Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters

In the summer of 1996, Quake became the fourth jewel in Texas-based developer id Software’s crown.

Based on interviews with the developers, the article explores the making of the Quake franchise, the culture that simultaneously shaped and fractured creator id Software, and other developers whose creativity defined an era.

Each corridor is ornamented with details that speaks to that episode’s dimension. “Each of the episodic [entrances] was made to look like the designer of the episode had made it,” explained Romero. “Because I’d played everybody’s levels so much by that time, I knew exactly how Sandy made his levels look. I knew how thin his posts were, how he lit stuff. With American, same thing: his metal and his caverns.”

The leftmost corridor is futuristic in color and texture. Ahead is a corridor with blue walls and a bridge fashioned from metal beams that zig and zag. Forward and to the right is a corridor that bends before leading to its portal. To the right, a set of wooden stairs leads to a pool of water. Stepping into the water causes players to sinkā€”and then drop out of the air and onto the floor, sapping a small amount of life and leaving them perplexed, wondering how, exactly, a body of water had come to hang in the air.

“We were laughing about his crazy ideas because that was just such an awesome thing you could do with the engine: Swim in a floating block of water,” Romero said. “Sandy put it in there and it’s something we just laughed about because it was like, ‘Oh my god. It’s floating water. This is crazy.”

Laughing, Romero continued, “You don’t know that’s going to happen because you can’t see through the water, so it’s not even fair. It’s just like, ‘Here’s your torture!’ I was just laughing while I made that entrance. It was so funny because it was so Sandy.”

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