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Why, it seems like only yesterday that we were all jazzed about the launch of Doom 3, but at almost eight years old (eight!) it's now being remastered for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The BFG Edition of Doom 3 includes its expansion pack Resurrection of Evil, a new seven-level mission, the first two Doom games, and changes including... an armour-mounted flashlight!
Doom 3, RoE and the new 'Lost Mission' boast "improved rendering and lighting," a check-point save system, and support for 3D displays, head-mounted displays and 5.1 surround sound. Yes, head-mounted displays, a pet passion of id Software's rendermancer John Carmack.
"DOOM 3 was enthusiastically embraced by gamers worldwide at its release," Carmack said in today's announcement. "Today, the full experience has been enhanced and extended to be better than ever, and is delivered across all the platforms with a silky smooth frame rate and highly responsive controls."
Doom 3 BFG Edition is scheduled for release this fall, published by Bethesda. There's no word yet on how much it'll cost. Perhaps, off the back of this, 2012 may be the year we finally hear about Doom 4 at QuakeCon.
Gamers have been waiting a long time since Ken Levine and company unveiled BioShock Infinite. And the wait is only getting longer, with the game now delayed to 2013. Could a new multiplayer mode be behind the lengthy delay? Then, the creators of Ratchet & Clank and Resistance spread their wings to social games. Outernauts is a new effort from Insomniac... but why does it sound so familiar? Finally, the classic FPS Wolfenstein celebrates its birthday by going completely free to play.
Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.
What did you get yer old pal B.J. Blazkowicz for his birthday? Come now, surely you didn't forget that it's the 20th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D's launch this month? Luckily, id Software and Bethesda haven't, and have given us all a free browser-based version of its seminal shooter. John Carmack has also given a director's commentary, full of the usual fascinating Carmackchat.
You can play the snazzy HTML 5 version of Wolf 3D if you're browsing in Firefox 10, Chrome 16, Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5, or newer. Fingers crossed that your work computer is updated vaguely frequently.
The iOS version is also going temporarily free in the App Store some time later today.
id Software got distracted by Doom and Quake after the release of a Wolf 3D prequel, but the series returned in 2001 with Return to Castle Wolfenstein from Grey Matter and Nerve Software. Splash Damage followed this with the superb free multiplayer spin-off Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, then the last entry in the series was Raven's Wolfenstein in 2009.
Here's Carmack's commentary on Wolf 3D:
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."