For many old school gamers, Quake II’s colored lighting was their introduction to to the pixel-pushing power of a dedicated graphics card. The reds were so red and the greens were so green! Did you see the way the yellow blaster shots went down the darkened hallway? On June 6th, Quake II may become another common touchstone when Nvidia releases an update that supports raytracing for the game. They’re even releasing a three-act shareware file (ask your parents about this if you don’t know) for everyone to sample.
While this isn’t the first game with raytracing, nor even the first version of Quake II supporting it, this marks the first official effort from a graphics card manufacturer done in cooperation with id Software. The source code will be released on June 6th as well, so modders can go nuts.
Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence research arm has created bots that have learned to play Quake 3: Arena capture-the-flag. Unlike the gaming bots we’re familiar with which are programmed for specific games and get hidden cheats, DeepMind’s creations learned to play using visual input like humans do and received no information that would not be available to a person. They were actually playing the game and getting better with practice. A mere half-million practice games later, and the bots could beat “strong” human teams 74 percent of the time. Make the bots teabag opponents, scream profanities, and disconnect to avoid losing and we might have something.
Quake Live, id Software’s free-to-play version of Quake III: Arena that’s focused on the competitive scene, is being changed to attract a larger, less hardcore audience. Specifically, the developers want it to appeal to the average Steam user. Bethesda announced at QuakeCon in July that Quake Live would be coming to Steam sometime later this year, but had no information about whether the game would receive an update with the Steam version. Yesterday, producer Adam Pyle revealed that there will be some significant changes. The most controversial additions are an “auto-hop” mechanic, a visible timer will be added to item respawns, and players will be able to choose a secondary weapon before they begin a match.
Quake is a masterful game of skill, often compared to Chess by its veteran players. However, with that depth has come a challenge to welcome and capture new players long enough for them to discover the joy to be found in what many consider the finest Deathmatch game ever made.
A “classic” mode will be available for old-school Quakemasters that scoff at making things easy, although some elements of the update will be global and cannot be disabled.