Name: Memento_Mori
Location: Zurich
Posts: 5112


Since the recent news about ESWC and ESL dropping Quake Live, ESR looks like an ant-hive after someone walked on it. Some react by tearing their clothes off, others try to spur the community to do something, others simply lurk Teamliquid to see if Starcraft2 can fill the void QL left. They did moan with us, our fellow sc2 players, didn’t they?

Many people blame id Software, from Syncerror, which seems to be the shit-storm umbrella, on to the rest of the dev team. Regardless of whether this is a reasonable stance or not, this gave a stronger voice to those who have – in some cases for a long time – promoted the going back to Quake 3.
This column is about this concept of “moving back”. What does that mean? What would it imply? Is that really what we want? Would it work?

The potential with Q3

There are several beafy areas where the Q3 option shines, the major points being:
-Development
-LAN servers
-Maps
In many aspects, CPMA / OSP have more features than QL. Hosting LAN tournament was possible, if not easy to do. There were plenty of maps available for anyone for free.

Guarantees

Assuming everybody “moves back to Q3” (whatever this means), are there any guarantees that the community would sustain itself? Are still there those geeky developers that would take on from whatever CPMA/OSP left, and carry Q3 on where the future needs it to go?
Development is a big word. It can mean a lot, if there are people with enough knowledge, time, dedication, and coordination to do things that matter. Or it could mean as much as a dead body darken coded from the hospital bed.

And even if we had the CPMA/OSP team in full force, would this be sufficient? Sufficient to “save Quake”? Because we are discussing about saving quake, aren’t we?
Q was pretty much dead before QL, wasn’t it? The only difference now, is that we cumulated experience. We have seen the benefits of streaming. We have seen how QL worked and not worked, so we could build from there on. But is this enough?

Community Psyche

Excitement freaks; this is what we are, given, of course, that we are also sheep. Beeeh, anyone?
As silly as it sounds, the reality is that, should a big e-sport organization pick Q3 for the next season of whatever with prizes and shit, people would instantly teleport to Q3 without saying goodbye. Would then these people actually play in those tournaments? No, but the pros would, and that’s exciting. This, and the fact that “Q3 is where everybody is going”.

We had these things in the past. When big tournaments picked CPMA over OSP, when Q4 came out, when QL came out. But actually, the same happened before, with Q2 and Q3. Were these moves the result of careful thinking and planning? No. People just had the feeling it was the right thing to do. In some cases, they did regret the change and went back. The community partitioned and groups did evolve – read shrink – until extinction, with the exception of what communities are left today, playing the various Quakes versions.
My point is that – even if with reasoning one could say a move is the right choice - moving a community is freaking hard. You have to build a consensus, facing tons of opposition from regular people and derision from trolls. And there are no guarantees.

So, should we go back?

I think the only big thing that could excite people enough to really move back, is a community-built system that gets where Quake Live should have. Maybe not as far as where Battlenet2 and SC2 are, but surely on that direction. A platform, either client-integrated or through web, where a few key social features are implemented. A platform that would give players a reason to play, give constant feedback on the progress and make players feel inside a playing community. Is this even possible? Developed spontaneously by the community?

I don’t have a good answer. Aiming for the core, the essence, may be a sustainable challenge, the reasoning being that all the expensive eye-candies would arrive later, should things get any momentum. But surely it is not easy. It probably means little to nothing, but I spent the afternoon at the hospital where my brother is recovering from a blood infection. He has a degree in math and one in computer science, and he works on cloud computing / distributed systems. We talked a lot about Quake, battlenet2, we looked a bit into the problem of implementing an ELO system for real, and we looked at simpler systems like WC3/Halo, discussing the minimum web development something as simple as a ladder system would require. I let my fantasies and hopes go way beyond where it is reasonable, because I was happy to just be there and talk about these things.

Your turn, now.

To conclude this column, I think that people should calm down a bit. It is ok to be sad about losing something we love, but we should never forget that this whole Quake thing was, is, and will be a passion, a hobby, for 99.9% of us. And when people spend hours lurking anxious posts, filled with “Oh noes, everybody panic” vs. ray the doom’s rant, what has a passion become? Just keep it cool. Play the game, create content, and if you have the skills, think of what could be done.