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Half Life –> Quake
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Half Life –> Quake

It is no secret that the first person shooter genre of video games owes a lot to Id Software. It is not because Id Software had the most talented programmers, the best storytelling, or the most unique and innovative games. In fact,  far from it. However, what ID Software did was when ever the game up with something new and innovative they shared it for everyone to use and expand upon. This has never been more true with Id Software’s Quake. Now Quake, while quite fun, was by no means a great game. The games was fast paced, sounded great, and was entertainingly violent, but the levels were bland and repetitive, the story was non-existent, and the color scheme ranged was composed almost entirely of varying shades of brown and grey. However, what made Quake truly special was the engine that ran it.

The Quake engine allowed for fully rendered three dimensional environments and characters, along with dynamic lighting and shadows. Rather than creating the illusion of 3d by changing the size of two dimensional sprites and background images, the quake engine rendered characters, objects, and environments as full three dimensional polygons. It also included the capacity for dynamic lighting and basic physics. Light sources could, for the first time, be blocked by objects moving through the three dimension, casting shadows as they went. It also allowed for light emitting objects which could move and alter shadows, rather than relying entirely upon fixed and unalterable lighting. Finally, these physics allowed for objects with in the world to have mass and momentum. This allowed for certain objects and characters to be able to push and move other characters and bounce off of other solid objects at complex angles.

Id’s biggest contribution to gaming was making the Quake engine open source, allowing anyone with the proper programming skill to use, alter, and modify the game. Many shooters of the late 1990’s often simply copied the Quake engine to run their games, but some, such as Valve Software’s Half-Life would take the Quake engine, modify it, and improve upon it, creating something truly spectacular. From the original Quake engine, Valve Software created GoldSource which ran Half-Life. While GoldSource had similar graphical capacity to the Quake engine, both the physics and dynamic lighting had been considerably improved. Objects could now be launch each other through space and interact beyond basic pushing and shoving. It was also made possible for the player to be able o directly influence the lighting buy interacting with switches or even destroying the light source. It also allowed for translucent object to interfere with and alter light. It also made considerable improvements to motion and particle effects.

The following link leads to a family tree of the quake engine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quake_-_family_tree.svg