"The Well of Wishes awaits in the Crypt of Decay!"

Platform: PC
Developer: id Software (1996)
BBFC: Rated 15

Minimum System Requirements:
VGA Compatible Display
8MB RAM minimum
CD-ROM drive
MS-DOS 5.0
80 MB of Disc Space

It’s difficult to talk about Quake without mentioning Doom. Obviously its natural predecessor and one of the only games to have such a mould breaking effect on the genre, the fact that the two were created by the same team of people would give the impression that nobody else was trying. Of course that is not true. Apogee/3d Realms had been pushing the build engine for some time and it was in many ways superior to the Doom engine, however when Quake was released even Duke Nukem 3d seemed old and dated. I first played Quake on a 486 PC with a 1MB graphics card and I think it was 16 MB of RAM. I was unimpressed. It was jerky, slow, poorly defined and dark. Little did I know at the time that this was down to my poor hardware and not changing the gamma correction level. I spent the next few months making Duke 3d maps until I upgraded and my eyes were suddenly opened to Quake and I finally saw the closest thing I had ever seen to another world inside a machine and why it was so revolutionary. For those of you who have never seen the game here are the reasons it is a landmark in gaming history, for everyone else this will just remind you!

Quake, an unknown enemy from another dimension. You are the commander of ‘Operation Counterstrike’, a mission to eradicate Quake before it uses slipgates to transport in and destroy the human race… The operation fails before it even begins. Quake makes the first move, infiltrating your base and killing everyone, now you are earth’s only hope.
Now you must collect the four runes to open the pathway to Shub-Nigguarth’s pit!

The world
A fully three dimensional world confronts you as soon as you start quake. This is a world where flat sprite enemies do not exist, you can move freely around all objects and see them from any angle. This kind of stuff had never been done before in a FPS game. Previous FPS games had relied on flat sprites to act as objects and rendering tricks to create walls, floors and ceilings. This could only take the genre so far. Duke 3d highlights these problems if you have ever attempted level design. Maps are effectively designed in 2 dimensions, rooms upon rooms cause graphical errors and design is limited because you effectively have to carve your level out, creating space as you go. Quake is the opposite. In Quake level design you are given space and have to fill it with all the components that your level requires. This includes floor, ceiling, walls and stairs. This was a sudden freedom given to the level designers allowed them to make worlds which felt real because they had been built rather than mapped out. This new world, like all worlds, required physics and Quake demonstrated a high level of attention to detail when it came to game physics. Rocket jumping is one of the most memorable applications of this, but gravity is also important. Although not immediately obvious, Quake has a gravity level much lower than the real world, this allows players to jump higher, fall further and look around whilst falling. The variable gravity levels are demonstrated best in the ultra-low gravity level Ziggurat Vertigo. Underwater sections are commonplace in Quake, they allow you to swim through underwater mazes (with no silent teleporters!) and emphasise in many ways the fully 3d nature of the game. So they created a new world, one which you could walk through and marvel at, where sparks from explosions fly past your face and where a box of shells has more than one side… and they filled their new world with darkness and evil!

Yes it is gothic! But then I think that only gothic architecture could ever do Quake justice. Architecture is a word which has become more and more used when talking about game level design and Quake was possibly the first to actually have building architecture. Huge arch gates, pillars and columns, bridges, balconies and walkways; all these had to be designed and for the first time they had to look like they could be built. There are very few games I can think of that have emphasised the level architecture as much as Quake did with the possible exception of Ico. Blood stained walls and filthy green pools of water set the tone, there are images of evil plastered around the place and the lighting effects only serve to make it all seem much creepier. The soundtrack is just as dark with howling wind, crackling of flames and suitably grim monster noises. In addition the music is by NIN which somehow seems appropriate!

Quake has a basic, but comprehensive, set of weapons. There is a gun to suit your every situation:

  • Axe – When you run out of ammo just take out your axe and start swinging!
  • ShotgunPump action, will kill anything with enough rounds
  • Double Barrelled Shotgun – Good all round weapon, reasonably powered
  • Nailgun – Rapidly fires nails!
  • Super Nailgun – Does twice the damage using twice the nails!1 (My weapon of choice!)
  • Grenade Launcher – Drop one into a pit of enemies and wait, or fire it directly at something for instant results
  • Rocket Launcher – Very powerful explosive projectile weapon.
  • Thunderbolt – Fire a beam of lightning to fry your enemy, remember that water conducts electricity!

Other Items
In addition to basic health, ammo and armour there are a few other things to pick up:

Single Player
Quake is never really remembered for its single player game, and has been criticised for being too easy and linear. I believe this to be unfair, yes Quake is easy by today’s standards but at the time it had never been done before. I, like many other people, had to learn how to play FPS games all over again using the mouse effectively in conjunction with the keyboard. Single player starts in a way that had not really been seen before, with a hub type level to gain access to the rest of the game. Firstly you have to select a difficulty from easy, medium or hard (or nightmare if you found it). You then move through to the second area where you have to select an episode from the four available: The Doomed Dimension; Realm of Black Magic; Netherworld; The Elder World. Once in the episode the first level is always a military installation, from here you must find the slipgate to transport you to the dimension in the episode title. As I mentioned before, the aim of each episode is to collect the rune. You start each episode with a clean slate, full health, axe and shotgun.
The levels feel very close, almost claustrophobic. There are very few open spaces and there are many less enemies than the original Doom games, this makes each small group of monsters feels like a challenge. Progression through the levels is fairly straightforward and usually involves running back and forth through the levels pushing buttons and collecting keys. There are many varieties of traps to kill you, these usually do so very quickly and it can be unclear exactly how you died until you go back to the same area. There are also a lot of secret areas scattered through the levels which are usually accessed by shooting a secret door (Which bleeds when shot!).

Single player Quake comes loaded with a wide selection of enemies:

  • Rottweiler – Basically a dog, they are not slow and can catch you off guard.
  • Grunt – Your basic shotgun wielding guy, not too hard to take care of.
  • Enforcer – A grunt with a blaster not a shotgun.
  • Knight – A bloody, gothic piece of work. Not too tough, but watch out for the sword.
  • Death Knight - Again look out for the sword, and the blaster spray.
  • Rotfish – Annoying swimming enemy, more dangerous than they look!
  • Zombie-Don’t waste bullets on them, they won’t die unless you blow them up!
  • Scrag – A creepy flying thing, they shouldn’t cause you too much trouble.
  • Ogre – A chainsaw wielding psychopath who will fire grenades at you if you are too far away for him to cut you up.
  • Spawn – Argh! Possibly the most irritating enemy in the game. Basically a blue blobby thing which is as dangerous to kill as to leave alive.
  • Fiend – Will scare the hell out of you when you first meet one. Small running jumping creature that tear at you with their claws.
  • Vore – Resembles a spider with a humanoid upper body, watch out for the missiles which will track you.
  • Shambler – The enemy everyone remembers. Large and in charge! They will slash at you if you get too close, or they will electrocute you from a distance. Oh, and explosions do it very little damage!
They Game also contains two bosses; Chthon and Shub. I won’t spoil the fun be telling you how to defeat them, but let’s just say that they were both a little foolish in choosing where they live!

Quake could be played co-operatively or in deathmatch mode where players scored by ‘fragging’ others. This is where Quake excelled! Deathmatch gameplay had been refined since it was first attempted back when Doom had been released. Your character is more resilient than the space marine of doom making instant death less common. This made the game much more about skill and less about luck and knowing the map. Quake deathmatch introduced the telefrag, usually performed more by luck than skill it allows you to kill a player by teleporting into the space they occupy with predictably gruesome effects.
Ok, so it isn’t perfect and I don’t think that a game has been developed yet which possesses ‘perfect’ deathmatch but it is good! I think that the success of Quake deathmatch is due partly to the purity and simplicity of the gameplay. You can freely move inside the three dimensional world of Quake, jumping and running as and where you want to. There are no slowing factors when playing, no activate button to hunt for to make a lift work, no use item button, no primary/secondary fire, Streamlined weapon set and a well balanced one all contributed to making Quake addictive to play. However it was not just the gameplay which brought about the online gaming revolution. Quakeworld allowed people to play many different opponents in continuously running games (A theme which is discussed in more detail by Woburn).

Quake gave amateur programmers and just enthusiastic gamers the chance to customise the game by creating not only levels but also patches to change the gameplay. This was all down to the fact that Quake was programmed in QuakeC, a programming language that is a modified version of C.

  • Weapons mods – Many of these were made to add to or change the original weapon set.
  • Bots – Computer controlled Artificial intelligences to either help you or oppose you.
  • Total conversions – Complete changes in gameplay which sometimes went as far as making Quake into a completely different genre of game, and just using the graphics engine.
  • Skins – Budding artists could customise the way their character looks besides just changing the shirt and shorts colour.

The Console A drop down command prompt which allows commands to be entered manually into the game as well as keeping a running log of the game in progress. It also allows you to bind commands to keys, select maps and enter patch commands. Viewed by pressing `.

A landmark game, from id, what else can I say!

For more info goto www.idsoftware.com

Game documentation

1 - Thanks to N-Wing for correcting me on this.