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The Essence Of Quake?
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Quoting #tf 
rebb: did quake have a clear design goal ?
negke: yeah, pretty much
negke: i mean, no
SleepwalkR_: rebb: I think Quake is a case where the lack of a coherent design led to something extraordinary by chance.
negke: various styles mashed together
negke: that
rebb: i thought it was "lets make an RPG, oh wait maybe not, oh shit lets put this together with duct tape"
negke: heh
rebb: SleepwalkR : yeah, it's not a bad thing
SleepwalkR_: It works only because all parts fit together in an odd way. And the original engine is a big part of that because its visual style is perfect for the kind of environments Quake has.
Stuffbler: sleepwalkr i agree
SleepwalkR_: no, in this case it's not bad
Stuffbler: the core vibe of quake is not that hard to pick up on
SleepwalkR_: Yeah, that's probably what holds the entire thing together.
SleepwalkR_: It all feels alien and strange.
SleepwalkR_: Even the human bases are strange. Sound is also an important part of this atmosphere. The environment sounds in Quake are fantastic.

raptore: To me the quake shotgun added to the sensation that I was in a weird, unfriendly place, and my pitiful human technology was not going to protect me here.
SleepwalkR: raptore: That's an interesting observation. I never thought of that.
SleepwalkR: But yeah, it rings with the feeling of loneliness and alienation I described above.
SleepwalkR: Btw, loneliness is also something I will forever associate with Quake.
SleepwalkR: You're lost and lonely in this strange, evil place where you will die if you give in to your fears. 
I really liked the second set of quotes. Just when every game was trying to add NPC's, special features, RPG elements, multiple gameplay styles, a big story, and a tie-in to some previously established intellectual property, Quake just PUT YOU THERE. And it was dark. 
no cut scenes, ever, seems like an important part of the original quake. not even any win screens. if id ever makes a new full Quake 1 sequel they better not try to make a story, with cut scenes that explain everything about the game (why there are the weapons/environments/monsters there are). The total lack of cutscenes - the fact that you could just wander around these dark brownish environments for hours with no help and a minimal interface, was important.

I suppose you guys have all seen the semirecent video "If Quake Was Made Today" on youtube. If not, look it up. 
No Win Screens? 

(Oddly enough, this one also follows a cutscene). 
Zerstorer Had Cutscenes Too. 
And they were an integral part of the pack. One map was nothing but cutscene, in fact.

I'm not nitpicking, just pointing out that if one is going to take a stance on this, one must at least be consistent, otherwise one comes across as if one is just looking for excuses. 
Q1's win screens were in the engine, in the lamest way: no NPCs, it was basically just the level exit camera and some text. It was, above all, before Half-Life. Most importantly you never see the outside world. What's the difference between being in a weird blue cave, and seeing a shot of a weird blue cave with some text saying "you win this episode." They never gave the sense of an outside world or a larger context. Even the intro story in the manual was bullshit they obviously made up in a few minutes.
The Zer ending was good for what Zer was. Hell the Nehahra movie was a great interpretation of Quake, and it was nothing but a 4 hour cut scene. But these were interpretations.
But the original Quake did not have that story element, it was minimialist. No characters, no cut scenes, no explanation, and what they did provide was just some random pseudolovecraftian shit probably just before the deadline. 
(Oddly enough, this one also follows a cutscene).

that's not a cutscene. that's an ending cinematic.

there is no gameplay after shub blows up. a cutscene is a scene that breaks up gameplay. 
I Guess 
what I meant was the total lack of characters the player interacts with, except to kill them. I don't consider the shub end a real win screen or a cut scene. It doesn't involve anything that wasn't in the gameplay. You don't ever get "out" of Quakeworld. The game is claustrophobic and everything that reacts to you with any kind of intelligence, is trying to kill you. I think those factors are part of what make Quake unique. 
I dislike cutscenes in general, but I particularly hate in-gameplay cutscenes, because they are so jarring and 99% of the time pointless... They are particularly bad in FPS games because of the nature of you being the character, but they usually annoy me in third person games too :p

Half-life style I'm fine with, if thought has gone into how the game merges the scripted sequence with the player, but even Valve have started getting sloppy about that sort of thing in Episode the multiple sequences where they just flat out remove your control and point the camera for you.

If you want more story elements you have to trap the player and break their control in some way, even if it's just trapping the player, but it should be done with some thought and grace, and cutscenes strike me as the laziest option. tbh if I was going to add major features to quake, improvement in scripting options would be what I'd look into :E

As for the atmosphere thing, well I guess that is the essence of all this cack. The isolation and (dark) otherworldliness. The idea of being a lost explorer, the first human to walk into a strange other-worldly labyrinth.

It's a tricky line, when you think of specific cases... say, Death Knights, fantasy element, fine. Those stupid Gremlin thingies from the first addon... yeah too dumb and kiddy. No menace to them. 
the concept of the gremlin; stealing player weapons + spawning new gremlins from corpses isn't bad, but it's a combination of them not really being threatening most of the time and their animations being incredibly bad.

if you look at a monster with similar mechanics: the archvile, who can respawn monsters, it's a completely different feel. those guys are dangerous and when you hear their sight sound, it's never a good thing.

i think the gremlin was a missed opportunity. the gremlin spawning behaviour could have been played up more while also making the monster itself more dangerous (and perhaps eschewing the weapon stealing) to make their presence be more menacing. maybe with the threat of swamping you in gremlins for example. 
A mashup of styles and origins; disparities that strangely work together and even in combination (possibly thanks to the limited palette). The game comes with at least four or more unique themes, and most of the monsters are universally usable. It also allows for all kinds of seemingly random custom content, new monsters from some remote dimensions, and it can be integrated into the game just fine.

I love the bulky, angular architecture - originally a technical necessity, it became a style of its own. No filigree stuff and realistic scales, just big 32/64 boxes with sharp corners.
Very atmospheric with its lighting or darkness and strongly contrasted shadows, strange places and hostile places to explore, badass soundtrack. Yet, fast and fun run-and-gun gameplay and uncomprimising deathmatch.

This, along with a good portion of nostalgia and fanboyism, creates a great mix that is, despite (or thanks to) the unfocusedness of it all, which would be held against games nowadays, still appealing to me even after 15 years. 
Strange Places, Hostile Places, Darkplaces, Bad Places 
I'd say the very reason Quake's disparate themes come together so easilly is thanks to the lack of cut scenes or character/world exposition. In my opinion whenever anybody has tried (be it by way of mods, fanfic or machinima) to explain Quake's mysteries they've compromised its afforementioned "essence" because as soon as you try to fill in the gaps you enter a world of logistical deadends and contradictions, which are a storyteller's cyanide.

Quake's essence is chaotic and nondistillable at the best of times, and that's why it's the only game to ever have got "the nightmare vision" right. It will never be recreated. 
and lighting.
and proper 3d where you can get lost surrounded by the pseudo blind vores and fiends and death traps.

music as well. but most of all, sounds, especially combination of the water, wind, and scratching sound of chainsaw on the stone. 
I agree with that. Quake leaves a lot to the players imagination - you have to fill in the gaps with your own ideas. This is probably the reason why there are so many different views on what Quake really is. One example is that for me, the enforcers didn't speak in English. I simply ignored that because I imagined that they were possessed by some dark magic, which completely disassociated them from their previous human existence. They don't know what they are, they only know that they have to kill you. That, and I didn't have any good speakers when I first played Quake, so I couldn't make out what they were supposed to say anyway. 
I agree that the environmental sounds in Quake are probably the most important factor in creating its atmosphere. In their combination, they make me feel lonely, lost and isolated, as described above.

Lighting is also very important and I think that adding colored light to Quake changes the original atmosphere significantly because the white-light-only model of software Quake with its hard shadows created bleakness. The complete lack of color adds to the otherworldliness of the surroundings... when even the sunlight is completely white, you know you are not on earth anymore. If you are going to use colored lights, you must do it very subtly, using only tinted lights, because full colors detract from the original atmosphere. 
just like cinematic mood, some games have it and some dont. Quake does. In spades. 
Incompatible/weird Hints 
ziggurat vertigo for me is one of the most genius q1 maps; it doesn't make any sense. the pyramid created this sense of "holy shit, this place is somehow connected to ancient civilizations" that Rogue's actual ancient egyptian maps never did.

post 13 wins. 
Quake Is Solid 
It's not just that it's all 3d but everything just feels very solid with a great sense of mass. All the models are very distinct and true low poly masterpieces.

All of id's engines and content have always had that solid feeling that has set them apart from much of the competition. 
I Tried Several Times To Come Up With Something On This Matter... 
...but I never managed to express it better than here:>

Shambler nailed all there is to say, really.

I remember reading it some 14 years back and going "Yes! That's it."

And be sure to read points 1, 5 and 6.

IMO, Zerstorer is still unmatched when it comes to capturing Quake essence. 
Nice Work, Indy 
Digging up that old piece! 
Simple Interactions 
The essence of Quake is interaction with the environment with merely movement controls.

No gadgets, no use keys, no "spells", no meaningful inventory.

Also no explicit training. However, E1M1 does say "You can jump here" and has a little secret compartment and a lift to subtlety familiarize you with buttons and has a secret green armor to adjust you to the idea of level exploration. 
That Link Doent Work 
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