Have You Played… Quake III?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Specifically, Quake III DM17: The Longest Yard, which is what I think of whenever I think of Quake III. Every Q3A player has their favourite map, and I’m not even making a claim to DM17 being the ‘best’ map, but it’s my map. It’s the one which encapsulates what Quake III is about, to my mind.

And what Quake III is about is: JUMPING! RUNNING! CONSTANT MOVEMENT! NEVER BEING SAFE! CAMPING IS SUICIDE! PREDICTING THE ARC OF OTHER PLAYERS’ MOVEMENT! THE RAILGUN THE RAILGUN THE RAILGUN.

There are other weapons scattered around DM17’s facing worlds (ooh, cheeky), and there’s a lot to be said both heralding your descending arrival from a graceful jump with a leading rocket, or for a perfectly-time shotgun blast at a passing back, but really The Longest Yard is a railgun battle.

This was the map, wide-open and characterised by superheroic trampolining, in which you honed and honed and honed your skill with Q3A’s insta-kill sniper rifle. Enemies as mere dots against the night sky, knowing trajectories and timings innately. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing if played regularly enough to reach this almost transcendent level of communion with the railgun, and it is lost so miserably quickly if this practice is not maintained.

I miss it, painfully so at times, but I don’t have space in my life for it any more. It was possibly the only time I was really, truly good at a game. Probably the last, too. But I don’t never need to replace it. I close my eyes and I’m there, jumping, sailing, railgunning.

53 Comments

  1. BluePencil says:

    ” It was possibly the only time I was really, truly good at a game. Probably the last, too.”

    If it was the only time then it was the last. But also the first.

  2. GallonOfAlan says:

    I have, I remember going into Virgin to buy it and I still have the CD.

    Sort of pointless since I didn’t have the internet at home at the time, but I diddled around with the bots and played it at work which had a *gasp* ISDN connection.

    I think its main legacy will be the engine and the other games that used it.

  3. zeep says:

    AMEN.

    Q3DM17 feels exactly to me as this article describes. From Q3Test on i loved the things this map (and game) brought to me. Playing Q3Arena felt like a sport. A game in which you could reach higher levels of skill, (aim, trickjumping, speed) and with that a deeper understanding of everything around you.

    Q3DM17 is where i spent most of my days.

    Instagib on Q3DM17 was also a lot of fun.

    • Jac says:

      Yep instagib was immense on this map. Remember rocking it on dial up and still loving it.

    • vectorgeek says:

      I agree. I remember playing the online demo for days without eating and barely stopping to drink. It was my crack for a while. I also remember playing it one vs one for the first time and could not figure out how to get to the upper quad area. It’s so funny to think of now. I think I could play it with my eyes closed and still have fun. Although gibs looks so wonderful on this map.

  4. Barberetti says:

    This is like being asked if I’ve ever drunk beer or eaten curry before.

    Yes. Lots.

    I think I’d have to put Q3DM6 or Q3DM13 at the top as far as my favs go, but yeah, I had many an awesome time on The Longest Yard.

  5. Synesthesia says:

    I played it a lot, on our first proper computer after some bad times at home. We didn’t have internet, so I went through it against bots, but had a blast.

  6. GernauMorat says:

    UT was better (ducks for cover)

    Seriously, fantastic game. The very definition of pure twitch shooting. Also one of the best early on line games.

    • Distec says:

      Q3 felt a lot more “pure” to me, but UT was definitely my pick between the two. I probably played more bot matches than anything else. Endless headshots on Facing World… Mmmm…

    • geisler says:

      Early you say?

    • dorobo says:

      quake is fluid UT was jerky. It’s what you prefer I guess. At least you didn’t say CS was better :)

      For me it’s that game that taught me about being in the zone and that you can do stuff without thinking it.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Yeah, UT was more my thing, too. Absolutely loved The Longest Yard, though. Maybe even more than instagib DM-Fractal, though that depended on whether I was in the mood for a complete madhouse or the more graceful gibfest Alec describes.

  7. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I never played Q3, but I played a whole lot of Q3Test.

  8. blainemono says:

    q3tourney4 mofos!

    best duel map ever

    • OrangeSpy says:

      wahoaaa settle down there with the fos and the mos! But YES! I remember getting completely annihilated at this map by the local Pro and it was great!

  9. Jokerme says:

    Challenge of my life: Last level, Nightmare Xaero, no cheating, fight like men without hiding.

    I was able to beat him a few times out of hundreds I’ve played. Now that’s a fair difficulty you can’t find in every game.

  10. evildonut says:

    I’ll offer a dissenting opinion here: Q3DM17 is the worst map in Quake 3, at least of the ones that had any popularity. There is practically no position on the map where you don’t have full line-of-sight to everywhere else, which negates any aspect of map control. Combined with the very powerful machine gun that you spawn with, it makes for a shitshow that’s just about keeping your distance and pecking people to death.

    • Theon says:

      This.
      It can fun with friends, but for real Quake gameplay (especially with actually good players) it is probably the worst map of them all.

  11. iainl says:

    There are other weapons on Q3DM17, sure. But if your plan involves getting close enough to the other player for a rocket or shotgun to be effective, then you’ve probably already lost. It’s all about constant movement, keeping the opposition away and railing their body as it soars after you.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Al__S says:

    Ah, happy days when it seemed like more or less the entire PC Gamer readership (or at least, the denizens of the forum on Delphi) were in vehement disagreement with the staff over Q3 versus UT. A simpler, more innocent age, with more lobsters.

  13. acheron says:

    I distinctly remember the Q3Test as being one of the only times I’ve been truly blown away by graphics. It was not that long after I got a 3D accelerator (remember when we called them that?) for the first time, and this was the first game I saw that really took advantage of it.

  14. ansionnach says:

    Loved Quake III. My weapon of choice was the gauntlet. Felt like victory if you could do reasonably well (or at least not come last) while running around racking up the humiliations!

    • ansionnach says:

      Oh yeah – preferred Quake 3 to Unreal Tournament. It had purity, while UT had the kitchen sink. I feel that in Q3 there was a better understanding of what worked and what didn’t – they jettisoned the crap.

  15. Twist says:

    I echo some of the disagreement on Q3DM17. It provided an immediate novelty appeal, but for experienced players who understood the difference between good and mediocre level design, it lacked depth.

    It saddens me how often novelty maps get all the attention. It’s like a brilliant, complex album where all everyone talks about is the simple and short hit single.

    On the UT vs Q3A thing… this always annoyed me. I loved both and I invested an embarrassing amount of time in both each game and its community. But in each of those communities, they’re oh-so-sure that their game is vastly superior to that other game.

    They’re both great; they’re just different. Q3A was fast and fluid whereas UT was quick and crisp. Q3A probably provided the ultimate 1-on-1 competitive deathmatch experience, but UT arguably provided more diversity and depth for FFA, TDM and CTF.

    UT has plenty of novelty maps, but it also has plenty of classic hardcore competitive maps. I think Q3A fans often marginalize the hardcore credibility of UT because it has several obvious novelty maps, but you have to remember, it shipped with far more maps and game modes in total, so it had the headroom to afford some extra novelty silliness.

    And for what it’s worth, Quake Live is still very playable, people. You don’t have to pretend like the riveting joy of Q3A is lost in the mists of time.

  16. The Operator says:

    I worked on a version of Longest Yard for a PSOne version of Quake 3 we pitched to Activision after we shipped the PSOne version of Q2. We had bounce pads working, and with some judicious use of our limited polygon budget we had pseudo curved architecture too. It didn’t get greenlit. Fun to mock up though!

    • DudeBro says:

      That’s incredible! Do you still happen to have any of those assets and/or videos of this?

    • Buggery says:

      Neato. I remember the PSX version of Quake 2 as being quite remarkable at the time. Especially given how many FPS games somehow managed to run like absolute garbage on consoles. The idea of Q3 running on the little beastie doesn’t even really seem possible.

  17. catscratch says:

    I played a ton of dm17 in InstaUnlagged. 1v1 instagib on this map was so much fun. I did that for years, got pretty decent at it too.

    In other respects, I don’t like this map much. It’s campy and it doesn’t put much emphasis on movement. If you want an iconic map, dm6 (Campgrounds) is where it’s at. Sure, in duel the spawns on dm6 aren’t very balanced which is why it’s not played much in duel anymore, but it’s still THE iconic Q3 map to me. It’s great for most gametypes, FFA, CA, TDM, and I still like it in duel regardless.

    Incidentally, QuakeLive ruined dm17. The little cutouts by the jumppads on the bottom floor are gone. That means in insta, you can’t use the jumppad cluster for cover anymore. And that makes the top two platforms MUCH more powerful than before. Also, the spawn system is different, and if you sit on one side, your opponent is guaranteed to spawn on the other side, unlike Q3. So in QL instagib, get to top = win. The map is useless for insta.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play QL though. All that Q3 nostalgia, and QL is still mostly the same game, with a decent playerbase, and it’s free. Why aren’t you playing?

  18. fish99 says:

    I played both, a lot, but prefered everything about UT. Gameplay, weapons, level design, aesthetics, mutators, everything was just better in UT.

    I stil play UT (the original, and the new ones) to this day but haven’t fired up Q3A in 5+ years.

  19. slerbal says:

    Q3 was the moment I realised I was no longer any good at FPSes in a competitive sense. Sure I could have been pretty decent with an outrageous amount of practice, but I’d never be great and I’d lost my taste for it. It was a bit like finding out my parents were just regular people. I remember that Q3 moment really, really clearly.

    That said, I’m sure it was a great game – lots of my friends raved about it and they are people of good taste and distinction.

  20. racccoon says:

    Yes..but preferred Q1 n’ Q2 kinda of passed.

  21. Raoul Duke says:

    Am I the only one here who thinks that Quake III is STILL the best multiplayer shooter in existence?

    It has the perfect balance, perfect pace, plus a super slick engine which runs smooth as butter at stupidy high frame rates. You can be a brawler, a sniper, an explosives freak, but the game doesn’t force any shitty ‘class’ on you. You just grab stuff and go for it.

    QUAD DAMAGE

    • Zekiel says:

      DOMINATING

      Oops sorry. I loved Q3. And especially The Longest Yard. Basically bouncing around was hugely fun.

    • Barberetti says:

      Trivia time! Quake 3’s quad damage actually only did triple damage.

    • prodigy84bg says:

      Q3 is great, but too simple (not enough weapon variety). UT is better.

      • Amake says:

        You’re allowed to like a wide selection of weapons, but you’re showing your ignorance if you say it “is better”. In Unreal Tournament I find myself selecting weapons aimlessly, thinking it over, fiddling with alt fire modes, loading rockets into the rocket launcher completely at random hoping to run into a good target ten seconds later and worst of all, hesitating; not to mention trying to do anything useful with the teleporter.

        None of that happens in Quake 3. No questioning if you’re going to keep your opponent in range consistently enough to justify committing to the alt fire of the chaingun and its spin-up time, no weighing of the pros and cons of throwing a flak grenade, a shock rifle bomb, a saw blade grenade or a rocket launcher grenade when you want to calculate some projectile arcs. There’s not even a microsecond of doubt; you have the knowledge of which weapons you have and which one to use in the forefront of your mind at all times.

        It takes a lot of higher brain functions to play Unreal Tournament. Which is fine for that game. But in my opinion it doesn’t compare to the intuitive, seamless action of Quake 3.

        • prodigy84bg says:

          If you’re good enough, you won’t hesitate which weapon to use in UT. It’s ok if you prefer more basic stuff though.

          • Amake says:

            Yes, I’m sure it’s possible to be good enough to be perfectly aware of which of the what, 35 different weapon options? is the obvious answer to every possible situation. But that’s not going to be possible for everyone. Like maybe it’s “better” to be an astronaut than an accountant, but you’re not going to see a lot of people denigrating accounting for being “too simple”.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Not sure I agree.

        I played a lot of UT too and it would be #2 of all time for me. Some of its weapons add interest, especially those that bounce round corners (flak cannon/ripper). And I love the redeemer. But some are particularly lame (bio rifle, shock rifle come to mind).

        The weapons in Quake III have an elegance to them. Each one is perfectly thought through and the player is essentially never in a situation where they are totally out-gunned. They suit the hyper-kinetic gameplay – when you’re jumping through the air spinning around at stupidly high speeds, it’s hard enough to select one of 3-4 weapons and fire, let alone frig around with alternate fires that take 4 seconds to warm up.

    • RlndSc says:

      You are most definitely not the only one. For me, Quake III was the last good multiplayer FPS. The only game that could come even remotely close was UT.

  22. Amake says:

    Funny story, I thought I was really good at this game once. The tempo suited me perfectly, I could lead my rockets like nothing, I could run through maps I’d never bother to learn and pick a path without knowing where it would lead, without hesitation, without ever getting predictable, just being perfectly aware of and adapting to my surroundings. I even won quite a bit.

    Then I watched a video of some DeFrag runs and it immediately ruined me. It’s not that the skill they showed, far beyond anything I could ever hope to learn, destroyed my confidence, though it certainly did, but more significantly I could never again play or even look at the game without thinking about those DeFragger’s sweet moves and losing both my concentration and any desire to play it myself when I could be watching that stuff instead.

  23. jrodman says:

    The first iD release since Commander Keen that I did not play at all.

  24. myelbow says:

    I went through the trouble of logging in and browsing back here a day later just to show my love for Q3CTF4. Apparently I was the only one to play CTF based on the comments section. Q3CTF4 will always be my primary memory of Q3A.

    • roz1281 says:

      Love some CTF as a break from FFA. Crazy battles in the one with the two Keeps and the tiny windows where everyone would bottleneck.

  25. Grey_Ghost says:

    Nope, I skipped it.

  26. Jinoru says:

    QW is still my jam.

  27. roz1281 says:

    Got Quake III on the family’s compaq in either the tail end of ’99 or in 2000, can’t remember. Played it on the dreamcast first, so the PC was a nice upgrade though I did miss the DC music.

    Same as author, probably the one game i feel i was truly good at. I remember buying a geforce2 after a while to boost the framerate. Played on the BurialGrounds quite a bit under the name Osiris and later RottingZombie. Hector’s Hurt Hut was my other favorite server. I still play Quake III a couple times a month, but having played religiously from ’99 til Quake Live, I’m getting to the point where I don’t have the strength to play it for hours without the hands cramping anymore :D. Also miss the reflexes of my teen through 20’s.

    Played Quake Live a lot, but still prefer Quake III because it feels and sounds slightly different; and gibs. I got into a bad habit of gibbing EVERY person I kill, it became part of my kill. Bunny hop past a person killing them, turn around and fire a rocket across the map because i missed the body. I don’t know why it was so satisfying, and I found myself doing it in Q Live for a long time before I could break the habit.

    Rocket jumping off people’s heads, plasma climbing, weird jumps into windows to surprise people. It’s my all-time favorite game and always will be I think.

    • vectorgeek says:

      Yeah wth did Quake Live get rid of the gibs? Probably the most funny thing about Quake 3 and they replace it with sparks?? Pfft.