, you can respawn in 1.7 seconds (I took that out of the Quake 3 source code), pick up some weapons (which respawn every five seconds normally), and go after the lamer that killed you instantly. It's this simplicity and frantic pace that makes both Quake 3's DM and CTF the BEST out there. So, Id accomplished what they set out to do: making the best DM experience yet. With this solid game as a foundation, great mods can be made. If Quake 3 was released as a platform only,.I doubt it would sell well for the simple fact that most mods would basically suck. Mod authors would have to write everything -- the DM code, weapon balancing, respawn times, etc. Even vital elements such as player control wouldn't feel as tight and polished as id's version. Furthermore, the Quake 3 engine is little more than an efficent polygon pusher, with built-in support for levels (as BSPs) and drawing entities, and support for network play. It's basically an advanced version of DirectX (add an interface for loading BSPs to Direct3D retained mode, combine it with DirectPlay, DirectInput, and DirectSound). So, while Quake 3 makes an excelent platform, it does so because Quake 3 is a great game underneath.

- Karl Koscher

Hellchick: The most fun you can have without being naked? Who says you can't be naked when you play Q3A? Have the best of both worlds!

From: JohnJohn Mackey
Subject: q3a mod platform editorial

When reading the editorial on the potential of q3a's engine, I was struck by something; why has nobody ever criticised Epic for the Unreal engine? Tim Sweeney of Epic stated, proudly, in an interview online, that Unreal was made primarily as a way to show off the engine to developers in the hope that they would port ongoing projects to it. And it worked (Deus Ex, Duke Nukem' Forever, X-Com etcetera). Why criticise Id for it? Quake3 is fantastic for so many reasons.

The reason can only be the fact that Id have so consistently produced utterly mindblowing games (I have played, finished and dismembered them all), and so the pressure will be on them for the rest of their existence to top their last game. Being a team of only nine, this is not an easy thing (which is the reason the game doesn't contain the multitude of levels that Unreal Tournament has), but I believe that they have done it with q3a, and I know that they will do it again.

From: Scheherazade
Subject: q3a article

Amen. that's all I have to say. Nothing speaks more truth.

(I don't give a shit about UT's gameplay, if I want more speed, i'll edit q3a, Not to mention that the q3a engine itself is loads more capable (more graphic effects, network speed, etc) AND runs faster (fps), therefore it is my only choice for making a mod.)

First off: Wow, what excellent feedback! My faith in the literacy and intelligence of our readers increases with every editorial. Now my feedback. I've been telling this one friend in particular (hi Brett) that loves UT all about Q3A and how it overall kicks ass, and that it's not the game itself that kicks ass but the engine and its capabilities. I don't own UT, and I've never played it, so I have no idea what the game's like. But he was so sold on my description of Q3A that he went out and bought it, and he likes it a lot so far. The reason I like Q3A so much is not so much of the game, but the engine. I consider "Quake 3 Arena" to be the actual game, the single player game, that most people play through when they buy it. But to me, "Quake 3" is the engine and the tools that will enable the community to do whatever the hell they want within id's framework. And that, to me, is the selling point of the game. If you want a good single player game with a story, go play Half-Life. :)

On Page 2: Questions, Comments, and Other Stuff(tm)

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