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id Software last night released the engine source code for Doom 3 under a GPL3 license, letting all and sundry get their hands dirty and bend it to their will. You can download the code here at Shacknews. Let the coding commence!
So what can we expect to see this code used for? When previous id engines were open-sourced, the first new releases were typically simple patches fixing long-standing bugs and niggles, but once the base source is up to scratch, the exciting work begins.
Graphics overhauls are always popular, cramming years of new rendering techniques into aging engines. Mods can become standalone games--though this is trickier for those relying heavily on Doom 3's assets, as those still cannot be legally redistributed. In the long run, we'll likely also see the source used to make brand new games.
You may very well be wondering how id overcame the legal hurdle caused by 'Carmack's Reverse.' As ever, chief technomancer John Carmack was only too happy to explain.
"Where it can't be shown the player is outside a shadow volume, I used the "preload" technique from http://kb.cnblogs.com/a/28036/," he said on Twitter, adding, "The preload shadow technique may have some other utility--you can use it with a rear clip plane projection, unlike depth-fail." And now you know.
Before it could release an open-source version of the Doom 3 engine code to all, id Software had to run it by the lawyers. But, their fierce eyes have spotted a slight problem. Chief id technomancer John Carmack is now writing new code to dodge legal issues surrounding the rendering technique, "Carmack's Reverse," which gave Doom 3 its lovely shadows.
"Lawyers are still skittish about the patent issue around 'Carmack's Reverse,' so I am going to write some new code for the Doom 3 release," he explained on Twitter yesterday.
"Carmack's Reverse" is a stencil shadowing technique invented independently by several people, including Carmack, but ultimately patented by Creative Labs. While id struck a deal to use it in Doom 3 without paying Creative, evidently the lawyers would err towards a safer, less potentially litigious solution.
Carmack mentioned back in 2004 that, if a deal hadn't been struck with Creative, "We were prepared to use a two-pass algorithm that gave equivalent results at a speed hit." Given how much faster today's computers are than those from 2004, that approach would certainly be less unattractive nowadays. Or perhaps Carmack has brewed up some fancy new rendering tricks over the past seven years.
Wikipedia has more technical details on the Reverse, if that's your bag.
Sometimes legal disputes are settled out of court, but rarely are they settled via old-fashioned video game showdown. That's the solution proposed by Markus "Notch" Persson, whose company Mojang was recently targeted for legal action over the title of their upcoming Scrolls. Bethesda parent company ZeniMax claims it infringes on their trademark, due to its similarity to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
After returning from his recent honeymoon (mazel tov!), Persson blogged about his plan. "The only negative thing going on at this moment is the Scrolls trademark lawsuit nonsense, and I think I came up with the perfect solution," he wrote. "I challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake 3. Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins."
And the prize? "If we win, you drop the lawsuit. If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you're fine with. Regardless of the outcome, we could still have a small text somewhere saying our game is not related to your game series in any way, if you wish." And lest someone think this is Persson cracking a joke, he closes with: "I am serious, by the way."
It's important to note, though, that while Persson addresses Bethesda directly, the initial legal letter came from "a representative of the company ZeniMax Media." ZeniMax Media owns Bethesda and Quake-developer id, which should theoretically give ZeniMax an upper hand if the match were to go through.
Of course, the chances of anyone at ZeniMax or Bethesda actually taking on this offer are approximately 0.0%. But you can't fault a guy for trying.
id Software has said for several years that it intends to release the Doom 3 source code after Rage shipped, and now those plans are looking a little more concrete. During his legendary QCon keynote speech yesterday, id technical wizard John Carmack revealed that parent company ZeniMax has approved the source release, and it'll arrive some time after Rage's October launch (via Eurogamer).
Carmack explained that ZeniMax approved of id's plans to release the source, though it'll still need to be run by legal. The source code also needs a bit of a polish first, he said. Carmack also called on other games developers to release their source code, as it helps budding devs learn the ropes.
What does the source code release mean for your average player? Plenty! Thanks to the open source code, past id games have been updated by the community with bug fixes, improved compatibility with modern hardware, and new features ranging from updated menus and netcode to astounding graphics improvements. It'll enable mods to become standalone releases, playable by people who don't have Doom 3. Then there'll undoubtedly be brand new games, both free and commercial, built upon the engine.
What it won't mean is free Doom 3. While the engine source code will be open, this won't include the game's assets (levels, artwork, sounds, and all that jazz) so you'll still need to buy it to play.
While id's past source releases have waited until all games which licensed the engine were out the door, there's still one id Tech 4 game in development: Prey 2. However, Human Head is almost certainly using a newer version of the engine than that seen in Doom 3, and has "heavily modified" it anyway.
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.
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.
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.
"Strong factions internally" at id Software fancy returning the Quake series to its roots and the Lovecraftian-y stylings of the original Quake, id's technical wizard John Carmack has told Eurogamer. However, he makes quite clear, "Nothing is scheduled here, people are not building this."
"We went from the Quake II 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," Carmack said. "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," he explained. "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."
The first Quake was a Doom-y shooter set in a moody fantasy dimension with Lovecraftian references, populated by hordes of demons. However, it also had plenty of industrial complexes, soldiers, and military weaponry. The mix-up stemmed from shifting focus during development; originally Quake was to star a Thor-like character with a mighty hammer, and feature RPG elements.
"I looked at the original Quake as this random thing, because we really didn't have our act together very well," Carmack said. "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."
1997's Quake II had a whole new setting, pitting players against the techno-organic Strogg. Quake 4 continued the Strogg story in 2005, after 1999's Quake III: Arena largely did away single-player to focus on multiplayer.
id CEO Todd Hollenshead added, "People shouldn't worry that we're ever going to orphan or abandon Quake. We are huge fans of the game internally."
Now, each level was recorded separately and some hacking tools were used to start the next level with the previous level's inventory, but there was no hacking or cheating in the actual level runs. Ten players contributed runs to the project.
Oh, and you're going to hear the shotgun a lot.
The unofficial mod is a new adventure inspired by, and set in the world of, Hexen. The demo version contains the Cleric's first hub, with three maps and an estimated 1.5 to 2 hours of monster-slaying and puzzle-solving gameplay.
The original Hexen was released in 1995 as a sequel to 1994's Heretic, built upon id Software's Doom engine. Hexen 2 followed in 1997. The last entry in the series, 1998's Heretic 2, was something of a departure from the norm, set a thousand years after Hexen 2 and featuring a third-person perspective.
The RtCW source code can be downloaded from FileShack, with separate multiplayer and singleplayer components, as can the Enemy Territory source code. All are licensed under version 3 of the GNU General Public License.
id's chief technical wizard John Carmack had promised that the RtCW and Enemy Territory source code would be released soon after QuakeCon 2009. He explained yesterday that they were so delayed as he had been too busy to clear them with legal.
Carmack explained that these things aren't always as clear cut as the community might think, as it opens the company up for liability if someone somewhere used a bit of code that wasn't original or they didn't have the rights to use. Despite that, Bethesda decided to okay the source releases.
This is the latest in a long line of source releases from id, who has so far shared the source code for all its engines from Wolfenstein 3D up to Quake 3: Arena. Carmack teased that id would start looking into releasing the Doom 3 source after Rage ships.