My Quake Experiences

Home Forums Previous Months 66 – March 2022: Quake My Quake Experiences

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  • sorceress

    I haven’t been following Dos Game Club recently, but after visiting the website today for the first time in ages, I can see… It’s Quake!!

    As it happens, I played through Quake last month, so it seems only right that I should share a few of my memories and experience of this game now.

    Back when Quake came out, I was already familiar with Doom II and a couple of other shooters, because someone had installed them on the computers at my school. I was fortunate that my “home” classroom was the Research Room. This is where individual pupils would be sent to look up things on the CDROMs as part of a geography lesson, or to type out restaurant menus for cooking class, or whatever. The main computer rooms where IT was taught were at the other side of the school. My class had these 486 machines (and all these games) to ourselves during lunch hours, and I spent a good percentage my lunch hours messing around on them.

    It was from this exposure at school, that I was developing an interest in PC gaming. All these new 3D games I was seeing available on the PC were quite exciting to me, as all I had at home on my Atari + Amiga was 2D stuff.

    In 1997, my brother had just finished college and started work, and came home one evening with his flash new company car and a brand new Thinkpad 760 (90MHz Pentium). The first thing he had installed on it was Quake, and he was keen to show me this amazing game, and we ended up playing it all evening. That was my first experience of Quake.

    The previous year I had gotten my own Pentium 150 PC, and I knew that was more capable than my brother’s laptop. After a few weeks I came across a copy of the Quake Demo, so I had the game for myself then. I was a few years before I bought the full game.

    Quake is a very nostalgic game to me, though I’m not sure if I have ever found it that fun. Even in my first few plays of it, it just didn’t have the same flow as Doom II gave me, which was my favourite shooter at that time. Doom had become my standard to measure other shooters against.

    In Doom, you had this strong sense of pushing through as you moved in with your shotgun. The reload time, damage and player movement speed were perfectly balanced. It was also a game about fancy footwork: Dodging imp missiles, strafing in front of one mob to take cover from another, and keeping distance from demons, etc.

    Quake’s weapons felt lacking in comparison – the shotguns felt strange to me, and the rockets felt uncomfortably weak. The two nailguns felt unnecessary, though the supernailgun was the one good weapon in the game. The grenade and rocket launchers and useful here and there, but I feel like they break the flow of the game too much. There are also so many bombs dropped by ogres that I always had far too many of them in my inventory, while often being short of shells/nails. The ultimate weapon Thunderbolt is pretty lame, and there’s little tactical skill in using it. I get that it’s supposed to be used against Vores primarily, but the combat is mindless, making both the Thunderbolt and the Vore bad design decisions.

    Quake’s mobs are mostly uninteresting to interact with too, with the grenade-throwing-chainsaw-weilding-ogre and the plasma-barrage-shooting-guy being the only good ones. The later mobs are quite poorly designed. The aforementioned Vore (spider thing that shoots homing missiles) barely move around, so they make simple targets, especially with the thunderbolt – it’s mindless. The Spawn (flying leech) has got the be the worst design decision in the game. Inactive at first, making them effortless to pick off. But if they manage to come alive and get airborne, they fly around at high speed in a frenzy like moths, following you if you try to run away. Shooting them out of the air is luck based, because they’re nigh on impossible to aim at. Really id software, what is the point of them?

    Quake’s graphics are admittedly very beautiful, but they quickly became monotonous for me. I feel like half of the game is comprised of just-another-dreary-castle levels.

    The level design is perhaps it’s main strength of the game, and is the greatest source of nostalgia for me. It was one of the first true polygonal 3D engines as well (alongside Descent), which made it a rather special experience back in the day.

    In February this year, I revisited Quake, and completed the whole game for the first time. That was quite satisfying.

    I also played to uncover every secret in the game – both the scored secrets and the secret secrets, including the dopefish and the raven room. I tried to avoid using the GameFAQ walkthrough as much as possible, only a few times when I couldn’t find all of the secrets did I look up where they were.

    After that I challenged myself to master the first episode on Hard difficulty – 100% completing all 8 levels as quick as I could without using movement tricks like rocket jumps or bunny hopping, or as I describe it “playing as Carmack intended”.

    My best level times are below. Lets see if any of you can beat these 😀

    Hard difficulty, all kills, all secrets.
    E1M1 – 2m50s 2m13s
    E1M2 – 2m33s
    E1M3 – 5m48s
    E1M4 – 4m48s
    E1M8- 4m19s
    E1M5 – 3m58s
    E1M6 – 3m12s
    E1M7 – 0m51s
    Total 28m19s 27m42s


    Welcome back, sorceress, and thanks for sharing! I always love hearing people’s nostalgic stories about video games. I wish my home room at high school had been a computer room 😉

    I was afraid of sharing my thoughts on this game so far. I feel like I’ve been overly critical of everything lately, and that I’m probably missing something with Quake since it’s so popular. But you have said basically everything I’ve thought about the game – the poor balance and design of weapons and enemies, the monotonous colour scheme, etc.
    The fact that somebody that has been playing this game since it came out can see these flaws makes me think it’s not just me being picky!

    Still, I can see why the game is and was so popular. It plays remarkably modern – with just a slight tweak of the controls you can almost forget this game is 25 years old. It’s just so smooth, and it sells the genuine 3D environments really well.
    Apparently the true joy in this game is in the multiplayer. While I’ve never liked multiplayer shooters, I think I’m going to give it a shot this month with the club.

    I like that text file you linked. It’s a really interesting to get into John Carmack’s mind a bit.
    Do you have any videos or demos of your runs, Sorceress? I quite enjoy watching that sort of thing 🙂


    Hey TigerQuoll 🙂

    I recorded a demo of E1M1 for you. I found a much faster way through the level today, beating my best time above. It’s sometimes a struggle to think what is the best order to tackle things in, especially when there are teleports and the like.

    It’s also hard for me to remember where I’m going sometimes, as will be clear in this demo!

    Hopefully this uploads ok…



    Noice, great work!
    I don’t have the patience for speedrunning or other challenges like that, but I enjoy watching others doing them. Thanks for sharing! You got some skills 😉


    Great write up!

    It took me a while to be able to play this game; I was stuck with a 486dx2 for a very long time until a few months after release when I finally got hold of a P166 and a 3dfx card.

    I shared a similar opinion of the game. I enjoyed the variation of monsters in the game and the 3D feel of the environments and it had an awesome soundtrack! However, like you said, the single player felt very monotonous and was a chore to push myself through. However, the multiplayer was very good and there were always servers with loads of players available so that was where I spent the majority of my time.

    I wasn’t very good (and still am not to this day) but I still enjoyed every moment of it.



    “Quake’s weapons felt lacking in comparison”: 100% agree, though I think it is largely the mobs being bullet sponges. The nailguns feel pretty sweet to use, until you fire and fire and fire just to do anything.

    I haven’t gotten far enough to comment on the mobs, but even as far as I got in (First lightning yeti) I agree on the design: Really lovely, but damn repetitive already. Something about that colour palette just makes it feel really repretative right off the bat.


    The computer room at high school was also my first experience with Quake. I didn’t do computer studies, but we had a free period and a teacher decided to drop us off in there as an easy way of supervising a bunch of bored students. Someone who knew what they were doing set up Quake deathmatch and we all passed the time with some excitement.

    Eventually my family got our own PC, and I… obtained a copy of Quake. The singleplayer was fine, not as fun as the BUILD engine games that I had also delved into, but it kept me entertained. What I really loved was the other CD my friend had loaned me: it contained a bunch of mods, maps, and tutorials on using Quake’s tools incluuding QuakeC.

    One thing led to another and I was involved in an old total conversion of an older DOS game, which was quite the experience, but that feels like a lifetime ago now. I play through Quake maybe once a year, same as with Doom, Duke3D, Blood etc. I didn’t do too well in multiplayer, so I don’t really miss it, but Quake will always have a permanent place on my hard drive.


    @Kazashi, what TC were you involved with?

    I spent some years working on Star Wars Quake (“The Call of the Force”)!


    The first time I remember seeing Quake must have been around 1996-1997, when my older brother stumbled on what was probably the shareware release on a coverdisk CD. I can’t say I recall much as I was only a kid, but I do remember being a bit creeped out by the zombie enemies, the very iconic rocket launcher and also my mom telling my brother not to play these sorts of videogames in front of me :D. This was the family PC after all, so it resided in the living room where everyone had access to it, and more importantly the parents could keep an eye out on what was happening.

    I skipped Quake 2 and played a lot of Quake 3 a few years later, so I obviously knew the franchise, but I didn’t get to play Quake until some time later, around 2004 or so. I have this memory of looking at screenshots of the original Quake online and in magazines that I used to read, usually denoting it as a major 3D milestone. I eventually managed to get a copy of the entire thing (or was it just the shareware?) off of Limewire, a classic P2P client that you were never really sure if you were getting the real deal or the Sasser worm. Anyway, I still remember that 18MB download vividly, it took a while with my 56K dial-up connection! To my amazement, extracting the zipped archive resulted in the entire thing (minus the music of course) residing in my desktop, but I had difficulty getting it to work. By this point I had moved on to Windows XP and the OS just wasn’t having it with the DOS executable of the game, thankfully I quickly found WinQuake online and managed to play the game, to my delight!

    And then, after all that hassle and eventual success, I just… didn’t really play it much. I seem to recall beating the first episode and fighting Cthon, but it just didn’t click at the time. I kept it around, using it as a benchmark and stress test for various machines, especially when I got my first Voodoo card and wanted to run GLQuake on it. So, it was always kinda around after that point and eventually, around 2009 I decided to give it another go and I was hooked! By this point, I had gotten a legit, boxed copy of the game which I still have, and I’m fairly certain the soundtrack played a role in this and reading Masters of Doom also gave me more context. I even went ahead and played the expansion packs, which I enjoyed.

    From this point on, I’ve replayed and beaten Quake multiple times over the years and I can safely say it is one of my favorite FPS games, probably edging Doom on my personal scale. The pick up and play nature of the game is immensely satisfying to me. My latest run was during August when the re-release hit the scene. I went through the entire thing twice, once on Hard and another on Nightmare, including the new (and amazing) episode, the 5th episode released on its 20th anniversary and the expansion packs. It was a fun challenge to say the least!


    @watchful I was involved in a project called Transfusion, which aimed to recreate Blood (in a time before decent source ports were created).


    I started a casual game of Quake a few years back, playing on Easy in DOSBox. Got bored and stopped somewhere in the middle of the third episode. Now I decided to try to complete it while it’s game of the month. 😁 Didn’t quite get there – still have a few E4 levels to go, let’s see if I can finish up tonight.

    Still, I like Quake more than Quake II. The levels are short, which makes it easier to divide the game into small chunks. Important for someone like me, who doesn’t generally have lots of consecutive play time. The monsters have more variety to them too.

    Edit: yes, I did finish it last night. The penultimate E4 level (The Pain Maze) was 100% true to its name. The most annoying level in the game – even on Easy. I must have not figured out the proper way of playing through it.

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