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Despite New Owner, id Still Lives Or Dies By Their Engines

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the i-want-to-bunny-hop-in-elder-scrolls-v dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 131

The Guardian has an article about id Software's status after being purchased by ZeniMax (Bethesda's parent company) not long ago. While id gained considerable financial stability out of the deal, it's clear that what Bethesda has to gain is access to top-of-the-line engine technology, which they've often needed to license. id's Todd Hollenshead said, "The videogames business is defined by technology, which is why guys like JC [John Carmack] are still so significant. Consumers may not be as in touch with the intricacies as they used to be, but you can still make significant, impactful change. We're confident Rage will be one of them..." He also mentions that "the PC market has receded in terms of significance," a sentiment evidenced by id's aggressive expansion into the iPhone games market.

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Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

deweyhewson (1323623) | about 5 years ago | (#28578441)

If the PC market has "receded in terms of significance" it is due solely to developers abandoning the platform. If developers like id or Valve (with their recent Left 4 Dead 2 fiasco) would remember the platform that made them what they are, then the platform itself would still be doing just fine, thank you very much. PCs haven't changed. Developers have.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (0)

Toonol (1057698) | about 5 years ago | (#28578529)

There's a lot of factors. Piracy -> DRM -> problems -> Piracy. Throw in terrible operating systems, an almost infinite number of hardware configurations... I'm surprised as many games get made for the PC as still do. There's certain games PCs do better than consoles, but that number is shrinking. Any advantage the mouse/keyboard combo gave the PC (which was substantial) is shrinking; it nearly went away with the wiimote. The only REAL advantage that the PC has is (1) modability with user generated content and scripts, and (2) the presence of small, independent games. As a platform for most big-budget, AAA games... I don't think a sentimental fondness for the pc is going to overcome the many difficulties in the platform.

(I LOVE gaming on my pc... although I rarely play anything from the last five years.)

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about 5 years ago | (#28578637)

"Any advantage the mouse/keyboard combo gave the PC (which was substantial) is shrinking; it nearly went away with the wiimote. "

Wait, why? These are completely unrelated, and the game types are completely different. How do you play a FPS or a RTS (which account for most of the PC games) using a Wiimote?

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | about 5 years ago | (#28580249)

Wait, why? These are completely unrelated, and the game types are completely different. How do you play a FPS or a RTS (which account for most of the PC games) using a Wiimote?

The Wii has a few FPSes with great controls. Metroid Prime 3 comes to mind immediately, give it a try some time.

I haven't played an RTS on the Wii, but the obvious answer would be that you could use the wiimote pointer just a mouse.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2, Insightful)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 years ago | (#28580875)

Keyboard shortcuts are an integral part of most RTSes. It's a ridiculous amount of work doing everything on the mouse.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582443)

Rhetorical question: Why do you need keyboard shortcuts? Couldn't a game easily be designed to use a menu system entirely and not need them at all? Admittedly, such a game might be slower paced than other games, but it could be done.

Also, modern gamepads have a lot of buttons, that can be used in combination to provide such things as would be provided by keyboard shortcuts (that's how C&C worked on the PSone) For example, say you have to hit the Home key on your keyboard to center your view on your base. You either have to bring your left hand over or take your hand off your mouse, while say on a Dual Shock style controller that could be as easy and as fast as say R2+L1.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#28581479)

How do you play a FPS or a RTS (which account for most of the PC games) using a Wiimote?

Same way you play them with a mouse. Tense up, breath heavily, make swift twitching movements and press the left click/fire button eight times for every needed press. Then issue a stream of profanities, whether or not you're winning.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 years ago | (#28578675)

Wiimote is still significantly worse than using a mouse, mostly due to the difficulty of turning in shooters. And don't forget the keyboard. There are many types of games which have trouble fitting their functionality comfortably into just 8 buttons. Sometimes it's also handy to have a controller which can be used for writing without a virtual keyboard.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#28579137)

The wii has keyboard support so you could, as a dev, make a game that uses a keyboard.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 5 years ago | (#28579177)

Just like the PC has wii support so you could, as a dev, make a game that uses a wiimote on the pc.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | about 5 years ago | (#28581401)

Just like the PC has wii support so you could, as a dev, make a game that uses a wiimote on the pc.

Not without using an API made by a person who has a 'cannot be used in Israel' line in his EULA.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

neumayr (819083) | about 5 years ago | (#28579641)

Sure, because games that rely on non-standard hardware do so very well (obvious exceptions, like Guitar Hero, notwithstanding).
Especially a keyboard.. You don't sit at your desk, on your office chair with its comfortable typing position. You sit on your couch, and type with your keyboard on your lap, a fair distance from your screen. Must be a hell of a game, to make you suffer through that much strain.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582505)

Especially a keyboard.. You don't sit at your desk, on your office chair with its comfortable typing position.

Actually I do. I have a PS3 with an office style setup on a desk sitting next to a 19" HDTV, the keyboard and mouse are on the pullout tray. I had/have a Linux install on my PS2/PS3 and have played both PS2 MMORPG's so a desktop style setup works really well. Helped with the PS2 keyboard+mouse supporting ports of Deus Ex and Half Life too. And if I'm just using the PS3's media features, or shopping at the PSN, or just browsing with the GameOS web browser I don't even need to turn on the Dual Shock 3 at all since you can control the GameOS XMB interface solely with a keyboard/mouse.

You sit on your couch, and type with your keyboard on your lap, a fair distance from your screen. Must be a hell of a game, to make you suffer through that much strain.

That works too, I've done that as well, though it works better with one of those lap-pad style writing desk thingies. Flat plastic surface with a fabric covered cushion underneath. If your keyboard has a built in trackpad like the PS3 oriented Mediaboard they sell in stores, that's great. Or if your lap-pad is big enough you can put the mouse beside it, or on the side next to you on the couch if it's optical.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (3, Insightful)

alexhard (778254) | about 5 years ago | (#28578763)

The keyboard and mouse combo is still very far from being surpassed. The problem is that 99% of games these days are cross-platform, and as such the control scheme is designed for the lowest common denominator (consoles), and thus doesn't make use of the possibilities offered by keyboard+mouse.

Another advantage the PC has is much more powerful hardware.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28578905)

The problem is the games, there is no reason you couldn't connect a keyboard and mouse to the usb ports present on all modern consoles, games just need to be written to support them... And if the game is multi platform, it would presumably already have that support had they bothered to enable it for the console builds.

You can get more powerful hardware in a PC, but...
Many people don't have cutting edge hardware, many people i know use hardware less powerful than an xbox360 or ps3. Because of this games cannot require the latest hardware or they lose a significant chunk of potential customers.
The OS overhead wastes a significant amount of that power, especially if you run any additional background apps like av... Build a PC of comparable specs to a first gen xbox and try playing halo on it...

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28579429)

Microsoft specifically forbids developers from using a keyboard and mouse as input devices for a game on the Xbox 360. The only exception is a keyboard may be used for text entry.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28580083)

The problem is that 99% of games these days are cross-platform, and as such the control scheme is designed for the lowest common denominator (consoles), and thus doesn't make use of the possibilities offered by keyboard+mouse.

If you have one PC and one 32" monitor but four people, you need to drop to the lowest common denominator because Windows happens not to support four keyboards or four mice through a USB hub very well.

Another advantage the PC has is much more powerful hardware.

A lot of PCs come with Intel GMA; I still haven't been able to get a straight answer as to whether or not a typical PC with an Intel GMA 950 is more powerful than a Wii.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28578873)

Console makers are shooting themselves in the foot... All the modern consoles come with USB ports, and most modern keyboards and mice are USB... There is nothing to stop someone connecting a keyboard/mouse to a console and using it to play games...
As for modding, games would just need to be designed for that purpose, consoles come with hard drives, usb and memory card slots these days so it wouldn't be hard to have them look there for data files.
Not sure what to say about small independent games, the console makers want to maintain an iron grip over their consoles, sony let you run mostly what you want but restrict access to the video hardware making it largely useless for independent games, and ms/nintendo don't even allow that. Perhaps they should open up the system but restrict unofficial games to being free unless you market them through official channels, and slap a big disclaimer on the screen before such a game boots...

Aside from that, as you pointed out, the PC is a terrible gaming platform... Mac would make a somewhat better platform because there are far less possible hardware configurations but having a full blown OS running under your game is far from efficient. The Amiga had the right idea, limited number of hardware configs, full featured OS available if you wanted it but games could also take over the hardware directly like on a console.

Modding is cannibalization (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28580101)

There is nothing to stop someone connecting a keyboard/mouse to a console and using it to play games...

Other than that players 2 through 4 would be at a disadvantage.

As for modding, games would just need to be designed for that purpose, consoles come with hard drives, usb and memory card slots these days so it wouldn't be hard to have them look there for data files.

The console makers want to restrict moddability. Little Big Planet is one thing, but Nintendo doesn't want modders turning Metroid Prime into Metroid Kart for fear of it cutting into the sales of Mario Kart.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#28579553)

"There's a lot of factors. Piracy -> DRM -> problems -> Piracy."

This is a scapegoat I'm sorry, many games were released during the age of broadband and the internet and were easily downloadable then (pre 2000, 1998/1997). Warez scene has been around since ye old shareware days and before that. Copies of Dos / Win 3.1 were shared rampantly via sneakernet.

What really happened is this:

Game graphics tech got more and more complex with the advent of 3D acelleration, which upped development costs for creating assets by an enormous amount. The game industry did this to themselves, their belief that in order to expand the market they had to keep pushing the graphics envelope, etc, etc. From a business standpoint they pushed their development costs higher and higher but the gaming market for each game could not grow in tandem with their development costs.

The advent of 3D acelleration was a blessing but also a major burden for PC game development. The original games (duke 3d, Doom, Doom 2, diablo, starcraft, etc) were *ALL* games that could be rendered by a traditional 2D graphics card. This changed with the advent of 3D accelerators, the like of nvidia and 3dfx so a "Race to the death" in terms of PC graphics performance, new cards every year and then every 6-8 months from nvidia really did a lot to fragment and skew the PC game market for people that didn't even know what a 3D card was.

It took a while until every system had 3D acceleration like today, but even today your onboard 3D acceleration still sucks ass and it's better to go with an add in card.

Descent 3 and Freespace 1 + 2, part of the reason they bombed was because a large segment of Descent and other game players did not have 3D acceleration or could not afford it. This was lost on a lot of PC game developers and they ended up folding or going consoles (volition of freespace and freespace 2 fame comes to mind).

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28579733)

Freespace had a software renderer, so how did that one bomb?

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2, Informative)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#28580195)

"Freespace had a software renderer, so how did that one bomb?"

Descent 3 and Fs2 both had lower then expected sales, D3 and FS2 were both 3D accelerator only.

Descent 3 didn't technically bomb but it was nowhere near the sales of D1 and D2 according to interplay it sold "respectable numbers" in contrast to Freesapce 2.

Descent 1 and 2 by contrast could run on any system. Back then (around 1996/7/8), 3D accelerators did not have enough market penetration outside of certain genre's, Mainly FPS (quake, etc) and this did a lot to deter PC game developers because they didn't understand the dynamics of what hardware was out there. If there was something like Steam back then giving hardware surveys the could have made a lot more intelligent decisions in terms of making games.

Freespace 2 bombed, the first one didn't obviously (they had an expansion, silent threat). But Freespace 2 was 3D accelerators only, also note a game like Starcraft's popularity in korea was partly due to the fact that it does not *require* 3d acceleration and can run on most any system.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | about 5 years ago | (#28581027)

Descent 3 and Freespace 1 + 2, part of the reason they bombed was because a large segment of Descent and other game players did not have 3D acceleration or could not afford it. This was lost on a lot of PC game developers and they ended up folding or going consoles (volition of freespace and freespace 2 fame comes to mind).

Nah, those games just sucked in a major way. Descent was interesting for 5 minutes what with the full 3D and so on, but ugly as sin and quite repetitive. Freespace tried to be Elite with a terrible story --- and that mix just wasn't very fun.

Besides, I do believe XBox360 and win32 uses the same freaking interface for 3D (directX), so 3D accel isn't even a distinguishing factor.

Nah, for my money, it is lack of sales that is killing the PC platform --- possibly due to rampant copying.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | about 5 years ago | (#28581827)

This is a scapegoat I'm sorry, many games were released during the age of broadband and the internet and were easily downloadable then (pre 2000, 1998/1997). Warez scene has been around since ye old shareware days and before that. Copies of Dos / Win 3.1 were shared rampantly via sneakernet.

Of course there has always been a ton of piracy, but the major change in recent years is that one can easily download warez without being a member of a "scene". Also, since its occurring in the open, publishers are more aware of it.

I tend to agree with you about the demands of 3D accelleration, but the other major change is the consumer PC market shifting to laptops starting in the early 2000s. In the glory days of PC gaming, a video card upgrade was simple and cheap, now it's basically impossible for most users. So the graphically intensive ID-style titles almost have to be on consoles to find a market.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (4, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#28582031)

Any advantage the mouse/keyboard combo gave the PC (which was substantial) is shrinking; it nearly went away with the wiimote

WTF are you on? the wiimote sucks for anything other than sports/minigames,
MMORPG - forget having a complex worlds with different spells at your fingertips with just a few buttons
RTS - seriously no chance of playing anything but a simplified RTS with just a few buttons
FPS - you need an aimable area much bigger than that of a tv screen
shooters - timecrises/zombie flick/etc well these kind of work, but you never actually point to shoot, you move the crosshair about (but fundamentaly these DO work on the wii)

The other advantages of PC games are ofc:
easy mods :- counter-strike, day of defeat, gary's mod
better graphics - The id5tech engine will have to trade off fps for graphics quality on rage, on pc you get to set this yourself because high-end pcs can already
better bang for buck for hardware - Ok some specs are better on game systems when they are first released, but given that pcs can be upgraded and generally come with more than 512MB ram, if you spend $400 upgrading you system every 3/4 years (probably more often if you bought an xbox) you system would be far more powerful than any current gen system.
Free(ish) multiplayer gaming for most genres.
Better communities / multiplayer architecture for most genres - having dedicated servers, forums and admins, produces a much better gaming experience than xbox/wii/ps3-live ever can

All consoles really have is:
noob friendly (is that really a plus)
local multiplayer

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582643)

MMORPG - forget having a complex worlds with different spells at your fingertips with just a few buttons

Do you really need access to all your spells all the time? Are there not spells you rarely use? Couldn't an interface be designed to take that into account? Yes, yes it could and has been done...twice. I've played both console MMORPG's: Final Fantasy XI and Everquest Online Adventures. Though you need a keyboard for communicating, you don't really need it to control the game, because the games UI has been designed properly to not need a bajillion keys for EVERY single spell or skill.

RTS - seriously no chance of playing anything but a simplified RTS with just a few buttons

You'll have to define "few" because modern consoles have a lot of buttons, that can be used in combination as well. They have enough to play Warzone 2100, several C&C's, Warcraft II, Starcraft, and Dune 2000. Using the analog sticks for map scrolling and/or pointer movement also frees up the d-pad for other functions.

better bang for buck for hardware - Ok some specs are better on game systems when they are first released, but given that pcs can be upgraded and generally come with more than 512MB ram, if you spend $400 upgrading you system every 3/4 years (probably more often if you bought an xbox) you system would be far more powerful than any current gen system.

It's more like every 5 to 6 years for most console gamers, Microsoft is an anomaly in the market. As for powerful, the fastest CPU in this household is the Cell in the PS3 and I figure that's the case in most households. And even for gaming, most people don't play anything other than simple flash games or solitaire on their PC and just have integrated graphics. Our PC here is no match for the PS3 as a gaming device (nvidia 7150m), just like our previous PC (Intel 852/855 GME) was no match for the PS2. In fact, for certain things, the PS3 might even be better at doing them than the PC is. For example, if I wanted to batch scale some images from the digital camera it would probably be easier (and perhaps faster) to do so using ImageMagick under Linux on the PS3 than trying to do it in Windows Vista.

Free(ish) multiplayer gaming for most genres.

Only Microsoft charges for multiplayer. PS2/PS3 owners have free multiplayer, except for MMORPG's of course.

Better communities / multiplayer architecture for most genres - having dedicated servers, forums and admins, produces a much better gaming experience than xbox/wii/ps3-live ever can

Are you sure the consoles don't have such things? Because they do, at least for some games.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28583031)

I'm sorry to break it to my parent, but this post is one big compromise on gaming quality. It's not the same game if you have to specifically gimp the interface to fit into a smaller input range.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 5 years ago | (#28583573)

You'll have to define "few" because modern consoles have a lot of buttons, that can be used in combination as well.
Some do, the wiimote certainly doesn't though. When used in the wiimote/nunchuck configuration there is an analog stick (which is not clickable) and two buttons on the nunchuck and a dpad and two usable buttons on the wiimote.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28578629)

I don't get how you think id and Valve have forgotten the platform that made them big. Pretty much all of id's work lands on PC first, and Steam is a distribution platform for PC games.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 years ago | (#28578831)

I think the quote "receded in terms of significance" means that because consoles don't have the illusion of piracy problems that PCs do, and consoles can also bring a lot of additional revenue streams that are not present with PCs (like DRM-ed downloadable content), it means that more bucks on average can be made from the console gamer than the PC gamer.

PCs are not going away anytime soon. In this economy, it becomes harder for someone to justify the cost of a console if they don't have one already, while PCs are virtually everywhere. If a game company can get something playable on the average Mac hardware (I heard a rule of thumb is to get a game working decently on the last model of x86 Macbook running Windows under Boot Camp, so if something runs well on the white/black polycarbonate Macbooks made in early 2008, they have a large market of people they can sell to.)

As for piracy, for every measure on a PC, there is a counter measure. If a company makes a dongle, an emulator is written. A company does CD protection, a patch gets put out. Activation? Will get patched. Forced authentication off a server? Someone will make a client patch and offer private servers. DMCA hammer gets swung, the torrents come from non-WIPO nations. This is why game companies absolutely adore consoles and the total lockdown they bring. The best compromise I have seen to slow down PC game piracy is what Bioware did with NWN1 after the no CD patch, which is to check serials if someone connects to the Internet servers, but allow LAN play (perhaps a serial check can be done here, but this can be beaten by a keygen). Of course, there will be a number of freeloaders, but there will also be a lot of paying customers, and a company should only focus on the customers who shell out the bucks and not fret about pirates [1]. Instead, spend the time and effort into expansions and refining the IP.

Should the big players leave the market (I doubt it even with all the wringing of hands about piracy), then smaller game companies will move in to fill the void. This is similar to how ID was born in the first place with starting in the shareware market. There is always room for good games for the PC because they are not leaving the desks of most of the gamers anytime soon.

[1]: This doesn't mean to not protect one's copyrights and trademarks, but not to worry that there is a large number of pirates out there using the products. If users of pirated copies can't use the multiplayer networks, nor download game patches, they are not consuming much in the way of resources. Plus, it gets word of mouth of a game out, because oftentimes, pirated "demo" copies turn into fully licensed versions.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 5 years ago | (#28579445)

It's pretty clear to me what is going on.

Someone who spends 300+ dollars for a console (which is nothing more than a propitiatory computer) are more likely to spend money on games for that platform and then turn around and buy the new platform in 2 years. They are already totally on board with the idea that they will have zero control and are willing to pay whatever you demand. People who play or did play computer games are much more likely to cause trouble and bitch.

Some people do hack and mod the systems but most people who run out and by a PS3, wee or XBOX360 will never do so. I have an xbox v1.1 I paid 20 bucks for broke, fixed it, installed a 300gb HD drive packed full of games and emulators and flashed the sucker. When people see it they beg me to mod their systems until I tell them they need to fork over the money for the mod chip and hard drive and then strangely they don't want to do it anymore. I say strangely because the total cost to mod is less than buying two games but I guess they don't see it that way.

As far as hardware compatibility problems.. I don't think that is much of an issue being that there are only two video chip makers and two processor chip makers left. Everyone runs WinXP for games and turning off antivirus isn't hard or even needed most of the time so I'm pretty sure it's all about the DRM and fanboys being fanboys.

Owning a computer is normal but talking about how fast it is is being a nerd. Owning a PS3 is cool and means your mommy and daddy must love you enough to hand over their credit card.

nuff said...

Pejorative much? (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28580185)

Some people do hack and mod the systems but most people who run out and by a PS3, wee or XBOX360 will never do so.

You call the Wii "wee", so why not call the PS3 the "piss 3"?

Re:Pejorative much? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 5 years ago | (#28580721)

You call the Wii "wee", so why not call the PS3 the "piss 3"?

It wasn't a typo if that's what you're getting at. I just didn't want to push my luck with the Sony fanboys...

cough.. sony rootkit... cough, addhumm.. sorry... what was I saying again?

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28581119)

Well, there's more too it than that. Let's take a trip back in time to the 1980's, the Atari and Commodore 64 ruled the PC roost and Electronic Arts, Infocom, Origin Systems and others were making great, fun PC games that we all loved.

The great thing about these systems was that they included what was for the time decent graphics hardware.

Sometime later, the Amiga and Atari 520ST came out, but my family didn't get one of those. No, we got some IBM clone abomination with no graphics. My Dad made some comment that "this is a serious computer, not a game machine."

He apparently hadn't be paying attention to the fact that gaming had been my biggest activity since grade school... or perhaps didn't care. Of course, a lot of that was boardgames and Pen & Paper too. Or maybe he just didn't realize how pathetically crippled the IBM clone he bought was. He's not a gamer at all, so graphics and sound needed to be justified some other way.

I still had my Ataris (two versions of the 800 at that point) but Atari 800 games started to dry up. Then for Christmas me and my brother got... an NES to share. The NES appealed to Dad because it was considerably cheaper than buying an Amiga, and that was that. Later I bought myself a Lynx and a Sega Genesis (when I realized Lynx software support, while OK, was somewhat limited).

The big change? Computers weren't coming with state of the art graphics support out of the box. Even today, you can't go and just buy any PC game and expect it to work. You might not have enough memory, you might not have enough Graphics Processing Power, your CPU might not be fast enough.

PCs are still superior as platforms than consoles if you care about things like Liberty (appropriate for this 4th of July), but consoles deliver a consistant and repeatable experience. (Major Japanese developers tend to treat PC gaming as a red headed step child, and many of those console games will never see the light of day on a PC.)

There has been a big change in consoles, which is price. Which has gone up in a big way recently. I expect that's caused a bit of a revival in the PC market. Last Christmas I got my little girl a graphics card for her PC rather than a console, because I just couldn't justify the price for what we would get. She's more of a DS and PC Gamer anyway.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 5 years ago | (#28581389)

"this is a serious computer, not a game machine."

Yes.. The Internet IS serious fucking business...

While your story has some merit you leave out the part where a huge amount of PC games came out during the NES, SNES, XBOX, ETC days when it was much more likely to have a problem than today. The Xbox had a 733Mhz Intel Processor, You can't buy a new computer that slow anymore and even onboard graphic's or a 49 dollar video card will play most games perfectly fine in a decent rez.

I still think it has more to due with control than with hardware problems. As far as software goes... yeah ok we got some trouble there but not as much as back in the day with da 640k base memory.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582667)

A lot of folks back then essentially used their C64's, Atari's and Amigas as game consoles, and never used them for anything else, at least after the crash of '84. The C64 and Amiga were actually originally designed to be consoles, that were turned into computers later in their development. Nigh about 87 a lot of those people had shifted to the NES.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (1)

drsquare (530038) | about 5 years ago | (#28579523)

Developers want to make games for whichever platforms sell. With hardcore PC gamers only wanting to play MMOs or FPS sequels, and casual PC gamers only playing browser games, then developers will concentrate on consoles and handhelds.

Re:Reduced Focus = Reduced Significance (2, Interesting)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 5 years ago | (#28581777)

I agree with you, but i wouldnt toss Valve into the mix. Valve has been great on the PC. Steam while it still is a copy protection scheme, is still a pretty dam good distribution platform and a great gaming community. Yes its a form of DRM but they're pretty fair with the users and Steam doesn't hassle the user in any way really. Its very light on resources and it enhances the gaming community.

Valve has also been incredible with Team Fortress 2. They've supported it quite well and Its far better than anything ID has ever put out.

The Left 4 Dead 2 thing was a kick in the ass to PC gamers that bought L4D (such as myself). The reason being is that Left 4 Dead was too simple, too short, and seamed like a mod (which in reality it is and they some what admit to it if you read about the history of its development).

The problem was Left 4 Dead was so simple and under developed, that fans had expected Valve to support it with lots of free content that would enhance the game such as new campaigns, new weapons, better AI, etc. This expectation was due to the fact that Valve had been so generous with Team Fortress 2 and they still are to this day. They have been openly supporting TF2 at their own cost, selling the game for $10 on several occasions. They managed to grow a large user base by building a community of gamers and supporting it, so much that we all expected them to do the same with Left 4 Dead.

L4D is a really shallow and boring game. Its a great idea that never really came to light in its execution. Valve probably knows this and decided to just go ahead and do a Left 4 Dead. I dont think L4D was EVER expected to be as popular and as huge as it became (thanks to the hype). L4D2 will remain a thorn in most gamers minds until it is released. I plan to buy L4D2 if it is of quality this time around. L4D was a huge disappointment but a great idea.

Anyways... I agree... PC gaming is not dead.... YET. If developers like ID dont start actually making games.... It will die.

Valve has done far more for PC gaming than id has done recently. id may not even be relevant these days because they're too slow to develope and no one is interested in their games because no one ever hears of what they're doing. They might as well not even exist. id is legendary but they need to produce something NOW.

I just bought Street Fighter IV on steam... I own it already on xbox360. So I dont think PC gaming is dead. The PC has the best version of Street Fighter IV, and MadCatz's xbox 360 Tournament Arcade stick works perfectly on the PC as well.... so its a match made in heaven.

Developers like CAPCOM (makers of street fighter), whom are traditionally console developers have been supporting the PC more than ever now a days. More so than even id software. Capcom has put out more PC games than id has in the past 10 years. I find that interesting.

That said... Xbox live is a great community, and the xbox hardware itself is good enough to play 720p games while sitting back on your couch looking at a giant HD LCD screen. More people use voice coms on xbox live than on pc and more people have xbox's than a gaming PC.

The consoles are going to win this war because developers are going where the people are first, and second they do still care about piracy. The PC versions of console games tend to come out after the console release. The console releases all get priority (Street Fighter, Lost Planet, Red Faction all came out later on PC).

This is why i wont toss valve under the bus... Valve has created an Xbox Live like experience with Steam. A friends list, voice coms, game invites, messages, personal webpages for gamers, digital download distribution with a very friendly drm scheme.

Valve is doing the right thing, and I'm proud of their fair pricing and often ridiculously cheap prices on their hit titles... They're quite fair to gamers in many respects. The whole Left 4 Dead 2 thing is a bitch but i cant complain too much. I bought Team fortress 2 for $10 on Steam, and they have given me so much free additional content for TF2 and have kept the community alive and well that it really is admirable. I cant kill Valve for the Left 4 Dead 2 thing yet... not until I see the final product.

Thanks id Software, for the GPL of Doom/Quake (5, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 5 years ago | (#28578459)

Thanks id Software, for the GPL of Doom/Quake. Right now it is a serious blessing! Thanks!

Re:Thanks id Software, for the GPL of Doom/Quake (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#28582039)

They've already made it clear that when the time is right they will GPL idtech5 (the rage engine, though ofc they never release the gamedata)

Re:Thanks id Software, for the GPL of Doom/Quake (1)

Obyron (615547) | about 5 years ago | (#28583371)

For reference, the engine is called id Tech 5, and it is being used for a game called Rage, amongst other things. The RAGE Engine is Rockstar's engine, which was used for GTA4, Midnight Club LA, and for the upcoming Max Payne sequel. Not replying to you specifically so much as all the people I've seen referring to id's "Rage Engine". It's going to get confusing...

Try making good games again id... (3, Insightful)

dstyle5 (702493) | about 5 years ago | (#28578471)

"the PC market has receded in terms of significance,"

While its true that PC gaming is sharing a larger and larger chunk of its gaming dollars with consoles, there is still money to be made on PCs IMO. For people like me I'll take mouse/keyboard over a console controller any day for FPS games. Perhaps id would make more money if their more recent PC games were actually good. Given their new found financial resources I hope id takes the time and creates something other than Doom X with shiny id Tech Y. Try adding some new, innovative game play in your next game and perhaps I might buy it.

Re:Try making good games again id... (1)

skreeech (221390) | about 5 years ago | (#28578743)

None of the new games with "innovative" gameplay have been as good as the early offerings of id.

Re:Try making good games again id... (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 5 years ago | (#28579173)

True. And the great games within the genre weren't all that innovative; Half-Life and Half-Life 2 didn't "innovate" much on Doom/Quake, they improved on it with excellent level design and a mysterious setting, giving a sense of playing through a varied story instead of the repetitive "find the key card and shoot up yet more monsters" mechanics of other FPS games. The levels work more like tracks on a roller coaster than actual levels, which limits the freedom of the player but at the same time allows the developer to pace the action more efficiently. (But naturally, there's also more interaction with the world in the newer games; I suppose that could be called innovative.)

I also wonder how true that really is (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#28578837)

It would seem from a number of ways of looking at it, that the PC is as large a market as any given console. It is the "4th console" as it were. As such that means the market is not at all insignificant. Part of the problem I think is that some publishers view it as "PC vs Console" where all consoles are unified in to one market, and the PC in a separate one. They then think that the PC market should be as big as the console market and bemoan that it isn't. That's just not a good way to look at it.

Also some developers at least are showing a renewed interest in the PC. Capcom, for example, decided to bring Street Fighter 4 to the PC. It comes out next Tuesday. They had done some of the SF games on PC, but stopped after Alpha 2. However now they are trying again. Part of it may be because the Arcade version of the game is a Windows PC (it runs on Taito X2 hardware which is an XP embedded PC) but they also must see the PC market as worth the port, as they've already one Xbox 360 and PS3 ports.

I do think you are on to something with the quality of iD's games. I have been very unimpressed. Quake 4 in particular was a real disappointment. However not only have their games disappointed me, but their engine has as well. That was traditionally their big thing. Their engine was the cutting edge.

Well when Doom 3 came out, showing off iDTech 4, I was real underwhelmed. The "all real world light sources" were neat, but poorly done. Shadows were very dark and very harsh, owing to the fact light only bounced once in the engine. What's more, texture detail was substantially below what I was used to. Personally, I felt UT2004 (Unreal Engine 2) looked better over all. Not as many advanced features, but the graphics were more pleasing. Also Doom needed a beast of a system to do what it did, whereas UT2004 ran very well on moderate hardware.

Also iDtech 4 hasn't advanced much at this point. It is still their top flight engine and Unreal Engine 3 totally blows it away. Thus far, they've had no good response.

You can see it in the sales too. Currently there's 7 games that use iDTech 4, and over half of those are iD or Raven (who works closely with iD) games. UE3, which has been out for much less time, has near 100 games using it, including non-FPS games (such as the Last Remnant, an RPG).

It seems like iD isn't making first flight engines, which would be ok if their games were great, but their games are also rather undifferentiated. That is not a good situation to be in. A mediocre game with amazing graphics can still sell well, and of course the engine can be licensed out for all kinds of stuff (maybe the game is just a tech demo more than anything). Likewise a great game can get by just fine with mediocre graphics. However being not so god at both isn't a real recipe for success, especially not if you are spending the money developing your own engine.

We'll see what happens. I hope iD Tech 5 is awesome, but I worry. There really hasn't been anything out of them in terms of news or demos or the like since 2007. That is not a good sign to me. A lot changes in computers in 3 years, you'd think we'd see at least some more news about the status or demos or something. Any time a project is announced and then falls silent for a number of years, I worry that there are problems and it isn't going to be what it should.

Re:I also wonder how true that really is (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#28580245)

I think one of the main reasons that the Unreal engine really took off is that it comes with UnrealEd.

With ID's engine, you were shopping around for some 3rd party editor and then importing the data, while with Unreal you STILL had the option of importing from 3rd party editors and could do some final tweaking (or working from scratch) while running under the very engine you are targeting in realtime.

Not all shooters are first-person (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28580209)

For people like me I'll take mouse/keyboard over a console controller any day for [first-person shooter] games.

What will the other three players in the room take, if not gamepads?

  • Extra keyboards and mice? Good luck getting Windows to tell the game which keyboard or which mouse made a given keystroke or movement.
  • Extra PCs? I babysit, and children usually can't bring in dad's PC.

Besides, what controller do you prefer for non-first-person shooters such as Zero Wing or Ikaruga?

Re:Not all shooters are first-person (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 5 years ago | (#28580983)

Besides, what controller do you prefer for non-first-person shooters such as Zero Wing or Ikaruga?

Arcade-style joysticks.

Re:Try making good games again id... (1)

ogdenk (712300) | about 5 years ago | (#28581721)

I agree....

Now another thing about consoles. Try playing a realistic flight or space sim on them. You'll run out of buttons real quick. Consoles are USELESS when it comes to realistic sims. Especially something like IL2 Sturmovik.

Consoles are neat but with the limited controllers and little room for expansion when it comes to things like flightsticks and rudder pedals and such they just don't interest me much.

Plug 3 video cards into a console.... can't do that either. Multihead gaming.... also cool for sims. How about stereoscopic video for true 3D? Well... last I checked the PS3 and XBOX 360 can't do that either. While the average 12 yr old may not be interested, mommy can't afford it or they can't fit 3 displays in their living room, these technologies interest ME.

I don't want my game experience dumbed down so they can make a few more sales to 12 year old kids. THAT is the problem with consoles.

Re:Try making good games again id... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582915)

Now another thing about consoles. Try playing a realistic flight or space sim on them. You'll run out of buttons real quick. Consoles are USELESS when it comes to realistic sims. Especially something like IL2 Sturmovik.

Of course they're useless for that, because no one's ever done a Falcon/Jane's/bearded sim grognard with a full cockpit setup type games for them. Doesn't mean they couldn't be done though. In fact, a version of IL2 is going to be released for the PS3, Xbox 360, DS and PSP with two modes, a "simulation mode" (which plays like the PC version) and an "Arcade mode". I'd lay odds that the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will support USB joystick and throttle setups since that was traditional for such games on the PS2.

Consoles are neat but with the limited controllers and little room for expansion when it comes to things like flightsticks and rudder pedals and such they just don't interest me much.

The PS2/PS3/Xbox 360/Wii have USB ports for a reason. In fact, pick yourself up a cheap PS2 and a copy of Ace Combat 4 or later. Plug your USB joystick+throttle setup in, enjoy. The Ace Combat games are arcade style, but at least you can use the joystick+throttle setup.

http://www.netjak.com/review.php/746 [netjak.com] Yeah it's pretty much the same as the Saitek ones.

Multihead gaming.... also cool for sims.

It's possible to do this, there are two ways (and two games) that do it:

First method requires multiple older model PS2's with the Firewire ports, a firewire hub, the necessary cables, multiple copies of Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, and three TV's.

Gran Turismo 4 does it using ethernet, which means you can do it with either PS2's or PS3's with backwards compatibility, or a mixture of the two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25bWtiHuNiU [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InbpwE3fnQs&NR=1 [youtube.com]

While the average 12 yr old may not be interested, mommy can't afford it or they can't fit 3 displays in their living room, these technologies interest ME.
I don't want my game experience dumbed down so they can make a few more sales to 12 year old kids. THAT is the problem with consoles.

It isn't 1985 anymore. The consoles aren't just for kids or being used by kids. The average age is about 30 now or a bit older now.

The times they are changing... (3, Interesting)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#28578475)

With the recent closing of the doors to 3d Realms it's good to reflect on the old heavy hitters in a contemporary complexion.

Back in the day it was the Unreal Engine and the Quake engine that were the benchmark for graphics. The build engine for 3d realms spawned countless titles, though that was the last great engine they had.

So today, it seems that what is most important to some firms is the quality of the engine rather than the games they produce. This however results in titles that are simply showcases, appose to good games.

It would be nice for developers to have enough in house resources to do both. Create an amazing game around an amazing engine.

With that I look with optimism to the future of id in hopes that they bring back some of that old sparkle that has been lacking as of late.

Re:The times they are changing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28578655)

I really hate the old "id designs engines not games" cliche. They have ALWAYS made most of their money from game sales, not licensing fees. For "simple showcases/not games" they continue to sell well. It's really quite common for people who don't like id games to call them a "tech licensing company" but that's just not true. While their games may not be for everyone, it's also possible some of us like dark dreary shooters with simple controls. I'm too old and lazy to learn how to use 104 keys to navigate through a shooter. Some peoples idea of "interactive" is just "annoying" to others.

Re:The times they are changing... (5, Insightful)

JCZwart (1585673) | about 5 years ago | (#28578829)

I always thought Id's games were perfect examples of engine showcases. I remember being very fascinated with Quake; read all about it, BSP modeling etc. (I even tried to create my own 3d-engine, which failed miserable, by the way).

Anyone else remember Ramblings in Real-time [bluesnews.com] by Mike Abrash? Worth a read if you're interested in the mechanics of the Quake 3D-engine.

But Quake still wasn't very much more than showcasing... Id often seemed to rely on parties such as Raven Software for convincing storylines, exciting level designs, etc. I'd like to see them produce a game like Oblivion... A cutting edge 3d engine to power a convincing RPG world, what more would you want!

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | about 5 years ago | (#28578977)

Mod parent up.
I opened that link thinking I'd just close it after 5 minutes like most links here on /. but I've been reading for the last half hour.
Very interesting!

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

unfunk (804468) | about 5 years ago | (#28579631)

To this day I am amazed at just how many games the Quake 3 engine ended up powering. When I first saw Q3, I was pretty amazed by it, but I never thought it had what it took to power "full" games. Call of Duty just blew me away, and even more so when I found out it was the Q3 engine.

I'm kind of disappointed they didn't see that level of success with the Doom 3 engine. There was plenty of potential, but nobody seems to have chased up on it.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 5 years ago | (#28581417)

I'm kind of disappointed they didn't see that level of success with the Doom 3 engine. There was plenty of potential, but nobody seems to have chased up on it.

id Tech 4 had some issues. [wikipedia.org] The per-pixel lighting made it quite resource-hungry, and it's only useful for "spooky" games. And, at first, it couldn't handle wide open areas well. So most developers thought it was wiser to go with the Unreal Engine 2.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#28580283)

Note that Abrash defected from I.D. (Quake) and went to work for Microsoft (XBOX), then defected from Microsoft and went to work for RAD (Pixomatic) whos technology is found in.. you guessed it.. the Unreal engine.

I recently heard that he was now working for Intel (Larabbee) but can't find anything official-sounding to back that up.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28580731)

While Quake was a pretty unexciting game, it was an excellent tech demo. I struggled through the first chapter (against boredom, not against the game) and couldn't be bothered with the other three. Making the QuakeC compiler free, however, was a stroke of genius. The game was in three parts, the progs.dat file, containing a bytecode-compiled version of the game logic, the engine binary that loaded and ran the bytecode, and the artwork / models / levels.

By making QuakeC free, anyone could write a replacement progs.dat; effectively a new game that ran on the same engine and used [some of] the same levels and artwork. The proliferation of mods for the game meant that there were hundreds of demoes for the engine floating around. Quake originally was around 50MB, and by around '98 my Quake directory was around 500MB with all of the rest being mods.

Now, mods are pretty common for FPS games. It's hard to remember what a change Quake was. The first Quake mod I played was Quake Soccer, where you kicked a head around and tried to score goals with it. To run it, you just unzipped the directory and ran 'quake -game soccer' instead of 'quake' (this was back in the DOS days, when everyone used a command line). A third-party modification for a game like this was almost unheard-of. I'd played a few modifications before, but they'd all involved binary patching or replacing game files. Being able to launch what was effectively a new game with just a command-line switch was a massive improvement.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

JCZwart (1585673) | about 5 years ago | (#28581239)

I found the QuakeC compiler endlessly exciting. Never gotten a grip on the QuakeC structure, though. I remember the Reaper Bot [easttown.co.uk] , a very intelligent Quake bot. Of course, Quake 3 and Unreal all have their own bots now. Still, I'm excited by the idea of a programmed bot being able to 'learn' the layouts of a map and reacting more or less intelligently to a player's actions.

If only I'd have a little more time, I'd be diving more deeply into neural networks, pathfinding, etc.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 5 years ago | (#28580941)

Raven Software... and Valve software.

Half-Life's game engine, now known as GoldSrc, was a modified Quake 1 engine.

Of course, Valve has spent the last 10 years since then modifying it in ever newer versions of the engine now known as Source.

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

JCZwart (1585673) | about 5 years ago | (#28581271)

Interesting. I was always wondering which game companies actually wrote their own engines.

Which makes Carmacks position even more amazing. Imagine having the graphics engine you wrote yourself powering a multitude of games...

Re:The times they are changing... (1)

JCZwart (1585673) | about 5 years ago | (#28581141)

And only now do I find out that Id has actually been acquired by Zenimax, which owns Bethesda as well. According to this interview [1up.com] with John Carmack, Doom 4 will actually be a Bethesda title.

So I guess we might as well expect a Doom-4-engine-powered Oblivion II. Exciting!

atleast EA didn't buy them (5, Interesting)

Inconnux (227132) | about 5 years ago | (#28578491)

I wonder if this means they wont GPL any further game engines... This news was kinda sad, one of the top tier developers sells out... a sad time for pc gamers... but I guess it could have been worse, EA could have bought them.

Re:atleast EA didn't buy them (4, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 years ago | (#28578623)

Carmack said in a press release recently that their feelings towards open source are not negotiable (paraphrasing) and that every tech engine they make is intended for eventual open sourcing. Its simply part of the entire design philosophy

Re:atleast EA didn't buy them (1)

Aliotroph (1297659) | about 5 years ago | (#28578669)

John Carmack seems like the type who wouldn't buy into this kind of thing unless they let him do what he wants. He owned a big part of id. The open sourcing shall continue.

Re:atleast EA didn't buy them (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#28578697)

HE owned a big part of Id, but unless it's in the buyout contract I wouldn't be so certain it will happen. Management can change it's mind at any time. It probably won't for the next engine to be opened, because they want to keep Carmack happy. But I'd be surprised (pleasantly so) if it actually continues long term.

Re:atleast EA didn't buy them (2, Interesting)

Aliotroph (1297659) | about 5 years ago | (#28578913)

That's exactly what I meant to say. He wouldn't sign up for a contract stopping him from carrying out at least a large part of his vision for the company. Everything I've read from him indicates this and so do the things I've read about him.

He seems happy to work with them for now, indicating he likely got pretty much what he wanted. There are really no arguments against open-sourcing deprecated code. Things like that are great for PR, great for training programmers, great for keeping the games alive, etc. Carmack knows that and advocates it. If he sees things going the other way he will likely walk out the door and without him, id may just start feeling like a collection of old IP. In short, he's got leverage.

Rather than worry too much about not seeing any more id code, I was thinking maybe we'd get to see some olde Bethesda code! If they were willing to release TES: Arena as freeware why not release the source (aside from any licensed libraries)? Maybe he can't convince many Zenimax/Bethesda people of that, but I doubt he would have been willing to end id's independence without that freedom for himself.

Curious (4, Interesting)

GF678 (1453005) | about 5 years ago | (#28578733)

Why is John Carmack the only developer of commercial game engines who actually releases the source code after they have become technically obsolete? I mean it's very nice, since it's given us games like Urban Terror and OpenAreana which can be released completely free as standalone games, but companies very rarely do things out of the goodness of their hearts.

The only reason I can see him doing this is because he believes in the open-source cause, but will his new owner allow him to continue this trend?

Re:Curious (1)

discord5 (798235) | about 5 years ago | (#28578865)

The only reason I can see him doing this is because he believes in the open-source cause

That, or he's just curious what will happen if people start tinkering with it.

Re:Curious (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28578929)

Releasing the source works out extremely beneficial for them... By the time a game gets opened up, it has very little value as a commercial game anymore, but look at any modern platform that has been cracked or released open - a port of quake or doom is one of the first things to spring up. So something that has virtually no commercial value now becomes a free advertising platform and keeps your name prominent.
Most games from the same era as quake are languishing as abandonware and occasionally being played under dosbox, quake runs natively on virtually anything these days.
It's also only the engine that's open, the data files are not, so you can either use third party data files (like urban terror and openarena), the original demo files or buy the original data files (you will usually be able to find a dirt cheap copy of the game in a bargain bin somewhere).

I think all game companies should do this, having the source to old games is good for everyone involved and far better than games becoming abandonware that won't even run on modern systems without some form of emulation.

Re:Curious (1)

jamesmcm (1354379) | about 5 years ago | (#28580495)

It also helps to train the next generation of games developers - it's a shame the practice isn't a standard of the industry.

Re:Curious (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28580761)

I'm a bit surprised that updated versions of the old engines don't take an business from him. Something like the DarkPlaces engine, based on the Quake 1 engine, is not up to the same standards as top-of-the-line commercial engines today, but it still looks good and is free. If the selling point for your game is how fun it is to play, then using an engine like this is much cheaper than licensing a commercial one. If the selling point is how good it looks, then you need to be writing your own engine or you can't use that as a differentiation point.

Re:Curious (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | about 5 years ago | (#28583101)

There's probably a variety of reasons, but some of them are:
1. Licensing/Ownership issues. Over the course of the 5+ years it takes an engine to become obsolete, a lot of game developers don't exist anymore, have been bought out, merged, changed management, changed publishers, etc. Between commitments to publishers, distributors, creditors, licensors and such, even if they do still exist, it may no longer be clear if they even legally can release the source, and doing so may open them up to legal troubles.

2. Licensed technology. If you licensed tech from other companies, you have to tread careful in regards to the terms of your license and any proprietary code of theirs that may be in your product, or patents that may surface later if someone uses your code to make something of their own.

3. EA. They deserve special mention. Over their history they have a remarkable track record of buying up and coming companies with lots of promise and potential, then taking all their IP and franchises they just spent a ton of money acquiring, and tossing it in a bottomless pit never to be seen again. I don't know exactly WHY they do it, but they do. A lot of the older developers who had old games whose source they can release were gobbled up by EA and disappeared. The chances of EA themselves ever giving out old code it pretty much nill, they make Microsoft look like a bunch of free-love hippies.

4. Embarrassment. Games are generally developed in a serious time crunch, and time may not be taken to make things look pretty. In fact, the patch histories of a lot of games would suggest the code is a complete clusterfuck (for example, in World of Warcraft, every bug fix managed to bring back at least one previous bug from months or years earlier, that seemed completely unrelated). ID planned to license out their tech, and had a lot of time even after it was released cleaning up the code and working with licensees to make their code polished. Like an old high school yearbook, some devs have probably decided some things are better left forgotten.

Re:Curious (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#28579027)

I think it was Seymour Cray [wikipedia.org] who made a boat every year and finished by chopping the boat up and having a barbecue. If I could somehow dispose of the megabytes of legacy code I have to deal with at work, moving forward would be a lot easier. So maybe GPLing code is Carmack's way of saying its done. Now forget about it and move on.

Don't leave out Nexuiz! (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | about 5 years ago | (#28579101)

I mean it's very nice, since it's given us games like Urban Terror and OpenAreana

And Nexuiz!

It's really great. The weapons are somewhat sci-fi'esque: the sniper rifle shoots blue "laser" beams, and the Electro shoots funky blue balls which explode either on proximity or by being hit.

The maps are great; "dm6" is obviously "stolen", as is Agressor (I guess, since it's also in OpenArena).

Try it out some time :)

(happy customer, not paid shill; besides, they can only pay me in source code which is free anyways :D)

Re:Don't leave out Nexuiz! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28579829)

The "stolen" maps are GPLed, so they can do that. Even the Quake maps Open Arena has derive from GPL'd sources (October 2006 GPLing of Quake's .MAP files)

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28579215)

Why is John Carmack the only developer of commercial game engines who actually releases the source code after they have become technically obsolete?

I remember Carmack saying in some interview/presentation that the reason they _can_ do it is that they are very careful not to license any technologies in their games they couldn't make Open Source later, and that because of this principle they've had to do some things the hard way whereas otherwise they could have just licensed some components.

(Or something along those lines. I couldn't find the exact statement right now.)

Re:Curious (1)

neumayr (819083) | about 5 years ago | (#28579937)

In one of their earlier games (Doom, iirc), they did license some sound library (or something). Guess it was so annoying getting rid of that library when they open sourced that engine later on, they just gave up on using (commercial) third party libraries altogether..
Though I didn't know you could even make iPhone games without using Apples' libraries, which, afaik, are not free.

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28581999)

It was doom, because it was the same sound library used for Duke3d, and most of the other major shareware games of that era. Anyways the Open Source Doom (Which wasn't GPLed, at the time anyway. Is it now?) didn't have a sound subsystem for it for at least a year or two.

qUITE SURPRISED (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28578861)

Quite surprised they were allowed to do it .. those early engines often migrate to newer , portable hardware eg iphone ipod or even set top boxs. I had never heard of urban terror or openarena. I WILL check them out. Can they be ported to the wd hd tv, please?

Re:qUITE SURPRISED (1)

skreeech (221390) | about 5 years ago | (#28580071)

You could also look at Warsow built on a dervivative of the Quake 2 engine. I think the pro mode portion of the Q3 CPMA mod may eventually be a stand alone product as well. Both are still deathmatch games(cpm is pretty much THE dm game), unlike urban terror.

Re:qUITE SURPRISED (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28580573)

I think the pro mode portion of the Q3 CPMA mod may eventually be a stand alone product as well.

And is now owned by..

id software!

technology? what about fun? (5, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | about 5 years ago | (#28578885)

"The videogames business is defined by technology"

Really? I've only been playing games since pong, and worked in them for 10 years, but stupidly I've been defining the videogames business by 'fun'.
It's a pity this has ended up a minority viewpoint.

Re:technology? what about fun? (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 5 years ago | (#28579201)

Look up the definition of "define".

Re:technology? what about fun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28580297)

Error: Recursion too deep.

Re:technology? what about fun? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#28580063)

Not saying this is the only thing but:

Fun ~= Immersion
Immersion ~= Technology

I do remember the first game that went from water was a blue surface w/static animations to water being a T&L surface with actual waves where you can go splashing in the water and it was just like WOW. People don't like limitations that just seem arbitrary compared to the real world, if it's a 3D world you're simulating why can't you see it in 3D? Why can you only move in n fixed directions when in real world you can go in whatever direction you like. Why isn't there more detail when you walk up close to something? If it's a windy day why doesn't the trees and grass bend in the wind, flags and capes and hair flutter? If light falls upon something, why doesn't it reflect and spread like a light should? If I hack at something with an axe, why shouldn't it break and deform? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about realism in a human sense. But even if I'm sneaking up on some trolls that have camped up in a cave with a fire going, I expect the basic laws of physics to not be entirely unlike the real world.

Take for example the Wii Remote - is that "fun" or "technology"? It takes you away from the button-pushing technology and into swinging a racket not entirely unlike real life. You get a whole different level of immersion on the Wii than you ever did before and that makes it fun. At the same time, it's a very impressive piece of technology itself and once you have the technology, it's not exactly revolutionary figuring out how to use it for tennis. Of course, there are other ways than immersion to get you interested - humor, logic puzzles and strategy are three big ones. But IMHO they too get better with immersion, it's one thing seeing a joke on screen in a 1980s computer game and have it delivered in a clever way by a 3D CGI character with a voicetrack.

Of course, you can still create a lousy game with tons of technology. But technology acts more like an upper bound, where you can't get any closer to your goals. I'd love for us to get virtual reality propely going, not just swinging that Wii rack but actually being at Wimbeldon looking up at the sides to see the fans cheering you on. For everything you could make that would still suck, there's much more you could create that just wasn't possible before.

Re:technology? what about fun? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 years ago | (#28582943)

I do remember the first game that went from water was a blue surface w/static animations to water being a T&L surface with actual waves where you can go splashing in the water and it was just like WOW.

What game was it for you? It was Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance for me. I think I spent a minute or two just walking around in it when I first ran into that water early in the game.

Re:technology? what about fun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28582973)

And you think pong wasn't defined by the technology of the day?

Oblivion 5: (2, Funny)

ikono (1180291) | about 5 years ago | (#28578897)

I guess now we know what TES 5's subtitle will be now that Bethesda has the option of iD's engines... The Elder Scrolls V: The Sacred Torch

Re:Oblivion 5: (1)

Vector7 (2410) | about 5 years ago | (#28579017)

Comedy gold!

Engine is Their Gravy (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 5 years ago | (#28579219)

A successfully adopted engine is their only truly viable option considering the not exactly stellar performance and reception of games like Doom 3, Quake 4, and Quake Wars. They need to focus on something. One thing. Regroup. Then come out swinging with that one haymaker rather than increasing the number of projects they're on and diluting their brands with titles that no longer rock the gaming world.

It isn't like they are lacking in fan-base or good-will, if they make such strides.

Also, there is no way they're going to stick with the name "Rage". I believe they learned once before that you need to use your engine as a marketing tool by tying it to your identity as a business and not calling it something obscure.

Re:Engine is Their Gravy (3, Informative)

Ant P. (974313) | about 5 years ago | (#28579325)

Also, there is no way they're going to stick with the name "Rage". I believe they learned once before that you need to use your engine as a marketing tool by tying it to your identity as a business and not calling it something obscure.

You mean by calling it something like... I dunno, "id Tech 5 [wikipedia.org] "?

Re:Engine is Their Gravy (1)

skreeech (221390) | about 5 years ago | (#28580117)

DOOM fans may have not been big on Doom 3 but it sold very well.

"Since 1996, id powered games have generated worldwide revenues in excess of $2 Billion. id's most recent internally developed title, DOOM 3ï½, extends a proven track record with over 3.5 million units sold and is id's most successful game to date." http://www.shacknews.com/docs/press/010710_id_carmack_emmys.x [shacknews.com]

They also did focus on one thing at a time until more recently. Raven made Quake 4, Splash Damage made ET:QW, then id fixed Quake 4 before starting on Rage.

Re:Engine is Their Gravy (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28580839)

I wonder how many Doom 3 sales were driven by mods. Quake 1 looked good and was quite fun in multiplayer, but the single-player game sucked. The mods, however (especially things like Team Fortress), really sold it. Half Life was similar; fairly good single player, okay multiplayer, but mods like Counter Strike were the reason most people I knew bought it.

My feeling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28580021)

My feeling is that Carmack will just jump ship if/when ZeniMax starts dictating everything under the sun. Besides, he has cooler things to do, like designing/playing with rockets and potential space vehicles.

The shift away from PC gaming is a product of many things: cheap consoles, piracy, better console platform support, fixed hardware target.

Id Needs A Gameplay Guru (4, Interesting)

Iyonesco (1482555) | about 5 years ago | (#28580405)

Id was at its best when Jon Romero worked there since Carmack would focus on the graphics and Romero would focus on the gameplay. Since the break-up of this partnership Id's games have gone drastically down hill while Romero found he couldn't make a game without Carmack. Romero appeared to have trouble with the technical side of Daikatana with lengthy delays and terrible visuals when it finally was released. Daikatana received a poor reception but the gameplay was clearly there with some innovative ideas and great feel to the movement control. It was the technical execution that was lacking, likely a result of not having somebody like Carmack.

Carmack's engines always look amazing but the engine is now Id's only selling point and their games are just dire. Id desperately needs to recruit someone with a proven record of making fun games so they can bring their gamplay up to the level of their engines. I vote for Romero, and bring American McGee back while you're at it. That would really return Id back to its past glory.

Re:Id Needs A Gameplay Guru (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28581031)

id Software hire CPMAâ(TM)s arQon - http://euql.org/?p=355

Re:Id Needs A Gameplay Guru (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28582089)

I doubt making new games with all players glowing in the dark in a world without lighting is a viable commercial appeal.

Re:Id Needs A Gameplay Guru (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 years ago | (#28582085)

I agree it does sound like a good idea. i.e. The whole bit about having the flashlight and being able to shoot mutually exclusive in Doom 3 just wasn't a very good design decision.

Unfortunately, that's not to happen. I had dinner with Romero at E3 - he's busy doing 5 (!) MMOs. I actually asked about Daikatana. :-) I didn't realize it sold 200,000 and broke even for Eidos. He admitted that one of the mistakes made was hiring inexperienced people. One of the lesson learnt was "Hire the most experienced people first, the least experienced people last" which sounds pretty reasonable.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28583181)

... Elder Scrolls 5 and Fallout 4 on the id Tech 5? I'd say that well be an upgrade as torque sucks ass...

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