The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.
[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]
Game: Quake is a first-person shooter video game and the first game in the successful Quake series.
Release Date: June 22, 1996
Developer: id Software
Genre/gameplay mechanics: single-player and multi-player. Single-player mode – players explore and navigate to the exit of each Gothic and dark level, facing monsters and finding secret areas along the way; reaching the exit takes the player to the next level; three pathways with easy, medium, hard and Nightmare skill levels. Multi-player mode – either the single-player campaign together in co-op mode, or play against each other, popularly in deathmatches.
Setting: players must find their way through various maze-like, medieval environments while battling a variety of monsters using a wide array of weapons.
Storytelling: in the single-player game, the player takes the role of the protagonist known as Ranger, who was sent into a portal to stop an enemy code-named “Quake”. The government had been experimenting with teleportation technology and developed a working prototype called a “Slipgate” The mysterious Quake compromised the Slipgate by connecting it with its own teleportation system, using it to send death squads to the “Human” dimension to test the martial capabilities of humanity. The sole surviving protagonist in “Operation Counterstrike” is Ranger, whose main objective is to collect four magic runes from four dimensions of Quake; to stop the enemy and end the invasion of Earth.
Releases + Expansions – various for Quake and for the sequel; includes:
- There were two official expansion packs released for Quake. The expansion packs pick up where the first game left off, include all the same weapons, power-ups, monsters, and gothic atmosphere/architecture, and continue/finish the story of the first game and its protagonist.
- An unofficial third expansion pack, Abyss of Pandemonium, was developed by the Impel Development Team, published by Perfect Publishing, and released on April 14, 1998; an updated version, titled Abyss of Pandemonium – The Final Mission was released as freeware.
- An authorized expansion pack, Q!ZONEwas developed and published by WizardWorks, and released in 1996.
- In honour of Quake’s 20th anniversary, MachineGames, an internal development studio of ZeniMax Media, who are the current owners of the Quake IP, released online a new expansion pack for free, called Episode 5: Dimension of the Past.
Quake II, released in December 1997, made the design more technological and futuristic, rather than maintaining the focus on Lovecraftian-Cthulhu-ish fantasy.
Quake 4 followed the design themes of Quake II, whereas Quake III Arena mixed these styles.
Formats: MS-DOS, AmigaOS, Classic Mac OS, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Linux, Microsoft Windows
Origins (Chronological – The various realms consist of several gothic, medieval, and lava-filled caves and dungeons, with a recurring theme of hellish and satanic imagery. Inspiration includes:
- Several dark fantasy influences, most notably that of P. Lovecraft – (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) an American writer who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. Among his most celebrated tales are The Rats in the Walls, The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time, all canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. The Cthulhu Mythos is a term coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft, to identify the settings, tropes, and lore that were employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors.
- Lovecraft cited Algernon Blackwood(14 March 1869 – 10 December 1951) as an influence, quoting The Centaur in the head paragraph of “The Call of Cthulhu“. He declared Blackwood’s story “The Willows” to be the single best piece of weird fiction ever written.
- Lovecraft’s most significant literary influence was Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849). Like Lovecraft, Poe’s work was out of step with the prevailing literary trends of his era. Both authors created distinctive, singular worlds of fantasy and employed archaisms in their writings. Poe’s best-known fiction works are Gothic, a genre that he followed to appease the public taste. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning.
Recommendation: Quake was critically acclaimed on the PC. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the original PC version 93.22% and 94/100, the Nintendo 64 port 76.14% and 74/100, and the Sega Saturn version 64.50%. A Next Generation critic lauded the game’s realistic 3D physics and genuinely unnerving sound effects. Major Mike of GamePro said Quake had been over-hyped but is excellent nonetheless, particularly its usage of its advanced 3D engine. He also praised the sound effects, atmospheric music, and graphics, though he criticized that the polygons used to construct the enemies are too obvious at close range. Next Generation listed Quake as number 9 on their “Top 100 Games of All Time”.