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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Oct 15, 1999

PQ Mailbag
Week of: 10/15/99

Still Griping About the Grapple

We received a LOT of feedback regarding Essobie's editorial on the Grapple controversy; too much to include here, so I will only be posting a few of them. Thanks to everybody who wrote in to all had great things to say regardless of which position you decided to take on this issue.

From: Barbarian
Subject: Essobie's editorial

Interestingly, and something which was not mentioned, is that the purpose of the grapple hook in QWCTF was to allow movement around maps which were initially just hacks of Quake1 single player maps. Not including the grapple in QWCTF would have made gameplay very slow. This is not so in properly designed maps.

I point to the example of Team Fortress. The well-played map 2fort5 (or 2fort in TFC) has no grapple. In fact most team fortress maps don't have a grapple (although the map-maker can turn it on, at least in older versions). Despite having no grapple, and being a Capture the Flag type of map, 2fort/2fort5 has very fast gameplay. What's lacking is the heroism that you see in QWCTF and Q2CTF servers. If a player attacks alone, he will fail, unless the enemy is very lacking in defensive capabilites. Having a grapple is something that would take away from the gameplay.

I played QW Expert CTF for 6 months in 1997 and 1998. The grapple here was like the Threewave grapple on 'roids. 1) It was offhand. 2) it was very fast. Gameplay was frenetic to say the least. However heroism was evident, and coordinated attacks, at least on public servers, were not required and almost non-existant. In addition, if a carrier had the flag and was trying to avoid being shot down (while waiting for return of his own), he could get into an open area in some maps (I think e1m7 was one) and "fly" around randomly by rapid grappling, ensuring he didn't fly straight for too long and didn't come close to a surface. Good carriers (and for a short time myself when I was well practiced) could keep this up for 10 or 20 minutes. In some games, only a few captures would ever occur due to the stalemate that this created. IMHO, this was not a good feature in a team game, and was one of the contributing factors to my moving to TF (plus the fact that I was hooked on TF when I finally tried it out after I gave up my TF-phobia).

So I have agree with Essobie, and I add: Keep the grapple out of Q3. Let map makers make maps with the grapple if they want. After all, what do you want? A Q2+QW hybrid with better graphics, or a new game?

From: Michael Ahlf
Subject: To Grapple or Not To Grapple...

Maybe it's just me, but it seems there's a simple way out of this......LET THE GRAPPLE BE A SELECTABLE OPTION.

In other words, let the server-op decide the question: to Grapple, or Not To Grapple... and hey, everybody's happy, the no-grapplers play on their server, the grapplers play on theirs, and those of us (few and far between apparently) who honestly find either form appealing depending on what mood we're in can have our fun too!

From: Ryan Piepho (El Guapo)
Subject: Grapple

In regards to the article "To Grapple, Or Not To Grapple",I believe that the author, Essobie, has some very good points:

  • "It is possible in Q2CTF for example, for a single offensive unit to get powered up and make at least a fairly successful attempt at stealing the enemy flag... returning to base without even firing a weapon (not counting the grappling hook itself)."
    However, may I add, everyone playing also has a grappling hook. A single offensive unit can be hunted down and killed very easily by a single definsive unit in persuit. Essobie also failed to mention the benifits grappling hooks add to the defensive side as well as the offensive side that, which in my opinion, balance the game out fairly well. A good defensive camper with good to moderate railing skills and the strength rune, can take down a incoming flag-hungry grappler with defense. Although with unbalanced teams, Essobie is dead right with this quote. I also believe that Essobie, and id in some cases, is dead wrong on some points.

  • "They want all attacks on the flag to be a team effort... the most successful of which will be extremely coordinated attacks by skilled players that can cover each other and be able to get the flag out with as few loses as possible."
    Essobie is wrong when it is assumed that there is no "team effort" involved when there is a grapple introduced into the game. On the contrary, I believe the grapple adds a much needed aspect of "team effort". I am an avid LMCTF player, with the off-hand grapple, but for now I will refer to Q2CTF. With the grapple, counting as a weapon, a single offensive unit will need cover in attempt to cap a well guarded flag. Organizing this can be very difficult at times, and calls for a well tuned team. I am not attempting to sway anyone into changing their minds about having a hook "in the box", I am mearly saying what I feel. I really couldn't care less if the hook doesn't come in the box; there are mods, and the grapple will live on. I do strongly believe that if there is going to be a hook, in any mod, there are improvements to be made.

    For example, when you shoot the grappling hook and it latches to a wall somewhere high up on the map, physics should not change for you. A player should not shoot straight across the map in mid air, they should be falling with gravity. Especially in mods like Q2CTF and LMCTF where the hook is rather slow in "bringin you in". In mods like Lithium this may not apply, as the hook is fairly fast.

    The grapple is not for newbies. If you are a newbie on a server with a skilled CTF player, you will get beat every time. You may not even be a newbie, just new to the grapple, you will most likely get beat. "What does that do?" you ask. It forces you to become a better player and more rounded. I think this is a big reason why id is not including the grapple in their upcoming Q3CTF.

    It's been made known that Q3A is going to be aimed at the "newbie" to get more people into the game. This is a good thing. There is always need for more players. This doesn't mean the "non-newbies" won't like this game. I like the interface, and the Quake community is always great for making mods. It's a good looking, good feeling game. I think other game developers will be ( and should be) thanking id for taking the first step in getting more people involved in online FPS games. id has good reason not to include the grapple in the release. It helps the newbies, and the skilled players will find a way to get the grapple in the game eventually. Everyone is happy.

  • "It will probably take the likes of any JoeBlowModAuthor a good thirty minutes to hack up an exact duplicate of the new Q3CTF that INCLUDES the grappling hook for all the "hardcores" to play."
    If it is going to be so easy to get it in the game, why doesn't id give a menu option in the game? Grapple On/Off, with a default setting of Off. That way, Zoid doesn't lose his player base to other mods, and there is more choice for the player. Makes sense to me.

    From: Nathan Aronoff
    Subject: Feedback and suggestions about the grapple

    I agree with the point that you make about the grappling hook, however I don't think that it should be completely removed, but just changed a little. First of all, the grappling hook shouldn't be able to shoot it, release it, then shoot it again instantly. This would slow those grapple monkey's down, and keep them from swinging around. I use the grapple a lot of times inorder to snipe, and this would definately be impossible with taking the grapple out. Another thing that should change about the grapple is that everyplayer shouldn't start with one. It should be like a weapon pickup where you actually have to get it before you can use it, just like every other weapon.

    The techs are another thing that I don't like. It makes it possible for a guy with amp to take 1 shot at me and kill me, while I have to take 4-5 at him. I could hit the guy with a gun 4 times, and when he shoots me once, I'm dead. This goes for quad as well, but at least quad runs out at a set time and adds a little to the strategy of the game. Both teams should be even, and both teams will have the chance of getting quad, but if one team controls the techs, then they will most likely win the game.

    Actually, If they want this to be more of a team game, then I could think of a million things that could be implemented. I won't go into it, but even without the grapple, there are still players that can do it all themselves, such as they get the quad or a railgun, and they can pretty much take out the entire enemy base.

    One more thing that I think should really be changed. That is when you die and spawn back instantly. This kind of defeats the purpose of killing guys unless you are looking for points. When a person should die, there should be maybe a 5 second delay of where he spawns back. When your team clears out the base, the enemy players shouldn't just keep popping back up one after another again. They should be taken out of the picture so that your team can get what they came for and get out. I think the random spawns, even in the enemy base should stick. I heard people saying that you shouldn't be able to spawn in an enemy base because they can get through the enemies defenses without actually going through them. However, with a good defense, this shouldn't matter because your those guy's should be expecting an in base spawn. This keeps them on their toes.

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