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Quake Turns 15; Carmack & Hollenshead Speak

It's hard to believe that id Software's classic FPS Quake hit retail shelves fifteen years ago on June 22, 1996. The Gothic FPS promised to revolutionize PC gaming and indeed delivered on its promise without a flinch. To celebrate the grand occasion, Bethesda posted a blog playing host to comments from id Software president Todd Hollenshead, and co-founder and programmer John Carmack. There's also a video of the QuakeWorld Launch Event from 1996 sporting a boyish-looking Carmack still riding the waves of money washing in from DOOM and DOOM II.

Also marking the 15-year anniversary is a fan-organized Quake Expo 2011 which launched last week. The online expo features virtual "booths" containing a fan-made art book, Quake Live commentaries, a Quake revitalization booth, the Future vs. Fantasy mod, Quake Dodgeball and more. For those who were PC gaming back when id software released qtest, then the demo, and then finally the retail product packed with Trent Reznor's soundtrack on the install disk (meaning use -nocd to boost the game's performance), it's a trip down memory lane.

“One of my all time best game moments is still grabbing the rune at the end of the first episode and awakening the lava monster," said Hollenshead when asked to recall his feelings about the original Quake. "I’m sure that level also inspired the USMC commercial with the Marine fighting the lava demon. Compare the screenie to the video."

"I could write an awful lot about Quake, but since we are in the final crunch for Rage right now, I’ll have to settle for just a few random thoughts," Carmack said although he ends up writing around eight paragraphs.

"I have a bit more subdued memory of Quake than many of our other projects, because the development was so tough," he admitted. "It was the first project where I really had to grapple with my personal limitations;  I had bitten off a little more than I could chew with all the big steps at once – full 3D world, 3D characters, light maps, PVS calculations, game scripting, client / server networking, etc.  No matter how hard I worked, things just weren’t getting done when we wanted them to."

"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," he went on to say. "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."

To read his full letter posted on Bethesda's blog, head here.

Last week brought reports that id Software may reboot the Quake franchise and focus on the Gothic world that started it all. "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. 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."

For many, the original Quake seemed to throw the gates of PC gaming wide open, offering a polygon-based 3D world backed by a new thing called a GPU. At the same time, the Internet was beginning to snake its way into homes nationwide, provoking the studio into dumping loads of time into ironing out the TCP/IP bugs so that, for the first time without having to use a gaming service, eight to sixteen players could gib each other in deathmatch sessions across the nation. The studio even gave fans a set of tools so they could create custom maps, mods and total conversions. We saw incredible material ranging from Capture the Flag to Alien Quake, to Future Vs. Fantasy and Painkeep.

Thanks, id Software, for that classic gem. And happy birthday to the Scrags, Ogres, Grunts, Shamblers, Shub-Niggurath and the rest of the Quake gang for giving us a fraggin' good time.