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Quake Gameplay Potential...
Very interesting discussion in the GA thread, worthy of it's own discussion thread I think, for archive and research purposes.

There seem to be several viewpoints floating around, which I'll badly paraphrase...

Quake gameplay is the same as it always was (kill monsters find exit) and thus is boring and not really worth bothering with.

Quake gameplay is the same as it always was but that's it's appeal and it's still great fun.

Quake gameplay is the same as it always was and thus it needs to rely on mods and extra monsters and features to remain fresh and interesting.

Quake gameplay has evolved and improved enough (with or without those enhancements) to still remain worthwhile.

etc etc.

I don't think any of these perspectives can be shown to be right or wrong - mostly they seem to be the depth with which you look at gameplay and gaming in general. I.e. Quake gameplay might seem exactly the same as always when looked at on broad kill monster exit map terms, but looked at on narrower terms the refinement in monster placing, gameflow, surprises, balance etc etc that modern mappers have achieved could be seem as quite progressive.

I haven't argued much so far but as a big Quake fan I am interested in Quake gameplay, how it has progressed, and how far it can progress (with or without enhancements). Thus I think the ideas would be worth more exploration. More thoughts in a mo...
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I Tend To Believe Willem Here 
The larger the company involved the more likely they have to use financial instruments to fund a project while there is no profit to show for it. When you use debt, you have to prove to the backers of that debt that product is being created, hence the tight development cycle.

It is actually an advantage of independents who may have a small dedicated, at times even unpaid, staff where they can go about developing game play at a leisurely pace.

For instance, I don't know if anything will come up it, but I have been developing a companion to Mortisville, using its assets in a stand alone capacity with the Irrlicht engine. It is nothing more than a huge Venice like city with dozens of puzzles and non aggressive creatures that roam around it. No time constraints, no worries, I let it develop
by its own logic. 
I For One 
submit at least somewhat to that John Carmack school of game design (although not completely). Ie here's the shotgun, kill the monsters, push the buttons. Never bothered with Tomb Raider that much. Most players with some intelligence and experience from a few games recognize the attempts to dress up the game mechanic into something realistic as well, amusing and slightly annoying at best.

It's really common of course. Every game tries to have "variety". A training section. Plot interspersed with the action. Some of it works a bit but a big part of it is just dull.

You can play card games where there is no attempt to dress up the mechanic. It's plain artificial right there. After a little playing people learn to "feel" the game. They get good feeling when they pick up aces in poker - even when the aces don't represent anything from the real world.

Most of you probably get my point even though I didn't explicitly bring it out here, in one line maybe somehow like this: It's not necessary to have an externally plausible motivation to have a motivating game.

And what speeds said, decisions are what games are all about. If there are no decisions, then it's just routine. Freecell is a game that is very much based on decisions and it rocks. Civilization III has some decisions in the early part but mostly just routine, hence it doesn't rock so much. Some games, you do interesting decisions on the first or maybe second play time but then it's obvious always what to do in which situation and it's just boring. 
 
Willem thats the point of the whole argument - its not a waste to work on different ways of playing, siderooms and alternative ways. If your designers dont consider it and just rush out linear levels there is nothing good about it. To me its like saying 'we dont have a time to do lightpass, lets settle for minlight and some bloom - 80% of players cant tell a turd from a diamond anyway'. I listed all those companies (exept the obvious one) for their games, which have very large ammount of 'optional' content like sidequests etc. And it only makes those games better and more popular.
And Im not even proposing such scale of nonlinearity as, say Oblivion. Total freedom in unneeded in games. Just dont impose too many superficial limits and offer choice (and it will be roughly 50% players who see your extra content). GoW gives you an explicit choice of route in the very first level btw.

bambuz dont underestimate the importance of atmosphere and immersion - its one of the reasons people play games - and Quake has a good share of it 
 
GoW gives you a few choices either for (a) training purposes or (b) co-op. Nowhere else in the game is there a route that you may or may not go into that doesn't consist of a simple room or hallway.

There simply isn't time to build entire sections of levels on the off chance that someone might go exploring. In my experience, anyway. 
Speeds 
Generally the designers never get to make that decision.

I like adding alternate routes, especially if you add three or four but have the same four buttons / key / misc_whatevers that must be found in the level to open the big door to the next level.

My last project was very linear, but I opened up alot of routes as play progressed. I had to cut back a fair bit and block off some areas so the player wouldn't get lost or disorientated.

Anyhow, that sort of alternate path is good - even if the player only takes half the routes or (unlikely) one, they'll still replay to see everything if what they saw was good.

But a separate branch with no intermixing is bad. 
Spds Rocks & Mechanic Analysis 
I need to emphasize these:

Why make something not everyone will see?

to have any depth in your creation! Even in the movies you simply cant notice and grasp everything in the first run. And that makes it worth rewatching (or just watching with all attention and thinking about what you see) - cause such movies have depth.


and also:

dont underestimate the importance of atmosphere and immersion

Something that's bothering me is the apropriate 'level' to analyse gameplay mechanics. If you reduce it as much as you can, quake gameplay is just mouse & key movements (i ignore the thinking part here, which might be bad). DS games come to mind, where the game is something that has story etc. but the mechanics are as simple as 'click at the right spot'. I'm always unsure to what level i should reduce gameplay mechanics.

Maybe the correct way would be to abstract from the games' scenario as much as possible, and try to find the most common analogue example in the player's experience, e.g. reduce Q (or any other shooter, for that matter) to 'run around with guns/shoot enemies/evade/explore/etc.'. TombRaider would be 'jump/run/shoot enemies/solve simple puzzles'(?). 
Alan 
If you reduce it as much as you can, quake gameplay is just mouse & key movements (i ignore the thinking part here, which might be bad)

And if you reduce a vagina down to its basics its just a flap of skin and some highly dense nerve endings and muscle groupings but that doesn't keep me from thinking about it nearly every hour of the day. 
I Think What Shambler 
is asking for is in this post is for us to come up with some fun variations on Quake game play, not academic dissertations that by their nature destroy the experience. 
"don't Have Time" 
Is a reality for most developers (except for maybe the very few filthy rich independents, 3drealms obviously have time to switch engines and start all over again at least a couple of times...) but it also has a lot to do with the masochistic choice of making games with focus on cutting edge graphics where a lot of time is spent on things with a very little impact on the overall game experience. 
Hah 
You barely have time these days to get the content in for the main path of the game

If you barely have time, you're one of the lucky few. I don't even have time for that. 5 platforms, 6 months. Oh yeah. 
Bear: 
It's a bit like a gas isn't it... it will quickly expand to occupy all available space. Everyone's often overambitious in the planning phase (before they actually have to DO the work) and/or there's not enough time in the schedule allocated for re-work and delays.

At the same time, the publisher (who usually has you either by the balls or bent over the table) wants to squeeze as much out of you as they can to justify the expense (and to make a more impressive bullet list on the back of the box). 
Flexibility 
Quake play would be more fun if there were some NPCs and missions in some of the mods.

Stages/goals/objectives would be nice.

Rescue someone from the monsters, etc. Some more takes than just Chthons where a setting requires something other than shooting it.

Quoth and Quoth2 really expanded upon monster variety and it sounds like it made a number of other chores much easier, but Quake still has mostly one dimensional mindless gameplay (unless a mapper does an exceptional job on requiring exploration).

Considering how easy it is making maps for Quake -- something that seems to be possibly universally unique to only Quake -- the best way to give it extra character or add an extra dimension to it would be to provide tools to add depth to the gameplay (i.e. find the evil wizard who lives in the castle, meet with the monk in the clock tower).

Hell in a Can and sgodrune are some examples of lightly heading into that direction. A little bit of Nehahra had some of that. Too bad the QuakeC work would be onerous. And Quake isn't well suited for dialog as-is. :(

A shame because making maps is rather easy, it is just that the end gameplay ends up being identical every time. 
Speeds... Alternatte Paths Etc 
I think Speeds is right to some extent though. It's not just time and budget considerations. I think it often is a deliberate design decision to steer away from non-linear designs. Ijed knows why:

I had to cut back a fair bit and block off some areas so the player wouldn't get lost or disorientated.

People think that they want non-linear maps and many options, but in reality what often happens when presented with those options is that they get lost or confused. Even if they don't get lost, I think many players feel the need to explore the entire level before they leave, to make sure they don't miss anything. Even in a well designed level, this may necessitate some backtracking or other 'dead' time.

Boredom and confusion are not things that a sensible designer wants to encourage or facilitate.

Naturally there are players that may prefer a more non-linear experience, but as we're all no doubt aware, in a retail game at least, you have to cater to the lowest common denominator. If non-linear map designs are going to potentially confuse a large chunk of your target audience, you're not going to put them in the game. Commercial reality! 
HeadThumbp 
Fribbles, Alternative Paths 
if you design the alternatives in a way that the locations where choice happens are highlighted and the alternatives are styled in a way so they are easily recognisable, the player shouldn't get lost. And even if they are, the moment they get back to that alternative they should remember 'ah, that's where i came from'.

And if that doesn't help, well, you need a nice and shiny automap like descent, that adds another fun&skill factor to the game.

I'm replaying GTA (1) atm, and remembering and learning the map is part of the game. It might be a bit too hard, but it's still kind of fun. Also, exploration is way more fun if the environment is complex - ie. you get free 'fun', only by creating a world.

I don't think the majority of Q players has worse orientation skills than the average gta player. 
Qonquer-ish Idea: 
It would need custom progs, but I think a cool idea would be to have minions which you could take through a SP map. If you could issue commands like "stay here and defend yourself" and "follow me", you could have fun trying to keep minions alive through a map. Like a Barney type role.

Has that been done before? I know theres the cujo mod . . . 
A Few Paragraphs Not Related To Each Other 
It seems like this discussion can be split in to two groups, one that is wants to add a lot of stuff like NPC:s, more complex puzzles and what not which to me sounds like it's time to map for another game or at least make a PC/TC. The other talks more about how to use what's already in quake to better effect.

"Not having time" can be rewritten as "that's not what we're prioritizing".

in a retail game at least, you have to cater to the lowest common denominator.

You don't have to - there are markets you can target or you can structure your teams/projects so they don't have to sell a bazillion copies to break even. 
Ricky 
daikatana 
Alternate Paths 
That was done somewhat nicely in FarCry. In most outdoor levels, you could roam around the island and approach the enemies either directly or sneak into their camp from behind. On the other hand, there were no interesting details off those two paths. 
Eh? 
Nobody remembers the best Quake mod ever made?

Nehahra

Granted alot of people didn't like it because it was too difficult thanks to the new AI, despite nomonsters and skill settings, but that had all the tools there ready - soldiers you could take through a map with you, NPC's that would croak out information, NPC's just there to catch bullets, NPC's that were unfriendly or just plain enemies, enemies that could be friendly, misc_items to use to make whatever puzzle system you wanted, enemies that 'swam', Enemies that could hunt a player throughout a map and a pile of other features capable of making just about whatever you wanted.

The shame was it was never really used to its limits. The maps included tried, but the scope of what was there was too big, I think.

Hm. I feel a Nehahra project coming on, after I've finished my current one. 
Megaman 
that was a bit of an overreaction.

I was responding directly to your post, not insulting you:

Something that's bothering me is the apropriate 'level' to analyse gameplay mechanics.

and

I'm always unsure to what level i should reduce gameplay mechanics.

And I gave an answer to what the appropriate level it is that game mechanics should be analyzed, in essence, stating that if you reduce it to the mechanical level you will destroy the element that makes it fun. Let the programmer worry about the mechanics, it is up to the level designer to create a sustained illusion.

Apologies from me if that lent itself to a negative interpretation because I offered the opinion that steering towards academic matters can be destructive (just like they killed Jazz). 
Uh 
what�s with all the whining in the Quake SP community about too difficult, too large, and so on. Maybe DooM has some sort of gfx envy or similar, but I�ve never heard such complaints about legendary (and ultrahard) wads like HR/AV or the recently released Deus Vult II. I don�t get it guys... 
^^ 
Granted alot of people didn't like it because it was too difficult thanks to the new AI 
I Havent Played Through All Of Nehahra 
...infact I think I just scratched the surface, first couple of levels. I seemed to be spending most of the time watching the (very funny) cutscenes.

Nyaaah

Does it have dudes which you could take through maps with you? I'll have to try and play it through again!

Sielwolf - People arent as hard as you and I ! 
 
Who is whining about too difficult? We're talking about map size and engine limits. 
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