About the Remake Quake project.
Ironically (seeing as our last demo was an overall success and we reached several technical milestones recently), it seems like people are leaving the flag.
This is due to real life issues, side projects becoming main projects, and other such reasons. There is always a good reason why someone is occupied elsewhere, I don’t doubt that, but regardless of that, the result is the same. What was once a team of 12-18 members is down to 3-5 people. A bloodletting.
Right now there is a proposal by Project Lead to downsize and restructure the project, and reallocate resources. The rough outline of this is to cut half the singleplayer levels and the multiplayer, abandon the episodic structure, and divert power to the remaining maps and the other aspects of game design.
This may sound radical compared to vanilla Quake’s four episodes and 30 single player levels, until you realize that RMQ’s levels are a lot bigger, more detailed, and more complex than Quake’s. Most modern games don’t have 30 single player levels simply because those are a huge time sink and require a lot of manpower to create. Much the same goes for multiplayer – if you want to create a multiplayer experience that actually gets players, you’d best create a dedicated game for that because adding good singleplayer is just going to eat up resources that an independent game, or a hobbyist mod, doesn’t have.
A coop mode is probably doable in a singleplayer focused game, but CTF or Domination or objective based teamplay is so different from the game’s core that it’s going to require more resources to do it right. Sure you can throw in Duel or FFA modes with the singleplayer maps, but RMQ maps at least are generally too large for that. It would be an awful lot of running around. Maps designed for multiplayer will almost always do a better job.
Fact is, what exists of RMQ is a single player game with massive levels and a few platforming elements. How to fill those massive levels with interesting gameplay is an ongoing discussion – no, shooting 600 zombies won’t cut it.
There are some possible solutions in the works for that last problem. Most likely the game will have more for players to do than “kill monsters, find exit”. And I’m not talking about grappling hooks and pushable boxes.
Related to the old episode structure were the player characters, only two of which ever got fleshed out beyond wishful thinking. No more episodes, no more episode-specific characters or weapons, obviously.
This means that people can expect a smaller, but more polished game, most likely.
It is ironic that we needed five years to arrive at this insight; an independent, unpaid team cannot create 30 large singleplayer levels, plus CTF and what-have-you, to semi-modern quality standards on hacked 15 year old technology. Okay. It’s not over though; let’s now see what it can do in the reasonable remaining time of 2 or 3 years.
About possible future projects:
I personally am semi intrigued about the idea of creating a free single player game. Another idea that’s been loosely discussed is working on an indie game – there are, I believe, several written or unwritten design documents (no, not Quake remakes) floating around RMQ team members’ proverbial drawers. This could entail the creation of a game studio or something like that. I have been looking at the options for a while. Anything that’s done by anyone will need an engine. What engine is largely determined by what kind of content one is making, and what level of eyecandy or photorealism one is looking at, and of course by the target hardware and the performance needs which in turn also depend on the content.
What kind of content is in turn largely determined by what sells or doesn’t sell, at least if you expect money to be made.
How much content is determined by size of the team, which probably means “small” in all imaginable cases. No more than 8-12 small/medium singleplayer levels, for example – a lot of development time would go into gameplay, GUI and assets, not level design. This is a lesson well learned – level design is expensive (and mappers tend to be divas, actually). Another lesson is that there would be central creative direction, no questions asked and no exceptions made for anyone.
The target platform would most likely be the PC, at least for a start. The level of gloss would be “good looking but with performance and easy workflow for an indie team in mind”. The tools would likely have to be freely available and easy to produce acceptable results with.
So we’re looking at “not a terrible lot of content” and “much attention paid to gameplay and creative direction”. We’re also looking at “free tools and easy workflow on the PC”. This is what any engine / tools / formats must be chosen for.
Finally, the technological base must already support common features. It is unacceptable if we have to code support for rotating entities or pushable boxes ourselves (for fuck’s sake). It must support skeletal animation, physics, and hopefully already have single player gamecode including acceptable enemy AI and the usual triggers and entities. It must support good quality lighting (no, 8 bit is not good). It should have proper collision on mapmodels. Content creation must not depend on anything like 3ds Max, Flash/Scaleform or the like.
I don’t see too many possible options there. I’m not sure if any Quake 1 based engine is an option at all either. Furthermore it is perhaps tempting to choose a free software approach over commercial package deals, especially seeing the requirement for free tools.
Distribution would be via the internet, obviously. Production timeline would be 1-3 years (hopefully not 5+ years like RMQ – for fuck’s sake). Alcoholism would be restricted to Sundays. And it would most definitely not be a remake of anything.