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Newer News

Tuesday, August 12, 1997
Counter/clock stuff
11:21 PM EDT
We've added a clock near the counter. This clock expresses the current EDT time. The reason for this clock is to make sure that the person who claims to be the 100,000th hitter can be verified. We can compare the time that shows up in his screenshot for us to the time the 100,000 hit was registered in the logs. You may be able to fake the image of the 100,000, but you won't know what time to pretend it is. This is to make sure we are 100% sure on the 100,000 hitter. If your the 100,000 hitter send us a screenshot, and don't forget to make sure the clock is visible in the screenshot and that its a high detail screenshot. The clock is temporary only. Slipgate

Aesthetic changes
11:13 PM EDT
I'll be making some aesthetic changes to the page tomorrow... you'll see them then :). Slipgate

11:11 PM EDT
Everyone and everything from QuakeMania.com has up and moved to Brutality.com, and apparently the Cult of Phoebus is moving there too. Thanks Prophet. Slipgate

Link addition
10:53 PM EDT
I added the Quake 2 Battle Grounds to the links. Slipgate

Quake 2 music opinion poll
10:44 PM EDT
If you didn't like the Quake 2 music samples, think it could be better, or are just plain out interested in a music opinion poll, check out the one Dyno's Quake 2 news is running. Slipgate

Ritual news
10:42 PM EDT
Two bits of info: a) Ritual is now 1 year old (cool), and b) tomorrow is the IChat theater thing mentioned some time back with Ritual guys, being sponsored by 3Dx and Entermedia. Thanks to Martin Kozicki of Entermedia for reminding me to remind you :). Slipgate

Quake 2 font?
10:31 PM EDT
ManInBlack from Undernet #quake2 sent me this. It's a modified version of the popular QUAKE font going around, except that now the lowercase Q is the double-nail Quake 2 symbol. The capital Q is still the old Quake symbol though. Click here to download it. Many thanks to ManInBlack for sending it along, it's on the Essential Files page now. Slipgate

Yup, sorry
10:16 PM EDT
Yes, my realaudio links from the just prior update were broken till recently. Thanks to TE-Vorpalcreep and WU-GFK for telling me about it. Slipgate

No-frames area redesign
10:13 PM EDT
Eric Pukinskis suggested using tables and server side includes to make the noframes area equivalent in visual result to the frames area, while at the same time letting us update like we usually did to the frames area. A big thanks and round of applause to him for both making people who don't have frames compliant browsers see the same thing as people who do have frames capable browsers, and for keeping our lives simpler :). In his honor I've added him to the credits page. Slipgate

Realaudio MP3s
8:02 PM EDT
Snoopy encoded RealAudio versions of the two Quake 2 MP3's released by Sonic Mayhem before. Click here and here to listen to them both. A warning: these recordings are mono, the original MP3's were stereo sound. If you don't have RealPlayer, go to the RealPlayer site to grab it. For people who grab these songs to put on their site, if you just grab the .ram files is fine, but if you want to mirror them totally independent of us, be sure to grab q2t2.ra and q2t1.ra, and make your own .ram files... it's simple, just make a blank file with nothing but a URL for a .ra file... for sequence ones, do several .ra files in a list. Coding the actual sound into .ra is the hard part ;). Thanks Snoopy for doing the hard part :). Slipgate

Patent problem end may be near
5:33 PM EDT
It's almost ironic how nearly all the news today is the patent stuff. Anyways, I got this e-mail that may be reassuring to Apogee, its attorneys, and anyone else on this issue. Thanks to Kyle Marcroft for this letter:

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal-advice.
If somebody can prove that this technique was used more than a year before the patent application was submitted, then the patent is either partially, or wholly invalid.
It seems to me that if a vidgame with different shapes or colors for multi-players was out before that time, (when was Gauntlet first out?) then the patent is really weak. The example I read was the surfboard with a sail on it. Some company found a home movie showing that some kid had built one, and sailed it, more than the 'year before', making the invention part of the public domain.
Remember, it's not from when the patent was granted, but from when it was applied for.
I once did some research into patents on the chance I would apply for one. It's an expensive and dicey proposition.

Kyle Marcroft

Thanks Kyle. Slipgate

More on patent problem
4:17 PM EDT
Jeffrey A.K. Dick sent me a letter regarding the patent stuff mentioned on this and Redwood's page earlier.

He checked the abstract for the said patent and found a cross-reference to patent #5,553,864. Apparently that patent covers video games in which the player may customize his/her appearance by color, graphics or shape, including original designs. (In other words, Quake skins). As he said, it's amazing what patents are out there.

Here's the abstract of the patent which would cover skins, and here is the abstract of the patent originally in question that Apogee was contacted about. Slipgate

Site credits page
3:47 PM EDT
Due to recent cirmustances, I've decided to create a Site Credits page. The layout of it right now isn't the best stuff there is, I'm still deciding how to make it look exactly. I wanted to give back a thank you to some of the most important people to me and this site. Slipgate

Quake 2!
2:48 PM EDT
A little bird pointed me at this under-development Quake 2 page. Slipgate

Insane patents pending
2:43 PM EDT
Redwood's Quake page has printed a letter RonSolo got from Scott Miller of Apogee Software. I think you should read it first, before I comment:

There's a patent that could shake the game industry to its core.

On August 7, 1997, Apogee Software, Ltd. received a certified letter from Mr. Ernest Kettelson of Kettelson Law Offices, Ltd. Kettelson claims to be the attorney representing the owner of U.S. Patent No. 4,662,635, which, if the patent it true and valid, will negatively affect nearly every developer and publisher in the games industry.

In short, the patent covers the use of "real actors or players, making actual plays of the game in question, which have been recorded on video tape, or video disks, or other recording medium." In lay terms, the patent is designed to cover any playback of previously recorded living things, be they people or animals. The patent claim document continues, stating that it covers video games specifically, "...in which previously recorded plays by real living beings are used and displayed on a television screen or other cathode ray tube in accordance with selections made by each player of the video game."

This patent was issued to its owner May 5, 1987.

The letter from Kettelson states that, "An examination of your animated video games such as Duke Nukem 3D indicates that they infringe our client's patent...immediately cease and desist from further manufacture, sale and use of such animated video games."

My question is: How many games does this patent *not* cover!? Any game with filmed full-motion-video sequences, such as Wing Commander 3 & 4, and countless others, are apparently in violation of this absurd patent.

Anyone interested in receiving via fax a full copy of this patent (8 pages) please let me know. Apogee is currently consulting our attorneys on what to do, but it's obvious that we and the game industry must fight to have this patent overturned.

As RonSolo stated, I can believe in copyrighting work, but, what the heck is this, quite frankly? Slipgate

John Cash .plan update
2:42 PM EDT
John Cash updated his .plan stating that Quake 2 progress is going well (but to not ask him about a date), and to say that the id Software ISP switchover is complete, so odd lag problems on Inferno should be gone. Slipgate

FAQ updated
2:32 PM EDT
The Quake 2 FAQ has been updated. Thanks to everyone who wrote in about what ommissions or errors I made, and yes, I finally spelled Ozzy Osbourne right! Anyways, check it out, you'll see what areas have been updated and what areas to not check by reading the history section. Slipgate

Non-frames compliance
2:02 PM EDT
I've decided to make Quake2.com capable of being viewed by non-frames compliant browsers. Those of you without frames-compliant browsers should be OK now, I tested it out in Lynx and some other older browsers after I finished making the non-frames area. Slipgate

12:19 PM EDT
Some say my resigning as an op was a snub to #quake2. Not at all, and the other ops understand my reasons. I have said this before, I won't have the time any more for the responsiblity, and it will give me a conflict of interest I can't afford either. I love all the folks there and go there every day still. Just ask WU-GFK :). On the topic of ops taking my place, there will be no new ops to #quake2, nor do I recall ever promising anyone ops. Slipgate

Wampey's Census
12:15 PM EDT
Wampey's Census has been updated with the results to the last poll..... one of the questions was submitted by Disruptor, and was "Should Deathmatch 3 be the default deathmatch mode in Quake 2?" The majority said yes. Thanks to Digital Savior for dropping me a line about it. Slipgate

CTF info
11:34 AM EDT
I received a suggestion for Quake 2 CTF from Wade Eckhoff which I sent along to Zoid. The suggestion letter Wade wrote is quoted below so you all know what he suggested.

Zoid's response to this was that the feature he mentions was in the Rogue mission pack (Mission Pack 2) and he plans on including that feature in Quake 2 as well.

Here's Wade's suggestion:

I understand that CTF will be included in Quake 2 and I would like to suggest that an indicator of your current team color appear somewhere on the screen. I know that lots of people float around from game to game and it's tough to hit the TAB key, look for the color attached to your name, and then determine whether or not to waste ammunition on the guy lined up in your crosshairs. Perhaps the background to the face displayed in Quake (assuming Quake2's display follows Quake).

Thanks Wade, your suggestion will be in! :) Slipgate

11:33 AM EDT
Bocephous sent me this little excerpt of a talk in 3DNet #quake yesterday. I guess it's OK to quote, it's very short anyways.

[BloodFire] Dis; do any of the monsters jump in quake2, like over stuff and stuff
[Disruptor] not really bloodfire

[BloodFire] Dis is it possible to describe how cool quake2 is right now
[Disruptor] BloodFire: it gives me a raging erection every day

Erm, ok..... at least the jumping info is there. Slipgate

Monday, August 11, 1997
Undernet #quake2
11:55 PM EDT
Well, little bit of news here. As anyone who's come by the Undernet #quake2 channel knows, I am an operator there. Not anymore. I've resigned. My reasons are, mainly, that I won't have the time anymore, considering that in 14 days my college schooling starts and my free time to do this web stuff drops to a fraction of what it is right now, and secondly, so that I'm never accused of a bias or conflict of interest in regards to the channel. I'll still maintain the page for the channel and volunteer to help at certain things (for example, I am one of the voiced people at the upcoming Brian Hook interview). Slipgate

OpenGL info
11:53 PM EDT
I got this letter from Glenn Philips (e-mail withheld to protect him from tons of mail) regarding my supposition earlier about the reply John Carmack gave Chris Spencer:

Hi Slipgate,

Just to answer the supposition you mentioned on your news page, here's my (semi-informed) take on it.

SGI is releasing an OpenGL implementation for Win95. This does not mean that if you have a 3d card you can just copy this into your WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory and voila, instant OpenGL support for your particular card. (To simplify) Each card manufacturer will have to put in 'hooks' that will redirect certain calls to the card instead of doing them (slowly) in software.

So, in short what John is saying is that he hopes that every card that has an architecture suitable for OpenGL will do just this and release OpenGL for their card.

One particular thing to note is that this is not going to cure the problem that most cards available today suck for GLQuake/Quake2.


Thanks Glenn for the letter... you are probably right. Slipgate

Fragapalooza 97
11:52 PM EDT
Go to the Fragapalooza 97 page for info on recent developments with it, one of which was that Compusmart would be providing a coupon for a free copy of Quake 2 when it is released as one of the prizes. Thanks to Prophet for the info. Slipgate

Paul Steed stuff
11:51 PM EDT
I meant to comment on this all day but kept forgetting.... Paul Steed made a .plan update, not completely of relevance so I won't quote it, but in the end he said that he's received a lot of questions lately and his next .plan update will be a question and answer type thing on those questions. Slipgate

PC Gamer stuff
6:59 PM EDT
Katarn let me know that in the September PC Gamer issue, on page 119, they report how Quake 2's status bar's location and what information is shown is customizable. Slipgate

Contest scragged
6:58 PM EDT
Thanks luke for telling me the Quake 2 Cheese contest was cancelled since the answer got leaked. Slipgate

OpenGL info
6:55 PM EDT
Chris Spencer sent a letter to John Carmack (quoted in blue) and got the following reply (quoted in yellow).

I know you used a specialized driver written by 3dfx for the GLQuake stuff. Now that SGI has come out with a general GL library/DDK for Windows 95, will you be using its implementation, or will you still work only with specialized GL drivers from 3D card manufacturers?

We hope that every card that is able to support a full opengl driver will do so.

John Carmack

Chris added the note that he isn't sure if his question was actually answered or not, although if you use a little supposition, I think it was. Slipgate

Steve's back
6:52 PM EDT
Steve Silva who runs Steve's Quake 2 & DNF page is back from some vacation or something apparently, so he'll be on the updating ball again. Slipgate

Quake 2 Realm logo contest
6:50 PM EDT
Looks like The Quake 2 Realm also has a logo contest, except the prize isn't Quake 2 ;). Check it out there. Thanks to both Jest from the Realm and Prophet. Slipgate

Messageboard change
6:46 PM EDT
Because you all liked the old thread display on the messageboard (I did too), we have changed it back. However, we deleted a ton of old posts. From now on, we'll see how frequently we need to delete old posts and do it. Feedback on how frequently you think it should be done is welcome. Slipgate

Logo contest info
3:17 PM EDT
I've updated the logo contest information page. New additions are: inclusion of instructions on how to upload, the Activision and Entermedia logos since they are sponsoring, and a reaffirmation of the size requirement (people didn't believe us). That should be the final revision we need to do to it. Slipgate

2:47 PM EDT
Somehow when I put up the new banner, I screwed it up, it was supposed to be animated. It's fixed now. Slipgate

Brian Hook interview update
2:25 PM EDT
Got a smaller banner for the Brian Hook interview thing. Slipgate

Brian Hook interview
12:58 PM EDT
There will be an interview with Brian Hook of id Software on Undernet's #idsoftware channel on August 29th. The way this interview will work is that first questions that were submitted prior to the interview will be asked and answered. THEN, people who show up to the interview will have a chance to ask their own questions. The channel is going to operate like this: There will be a few "voiced" people, and the channel will be moderated, so not everyone can speak. The questions submitted through e-mail will receive first priority, getting asked and then answered. Then, the people who are voiced will accept people who can't speak messaging them questions, and the voiced people will pass along these questions to Brian for him to answer. It will be regulated similarly to the QSPY interview done before (mentioned on Quake 2 Times), but we are going stronger on the rules now. A word to the wise: If you have a question you want an answer to, be sure to submit it beforehand instead of asking it there because the questions you message voiced people aren't garaunteed to make it past there. The site linked above (and now also linked via banner) will soon have a submission form for you to send in questions. By the way, to answer a question I'm sure to get, I'm not removing my endorsement of the Fray, it is just that I don't plan on cluttering the site by having more than one banner at a time. Slipgate

Quake 2 cheese contest
12:47 PM EDT
Quake 2 cheese is having a contest to see who can guess what the Infantry guy in the large picture is saying (picture is on the page). Thanks Fmellish. Slipgate

Link to id Software's Quake 2 page
12:45 PM EDT
I've added a link to id Software's Quake 2 page in the links area. After seeing it, I felt it was something to do :). Slipgate

100,000 hitter, call #3
12:43 PM EDT
Remember if you are the 100,000 hitter, to send us a high detail screenshot! We're getting closer :). Slipgate

Calling Undernet #quake2 ops
12:40 PM EDT
I plan on redesigning the Undernet #quake2 page, using a format that includes more information then is presently given and a picture of the operator if they submit one. I need to hammer down exactly what information I want, besides what's already there and pictures... any suggestions from #quake2 ops are welcome, as well as pictures of #quake2 ops. Slipgate

Thank you Joost!
12:36 PM EDT
Joost Schuur of Slipgate Central recently re-reviewed Quake2.com. Quake2.com hadn't had the best rating before, and he looked at it again after a while. What did he give us this time? Click here to see! Thanks for the cool shades and good rating, buddy! Slipgate

New article on the Times
12:34 PM EDT
Turns out Nite wrote an article for the Quake 2 Times, check it out. It's about Quake's success and the other companies who will try to make use of that success. Slipgate

Sunday, August 10, 1997
Inter-level reactions
11:52 PM EDT
Being a level editor for DOOM engine games and Quake, I was interested by all the statements about pressing a button on one level to deactivate a power grid or something elsewhere. I was thinking to myself, "Do they actually have triggers now that affect something in another level instead of in the same level as the trigger?", because neither the DOOM engine games (well, except a hack designed in Hexen) nor Quake had that ability. I e-mailed John Carmack about it, my letter (in light blue) and his reply (in light yellow) follow. My letter isn't quoted in its entirety, however. Thanks for answering, John, sorry to bug you :).

I just have one question I've been meaning to ask you for the potential Quake 2 level editors out there. In both DOOM and Quake, reactions to actions always ocurred in the same level as the action (a trigger in Quake only affects something in the same level as the trigger, a tagged linedef in DOOM only affects sectors in that level with the same tag number). I've heard over and over about going back and forth through levels to do things like deactivate power grids, etc. Will there actually be a way to set a trigger that causes an effect in ANOTHER level besides the one currently being played? If so, how?

Yes, we have cross-level triggers in quake 2.

John Carmack

He didn't entirely answer the "how" question, but my guess is that an additional spawnflag with a "name" of another level to have the trigger affect is on the trigger entities. I don't expect you to have any idea what I'm talking about if you haven't level edited for Quake of course. This info is for the editors out there. Slipgate

Quake 2 editor info
11:51 PM EDT
Turns out Prestige of The Sentinel (Stomped's Quake 2 division) e-mailed Brian Hook asking if the id editor QuakeEd 4.0 (otherwise known as QE4) would be released with Quake 2 (as rumored) or not. Here's the quoting straight from the Sentinel of Prestige's letter and Brian's reply:

>When Quake 2 comes out, will a Quake2 editor be included in the package?

We're planning on releasing QE4 to the public with full source code at some point.


So there's the scoop at long last. Thanks to Prophet for informing me.Slipgate

Counter stuff
6:32 PM EDT
We were recently sent a screenshot of our 85,000 hit. Almost to 100,000! Folks, remember that if you hit #100,000, send us a screenshot! Also, make sure its a high quality picture. I'm off for the rest of the night now because I have plans. Slipgate

.plan land
6:27 PM EDT
Christian "Disruptor" Antkow and Todd Hollenshead both made .plan updates thanking Walter |2| Costinak for the great new site design, and Disruptor added some comments about the GLQuake and QW releases of last night. Brian Hook made a .plan update about how programmers can make mistakes after all (relating to his last .plan update). John Carmack made a .plan update about his reasons for going to SIGGRAPH and also some Quake 2 information, quoted below. The entire thing is quoted verbatim, any spelling errors are not my own :).

I went to siggraph last monday to give a talk about realtime graphics for entertainment.

The only real reason I agreed to the talk (I have turned down all other offers in the past) was because Shigeru Miyamoto was supposed to be on the panel representing console software. Id software was really conceived when me, Tom, and Romero made a Super Mario 3 clone after I figured out how to do smooth scrolling EGA games. We actually sent it to nintendo to see if they wanted to publish a PC game, but the interest wasn't there. We wound up doing the Commander Keen games for Apogee instead, and the rest is history.

I was looking forward to meeting Mr. Miyamoto, but he wound up canceling at the last minute. :(

Oh well. I hope everyone that went enjoyed my talk. All the other speakers had powerpoint presentations and detailed discussion plans, but I just rambled for an hour...

I notced that there was a report about my discussion of model level of detail that was in error. I have an experimental harness, an algorithm, and a data structure for doing progressive mesh style LOD rendereing in the quake engine, but I suspect it won't make it into the production Quake 2. Other things are higher priority for us. I may assist some of the quake licensees if they want to pursue it later.


A couple data / feature changes going into the latest (and I hope final) revision of the Quake bsp file format:

Back in my update a month ago where I discussed losing automatic frame animation in models to clean up the format and logic, I mentioned that I still supported automatic texture animation.

Not anymore. There were several obnoxious internal details to dealing with it, especially now with textures outside the bsp file, so I changed the aproach.

When a texture is grabbed, you can now specify another texture name as the next animation in a chain. Much better than the implicit-by-name specification form Quake1.

No animation is automatic now. A bmodel's frame number determines how far along the animation chain to go to find the frame. Textures without animation chains just stay in the original frame.

There is a slight cost in network traffic required to update frame numbers on otherwise unmoving objects, but due to the QuakeWorld style delta compression it is still less thatn a Quake 1 scene with no motion at all.

The benefit, aside from internal code cleanliness, is that a game can precisely control any sequence of animation on a surface. You could have cycles that go forward and backwards through a sequence, you could make slide projectors that only change on specific inputs, etc.

You could not independantly animate two sides of a bmodel that were not syncronized with the same number of frames, but you could allways split it into multiple models if your really needed to.

Everything is simple when its done, but I actually agonized over animation specification for HOURS yesterday...

The last significant thing that I am working on in the map format is leaf clustering for vis operations. You can specify some map brushes as "detail" brushes, and others as "structural" brushes. The BSP and portal list is built for just the structural brushes, then the detail brushes are filtered in later.

This saves a bit of space, but is primarily for allowing complex levels to vis in a reasonable amount of time. The vis operation is very sensitive to complexity in open areas, and usually has an exponentially bad falloff time. Most of the complexity is in the form of small brushes that never really occlude anything. A box room with ten torch holders on the walls would consist of several dozen mostly open leafs. If the torch holders were made detail brushes, the room would just be a single leaf.

A detail / structural seperation is also, I believe, key to making a portal renderer workable. I had a version of Quake that used portals at the convex volume level, and the performance characteristics had considerably worse-than-linear falloff with complexity. By reducing the leaf count considerably, it probably becomes very workable. I will certainly be reevaluating it for trinity.

Things are coming along incredibly well. Slipgate

The new screenshots and graphics
12:43 PM EDT
I've updated the screenshots area with all the new shots and animations at long last. Enjoy it all, there's quite a bit to spooge over today as far as shots and music go. I've also updated the links section a bit. Slipgate

The Amps
12:05 PM EDT
Since I pointed out a download link for WinAmp to listen to the Quake 2 music samples yesterday, Joakim Eriksson pointed out that there is also a DosAmp and MacAmp, for those platforms. So people on Macintoshes or using DOS can still listen to MP3's. I've updated the Essential Files page with the newcomers. I grabbed the latest version of all 3. Slipgate

Quake 2 FAQ updated
11:10 AM EDT
I've updated the Quake 2 FAQ, it is now at version 0.2c. Click on the left frame link or the link right here to go check it out. That, and the MP3's released last night, should be enough to spooge over :). (I hope) Anyways, I just woke up, so I'll be, you know, doing stuff before I update again. I'll take care of all the new screenshots and animated gifs by id then. Slipgate

Secret page
12:47 AM EDT
Turns out the id Software Quake 2 page has a SECRET page with a shot of the Quake 2 Editor, QuakeEd 4.0, and a screenshot of a level. Click here to see it. I asked Disruptor about the frequency of updates on the Quake 2 page, and he said they'd only update it when it was REALLY important (not that often). Anyways, I'll mirror new pictures, animated gifs, and files tomorrow, I'm sleepy now :). Slipgate

id Software gets a makeover
12:30 AM EDT
id Software's website has been redesigned by Walter |2| Costinak. In addition to that, id now has an "official" Quake 2 page up at the website, and you can find a new GLQuake (not GLQuakeWorld) version on ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/unsup/, also, the new QuakeWorld 2.0 should be out soon. The id Software Quake 2 page has some new screenshots and animated graphics, which I will get to mirroring when I wake up and eat some food. Slipgate

Saturday, August 9, 1997
Quake 2 music samples
11:27 PM EDT
The Quake 2 music samples (in MP3 format) are now out. They were supposed to be officially released by Sonic Mayhem 27 minutes ago, but they weren't, although the files were found by someone on Undernet #quake2 who browsed the directories of the site. I wanted to wait until the official word on the Sonic Mayhem website before reporting them, but it seems as though they aren't going to mention it further tonight after all, so I'm releasing them now, I've been patient. They have all been downloaded locally to quake2.com. There's this one and this one, both zipped. Be sure to get WinAmp in order to listen to them. All 3 files are also on The Essential Files page. They sound pretty damn cool in my opinion, even though they are short. Slipgate

More info from Paul Steed
7:52 PM EDT
Chris Spencer sent me a quoted copy of an e-mail exchange between himself and Paul Steed, so here's more info from the horse's mouth for ya. Chris's letter is first, quoted, and then Paul's reply follows.

>If it's true that the monster models are all made up of integrated pieces (arms,
>legs, heads) that are seperate, how come we can't have a player model with
>weapons as seperate pieces and just attached at run time as needed? It seems
>like you wouldn't have to have a full fledged player model for each weapon.
>Just snap on a weapon model as appropriate. Or am I missing the point?
>Chris Spencer

Keep in mind that just because they are in seperate pieces, it doesn't change the fact they're just considered a collection of vertices. We are investigating ways to reflect weapon changes in the game, but everything's still up in the air.


Thanks to Chris for the info. Slipgate

New screenshot?
7:44 PM EDT
Got a letter from Joe Treager where he said that in the PC Games magazine it says that Quake 2 is coming out October 1997. It also apparently has a cool new screenshot. Slipgate

Info from Paul Steed
7:43 PM EDT
I e-mailed Paul Steed about cinematics, and got a wonderful full reply that answered all my questions. Thanks Paul :). My letter and then his response is quoted below (this isn't a COMPLETE quoting job, btw).

>Can I ask you a question about in-game cinematics? Is there actually
>going to be areas where you are playing through the level, in the
>middle of the game, and it suddenly halts for a cinematic, then after
>playing it returns to your control, or are cinematics only going to
>occur at the beginning and end of the game, and inbetween levels?
>Also, if in-level cinematics are possible, how do addon level authors
>make their own cinematics in the middle of their levels? And do the
>cinematics actually affect anything (like opening a sealed doorway to
>reveal a monster ambush, after which time the control returns to you
>and you deal with aforementioned monsters)?

Repeat after me: "The game will never stop for cinematics." The flics will only play at the beginning, the end and POSSIBLY between one or two levels (not too likely, though). Scripted actions by characters in the game will be implemented in some fashion if we can make them cool and useful. This is an action game and all those other companies that make you watch some expensive FMV or time-consuming animations need to remember the name of the genre. Our animations will in no way take away from the game experience, but will in every way enhance it.


Again, thanks to Paul for the clearing up. Slipgate

Quake 2 Sound News!
7:42 PM EDT
Buzzfunk of Methods of Destruction (AKA Sonic Mayhem, the guys doing the Quake 2 music) dropped by Undernet #quake2 and announced that they would be releasing a few MP3's (music files) of samples of their Quake 2 music on the Sonic Mayhem website at 8 p.m. PST. (Based on my time clock, that's 11 pm, so that would be three and a half hours from this update). If you don't have an MP3 player, pick up WinAmp, an MP3 player (only 191 kilobytes), off my buddy Phoebus's site. The name does suggest what you are thinking... you need Win95 or WinNT for this program. Many thanks to Baron of The Nebula for ICQ paging me about this. Slipgate

NOT Q2Test
7:41 PM EDT
Disruptor updated his .plan again to say that the surprise tonight is NOT going to be the release of the Quake 2 Test, it is something else (if it is in #quake and #qspy, I'd guess it was either a new QSPY release or a new QuakeWorld release). Slipgate

Graphic information .plan
6:55 PM EDT
Brian Hook updated his .plan (a HUGE update) with lots of technical information, take a read.

August 9, 1997 (early AM)

Jesus this is a huge .plan update, even for me...

Things are ever so slowly coming together on the graphics side of things.

SciTech Software, the people who do MGL, are on the verge of getting us a code dump, hopefully within the next day or two. By going with MGL we're freeing ourselves from a lot of mundania -- they've solved the problem of dealing with graphics under Win32 cleanly, and we'd rather not reinvent the wheel if at all possible.

An unfortunate side effect of using someone else's library is that we can get stuck for days or weeks when a bug shows up in the library and you have to wait several days (or weeks) to see it fixed. Assuming you're on good enough terms with the library provider that they'll give you a timely fix.

Now, I don't mean to get off on a rant here, but....

A lot of researchers and academics have been pushing "component software" or "software ICs" on the realm of computer science like it's some magic panacea for all the world's problems.

It's not.

Computer programs are written by computer programmers. I'm a pretty competent computer programmer, and I still fuck up all the time. Assume that I represent the tip of the typical Gaussian distribution of talent -- this means that the BEST case is that most of the programmers out there fuck up as badly and as frequently as me.

This, to put it mildly, gives me the heebie jeebies. It's bad enough that other programmers have to write the compiler, programming tools, operating system, and device drivers that I use -- but to use another programmer's canned libraries?


I've heard it put this way -- if you wrote the code for an airplane's navigation and flight control systems, would you be willing to fly on it?

No sir, I don't think so.

That's why I write computer games -- buggy games may be annoying as hell, but they don't kill people.

Now given this scenario, a company can ask itself -- "we're on a tight schedule and need to ship good software. We can outsource this key technology from someone else who probably isn't better at programming as we are, but should we?"

Every time you decide to outsource some key technology you're putting yourself at considerable risk, especially if you're on a tight timeline. When you use someone else's library, be it sound, graphics, input, GUI, whatever, you open yourself up to all kinds of evil potential problems. And these problems are NOT theoretical. For example:

- getting support for a currently unsupported device
- bugs in the library prevent you from shipping
- bugs in the library cause support hassles
- you need to port to another platform that the library doesn't support
- the library provider goes out of business and you don't have source

These are all things I've seen or even been a part of.

Hell, using someone else's _compiler_ can be a royal pain in the ass at times, especially when "someone else" is more concerned about ActiveX, OLE, and integrated HTML browsing than stable floating point optimizations. This is one of the reasons that I've been so reluctant to start using MFC -- it's poorly evolved library written in C++ for the Win32 platform.

If that ain't a barrel of shit waiting to leak, I don't know what is.

Point being: outsourcing technology can make sense, but you should really really think about it before committing to it. In our case the SciTech MGL libraries just barely justify themselves to us -- they are very competently done, and the crew there are magnificently talented and dedicated, but not having complete control over our entire source base is a huge thing to give up.

The MGL libraries offer a VERY valuable service to us and other programmers attempting to write a graphics program that needs to run across a wide range of Win32 systems. Contrary to popular belief, Win32 didn't solve all the world's device dependency problems, it only shifted the blame.

So what is the MGL? The MGL (at the least the portion interesting to us) provides an abstraction layer between DirectDraw, WinDirect (i.e. VESA BIOS modes under Windows), and good ol' GDI's CreateDIBSection. Under NT, for example, we can get access to DirectDraw and CreateDIBSection. Under 95, we can get access to all three, usually, but in some cases WinDirect is the best access method (e.g. flaky DDraw drivers are installed on the user's system).

And MGL neatly wraps all of this into a dumb framebuffer abstraction that works quite well for what we need.

Another thing that MGL provides, which I'm a bit more leery of, is an OpenGL driver abstraction layer. Currently we sort of have a hacked system that lets us pop between different OpenGL implementations by using LoadLibrary/GetProcAddress. This has its holes, e.g. when it comes to calling wglChoosePixelFormat vs. ChoosePixelFormat, dealing with program deactivation, dealing with fullscreen, etc. but so far it's been livable.

The MGL defines a set of driver hookout mechanisms that a driver writer can implement. This then gives someone who uses the MGL the ability to swap between drivers on the fly, enumerate existing drivers, query for available video modes, and other nice things that our current hacked implementation doesn't have.

BUT, we give up control by going that route. We're exploring this option because it has some nice features, but it is NOT vital that we use the OpenGL facilities of MGL. We're doing it mostly because SciTech has invested the time and effort to switch over our code base to MGL, and thus we don't have to deal with it until it's working.

But even then, we've already felt a minor side effect of this -- the MGL OpenGL driver hookout stuff does not currently work with 3Dfx's mini-GL driver (!). This, in the immortal words of Butthead, sucks. This is being taken care of as we speak, but once again, it's one of those convenience issues.

So the MGL is a good outsourcing of technology for us, but we have, at times, felt the pinch of not having complete control over our source base. We'd be pretty inconvenienced for our DEC Alpha port if the MGL didn't come in a DEC Alpha version (which, lucky for us, it does).

(Note: if you want to see more about MGL, go to http://www.scitechsoft.com)

Now before you start bitching about how we're suffering from "NIH" (Not Invented Here) syndrome, let me state that we do not have a philosophical problem with using software written by others. We have a very PRACTICAL problem with it.

True NIH stems from arrogance and pride. While I certainly suffer from both those afflictions, we, as a company, don't suffer from traditional NIH -- our NIH stems from pragmatism more than anything else.

To sum: using someone else's code is full of pros and cons. Just think real hard about the REAL benefits and the REAL problems associated with using someone else's code instead of developing your own. Software is very rarely a "black box" that you drop in and that "just works". That's what the future of componentware SHOULD be, but we aren't there yet, and that's been promised to us for something like 10 years now.

On a related note, I've tried using OpenStep for NT, and I've reached the conclusion that the folks at NeXT have no comprehension how to deal with selling a real, honest-to-God commercial product. OpenStep's Interface Builder is riddled with bugs, the documentation is poor, there is no appreciable on-line help, and I couldn't find a support contact at their Web site. Oh, and they don't have patches or service paks at their Web page.


$ set rant=off

Okay, so what have I been up to in the Quake2 world lately? Primarily I've been trying to get things optimized in the Alias renderer. There are some more optimizations that I need to be doing in the future, but those will have to wait until after the software is a little less raw.

The optimizations I've been doing have concentrated on FPU pipelining stuff on the Pentium. We're assuming that non-MMX Pentiums are still going to be the majority of systems that people will be running Quake2 on this Christmas.

For the Alias transformation code I'm seeing about a 33% increase in performance from hand optimization. I could go crazy and spend days working on it and crank it up to 50-75%, but I'm not sure that is time well spent.

I'm still pretty convinced that as time goes on that hand optimization is going to become less and less relevant. Wannabe industry futurists (people like me, but who are wrong :-) ) like to keep saying "but every new CPU introduction has people saying that assembly is going to go away!".

And that's true. But if you look at the percentage of code that is written in asm in your average program today versus your average program 5 years ago versus 10 years ago, I think (this is purely speculation on my part) that you'll find that the relative amount of asm code to some high level language has shrunk considerably.

Even today, optimizing is a bitch. I have to make conscious decisions as to what's more important -- faster on Pentium, PentiumMMX, or PPro/P2? Each of these processors has different trade offs that I can take advantage of, possibly at the expense of performance on one of the other processor families.

Not only that, but the speed gains I'm getting on Pentium far outstrip the speed gains I get from the Pentium Pro/P2. Hell, if I was targeting the Pentium Pro or above processors, it's entirely possible I wouldn't even bother with ANY assembly language routines. Optimizing for the PPro is extremely non-deterministic because of the branch predictor, state of the reorder buffer, speculative execution, non-blocking cache loads, etc.

So unless you're optimizing a VERY frequently called loop, it's pretty hard to get a feel for what is "good" PPro optimization.

When the MGL integration is back here, I'll spend a day reintegrating that code base, and we'll be back in Happy Software Rendering Land.

Question conventional wisdom.

That's all for now. Slipgate

A surprise from the Disruptor
6:54 PM EDT
Christian "Disruptor" Antkow made a .plan update today about his opinion of the movie Spawn (mostly good, but not a total "I loved it!" either). He also included this cryptic note:

Also, stay tuned to 3DNet #quake and #qspy tonight around 11:00pm CST for some pretty cool happenings ;)

I'm there, baby! Erm, yeah, I'll show up. Slipgate

6:15 PM EDT
I know this isn't exactly related to Quake 2, but it involves a friend of mine, and at the same time is REALLY huge. Looks like my buddy Phoebus (of the Cult) is at it again in the Hexen 2 World, according to this release from him that Prophet sent me.

Welcome to HexenWorld.

Hello, I'm Phoebus (of Raven Software's and Cult of Phoebus web sites). Together with Dweomer and Basty (from PlanetQuake), and the rest of the HW staff, I would like to announce our ambitious new project named HexenWorld.

After quite a lengthy process, our vision of a MEGA Hexen II web site has come to fruition. HexenWorld delivers not only the latest Hexen II game news but also contains essential features and hosts all the good sites available that offer something unique to the Hexen II community. Featured pages include Serpent's Realm, Militant's Information section, Bakshra's Dictionary, the Official FAQ, the Hexen 2 Ring, among others. Hosted sites so far include the Hexen 2 Guild Keep, and the Vampire TC, with more sites to be hosted soon.

We've teamed up with PlanetQuake and we now both share one another's vast resources. PlanetQuake continues to be the all purpose website, while HexenWorld is the definitive site dedicated to the Hexen II phenomenon.

Note: HexenWorld is not sanctioned by either Raven Software or Activision, the companies responsible for this great game. Those are the only official Hexen II sites.

Visit HexenWorld, a veritable WORLD of Hexen II information, features, and resources for and by the Hexen II community. We look forward to hearing what you think!

That should be an incredible Hexen 2 site. Slipgate

D3D vs. OGL, take 9999
6:03 PM EDT
Well, another argument over which is better: Direct3D or OpenGL? This argument was at SIGGRAPH and is covered in this Gamecenter feature. Honestly, I wish Microsoft would do the support the developers asked them to do and stop giving this battle press coverage. But, I guess you can't always have what you want. Sigh. Slipgate

Contest update
6:00 PM EDT
I'd like to take a minute to explain something about the contest. We can't spend our time cleaning up mistakes on the FTP site, so please read the rules over carefully before making submissions. Do NOT make submissions as .BMP files because those will not be valid and won't win. If you have uploaded the wrong logo submission, please don't ask us to go delete it so you can reupload it. Just upload the correct one as a next submission (i.e., if slipgate.gif is the wrong one, instead of mailing us just upload the correct one as slipgate2.gif). Logos that don't follow the requirements will be thrown out. However, remember that since you are allowed to make multiple submissions, we may see your second one or third one and it may win. Bottom line: We don't have the time to go clean up the FTP site if you make mistakes, so please make the effort of reading the instructions over so that you know you are submitting it correctly. And if you make a mistake, correct it by making another "submission". To answer another question I've gotten, we are not looking at any logos yet. Everyone still has equal chance. And, you have over a month, so please take your time and make a really good logo so that you have a great opportunity to win. Sorry, I just had to clear that up. Back to regularly scheduled programming. Slipgate

Links section redux
5:59 PM EDT
I've changed and updated the links section. I've decided to have a lot fewer links to Quake 2 sites (I had an incredible number of dead links before, and some sites have changed focus from Quake 2, others have gone down, etc.). To the other good Quake 2 sites out there, I'd like to get a button to link you with. If you want a link, then send me a button along with the request, please. To the Nebula: Your link isn't intentionally gone, I'm just waiting for you to send me the button to the site. I've also decided on two cosmetic changes to the news, which will take effect by the next time I archive news at the latest. Slipgate

Links section
12:20 AM EDT
Alright, I'll have to explain this based on the mail I've gotten..... my links section hasn't been updated in an eon (in fact, it hasn't been updated since I moved from the Fault Line to here). This is because I've been working on a major redesign/update, and a lot of other work has prevented me from finishing the links section, as well as the fact that pages keep moving. I'll let you know when its done and you can marvel at a really awesome links section that truly covers everything a Quake2.com visitor would need. I won't say too much about my redesign except that I'm hunting down buttons for sites instead of using text links... the rest is a surprise :). Slipgate

QuestGate Quake 2
12:17 AM EDT
Thanks to Narc for dropping me a line about QuestGate Quake 2 News. They also have Hexen 2 etc. pages on similar URLs as the above link, just change the word quake2 to the game in question. Slipgate

Quake 2 Realm moves again
12:12 AM EDT
Minister and Jest informed me that their page, The Quake 2 Realm has moved again... the link provided is to the current URL. I've noticed that Quake 2 pages just seem to be in a constant state of limbo, always moving, never settling down. Hopefully things will settle down soon. Slipgate

News archived again
12:11 AM EDT
Even though it was only a short period of time, I've archived the previous news again at this point. You can read it with the "Older News" link below still, so if you didn't get a chance to see it then you still can. I've decided to move stuff into past news about this frequently (every 4 days). Keeps the page quick loading, and after all the news is still all readable. This is the last time I'll be mentioning news being archived, from now on I'll just be automatically doing it every four days. Slipgate

Older News

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