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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Mar 3, 2000

PQ Mailbag

Descending Further Into The Abyss

Wow. It seems every time I complain about e-mail, I get more and more. And it hurts. Just to let you know, there were over seventy-five messages in contention for the Mailbag this week. About 20 make it in. That's not fun sorting. But it's my job, so I do it faithfully. Just wait until I go on vacation in a couple weeks. Will I be graceful enough to do the Mailbag on my vacation, or will I entrust it to the evil Hellchick, or the even more evil Lee'Mon? That's a good question. Anyways, there was a jumbo poopload of excellent e-mail this week, so let's jump on it!

Q3A ?= SDK

Yes, I'm allowed to invent my own operators. As a rebuttal to Schnapple's editorial of last week, on how he saw Q3A as an SDK, Juan Golbez submitted "Q3A = SDK? I Hope Not", essentially blasting id for not releasing Q3A as a "full game" in his eyes. This, needless to say, pushed a lot of buttons. This has to be a record or something. The feedback speaks for itself, and I'll speak after it does.

From: Mr.G.Eadie
Subject: Q3A = SDK? I Hope Not

Hello, As far as the opinion of Juan Golbez goes as regards Q3-sadly i totaly agree with him!

I purchased UT about a month before Q3, the hype "that was" UT lived up to it.

Consider this, UT has a *fully* functioning GUI with absolute ease to insert MODS(Infiltration is the best mod EVER produced),maps,skins- EVERYTHING!!

The ability to tweek the bots AI and a multitude of other settings for them- through the use of sliders,means that the gamer can quickly set up a match with little effort

The editor "UnrealEd" is an absolute dream to work with ,with real time light rendering,the ability to launch a game from within it's interface and emmediately go back to the editor is a dream!

When i first bought Q3 i couldn't believe how "unfinished" it felt(i was very close to returning it)having not come from the "quake fraternity" i could'nt work out what went wrong with it? The single player game is an absolute joke-coming from the UK the online pings on a 56k connection is at 200+ -stupid to attempt to play-but i keep trying :((too much emphasis on volumetric effects and not enough on *world wide* gameplay online destroyed Q3 outside of USA)

My Q3base stands at about 600+mb with loads of "scattered" .pk3 files all over the place-i dread to think if something goes wrong in there it will be delete and re-install.

What happened with any form of GUI that allows you to change the bots,cycle maps- infact change anything???? not play it at "I can win" for *all* bots! there is no randomness to it-without the talented guys out there (TecArena,Q3Offline)-Q3 would have died very quickly-i can assure you- ID deffinetly sat back on there laurels-look at the official add-ons from Epic/GT the recently released Bonus pack .What have ID gave us? nothing!

Your Forum is full to bursting with people having probs with the console&editing *and* i must say that the Q1/2/3 guys that answer newbies questions are the rudest people that i have ever conversed with!!-the favourite reply RTFM!-that realy helps someone that may as well be reading a manual about rocket science! when they are after the first steps on the ladder(to put resources back into Q3's empty heart) having *never* probably touched an editor in there lives!(i have used DEU from Doom1)There is no patience on the Q3 forums-not just yours but all over the world!

Just because "you guys" have been editing Quake for 4years doesn't give you the right to be "judge and Jury" over the newbies that just start out

I help on the Combat.sim Forum which i have been registered with for 4years-on that forum people gladly help newbies that are asking for help from as far back as '91 with no immature outbursts.(ages from 64-early 20's)

Anyway,i enjoy what "I" have made Q3 to be -not ID .but as regards UT compare the two in the community and UT is miles ahead on servers and popularity *and* help forums ;) what with a manual coming out for UnrealtyED the UT side is rosy!

to sum up

UT is like windows(flashy and easy to get into)

Q3 is like DOS (which it still is with it's prehistoric console commands/editor)and old and archaic

If more people were like Juan and pull there heads out of ID's backside ,we would have had an excellent game that would proudly sit beside the beautiful work of UT-instead of talented guys whom the majority of *DON'T* get paid-to do the work that ID SHOULD HAVE DONE!

! rest my case


Hellchick: I don't think anyone's trying to be judge and jury over newbies. In fact, back when Lowtax and I got to talk to Paul Steed before Q3A was released, Steed talked about how Q3A was being made deliberately to appeal to newbies. I think id's done a good job of that with the single-player game.

From: Rasmus Lund-Hansen
Subject: Regardin "Q3A=SDK?"

Ever since installing Quake 3 Arena on my hard drive all other FPS games have been gathering dust. I haven't spent more than 10 minuttes on any of the available mods, because a: most of them aren't interesting enough, and b: because I simply love straight-off-the-shelf Q3A.

Q3A is hands down the best and most well balanced FFA, 1on1 and team DM game ever released. None of the members of the Danish quake community I know, have met or heard about have complained about these aspects of the game. It is an incredibly playable title. There is not a single thing in this game that I can complain about, it is simply so well balanced and tested. I simply cannot understand what Juan Golbez means when he says that it is in such a base form.

I can not understand why anyone could be disappointed with this game. Lack of single player story line and game progression with a bunch of monsters? Come on. How much time can one spend wading through the same old levels killing the same old monsters who always appear in the same place? Quake and Quake 2 didn't rule the world because of Shub-Niggurath or the Strogg, they did because of DM.

Id succeeded with what they tried to do with Q3A, namely creating the ultimate death match game ever. They've never promised more than that.


From: Scott Crane
Subject: Q3A as an SDK

I've read both Schnapple's and Juan's rebuttal on this subject. I agree on both their points, although I thought comparing Q3A to Campbell's broth soup was a little thin. (Pun intended). Q3A as a game is very playable out of the box. But, it was obvious that id spent more time on the engine and tools than extending the genre. They did not go a step backwards, rather they took a baby step forward and a nice step sideways (or is that called strafing).

My only complaint is the retail box price for Q3A is too high for what its content is especially compared to rival UT. Instead of $45-$50, it should be $30-$35 IMHO. But, in deference to id they did do one better on the expandability with Q3A for mods, skins, etc. And for an SDK, the price is great compared to commercial 3D engines. And I bet it beats the performance of the commercial packages.

The area that I've not seen anyone talk about is Q3A as an SDK for other applications besides games instead of using commerial 3D engines. I think the potential is yet untapped. This is has been overlooked by the mod makers. What I mean by this is business type apps using Q3A as the graphics engine. Example: Map an apartment complex or office building and sell them the map for 3D walk throughs. How about a industrial machine or chemical process simulator? i.e. I have a friend that works in the oil patch here in Texas. His company does chemical reclaiming using equipment that fits on a couple tractor trailer beds. I'm thinking about modeling the pipes, meters, valves, etc and coming up with a simulator for training purposes.

Also, there is also a whole lot more that can be done with the quake movies (machinima). The ability to do a Toy Story type movie with a home PC is just about here. Call it Toy Story 1/2. For sure you can do a Python's Terry Gilliam or a South Park type animation, perhaps one better. Commerial application: How about a crime scene reenactment for court room demos. Current cost is sky high for this sort of work. With Q3A, it could be much cheaper.

My contention is that these great mod makers, who are virtually working for free, hoping to get hired as a paid developer to a game manufacturer, need to look outside the box and develop apps for the real world that will pay them money. Plus they will get the professional experience need to land that dream job.

Scott Crane

Hellchick: you've definitely raised an issue here that people should be reminded of. There's definitely more going on with engines like Q3A's than just mods, or even games at all. There are areas only slightly tapped that we're going to be seeing a lot from in the coming months and years. As for the price of Q3A, I'm wondering if people are remembering how much id has released for free since Q3A shipped?

From: Axel Burboeck
Subject: Juan Golbez Rebuttal

I would just like to say that Juan's rebuttal almost makes me feel guilty for actually paying for the game. I'm just an average quaker, just since last year with QuakeII. I agree that id should have done more with the package, and in my opinion, they could have gone 2 ways:

1: They could obviously have spent more time making built-in mods for the game. They could have refined the maps and improved the single player mode. They could have put a grapple in CTF, for crying out loud. However, UT has already tried to do all this, and id clearly wants to set themselves apart.

2: Alternatively, they could have made the entire game interface more user friendly. Sure they're relying on the Quake community to come up with the mods that'll make the game great. I'm anxiously awaiting many of them myself. However, in order to facilitate this, they can't just make the game more easily modified. They should also have made it easier for the average players to download, install, and play modifications, maps, models, and skins. We (average joe's) shouldn't have to download the Point Release; the program should automatically update itself. Why not? Even some of the simplest little shareware programs do it. The user interface should query a centralized server to announce and download or upgrade all the various mods, models, skins, and maps available. I'm guessing that great sites like PlanetQuake would have been happy to lend some server resources for upgrading in exchange for a built in web-link within the game (but I'm not sure, you tell me.)

I've played Q2 with a number of co-workers. It's immediately apparent that although they are decent players, they haven't an inkling about downloading/installing mods or anything else. I'd have to install it myself on everybody's computer if I wanted play it. Id really should have made this VITAL part of Q3A more accessable to everybody. After all, they're clearly relying on it. I know that a lot of people would just respond that if they can't figure it out, then they shouldn't be playing the game. Whether or not that's true, I don't think that that's what id should be aiming for. After all, it's best for id to make their software as popular as possible.

Perhaps they're expecting that the Quake community will create such a GameLauncher/ServerFinder/MapLauncher/ModFinder/Downloader/Installer themselves... Then the trick becomes how to distribute it to the masses.


Hellchick: Point number 2 is an excellent point. If id programmed Q3A to connect to an authorization server, why not have it also auto-download the point release?

From: Thraka
Subject: Juan Golbez's Rant

This whole article seems way off the mark to me. Golbez starts with the assumption that Q3A sucks out of the box, and goes from there. But Q3A _doesn't_ suck out of the box. It's quite fun, and doesn't have a million stupid extra rules and special conditions, and alternate weapons fire modes, and a transforming super mecha powerup.... (Yeh, incase you're wondering, I think 99% of mods blow, and are a waste of download time. No, I am not going to say which ones, because I don't want people slashing their wrists and/or sending me bombs.)

I, for one, don't want to spend time learning every unintended consequence of each and every various mod, or put up with the bugs that some loser has found a way to exploit. I want to spend my time sharpening my aim with various weapons, learning the terrain of _standard_ maps, and considering tactics for team games. Every clever feature compounds the analysis, and at some point, it becomes a waste of time. Look at chess: it has _six_ pieces, and is still incredibly complex; only a few people are genuine masters. And Golbez wants _more_ complexity in Q3A?

Quake isn't just a 'video game' anymore. It is, for a lot of people, a sport, and those people don't want complexity, they want consistancy. Without consistancy, the investment in skills that they make is wasted; their analysis of tactics is rendered useless. Imagine how football would be changed if they started letting the players carry bats, for example, or added an extra ball. Imagine how this would affect people who had invested a great deal of time in learning football.

Golbez can go play UT if he wants whiz stuff, and let those of us who want consistancy and simplicity have _our_ game. There are other products that suit his tastes. Why does he need to bitch about one that appeals to others?


Hellchick: Golbez is a friend of mine, and I was telling him that I can't put my finger on why I disagreed with him, but I did. I think you just articulated it -- I like Q3A as a sport, and it feels like a complete game to me. In fact, I rarely play mods -- CTF and DM are my favorite things to play. If I want complexity, I'll play another game (maybe UT). But there are more times than not that I simply want to play a fun game where the rules are simple.

From: Adrian Bono
Subject: Q3A=SDK

I would have to agree with Juan Golbez's piece about how Q3A should have been created as a game and not as a utility or base program meant to be built up on.

I look at Q3A as the (sort of) Linux of games; it's extensible and open. If someone doesn't like something in the game, and if he or she has the knowledge and the skills to do it, then why not change the game to improve it? I think that is a very novel idea. But sadly, Id took that idea too far by starting to rely too much on the mod-making community. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, did rely on the community of hackers around the world, but when the final release of Linux came out it was complete; everything one could possibly need to set up a Linux system was there in the package. It wasn't just a bare OS. Q3A, on the other hand, is incomplete. In terms of game features, Q3A pales in comparison with other first-person shooters that were released during the time Q3A was released. Game reviewers were right when they said that Q3A fails to offer any sort of gameplay innovation. As Juan Golbez put it, Q3A is a utility.

A good side to this design of extensibility is that it has exposed hundreds of talented people, especially graphics designers and programmers. And look where it landed Zoid; a job with none less than Id Software. As a programmer, I believe that is definitely something; to work with experts in their field is something to be proud of. But then, what would you rather have: a mod made by some part-time hacker, or an actual part of the game made by the game's progammers who know every detail inside and out?

We all have to face it; I'm sure many gamers feel that Q3A is inadequate but don't want to accept that fact, probably because it's relatively easy to download a mod from the Internet. But who doesn't get tired of downloading megabytes and megabytes of mods every few hours and installing them? Even the most die-hard of mod fans would eventually wish that Id had taken the extra initiative to add the most popular mods to the release version. Besides, wouldn't gamers appreciate it more if the mods were built into the game and were coming straight from the creators of the game themselves, rather than from some programmer who isn't exactly 100% familiar with the game's internals?

Id Software has done wonders for the FPS genre, but the people at Id are resting on Id's laurels. The Quake 3 engine is a paragon of software design. Even major game companies are lining up outside Id's door to license the engine for enormous sums. They recognize the technical excellence of the Quake 3 engine, that's why it's been chosen for some of the hottest FPS games in production. But I think what these companies are investing extra effort in is the gameplay itself. The engine is only an engine; it's up to the implementer of the engine to add the extra functionality that puts the engine to good use.

I could go on and on but what I have in mind has been said over and over already. I just want to conclude this by saying that when it comes to FPS games, I wouldn't want a game that isn't based on the Quake 2 or 3 engines. Id should go the extra mile to make sure that the designers have exhausted every idea they have for additions to their games. Once every possible feature that would make gameplay more complete has been integrated into the game, mod-makers may then be called upon to AUGMENT those features rather than PROVIDE the game with those features.

Hellchick: The Linux comparison makes me ask a question: how is Q3A not complete? Just as in your comparison, when you install Q3A, there's a complete game there -- you have a full single-player game with the bots and then the option to go immediately online and play multiplayer. I'm still not sure how people feel that it isn't "complete", and no one YET has offered me an explanation. "It just doesn't FEEL complete," they usually say. If someone can give me a PROPER explanation as to how it isn't complete rather than simply saying it isn't AND give me a list of what it's missing that a "complete" game has, then let us know, because I want to hear it.

From: Dan
Subject: my thoughts on Q3A= SDK

Okay, I've been following this Q3A= SDK thing since the beginning. After reading all the articles and opinions, I've begun to form my own thoughts on the subject. I think I must side mostly with Mr. Gomez who wrote the most recent Editorial on the negatives of Q3A being more of a utility than a game. By making Quake 3 easy enough to be modified by any ol' joe, than I think a wide array of mediocre (and yes. even CRAPPY) mods will be released. I think a lot of people will have these half baked ideas that sound good, and when they try to turn them into a working mod, it will all fall down, yet the mod will still be released. This is obviously a bad thing. Mod making has always been a process that involves creativity and talent. Why take away the need for talent when it is obvious the quality of mods will suffer? Now, of course there is a large handful of ALREADY talented mod-makers who will use Q3A's "mod-ability" to it's fullest extent and make amazing mods, but it's the lower end of the spectrum I'm worried about.

And also, it seems within a gaming community there are a few mods that take our breaths away. You know, like Cstrike of Half-Life, and Team Fortress to Quake 1. Well, these mods need servers to run them, right? Well, there's always been plenty of servers for the decent mods out there, right? What happens when there are a hundred something mods out there? Who's gonna provide the servers? What if some of the greatest mods are never found underneath the clutter of all the mediocre ones? What server's will run those? Everyone will be to caught up trying these hundreds of mods on their servers, and may never get a chance to see one of the greats. All I'm saying is, there is an unintentional weeding out process that occurs with the difficulty it takes to make modifications. By taking away this "filtering" system, you are letting the weak survive in a dog-eat-dog-world (to use the Darwin theme Juan used in his editorial).

Both Quake 1 and 2 were very strong games, and were great fun to play with and without mods. With the release of Quake 3, and it's watered down style, I could see how many may look at it as a disappointment. Nevertheless, I will go on playing Q3A and loving it just because it's Quake. Although it lacks in some of the areas of creativity, I can only hope that some great mods will be released, without worrying about some (or even many) of the bad ones.

well... whatever. just my 2 cents I guess. It's no piece of editorial artwork (obviously), but it gets my point across...

Dan Rosen

Hellchick: Getting servers to run mods is an extremely hard undertaking. At GameSpy, we have a bunch of servers that we run mods on, and if a hosted mod wants to use one of them to run its mod, then we're generally pretty accomodating. But for the most part, unfortunately, it's up to the mod makers to either run servers on their own or find someone willing to run their mod for them.

From: Cupelix
Subject: RE:Q3A = SDK? I Hope Not

Dear PQ,

Mr. Golbez's article brought a thought to my mind, which many articles of this type in the past have. Many people seem to be VERY convinced that Q3A is in some sort of a "base" state. Are you sure?

In reality - how is it in more of a base state than either Q1 and Q2? Just because it doesn't have a plot-line oriented single player game? Well, neither does UT - but no one seems to complain that it is in a base state. Q3A has exactly what the first two Quakes had - spawn points, guns, and players to kill. When Q2 was released, it's format was virtually identical to Q1 - you either played a single player game, or you jumped into some DM levels to fight other people. Well, when I start Q3A - I see two different game-play options - Single Player and MultiPlayer. Unless, I got some strange version of the game - I'm thinking that's what everyone else sees too.

So, the single player idea of Q3A differs from the first two Quakes - but why is that such a concern? Most players will assert that they've never even been entirely through either Quake.

What exactly DID you expect Q3A to have? Did you expect it to integrate a bunch of mods that you had previously seen released for Q2? That's not id's business really - they didn't come up with those ideas - and I respect them for leaving them alone. Is it really such a bad thing that they left those extra game play types to be created by other people? It seems people did that once, and didn't complain - but when id makes it easier for you to accomplish this - they get complaints?

It seems to me, that Q3A is the logical advancement from Q2. When Q2 released, no one really seemed to pay attention to the fact that it was in essence Q1, but prettier. Q3A certainly is prettier than either of it's predecessors - and without a long single-player plotline that most people will never pay attention to. You mean id may have focused on making a pretty engine and good DM levels instead of a meaningless set of single-player levels that no one will ever see?

Wow - that seems like a really bad decision to me.


Wow. A comment on the volume here: I printed 8 letters, as a cross section of the letters we recieved. These aren't necessarily the best written letters or the ones that make the most sense, but it doesn't matter. There were 46 letters that also could have made it in here that I didn't print, on the same topic. Those were equally well-written and opinionated. This doesn't just speak, this shouts volumes. Perhaps we should hire people to piss you guys off more often. But anyways, my opinion.

I like Q3A. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't be working at PlanetQuake. I played through the entire single-player game, and while it didn't take me long, I found it challenging and entertaining, and was very well done for its premise. But the real joy of Q3A lies in its extendability. Would people still be playing Quake 1 if you couldn't modify it or make levels for it? Hell no. The majority of people playing Q1 now are playing Team Fortress and CTF. Granted, with other, seemingly "more complete" games like Half-Life, you can make mods and levels, and the multiplayer is still enjoyable. id had that with Quake 2, however the single-player wasn't of the highest calibre. Extendability is Q3A's forte. Sure, people like playing vanilla DM with id's levels; I do that the majority of the time. But, with releasing the game source and tools, id is essentially saying to mod makers, "Here's what you can do with the engine. Go do what you feel like." This is fantastic for the community, because it gives everyone a chance to try their idea, and people can have fun with the game. I know of people who play Q3A for one specific mod, and that alone is a statement on how what some people feel is a mediocre half-game can make an impact and stay in the hearts of gamers for a long time.

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