Paul Steed, a veteran videogame artist perhaps best known for his 3D modeling work at id Software where he worked on the Quake and Doom series, passed away over the weekend, The Jace Hall Show announced. Details of his death are unknown at this time, though that of his sometimes controversial career and his contributions to the gaming industry are well documented.
Time for a quick test. We say “Quake 1,” you say... multiplayer classic? Rocket jumping? Can now run on a $100 netbook? Ok, next up, “Quake 4.” Huh? Yes, there was a Quake 4. No, no, it was still a videogame. Look, a video! And now you appear to be... presenting us with a box of live crickets and an authentic tumbleweed. We accept your offering of excessive nonchalance. Your reward: John Carmack totally speaking your language. Well, figuratively, anyway. He can only use crickets and tumbleweeds to ask where the bathroom is.
This week's Old School Monday is short and sweet. Behold, the one-page review of the genre-defining Quake from the October '96 issue of Boot. We're not going to say that we've got a 100% track record with our game reviews, but with this one we were right on the money. Quake wasn't perfect, but it was groundbreaking, and the first truly three-dimensional shooter from legendary developer id.
When you're at the forefront of an emerging trend, you're bound to have imitators. Such is the case with Fallout, a series that's been wandering wastelands and mutilating mutants since long before videogaming came down with an incurable case of post-apocalypse fever. Imitation's a sticky subject, though. Sometimes, it's just a sh**-eating grin away from outright flattery, but other times, it's a lawsuit and a career-in-tatters away from bold-faced plagiarism.
So, the question arises: where, exactly, does RAGE stand? Well, we saw the game in action at QuakeCon, and we decided to run a little DNA test on the post-apocalyptic shooter in order to find out how it stacks up against its closest living – and also Bethesda-published – relative. So, without further ado, let's see what makes RAGE tick.
Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta’s opening scenes were absolutely out of this world. Within a span of ten minutes, I was torn from the Wasteland, poked and prodded with 100 haystacks’ worth of needles, stripped of the near-impregnable safety blanket I call “Power Armor,” and unceremoniously tossed into a prison cell. Upon awakening, my ragged, desperate human cellmate cowered in fear as some unknown force approached our cell, only to change course at the last second and perform its unspeakable act on some other hapless sap. The poor guy emitted a blood-curdling howl as his frail flesh clunked around in what sounded like a super-powered dryer.
I was absolutely thrilled. Fear, curiosity, and vulnerability hooked me. Adrenaline reeled me in. “Who are these unseen, all-powerful beings?” I wondered. “Why are they doing this?” My interest piqued when my cellmate mentioned our captors’ penchant for tampering with people’s brains. Then I actually saw them. Tiny, green, big heads, round eyes. Beaten and beamed up by God after only two strikes from my pithy 23 unarmed skill. Thrill and intrigue, it was nice knowing you.
What followed was roughly four hours of good old fashioned alien-blasting. Fun, but nothing special. No mind-blowing ulterior motives, no unsettlingly foreign alien culture; the mean, green abducting machines were just a new skin for everyday Fallout 3 enemies. Really, there was nothing "alien" about these aliens. After such a promising opening, I felt more than a little let down.
Doom might arguably be the most memorable (or at least the most popular) PC game of all time, and with good reason. Prior to Doom's release, programmers found themselves in the stone age of game development. For the most part, building a game meant starting from scratch and compiling all new code, but like the invention of the wheel, the advent of the game engine forever changed the PC gaming landscape.
Now, we know what you're thinking, and we're well aware that game engines existed prior to Doom's release in 1993; we're even going to cover some. But it was id Software's now legendary first-person shooter that pushed reusable 3D game engines as a viable programming model, and videogame development has never been the same since then.
On the following pages, we look back at all the major PC game engines and what made each one special. As a prerequisite, be sure to check out our history of 3D graphics, which covers video cards from the Voodoo to the GeForce and everything in between. Once you've digested these two features, you're guaranteed to have a new-found respect for gaming on the PC!
Here’s the second part of our exclusive QuakeCon interview with John Carmack. In the first part of our conversation, Carmack discussed his hopes for Quake Live and the id Software’s new gaming direction in Rage. This time around, he gets more into the heady technical stuff with his thoughts on Nvidia’s CUDA, physics accelerators, general purpose computing, and ATI’s rumored Fusion technology. Here’s a snippet:
John Carmack – I was well known as not being a supporter of the PhysX accelerators. It’s always felt like a gimmicky plan with people setting up a company to be acquired. For years, the tack has been what do you do with any time Intel delivers something more with processors and more cores? It’s never really proven out right and there’re a lot of reasons for it.
For one thing you can’t scale AI and physics in general with your gameplay, while with graphics, you could scale. Without scaling, you can’t design a game that requires fancy AI and then turn off the fancy AI for the low end systems because practically that’s not possible. Similarly for physics, if it’s anything other than eye candy, you also can’t scale. If the building is going to fall down you need to know whether you’re going to be able to get past it on the high end or the low end.
John Carmack may be the face of id Software, but he’s definitely not the only person working on Rage or the next Doom. We spoke with Robert Duffy, id’s Programming Director, and Matt Hooper, Rage’s Lead Designer, about their upcoming shooter. The conversation delves into topics ranging from art design to multiplayer modes, and touches on the challenges of developing on both console and PC hardware. Here’s a snippet:
MaxPC: With the combination of driving and fps gameplay, what’s fun and exciting that we should look forward to that we haven’t seen before in games? Matt Hooper: The thing you haven’t seen is really the mix. We’re still id software and we’re still making this intense, action shooter game. Those moment to moment, finely crafted action sequences – running around with the coolest weapons and shooting guys – that’s still there. We invented that and we’re still going to do that really well. Just around the office everyone likes a lot of cool games. What we did was pull in these different elements that don’t detract from the action but add this little bit of flavor, and the vehicles are a part of that. The vehicles are almost an extension of your FPS avatar – you’re “running” around with a vehicle. It has armor on it, it carries a cool weapon, you fire that weapon, and the other car blows up in a cool satisfying explosion. It’s not as far removed as you would probably initially think. It all feels really good together.
We interviewed John Carmack back during this year's E3 when id first announced a partnership with EA to publish their next shooter, Rage. We had a chance to sit with Carmack again at this past weekend's Quakecon, where we followed up on our earlier discussion to squeeze more details out of the legendary game developer. Carmack dished out more details about their plans for Quake Live (including their high expenctations), the technology powering Rage and the next Doom, their cancelled Darkness project, and his thoughts about the current modding community.
Take a seat, grab a Mountain Dew, and click through for the full interview. You'll even find out which aspects of id Tech 5 may not be as powerful as id Tech 4!
We just got our hands on some gritty new screenshots from the next Wolfenstein game, which is being shown at this year's QuakeCon. Published by Activision and developed by Raven Software, Wolfenstein once again sends soldier BJ Blazkowicz to fight Nazis and supernatural demons in an alternate World War II. The screens show Nazi troops assembled in the dark, resistance fighters huddled in demolished buildings, and most interestingly, new map locations that have been transformed with a supernatural green tint of destruction. We don't know how these environmental shifts will occur, or how it ties with the story, but it sure looks cool!
Click through for our full gallery of full-resolution screens.