Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

‘Played’ isn’t quite the right word for Hardly Workin’ [archived official site]. You may need Quake II for it but Hardly Workin’ is machinima – a movie made in a video game, before that term was yoinked by a site which became a #contentnetwork. What made Hardly Workin’ stand out to me was that you could hardly see it was Quake II. While most early machinima drafted existing in-game characters and assets for action figure pantomimes (and heck, Red vs. Blue still does this – no disrespect), Hardly Workin’ is built from scratch for a silly cartoon tale about two lumberjacks getting jobs in a diner.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Image via defunct gaming site Freakygaming.

WASD feels inevitable today. Once mouselook became standard in 3D games, it made little sense (at least for right-handed players) to hold your left arm across your chest to reach the arrow keys. The WASD keys were more comfortable, and offered easy access to Shift and Space. But even though WASD seems like the obvious choice now, far fewer players used it 20 years ago.

Our favorite four letter word was never a foregone conclusion, and didn't become standard through some gaseous enlightening that spread to every PC gamer simultaneously. The new movement scheme took several years to catch on, and while we can t know whose fingers found their way to WASD first, we do have a good idea of who popularized the style: the greatest Quake player in the universe, Dennis Thresh Fong.

Fong made history when he took home John Carmack's Ferrari 328 after winning the first-ever nationwide Quake tournament in 1997. And when he won that tournament, defeating Tom "Entropy" Kimzey on Castle of the Damned, his right hand was on a mouse, and his left hand was perched over the four keys we now consider synonymous with PC gaming. But even then, not everyone played that way.

His brother was playing with a keyboard and trackball, and he was winning.

In the early days of first-person shooters, Fong says the keymappings were all over the place, and even the great Thresh had only just started to play with a mouse at all. Imagine him just a few years before, sometime around 1993, as a teenager losing a match of Doom against his brother Lyle. Like many Doom players, Fong used only the keyboard. Without the need to look up or down, it was a natural choice so much that using a mouse was even considered weird. His brother, however, was playing with a keyboard and trackball, and he was winning. It wasn t every game both were excellent players but Lyle won enough that one summer Fong decided he had to learn to play with a mouse. After that, he was unbeatable.

Right after I made that switch, my skill improved exponentially, says Fong. Pretty much, from then on, I never lost.

It took some experimentation including a strange attempt to move with WADX but Fong settled on WASD and has been using it since Doom. Did he invent the scheme? No, probably not. Others were also gravitating to the left side of the keyboard for Doom at the same time. But without Fong's influence, the default could have ended up different. It might have been EDSF, or stranger configurations like ZXC to strafe and move backwards, and the right mouse button to move forwards. Some early shooters bound movement to the arrow keys. In 1994, System Shock used ASDX, while Descent used AZ for forward/reverse and QE for banking (if you didn't happen to have a joystick).

Fong tells us he even knew a player who used ZXCV to move.

I m certainly not going to take credit for the creation of [WASD], says Fong. I stumbled across it. I m sure other people started using it as well just based on what was comfortable for them. I definitely think I helped popularize it with a certain set of gamers, particularly the ones that played first person shooters."

Quake wasn't the first game to introduce mouselook (Marathon came before it), but it was the most influential.

It s likely that he did. The very concept of a professional gamer was new at the time, and Fong was well-known on the west coast as the best player around. As Fong s celebrity grew, the one question everyone asked him was: What s your config? His answer could be most readily found in Thresh s Quake Bible, which describes the WASD formation as an inverted T. And his guide carried weight. Even before his success as a Quake player, Fong was a Doom champion, and so people imitated him, just as the kids at the basketball court by my house spend far too much time trying to hit Steph Curry s 30-foot shots.

The evidence can be found on old bulletin board systems. In one thread from 1997, a poster recommends using Q and E to strafe and A and D to turn. Another suggests using the keypad for movement, and someone else says they use A, Shift, Z, X. It wasn't the case that everyone simply gravitated to the 'obvious' choice of WASD or ESDF, and in another thread, we see how Thresh's performance in the Quake tournament spread his style. His play was so impressive, the poster looking for his config speculates that it was impossible for him to turn so fast with a mouse.

Another legend, Quake programmer John Carmack, took note. Even when I was hanging out with Carmack, wherever, at E3, random people would come up and he would hear them asking me what my configuration was, says Fong. So he ended up building a Thresh stock config into Quake 2.

It was a relief. Not only could Fong sit down at any computer with Quake 2 and instantly load his configuration, every time he got the question, all he had to say was type exec thresh.cfg.

Half-Life was one of the first games to bind WASD to movement by default.

Convenient as it was, Fong doesn t think the inclusion of his config was the main factor in the rise of WASD, and I d agree. By the time Quake 2 was out, WASD was starting to feel like common knowledge. I used it, and I don t remember hearing Thresh s name associated with it at the time, though it s possible his configuration entered my consciousness two or three people removed.

And yet games, strangely, took a while to catch up. Carmack may have bundled Thresh s config with Quake 2, but when it released in 1997 the default controls were still arrow keys. A year later, though, that changed. If Thresh's Quake tournament win was WASD's first watershed moment, the second came in 1998 with the release of Half-Life. The Quake and Doom players at Valve perhaps influenced directly or indirectly by Carmack, Thresh, and other top Doom and Quake players included WASD in Half-Life s default keyboard and mouse config, which helped solidify it as the first-person shooter standard.

Valve engineer Yahn Bernier checked Half-Life's original config file for us and confirmed it included WASD. "I remember finalizing this file (maybe with Steve Bond) during the lead up to shipping HL1 but don t recall specifics about when WASD was settled on or really why. We probably carried it forward from Quake1 " he wrote in an email.

The same year, and less than a month after Half-Life, Starsiege Tribes also made WASD default. Quake 3 followed suit in 1999, and WASD's popularity grew even more. It was also the default binding in 2000's Daikatana, but Half-Life, Tribes, and Quake 3 probably had a bit more to do with its popularity.

In a period of a year, Half-Life, Tribes, and Quake 3 set the standard we use today.

I always rebind to ESDF.

Gabe Newell

There were still plenty of heretical control schemes in 1999 like System Shock 2's, which defaulted to WADX (and S for crouch). But WASD had momentum. If it wasn t already ubiquitous by 2004, World of Warcraft defaulting to WASD codified it for millions of PC gamers. Now it s in RPGs and MOBAs and even strategy games, controlling camera movement over maps.

Interestingly, Valve boss Gabe Newell doesn t use WASD. I personally don't like WASD as it takes your hand away from your typing home keys, he wrote in an email to PC Gamer. I always rebind to ESDF. Newell's not alone there. Do a little Googling and you'll find plenty of people arguing that ESDF is the more natural configuration.

More surprisingly, another Half-Life developer, level designer Dario Casali, also rejects WASD. Instead, he prefers ASXC. It feels natural to me, where WASD feels odd, wrote Casali. But lots of people scoff at my config.

What would PC gaming be like had EDSF or ASXC been Half-Life s default? No offense intended to Newell or Casali, but I shudder to think of it. ASXC just sounds bonkers to me. Newell's fairly commonplace ESDF is more palatable, but as Thresh echoes, it feels harder to hit Shift and Control while easier to mispress one of the surrounding keys. For me, Thresh, and millions of PC gamers, it s WASD for life.

You can read more about the history of Quake in our retrospective celebrating Quake's 20th anniversary. We're also celebrating by running a Quake server through the weekend, and Thresh himself will be playing on our US-West server today, Friday, from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Pacific time.

Wes Fenlon also contributed to this article.

PC Gamer
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Nathan Grayson)

I remember when I turned 15. It was pretty unspectacular. I couldn’t drive yet, I didn’t really have much of a party to speak of, and hardly any of the entire Internet used it as an opportunity to fondly reminisce about rocket jumps and murder. But now, Quake II turns 15, and suddenly it gets the royal treatment. Bizarre, right? It really is just the darndest thing. Maybe everyone’s still waiting to leap out and surprise me. I bet that’s it. Any second now. While we’re waiting, though, I suppose we can discuss some crazy Quake II factoids. But only just for a bit. And you have to put on this party hat and pretend to be having fun. I demand it.

(more…)

Eurogamer


id Software wizard John Carmack has recounted the experience of creating Quake, the seminal first-person shooter that turns 15 today.


"My defining memory of the game was fairly early in development, when I no-clipped up into a ceiling corner and looked down as a Shambler walked through the world with its feet firmly planted on the ground," Carmack, who is knee deep in Rage development, said on the Bethblog.


"This looked like nothing I had ever seen before; it really did seem like I had a window into another world. Of course, as soon as he had to turn, the feet started to slide around because we didn’t have pivot points and individual joint modifications back then, but it was still pretty magical.


"It seems silly now, but at the time we were very concerned that people wouldn't be able to deal with free look mouse control, and we had lots of options to restrict pitch changes and auto-centre when you started moving."


Carmack goes on to describe the game's online play as "almost an accident". He has kind words for its 3D graphics and modding, however.


"The most important thing about Quake for me was that I met my wife when she organized the first all-female Quake tournament. She still thinks Quake was the seminal achievement of id, and she glowers at me whenever I bemoan how random the design was."


At E3 Carmack outlined his vision of the next Quake game - what would perhaps be Quake V - in an interview with Eurogamer.


"Nothing is scheduled here, people are not building this," Carmack said. "We went from the Quake 2 and the Quake 4 Strogg universe. 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.


"We think that would be a more interesting direction than doing more Strogg stuff after Quake 4.


"We certainly have strong factions internally that want to go do this.


"But we could do something pretty grand like that, that still tweaks the memory right in all of those ways, but is actually cohesive and plays with all of the strengths of the level we're at right now."

Video:

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Yesterday tolled the fifteenth anniversary of the launch of Quake, id Software's seminal 3D first-person shooter. Celebrating the event, id's sister company Bethesda has dug up Quake treasures to share with the world.

John Carmack, id co-founder and technical wizard, offered a few thoughts on Quake. He recalls struggles with developing the 3D engine, the novelty of free mouse movement, online multiplayer, 3D acceleration, and the importance and impact of modding. Notably, one of his defining Quake memories is quite unexpected, approached with Carmack's characteristic criticism:

My defining memory of the game was fairly early in development, when I no-clipped up into a ceiling corner and looked down as a Shambler walked through the world with its feet firmly planted on the ground. This looked like nothing I had ever seen before; it really did seem like I had a window into another world. Of course, as soon as he had to turn, the feet started to slide around because we didn't have pivot points and individual joint modifications back then, but it was still pretty magical.

QuakeWorld is the version of Quake that made the Internet a genuinely viable way to enjoy multiplayer, thanks to revamped netcode client-side prediction. As well as being thoroughly excellent in its own right, QuakeWorld supported a thriving mod community, including the hugely influential Team Fortress. Bethesda managed to rustle up a documentary about the classic:

Quake spawned a whole franchise, with four numbered Quake games, multiple expansions, spin-off Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and, most recently, Xbox Live Arcade and free-to-play versions of Quake III: Arena.

Carmack recently commented that "strong factions internally" at id Software fancied returning the Quake series to its Lovecraftian roots. While no such game is currently being made (or even planned), we live in hope.

Finally, the Quake community has organized its own celebration for Quake's anniversary with the Quake Expo 2011. Festivities include new mod releases, contests, tournaments, and some very angry midgets.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Fifteen years ago, the site which would become Shacknews was eagerly awaiting the June 22, 1996, launch of id Software's Quake. Now, fans of the seminal FPS around the world have joined together to celebrate its latest anniversary with a whole host of virtual festivities.

Quake and Quake Live

The fan-organised Quake Expo 2011 kicked off on Sunday and runs until June 25. At virtual 'booths' you'll find a 1v1 NetQuake deathmatch tournament, mod releases, a fan-made art book, Quake Live commentaries, contests for fanfic, speedmapping terrain speedmapping, and heaps more.

Perhaps the most unusual thing you'll see at Quake Expo 2011 is Midgets, "a mod that involves fighting cooperatively alongside midgets with a strange phallic all-in-one weapon." It's made by Rich Whitehouse, creator of Quake's Head Soccer and Quake II's Famkebot.

id co-founder John Carmack recently commented that "strong factions internally" are "tossing around" the idea of returning the Quake series to its original, Lovecraftian-ish roots. He noted, "Nothing is scheduled here, people are not building this," but fingers crossed.

Eurogamer


id Software's John Carmack has outlined his vision for the next game in the Quake series.


While confirming that the next Quake is not in development, Carmack told Eurogamer there are "strong factions" within the US developer that want to create another game in the seminal first-person shooter series.


And discussions are pointing towards going back to the first game's quirky roots.


"Nothing is scheduled here, people are not building this," Carmack said.


"We went from the Quake 2 and the Quake 4 Strogg universe. 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.


"We think that would be a more interesting direction than doing more Strogg stuff after Quake 4.


"We certainly have strong factions internally that want to go do this.


"But we could do something pretty grand like that, that still tweaks the memory right in all of those ways, but is actually cohesive and plays with all of the strengths of the level we're at right now."


Quake began life on PC in 1996. It involved a marine travelling through alternate dimensions to prevent an alien invasion. Quake 2 followed a year later, introducing the alien planet Stroggos. 2005's Quake 4 continued the story.


The first Quake is credited with pioneering online FPS gaming, but Carmack believes it benefits from rose-tinted nostalgia goggles.


"The way I think about some of those things, and I actually get into arguments with my wife about this, who loved the original Quake game, I looked at the original Quake as this random thing, because we really didn't have our act together very well.


"But because it was so seminal about the 3D world and the internet gaming, it's imprinted on so many people. It made such an impact in so many ways. Memory cuts us a lot of slack."


Adding his thoughts into the mix, id CEO Todd Hollenshead said: "People shouldn't worry that we're ever going to orphan or abandon Quake. We are huge fans of the game internally."


id Software's next game is Rage, due out on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this October. Doom 4 follows. After that, who knows?

Video:

Announcement - Valve
As QuakeCon 2010 rolls into its last day, Steam presents the final edition of the QuakeCon Steam Sale. Today, save 75% off QUAKE titles! Since the QUAKE titles are not available in Germany, German customers can pick up The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition for 75% off today only.

This is also your last chance to pick up the QuakeCon 2010 Pack and save mpre than 70% off a huge bundle of games from id Software and Bethesda Softworks.

Check out the QuakeCon Sale Page for all of today's offers.

Shacknews - Brian Leahy
Our own Arctic Fox spotted Google Code-hosted port of id Software's legendary first-person shooter Quake 2 to HTML5, which contains numerous enhancements over HTML 4.01 and is largely regarded as the biggest competitor to Adobe's Flash platform.

HTML5 is currently supported in Google's own Chrome web browser and Apple's Safari browser. HTML5 is also useful for streaming video. YouTube has an open beta you can participate in to view supported videos through the HTML5 player.

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