At the time I was living in a two bedroom apartment with my high school buddy Freddy. We were in our early 20s and both had a love of all things video games. Quake 1 shareware (early release for PC games in the 90s) had been released in June of 1996 and I’m pretty sure we both had played through it about a dozen times or more. Desperate to get our hands on the final version, we would have to wait another 8 agonizing months before we could play through the entire single player campaign.
After the game finally dropped in February 1997, Freddy and I consumed the game like two people coming off a desert island (where video games are food, so to make this analogy make sense). One of the truly wonderful things that sprang out of id software’s masterpiece was the mod community. Shortly after release, we started to see all kinds of fantastic mods for Quake 1, that added all kinds of various ways to gib you way through the different levels of hell and the all the demons that came with it.
Fast forward to winter of 1998. Quake II had released in December, and like it’s predecessor, we couldn’t get enough of it. I come home from work one day in March and Freddy informs me that our local Best Buy has received a shipment of 3DFX Voodoo2 graphics cards. Up until this point, neither of us had been running games with 3d accelerated graphics, as neither of us had been able to acquire a video card.
Back then, a Voodoo2 would run you somewhere between $300-$400. Freddy was ready to pull the trigger. So we hop in the car and race up to Best Buy. After purchasing the card we run through a drive-thru to grab something for dinner and head right back to the apartment.
We wanted our full attention to be focused on what we were about to experience.
We quickly scarfed down our dinner and set out on the task of installing this new beauty. Installing hardware components in PCs back then isn’t what it is like today. Every time you looked to upgrade a piece on your system, you had this feeling that you were taking your systems life in your hands, and that one wrong move could mean instant death to your computing future.
We won’t even talk about what it was like installing drivers back then.
After getting the card installed, it takes a good 30 minutes or so to get the drivers installed (30 minutes was considered a success) and after a reboot, we are ready to fire up Quake II. Freddy launches the game, enters the settings menu and turns on 3D acceleration for the time. What we see next plants a seed in both of us that to this day continues to sprout and grow, maintaining our love for gaming
Seeing Quake II in true 3D was like when Moses saw the burning bush for the time. Utter disbelief.
I remember we stayed up all night, taking turns playing various mods and the single player (again). The Loki’s Minions CTF mod was a particular favorite of mine back then, as I loved the team aspect. After an all night session of Quake II, I made it a priority to save up to a card for my rig as well.
Fast forward to today, and I’m still playing id software games (along with lots of others) and still enjoying the world that is video gaming. I look back on that time and marvel at what was being accomplished by game studios, the work that was being done and the beginnings of a multi-billion dollar industry that now dominates the entertainment space.
The history of Id Software has been well chronicled and rightly so. In my eyes, they were the first company that opened the floodgates to many of the things that we see in modern games today. Their fingerprints are on so many games and game companies and their influence reaches to all corners of the video game industry.
For some, id software’s titles that were released before Quake, Wolfenstein and Doom, are the first and best examples of what shaped and crafted the FPS genre. But for my money, Quake was the game that blew the doors off and really showed what was possible with the first person shooter. Without Quake, what would the landscape of FPS games look like today?
Luckily we’ll never have to find out, because thanks to John Carmack, John Romero, Sandy Petersen, Tom Hall and American McGee, we were all blessed with this incredible piece of gaming history that lives on for many of us. Continuing to remind of us what the combination of technology and art and can accomplish. The results are timeless, as is Quake!
So happy birthday Quake, you look great at 25. Here’s to another 25 more.
As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!