Gaming Made Me: Quake

Come on in, children. You'll make friends.

This week, in our Gaming Made Me series, Lewis Denby explains to us how it was that Quake came to make him. In a very personal account, find out how violent videogaming took away a child’s loneliness, and even got him to go to school.

Somewhere in the dusty attic of my parents’ house, there will be a box. My parents rarely throw anything away: if there’s excess clutter, the situation is analysed, and the least useful items get taken up into the loft, where they might sit for years, if not decades. Inside the box, there’ll be all manner of child’s drawings. Drawings of cars and of planes, of rollercoasters and wild animals. There’ll be the first three pages of a book called ‘The Mystery of the Lost Pin’, scrawled in a young child’s handwriting and discarded by his attention span. And there’ll be an exercise book, filled from cover to cover with level designs, monster sketches and weapon ideas. They’ll have been there since 1996, when I was eight, and they’ll all have been influenced by a single game: id Software’s seminal 3D shooter, Quake.

Quake wasn’t the first game I ever played, nor is it anywhere close to being my favourite any more. But it was the first game to capture my imagination so absolutely. I was far, far too young to be playing it, probably. I remember my mum being somewhat displeased with my dad’s decision to introduce me to it. He did, though, and the results were – I’m sure – not what either of them had expected.

I feel I should put the whole situation into a bit of context. I was an eight-year-old nerd with glasses on my face and a brace on my teeth. I was having a hard time at school. I had a few acquaintances, who were nice enough to me. I also had a group of “closer friends”, who were not. And I had a teacher so monumentally horrible, so abusive of her power over these tiny tots, that I considered her to be the biggest bully of the lot.

The result was that every morning, at around half past eight, I’d suddenly begin to feel spectacularly ill and inform my parents that I absolutely must stay at home that day. This began to happen so frequently that they were forced, on more than one occasion, to pretty much literally drag me to the door of my classroom. Things were not happy.

At that time, we’d just got our first family computer – no internet connection yet – and with it my dad had been given a copy of Quake. It had a big, fat 15 certificate on the front of the box. To begin with it was a forbidden pleasure, reserved only for the grown-ups. My dad would sneak away for an hour or so every now and then, and we’d hear muffled cursing, or the sound of a grown man jumping a foot into the air at the shock of – say – the walls dropping in Episode 1, Mission 5, revealing a Shambler, all white flesh and lightning, ready to rip his digital nose off.

I began to show an interest. And my dad began to hatch a plan.

A deal was struck. Every morning, I would get up at half past seven, as was normal. But instead of watching television, I would be allowed half an hour on Quake. This was on the agreement that, when it was time to go to school, I would do so with no fuss. I would not pretend to be ill, and I would not throw a tantrum. If there were problems at school, I would calmly tell a member of staff, and tell my parents when I got home, and they would sort it out for me.

And so, with my dad monitoring, presumably at the request of my mum, I began to play Quake. By the end of the first of four episodes, I was absolutely captivated. I had discovered 3D action gaming, and it was wonderful.

Quake is underrated. Doom gets all the plaudits for being the innovator, even though it wasn’t really, and Quake III is the title that most would point to as the pinnacle of the series, even though the first three Quake games were so different from one another that they defy reasonable comparison. When Quake gets mentioned, most people recall one of two things: that it was brown, or that it had decent multiplayer.

I wasn’t aware at the time of just how important Quake’s multiplayer was. Introducing mouselook, which very few games had implemented before, it allowed deathmatch battles to be fought at a frightening pace and with perfected accuracy. Quake also introduced the concept of the rocket jump, for which it must be commended until the end of time.

But, like I said, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have more than one computer to network, either. Multiplayer was a secret thing, an extra option on the menu that could never be touched. My experience of Quake at the time was single-player only. And while criticisms of the solo campaign’s dreary colour palette are kind of understandable, they tend to gloss over one absolutely crucial aspect of Quake’s design: it might have been dominated by one colour, but the variety was simply tremendous.

From gloomy, gothic castles to high-tech teleportation complexes, as you battled countless different foes with increasingly ludicrous weapons, Quake absolutely revelled in its refusal to stay still. Its creativity, even within the limited technical resources of the time, is extraordinary. Do you remember Wind Tunnels? The level that was split into several different areas, only accessible by allowing yourself to be sucked up by enormous vaccuum tubes? Or how about Ziggurat Vertigo, the secret level accessible from one of the game’s early areas? In that, gravity was markedly lowered, meaning you could leap around the map at will, carefully looping rockets over to the Ogre on the distant ledge.

It was this level of imagination that astounded me, and got my own creative juices flowing. Before then, my experience of games had been rubbish movie tie-in platformers on whatever the console de jour was at the time. But Quake was the real deal. You could do this stuff in computer games? Until then, I’d had no idea.

It took me several months of those half-hour sessions to complete Quake. During that time, the vague acquaintances became friends as we bonded over a new shared interest. I always assumed my dad had asked their parents’ permission before letting them play a violent videogame with me, but maybe not. Hopefully we didn’t ruin any children’s minds.

I’m reasonably sure we didn’t, though, and somewhere in that dusty attic is the evidence: sketches, idea sheets and design documents for entirely new games based on Quake’s ideas, scrawled down by a group of new-found friends, with a new-found creative hobby, in awe of the new-found imagination of computer games.


  1. Risingson says:

    I demand that all the writers in RPS must be over 30. I feel extremely old if you are not.

    Quake is underrated, that’s for sure, as was Doom not very much ago, and as is Wolfenstein 3D. We tend to consider them as games more important for their engines and innovations but who grew old fast, but actually, they still work very good as games, as they are very well designed. Moreover, Quake has a beautiful, very beautiful “familiar” alien atmosphere, which would only be surpassed by Unreal later.

    And it combination of brownish colours is a great sign of the 90s. Brown for the 90s is like Top Gun for the 80s.

    • James G says:

      Denby makes me feel old at 26, at eight I was playing on an Amiga 600. Although it wasn’t many years later that Quake was released, it feels like an age.

      Conversely, the time since I built my first system in the summer of 2004 feels like a blink. I’m still stuck thinking that games released then are recent.

    • Archonsod says:

      At eight I had a Spectrum. Now that makes me feel old. I remember when all this were 8 bits, lawks etc etc.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      When I was 8, I had a PS2. I’m 18.
      Am I old too?

    • Dozer says:

      At the age of eight, family Dozer had an Amstrad CPC and a IBM-Compatible 386 with British Telecom branding. Come to think of it, the PC might have arrived later than that. It survived for years in a ‘grandfather’s axe’ kind of way, being progressively upgraded and replaced. I’m 24.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      You really want me to wait til 2017 til I am allowed to carry on the bargain bucket? :(

    • Oak says:

      What sick man hires babies to write my games articles?

    • Jason Attard says:

      At 8 I was in the middle of my extensive Commodore-64 years, copying BASIC programs out of library books and playing a staggering array of games.

    • shitflap says:

      Pfft, Minesweeper was the only game that came out when I was 8, ACCORDING TO THIS SITE.
      I was being cool playing Populous and coin-ops..

    • Urthman says:

      Space Invaders came out when I was eight years old.

    • killmachine says:

      i really cant remember what i was playing when i was 8. maybe it was an amiga console or maybe it was already a sega master system. this was in 1990.

      i came to the pc when i was 14 i think. i didnt have my own. i used to play with one of my best friends pc. and the first two games i played were duke nukem 3d and quake. duke nukem 3d was actually the first game i played on the pc. and one of the first things i did on the pc was actually using the build editor for duke3d.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I was born in 1980, so technically Lewie came out when I was 8.
      (and then two years later we got an amiga 500 in the “Class of the 90’s” pack, and an obsession was born that eventually ended up with me getting a job in IT, handy that.)

    • oceanclub says:

      Pfft. They didn’t have computers when I was 8. WE BANGED ROCKS TOGETHER. Finally, when I was 10, I got an Atari 2600. (Somewhere, there is an aging Polaroid photo proving that I’m still eligible for Commander of the Federation of Laser Blasters:)–Federation-of-Laser-Blasters-Commander-and-1-000-000–PROD6934.html

      It was this game, in which it was possible to beat every screen using the same sequence of moves. link to

      I was the grand old age of 12 when the Spectrum came on the scene. Still the best (or at least, most lovable) computer ever.


    • jonfitt says:

      Sometimes I wonder how people can write about PC games if they weren’t alive at the start, but that’s crazy talk. It’s just weird that you hear form people who came in late in the game.

      It’d be like talking about your favourite TV show with someone who’s only seen the latest season. You’d have to nod along “Yes, yes, very good, good point. BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT!”

      Let’s see. When I was 8 I was probably being abused by the punishing difficulty of Ghouls n’ Ghosts loaded off a tape onto my Speccy. That and any demos I had from Your Sinclair.

    • scienceshoew says:

      Gosh, when I was eight we got a PC XT, featuring all-yellow hercules monochrome graphics and a pc speaker. I played Space Quest, and mostly wandered around the ship you start off on.

  2. Prince says:

    Still my favourite shooter by far (alongside MDK). The look and, especially, feel of the game is unparalleled. One of those games I tend to replay every few years, each time impressed by its inventiveness. Shame the sequels went the sci-fi route – I preferred the gothic levels by far.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The sort of superGothic style seems to have fallen our of favour in game design. Still glimpses of it here and there, but nothing like this.

    • Oak says:

      The last level of The Ball is the best attempt I’ve ever seen by a modern game to capture Quake’s art style. Made my heart swell, it did.

    • manveruppd says:

      Yeah, the Ball is one of the last few torchbearers :) Painkiller was the other major one I guess, but that was more traditional Gothy, not the Gothic-sci-fi of Quake.

    • Mr_Hands says:

      Well, I guess it’s high time I install The Ball, then.

  3. ceriphim says:

    What a great article. My very first experience with Quake was playing the demo from CD. There were whispered rumors of an unlock key which would allow you to install the full game without paying… Our Holy Grail was a friend finding that code, and reveling in the glory of the entire, eerie, scary game unlocked onto my parent’s PC.

    Aside from my limited BBS-oriented multiplayer sessions of Doom 2, Quake was my first intro into large-scale multiplayer gaming. I can remember hours and hours getting sucked down playing Quake32 CTF and the original TeamFortress maps while listening to the local rock radio station.

    I think my favorite time with Quake was after I’d been playing a few months, some friends and I decided to rent LAN time at a local gaming shop. They were dumbfounded and amazed (and soon pretty pissed) as absolutely decimated them with the skills I’d gleaned from hundred of hours of Quake32.

    It’s sad to think I’ll never again have an experience like Quake introduced me to. So many ear-to-ear grins as my demo man grenade-jumped onto the parapet and began tossing little pineapples of death around the tower…

  4. Mark says:

    Quake made me too. I probably work in games now because of it.

    Worldcraft for Quake was my first real go at level editing, being unable to get my head around making Doom levels without any tutorials or instruction (no internets then). The possibilities of real 3D levels, water, vaccuum tubes, moving volumes/doors etc really sparked my imagination. No doubt I made some really ugly stuff but we all have to go through the phase of making levels that have a rocket launcher in the first room and 1000 enemies in the next.

    This set me up well for making levels in what became the Hammer editor for Valve’s games, the rest is history – I’m now an environment artist, making games for a living.

    I remember not being able to play Quake for a year or two because our family PC didn’t have a floating point processor – lol. I think a lot of bedroom programmer / modders did what they did because they got stuck with mom and dads crappy PC instead of something that can handle the latest games, and end up messing around making games instead of playing them.

    Quake really was a genuinely top game – not a brown interlude between semminal ID titles as some people like to remember. Way scarier and darker than doom, less camp. All modern multiplayer owes Quakeworld a huge debt.

    • randomnine says:

      Snap. Oh, I’d messed with level editors before and I spent far longer messing with Half-Life, but my entry to games programming was when a certain UK games magazine put QuakeC stuff and a bunch of mods (with source code) on the cover disc.

      I have fond memories of working out how to let the player carry and switch between 50 weapons at once. Good times.

  5. AdamK117 says:

    Awesome story, I felt exactly the same when I was in high school. I didn’t sport glasses, sure, but braces and a lack of interest for consoles even put me out of most of the “gamer” types. Back then, gaming was something complete geeks did, cool kids played football together. I played loads of PC games (Quake 2, doom, populus, etc) which got me building/upgrading pcs even before I went to high school but I still had my sly SNES addiction.

    One day I was at my uncles they both talked to eachover about a PC game which even I (the kid they introduced Duke Nukem to) wasnt allowed to play. Eventually, I managed to sneak into one of their studies and boot it up, I didnt know anything about it (no net access and I didnt have a gamesmaster sub) apart from its name, fallout 2, enough to boot it. It took me a while to get the dialogue references, the quirky jokes, and the wierdly grey approach to some quests (was I meant to blow that nuclear plant up?). Since then I’ve not been even remotely captivated by mainstream console blockbusters, they just didnt compare.

    It sort of had the reverse effect for me in high school, all my mates played Tekken 3, I was drooling over Deus Ex, they boasted about their Pokemon collections, I figured out how to abuse spy micro in Red Alert. This made being at school a pretty sucky environment, obviously when you’re a teen its all about fitting in with the cool kids.

    The internet made me. Before, my only multiplayer was restricted to the annual LANs my uncles pulled off. Once I convinced my dad to take a free internet call package (for upto one hour, past 6PM) and once I managed to patch deus ex (i had to block my familys phone line for 3 hours a couple of time slowly downloading those patches and pay the difference in net charges) and play it at a rediculously high ping, I realized there was plenty of PC gamers there, and with them came gamer networks. From there, MOHAA, Counter Strike, Diablo 2 became group hobbies for me and my online friends. More importantly, knowing other gamers gave me a group of friends I literally played games with for hours every night (and teamspeak just pushed it further), it made me feel like I fit in which made me more confident to push myself at school and my desire to make Deus ex maps, code clan websites, and design banners made me an overnight IT and math guy.

    WoW was the first game that loads of other school mates played. When that sucker came out it was my turn to show them how to have fun in an e-world. Ever since then at Uni and beyond PC gamers just seem to be more popular and open than ever. Like a hidden society that has suddenly rose from behind the curtain ignoring the heckles from hockey jocks and trendys.

  6. frenz0rz says:

    That was a good read Lewis, cheers.

    I’ve had the plan for a while now to write a series of articles such as this concerning my own childhood. I honestly think that, even if one’s writing is not as entertaining and concise as this, everyone should give it a go – im sure we all have interesting stories to tell about our early gaming experiences. As with your story, gaming helped me through my school days too; however, not through helping me to eventually make friends, but through providing a wonderful form of escapism the likes if which I’d never experienced. Of course, you should always bear in mind the warping that nostalgia can play on your memories, but I think its also all too easy to look at a game as you see it now, instead of as you saw it back then. Morrowind in particular helped me escape from the bullying and social rejection of my first few years of high school. Whether I’d enjoy it now is irrelevent – it fueled my imagination for years, and gave me something to look forward to every day.

  7. World One Two says:

    That is a lovely article Lewis Denby. Just lovely.

  8. BobsLawnService says:

    Nice article Lewis.

    The one thing that always blew me away about Quake was the architecture. Looking back I think it is because the level designers thought “Hey, we can do full 3D now so we’ll overdo it.”. A lot of modern level design seems flat and uninspired in comparison.

    I also remember a mod called Dark Majik which brought things like laser tripwires into play. In college we must have wasted entire weeks playing it.

    Good times.

  9. Ushao says:

    Just reading this article and hearing the telltale “thunk” sound of the grenade launcher in my head exactly as it sounded when I played it makes me realize how much Quake was an influence on me.

    • Arathain says:

      Exactly. All grenade launchers sound like the one in Quake, to me. Why most games get it wrong is beyond me.

      *thunk* *clang* *clang* *boom*

  10. Xanadu says:

    I have to say I never played Quake, apart from a few goes on a friends computer, as I didn’t have a machine capable of playing it at the time, impoverished student that I was. Are it and its sequels still playable now, or have they dated too badly to be played for anything other than nostalgia? Do they run well on modern PCs?
    Apologies for pedantry, but I have to pull you up on Quake introducing rocket jumping – Bungie’s Marathon on the Mac had that back in ’94.
    Great article though. Made me think about how, and when I’m going to share my videogaming habit with my kids in years to come. If I let my eldest play Quake when he turns 8 my wife would kill me!

    • tanith says:

      Let’s not forget “Rise of the Triad” and Doom, shall we? ;)
      Although it was a bit different in Doom.

    • Archonsod says:

      Never got into Quake myself, the only FPS I could be bothered with back then was Duke Nukem 3D. Even Doom didn’t do much for me – the game that got me to trade in the Amiga for a PC was Master of Magic.

    • MattM says:

      If you want to play quake today, you will probably want to use a source port. Since the original engine was made open source, people have updated it and kept it comparable with modern machines and added enhanced graphics. You will still need a copy of the level files to play the original campaign, but the game is available for purchase on steam.
      Go here to learn more
      link to

  11. Wulf says:

    Ah, Quake.
    Does anyone remember PainKeep? I always had a hilarious time in that – I had a metagame that I loved to play, where I’d learn the lay of a map, find the best damn hiding spot that could be achieved with the grappling hook, and become the guy that no one could find.

    Once (or maybe more than once, I can’t recall) I drove a friend so nuts that a DM match devolved into a map-wide manhunt to find the f***er who’d grappled somewhere where no one could find him. (Possibly half out of the map walls, again.) That was an interesting predators and prey scenario, and I was not easy prey. This lead to working on running away skills so that I could work my way from one grapple point to another – and that eventually turned into CTF flag running skills. Don’t do much of that any more, though, as my FPS days are long gone.

    Also, Malice was fun. I actually liked that game (built upon the Quake engine) a lot more than Quake II. It had some really nicely done maps, and some fun stuff included like the submarine and all. Also, Quake Test. Betas did exist in the dark ages of PC gaming, too! (Though perhaps dark ages isn’t that correct a term, since some of the most brilliant ideas came out of that period. Almost like a Renaissance. Perhaps adolescence would be better.)

    • Spacewalk says:

      The weekend I spent playing Painkeep with friends is a deathmatch experience that I’ve never been able to match since. We got a couple of other mods going as well: Slide, Quake Rally and Airquake. Slide especially went down well, someone needs to make an exact copy of that and turn it into an actual game. They’d get away with it, only people who have shackled themselves to the past would remember some now obscure mod to a game that came out last century.

      Malice I came across when it was on a coverdisk probably around the time when Half-Life was the buzz which was some time after it had come out as I’m led to believe. At that time I ate up anything that was in the genre but it’s one of the things that I still consider a quality mod. It’s up there with Dissolution Of Eternity, Zerstorer and Soul Of Evil but it went that bit further and made it totally removed from Quake. It had a hoverboard too, which allowed to you to do insane jumps without resorting to hurting yourself with rockets.

  12. Metonymy says:

    I don’t want you to take this as a personal attack, but this article is equal to the very worst journalism on kotaku, the kind where the angsty tween writer provides us with an editorial about the color of his new baby’s snot.

    You just got through praising OMM, and then you instantly forgot it existed. This is not how to write interesting material. This is self-centered, arbitrary, and boring. No one cares about your trifling childhood privations. Other people get raped, live a lifetime of starvation, get physically and mentally abused, lied to, have every opportunity taken from them by the apathy of their providers. Anything you’ve experienced is wholly inconsequential by comparison.

    Then we get to the part of the article that is actually about a game. You mentioned that quake had some nice things? That’s adorable. You didn’t mention the name of one level designer, or how their design style differed. Do you even know which maps were made by Romero? Who designed most of episode 4? What else was the engine used for? How long did it take to develop? Beta experience? Mods? CTF? Anything?

    You didn’t mention that in addition to popularizing mouselook, quake also introduced the concept of ‘half-self damage’ which is radically more significant (and damaging) to later game design than the completely inevitable consequence of a real 3-d rendering engine. And you didn’t mention anything else of note about the game, it’s design, what it drew from, what it influenced. There is no content here.

    You can do better.

    • Lewis Denby says:

      The hivemind asked me to write about why Quake was important to me, so I did. Sorry you weren’t more entertained.

    • westyfield says:

      I liked it. So there.
      Edit: And as Lewis mentioned, it is a ‘Gaming Made Me’ – I suggest you read more of them on RPS before complaining about how it is only relevant to the writer.

    • Lorc says:

      Lewis is classier than I would have been. Your rant seems less than constructive..

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Important perhaps to appreciate that this series (Gaming Made Me) has always been more of an insight into the people discussing that key game in their life, rather than the game itself.

      I’d suggest there are plenty of places to learn the complete story of Quake, or indeed the Quake series in general. This was about one persons experience, and how that led them (in part at least) to where they are today.

      I enjoyed it, and seemingly plenty of others did too. I’m sorry that you didn’t feel the same way, but I’m sure RPS will provide other content which you may appreciate more in the future.

    • AdamK117 says:

      I like these kinds of articles, for reasons i mentioned in my reply I think its cool to see how other gamers (and more importantly, the journalists who help popularise the platform) got into the hobby. Yeah, its not a quantitative review about which aspects of quake made it so awesome but I guess quake was important because of the time it came out, not its intrinsic merits.

    • Stompywitch says:

      Then we get to the part of the article that is actually about a game. You mentioned that quake had some nice things? That’s adorable. You didn’t mention the name of one level designer, or how their design style differed. Do you even know which maps were made by Romero? Who designed most of episode 4? What else was the engine used for? How long did it take to develop? Beta experience? Mods? CTF? Anything?

      This sort of piece isn’t about that. You’re wanting a retrospective on Q1 (Although, frankly, anyone who would even give a shit these days already knows the answers).

      That’s a different article. This is a series about what games mean to people, rather than the industry or the “community”.

    • James G says:

      I’m afraid that not only are you missing the point, but are doing so in an uneccessarily rude manner. The ‘Gaming Made Me’ articles have always been about the writers and the very personal way games have been formative. If that doesn’t interest you then fine, read something else. Personally I enjoy the recognition that games affect our lives in ways that are sometimes entirely unconnected to the engine they use, or even their quality.

    • supacoo says:

      “You didn’t mention that in addition to popularizing mouselook, quake also introduced the concept of ‘half-self damage’ which is radically more significant (and damaging) to later game design than the completely inevitable consequence of a real 3-d rendering engine.”

      What the hell are you talking about? “Half-self damage?” What is this meaningless garbage you are spewing? That term literally means nothing.

    • Sarlix says:

      @Metonymy: I don’t know what your problem is, but you’ve completely missed the point of the Gaming Made Me articles. I think most people here can relate to them because who doesn’t have that special game that ‘made them’ And I for one find it interesting to hear of other peoples experiences. Even if I have no prior appreciation of the game, as was the case with lasts weeks Leisure suit Larry article.

      Now I don’t want to take this off topic but….

      “No one cares about your trifling childhood privations. Other people get raped, live a lifetime of starvation, get physically and mentally abused, lied to, have every opportunity taken from them by the apathy of their providers. Anything you’ve experienced is wholly inconsequential by comparison.”

      You have no right to say that Lewis’s experience was inconsequential. Everyone suffers in there own way, what may seem inconsequential to you could be huge to someone else. I had a school friend who committed suicided because of bullying from kids and teachers. It wasn’t taken seriously because there was no physical side to the bullying. I think it’s important never to dismiss someones problems/experience as trivial, even though they may seem like it to you.

    • benjaminlobato says:

      “This is not how to write interesting material.”

      I found this post to be very interesting, and if the comments are any indication, so did many others.

      You are criticizing him for not being super critical and analyzing the nuances of the level design and the game engine and John Romero’s influence and etc, … but this post is about his experience playing the game when he was EIGHT YEARS OLD! I think you’ve completely missed the point of this “gaming made me” series.

      You obviously have a lot of strongly held opinions about what constitutes good games writing, so in all seriousness, why don’t you start your own blog and practice what you preach? I think it will make you feel much better than pissing on others’ writing like you are doing here.

    • Thants says:

      I’m pretty sure that Metonymy is just a troll. If you look through his posts pretty much every one is pointless, antagonistic, button-pushing.

    • MD says:

      What a nasty comment. Quite silly, too. Your complaints seem to boil down to: a) ‘other people have worse and more interesting lives, therefore you shouldn’t share anything personal’ and b) ‘I would have preferred a completely different type of article with a completely different focus, therefore this one was shit’.

      I don’t know if you can do better or not, but you could at least try not to be so gratuitously nasty.

      I enjoyed the article.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Because if you feed the troll enough, he might asplode.

    • Novotny says:

      Sometimes I aspire to a great height of pretension or self-regard, but boy did this guy just win all the awards. The clincher is ‘you could do better’, the implication being that ‘I can value your capacity in full, for I see all’. *sigh* mate, the internets are full of people like you. its boring.

    • J-Spoon says:

      Dog, huh. You’re not a cat. Why would anyone like a stupid dog like you? All you do is bark.

      You never meow.

    • Web Cole says:

      The idea that some other people “had it worse than you” should completely diminish the strength of your own personal experience is silly. Very fucking silly.

      And as other people have said, you and the point of these articles should get acquainted.

  13. The Dark One says:

    I didn’t have the same horrible feelings of dread when it came to school, but when I was a little kid and hadn’t yet learned to hate mornings, I’d bounce out of bed and eat my breakfast as quickly as possible so that I could play some Star Trek 25th Anniversary before it was time to go. I wouldn’t play for the adventure part- I’d just start up the first mission where you had to battle another Constitution class ship in a war game. Good times.

  14. sk2k says:

    I miss Cujo.

  15. Lunaran says:

    There’s still a very active Quake community making some pretty awesome content.

    Hottest off the press and worth every penny:
    link to

  16. Krokz says:

    Oh this game made me.
    I am an old gamer and Quake 1, for me, is probably the most important game of all time and like the author said, hugely underrated. I remember the whole summer brake of 1997 playing Team fortress 1, the mod that was few years before its time, private LAN parties with friends playing Future&Fantasy mod. Clan Deathmatches and all that on 300+ ping (28.8k modem). I remember my mother picking up the phone to call a friend which disconnected me and my furious responses, jeez.
    This game made internet multiplayer as we know today, it made the internet mod community and sparkled innovation and produced game designers for the coming generation.
    /bow quake

  17. Torgen says:

    When I was eight, it would be six more years before the Atari 2600 and TRS-80 would exist. The invention of the home video game console was a year in the future (Magnavox Odyssey.)

    Oh GOD, I feel, old.

    • westyfield says:

      When I was 8, Deus Ex was released. Red Alert 2 was released. Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors was released. I feel way too young for this website.


    • Wulf says:

      Get ahff mah dayum lawn!!! *shakefist* D8<

      When I was around that age, I was playing around with someone's brand new ZX Spectrum 48k.

      48k was a lot of RAM at that time, you know. We couldn't even imagine 640k, which apparently would be enough for everyone.

    • Josh W says:

      Your d8 rolls a 1, you fail to shake your fist, in fact you shake your leg instead, and fall over. Your lawn is still occupied, what do you do?

  18. apa says:

    My then-girlfriend-now-wife’s gaming history is roughly: Great Giana Sisters, Quake, Little Big Planet. Statistically that’s quite an outlier :D
    She calls shamblers “snowwies” because they were white and thinks they are cute. The dog-like monsters were just “bad doggies”.

    • Wulf says:

      So I’m not the only person alive that finds feral creatures of doom adorable, then. Hm.

  19. BathroomCitizen says:

    Lewis, I really liked this article, I saw a lot of myself in all of this.

    I’m a year older than you, so I experienced Quake when I was 9 years old. One of my best friends would come at my house and we would share turns at playing Quake that would switch everytime one of us died.

    These are some of my fondest memories of the time I was little, playing Quake with my friends.

    Now and then I load up some new singleplayer maps created by the quite-active userbase to experience some oldschool monstershooting. The site that I usually point at for recent Quake news is

    I’m still amazed that some of the friends that I know now consider Quake an old relic that “is too dark” :( The gameplay is still damn amazing. Today’s shooters are so slow that I could make some tea while waiting for a respawn…

  20. bhlaab says:

    Quake 1: The last good SP campaign id ever did or ever will do.

    • arghstupid says:

      I actually liked Quake II’s single player more. Come to think of it I liked the multiplayer better too. I guess I’m some sort of heretic. Or easily pleased by coloured lighting.

    • bhlaab says:

      Since you like boring hub mazes so much I’ll do worse and brand you a Hexen

  21. Wilson says:

    And if I recall, you can play the whole thing coop can’t you? Had some great fun with that not too long ago. I should load this up again at some point.

  22. shagen454 says:

    I was in seventh grade when Quake came out. I somewhat remember getting the full game before it was released through a demo at EB. Anyway, I loved that game. It got me into HEAVY music. Before Quake I had been listening to hardcore punk like Minor Threat, Avail and local bands. But when I played Quake deathmatch I started throwing on Rorschach , His Hero is Gone, Drop Dead, Man is the Bastard. Grindcore. I don’t think I’d have ever gotten into those bands if their heaviness and quickness had not related to how visceral Quake’s multiplayer component was.

    I also remember that CTF grappling hook… oh man, the game was so much fun. I still read BluesNews which hasn’t changed all that much since those days and Quake was the reason I discovered Blue.

    • arghstupid says:

      CTF and mods in general form my favourite memories of the original quake, I don’t know if it was the first game to specifically provide for them but it was definately the first I’d owned. It felt very new and exciting back then. The first time I installed some deathmatch bots was really quite unsettling having been used to AI that only ever ran at you in a straight line.

  23. xaphoo says:

    I could write thousands of words on what Quake meant to me when I was in 8th and 9th grade, how it was one third my 14 year old trinity of free-time activities: Quake, classic rock on headphones, and reading fantasy in my room. I still think it’s the finest shooter of all time for replayability and atmosphere, to say nothing of the incredibly innovative graphics and tone.

    Doom, as we all know, was a maximalist fest of flaming skulls, brightly colored textures, frantic iddqd bezerking. Doom was the glam-rock phase of action gaming evolution. Quake was more thoughtful, with fewer enemies, a restrained palate — but still, more than any shooter before orsince, it evoked a true nightmarish and satanic terror; I remember the way those flying enemies collapsed and fell when you shot them, belly-first. In these kind of atmospherics nothing approaches Quake even today. Remember those vast granite/lava/blood Aztec-style maps? Has there been any video game environment as simultaneously claustrophobic and awe-inducing? Has any studio actually been imaginative enough to make enemies like those galloping four-footed claw guys with no eyes and face?

    The gameplay was also fluid and creative. Enemies had heft and were frightening, and getting by them in novel ways felt like an accomplishment. Weapons were predictable — there was no “wonkiness”. Navigating through the game world felt like a descent deep underground or in a parallel world which got more and more hostile and strange (Portal had this feel too). It feels less like a game than other games.

    I am in the minority when I say I prefer Quake 1’s magical, completely unintelligible but real-felling world to the mundane sci-fi Half-Life universe.

    • Ysellian says:

      Have to agree, I prefer the setting in Quake much more than I did Half life. John Romero at his best :)

  24. bradley says:

    Quake is fantastic, one of my fave games ever, and I’ve completed it many many times…

    The thing nobody ever talks about is the lighting, which is sooo amazing for it’s day. It was remembered as the first FPS in true 3D, but it also went the extra distance of using pre-calculated radiosity lightmaps. It made both of those technical achievements in one move.

    And beyond that the artists used that lighting perfectly on it’s first outing. I still think that the combination of dingy shadows, sound effects and the rolling purple overcast sky made this much more atmospheric than most games approach.

  25. Spacewalk says:

    I still play Quake occasionally ‘cept these days it looks like this. I have to keep going back to the game Slide, Quake Rally and SuperDuper Quake constantly call to me.

  26. Schmung says:

    A good chunk of my dissertation was about Quake. Properly revolutionary stuff in every way. I was so excited about it in and used my precious, precious internet time to find out everything I could, then spending hours downloading qtest on our 28k modem and then the subsequent weeks allocation on getting mods for qtest. I could still tell you the names of my favourite DM levels for Quake and the my favourite mods and texture packs and everything else. Incredible game.

  27. supacoo says:

    A retrospective on Quake that discusses the single-player in lieu of the multi is missing the biggest part of what made Quake what it was.

    Nice writing, but I’m telling you man, you truly missed out on actual Quake.

  28. squareking says:

    Fantastic soundtrack from Mr. Reznor, too.

  29. Turin Turambar says:

    The best about Quake is that you can’t be misguided by nostalgy. Just install it, download nQuake, Darkplaces or any modern version of the game, slap the base file and have a blast playing, today!
    The game is just fun, in 1996 or in 2011.

    • Spacewalk says:

      It’s amazing what a new lick of paint can do. If you can get your engine setup to lovely status it’s like rediscovering the game.

  30. porps says:

    definately one of my fave games of all time.. right up there with quake3!

  31. Dave says:

    Killerquake was incredible, flying nukes around the map!

  32. Chunga says:

    Quake was something special, but I have to say I liked Q2 even more, with the intro sequence and being dropped into action with the feeling of “I don’t know what’s coming around the corner and I am not sure I like that”. Never was any good at playing either of the games, and strangely, I’ve never played Q3.

    When I was eight, Pac-man was released. I feel like a dinosaur. Bwaaah.

  33. nperrin says:

    It’s funny that no one has really mentioned the soundtrack from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. It’s actually a pretty well-done, creepy chunk of dark ambient. The game goes from explosive fun to satanically scary and pulse-pounding once you pop in the CD for the music.
    I recently replayed Quake all the way through (I was 7 when it came out and borrowed a demo disc from a friend, playing only the first episode over and over again till much later) and it’s a stunningly powerful game considering that it’s pure action. High degree of intensity and creepiness, fantastic level design, just pure visceral madness.

    • Towercap says:

      If Quake made me, its soundtrack went a long way to make Quake for me.

      Love NIN.

  34. Yanko says:

    There are people who truly UNDERSTAND what Quake is, by itself and to the games industry as a whole, and there are people who don’t.

    I am, gratefully, the first kind! Gaming that made me indeed.

  35. Robin says:

    This article resonates with me, too, although my peer group and I would have been around 16 at the time Quake came out. I think we were incredibly lucky to grow up during a time before games became part of mainstream culture. I can’t imagine young people today viewing a game in the same light as we viewed Quake LAN multiplayer. Just getting the equipment together required extensive planning each time. But we went to that effort because the experience was a quantum leap over anything else available. It was science fiction.

    It’s a real shame Eurogamer (and to some degree Edge) have spent the last decade propagating the meme that it’s somehow clever to be snide about Quake and id.

    I find the idea of not letting an 8-year-old play Quake very odd.

  36. Zombleton says:

    Great article, I feel just the same way about Quake. I’m about 15 years older but it was just as significant to the 24 year old me back then as it was for 8 year old Lewis. I’d been playing games all my life and I’d played Doom of course, which was significant for other reasons, but Quake changed everything. I might have called games my hobby before then, but I certainly didn’t feel as passionately about them as I have since. Quake showed me how atmospheric a game could be, I’d never experienced anything like it.

    For at least the first few months of my Quake obsession it was all about single player, and that’s the part that’s endured for me – I know every level intimately and love them all, I can play it now and still feel the same sensations I did back then, and the soundtrack remains one of my favourites of all time. Brilliant, brilliant single player game and also (almost incidentally in a funny way) possibly the greatest, purest form of deathmatch there’s ever been.

    Having exhausted the single player game I became obsessed with playing deathmatch against Reaper and other bots (I think I preferred Omicron iirc), and didn’t graduate to ‘real’ deathmatch until after Q2 came out and I finally got a 56k modem.

    I never grew tired of 1v1 on DM2, and I’ll never tire of those occasional replays of single player Quake. Time for another one!

  37. Hybrid says:

    I started and finished Quake about three or four years ago. No mods or anything, just the amazing classic experience. The level design was incredible and I loved the references to H. P. Lovecraft thrown in. I actually got the game from some seller in a fairly big flea market for $1 or $2. Best money I ever spent.

  38. Jason Moyer says:

    Only Id game that has ever really given me a stiffy is the first Quake. Great art design, great shooting, great soundtrack, great levels. I don’t think anyone, ever, has done a pure shooter that is as good as the first Quake.

    On a side note, someone needs to do a “gaming made me” piece about Descent.

  39. Giftmacher says:

    Throw my two cents in for the “Quake is underrated” bucket. Best goddamn level design I’ve ever seen.

    • Rane2k says:

      Indeed, the level design was fantastic. The moving platforms and elaborate traps, that´s stuff you don´t get in modern shooters anymore. :-)
      I got introduced to Quake when I was 12, my father only said “don´t ever tell your mom about this game.” :-)

      Edit: And it wasn´t all brown anyway, large parts of the third and fourth episode were blue. :-)

  40. po says:

    Quake is definately underrated, considering what it’s existence contributed towards gaming, and how many milestones it set, eg.

    Quakeworld online multiplayer.
    Accessible player modding through numerous world editors and game scripting.
    3wave CTF mod, Team Fortress mod, and countless others.
    The engine upon which Half Life was built (and by extension Counterstrike).

    Doom may have been the first FPS multiplayer, but Quake is the game that took the genre to the next level, and another comparable one has yet to be reached.

    I started playing LAN parties about the time Quake came out, and a lot of us were upgrading so we could play it instead of Doom. The difference between the 2 was amazing, with maps designed for z-axis combat, rocket jumping, circle strafing, axe thorking, and the traps ;)

  41. Darko Drako says:

    Braces at age 8? That doesn’t make sense, you would be unlikely to have you second set of teeth through by then. I suspect this whole story is a tall tale.

    • Lewis Denby says:

      I had my front teeth through and they were all over the place. I spent a great deal of time between the ages of about 7 and 12 in and out of Leeds Dental Institute. :-(

  42. MadTinkerer says:

    “they tend to gloss over one absolutely crucial aspect of Quake’s design: it might have been dominated by one colour, but the variety was simply tremendous.”


    Partly by accident (because Quake originally had a completely different setting and characters, and some levels were recycled from that), and partly by design (because all of the company’s best level designers were involved in this… before the horrible breakup soon after), Quake’s single-player campaign is a unique gem among all other games.

    Two games ruined what could have been a trend: Half Life would soon come along and forever ruin things by being excellent in it’s own right and accidentally spawning the multiplayer-realistic-military-shooter genre, and Quake 2 shoehorned in a completely unrelated sci fi storyline (because the guys who really made Quake into a game and not just an engine had left the company). But Quake was one of the last FPS games that was unashamed to be a game above all else before the age of the-player-must-follow-a-proper-storyline began.

    Even Duke Nukem Forever and Bulletstorm have pre-set storylines and cutscenes. SIGH. In truth, Quake and Deus Ex have more in common with each other than most other shooters. And yes, even Deus Ex has cutscenes, but in between story bits the designers assume you know what you’re doing instead of trying to force you to do specific things. That’s the difference between Quake and a select few FPS games, and everyone else.

    (Not that Half Life and Counter-Strike are bad for what they did, but what they started resulted in the old paradigms being shoved in the trash and a bazillion poor imitators choking the market.)

  43. falseprion says:

    I love these articles! Your experience was different than mine, but it made me pause and remember how Quake made me when I was in high school. I still have my old Quake folder, with mods and machinima (long before the word existed), speedruns, personal level creations and cfg files. Claustrophobopolis…. that’s all I can think about now. I think I’ll have a beer and fire the game up. Thanks!

  44. scar3crow says:

    Registered just to comment on this one, and how Quake made me. Sure it introduced me to competitive gaming beyond the occasional modem to modem Doom2 match, and a world of modding still unmatched (and still going…), but it also brought about numerous long term friendships. I have been more in contact with people I’ve met through Quake than any other element in my life, running on 14 years now for some. Quake not only introduced me to people who became friends, but those same friends got into the industry, helping me to enter the industry, giving me the income necessary to provide for my wife so I proposed to her, and we have now been married for almost 3 years. The attendees of the wedding were family, and members of the Quake community, and when hard times have hit, the Quake community has been there in very real ways to help out.

    Quake’s cultural and ludological value is already significant, but its personal value runs deep through my own life, and manifests itself through many long term continuing friendships, new friendships, a happy marriage, and all the wonderful people I met through that. So that is my Gaming Made Me: Quake.

  45. kregg says:

    That was fantastic. It also pretty much summed up my childhood playing Quake (I believe I was 10 when I played it). It was so much immense fun.

    If I remember my childhood, we had FIFA 95 (I say we when I mean my brother, all I did was watch him play – this was how we’d “work as a team”), and that had 3D graphics, but the thing used to break all the time. Our graphics card didn’t have much juice in them at the time (IIRC, it was something stupid like 8MB of graphics), so Quake was the only game that worked for me, and MAN, the game practically made my childhood.

    Also, thanks to Quake, I discovered that I suffered from motion sickness. That’s how good the game is. It’s a game AND a doctor!

  46. xaphoo says:

    The conclusion we can all take from this comment thread is that we all secretly believe Quake 1 to be the best game of all time. I for one stand by this proposition. At least I hope the profile of Quake 1 in the PC gaming canon rises in the next few years.

  47. terry says:

    Reading the article, I was struck with how close it was to my own experience with Doom. I remember playing through Doom 2 with the keyboard only, but after a beating at a local LAN game by some mouse players I became convinced that learning the mouse was the only way forward. This involved sitting deathmatching in the TV room while my parents watched “Eastenders”. You can imagine how sharply the constant flashes and explosions contrasted with Phil Mitchell’s ruddy visage. They were mortified at the violence, so far away from that shareware demo my dad unwisely installed a year before because “it had good graphics”. There’s a unique facial expression that parents the world over share when they are placed in that position.

  48. Urthman says:

    I’ll never forget the first time (at the beginning of the second level) an ogre turned around and roared at me, brandishing a chainsaw.

  49. ran93r says:

    I was 21 when Quake was released.. oh dear!

  50. Richard Clayton says:

    Oh yes, one of the first PC games I bought.
    You appear to be able to play it here: link to on flash. I’m assuming it is the whole thing and not just the demo.

    EDIT: I suspect it is the Shareware version.