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Building Quake Live: Carmack Speaks
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Building Quake Live: Carmack Speaks


February 26, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next
 

And presumably, those guys in college can play it on a laptop with an integrated graphics card.

JC: Yeah. I mean, that's one of the great things about it -- it's an older technology that was well-written at the time and was used as a major benchmark in testing, et cetera, over the last decade, and is still on the list of making sure that no modern video card drivers regress over anything. They still test Quake III Arena on all that.

That has some really great benefits of meaning that it is really rock-solid. It's not like a modern game, where going to the 0.107 driver causes some problem in the middle of things.

It just works, and it just works really fast, on any computer. It turns out that you're more limited by the browser support for the technologies that we get than for the graphics-acceleration support for the game itself.

Somebody at id just recently got one of the little netbooks -- I can't remember the manufacturer. It's literally a $300 laptop that doesn't have a DVD drive or anything, and it runs the game.

MS: It runs the game at 50 to 80 frames per second in full screen. So it's pretty cool.

The other thing that I think particularly Quake players, but PC gamers in general, are used to, and that this does do better, is keeping the game up to date.

On the Xbox, you pop your disc in and it says, "Oh, there's an update for this game." You download it, and you're off and playing. PC gamers have sometimes been kind of run through the wringer, to have to go out and install the latest patch, or check if there's a new map pack out. Only recently have games on the PC really started to handle updating themselves very well.

But, because of the way we built this, any time you go to quakelive.com, wherever you are, it automatically checks to see what you have and downloads what you need. So you're always up to date. You're never out of date.

You'll have a bit of a download because it pulls the game data in chunks to your system, but you can start playing while it's kind of downloading in the background as well. Basically, anywhere you go, your friends list, your statistics, your personalized settings, your customized views of the game browser, of filters, or of leaderboards, all of that follows you.

So it really is a fairly portable -- not only from a laptop perspective, but as a portable experience in that once you've downloaded the game at a friend's house or at home, or wherever, there are no install discs, no patching, no nothing. You just log in, it updates it, you have the latest version, and you can play with all of your settings right there.

I think that's actually going to be pretty darn cool, the fact that you can sit down at a hotel business center and just have exactly the game experience that you have been playing at home, or at work.

Back in the Quake III release days, there was a whole class of player at a certain level of play who would turn every graphical option down as far as it could go, to get that baseline type of experience where they can just push as many frames as possible and strip the game down to its basics. Do you find it interesting that, even now, with modern machines, some people still do that on Quake Live?

JC: Yeah. There's not nearly as much of that, though. A lot of the people did it, really, for the right reasons of wanting to get improved frame rates. There's still a slight sense, for some people, that blurring things out gives more contrast and can be a slight edge for making things stand out. But for the most part, it's great to see the game running at, really, two-million-pixel resolution.

In fact, it's really neat to see how cool a lot of the stuff really looks on there. A lot of the shots in the website, the glamour shots that are all still in-game, look pretty damn good. And the polish path the level designers went, to go line up all the textures and improve the lighting, without having changed any of the rendering code at all, has added a nice little extra layer of gloss to it.

In many ways, it's almost hard to say this, coming from a graphics programmer, but for what the game is and what it does, it really looks plenty good enough.

On that note, with regard to the graphical design mentality, Quake III is a very clean, very readable game. And the gameplay design is extremely elegant, in that it's very game-like and based on pure dynamics, as opposed to trying to model more realistic systems, which is a more modern design ethic. I'm curious what you think the place for that kind of game design and visual design is today? There are very few triple-A games being made with that mentality.

JC: Yeah. That's a really worthwhile thing to explore. If we look back into history on that, inside id, we would go back and forth between different people having different primary drives on that.

And Quake III was my game. I am all about the elegant, simple, minimalist design. And we thought it was a good thing for what it is. But it wasn't as successful as either Quake II or Doom 3, the games that bracketed it -- although it was plenty successful to be worthwhile.

But it has become clear, over the years since then, that what people expect from a current triple-A title is everything and the kitchen sink. Especially in an established genre like first-person shooters, you have to have everything nowadays. And it's a tall order to go ahead and do all of that. People expect a lot for their $50 or $60 that they're plunking down.

That's all well and good, and it's led to some really fabulous titles coming out, but there is still a lot to be said for that minimalist, simple game design. When we're not trying to claw $60 out of somebody's back pocket, I think there is a place for things that are simple. And I think that there's a possibility that we can actually attract many more players to this than to the big games with the really high barrier to entry.


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

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