Retronauts Pocket Episode 12: Quake

Retronauts 12 Pocket cover

Doom just turned 20 years old, but Retronauts decides to talk about Quake instead. In my case, sometimes you just don’t realize until the day comes.

Though Quake was id Software’s long-awaited successor to Doom, and even got more sequels, it doesn’t seem to be as fondly remembered. Sometimes it seems like it’s the butt of a joke when talking about “brown” shooters. While Quake was a very brown game, I still don’t like that’s where it ended up — it was fun, honing the speedy run-and-gun gameplay of Doom while helping bring accessible internet multiplayer gaming to the masses, and a mod community that often thought outside the box. And that’s just part of we talk about on this next half-hour of Retronauts Pocket, which is, of course, all about the very first Quake (plus a run-through of the franchise at the end).

Our chat covers the origins of Quake as an aspirational action-RPG; the involvement of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor; the tech that helped push internet play, and why having the game sold in 7-Eleven was at all notable. Gladly sticking around for the discussion are Dave Rudden and Henry Gilbert from our Wrestlenauts episode, as well. And one or two bits of history in this episode come from David Kushner’s excellent book Masters of Doom, so give that a read if you haven’t yet.

Finally, this episode topic comes to us from Kickstarter backer Michael Nicolai. Our thanks go out to him, and to anyone else who enjoys this episode!

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Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Pocket

11 Responses to Retronauts Pocket Episode 12: Quake

  1. Quake is, unfortunately, about when I started having serious trouble with motion sickness. I used to make myself pretty sick playing it, though at that point I think I could still handle an FPS for at least a couple hours. On the upside, it also came out at a time where I finally had my own desktop computer, rather than having to install Doom on (often black and white) laptops that my dad brought home from work, which might be replaced by a different system at any time. I still have a collection of character skins on one hard drive out another. I think it was also the first game I owned with redbook audio, and I listened to the soundtrack quite a few times. I ended up dropping out of the series after Quake II, not because I didn’t still want to play it, but because I didn’t have a good enough processor to run Quake III Arena.

    • Cory

      Too bad about the motion sickness, G. I can understand why those old “3D” FPS games could do that. Do you still have problems with modern new-fangled FPS like Perfect Dark? Great episode again Retronauts. Happy and safe new year to all.

  2. Josh

    Cool episode, guys! Keep up the good work!

  3. Grant

    Did anyone else notice a lot of audio noise-a bit like static-on the last two episodes? Not sure if that was on my end or not.

    Anyway, I played the hell out of Quake my senior year of high school and into college. I was on dial-up in high school and was an LPB (low-ping bastard) in Quake argot. I tried Quakeworld, but it never seemed to do much for me. So I’d try to get the rocket launcher and camp. That annoyed people, but when I got broadband in college, the vitriol directed at me as an HPB (high-ping bastard) was incredible and I quit playing over the internet. But I could play with other people on campus by searching for LAN matches, even if they were in other buildings, so I kept playing the game. It was so popular that you could always find multiple LAN matches in the afternoon and evening.

  4. Ian

    The original Quake! In a lot of ways, it was a swan song for my interest in id software. Quake 3 was kind of neat as an early multiplayer experiment for me- even though I barely got to play it online- but the original Quake was the last time I was genuine excited to be playing an id game. It was such a product of its time but I wouldn’t complain if someone did a remake of it for a modern game engine…

  5. Daniel Feit

    Bummed to hear my Steam copy of Quake is missing the soundtrack. Was it ever sold to the public? Seems like there’s got to be an easy solution to this.

    • mosp

      There is. All the cd releases include the music in audio track form. The trick is, the only way to hear it during the game on any modern hardware is to either play it idependently in the background or just rip the audio and use a source port which supports file playback. Issues with modern hardware.

  6. Grant

    Daniel, if I remember correctly you can just put the Quake disc in a CD player and it will play the soundtrack.

  7. mosp

    Some issues I had with the episode:

    Neither Quake nor DOOM were uploaded discreetly. The point of the story from MoD (I’m guessing that’s where you got it from) about dumping the shareware onto the servers and being done with it was the team being generally fed up with the troubled development of the game. Something that could’ve been interesting to mention in the podcast, not to mention that it tied several comments you’ve made and facts you’ve mentioned prior to that point, and it would’ve provided the much needed context for the listeners. Also, more background on Romero being enthusiastic about Quake (which wasn’t initially supposed to be another simple shooter – that’s what he was excited for – but ended up being so because of develompent stuff. I’m not talking about the write-up you’ve quoted) would’ve been great. The way you mention that fact makes him look like a crazy person, but there was reason behind him acting that way.

    Here (it’s in the last 10-15 minutes, but the entire postmortem is worth watching) Romero tells a story about how he had problems with uploading the original DOOM shareware because of the user demand:

    Basically, they had to kick everyone out to decrease the server load in order to make this possible. Hardly discreet. The hype for DOOM began even before id started working on it – that’s a full year we’re talking about here – and Quake was a much bigger deal than that. People didn’t as much “find out” about these sharewares as they were waiting for them. At least in PC circles, especially on the Internet. Not to mention that there were pre-release “test” versions of Q1-3.

    The music wasn’t entirely random. Obviously, the space limitations didn’t allow the score to go beyond those 50 minutes, but the tracks were assigned to levels specifically (opposed to the entire thing being on repeat). Same thing with DOOM, actually, only that one still utilized MIDI with far less space to work with.

    The mouselook in Quake isn’t on by default, but you can toggle it using the console in-game, or set it up so that the game launches with the command enabled. That’s pretty much playing Quake 101.

    The first Half-Life runs on the idTech1, not idTech2. There some code from the Q2 engine in there (along with whatever modifications Valve came up with), but that’s about it. Which makes sense, because changing engines mid-development is neither a very good idea , nor a quick and painless transition.

    Kudos for getting the origins of Q2 right. Didn’t expect that 😛

    Oh, and Quake 3 was Quake 3: Arena. The browser game Was Quake Zero, later retitled to Quake Live. It might’ve just been a slip, but since I’m already picking the episode apart… what the hell.

    In general, this episode comes across as poorly structured (at least in its first half) and confusing for someone who didn’t already know more than you actually covered and I think Retronauts really needs someone who knows a bit more about PC games for PC-centric episodes. Otherwise I feel there’s no point delving into that territory most of the time. Jeremy and Sharkey talking about Ultima 4 worked, this episode… not nearly as well, unfortunately.

    Looking forward to the next episode, Happy New Year and all that.

  8. Frankie_L4_87

    Hello, i was a regular listener of Retronauts way back when – however i lost the show (so to speak) around 2010 when i started to lose interest in games generally (as i have done periodically throughout my life). But, while i may be a Call Of Duty/FIFA casual these days, i have maintained an interest in the nostalgia, history and if you will, lore, of classic games. I am glad to see you all back and hope to contribute soon.

    I wonder if a real episode on SNK would be worth considering – in the old days there was a very vague 2007 show on the Neo Geo and later on a decent episode on Metal Slug but i always felt you guys are yet to do the topic real justice.

    SNK remain my favourite classic gaming company and i feel they’re efforts from post Space Invaders coin op company (Vanguard, Safari Rally), to successful NES developer (Ikari Warriors, Baseball Stars, Crystallis), to hardcore arcade icons with the Neo Geo, to eventual financial ruin (after a failed 3D arcade platform and a great but largely obscure handheld device) in 2000, would be a terrific topic.

    Even though SNK’s early Neo Geo games were in many ways crass versions of other companies games (Burning Fight = Final Fight, Cyber Lip = Contra, Art Of Fighting = Street Fighter II) i feel they became a creative force post Samurai Shodown (EGM’s Game of the Year for 1993, something which is forgotten to history, as is perhaps Samurai Shodown I & II’s huge popularity and vibrancy at the time). Post 1993, thanks to a mixture of distinctive aesthetics, endless playability, innovations within the limits of their chosen genres (particularly in fighting games were they were the first to introduce things like special move meters, weapons based fighting, team and tag team based fighting, zooming effects as well as all kinds of gameplay mechanics), colourful graphics, fluid animations and the genuine mastering of 2D – SNK set themselves apart from they’re rivals (most famously Capcom) and deserve a real retrospective. Best wishes and good luck with your future efforts.

  9. Neil

    Now that there are a decent amount of Retronauts episodes, are there any plans to organize the episodes to make them easier to access (especially on mobile)? I liked the way episodes were arranged on the 1up Retronauts page, so I was hoping for something like that eventually.