If I were to do this, someone other than me really needs to knock a better package together.
I strongly agree. Whenever I try and get someone to try this game, I end up zipping up my own personal install for them and giving them the choice between that and nQuake.
nQuake is a minimalist's nightmare. While it's good for the people that want what it offers (lots of prepackaged options for configs, textures etc with an installer / downloader), I feel it's offputting for equally as many people that want something barebones and to-the-point - but still a practical modern package with a good config, HUD etc.
I was brainstorming and quietly working on such a package myself, or rather I was focusing on making my personal one in a fashion that I could just upload somewhere and 'release' someday as a public nQuake alternative, but I kinda gave up on it, and it's since bloated out into a bit of a mess with no real choice aside from my own esoteric binds, hud, aliases etc. It's something I would be interested in maybe working on again, but there are without a doubt people in this community that would do a better job, and definitely should!
I think people no longer play QW because people no longer play QW. So I don't think that there's a solution to QW's lack of popularity these days.
Depends who 'people' are, really. Arena FPS does have a modern and relevant (enough) crowd, but they basically exist on a spectrum between Quake Live and CPMA, or Unreal Tournament, and the many clones of these families of games (Reflex the obvious one). QW is simply not something that is in the picture of what modern AFPS players associate with Quake itself, let alone AFPS as a whole, but there is definitely a gap in the market for an AFPS that isn't dominated by the railgun (which has become THE defining weapon of Quake for the modern masses) or Q3 style w-strafing movement (clunky, inelegant, harder to learn and easier to master, but modern Quake's trademark movement style).
The reason why CS:GO is so popular is because CS:GO is popular. People view game statistics on Steam and see that CS:GO is the most popular FPS and so they all flock to it.
The reason CS:GO GOT so popular in the first place is because it's a pioneering modern eSport with a very heavily funded team-centric pro scene and an item economy (skins). A lot of people in the current generation are disillusioned with the eSports thing and want to go back to basics with just playing games for enjoyment, but there aren't many obvious options (which is where we can come in perhaps). The immediate choices are basically CS:GO / LoL tier eSports money laundering, or the other end of the spectrum with completely substanceless stream bait co-op survival and sandbox games.
If you're a returning player and you want to compete then you're left no option but to also use fullbright skins. And it's very difficult to make a nice player model that looks good with fullbrights.
It's all about stylizing it. You don't even need to go to such lengths as to create new models and assets, just pick good colour schemes. Minimal doesn't have to look shit, we just need someone with some understanding of design and aesthetics (and especially colour theory) to have a think about how to make the game look good through settings. bps springs to mind ;-D
3. Ban fullbrights and make a new player model.
Banning things like that is a slippery slope and has killed off / heavily weakened some very good competitive games (look at comp TF2). Forcing the game to be less visually clear in the name of making it 'fair' for the people that want to have dark skins, distracting textures, particles and fog everywhere does nothing for the casual players and makes the competitive ones annoyed.
Finally, the 3rd biggest problem I see with QW is the obsession with high frame rates and monitor refresh rates. This can turn people off. So rather than go buy new gear so they can compete they instead go play games with nice graphics and that run at a capped 60 fps for everybody.
Similar to my above point, capping performance in the name of making it an even playing field is something that just shits on everyone involved instead of helping anyone.
Modern competitive games such as CS:GO run like shit to sell stuff. The crappier your game is optimised, the more stuff your hardware sponsors can peddle to players to try and get the most minute of performance edges. Goes hand in hand with the above point about letting people turn visibility-hindering options off, they are usually also performance-hindering options.
Netcode is a good related point here. QW is great because if your connection is good, it feels wonderful. If you have no packet loss and a ping under 60 or so, you're never ever going to feel cheated by the netcode. The downside is that if you DO have high ping and / or packet loss, you're gonna have a really shitty time, and you're gonna feel really crippled playing against the guy with his crisp perfect hitreg and responsiveness.
CS:GO on the other hand, feels like you're playing with constant packet loss even if your connection is flawless. It's not uncommon to shoot someone in the face multiple times, see clientside blood everywhere and then die, only to find out that the server just didn't register any or all of the hits you made. (you can go back and look at the demos to confirm client hits afterward, thanks to the engine's debugging cvars). The result of this compromise is that having 100 ping or some packet loss doesnt really feel much different to having a flawless 30 aside from things happening a bit later.
My tangent on netcode is to make a broader point that compromising on performance just hurts the game in the end, unless you're just trying to run a business and capitalize on as many suckers as possible by making the game too inconsistent for skill differences to be obvious, or to con people into overspending on their hardware.
The biggest problem is probably where to send players seeing as there's no matchmaking, but perhaps dedicated FFA servers filled up with very sucky bots would be a start.
+1 to this idea, I'm heavily in favor of any and all options for vs bots modes. I think giving some TLC to Bloodfest could also be a good idea, maybe some kind of global score / stat tracking and leaderboards for a start. Things like this are good for newbies and veterans alike, variety is the spice of life, and having more options people can play by themselves or with any number / skill level / commitment level of friends is HUGE.