Raven Software's Rick Johnson meets with the fans and asks what you want in Quake 4.
By - Sal "Sluggo" Accardo
One of the biggest annoucements Friday was the confirmation that there would indeed be a Quake 4, being developed by Raven Software using the new Doom technology. The game will have a strong single-player focus returning to the Strogg universe of Quake 2, and with this in mind, Raven Software's Rick Johnson gave QuakeCon attendees an open forum for three hours to talk about what they'd like to see out of Quake 4, particularly the single-player experience.
As you may remember, at the end of Quake 2, your character escaped from Stroggos and crash lands his escape pod on another planet, his hand reaching out in victory ... sorta. There was some sentiment in the room to continue the story from this point, although not everyone thought it was a must.
Rick asked the group how they felt about the game's story -- how much it mattered to the gamer, and what kinds of devices would be preferred to advance the plot. General sentiment was to see more intricate stories than in the previous games, and that they'd prefer to keep the player in first-person mode during scripted sequences, as opposed to jumping out to 3rd person, which many people thought the illusion of "being" the character.
The Game World
When it came to the topic of maps, one game kept popping up: Half-Life. While many games simply drop you from one location to another between missions, Half-Life presented what felt like one large, continuous location in the Black Mesa Research Facilty. Almost everyone said they'd like to see more of this over a group of seemingly disconnnected levels.
Another request was to try and avoid the cliches that seem to plague many shooters -- sewers, vents, rooms full of crates, etc. A few people noted that they'd like to see more of the city-style maps as in Quake 2, and most of the room seemed to approve.
One topic that didn't require much debate was whether stealth should play a part in Quake 4. While a few people thought it would be cool to have a stealth mission or two, almost everyone agreed that they wanted a fast-paced action game.
Rick brought up the subject of puzzles, which led to a number of differing opinions on whether they had their place in Quake 4 and how they should be presented. The one thing everyone agreed on, though, was that we've seen enough of the "go here, get red key; go over there, unlock red door; continue" model.
Enemies and Weapons
When it came to the subject of enemies, another game entered the discussion: Serious Sam. A number of people brought up some of the game's truly memorable bosses, and suggested that this was part of what they enjoyed most about SS. Almost everyone agreed that they'd like to see bosses with more personality and try to present something they wouldn't soon forget.
The group spent some time talking about locational damage and whether it had any place in Quake 4. A good deal of the group said they'd like to see their weapons have different effects on enemies depending on where they were hit, and maybe go as far as be able to pick up parts of enemies and use them for varied tasks.
Interestingly, the group didn't spend much time talking about weapons. The pros and cons of having alternate firing modes for different weapons was brought up, as was the desire to have a few "special" weapons -- like Quake 2's BFG 10K -- appear on occasion.
Although these sessions were originally intended to talk about the single-player portion of Quake 4, the topic eventually turned to multiplayer, its place in the Quake series, and what everyone would like to see in the new game.
At this point, Rick did clear up one question by saying that the Quake 4wouldhave a multiplayer component in one form or another. However, the new Doom engine would play a large part in shaping that component, so it would be hard to speculate much about the game's multiplayer at this time.
It's extremely encouraging to see a developer take time to get feedback straight from the community, especially this early in the design process. As Rick mentioned, Quake 4 is still a long way off -- it will not ship until after the new Doom, and most of the team that will work on it at Raven will probably finish SoF2 and another PS2 project before the bulk of the work begins. Regardless of when it comes out, we're looking forward to another spin through the Quake universe.