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What Keeps The Quake Community So Active?
So I've been going over 2015's releases for addon levels for various games I follow and was surprised to find that Quake has actually overtaken Half-Life in both release quality and quantity of releases. Here are some quick and dirty stats from quaddicted/RTSL:

Quake Releases: 17

Half-Life Releases: 9

Half-Life 2 Releases: 19

Keep in mind that many of the Quake releases are Jams and other multimap releases, so the number of actual maps released last year will be much higher. The same can be said for Half-Life 2 as RTSL released 4 *ville competition packs last year.

I was chatting with Phillip (he runs RTSL) before christmas about this and we were both fairly surprised that an older game with a smaller community could put out more and higher quality content than a game which came out later, had massive mainstream appeal and a giant modding community.

Why do you think this is? What is different and/or unique about Quake that fosters such an active community? Does the Quake community do anything different to other communities that helps in this regard?

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts!
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My thinking is that the simplicity of Quake counts for a lot. It's just easier to create a Quake map.

I've long wanted to create a Half-Life 2 map but the learning curve seems daunting to really come up with something cool.

Quake ... eh, some brushes, a few monsters, some lights - done!

I wonder how the Doom community stacks up. 
Re: Doom Community 
vastly outweighs the other communities, a quick check shows roughly 300 releases in 2015, including plenty of 30+ mapsets. 
We All Know Quaddicted And The Quake Injector Are The Reason! 
Don't count releases. You have to look at the actual complexity for anything meaningful comparison. A release might be 1 map or 15 maps. Vastly different.

Quake and Doom have very diverse possibilities while the HL universe is very limited. Not many things look as boring as HL2 maps to me but I might be negatively biased. 
I tend to get the impression that we're just quake mappers and coders making quake maps and tools and engines for other quake mappers and coders - as opposed to making stuff for a wider public - so our community is kind of self-sustaining now and feeding off each other until the end of time.

We are a perpetual motion machine of quake content creation, and appreciation, and infinitum. 
The Doom community is absolutely crazy. I probably should have included it in the list but I don't follow it as closely as the games listed and wasn't sure where to go to find a full list of 2015 releases.

I'm more interested in the question of "what makes these communities so active and fruitful" rather than a popularity contest.

I think Willem has a very good point. The simplicity of creating something for Doom / Quake helps greatly. When you look at the step up in work from Quake -> Half-Life you suddenly introduce heavy scripting logic, and a bunch of other things that slow down development. 
So Doom's popularity comes from a number of sources, but one of the big recent ones is Twitch streaming. Doom speedrunning got a little bit big after one of the AGDQs, and got a lot of people interested. Dime directed people towards doomworld and encouraged people to check out cool new releases and we got a noticeable influx of new members and new mappers. Of course, Doom 4 has helped as well, but that I think will have more of an affect on 2016 than 2015. 
Custom Gamer. 
B2B Quake being awesome.

Also without actually reading the original post, HL1 was outclassed and overridden by HL2 in every way, so there would be no need to make anything for HL1 any more. Quake hasn't been superceded by a relevant game in the same style. 
Three Things 
Already mentioned, but whatever:

1. Play style
2. Ease of build
3. Community

I think these are the factors that keep it going.

The play style isn't anywhere else. The only genuinely fast and uncomplicated FPS games on the market are indie procedural lack lustre efforts trying their hardest to be teh retr0.

Maybe you could count Painkiller? No idea if they have a modding / mapping community though.

The big advantage is that Quake is easy to play - you've got directional controls for moving, shoot, jump and mouse look. No alt fire, equipment or loot to piss about with, you just run around shooting stuff. This means even brand new players can just get into the game immediately without having to learn it first.

2. Not only is it easy to build something in Quake, it's also easy to make it look good. It shouldn't need saying, but good != HD. (Although I'm not sure what HD is even supposed to mean anymore).

The techniques are tried and tested, and not particularly difficult to master once you get going. The only real barrier to making an awesome looking level or mod is artistic flair. And even when someone considers that they don't have that, with enough perseverance they can still produce something with its own unique style thanks to how lo-fi quake is by nature.

The latest additions for dirtmapping, fog, skyboxes, better suns, texture packs and so on add a lot here, giving new content creators a head start.

3. The community itself is self sustaining. Not only sites like Quaddicted or func, but also the player centric ones like QuakeOne or the raw data of the various wikis and associated 'frozen in amber' sites, and the blogs, twitter accounts, youtube videos and so on.

If you've got nobody to answer the question 'Why doesn't this work!?' then you're going to get frustrated and give up pretty quickly.

It rarely takes more than a half day before such questions are answered on the mapping/coding help threads. And to the credit of the new guys who turn up, they keep learning.

Finally, a special mention - Trenchbroom had a much bigger effect than many people realized in the influx of new faces - being retweeted by John Carmack (and other influential people) exposed the community to people who otherwise wouldn't have realised it existed.

And the ease of use and quality of the tool doesn't hurt either! 
What I Find More Surprising 
Is that there are still new faces showing up around here, some of which stay and crank out top notch releases. Who had heard of mfx five years ago? Or Fifth, or Daya, or all of the others who suddenly came out of nowhere and released great stuff? Also sock switching to Quake and releasing a string of incredibly good releases contributed a lot.

I think that the is influx of new mappers with new ideas was had a great impact. Put together with the new and improved tools that have been released in recent years, I think that accounts for quite a bit of the resilience of this community. I sure hope that this will continue, and that we will see more new people in this community cranking out the good stuff. 
Whoops, Just Now Read Ijeds Post 
I think that Carmack's and Romero's mentions of TrenchBroom, and the RTS article about it, have had a great effect too. I don't believe that it's attributable to TrenchBroom as such, but more to me getting lucky when emailing those guys. And I'm sure as hell going to try again when TB2 is out. 
Thanks Ijed 
for the warm words. Bit drunk and receptive right now ;-) 
You Wouldn't Have Heard Of Me 
because I was busy making maps for classic UT. Actually I had mostly given up on mapping for almost a decade.
I installed Quake maybe 2 years ago and played a bunch of Thans maps after discovering Quaddicted and decided to try my hand at Hammer again. Then you released Trenchbroom and I was hooked. In all honesty if you had not released Trenchbroom I probably would have given up. 
Quake mapping community is dead, but keeps moving forward, animated by pure force of will.

And editors / tools. And events and exposure via Custom Gamer cuz moving pictures with sound brings all the boys to the yard. 
Let's Also Not Forget The Engines While We're Patting Ourselves On Our 
collective backs. 
To be honest, Quake has more tools and cool techy toys released for it now than it did back in the day.

I think part of that is it's relative simplicity and the fact that the community is so intimately familiar with it now that it allows for leaps in tools and tech we couldn't have even attempted back then. 
Also The Sheer Power Of Todays Machines 
allows us to circumnavigate technical hurdles that we haven't been able to do before. 20 years ago, TrenchBroom would not have been possible at all. 
Yes! Good point. 
circumnavigate technical hurdles

It's much more, right? Almost like mapping for an ideal infinite computer. Fps will suck, VIS will freeze, but the limit today is mostly our imagination. 
Theme. Half-Life takes you to one contiguous world of labs, offices, storage, utilities, and sparse outdoors. There is also Xen... But generally, you're going to be making more of a very particular place, a place that is remembered in no small part for its scripted events.

Quake covers wider spaces with fewer prescriptions as to scenarios, and makes an impression with its secrets, combat, and mood. You've got tech bases, medieval, wizard, metal, and elder themes while sticking to the original textures and not blending things. It's a larger tool set for a larger canvas with a broader acceptance criteria. 
Nobody Has Mentioned This 
I would ask where we'd really all be if metlslime hadn't created func_msgboard after QMap went down a hundred years ago and maintained it (with sleepwalker) all this time.

"I Would Ask Where We'd Really All Be..." 
doing useful things. 
I think Ijed nailed it, but I also want to add that one of the reasons why, I believe, Doom is way more active than Quake is because making maps for it is simpler. Sure, making a good Doom level is as hard as making a good Quake level, but you don't have to worry too much about full 3D space like you do in Quake, and the process is generally way faster. 
Yes, I think Doom nails that bottom line of simplicity vs cool pay off. People don't make a lot of Wolfenstein levels because there's really not a lot you can do there. It would be easy, sure, but the payoff isn't there. 
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