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

The great and mighty Quake turned 20 earlier this week, a moment in gaming history we marked (and continue to mark) by putting up our very own PC Gamer Quake servers for the week. We've also got a really good Quake retrospective I'd encourage you to dig into here. Wolfenstein: The New Order developer MachineGames is getting in on the fun too: It's created an all-new Quake episode, and released it for free.

Installing the episode is easy: Just extract the archive to its own subdirectory inside your Quake directory, then run the Dopa batch file. It works perfectly well with the GOG version of Quake and presumably others as well (GOG's release is the one I tried it on), and you can trust me, it's perfectly safe and won't set your PC on fire.

I haven't finished it yet, but I'm midway through the second level and so far it's really good. The level designs have been really clever so far, with lots of secrets to find, and yes, there is a hidden (but not too-hidden) teleporter to Nightmare difficulty, if that's your thing. Enjoy!

PC Gamer

Twenty years ago, id Software released Quake. You ve probably heard of it. What s less known is that Quake was an idea that had been gestating since id s early days, back in the era when it was best known for the side-scrolling Commander Keen series. The first Keen promised that coming soon as The Fight For Justice, an epic RPG starring Quake the strongest, most dangerous person on the continent, who would explore an epic RPG world armed with a hammer in what id was already calling The finest PC game yet. Instead, it would take half a decade before Quake s adventure came out, breaking both technical limits and id Software itself.

When Quake arrived, it was a true 3D action game everything built in polygons. Until then, most games had just faked it. Wolfenstein 3D took place on entirely flat maps. Doom offered different heights, but everything was still drawn in 2D. It wasn t possible to have rooms under rooms and the like. Duke Nukem 3D and other Build engine games, particularly Shadow Warrior, used advanced cheats to fake the effect. When you jumped into water for instance, you were actually invisibly teleported into another zone elsewhere on the map. Quake was truly 3D, doing things like spiral staircases and lava pits for real, and being as twisty and turny as it liked.

There had been full 3D games of course, like Descent, or the Freescape games that powered the likes of Castle Master even as far back as the ZX Spectrum. To do this, though, they typically had to choose between simple and slow. Quake didn t. It was a technical showpiece and it moved like a greased-up ferret on a decent PC. No excuses. No compromises.

Or at least, no technical compromises. Of Quake s three great achievements, the single-player game is easily the weakest. It s not a terrible game or anything, but where Doom still stands up as a great campaign full of detail and wonderful design despite its simplicity, Quake is a largely bland and joyless experience whose memorable moments were almost entirely restricted to the first shareware episode. They were pretty cool, though. A main menu in the form of a 3D level, with each chapter s area themed around the aesthetic to follow, forcing you to jump a lava pit to select hard mode and seek out the Nightmare mode in the small level beyond. Big baddie Chthon, hurling fire in his lava lair. The first time having your face eaten off by a Fiend. The low-gravity physics of the secret level, Ziggaurat Vertigo. They re effective, as was the experience of being in a fast-paced 3D world full of action.

Quake still looks sharp thanks to modern versions like ezQuake.

Players hoping for a constant stream of such innovation were disappointed. Despite the Lovecraftian influences, there was little to fear or any sense of anything great going on. There were no more giant, dramatic bosses, with the final one, Shub-Niggerauth, just being a static blob defeated with a cheap telefrag rather than a weapon. There was little sense of place. The levels were murky shooting galleries, where even Doom had tried to make its locations feel like real locations to whatever degree of real you can get from starbases slowly being taken over by biotechnology. Certainly players just coming in from Duke Nukem 3D and its real-world settings and constant variety couldn t help but be disappointed, even if Quake has honestly aged much better. It s still dull, but at least unlike Duke it s not writing cheques its engine long stopped being able to cash, and much easier to take as a simple shooter rather than a bigger Experience.

The main problem was that after years of promises and expectation, to have a game that was basically Doom again only set in a castle was something of a letdown both internally and externally. All the RPG features, most planned new gameplay concepts, even the idea of a main character wielding a hammer, had been sucked out, mostly to get the thing out of the door. This led to a major schism within id. John Romero packed his bags to go start Ion Storm and create the more narrative/detail driven game that he wanted to make. (In a case of history repeating, his co-founder Tom Hall had done much the same over the original Doom, which he d also envisioned as being much more of a story-driven experience than the shooter it ended up being.)

Luckily, multiplayer was a whole other matter. Here, the stripped down simplicity and full 3D allowed for fantastic arena design in genuinely atmospheric levels full of cubby-holes to camp and launch assaults from, and even the occasional gimmick, like hitting a button to slide back a level s floor and drop unwary players into a pool of lava. It felt great. The weapons had real kick. Gibbing other players was a pleasure.

Outside the game, it helped that by 1996 online play was finally becoming viable for PC gamers across the world. While Doom had spawned a huge scene in its day, getting online in 1993 was a pipe dream for most players outside of universities. At home, gamers were lucky to have a null-modem cable to connect two PCs together, never mind enjoy the fun of epic LAN parties. Of course those who could got to enjoy a truly wonderful experience.

The raw sense of place and weight that 3D offered soon made the fakery of 2.5D untenable.

And so, people played Quake, and saw that Quake was good. The rocket jump alone took Quake to a whole new level. This wasn t an id invention, but a discovery by fans, so of course the maps hadn t been designed to handle it. The result? One of the net s first famous speed-runs Quake Done Quick, in which the whole game was obliterated in under twenty minutes with tricks like bunny-hopping to raise incredible speed, and rockets to hop through what were meant to be tantalising doors only intended to be accessed after collecting a key or going all around the houses.

Playing fairly or not, the raw sense of place and weight that 3D offered soon made the fakery of 2.5D untenable. It became impossible to ignore that sprites were just two-dimensional, and that when killed, their collapse was a totally canned animation rather than reacting properly to physics (though it wouldn t be until Half-Life that games took the next step and made it standard to give characters skeletons instead of keyframed animation, ushering in the still ongoing ragdoll comedy era).

What all of Quake s technology really empowered though was its community. It was the first game-as-platform, made possible by not just by the 3D engine, but Carmack including an interpreted language called QuakeC that allowed modders to do more than simply create their own levels and make the monsters look like Bart Simpson. They could completely bend the engine to their wishes.

And the modding community ran with this. When you bought Quake, you were buying into a whole universe of content online. Initially this was limited to simple-but-cool additions, like giving the player a grappling hook to scale and swing around levels in ways that had been impossible with previous 2D engines. Experiments gave way to full total conversions like AirQuake, which swapped the players out for vehicles and turned deathmatch into a 3D vehicle combat game. Others proved that the sky wasn t close to being the limit. A little game called Team Fortress, for example, began as a Quake mod, launching with the Scout, Sniper, Soldier, Demoman and Medic classes and building from there.

The ability to create stages, have polygonal characters, and have multiple people control them in scenes also spawned machinima filmmaking. Quake s early examples of machinima may be the Fred Ott s Sneeze of the genre by modern standards, with celebrated stuff like Blahbalicious and Apartment Huntin now looking somewhat yeah... in the era of Red vs. Blue and Source Filmmaker and whatever the hell people are doing to the Overwatch girls today. At the time though, they were often very impressive, especially when run live in-engine, and did pave the way for something new.

Much as the Doom mapping community still puts out new levels, Quake still has a modding scene. This month sees the release of Arcane Dimensions 1.5. Last month, a brand new set of gun models joined the fray. Also, Carmack open sourced Quake s code in 1999, coders have been able to completely overhaul the old engine and bring it much more in line with modern standards. Darkplaces offers real-time rendering of light and shadow, and likely Quake as you remember it looking if you haven t played it for a while, while others, like QuakeSpasm focus more on accuracy.

The Quake family tree

One of many flowcharts mapping the history of Carmack's code, via Wikipedia. Click for full size.

No game since has managed to replicate Quake s spectacular level of success as a canvas for modding. Others have impressive modding communities, for sure, but not the same scale. With Quake, anything seemed possible as long as it didn t take too many polygons. Games like Second Life tried to replicate the phenomenon online, and of course, now would-be programmers can get their hands on the likes of Source and Unity and Game Maker for free or almost free, rendering modding less important at least for making total conversions or a wholly new game out of the bones of the old.

However long it lasted, the Quake era was important kickstarting many an industry career, as well as providing the kind of playtime that most games can only dream of supplying. Some mods even got a commercial release, though not necessarily fondly remembered ones. X-Men: The Ravages of Apocalypse, anybody? The answer, in case you re wondering, is hell no .

Finally, the Quake story became weird. After two official expansions (Scourge of Armagon, aka The One Without The Dragon In It , and Dissolution of Eternity, aka The One WITH The Dragon In It ), id disappeared for a while and released Quake 2 as a single-player focused SF shooter in which you played a space marine fighting the unfortunately named Strogg. It was not very good. At all. Its main contribution to the world was, along with Unreal, teaming up with 3D accelerators to splash coloured lightning around the world whether it liked it or not. Then Quake 3 ditched all of that for a futuristic arena shooter starring characters like a giant cyborg eye before Raven s Quake 4 went back to the Strogg nonsense for another single-player focused game.

With the newly announced Quake Champions, it seems clear a new Quake game is no guarantee of a particular story or style, but rather a way for id to make use of owning the name. Despite that, close your eyes and picture Quake . What comes to mind isn t just another game to be ticked off as completed, nor a technical achievement to be respected, but that rare game that blew past its limits. Quake lives on to some extent in just about every shooter that followed it, and made gaming a better, more advanced, and endlessly more exciting place for its existence.

PC Gamer

Happy anniversary, Quake! 20 years ago, you brought 3D gaming and online deathmatch to the masses and built on Doom's modding legacy. PC gaming would never be the same, though we didn't quite know what ramifications Quake would have at the time. Two decades ago, it was just the next hotly anticipated game from the masters of Doom. To relive those simpler times, we've pulled together some old articles about Quake's development, written between 1995 and 1997.

Below we've embedded a few magazine articles pulled from the archives of PC Gamer US and UK. The first offers a glimpse at Quake before it was truly Quake a behind-the-scenes cover story that spends a little time talking about Quake's medieval setting and its total lack of a story. Says id's Jay Wilbur, story is "the last thing we do during the development process." More time is spent going ga-ga over John Carmack's new 3D engine and talking about network play and modding.

The second is a similar on-location feature from just days before Quake launched, written by former editor-in-chief Gary Whitta. We didn't have this issue on-hand for a scan, but some archivists took it upon themselves to put this article online themselves.

The last article is actually about Quake 2, but it's still a great read on the anniversary of Quake's release. It touches on the disappointment of Quake's singleplayer, and has some juicy quotes from Carmack about Romero's departure from id to form Ion Storm in the wake of Quake. Said the young Carmack:

"Quake was a really hard time for id Software as a company. It was such a design abortion: we went through a lot of different bad designs and directions. Really quite early on in Quake's development, I came to the decision to place everything in Romero's hands because I wanted one point of responsibility there. It's okay for someone who's a millionaire not to work if he doesn't want to, but it's not okay for the rest of the people in the company to have someone like that there. We had used him specifically as a figurehead for the press, and that all worked out well, but, you know, it does get to a point where it's a case of believing your own press."

Ouch, John.

PC Gamer

Doom and Quake are the twin gods of FPS gaming. Their fates are inextricably bonded. With Doom s recent triumphant return, it s likely we ll soon catch wind of a new Quake. The time is ripe, too it s been nearly 11 years since Quake 4 released, and revisits to a more traditional, run-and-gun FPS design is a rising vogue. Whether it ll be called Quake, Quake 5, or Pennsylvania: Quaker s Revenge, id s younger sibling can draw from Doom s strengths and shortcomings to rightfully stand among the pantheon of successful reboots. Here s a few of its most important lessons.

Provide full mod support 

Classic Doom is still being modded over two decades since its release and its thriving WAD community remains a testament to the creativity of its badass and bizarre player content. Even one of its original creators has added to its legacy. The same can t be said about Doom s SnapMap, a toolset intended for players to piece together and share custom levels in a seamless process. Its layout curbs complexity for approachability, and while ease-of-use for modding is a welcome concept on the PC, its limitations sorely underscore the lack of true mod support.

Therein lies one of Quake 5 s most important lessons: don t halfheartedly embrace mods. Grant users the same tools developers wielded to craft the game and entrust the community to figure them out. WAD tutorials and Quake 4 mod beginner guides are a single Google search away; the new Quake s SDK can easily follow suit. A SnapMap-style system is a console-oriented implementation of modding that won t and hasn t achieved uniform success on a platform with modders accustomed to a far greater degree of creativity.

Tell a story, but not forcefully 

Id wisely chose to avoid saddling Doomguy with needless characterization. His sole concern is the exquisite art of separating demons from their organs it s all he needs to propel the plot, and no grimdark space marine trope can compare in effectiveness. Quake broadly follows suit; you re a lone warrior pitted against armies of ugly monsters. Combat rules supreme in both universes, and Doom s exposition was smartly presented as a secondary diversion instead of an unavoidable necessity. Optional data logs and brief first-person sequences of Doomguy punching some computer monitor is the best method for conveying as little or as much story as the player wants.

Quake 5 shouldn t stray from this angle. Doom s campaign doesn t falter if you skip over the finer details of the UAC s demon enslavement scheme, and neither should Quake slip if you don t care about the scientific findings of Strogg hair follicles but it s there if you want to read about it. Quake naturally fits this narrative method; in Quake 2, you could investigate, skip, or simply blow away MIA marines slowly being assimilated into Strogg.

Go crazy with world design 

A jaunt into the demonic home-realm of eternal torment is an inevitable checkmark on Doomguy s itinerary. The point of departure is a portal swirling in the center of the Mars UAC facility. The compound sports a straightforward rendition of corporate lab disaster interior decorating: chromed paneling, beeping science stuff, a neutral-voiced AI calmly recounting horrific casualty rates over the PA, and the occasional culty candle circle. Doom s depiction of Hell is a surprisingly tame translation: a rockier, redder Mars-style exterior with floating boulders and skulls carved everywhere. For a place acting as the planar trophy hall of conquered dimensions, Hell is less Dali and more Dio album cover.

Fashion a level inside a giant Elder God s esophagus.

That s not to say Hell is a visual failure. It accomplishes what it sets out to do as the barracks and arcane library of its demonic denizens. Festooning skulls and pentagrams at every turn is a safe reminder of Doom s traditional theme. Quake isn t so clear-cut. We ve already seen the original Quake s mythological medieval murk and Quake 2 through 4 s industrial sci-fi. If a new Quake paces with Doom and returns to a classic motif as a modern reboot, it should leverage the power of contemporary hardware and id Tech 6 engine effects to realize a setting with stylistic identity. It doesn t have to be suffocatingly abstract but expressive enough for it to scream Quake. Top Stroggification. Fashion a level inside a giant Elder God s esophagus.

Put together a wicked mixtape 

Doom s music feels like riding the edge of a hurricane with the eye of Sauron in the middle. Composer Mick Gordon masterfully captures the seething, pulsing dread of exploring the dual desolation of Mars and Hell until the ambience shatters with an Imp s screech. Above the combat s din of ear-rattling explosions, super shotgun thunderclaps, and the gurgling foley of spilt demon blood rages an auditory transgression. Thrash drum pedal kicks pound metal guitar riffs into the braincage as the synth wails a prayer to carnage. It s melodized bloodthirst. When Doomguy s fist plunges into a Gore Nest and Rip & Tear crashes into the soundscape, it s a too-perfect tap into adrenaline mode.

Quake 5 s soundtrack shouldn t try for restrained sophistication. Quake favors savagery equally with its older sibling, and id has ample opportunity to sustain the brutality with a crunchy score befitting a violent brawl through Stroggos or Shub-Niggurath s mystical dimensions. Whatever the new Quake s choice of theme, it s important to set a great foundation for a mix of brooding ambience and cacophonous action cuts. Both have worked in the past: Quake s Lovecraftian Goth paired with Trent Reznor s darkly atmospheric compositions while Quake 2 s militaristic invasion of an alien world kept rhythm to Sonic Mayhem s juggernaut metal.

 Keep moving and Quaking

[Quake] practically heralded the rise of bunnyhopping and trick-jumping in multiplayer and speedrunning circles.

Both Doom and Quake shaped the very fiber of FPS movement. Their influence is used to this day: mouselook, sprinting, and sustained momentum were all molded by Doom s simple controls and Quake s 3D evolution. Doom 2016 s emphasis on old-school speed was a welcome relief to the sluggishness of Doom 3 s more survival horror style, and the frenetic combat reflected the importance of staying in motion to survive a constant threat. Quake is no stranger to this concept; it practically heralded the rise of bunnyhopping and trick-jumping in multiplayer and speedrunning circles decades ago.

As Doom demonstrated, embracing quick movement and level design modeled for circular killing sprees encourages an exhilarating challenge. Quake 5 should stay up to speed by adapting its predecessors aptitude for aerial improvisation combined with a mirroring of Doom s snappy acceleration. If Quake keeps the needle in the red, it ll hew as close to its roots as Doom did and could cornerstone a new era in speedruns, Defrag races, and acrobatic multiplayer frags.

 Make a memorable multiplayer

Id wanted Doom s multiplayer to embody the genre s modern standards a progression system, loadouts, and so on but it also didn t want to stray too far off the path beaten by successful games which, paradoxically, elaborated on Doom s own format over the years. Those contrasts didn t translate into standout material; sprinkling an area with jump pads and having rockets flying everywhere isn t some sort of magical pedigree for an arena shooter, and locking away weapons behind the progression system didn t gel with the equal-footing ethos many came to expect from id.

This is Quake 5 s moment to shine brightly with a strongly defined multiplayer. It boasts the advantage of utilizing an experienced framework tempered by Doom s easily avoidable inconsistencies and the heritage of Quake 3 s competitive heyday. Its weapons and powerups should evoke the same breathy reverence as the railgun, rocket launcher, and quad damage instead of falling short of character. It should forge heady memories as strong as FFA night on The Longest Yard. Should Quake stay strong with its identity, it may emerge once more as the flag bearer for arena gaming.

PC Gamer

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts BAFTA has announced it will be handing this year s Fellowship award to none other than John Carmack.

This means the man behind Doom, Quake and now Oculus Rift (as well as some rockets on the side) will be honoured with the Academy s highest honour, which is awarded in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games .

Carmack will receive his one-eyed face trophy thing and I d expect a hell of an ovation at the British Academy Games Awards, taking place April 7 at the Tobacco Dock, London.

Carmack commented thusly on the award:

Receiving a BAFTA Fellowship is a great honour. Over the course of my career, I ve remained passionate about the potential for engineering and technology improvements to expand the range of human creativity. Graphics, networking, extendable platforms, and now virtual reality; each has enabled magnificent new things that delight millions of people. I am as excited about the future today as I was when I started.

Hopefully he ll give a Quakecon-style keynote at the BAFTAs, discussing all manner of ludicrously interesting concepts for a couple of hours. A man can dream...

PC Gamer

CS:GO's deathmatch maps don't get a ton of love. They're generally thought of as arcadey warm-ups for its traditional, team-based modes. But modder Zool Smith has been experimenting with an interesting Quake-themed free-for-all map for CS:GO. With lava waterfalls as a backdrop, F4ST Castle lays out jump pads, item and health pickups alongside accelerated movement that enables easy bunnyhopping and makes players more elusive. Does the AWP make a decent railgun replacement? You be the judge.

CS:GO's lack of a rocket launcher may leave you missing true arena style-weapons in this context, but it's neat to see someone tinkering with this sort of crossover. F4ST Castle isn't yet up on Steam Workshop, but you can admire Zool's other projects in the meanwhile, which include a first-person take on Mario in Garry's Mod, new particle effects for TF2, and turning TF2's go-kart minigame into Mario Kart.

PC Gamer

Bethesda has announced that QuakeCon 2016 will take place from August 4-7 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. The event will once again open with Studio Director Tim Willits' annual QuakeCon Welcome presentation, and feature panels, tournaments, hands-on with Bethesda's new games, and of course the famous QuakeCon BYOC [Bring Your Own Computer] event.

"The event is a true 'grassroots' organization; founded by only a group of fans and volunteers 20 years ago," Willits said. "The event is still supported by fans of id Software/Bethesda and largely staffed by volunteers today. The event has grown and matured over the last 20 years but what has always remained the same is the spirit of community gaming; people coming together to play their favorite games with friends and family."

Chris and Ian went to last year's QuakeCon, which Bethesda said was the biggest one yet, and learned some stuff about the new Doom, Fallout 4, and The Elder Scrolls Online. We also got a bunch of pictures of some really cool case mods.

Reservations for QuakeCon 2016 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel may be placed here.

PC Gamer

Once, the early Fallout RPGs were available on GOG. Then Bethesda and Interplay had a big fight, and Bethesda gained full rights to the Fallout series. Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics all promptly disappeared from GOG and Steam, and then—months later—returned to Steam only. That was it for the epic saga of The Company Who Owned A Thing. Until today.

GOG and Bethesda have finally struck a deal, and the Fallout games are back in DRM-free form on the distribution service. Also, GOG is now selling a number of other Bethesda-owned classics—all DRM free. Two of these new old games are being made available digitally for the very first time.

Here's what's now available:

  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition
  • The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
  • The Elder Scrolls: Battlespire
  • Quake (includes Mission Pack 1 and Mission Pack 2)
  • The Ultimate DOOM
  • DOOM II + Master Levels for DOOM II + Final DOOM
  • Fallout
  • Fallout 2
  • Fallout Tactic

A number of deals are also available throughout the next week. Purchase all three Elder Scrolls games, and you'll get a 33% discount. Purchase all three Id games, and you'll get a 33% discount. Purchase all three Fallout games, and you'll get a 66% discount. Finally, purchase any of the above games and you'll get The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall for free.

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.

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