Age :29
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Location: Czech Republic
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Misc  /  6 Sep 2011, 23:18
Why so serious, son?
In recent years, I helped kill QuakeWorld. While I did lots of things to help players have better user experience with the game, in the same time I've taken my share in sucking an important part of life out of the game.
Lots of us think about the game, why it is so great and also how it could get improved, how it could attract new players and also be a great place for the existing players. In recent years we have focused on making the user experience good, on providing solid tournaments and overall making the game look like a solid "electronic sport".

I think, this was a great mistake.

I have come to realize this when reading Spirit's interview with American McGee on Quake. Especially in this part:

Quote:
What is Quake's main characteristic to you?

Fast, fun, and funny. The "funny" aspect is something I think a lot of people miss in current day shooters - the humor is gone from it; games since Quake often take themselves too seriously. Humor is an important aspect of any "violent" game - or the violence just gets to be too much.

"Funny" is an adjective I would not have expected, could you elaborate what you consider funny in Quake?

Well, that's one of the things I remember most about making games at id while Romero was still around - a lot of laughter. We didn't tune things to be realistic or gory for the sake of gore - but for laughter and enjoyment. "Gibs" weren't disgusting chunks of charred human flesh - they were the battlefield equivalent of "Spam", and the sound associated with them always resulted in laughter. Later, things got too serious. Grumpy space aliens wearing battle armor invaded the comical world of exploding Spam and screwed up the fun.


After reading this I remembered my first experience with Quake. It was a teamplay demo of e1m2 featuring Thresh, I guess it was this one. All the sounds, and funny-looking frags and telefrags, the death screams, the swampy sounds, the funny-weird frag messages, moving platforms and doors, all that in what we call nowadays "vanilla" Quake. All that was so funny and weird at the same time I was immediately attracted and wanted to try it out.

Quake was weird and funny.

Today, QuakeWorld is not like that. Me and others have done so much to eliminate all the weird and funny stuff out of the game. The default configs do not contain background sounds nor gibs, those are filtered. We have removed the classical pain-face in the HUD and replaced it with some neutral graphics. Even today we are considering upgrading the default HUD to make it look more modern, and ofcourse - normal and standard. We are filtering the classical funny frag messages and replacing them with some purely-informative frag messages. And I'm sure I could find much more examples of how we try to pretend the game is a professional e-sports game.

The maps are not fun anymore. You can only squish people in dm2, and even that is pretty rare nowadays as everyone's movement got so fast and perfected, it makes it impossible to "catch" somebody and squish him. Also jumps over lava are now so perfected and have a great distance reserve that you rarely see anyone dying in lava. Dm2 platforms being perhaps the only exception. But even that is now quite rare. New maps do not cotain these traps at all, only with very little exceptions.

Other place that makes you realize Quake is not fun anymore is the web. Look at the page on which you read this blog. At its heading there's some profesionally looking QuakeWorld label with planet motive. The label could say "software solutions" and it would still look "ok", like it should be like this. Or check the main page of the main tournament of today - EQL. Very minimalistic design with no remarks of Quake - how this game feels and that it is actually a funny game. The stats page I have helped to develop does not contain anything funny, just pure numbers and typical awards. The page where I enter this blog allows me to pick out of 20 very serious Quake-related categories and then from about 5 non-Quake related, like Girls, Music or TV. It implies there is nothing non-serious in games. Only tournaments, clans, servers and clients.

I think it is the right time to realize Quake won't be an e-sport. In recent years we have supported the game spirit that forces one to get better and better, improve, watch demos, work on yourself, and so on. But why on earth would anyone want to do it in such an old game? Those who want to play an e-sport game, get better - or even become one of the best players - will surely choose something more current, like Starcraft, or Counter-strike.

If we try to make QuakeWorld look and feel like other FPS shooters, there will be no reason for anybody to choose to play Quake.

I am bored of all the attempts to squeeze the "best" out of QuakeWorld player's performance. All that drilling of the same maps over and over, because upper 5% of players say they still find it fun to improve there. All the pretending that Quake might soon get sponsors, advertisements and what not. It won't. Ever.

Maybe to attract new players in these harsh times it would be good to go "back to the roots" and make the game "weird and funny" again? Not so serious as it is now. Tons of other games are trying to be serious and look "standard". Being funny and weird is, in my opinion, what makes this game so unique. And unique games will always attract new people who will want to try them.
Comments
2011-09-07, 07:55
Very interesting read, hadn't really thought about it in that sense before, but I think you're absolutely right. Sadly I think it's only Locktar that doesn't take the game too serious

Well written JohnNy_cz.
2011-09-07, 08:32
The wacky sense of humour that the Quake guys had is really oldschool and these days almost unique to the Quake community. Dopefish, Commander Keen - extremely nerdy stuff that goes back to the days of Dungeons & Dragons and youngsters these days could not understand it. Such a large chunk of the Quake community consisted of guys in their 30's with long hair and glasses who still read H.P. Lovecraft and quote Monty Python it perpetuated that style of humour that American McGee is talking about. Myself, I find it a bit difficult to relate to it, and I have no real time for funny frag messages or grumpy space aliens. You must look at two separate groups of players, the casual guys vs the championship players. In the community, there has always been those guys who gleefully prance around dm2 with their Network Engineer friends every Friday evening after their Warhammer session and call themselves a clan. They always had a great time and a lot of fun playing the game... their clan websites have skulls and warnings, and they never made it past division 6.

The tournament players feed more off the adrenaline and the gameplay itself, and would drop all that silly stuff in a heartbeat if it gave them a crisper lg or more consistent movement. In the QW community, as far as I can see, it is the latter group that has survived and the "fun" players mostly dropped off or play on FFA servers or in a more casual environment. EZQuake did not kill anything by stripping down the game to a purer form with better performance, the casual guys can still enjoy the original Quake, it's just unfortunate that their side of the community died out already.

As for the other types of "fun" that have also been disappearing in more recent years - the "squish" on dm2 is a good example. Games these days are played like clockwork, fast, mechanical and intense, but when something clever or humiliating happens it is hilarious... axe kill on quad, squish or floor open, etc. Difficult to introduce devices like that without getting too gimmicky, I think that some of the custom map makers still keep this in mind but people are slow to embrace this new stuff. So even though the casual players have dropped off by now, the community subdivided again into those who are still interested in rekindling the spirit of 1997 (but only a little bit), vs those who just don't have the time or inclination to mess about. In either case, anything too dramatic would surely be passed over regardless of how entertaining it is (I'm sure we'd all get a great laugh out of a gravity gun like in Halflife 2 for a couple of days but too big a diversion from our fixed course).

The easiest improvement to bring about relates to your point about the web. To bring the "weird and funny" atmosphere back to Quake, I wouldn't worry about changing EZQuake, but I would start with a challenge to all clans in the EQL to make a website this year - put up your team bios (real or fake), take some pride in your team's identity. I can see that the QW community has retained a lot of its character compared to, for instance, new eSports games where every team is named something like "Razer eSports Elite Ltd." or in QuakeLive where people don't bother to make the effort and use some random 4chan-esque tag. There's so much history to draw from in QW and a lot of teams here that have been around for years. I look at the likes of "Mob of Oddballs", "The Axemen" (from Norway no less), "Osams" and wonder what they stand for. Every group tends to develop its own dynamic and its own sense of humour and it would be nice to get a feeling of this also. I don't expect that we'll get blogs and match reports like the old days, but could at least slap up a 1 pager fanfare.
2011-09-07, 08:39
Interesting indeed.

Most of the in-game stuff is pretty easy to enable so try doing that in the cfg that rookies download and see what happens

Back in the 90s i used to play with some weird settings that added a lot of more different gibs, sounds and frag messages. It was fun as hell with the players screaming, dying and bits flying around the place. I think it was called "extreme quake" or the likes. It was possible to play this no matter what the other players were using.
2011-09-07, 09:59
If I wanted to play a casual fps with humor flavour, I'd switch to TF2 in a blink.

What makes QW special is its steep learning curve and extreme nature of its physics and weapons. I also think thats the main reason there even is a community left after 15 years.

Funny gibs and old ambient sounds is nice the first couple of times you play a game, but not what keeps you playing the same game for years.

I also don't think sponsors is something many of us care about. For me its just about having a good time competing.

Keep up the good work making QW a good experience for its dedicated players
2011-09-07, 13:47
Also make an aunltered cfg for newbies so that it could help them rejoice in the default Quake.
Nice point of view though, quite concinving.
2011-09-07, 16:21
James and Rikoll have said it all, so there is not really any need for me to say anything else than AGREED.
2011-09-07, 17:16
To me Quake was never that funny. Well, maybe the qtest sounds when the player dropped into lava and screamed like crazy. DooM had much more of the funny effect, I remember laughing so hard that it was hard to concentrate on the game at times.
2011-09-07, 17:30
"All the pretending that Quake might soon get sponsors, advertisements and what not. It won't. Ever."

That's true but then you go wrong. All the pretending that Quake might soon get new players if only we'd play new maps, make the game funny and what not. It won't. Ever.
2011-09-07, 20:29
Thank you guys for your replies! Especially James, great points there.
When writing this blog I kinda "felt" that Rikoll and blAze will be among those who will surely disagree with me. Less than 24 hours later, here you are

blAze: I don't think we will ever agree on the map issue, but I think I've never said that maps are the ONLY thing that can attract new players. Also, getting sponsors is mostly yes/no matter. Getting new players is "how much" matter. Anyway, I think our views are so distant it isn't even worth arguing about this matter
2011-09-07, 20:49
I really doubt qw will be able to convince that many fps noobs to start playing, for a couple of reasons. However I think qw got potential to grow from q3 ql and other fps games that finds it fascinating that qw is still alive and hardcore competitive. it's a big hurdle to start tho. But continue promoting qw on ESR and maybe arrange some more rookie friendly tournament I think is the way to go.
2011-09-07, 22:30
I don't see how sponsors are any more of a yes/no matter than new players. Just like a handful of small sponsorships doesn't make the game any more appealing to the masses, a handful of new players spread along 10 long years doesn't do anything for the scene. They're just drops in the ocean and have no impact in long term. Feel free to try anything you want, but excuse me if I don't hold my breath waiting for the surge of fresh new players.
2011-09-07, 22:52
Registered(nonfaking) players with division(skill)tag to fight against is surely a must to get more rookie friendly D: at least have some servers that demand login and naming others for "open" or something. Cant have more ppl dropping for making wrong accusations :< felt bad reading that infested hacker thread..
When quake came i thought it was pretty scary in dark room wearing headphones, ambient sounds and all. Dm has always been fun/ny :-) and i dont miss the sounds.. But i dont really like the new set of standard texture and some of the other crap :-( Mayby a "vanilla" optiong in ezqw?
And if one likes the lavajumps to be harder there is always netquake ;-P Nah, really, they are that hard and "funny" for a rookie..
I think qw will grow slowly, but not if we keep changing rules and the game..
Last, i really REALLY like all the options ezqw gives me..
2011-09-08, 06:53
what about doing an introduction to each player in an interesting 4v4 eql match, for instance UFC have songs and comments pre fight . Maybe have one minute segments per player who can chose their own song(s) and let them say something about their upcoming challenge.
2011-09-08, 20:21
Nice idea squeeze! Could bring some more fun into those big games.

Johnny: Yeah, I guess it wasen't that hard to feel I wouldn't agree on most of your points here. My only point was that I think the scene would be smaller, or even non-existant without people like yourself that put some effort into developing the game and the scene. (Luckily) We won't know for sure what would have happened if guys like you hadn't :-)

Even blog entries like these helps breathing life into the scene imo, and more blog entries, no matter how silly, subjective or provocative would be highly welcommed!
2011-09-09, 01:40
Interesting approach Johnny

I have to say the "funny" aspect isn't what brought me to QW. I just really liked the competitive element. Being owned by someone .. then playing and practicing until I could finally beat him

But I *can* imagine some players would really like the more 'gore', 'funny' aspect of QW .. but I don't really think that changing back to something like that would bring new players to QW now. From what I understand from friends that I try to talk into playing QW a bit it's mostly that the average skilllevel is just way too high to properly get into it
2011-09-09, 01:56
...which is why we should announce a QW noob day where the centre of attention is to get as many new players at once to enter the servers and wreak havoc.
2011-09-09, 11:02
Back in the 96 when I first saw and played Quake in multiplayer, it was just the funny aspect that appealed to me. Killing an enemy, pushing him into lava, squishing him or boring with Q against a wall was incredibly funny and had created a bond with the game that soon evolved into something competitive lasting till now.
But it had been that funny aspect in the first place that brought me here. No other game has it, perhaps it would be a way to attract at least some new players into the game?
2011-09-09, 17:13
Coming from Duke Nukem, which actually WAS a funny game, trying out quakeworld was the most horrid experience in my gaming career. It had the most butt-ugly graphics and controls, boring weapons.. boring everything. I insta quit after an hour of test play and went back to duke, rise of the triads etc.

It wasn't until a friend came down to our PC café and installed CTF and demanded we play some friends there, that it became fun/competetive. Made us wanna get better, hell even change to using a mouse!!

I think what got people into QW in the early days was mostly netcafé's where young people hung out and you could see your friends playing a game and having a good time, and you wanted to be a part of that. It was much more fun barrading each other in real life after the games, rather than do it online. And as kids we were much more .. brutal in that area
Now at QHLAN for example everyone are so polite, mainly because we are all grown ups now.

I remember I had a gameplan like 7 years ago to hold a QuakeWorld School event at a local café in copenhagen. have an open house where people could play the whole day/evening/night, but only play QW. I would hold a "seminar" first, telling about QuakeWorld, some history, show clips from demos and demonstrate. With Quake pre-installed on all PC's ppl could dive right in, I would be the helpful teacher walking around offering my assistance. With a few helpers ofc. Basically just get that old netcafé/lan feeling back where you can smash your friends in-game, take off the headphones and moon him afterwards =D

For me the fun part of QW has always been the competetive part. but there are other things about the game that is fun and enjoyable, apart from the game itself - the community is an equal part IMO. It was fun communicating with like-minded players, exchange tips and tricks or compete or talk smack.

Other great strengths about QW are flexibility, customization and creativity. We allow for the most wicked setups in QW. You could make a whole Simpsons theme if you wanted. With Simpson HUD, sounds, skins, models etc. Or any other theme you can think of.

I remember that I wanted that as well - encourage people to create themes for QW complete with sounds/textures/models/HUD.

Those are things I don't see in other modern games. They all look completely the same if you look at each player's setup. In QW you will be hard pressed to find even 2 players who have the same graphic settings and HUD options.

Those are fun things as well - checking out peoples weird way of playing the same game you are.

The cartoon bps made a little while ago was only one strip, there has been thoussands made before him even funnier - QW art up the wazzooo, that was hilarious community created content that we lack a bit today.

I do however agree that the focus has been taken away from some of the things QW offered to make it fun for the casual player. FFA scene is broken, there is no CTF/CA/RA modes running anymore - and even if there is 1-2 servers (lol) still running, there are noone playing them.

There are no newbie tournaments, no good tutorials for newbies to get started or hint at them what are fun modes to play. As I said in the begining I tried out QW and thought it was boring as hell, it wasn't untill a friend showed me CTF and a competetive aspect to the game, that I really caught on. Made me wanna play more QW, but first time I went online it was mostly FFA and some rocket arena for a straight year before I got approached by any team or were even interested in mIRC community or clan world.

Edited by ParadokS on 09 Sep 11 @ 16:17CET

Edited by ParadokS on 09 Sep 11 @ 16:19CET
2011-09-09, 17:53
Some of the most fun times I've had in qw were with a group of us messing about on stupid custom maps and trying to pull off bizarre trick shots and not caring if you won or lost. The favorite was to play dimebox8.bsp - a small map which had 8 quads, and to turn berzerk mode on (everyone spawns with quad in the final 15 seconds and all the lights go mental). There was a bug that if you went into overtime during berzerk, it would continue for the next 3 minutes of headache inducing fun.

But then the stupid oddball maps never got put into server map packs and berzerk mode got removed and most people from our little group moved onto other games like l4d where its possible to fuck around and just play for the pure entertainment rather than any competitive need.
2011-09-09, 18:03
So yeah, back on topic, I do kind of miss the funny aspect of qw but I wonder if to put it back in is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, as I suspect most of the casual 'fun-haver' players have already moved onto other games like my friends have. Also as the community ages people have other priorites and less free time, and I'm finding that with the downtime I have, I just want to be entertained, and I get more entertainment from playing other games (l4d2,bfbc2,minecraft,minigolf!) than qw right now.
2011-09-09, 19:21
"Coming from Duke Nukem, which actually WAS a funny game, trying out quakeworld was the most horrid experience in my gaming career. It had the most butt-ugly graphics and controls, boring weapons.. boring everything. I insta quit after an hour of test play and went back to duke, rise of the triads etc."

Heh, I had exactly the same feelings. Quake was ugly, the theme didn't make any sense, and the lag made it unplayable. So I went back to playing DooM duels for about a year after Quake was released. It was only later, when simply the fact that it was possible to play online lured me to play Quake, which at the time seemed inferior to DooM in playability and fun.
2011-09-09, 19:26
Well the joke is funny only so many times. You can't make Quake "funny" again without creating something completely new in it, like completely ridiculous weapons, physics etc. Anything funny becomes old fast too, so it's never a very long lasting effect.
2011-09-10, 19:37
I think a big point we're missing is to actually let these "fun players" know that the game is still even played and that it is easy to install and get going. Sure, we post our news on ESR and Facebook but that won't really attract any new people.

I think a good thing would be to make sure certain general gaming sites/forums are populated with users who knows QW inside out and can spread the news about the game, the tournaments and so on, especially in conjunction with rookie tournaments.
2011-09-11, 23:12
As much as I enjoyed reading your entry, I have to disagree with your general quintessence. However, I consider your intention really honourable that you reflect your own input critically and ask yourself "what I have done" and not only and encomium on yourself but also consider possible negative outcomes. We all know how much you contributed to the game, and being a tough judge on yourself shows a strength of character.

As far as the quest for fun elements is concerned, this was decided ages ago. IMO it basically started with the Netquake/Quakeworld decision. More fun/casual oriented people back then stayed with NQ. There it wasn't unlikely to play fov 90, ambient sounds on, "enjoying the quake atmosphere", playing strange mods that noone fully grasps, graphics turned on (30 fps!) etc. If you took Quake seriously, you moved to QW. Surely it can be discussed how most of the fun elements had been removed over the following years, but I'd rather say most were abolished by majority decision in a long lasting process. Of course I agree in some regards and do miss a few parts of the game I/we once had enjoyed that basically no longer exist nowadays. Things like clans' websites and traditions. But we must acknowledge that the average player is between 25 and 35 years old. People that age rarely run websites with lots of flames, aggressive marketing such as "WE ARE THE BEST CLAN IN THE WORLD" (I think the scene is so grown that the majority only rarely uses the term "clan" nowadays but "team" is used more often) propaganda.

IMO there can be no doubt that the competetiveness and autonomy involved in what QW has been for the last ~12 years is responsible for the game's activity. Compare the lifetime of other games. DDK spoke of the infrastructure problems in qw live and I think also CPMA. People play and want fun, they expect professional environments around them. That's not how QW works, the scene has always run and administered itself. When the famous ESL wanted to run a QW league in '99 with crappy rulesets, the scene got off their asses and started its own league. Other games just die. In 2000 Hoony and Jjonez wanted to run a huge international league with sponsors and LAN finals. Smackdown never got any sponsors and since then it was obvious that QW would NEVER return to get plenty of attention, financial sponsoring and public admiration. Nonetheless, Smackdown turned out to be one of the best-organised and pioneers in regards of rulesets, game modes and general expections of leagues (demos of each game, screenshots, reports etc.).

I understand your nostalgia, and I am sure we all fall for it occasionally. But the truth (IMO) is that if it wasn't for the competetive side of the game, the fun part would only have lasted a few months before the game had gone dead forever and we wouldn't be still be writing about it.
2011-09-12, 21:25
andy wrote:
Smackdown never got any sponsors and since then it was obvious that QW would NEVER return to get plenty of attention, financial sponsoring and public admiration.

Sorry andy, but where have you been? And that was pushed and accomplished by the community.
2011-09-14, 22:11
I couldn't agree more with Johnny. And I think I've done my share of "funny". Ie, the clan "Hippushnik" and the whole "Pektopah" character is just a joke.

I also did some commentary to make QW-matches more enjoyable and fun, I think most people didn't like my approach though :-)
2011-09-14, 22:14
Btw, we laugh (or used to laugh) all the time in MoFo, even in official matches.

I think it all went downhill when we stopped to laugh
2011-09-15, 08:32
Downhill how? You still have 2 teams signed up for EQL14! Why arent you in there?
2011-09-17, 20:26
There was some semifinal you commented some years ago pektopahky that was awesome. Your commentary after that, (after I forced you to do some ), was to be honest a bit sloppy. Your mic went on randomly creating weird noises, and music continued playing loudly 20secs after Q ran out etc.

I still enjoy your commentary very much, if it would just be as funny as it is but a bit more "stylish" if you get my point
2011-09-17, 20:27
GG last sentence, anyway, i hope you get my point hehe.
2011-09-21, 22:16
this thread makes me want to dig up the old mod "Headhunters" now THAT was pure fun
2011-09-22, 01:35
I think other games can do fun better than QW now.

15 years ago Quake was a great platform for fun - industry-leading graphics, modding support (SlideQuake, RallyQuake, AirQuake etc etc), mapping tools, daily coverage on news sites etc.

Nowadays, Quake is just an ugly old game that nobody talks about anymore with very little development and has many many more rivals that can provide fun environments.

TF2 is probably the most obvious 'replacement', runs on Source engine that 'everyone' has, looks decent, regular updates, big playerbase etc. Then you've got minecraft for creativity, Portal for physics/puzzles etc.

In summation, I don't believe that 'fun' is the right market for QW to go for since at best it would be a niche novelty that people try a couple of times before returning/moving on to more modern games that can do that experience much better.

Bloodfest is a good case study, when it first came out there was quite a lot of interest, players trying it out etc but that died off pretty quickly and now it is played only occasionally.

Where QW excels is in 4on4 tdm and in terms of business strategy that is the competitive advantage that needs to be exploited.
2011-10-07, 17:18
Quake is aracadey. Nobody makes FPS games like that anymore, I don't think. (For example, read http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-most-ominous-trends-in-video-games/ hehehe)

Quake will always have the look and feel of an arcade FPS, where the impossible is possible. We have a very strong set of "top-tier" gamers in QW now - div2, div1. As Johnny says, we need more div3, div4, div5 players. The "Casual Gamer". This was a good read in that respect!
2011-10-07, 19:36
Also I think its misguided to talk about quake and e-sport in this context.

e-sport is not the end-all be-all. I think the key is more players, period. Your comments I think are on the mark vis-a-vis the "look and feel" of qwnu, eql sites, etc. They are missing a lot of quake's style, and we can improve that. But blaming a motivation for e-sports is not necessary. Don't think too hard about e-sports, positive or negative, think about getting more players. There's not much competition with quake -- there's really no other FPS like it -- and I think this is the real point that the interview you linked brings to light.
2011-10-07, 19:38
Final thing about the e-sport bit: every successful video game that became some kind of e-sport still retained a big (majority) chunk of its playerbase who would not be called e-sportsmen.
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