PC Gamer

Speedruns are artistry. Not only do they demonstrate complete mastery over a game, but they also poke away at the edges of what a game intends you to do. Watching a perfect speedrun is similar, I imagine, to watching good gymnastics, but they're more than just skill-based. They're borne of a curiosity about the edges of games: the things we're not meant to see and the things we aren't supposed to do.

There's a whole science behind speedruns. Players spend weeks and sometimes years chiselling a perfect path through a game. They exploit minor traversal bugs to gain speed, they tap away at the outer limits of a game world in search of hidden routes, and then they move to execute all these tricks in one graceful swoop. There's a strong collaborative spirit among speedrun communities, because in the end, it's all about what's possible, not who wins.

There are lots of different speedruns, and the rules vary depending on the type of speedrun a player hopes to achieve. Most of the runs I've featured below are Any% runs, which simply require the player to complete the game under any difficulty setting as quickly as possible. These contrast with 100% runs, which as the name suggests requires full completion of the game (any secret worlds or any optional collectibles, for example). 

What follows aren't "the best speedruns of all time" but instead a selection of especially impressive runs. I've tried to collect those most suited to spectating, so there are a lot of shooters and platformers. Meanwhile, I've generally avoided speedruns too heavily reliant on glitches that bypass huge sections of a game (like this Pillars of Eternity run, for example). I'm not arguing these aren't legitimate: just that they're not as fun to watch.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda made a big deal of Skyrim's 100 hour potential back in 2011, but I'm sure they're not surprised that speedrunner gr3yscale has beaten the game in less than 40 minutes. After all, Skyrim QA guy Sam Bernstein managed to complete the whole game, glitch and cheat free, in two hours and 16 minutes. If you know what you're doing, the biggest games can be reduced to a series of carefully timed leaps.

Gr3yscale's world record time of 39:24 uses a number of built-in exploits, but arguably more interesting than the run itself is this accompanying tutorial video on how he achieved it. The lengthy video is a step-by-step instructional, detailing everything from the graphics settings you should use (as low as possible) through to how to steal the Blank Lexicon from Septimus Signus in less than five seconds. If you've got any interest in the painstaking process of routefinding for a speedrun, it's a must watch.

Dark Souls

For the best example of speedrunner Kahmul78 s thoroughness, look no further than the 1:56 mark below. The way he switches his inventory load out in the middle of a plunge attack demonstrates that every second is precious for an adept speedrunner. He won t need those newly equipped arrows for a while, but when you re looking to shave off precious seconds in a notoriously difficult game, you don t waste time.

After clearing the tutorial area, Kahmul78 takes a very unconventional route through Lordran. Using the Skeleton Key starting item he passes through New Londo Ruins and Valley of the Drakes into Darkroot Basin, then onto Undead Parish. This not only skips the second boss encounter, but it also means facing off against the first mandatory boss battle by the eight minute mark. 

For the average first time player it s likely to take up to five hours to make that much progress (or about ten, if you re like me). The fact that this whole run wraps up in under 48 minutes naturally  attracted a lot of attention when it was first posted. There are quicker Dark Souls speedruns out there which exploit a major glitch, but this is the real deal.

Dishonored

With so many tools at his disposal it's little wonder that Corvo Attano can get the job done quickly. He's not really meant to do it this quickly though, with speedrunner TheWalrusMovement completing the stealth adventure in 34:35. Attano's Blink ability a lightning quick dash mainly used for covert operations is utilised a lot in this run, to the extent that it's difficult to keep track of TheWalrusMovement's routing. 

Nonetheless, Dishonored is a surprisingly enjoyable game to spectate, and TheWalrusMovement is forthcoming with his secrets. This world record run can probably be improved the runner's commentary points out a couple of areas of improvement but this is the best out there in the meantime.

Doom 2

Picture this: you ve just returned from Hell only to find that Earth is in worse shape. You were really looking forward to having a beer though, so you want to save the world as quickly as possible. But how quickly is as quickly as possible? How s 23 minutes and three seconds sound? Not bad at all! Start pouring.

The work of speedrunner Zero-Master, this Ultra-Violent mode playthrough managed to topple a record set in 2010 by Looper. That s a long time in speedrun years and it only managed to come out on top by 22 seconds. A backseat speedrunner will no doubt see areas of improvement in the below video, which Zero-Master concedes to in his YouTube description, but for the time being this is the quickest run there is.

While Doom 2 is probably the most popular speedrunning instalment in the series, it s worth checking out speedruns of the two Final Doom WAD packs too. These outings upped the difficulty dramatically, and if you want to see a run with a few clever rocket jumps, look no further.

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke 3D s Build engine is home to a lot of glitches very handy to speedrunners. As Duke speedrunner LLCoolDave explains in this video, a major one is crouchjumping . If you crouch while freefalling and then hit the jump key before touching the ground, Duke can clip through certain walls and structures. The engine in Duke 3D is less than stable, allowing for switches to be triggered from unintended vantage points and whole regions of levels to be skipped.

As in most glitchy speedruns, triggering the engine s limitations at just the right moment is an impressive skill in itself. Speedrunner Mr_Wiggelz manages to complete the game in 9:19 below, though it s worth noting that only the first three episodes of the Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition feature (the fourth episode didn t appear in the original game).

Mr_Wiggelz admits that he messed up a couple of times during this run, so it probably won t be long before we see it bettered.

Click here to watch on Twitch

Fallout 3

Some genres, especially platformers and shooters, are particularly suited to the speedrun. Others, like the open world RPG, definitely are not. That doesn t stop people from trying to beat the likes of Pillars of Eternity, Skyrim and Fallout 3 in the time it takes to prepare an English breakfast, but there s inevitably glitches involved. Games like these are designed to eat up your time and life.

Rydou s 18:53 speedrun of Fallout 3 (that s 18 minutes, not hours) utilises a few glitches, but no cheats or third-party programs. As he explains on his YouTube page, this run makes liberal use of a quicksave bug. Basically, if you rapidly quicksave and then quickload you ll briefly have the ability to clip through walls. In this way, the player-character goes from birth to saving Washington in less than 20 minutes.

After a bit of publicity off the back of this speedrun, Rydou moved to emphasise the difference between cheating and exploiting glitches. For those who wonder about the legitimacy of the run, using and exploiting glitches have always been a part of the speedrun community. This is a way to push the game even further, and [is] not considered cheating.

Half-Life 2

An hour and 32 minutes might not sound impressive for a Half-Life 2 speedrun: the game's an all time classic and ten years old to boot. You can blame the game's regular unskippable dialogue sequences for that record, but hey, at least it gives record holder Gocn k some time to take a break. He needs it.

There are some interesting strategies in this video. GocAk makes liberal use of two traversal glitches common in Valve's Source Engine, namely Accelerated Back Hopping and Accelerated Side Hopping. For a stunning example of the former skip to the 29 minute mark, where a sequence of careful jumps actually propels the player into the air. 

Sourceruns.org has a more detailed description: "When you exceed the game's speed limit, the game tries to slow you down whenever you jump, back to the desired speed. By default the game thinks that you're moving forwards, so when you exceed the speed limit, it'll accelerate you backwards. If you are facing backwards, this will only increase your speed. So, the faster you're going - the more you will get accelerated."

Hotline Miami

No big tricks or glitches here, just an exceptionally talented player. Speedrunner Dingodrole completes Hotline Miami in 20 minutes and seven seconds, but his ultimate goal is to get below the 20 minute mark. If you watch the whole run you'll notice there's very little room for improvement, and Dingodrole seems to have the routing down pat. He's been steadily chipping away at the time for a while now, so it's probably inevitable that this will be beaten some day.

I Wanna Be The Guy

It pays to know a game intimately before embarking on a speedrun, but that rule has a different meaning when it comes to I Wanna Be The Guy. A parodic love letter to 8-bit platformers, I Wanna Be The Guy subverts every reliable trope in the platformer rule book. Shiny red apples aren t collectibles: they ll kill you. Don t worry about reaching those spikes: they ll come to you. Nothing is predictable, and everything is learnt from the experience of dying. You can t learn this game, you have to memorise it.

So it s always fun to monitor the speedrunning community s progress with I Wanna Be The Guy (as well as its many follow-ups). You need a great memory and superhuman dexterity to complete the game once, let alone in 28 minutes and 40 seconds without glitches, as Tesivonius has done.

Click here to watch on Twitch

Portal

A few caveats: this is a segmented Portal speedrun, which means the game wasn't completed from beginning to end in a single playthrough. Instead, the best level times were stitched together for the final video. Additionally, there were four different speedrunners involved: Nick "Z1mb0bw4y" Roth, Josh "Inexistence" Peaker, Nick "Gocnak" Kerns, and Sebastian "Xebaz" Dressler. Some would argue a segmented speedrun is illegitimate, but wherever you stand on that matter, it's still interesting to see what's possible.

This run uses neither cheats or hacks, but it does exploit a number of glitches. "This run first started after the discovery of a new glitch, which snowballed into a whirlwind of discoveries of new tricks, skips, and glitches," the team writes. As you'll see below, the glitches make for a disorientating watch, but its fascinating nonetheless.

Quake

The Quake speedrun scene used to be massive, boasting its own highly organised community in the form of Quake Done Quick. The below video sees all four episodes of the game completed in 11 minutes and 29 seconds (on Nightmare difficulty!) and demonstrates world class bunny hopping and rocket jumping skills. The occasional glitch is implemented and whole chunks of certain maps are skipped with the help of rocket jumps, but no cheats were used.

Spelunky

Twitch streamer Bananasaurus Rex is, or was, the world authority on Spelunky. It was he who figured out how to kill the game s invincible ghost. It was he who achieved a solo Eggplant run (this involves carrying an Eggplant to the end of the game, obviously). It was he who collected $3.1 million worth of gold in a single playthrough. Arguably the highest bar he set was the legendary 5:02 Hell speedrun. Simply reaching Hell is difficult enough on its own, but completing the whole game using this route is punishment. Doing it in five minutes is God tier.

Unfortunately for Bananasaurus Rex, someone managed to beat his Hell run, and not by a measly couple of seconds. Youtuber Latedog beat secret boss Yama in 4:36, creating a new record which let s face it will probably only be beaten by accident. Like Bananasaurus Rex he utilises the warp device, which is somewhat reliant on luck but pretty much crucial if you want to shear minutes off a playthrough.

Super Meat Boy

When humankind is wiped off the face of the earth by some malevolent alien society, the planet s new inhabitants will learn a couple of things as they sift through the rubble. First, we really liked bottled water. Secondly, Coca-Cola was an especially totalitarian leader. Thirdly, we were really bloody good at Super Meat Boy.

Speedrunner Vorpal has been chipping away at the world record for a while, but this is the best he/she has managed so far: the base game completed in 17 minutes and 54 seconds. That stat doesn t include the dark levels or any of the retro themed ones, but anyone who has spent half-an-hour with Team Meat s punishing platformer will peek through fingers as Vorpal passes the final boss run by the skin of his teeth.

VVVVV

Speedruns can be beautiful. Twitch streamer sheilalpoint completes VVVVV in 12:12 in the below video, and watching it (with the sound down) can be like watching a weird 1970s art film about a little man s efforts to euthanise himself in outer space.

The beauty of this run is that there aren t really any major tricks, just a thorough knowledge of the game s layout. Sheilalpoint pulls some interesting maneuvers with the game s checkpoints particularly in one sequence where hitting them as they collide with spikes actually increases the momentum of the player character but otherwise, this is plain old fashioned mastery.

For more awesome speedruns, speedrun.com and speeddemosarchive.com are invaluable resources. Think we've missed something important? Leave it in the comment section below.

PC Gamer

The default field of vision in Quake—yes, Quake, the groundbreaking Id Software shooter from 1996—was 90 degrees, an angle nowhere near the roughly 180-degree field of view that Wikipedia says normal humans possess. It also proved rather limiting in multiplayer conflicts, in which being able to see the people who are trying to kill you is an important part of preventing said killing. The Fisheye Quake mod went a long way toward rectifying that problem, but it suffered from issues of its own in the form of some pretty severe screen distortion.

It's a problem that's taken nearly 20 years to solve, but now, in the new millennium, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a modified version of Fisheye Quake called Blinky. Its goal isn't actually to bring better situational awareness to Quake, however, but rather to demonstrate a "proof of concept to put peripheral vision into games," without requiring VR goggles.

Blinky employs the Panini projection, "a mathematical rule for constructing perspective images with very wide fields of view"—read more about it here—to recreate a much wider field of vision in games while maintaining a reasonably natural appearance. "To use non-standard projections like Panini, Blinky first snaps multiple pictures around you to form a Globe of pixels," creator Shaun Lebron explained. "Then it projects all those pixels to the screen using a Lens. You can enable a Rubix grid if you wish to visualize the mapping."

Blinky is implemented in the Quake demo linked on the Github page, and it actually works quite well: There are a number of projections to play with, but the default setting betrayed only a slight distortion at certain viewing angles that very quickly became effectively imperceptible.

"I hope to apply this to modern graphics using frame buffers for environment-capturing and pixel shaders for projection. It would be interesting to see its impact on performance," Lebron wrote. "If this modern method is performant enough, I think Panini/Stereographic could easily become a standard for gamers demanding wide-angle video. But if it is not performant enough for live applications, I think it could still prove useful in post-processed videos using something like WolfCam. For example, spectators could benefit from wide-angle viewings of previously recorded competitive matches or even artistic montages."

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

No, that's not a lie - one Pekka V n nen, a Finnish modder, has managed to get the original Quake running on an oscilloscope.

What's an oscilloscope? This:

"An oscilloscope is an electrical testing device used to measure the frequency of an electrical signal over time, and display waveform signals in a graph."

What's Quake? This:

"Quake is a game in which players must find their way through various maze-like, medieval environments while battling a variety of monsters using a wide array of weapons."

You'd be right to wonder just how the hell all of this works, or what it looks like. Luckily for you, you can read about V n nen's trials and tribulations right here, and check it out in video form on this very page:

At the risk of editorialising somewhat: that is so, so cool.

Kotaku

Sit back and watch two decades of video game graphics flash before your eyes. YouTube user drloser333 has uploaded a video from French site NoFrag that unfurls the graphics of more than a dozen first-person shooters, from 1992's Wolfenstein 3 to 2011's Battlefield 3.


Did the FPS get better-looking? They have at least become way more realistic, But maybe you're more of a fan of older, more abstract styles?


Graphic evolution of First Person Shooters: 1992-2012 [YouTube, uploaded by drloser333; more details (in French) at NoFrag.com]


Kotaku
Grendel and Mage Creator Would Love It If Someone Made His Comics Into Games I didn't think that Matt Wagner played video games. The veteran creator best known for psychological power fantasy epic Grendel and the down-to-earth hero's-journey narrative of Mage never really mentioned games as a pastime in the interviews I read with him. But when I spoke to him last week, Wagner owned up to losing himself inside the worlds of Doom and Quake.

You can see a bit of the aggro machismo of those classic FPSes in his latest work, a series of graphic novels called The Tower Chronicles. Drawn by Simon Bisley and due out this month from Legendary Comics— the imprint from movie production firm Legendary Pictures—the stories focus on bounty hunter John Tower, who tracks down supernatural creatures. Bisley brings his usual jacked-up, shadow-laden hyperviolence to the proceedings and Wagner says he's having a great time crafting a story for an all-new character. I talked to Wagner about the beginnings of The Tower Chronicles, what's going on with volume III of Mage.

Kotaku: I read the preview of Tower Chronicles and it strikes me as very different from work you've done before. Maybe it's because Simon Bisley is doing the art , but it seems more violent, and a little bit more visceral.

Wagner: Well, I hate repeating myself. On one level, it certainly swims in the world that I like: fantasy mixed with horror. I always tell people I'm kind of a genre masher. This has got horror, fantasy and costumed adventuring, and I squish them those elements together into a cohesive whole. But yeah, it's very visceral. As we keep going, it gets more and more so, because I get better at writing for Simon and he gets better at translating my writing. This is, in the long run, a pretty epic story storyline. It will ultimately be three books, and each book is four 68-page editions.


Grendel and Mage Creator Would Love It If Someone Made His Comics Into Games Kotaku: So let's talk about the origins of the project. It's coming out from Legendary, who have been known mostly as financial backers of movies, right? They've helped produce the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies. I think they had involvement with Brian Singer Superman movie. Very closely tied to Warner. I know Bob Shreck [who did long tenures at Dark Horse and DC Comics] is editing over there. Is he the reason you're doing this project?


Wagner: Yes, absolutely. The project originated via Thomas Tull, the owner of Legendary Entertainment. The comic book division is trying to do really great comics and develop new properties that obviously they can do something with eventually. They realized from the get-go that if you don't have a great story to begin with, you're not going to go anywhere with it. None of us are looking at this as a movie or video game pitch. We're looking at it as a comic book.


But at the same time, Thomas had an idea for a character, and he said to Bob, Find me a writer who can handle this. And he specifically said, I want somebody that's not going to be a ‘yes man.' I want somebody that's going to come in and tell me when my ideas suck.


Grendel and Mage Creator Would Love It If Someone Made His Comics Into Games He threw some ideas on the table. I threw some ideas on the table. And as the ideas began to pile up...he originally wanted to do this as an original graphic novel, what in the biz we call OGN. And I said, Thom, this is too big. The story we have going on here, we could tell it short, but it wouldn't have the cool resonance. And this character has the potential for so many adventures, that I want to see more of his adventures. He's a supernatural bounty hunter. So let's see him confront a whole lot of monsters, not just a couple.


So that's when we decided to do it as a trilogy. And I will say the best part about the story is the face that all is not as it appears. The main character, John Tower, is a very mysterious character. In the first volume, specifically he's really aloof. He's generally aloof overall, but he's very aloof in the first volume. I would say you're not really sure you even like him that well. But as we continue to read, and as the adventures are exposed to us, more and more of the layers of his mystery peel back, and we get to see his actual humanity and what spurred him on.


Kotaku: You said Bob brought you in on the basis that you were going to be somebody that wasn't going to be a yes man, someone who was going to say which part of this sucked. So which part sucked?


Wagner: There wasn't too much stuff that sucked, but I did say, "Narratively that's not going to work." And there was another part where I said, "OK, well that's too close to elements of things that were in Garth Ennis's Preacher." Really, my big contribution was, "Well he has to have a reason for why he does all this stuff." The more we dug into it, the more we were able to come up with a very, very driving motivation.


Kotaku: Do you have the urge to be drawing this yourself? It seems like your writing output has far outstripped your artistic output lately.


Wagner: I will get back to drawing. Most likely the next thing I'll draw will be the third volume of Mage. You know it's funny, the last several years I've mainly been writing. That was not by design. But I've still been doing a lot of cover work. I did all the covers for 30 some-odd issues of Zorro and Green Hornet: Year One. So I'm still drawing, I'm just not drawing sequentially.


For Tower Chronicles, I can't imagine anybody but Simon drawing it. This will be the longest sustained narrative he has done in years. Maybe ever.


Kotaku: I want to touch on the idea of Legendary Comics as an entity. It's easy to be cynical about a movie production company all of a sudden deciding to make their own comics, for the sake of growing their own intellectual property. How would you answer some of this cynicism that swirls around an outfit like that?


Wagner: The only way we can answer that cynicism is by delivering really hot shit product. And I think we're doing that. I can't determine what the Internet buzz is going to be. Personally, I don't give a shit. My job is to deliver the best story I can. I know I'm delivering a good story when I'm having a great time doing it. And I'm having a great time doing this.


Kotaku: You mentioned the idea isn't necessarily that this is ultimately going to become a game or a movie. But are you interfacing much with video games nowadays? I generally think I can tell which comics creators are gamers or not, and I feel like you're in the not category.


Grendel and Mage Creator Would Love It If Someone Made His Comics Into Games Wagner: Well, not anymore. [Laughs] I have been a video game player and I find them perfectly engaging when I'm in that sort of mood. Generally, I just find these days I'm so busy telling my own narratives that I don't have much time to get involved in the narrative of a video game. It's certainly not like a novel or a movie. You get into a video game, it can take you weeks to get through the damn thing.


Kotaku: When you were at your heaviest consumption, what were you digging especially?


Wagner: I typically like the first person shooters like Doom and Quake. Those kinds of games are informing to some degree what I'm doing in Tower. Because he's confronting monsters. Certainly it's not the same sort of experience because the delivery system is different. Going from page to page is nowhere near progressing from level to level. But, still, I tend to like the first person shooters that have a point and a narrative. I think the last one I really liked was Doom 3.


Kotaku: Any other games that you remember fondly?


Wagner: A couple of the Star Wars Jedi games were pretty good in the narrative department as well. Yeah, the Jedi Knight games and Jedi Academy I thought were pretty good. They're a big adventure that come to a big final moment.


Kotaku: Would you ever want to see Grendel or Mage turned into a video game?


Wagner: I think Grendel lends itself more to a video game than Mage does. But unlike some of my contemporaries, I'm not really a purist. If somebody wants to adapt my stuff, I'm perfectly happy to see the pitch. If it intrigues me enough, I'm good to go


Kotaku: What would you say about John Tower in terms of comparing him to the other characters you've worked on? Because one thing I think people respond to in your work is that you manage to tackle this intersection of the personal and the iconic really, really well. In Grendel, it's this kind of demonic, psychological obsession that takes hold of people and, with Mage and lead character Kevin Matchstick, it's the idea of the reluctant hero and destiny kind of destroying all of his personal life.


Wagner: I'd say the same is true here. If you have the strength of mind, well I'm doing it again. It's what I said to Thomas in our first meeting, "We can have all this great shit, and Tower can confront all these great monsters, but we have to give a damn."


In every one of Clint Eastwood's movies there's always an element of humanity that runs through his aloof, tough-as-nails characters. In Tower, that gets exposed little by little as the story goes along. I'm a big one for not spilling your guts right away and there it is. I want to be teased all the way through a narrative until a really good payoff.


Kotaku: You mentioned the third volume of Mage. Dare I ask what's going on with that?


Grendel and Mage Creator Would Love It If Someone Made His Comics Into Games Wagner: Honestly, John Tower knocked it off schedule. I thought I would have been working on Mage at this point, and then Tower came up. I'm always looking for a challenge. I have never worked with somebody like I'm working with Thomas on this. It just seemed a good creative opportunity, a good professional opportunity. And Mage is always there for me.


Unlike anything else I ever worked on, I try not to think of that too much. I don't write anything down. I don't do any thumbnails. I don't do any script. I sit down with blank pages and I let the story take me where it's going to go. And that's not to say that I don't have notes and ideas about what I'd like to do. But it's very much kind of a Zen journey for me, unlike everything else I do where it's more premeditated, it's more structured. Mage is very much an experience of discovery. So I know when I get there it's gonna be just as fresh it's always been for me.


Kotaku: Do you feel like you've said everything you've had to say with Grendel as well?


Wagner: We'll get back to Grendel. Right now, what's happening with Grendel is we're publishing a collection at Dark Horse. They're big, fat omnibus editions. So, for the first time, the entire saga is collected in chronological order. Back in the ‘80s when I was first doing Grendel and recreating the character all the time, we were always changing the format a lot. That seemed like a strength at the time, but now that the market is so saturated, that's not a strength, it's a weakness.


People look at it and they figure, "Oh, this is too much shit scattered all over the place. I don't know where to start." So now we're offering it up in again, a chronological format that is very regularized. That's going to take two years of publication for all of that to come out.


Kotaku: In terms of digital stuff, are you going to be moving towards that format? What are your thoughts on digital comics and the way that's changed the landscape?


Wagner: It's just technology. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. It's still just visual storytelling. I still draw in pens and inks. Whether it's published in an iPad or published in a book doesn't really matter to me at all.


Kotaku

Paul Steed, Artist on Wing Commander and Quake Series, DiesPaul Steed, an artist whose video game career spanned design, publishing and even console development, died unexpectedly, according to The Jace Hall Show. Steed was perhaps best known for work on Wing Commander and Quake and also for controversies arising in his time ad id Software.


Steed was most recently the executive creative director of Exigent, a 3D art company he founded. Prior to that, he had worked for publishers such as Atari and Electronic Arts, with Microsoft on the Xbox 360, and at id. He got his start at Origin Systems as an illustrator for the Wing Commander series and had credits on other games such as Privateer and Strike Commander.


At id, he worked on Quake and Quake II. According to John Carmack, id's co-founder, in 2000 Steed was fired (over Carmack's objection) in retaliation for his insistence on working on what would become Doom 3, a project then opposed by two of the firm's co-owners. Steed also was notorious for releasing the "Crackwhore" player skin for Quake II, a model apparently intended as a tribute to a clan by that name but controversial for its name and appearance. Steed also was noteworthy for giving the keynote speech of Game Developers Conference 2008.


Jace Hall called Steed "a close friend" and "simply one of the first cutting edge low-poly 3D modelers to ever exist in the industry." The circumstances of Steed's passing are unknown. Steed is survived by his wife and children.


Goodbye Paul Steed [Wing Commander Combat Information Center]


Quake, Video Game Industry Legend Paul Steed has Passed Away [The Jace Hall Show]


Image via Wing Commander Combat Information Center


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

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.


...

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