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Carmack frees Quake

PCG: How much of the original game has been ported?

JC: Every single level of the original game has been touched to bring them up to modern quality standards. All the little things, like level alignment and lighting in different areas. We also integrated in-game billboards throughout the levels. So, all the levels are modernized a little bit, but there’s no pretense about this being a modern technology game. One of the key benefits of this, with the old game being a standard graphics benchmark, is that this is going to run on almost any machine you’d want to play it on, and at a very high framerate.

Playing directly inside a browser window is moderately new in that it integrates friends lists and messaging. The core of the game remains the same.

PCG: How will matchmaking work?

JC: Increasing the approachability of the game is one of the absolute top-level priorities here. If someone bought Quake III right now and found a game online, they would have a miserable experience because people playing the game right now are too skilled and experienced. We’re doing a few things to address that. Skill-based matchmaking is extremely important, so when you jump in, you’re going to be someplace appropriate. But we’re also adding things like bot-guided training levels offline. When you initially set up your account, you get to give the system an indication of what your skill level is. After a few matches, the game will see how you’re performing and adjust your choices.

Above: Quake III Arena classics - including Q3 DM17 (“The Longest Yard”) - are getting a fresh coat of paint for Quake Live with improved textures and lighting

PCG: What’s going to convince the existing Quake III community to make the move to Quake Live?

JC: That’s not necessarily our primary objective. We know that there’s going to be some pushback. At least initially, we’re not going to have all the mods that they expect to have supported. But I do expect that a lot of people will transition because it’s going to be a more polished experience and it’s going to be a much larger stage to play on. If you’re a hotshot player, you’re going to want to know where you rank globally in the new community. But our top priority is to get a broader range of people - more than those who played the old game - trying this out.

If we have a breakout success, there are all sorts of places it could lead. But while this is novel and a new direction, I don’t think this is that risky of a bet for us. I have pretty high confidence on it right now.

Jun 24, 2008