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Eurogamer


John Romero, the veteran developer and id Software founder who helped create FPS touchstones like Quake, Doom and Wolfenstein, is planning a return to the genre in which he made his name.


Romero, who's currently CEO of social game studio Loot Drop, Inc., told Eurogamer that although he hasn't formally started work on the project he has the design nailed down.


"Yes, I'm definitely going to be making another shooter and it will be on PC first," he explained.


"I don't want to talk about the details but I already know what it is. I've already kind of designed the thing and it's pretty cool - though of course, I am going to say that. I think it's a neat design, I haven't seen the design anywhere else."


Romero didn't go into much more detail but added that it'll be "MMO-ish" and will offer a new twist on genre traditions.


"It's a persistent game, it has persistent player data, the character grows and gets better over time. I think most gamers expect that now anyway, but this was a design I'd done a while ago. I think it's pretty valid.


"You will be playing the game as you would expect a shooter to feel, but the specifics of your situation, narrative wrapper and reward system are all unique. I wouldn't want to give out any specifics until I'm close to shipping it. I've learned my lesson about talking too soon about specific game features and release dates."


He couldn't confirm when work will begin or if it'll be a Loot Drop production.


It's been a long time since Romero last brought out a shooter - the 2003 N-Gage version of Red Faction. We asked him whether he thinks the skills necessary to make a successful modern shooter have changed since then.


"I don't think it's changed other than that the 3D graphics have to be good and there are a tonne of basics in the design that have to be there for players to feel that it's a current game.


"But I already have a lot of that stuff designed and none of what I've done has become invalid over time based on today's shooters. So I don't think there's an issue with it feeling dated or feeling old. It's not going to be an old-school shooter - it won't be pixelated. But it will probably have some faster movement than most games have right now."


Romero also offered his take on how the genre has evolved since his time at id Software. While he appreciates that Gears of War is a quality product, he's not a fan of the shift towards slower, cover-based gameplay.


"I'm not a fan of cover systems or the player being a bullet sponge. I'm not that interested in the tank-like player; I like feeling that I have skill in the game," he explained, before theorising that the rise of the console game pad has pushed developers in that direction out of necessity.


"I do realise that a lot of the movement in new shooters is directly attributable to the console controller because you can't play well and fast with them so they had to come up with some design to make it so the player can do something else if they can't skillfully move quickly. They have to do something different.


"But I'm a PC mouse and keyboard type player," he countered.


"I love twitch 180s, fast targeting, fast firing, fast movement. So anything that's not like that - like current shooters that are basically a track going through a level to the exit and everything is closed off - is not interesting to me.


"I like to explore my levels, y'know? So I'm not a fan of on-rail shooting or slow-moving cover systems. That's not to say that Gears isn't a great game but as a player I'm more interested in speed and fast movement."


Loot Drop's only current confirmed project is Ghost Recon Commander - a social spin-off from Ubisoft's tactical shooter series due out on Facebook and mobile platforms some time this Summer.

Eurogamer


Here's one for the history books. Jordan Mechner, the veteran game designer responsible for Prince of Persia, has dug up a fan letter he received nearly 30 years ago from a 17-year-old called John Romero - the very same guy who'd go on to create FPS touchstones Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake at id Software.


Dated 25th March 1985, the letter, published in full on Kotaku, sees Romero praising 21-year-old Broderbund employee Mechner for his work on one-on-one fighter Karateka.


"I was absolutely stunned by the graphics, shadows and all," he gushed.


"You did a tremendous job and have, I think, defined the state-of-the-art for future Apple games. The technology has been in the Apple all along to do those graphics, it just needed a programmer like you to use it."


Romero then admitted that he was a budding programmer himself, before asking Mechner to impart some of his wisdom.


"How did you make the scrolling background? Ever since Choplifter I have been stumped on what kind of data drawing algorithm would be used to draw a scrolling background like yours," he wrote.


"If you decide to write back I would be eternally grateful if you explained this to me."


Elsewhere in the letter, the young Romero invites Mechner to check out a few of his own games.


"Many people feel that it is better than Lode Runner," he wrote, referring to an early effort called The Pyramids of Egypt.


"Anyway, ask me for it and it is yours. I'm currently trying to sell it to anyone I can (Broderbund is first on my list). My next game is going to be totally awesome. I can't wait until I get an idea for my next game!"


He signs off "John Romero, Disciple of the Great Jordan, and worshiper of the Magnificent Mechner".


Five years later, Romero would meet John Carmack while working at Softdisk. The pair, along with Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall, left the company a year later to set up id Software. Its seminal FPS Wolfenstein 3D would follow in 1992.


Mechner has been fairly quiet in recent years - his last game credit was on Prince of Persia: Sands of Time back in 2003.


Next Wednesday Romero and Mechner will share a stage together at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, along with Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman, Minecraft man Markus 'Notch' Persson and Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney, for a talk titled "Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development".


See below for some vintage Karateka footage.

Kotaku





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Say the word "railgun" around a PC gamer and they'll instantly start telling you stories about the Quake series, and how it's such an awesome weapon in a make-believe future universe.



They're right on the former, but on the latter, not so much, because railguns are real, and the US Navy has one. Here it is undergoing testing.



The project, which is being overseen by the Office of Naval Research, has been running for a few years now (indeed, experimental railguns have existed as crude prototypes for decades), but this is the first time it's been filmed looking like an actual gun.



Railguns don't work like normal firearms or cannons; they use rails and electricity to propel projectiles at speeds vastly greater than those possible with conventional explosive technology (modern weapons still use the centuries-old principle of an explosion to propel rounds).



Which is why the Naval Officer in the video loads not a shell but just a simple piece of metal into the weapon.



It's amazing footage. Next stop, handheld versions.


PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to QuakeCon 2012 dates and location announced">QuakeCon



Do you have a penchant for all things related to 1996 computer game Quake and its numerous sequels and spin-offs? Do you own a computer that’s reasonably portable, and have an interest in LAN gaming? Are you free on 2-5 August 2012? Do you live in or around Dallas, Texas, or have the ability to get there for said dates? Do you want to get exclusive news and hands-on experiences with upcoming games from the likes of Bethesda and id? Do you enjoy being brainwashed by corporate sponsorship from 22 different companies? Do you? DO YOU?



If so, there is absolutely no event suitable for you occurring in the next year. Apart, maybe, from , which is taking place at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas on 2-5 August 2012. It’s free and run by volunteers, and in 2010 it attracted some 8,500 people. You might even rub shoulders some of the incredibly famous and good-looking people from PC Gamer there.
Kotaku

Arrested Megaupload Boss Threw Gaming Temper Tantrums?Kim Dotcom, the imprisoned mastermind behind busted file-sharing site Megaupload and, bizarrely, also the top-scoring killer on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, wasn't always a showboating millionaire. He also ran a competitive video game league in the late-90s. And was by all accounts a rather sore loser.



How sore? Like, banning from his league everyone who beat him at a game of first-person shooter Quake 2. That kind of sore loser.



After our original report on Dotcom went up over the weekend, we heard from old-time Quake 2 players who had encountered the billionaire when he was known online as "Kimble". Using that handle, Dotcom - formerly Kim Schmitz - had become a relatively well-known personality among online PC gamers at the time, in part because he ran a Quake league called Liga.net.



In September 1998, PlanetQuake reported that Kimble, after losing a game against Immortal (at the time one of the world's top players), became so upset he banned his opponent from the league, accusing him of using bots, a form of automated cheating. There are then reports from gamers complaining about Immortal's banning were kicked to the curb right alongside him.



Those booted from Dotcom's Liga.net of course claimed it was Kimble himself that had been cheating, because the other thing he was well-known for, regardless of whether it was true or not, was being a high-profile and notorious users of bots.



Going into more detail was this commenter in the original Modern Warfare 3 story from the weekend:




Back in the days of Quake 2 and the Barrysworld free server network, Dotcom used to troll the Rocket Arena 2 duel arenas as 'www.kimble.org' with an aimbot on his 6ms T1 line, raging people to the point that the entire server would clear, rather than put up with him. Then one day he was faced down and beaten by a girl-gamer on a shitty BT ISDN line - one on one, rail only. He raged so hard that he then dc'ed, looked up the player's name up on Quake.net irc and DDoSed the b0rk.co.uk irc bouncer that she used offline. Having realised he'd accomplished nothing, he then proceeded to DDoS the entire Barrysworld server array for a week, out of petty vengeance for being made to look like a twat. He was a cheating shit now, so I'd very surprised if that #1 position is legit now, either. Take a browse through the PlanetQuake archives if you wanna see the other shit he pulled, like banning the people that beat him in the leagues he admined for liga.net. 100% twat material.




Then there's this gem from a forum thread where a bunch of old Quake 2 players are reminiscing:




I remember him. I played him once on barrysworld (Yeh I'm that old :<). Just about the most blatant cheater you'd ever play. .



I got so pissed off at one point that I focused all my attention and managed to kill him once. Which felt pretty good.



His actual nick was www.kimble.org. Which was some sort of huge ego website of him traveling around the world in luxury cars/jets etc squandering money he scammed of some idiots during the dot.com boom.



Needless to say he was arrested for fraud some time later.



Anyway, the moral of the story is that the personality in game isn't all that different outside the game.




While that "huge ego website" is long gone, if you're curious, it featured pictures like this.







A final note: with this stuff taking place over a decade ago, and Dotcom currently cooling in a cell, we can't get his side of the story.


Kotaku

Arrested Megaupload Boss Cheated His Way To Video Game Glory, Opponents SayKim Dotcom, the imprisoned mastermind behind busted file-sharing site Megaupload and, bizarrely, also the top-scoring killer on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, wasn't always a showboating millionaire. He also ran a competitive video game league in the late-90s. And was by all accounts a rather sore loser.



How sore? Like, banning from his league everyone who beat him at a game of first-person shooter Quake 2. That kind of sore loser.



After our original report on Dotcom went up over the weekend, we heard from old-time Quake 2 players who had encountered the billionaire when he was known online as "Kimble". Using that handle, Dotcom - formerly Kim Schmitz - had become a relatively well-known personality among online PC gamers at the time, in part because he ran a Quake league called Liga.net.



In September 1998, PlanetQuake reported that Kimble, after losing a game against Immortal (at the time one of the world's top players), became so upset he banned his opponent from the league, accusing him of using bots, a form of automated cheating. There are then reports from gamers complaining about Immortal's banning were kicked to the curb right alongside him.



Those booted from Dotcom's Liga.net of course claimed it was Kimble himself that had been cheating, because the other thing he was well-known for, regardless of whether it was true or not, was being a high-profile and notorious users of bots.



Going into more detail was this commenter in the original Modern Warfare 3 story from the weekend:




Back in the days of Quake 2 and the Barrysworld free server network, Dotcom used to troll the Rocket Arena 2 duel arenas as 'www.kimble.org' with an aimbot on his 6ms T1 line, raging people to the point that the entire server would clear, rather than put up with him. Then one day he was faced down and beaten by a girl-gamer on a shitty BT ISDN line - one on one, rail only. He raged so hard that he then dc'ed, looked up the player's name up on Quake.net irc and DDoSed the b0rk.co.uk irc bouncer that she used offline. Having realised he'd accomplished nothing, he then proceeded to DDoS the entire Barrysworld server array for a week, out of petty vengeance for being made to look like a twat. He was a cheating shit now, so I'd very surprised if that #1 position is legit now, either. Take a browse through the PlanetQuake archives if you wanna see the other shit he pulled, like banning the people that beat him in the leagues he admined for liga.net. 100% twat material.




Then there's this gem from a forum thread where a bunch of old Quake 2 players are reminiscing:




I remember him. I played him once on barrysworld (Yeh I'm that old :<). Just about the most blatant cheater you'd ever play. .



I got so pissed off at one point that I focused all my attention and managed to kill him once. Which felt pretty good.



His actual nick was www.kimble.org. Which was some sort of huge ego website of him traveling around the world in luxury cars/jets etc squandering money he scammed of some idiots during the dot.com boom.



Needless to say he was arrested for fraud some time later.



Anyway, the moral of the story is that the personality in game isn't all that different outside the game.




While that "huge ego website" is long gone, if you're curious, it featured pictures like this.







A final note: with this stuff taking place over a decade ago, and Dotcom currently cooling in a cell, we can't get his side of the story. And we haven't heard of him cheating to get his world's best Modern Warfare 3 ranking, so he must have some skills.


Kotaku

Hey Nexuiz, Aren't You a Little Pretty for an XBLA Shooter?Quake mod Nexuiz (pronounced "nexus") is so heavily modified that it's practically it's own game. It has been for years, since 2005, with a modified Quake Engine, completely overhauled weapons, but the same fast-paced gameplay. Someone at THQ must have been fond of the PC mod, because not only is it making a big comeback, it's coming back stacked.



Nexuiz, the new one that is, is a multiplayer-only XBLA title that looks and feels completely different from the original. It's not quite as fast, due mostly to the slower speed of its CryEngine 3 tech (more delicious screenshots here), but several key improvements have been made to overhaul the previously simplistic gameplay and give it more life.



Hey Nexuiz, Aren't You a Little Pretty for an XBLA Shooter?The major change is mutators. The new Nexuiz includes exactly 100 mutators such as jetpacks, triple-armor, double ammo-pickups, instakills, pogo sticks (where all players bounce repeatedly), inverted controls, etc. There are three basic types of mutators: Individual, team, and game-wide. Individual mutators may be special weapons not available on pickup or increased abilities. Team mutators can either boost the entire team with larger ammo drops or increased speed, or can cripple the other team, say, by inverting the controls.



All of Nexuiz's nine included levels have also been either completely remade or are brand new. I played two, Tension and Refinery, and the gameplay varied wildly between them. Tension is a larger, more angular map with skinny hallways and narrow paths while Refinery is a giant room that is tall yet circular; it's essentially one big space with a few closed-off halls.



Hey Nexuiz, Aren't You a Little Pretty for an XBLA Shooter?Nexuiz is a 6-8 player game only, so if you have four players or want a bigger party, the game won't support it. Individuals can play alone with bots, but online play does not support using bots. The smaller size is conducive to fast-paced gaming, though even six players feels like too few. On Refinery I played a six-player game, and because of the size of the map it was sometimes more than a minute before I found someone to shoot.



What's most noticeable about gameplay isn't how it feels like Quake, but rather getting into that hardcore zen that pro-gamers talk about when they make those famous comebacks. Nexuiz gives all players the opportunity to level the playing field even if all hope appears lost—all it takes is a good mutator and a steady trigger finger. So many recent multiplayer games try to keep gameplay as even as possible, with everyone having access to roughly the same tools and weapons. Nexiuz works on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you get to the mutator respawn first, you get the bonus.



Hey Nexuiz, Aren't You a Little Pretty for an XBLA Shooter?Stat hounds can rejoice, because Nexuiz features around 180 different stats. They include everything from kill/death ratios to pogo jumps per match. Scrolling through the long list in the postgame lobby is a bit ludicrous, and says a lot about the games statistical depth.



Microsoft hasn't officially announced Nexiuz's price. The game is set to release sometime during the Xbox Live House Party, which occurs from February 15 to March 14.



When he isn't writing about games, James Pikover plays with new cellphones and uses them as theft deterrent. You can follow him on twitter at @jamezrp.


Kotaku





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Just imagine Quake with Achievements, hand-holding and other elements of modern games. Watch this video made by YouTube user kmoosmann and prepare to sigh.



If Quake was done today [YouTube, via Twitter]





You can contact Stephen Totilo, the author of this post, at stephentotilo@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.
Kotaku





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Among amateur rocket-launching circles, there's a bounty called "The Carmack Prize". It's named for id boss, Doom co-creator and budding rocket scientist John Carmack, and will reward anyone who can get a home-made rocket 100,000 feet into space and capture some GPS data from it.



The first people to claim the prize will pick up $10,000 from Carmack. Nobody has managed the feat yet, but late last month a team got awful close.



On September 30, Derek Deville made a rocket, named it Qu8k (pronounced "Quake", and using the classic id shooter's logo), stuck a camera and some GPS gear to it and shot it off a launch pad in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.



Sadly, he wasn't able to get a GPS reading from the rocket, but as you'll see from the footage above, he at least got the 100,000 feet part under his belt. While the beginning of the clip focuses on Qu8k's launch, eventually you'll get to some amazing scenes from a camera attached to the rocket's casing, which shows...well, what the Earth looks like to a home-made rocket that's just been shot 121,000 feet into space.



If you're wondering why Carmack has his name attached to the prize, he's a budding rocketeer himself, with one of the leading entries in a NASA competition to build a home-made lunar lander.



Glorious 121,000′ Amateur Rocket Flight [MAKE]





You can contact Luke Plunkett, the author of this post, at plunkett@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.
Oct 9, 2011
Eurogamer

There's a peculiar tension at the heart of Quake. Something's not quite right. For this reason it's a game that sits apart from id's other efforts while at the same time still being fundamental to the overall Brown Corridor heritage of the shooter genre.

It was a game that did so very much to evolve and define the FPS, and yet it does not fit so easily into the conventions that the Texan Doom-makers' other games wallow in. This tension is what makes it one of the developer's most interesting games.

Like all the shooting games whose existence has spilled from the number-fuelled mind of John Carmack, Quake's primary contribution to the history of games was technical. The 3D engine was a significant development atop what was prevalent at the time, and it introduced the minor revolution of "mouse-look" - that is free all-axes viewing using the mouse - to the majority of 1996's shooter players.

Up until that time gamers had been playing along flat axes, usually with "faked" height. But Quake made things truly three-dimensional, and this meant two things: levels which didn't have to shirk vertical complexity and, well, you could perform rocket jumps.

"It was the atmosphere and tone of the game that left its biggest impression on my imagination."

Rocket jumps were, of course, able to make Quake's tortuous, labyrinthine multiplayer maps faster to navigate, and were an unintended side-effect of the game's blast physics that became a defined skill within that multiplayer game and also with the bizarre phenomenon of speed runs.

It was the architecture of that multiplayer game that defined Quake's second contribution. Despite the richness of the world, the single-player was almost a prologue against the appeal and longevity of the multiplayer. In fact it was not Quake's 3D engine that really mattered to Quake, as powerful as it was. The technical project that had far-reaching consequences for multiplayer gaming was John Carmack's work on network code, which produced the kind of online deathmatch that still prevails today.

The Quakeworld update for the game, which introduced network code that would work feasibly over dial-up connections, was transformative: an action game that could, thanks to predicting where players were going to be, allow play at the high latencies that early modems had the contend with. Almost unimaginable now, in a world of ubiquitous broadband, but there was a time when a good chunk of gamers was unreachable in the evenings by their home phoneline, for reasons of Quaking.

Despite being shackled with tin-can communications tech, the sheer pace and intensity of Quake would daunt most modern players: the unrealistic physics and breakneck pace make Quake's multiplayer more like a twitchy kung-fu rocketry than the rather more pedestrian combat situations that shooters since Half-Life have delivered to us.

Enthusiasm for Quake's multiplayer game was ferocious, and id were quick to sponsor it - putting up Carmack's Ferrari as a prize in a 1997 tournament, won by the first notable FPS pro, Dennis "Thresh" Fong. The Quake scene surged across a nascent internet, and it was to define the pattern of FPS games for several years to follow.

The Quake template is one that is rarer now, due to its demands on player skill, but its influences are still felt in odd corners of modern game design, where the physics bounce players from the ground, and frictionless rocketry dominates the deathmatch.

Technology, however, is not wholly where Quake's value lies. Not to me, at least. It might have been the tech that rippled down the years, but it was the atmosphere and tone of the game that left its biggest impression on my imagination.








What I refuse to forget when looking back at Quake is how strange the flavour of the game, both mechanically and in its setting, really is. Quake was a game peculiar for almost refusing to tell a story, and setting itself in a world disconnected from standard fantasy, sci-fi, military, or post-apocalyptic templates that we see reused so routinely. Today, when every shooter imaginable is hammered across the contorted spine of some story or other, to be dropped in a bizarre world that served as little more than a container for violence and secrets is unusual indeed. Hell, it was unusual in 1996.

While the Dooms were sparse, they still told their tale of space marines versus the occult. Quake 2 and 4 focused on the rather more conventional "Strogg" story of space war between humans and their alien enemies. Quake itself stood apart, practically unexplained. The character was dropped into a byzantine world, and fought for his life, while checking every corner of the spiraling maps for secrets and hidden passageways.

The reason for this weirdness can be found in Quake's difficult and unlikely genesis. It was in fact a failed combat-based RPG. The id team's original plans for something more expansive after Doom quickly led back to a game that was even pacier and more focused on first-person close-quarters combat dynamics than Doom had been.

"It is a rumbling, speeding, frenzied dark masterpiece that deserves never to be forgotten."

But that had not been the original intention, because Quake had even once contained dragons and other trad fantasy standards. The id team's work took a darker turn as the RPG was eroded, but on close inspection you can see the echoes of the RPG-action game that, for a while, id thought it was making. As it turned out they ended up making a slick and minimalist FPS, but the ultra-gothic fantasy overtones remain. Quake is a shooter set not within a science fiction, or really within traditional fantasy, but in some kind of brutal, mechanistic pseudo-medieval realm in between.

This sense of rough-edged, grim fantasy design permeates the shooter, from its environments of clanking metal and rough stone, through to its monsters: savage sword-wielding skeletons, shambling giants that throw lightning-bolts, and Cthulhu-mythos boss characters that lurk in disturbing dungeon underworlds.

It is even reflected in the weapons: an axe, an archaic shotgun, a clonking gatling gun, a nail gun, a lightning gun like a giant magic wand. All this is set against a backdrop unlike normal fantasy Big Bad backstories, and quite unlike the other Quakes' galactic war, and even unlike the exposition-free Mars-demons of Doom.

Quake was set in a dimensional war of some kind, where raiders travelled through sinister "slipgates" to murder in other worlds. There was a whiff of beserk magic to the power ups, and the whole thing reeked of the dead remains of the game it might have been. Quake is a genre outlier in terms of setting and atmosphere, and as such one of my favourite games.

You can see why when people look at the other Quake and Doom games, they question whether a return to these evocative hybrid roots might not be a good idea.

Playing Rage this week has once again seen people raise the nature of id's "derivative" settings, as has happened numerous times in the past decade. Indeed, Rage does borrow heavily from post-apocalyptic cliche, lifted from Mad Max by countless driving and combat games, and most recently carved into our mainstream consciousness by Borderlands and Fallout 3. It seems to have almost no connection to Quake at all.

When contemplating the studio's colourful history of shooting games it's perhaps easy to glaze over the first Quake in the lineage. Not as infamous or as influential on mainstream perceptions as Doom, not perhaps as widely recognised as its first and second sequels, nor as notably disappointing as Doom 3, Quake is the game which is beginning to get fuzzy in our recollections.

It should not, because it is a rumbling, speeding, frenzied dark masterpiece that deserves never to be forgotten. And forget it I will not.

...

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