Editorial

Happy 15th anniversary Quake

15 years ago today on June 22, 1996, id Software changed the entire gaming industry with the release of the full version of Quake (id released a free multiplayer preview build, known as Qtest, several months earlier). After gaining much fame for the release of the first two games in the Doom first person shooter series, there was much anticipation over the release of Quake which promised to raise the level for FPS games. However the true impact of Quake on the game industry didn't really happen until several months after the game was released thanks in part to the efforts of the game's main programmer John Carmack to improve both the look and the online play of the game.

While the released version of Quake was in many ways a rehash of id's Doom series (like Doom, Quake's "story" was minimal with a mix of sci-fi and fantasy themes), there were still a number of things about the game that stood out. The biggest was, of course, the full 3D engine which in 1996 was a huge step up from the 2D engine that id's John Carmack created for the Doom games. Quake was also something of a last hurrah for much of the team that helped to create the previous Doom games at id. After Quake was released a number of the game's designers, most notably John Romero and American McGee, left id Software to pursue their own original game creations.

But Quake's release 15 years ago was followed up by a number of developments that would influence the making of first person shooter games in general and the game industry as a whole. One was the decision by Carmack to put in a TCP/IP networking model for the game's multiplayer modes. However, unless you had a decent Internet connection (hard to find in the dinosaur days of 1996 with 56 k modems being the norm) it was hard to get the game to play well if you wanted to play online. Carmack knew that online play was important to Quake and as a result released an updated networking model called QuakeWorld in December 1996. The improvements in the networking code included adding client-side prediction that would allow players to be able to play Quake even on less-than-optimal Internet connections. Quakeworld and its network features served as the model for future first person shooter multiplayer games.

Another later update to the game helped to usher in the era of 3D graphical acceleration in gaming PCs. In January 1997, Carmack released a patch for the game called GLQuake. The patch allowed the game to take advantage of the growing number of PC graphics cards that were made specifically to handle 3D graphics in their hardware. The result was that GLQuake not only had better frame rates than the regular version but also looked much better than the rather blocky look of the standard Quake graphics. GLQuake was a sensation in the entire game community as players bought more 3D accelerator cards (particularly the 3dfx Voodoo add-on card) and game developers started making games that also took advantage of the new graphical technology. The PC quickly became the hot gaming platform as many games eclipsed the looks of the console games of that time period, and GLQuake was a big reason that happened.

Finally there was the rise of several mods made by third parties for Quake, thanks again to Carmack as he and id released the code to create new levels and content for the game. While there were a number of notable mods made for Quake, two stand out. One was Threewave Capture the Flag, a team based mod that introduced the CTF gameplay mode to first person shooter games. The Threewave version of CTF was basically taken on by id and added as an official gameplay mode in future Quake games and Capture the Flag modes have since been a staple of most other multiplayer shooters.

The other major third party mod for the original Quake was Team Fortress, which turned the game into a class-based team multiplayer experience with much more depth than the typical deathmatch. Not only was the original Quake mod popular, but the team that created it was later recruited by a little known game developer called Valve Software. In 1999, after the release of the original Half-Life, Valve released Team Fortress Classic,which was basically a remake of the original Quake mod as a mod for Half-Life. It took a long time (and with at least one false start) but Valve finally released the game's true sequel, Team Fortress 2, in 2007, which Valve has continued to update with new features and content for free ever since.

While the original Quake got two official expansion packs made by third party developers (there were many more unofficial retail expansions), in 1997 the developer decided to take different directions for the later games in the Quake series. All of them had more of a straightforward sci-fi setting with Quake 2, Quake 4 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars centering on the Earth fighting off an alien invasion by the cyborg-like Strogg. Quake III Arena concentrated solely on the multiplayer experience with no real story at all. id later remade Quake III Arena to launch its current free-to-play shooter Quake Live.

However it appears as if id Software is at least thinking about making a new game in the series that, if it is actually made, might go back to the art design of the first game in the series. In a recent chat on Eurogamer, Carmack stated, "We are at least tossing around the possibilities of going back to the bizarre, mixed up Cthulhu-ish Quake 1 world and rebooting that direction." In the meantime the original Quake that was released in its full form 15 years ago today is still played online and mod makers are still coming up with new projects that extend the original game. It remains one of the game industry's biggest franchises and continues to be a huge influence on game designers and creators as well as its many fans.

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38 Comments

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Quake is the one, and only, reason why I'm an online wrecking machine now .

I still have an ad poster, about the size of a birthday card, that I have taped above my computer room door, with the Quake I logo on it.

For this game alone, id will ALWAYS rule the FPS universe for me.

Oddly, I never heard of Qtest until this article but I remember playing the shareware version before getting the full game some time later... What I´m missing here is any mention to the heavy rock CD tracks which could be played on a regular CD player if I´m not wrong, been a long time since the last time I put my hands on it...

Nice article.

One was the decision by Carmack to put in a TCP/IP networking model...

One thing that really hacked me off about Quake was that modem-to-modem 1v1 play was absolutely TERRIBLE. One person would be server and have a lag free experience, the other person would get ****. It ****ed everyone off in QTest and they never fixed it . In fact, it was quite clear that the days of modem-modem multiplayer were gone. Dial-up internet was much slower than modem-modem in terms of latency, but that became the only option.

QuakeWorld is what made Quake for me. It actually made multiplayer THE thing to do, and after they got QuakeWorld working really well I had forgotten about ever wanting to do modem-modem multiplayer with my friends like we did back in the Doom days.

The patch allowed the game to take advantage of the growing number of PC graphics cards that were made specifically to handle 3D graphics in their hardware.

I believe John Carmack collaborated with 3dfx and helped with the original development of 3d hardware acceleration. When I first saw GLQuake, it was mind blower. Sadly, I never got enough cash together for a Voodoo so I only got to see GLQuake over at friend's.

The PC quickly became the hot gaming platform as many games eclipsed the looks of the console games of that time period, and GLQuake was a big reason that happened.

True. N64 graphics were pretty comparable to GLQuake graphics (but still lower resolution due to the limitations of standard def television). By '98 it was clear that consoles were not going to be able to keep up. The PS2 and XBox generation had a similar trend. Strange how this generation (at least with the PS3 and 360) the progress in computer game graphics have really tapered off. The XBox 360 is how old? Almost 6 now? And I still tend to buy games for that than my gaming PC (if I was choosing between the two for a title). That would not have been the case 10 years ago.

Quake ah what memories! Happy b-day. I've been there all the way from playing each title like the dedicated zombie I was to later doing college research projects on it. One was a fuzzy AI mod for the NPC behavior that made the game MUCH more interesting. Also around that time my class team had to write a Quake .bsp level rendering engine. In Java (jogl).

Wow. That is awesome. I remember playing this game single player only because I couldnt even fathom playing it online... Hell I was on dialup connection until 2oo4!

But yes a truly great game indeed, it is noteworthy and deserves respect...

Many hours wasted on Quake II capture the chicken mod, and may, many, many hours on Urban Terror mod for Quake III

I remember getting 130ping on my 56K connecting at a blistering 48K here in the UK...I was owning ISDN users at the time!!

Fell in love with Quake for sure...Q3A for me was the big turning point in terms of clan gaming....RA3, CTF, mods galore for Clan Ladder matches.

Happy Birthday Quake...live long and prosper...more!

bugsbungee said,
56k modems were not the norm in 1996. 28k maybe. Think mines was a 14k400 at the time.
yeah I would agree on that one. I remember spending nearly 140 on a 14.4 wishing I had the extra 200 for a 28.8 USR modem. Those... were the days.

eblkheart said,
yeah I would agree on that one. I remember spending nearly 140 on a 14.4 wishing I had the extra 200 for a 28.8 USR modem. Those... were the days.

I remember when I got a 14.4k modem for my birthday and I was thrilled to have it replace my 2400 baud. Could actually get some mud'ing done.

ahodgey said,
Original TF for the win

+1. So much of my freshmen and sophomore year in HS were spent playing the original TF. Was in a clan and we played a lot of matches. Great fun.

You know, the one addition that I liked in Quake, typically the CTF, was the grappling hook. I LOVED that. I'd love to see that show up in one of the Source-based mods.

I remember playing quake on a compaq presario 425 (upgraded later with a dx chip) all in one pc and having to reduce the screen down to a square of 2 inch by 1 inch to keep the speed up so I could network play. What a lot of fun this game has given me. Good going.

Cyborg_X said,
Q2 on my dual 3DFX......good times

I still got my Quantum3D Obsidian 2 X24 or we could take up A notch with Quantum3D Heavy Metal GX+ Mercury or the bad to bone Quantum3D Aalchemy 8164 512MB now let good time roll hehe

Superb read! I didn't get into PC gaming until after Quake 3 came out, so I missed out on the excitement for Quake 1. But I remember playing Quake II on the PSX, it was probably the best multiplayer FPS on that console.

ccoltmanm said,
This game revolutionized network games up to the point. Good stuff!

I remember playing Quake lanned in school computer science class on the slow days. Was great fun. During lunch, we would go into the computer lab and play Deathmatch as well. Such nerds we were back then.

Forgot to mention Rocket Arena, the true game of flick skill and accuracy. It is basically what started lan tournaments, though it came out for quake 2. Quake 1 was brilliant back in the day. Having bots that you could play against with a friend online was great fun.