The day Quake shook the gaming world: Carmack, et al share their QTest memories

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Fourteen years ago today, the pioneering developers at id Software released QTest, the first public beta of the original Quake.

Contained within a massive 4.1mb package, QTest served as the first glimpse of many groundbreaking gaming features that we now take for granted. Realtime 3D graphics, mouselook support, built-in TCP/IP multiplayer; Quake ushered in an entirely new era of shooters, and we’re still feeling the aftershocks.

To mark the occasion, I asked the guys at id to share some of their memories of February 24, 1996. Read on for comments from John Carmack, Tim Willits, and more — along with a few stories from the team here at Bethesda.

John Carmack, Co-founder and Technical Director, id Software:

We were watching a live online chat when the upload went live.  When the first person got it, there was a great clamor for reports about what it looked like.  Unfortunately, one of the first things reported was “There is a turtle in the corner of the screen.”  I had a check in the code to draw that icon as a sign that you were running at 10 frames a second or less, so you should reduce quality settings to get a more playable experience.  Quake was one of the first PC apps where floating point performance was a critical factor, which meant that Intel’s Pentium processor had a huge lead over the competing AMD and Cyrix processors of the time, which had FPUs that were more similar to the 486.  A lot of systems weren’t really up to it.

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QUAKE LIVE celebrates Year One

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Nearly a year ago (February 24th, to be exact), id Software launched QUAKE LIVE — a browser-based (and totally free) version of Quake III Arena.

And what a year it’s been! Breaking it down by the numbers, players have spent over 8.9 million hours in over 60 million ranked matches, earning 8 million awards and 810 million frags.

Among those frags, two players have reached the status of Dark Angel — Trajan (featured in an interview on Bethesda Blog) and Yakumo. The two continue to battle it out for QUAKE LIVE supremacy. Meanwhile, one user, Pudrick, has spent nearly 56 days in-game on ranked servers (and I thought the guys in my dorm playing QUAKE II were hardcore).

To celebrate QUAKE LIVE’s milestone, id Software has launched QUAKE LIVE’s Year One Event. The event runs from today through March 9th. During that time, anyone that participates in an online match will receive a special “Year One” award.

To help get the year off to a good start, the team has also uploaded a new level, Fallout Bunker, for you to enjoy. As the team moves forward, they plan to bring many new fighting arenas to QUAKE LIVE, including nostalgic works from the community as well as new arenas designed specifically for QUAKE LIVE.

Thanks to all the players for making QUAKE LIVE such a success in its first year!

Around the web: New Vegas details, and the DOOM II RPG revue

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Outside of an excellent Brink interview over at Game Informer, this week’s roundup covers a diverse range of news pertaining to Sin City and Hell.

id Software’s DOOM II RPG hit the iPhone last week, and IGN Wireless and Touch Arcade both gave the portable dungeon romp great reviews. Head over to iTunes to pick it up. It’s only $3.99, after all; less than the price of your average fast food hamburger, and likely less hellish in the end.

On the id side of things, be sure to check out page 28 of the new Texas-specific Edge e-zine, which features a short-but-sweet interview with Todd Hollenshead.

You can almost see the high-water mark where the latest wave of Fallout: New Vegas details broke and rolled back. The news continues to percolate, with the PC Gamer podcast crew chatting up the game on their latest episode. PC Gamer also lists the game as one of the top 10 of 2010, along with GameZone.

Finally, in the realm of decade-long accolades, good old RPGamer named Fallout 3 its fifth favorite RPG from a list of hundreds.

That about rounds out the roundup. As always, let us know in the comments if you spot any other interesting stuff.

John Carmack to Receive GDC Lifetime Achievement Award

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It was just announced that id Software’s John Carmack will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards, in recognition of “two decades of groundbreaking technical contributions, and his role establishing the first-person shooter genre with landmark titles like DOOM and Quake.”

The award was voted on by an elite list of gaming luminaries, including Ben Cousins (EA DICE), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Raph Koster (Metaplace), John Vechey (PopCap), Ray Muzyka (BioWare) and Clint Hocking (Ubisoft). Will Wright will present Carmack with the award on March 11.

Gamasutra did a good job of recapping Carmack’s many achievements:

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DOOM II RPG released on iTunes

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This week on iTunes, you can download the latest iPhone/iPod touch game from id Software – DOOM II RPG. Following up 2005′s DOOM RPG (as well as Wolfenstein RPG), this sequel features nine maps spanning the galaxy and beyond, three playable characters, and a number of weapons and baddies familiar to fans of the DOOM series. In addition, with your purchase of the game ($3.99), you’ll also receive a bonus digital comic.

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For more details on the game, head to Touch Arcade to see the game in action and head to iTunes for a full description on the game.

Happy Birthday id Software

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On behalf of everyone here at Bethesda, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to id Software. Here’s to another 19 years of frags.

My first memory of an id game was watching my neighborhood friend play DOOM, peeking over his shoulder for a quick glimpse at the future of gaming. I wouldn’t actually get to play an id shooter until much later, when I finally put together my first PC — a Voodoo 2-equipped, triangle-crunching monster. I vividly remember playing through those opening minutes of Quake 2, and the intense headache that followed my first taste of real-time 3D graphics. Avatar had nothing on that experience.

So let’s get this party started. Feel free to share your first, or favorite, id-related memories in the comments below.

Now hiring: id Software

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Since we get plenty of emails asking about job availability, I thought I’d let you know there’s a number of job opportunities at id Software. Within the current listing, they have several programming positions open, as well as positions in Animation, Art, Design, IT, and Management.

id Software is located in Mesquite, TX — located in north central Texas and just east of Dallas. If you’re wondering what folks there might be ramping up for, the ad above might give you an idea.

Around the Web: Post-holiday purging

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The trees are coming down, the family has left town, and the big ball will soon be dropping. This probably means that many of you are finally getting some time to enjoy that hot holiday loot. Outside of red picky sweaters, what sorts of stuff did you guys haul in this year?

Of course, since family members can’t often be relied on to buy anything cool, some of you are probably looking to treat yourselves with a little gift card action. Toward that end, UGO recently put up its “Things Every Gamer Should Own” feature. In a teasing gesture, the list’s number one slot was occupied by the unobtainable Fallout 3 Brotherhood of Steel statue (pictured above). Unfortunately, the editors there have since outfitted the imposing soldier with a dainty fanny pack. Perhaps it’s time for the other brothers to stage a rescue op.

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Around the web: Back to the Future edition

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Great Scott! As one of the few creatures scurrying around the office, today already feels like the night before Christmas, even if it’s two nights before Christmas. Most everyone has left for the holidays, and I’ll be doing the same soon. But before I head out, I thought I’d round up some of the latest online coverage — this time dominated by coverage of the 2000s, 2009, and 2010.

Top games of the decade, top stories of the year, best dinosaurs of all time — with both the year and decade coming to an end, these lists keep coming in. We start with IndustryGamers’s Top 20 Stories of 2009 –which features ZeniMax’s aquisition of id Software at #18. Speaking of id, RAGE makes Telegraph’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Games for 2010.

Elsewhere, Fallout 3 is in good company in Big Download’s Best PC Games of the Decade, while Morrowind and Oblivion share a spot in GameStooge’s Top 50 (with the countdown still going). Also, at The Yorker, Bethesda Game Studios ranks #9 in a list of the Top Ten Game Developers of the Decade.

While most sites are looking back at 09 and the decade as a whole, Joystiq revisits 2008 to help gamers find great titles with better deals. Making the list is Fallout 3.

Heading back to the future, head to Splash Damage’s site — where they have news on the “most wanted” lists Brink is making for 2010.

On the subject of what people want — see what Pete and Todd (and other industry folks) told Kotaku they want for Christmas. More on that soon.

Have a holly jolly fragfest

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Just a little bit ago, a special holiday update went up for QUAKE LIVE. For a limited time, you’ll have access to two players skins — Festive Santa and Vixen — as well as the Silent Night, a remake of the Team Arena map known as Distant Scream. For more details, check out this news post from QUAKE LIVE Executive Producer Marty Stratton….

“We hope you are enjoying the season and we want to say ‘thanks’ to everyone that has been a part of QUAKE LIVE this year. To celebrate the holidays, QUAKE LIVE style, the team has put together a little gift. Starting today, we’ll be running matches in a new Capture the Flag arena called “Silent Night.” This is a slightly re-worked version of an arena from Team Arena called “Distant Screams.” It’s primarily outdoors and larger than most of our other arenas, so it supports up to 32 players. We’re also providing 2 festive holiday characters for you to use over the next couple weeks – Santa and Vixen break out the rocket launchers for some Christmas fragging. For a quick preview of these gifts and a special holiday desktop wallpaper, check out the preview page.”

Whether you’re still working before the holidays or already relaxing at home, now is the perfect time to check out QUAKE LIVE.