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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | May 26, 2000
   

PQ Mailbag

Return of Mailbag

Yes, that's right.. finally, the 3-page Mailbag makes its return. Thanks for all your feedback on how the Mailbag was way too short last week, it made me feel loved. Hey.. all these e-mails are from Hellchick! You people don't care about me, do you? I figured as much. Oh well, here's a PQ Mailbag chock full of goodness; and funnily enough, most of it relates to Lee'Mon..

Influential Spheres

Lee'Mon managed to take all the glitter and glam from E3 and slag it. Well, not really.. but his editorial "Spheres of Influence" gives great insight to pop culture and the majority of the population influencing game design, sometimes even to the point where it's embarrassing. We got a few fistfuls of feedback on this great piece, so check it out!

From: Joseph Del Corso
Subject: Awesome article....

Hello,
I just finished reading Lee'Mon's article (Spheres of Influence) and wanted to say that it has to be one of the best synopsis of how gaming (mods) have evolved over the past couple years. Never have I been moved enough to actually feel like writing and giving feedback. You've put into words what I've been feeling for a long time.

Any chance someone could write an article explaining how the gaming community is evolving in relation to the ever changing face of online gaming? For a long time now I've wondered if anyone would comment on the ever growing, and ever splintering gaming community. While I love the addition of all mods, a commentary on how (whether that be pro or con) the mods have/are/will always splinter groups, would be greatly appreciated. I don't advocate supression of ideas or new games, but has anyone noticed that the plethora of mods and games has decreased the ability of gamers to remain competitive for long periods of time. I've never NOT been able to get online and find some kind of challenge, but with the ever growing pool of games available, it appears as if those new games/mods/whatever deplete the already small numbers of dedicated gamers. (Small in comparison to overall population, not set numbers) There are still a handfull of die hard quakeworld fans that refuse to switch over (while not necessarily a bad thing) it is interesting to see, and also a little daunting to think, that I may one day be referred to in the same way; a diehard quake3arena fan who refuses to switch over. No solution exists other than to learn to switch over quickly and forget past games, resulting in what we see in the music community, one time wonders.

Unfortunately, according to online sources, q3a will be the last in the quake series. I've found that trying to switch over to UT is so aggrevating, that I always return to q3a for fun. I didn't play for hours on end learning strafe-jumping just to give it up and learn to (nearly) crawl around maps. I wonder if I'm the only one who finds this frustrating. Spending time learning that one special snap shot, only to find that you'll never use it again. The ability to grow in a game, as the game progresses in time, appears to be limited (and frankly I can't spend 12 hours, 24x7, playing just to learn some new move on a new mod/game)

Just some thoughts... Not sure if they're useful, or helpful. Again, I very much liked reading Spheres of Influence,
Sincerely,

Simkin{Ni} (a.k.a.-- Ramses{Ni})

Hellchick: I gave UT a fair try, and I just can't get into it like I can Quake. It's probably that implant I got when I took the job of PQ Site Director.

From: Alistair Hutton
Subject: First time I have to disagree with a Lee'Mon editorial

I've just read Lee'Mons's Spheres of Influence editorial and I must take issue with some of the things he's said. Mon (may I call him Mon?) said how wonderful the current state of the industry was when compared to those dark archaic times twenty, no ten years ago, this is simply rubbish.

The first issue he rasies is that gamers have never had it so good when it comes to demos and press releases etc. I have cover-tapes from old Spectrum magazines that are full of demos for, then, up and coming games. It was incredibly rare for the 'big games' to debut without demo nor any form of word in the gaming press.

Another thing Mon says is that the gap is closing between the programmer and the player as opposed to those dark times of the past. I don't know if it's a different culture in the US as compared to Britain, the predominance of the console over the computer in the 80's but "where I come from" (TM) people have always plugged away on their ZX Spectrums or C64s (well maybe not the C64s because it's BASIC was crap) producing crappy little games, the 80s equivalent of the shotgun shooting faster. There were always investigations of the popular games and editors available for them. But there was still a huge step between messing around and being a bedroom coder the like of which who brought us Manic Miner and it's ilk.

The point I'm confusingly trying to make though is that the gaming world is still very much divided between those who produce games and those who play them. Just because everyone can get at the guts of a game doesn't mean every one can modify it. It still takes massive amounts of dedication and skill, it requires learning just as much C++ (or whatever's your poison) as before, indeed you have to learn how to interface to your engine of choice on top of coding skills. The chasm between game writer and games player has not been bridged, it has not grown smaller, indeed, if anything, with the introduction of more and more over the top hardware and expensive setups the gap is widening.

Everything is not bright and shiny and new, I'll put it all down the Mon's optimism and lack of years. The gaming industry, like many things is cyclic, games companies coalesce and then break apart as their top talent splits only for these small companies to join back and this repeats as it always does. The gaming magazines market will over heat and collapse every 8 years as it always has and the predominace of the "bedroom hacker" so beloved by the British press of the pre-crash 80s will rise and fall to a well defined mathematical formula.

Hellchick: I disagree with your statement that the bridge between games writer and game player has not grown smaller. For about a year I reviewed games on a system that was very low-end when compared to other gamers' systems. When reviewing a game, of course, you want to make comments on the technical aspects of it - how it runs on your system, etc. - but the bottom line, of course, is that you must answer the question of whether or not the game is fun to play. A game writer is always a game player first.

From: (address deleted)
Subject: Editorial

"A gamer is no longer a 15-25 year old male. Eight-year-olds play Quake alongside eighty-year olds"

I was under the impression that only a few years ago teens to adults were considered gamers. It seemed to me that in the 80's-early 90's games were considered to be made just for kids (no matter how wrong that seemed to the gamers) and anyone who played games was considered a geek. I remember my dad telling me "You're too old to be playing those silly games!" I think some games that helped to change that were games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and, what is in my mind the final blow, things like Resident Evil.

"...teenagers - society's loudest and often most aggravating age group - joining the fray, often with little concept of basic netiquette."

Ouch. That was just plain MEAN. I can't believe a gamer, someone who's most likely already been stereotyped, would do that to teenagers. First of all, I had always assumed that adults or 8 year-olds were the ones telling me I sucked. Second, it would seem to me that people would get the image from TV that teens today are environmentally conscious, tobacco-company-hating shiny happy people. I mean, geez, you have teens WORKING AT PQ. Also, I would think teenagers would ALWAYS have been playing games. Why now? Or I guess I should be saying, why does it appear to you to be now?

"any kid with access to Notepad or Paintbrush can theoretically create a mod."

Really? Can you tell me how to? I can't even make one with Half-Life's SDK. Though I don't think it was working. The thing was I'd click the icons and it would be one of those programs that doesn't have a program to open it...like trying to open an .EXE with Wordpad. You know, those annoying programs with icons that just show a Windows logo...though that's assuming you're using windows.

Also, you keep talking about how you're GOING to get a job in gaming, why not just get one now? I would if I could, but I don't get these stupid C++ books...and despite what anyone says, I am sure as hell NOT going to make a game in Visual Basic.

Hellchick: So this letter reminds me that gamers are all aging as one big, moving demographic. Those of us currently in the industry used to be those nose-picking teenagers, but now we're all about 8-10 years older and we're still in the industry. I wonder if we're changing it at all just by virtue of aging? Something to think about. Or not. Bacon, anyone?

From: Jerry 'Eraser' Laman
Subject: Spheres of Influence

Normally I like Lee'Mon's articles, but I really didn't see the point with this one. It isn't a bad thing that the line between game players and developers has blurred, is it? I didn't like to see that Lee'Mon thinks that the on-line community becomes less mature because more young players start to play the game. It's not only teenagers who talk "I 0wn j00" and the most teenage players DO play the game in a mature way. I don't think that the Quake community is as 'rotten' as Lee'Mon thinks. Also, I really do not believe that "any kid with access to Notepad or Paintbrush can create a mod". You really need knowledge of programming in languages like C and you must know how to stick your own Mod into Quake. There's definately a big difference between the "elite Mod hacker status" and the simple Quake player. I make some maps myself, never really released one though. Why? Because they weren't as good as those from Tim Willits. You see my point? The developing (and Modding) elite still sticks out above us "grunts". It's a gift to make a good Mod.

You know, I'm not really sure what to think of mainstream influence on game design. I think it's needed, especially in the PC game market. The general populace have always liked console systems, as they're easy to understand, and the games tend to not be very complicated (RPGs excluded, don't kill me). The PC gaming scene has evolved from the original base of PC users, and is more sophisticated due to the rapid development of PCs themselves. The majority of PC game buyers, however, aren't the hardcore fans like many who read this site; they're the people who have been buying console games, and they're looking for simplicity, but not finding it. That's why many game developers are now looking to mainstream input. And it's not a bad thing. It might seem like it right now, but this will help the community grow and foster in the future.

On Page 2: Clone Feedback


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