Name: cerno
Location: Auckland
Posts: 605
I've been quite preoccupied with this issue for a while now, especially in light of QC's beta and upcoming release. I believe this is a matter closely related to my continuing to take an interest and occasionally play Quake titles (QL, CPM). To be honest I donít really understand fully what makes the Quake titles great, and so I can only begin to describe it. One fundamental thing that has attracted me to Quake titles all along is their enshrinement before all else of the player's skill and understanding. Everything else about the game pales in comparison - the textures, sound effects, characters, memories of 90s LAN parties (which I never attended) all fade into a dull nostalgic tableau which is essentially meaningless to me. Quake is all about what the player(s) can do in an environment that demands their full physical and mental involvement. Through demonstration of skill and understanding, players express themselves and make stylistic impressions upon both spectators and other players alike Ė thatís when it becomes artful. Two major elements of QC bother me a great deal because they de-emphasise that focus on player skill and understanding.

Firstly, QC over-emphasises elements peripheral to the core gameplay. By that I mean things like the gameís Ďcharactersí, its aesthetic tone, sound effects, game announcer et al. I also refer to the in-game currency and the ability to use real money to buy in-game peripherals such as skins. None of this stuff is actually part of the game itself, but I donít think it can be regarded as entirely separate.
There seems to be a consensus among gamers that because Valve Ďsavedí CSGO by selling practically useless ingame items, this is now required by prospective multiplayer titles in order to help attract players. I understand that commercial aspects such as this are a necessary factor to a titleís success, but Iím sceptical as to whether or not in-game purchasing and trading of items, and the development of an entire betting scene is actually entirely necessary. I actually think that in-game items can help a bit but they wonít fundamentally affect the popularity of a game or make it sustainable in the long run. Hats and other items in TF2 might have kept the playerbase around for a couple of extra years but I do not think that it saved the game by any means. They certainly havenít saved TF2 from the derision felt by many of its players after the addition of hats. Thereís a lot to talk about here and I donít really have time to go into it.

Secondly and of greatest importance, the introduction of player classes. Before I go on I will point out my definition of classes Ė this means that players in a given mode choose from categories containing which grant different player attributes (speed, health, armour, guns, special abilities etc). I think everybody who has played any Quake title even half-seriously is sceptical of the merits of this introduction of classes. Yet even from people who are sceptical of or even basically disagree with their inclusion I have seen the following arguments in favour of their inclusion:

1. Quake Live is old, letís have something new for the sake of it (this line of argument tends not to detail what should be added/removed)
2. The modern gamer is basically childish and stupid, and will be attracted by animated and voice-acted characters that they somehow identify with. This line of argument tends to assume that the addition of characters should be embedded in the core gameplay as player classes.
3. Player classes are the new norm (usually in passing reference to Overwatch and MOBAs, but rarely to TF2 and its predecessors).
4. Player classes make the game more accessible.
5. Player special abilities make the game more accessible.

I donít think I need to spend too much time pointing out the flaws in the above lines of argument, but I will
contest them briefly.

1. You cannot argue with substance that an old style of gameplay is inherently bad. At the same time, an old game can be encased within a new shell Ė you can update the graphics, sounds and add the support expected of a modern competitive platform, thus refreshing the old game for a new era and audience. Furthermore if so many new players have never played Quake, how exactly is the game Ďoldí to them?
2. I agree that the casual crowd is not that smart, but my view is that one should never assume an audienceís ignorance or stupidity. Basically I donít care about Slash or Anarki or whatever but I am concerned with the assumption that the focus on characters must naturally translate into the inclusion of character classes in the actual game. Why canít the company just hire a team of writers and artists, make a great cast of characters, while not fundamentally changing the core gameplay? Why does the company assume that these two things go hand in hand? If Tim Willits announced that the company had statistical information that showed players are more likely to play the game if they see fun, attractive characters, I would be partly appeased, but I donít even see a rational basis for this choice other than the fact that other titles have succeeded while doing this.
3. Player classes are not new Ė see QWTF. See DOTA. This isnít some dramatic new craze and it doesnít have to be inherent to team modes, or 1v1 for that matter.
4. Basically I am open to the idea of player classes if we are presented with a mode in which they are found to be balanced. However itís worth mentioning Ė especially when it comes to 1v1 Ė that a huge part of the value of Quake has always been the idea of parity and equal opportunity between players. Randomised spawns aside, this equality is a crucial part of Quakeís emphasis on player skill and understanding. This is largely due to the absence of class differences allowing the player to leave a greater stylistic mark on the game Ė the game isnít about what class the player chose, but about what the player did differently to their opponent given the same opportunity as them.
5. Similar to the above, we are yet to see an iteration of player abilities that isnít imbalanced. Iím open to the idea player abilities, if such abilities could be obtained more rarely, and ideally through control of the map or certain positions rather than just spawning with them.

While mindful of my seeming to some readers stubborn and jaded, I have to reiterate the fact that this company is basically dumbing down the Quake formula in a bid to popularise the newer title. This doesnít stop others from developing and playing other Quake-style shooters, but it is a shame because the Quake IP still retains some prestige over others. But why is it necessary, and what for? Is Quake valuable simply as a label and an icon, or is Quake valuable because of what it represents, that is what I mentioned before Ė the pure emphasis on player skill and understanding? If this company chooses to sell Quake as a label, regardless of the actual game inside the box, will it really attract an ideal playerbase necessary for the sustainability of a competitive platform? And even if the game is truly popular, will the game ever have the glory of a game such as chess (to which Quake has been cutely compared). Machiavelli said that princes who commit criminal acts can achieve power, but never glory. But surely thatís too harsh a comparison for Id Software and its holding companies. Underlying this discussion is also the idea that a good game is more important than a popular game. I actually donít care about esports if Iím able to play a great game regularly, nor do I care about it if the game being played is basically rubbish.