On June 22, 1996 id Software released the shareware version for MS-DOS of the video game “Quake”. It included the first of four episodes included in the full commercial version which also started being sold along with some maps created for the multiplayer mode games.
After the success of “Doom” and “Doom II” id Software explored various ideas to decide the guidelines for the development of a new video game. In the end, it was decided to create another FPS with a Gothic setting and Lovecraftian influences. A soldier must hunt down an alien enemy codenamed “Quake” that is using teleporters to attack the Earth.
As in previous id Software successes, in the single player mode of “Quake” the player must go through a series of levels where he can fiund weapons, ammo and various bonuses as well as keys and more including some secrets. There are various enemies to eliminate in the various levels with a difficulty level that can be chosen at the beginning of the game.
“Quake” marked the introduction of various new technical solutions that represented considerable progress compared to “Doom”. The more advanced graphics engine was also one of the first to support 3D acceleration, which was improved over time. OpenGL support is credited for having contributed to the strong promotion of graphics cards with 3D acceleration.
The development of the multiplayer mode contributed to the success of “Quake” together with the rise of Internet connections in the mid ’90s. The ability to play online made deathmatches increasingly popular and gradually this mode became more important. For this reason, a few months after the release of “Quake”, id Software released “QuakeWorld”, a version in which multiplayer deathmatch management was improved.
Another step forward compared to “Doom” was represented by the ability to change the game. In addition to new levels, it became possible to create “mods”, heavily modified versions of the game with new graphics, audio and even new game modes.
Keeping the strong points of the milestones of the first-person shooters “Wolfenstein 3D” and “Doom” making various improvements brought “Quake” to quickly become a new great success of this kind of video games. In 1997 ports to other platforms started becoming available, which means different operating systems but also consoles.
In 1997 “mission pack” started being released and later “Quake II”, which is not a real sequel of the original game because the story at its base, the sci-fi setting, various weapons and other characteristics are different.
A great leap forward was made in 1999, with the release of “Quake III Arena”, especially for the fact that it staked everything on multiplayer mode. The single player mode still existed but the game didn’t follow a plot anymore but was just simulated a deathmatch in which the player faced bots instead of human players.
“Quake III Arena” was built on a new graphics engine that required even more advanced 3D acceleration. The setting blended the science fiction and Gothic elements of the previous chapters in a new video game now only focused on clashes between players.
Setting aside elements of success such as mazes, keys and plot, which marked big successes in previous years was a gamble that was won by id Software. “Quake III Arena” became the new basis for a new ecosystem of “mods”. Various port and expansion packs contributed further to a new success.
In 2005 “Quake 4” was released. It was based on an even more advanced graphics engine and features a single player mode which is a sequel to “Quake 2”. The multiplayer mode is also more similar to that of the first chapters of the saga.
In 2011 “Enemy Territory: Quake Wars” was released, which at least for now is the last chapter of the saga. It’s a prequel to “Quake 2” similar to “Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory” but with a sci-fi setting.
Over the years, the graphics engine used for video games in the series have been released as free / open source software. The consequence was a considerable expansion of the ecosystem, especially that based on the graphics engine of “Quake III Arena” with the creation of many other games.
Personally I arrived late to “Quake”: when the first game was released I was still busy with “Doom II”, “Quake 2” was really heavy for the PC I had then and when I discovered “Quake III Arena” there were already free / open source games based on its graphics engine so I soon moved to “Open Arena” and later also to other games of that ecosystem.
In the end, the “Quake” saga is important in the field of video games for various reasons. The various chapters had a direct success, helped to popularize Internet games and the graphics engines released as free / open source software enabled the creation of many other terrific games.