The Quake III Arena Bus Tour Experience
Carmack has stated publicly that the goal for Quake III Arena has been to create
id's definitive first person shooter. With such lofty goals and the rapidly
changing hardware industry I present an article on the current state of the
game as played on the Quake III Bus Tour and future expectations. As you'll
see my experience with the current showcasing of hardware leaves me anxious
for what is only one month away.
About three weeks ago the Quake III Arena Bus Tour stopped in El Paso and I
was lucky enough to go both days it was here. At the time few people knew of
the impending release of the Savage 2000 and GeForce 256. Rumors of the forthcoming
Quake III Arena Demo have also begun leaking. Perhaps the version I played on
the bus will give more insight as we await the next round of video card benchmarks
and the eventual release of the game.
The bus itself is a converted
tour bus. It's impressive look is derived from the graphics on the sides.
From a distance it would appear as though the graphics are a painted mural
but on closer inspection I noted that they are several large stickers lined
up to make one huge picture. Many id employees were on hand and served not
only to inform but to tease with details of the game in its released form.
I was informed that the systems on the bus we're equipped with two new levels
and weapons not in the current Arena test. Athlon 550's are employed on the
eight systems along with 17" monitors, Logitech mice, and multimedia
speakers driven with A3d sound. These systems are equipped with Voodoo 3000's
at the stock core and memory clock. I'm not sure what resolution the game
was run at but it appeared to be 1280 x 1024. I also cannot comment on the
memory configuration of these systems.
Without reigniting the
16-bit vs, 32-bit flame war it was apparent that the latest 3dfx drivers have
matured to such a high degree that 32-bit graphics are hardly missed. How
will these graphics compare to the Savage 2000 or GeForce 256 is yet to be
seen but John Carmack has stated that there are in fact going to be T &
L optimizations in the game. It's apparent that the final look of the game
has yet to be enjoyed. 3dfx has chosen to offer full alpha blending and their
forthcoming T-buffer technology as it is their belief that these technologies
will offer a more satisfactory gaming experience. Hopefully before the game's
release we will all know which graphics chip will offer the fastest and/or
most visually attractive graphics.
Sound being one of the
most important aspects of any game the sheer volume and quality of these A3d
powered speakers was impressive. Those familiar to LAN gaming will envy this
sound reproduction and perhaps even rethink their soundcard choice. That much
incredible sound from multimedia speakers shows the great potential available
from the A3d chipset. Imagine this sound coming from a true 4 speaker surround
environment with a well placed subwoofer. Quite simply it is a thrill to know
that you have fragged your opponent and to hear the thunderous splat arrive
from somewhere else in the bus.
I don't know which brand
of motherboard was utilitzed with the Athlon processors or if all 8 systems
were utilizing the same motherboard. Quite possibly these were reference AMD
motherboards provided to showcase their processor and chipset. My first impression
of the Athlon was of a fearsome opponent for Intel. The raw power of the FPU
and subsequent geometry calculations demonstrate that Intel's flagship will
play second fiddle even in it's .18 micron version. Is Intel scared? I doubt
so as AMD will face a battle to reach it's manufacturing goals and early Athlon
boards have shown themselves to have problems with heat and manufacturers
cutting corners. Add to that the handicap of being more expensive and AMD's
image battle with the general public as being a "cheap" alternative
processor. I saw no strange problems with these boards even though they had
been played on for hours prior to my stab at them. This reinforces my belief
that these were indeed reference boards and not the infamous boards being
reported on the net. Keep in mind of course that the Athlon is beating the
Pentium III handily in benchmarks including Intel's own optimized benchmarks.
A quick exam of the game
shows that new characters abound. I call them characters and not mere skins
as it appears that some individual characteristics are displayed by different
characters. The female Athena character appeared faster than the other opponents
I encountered. Was this due to her smaller size making her harder to hit?
It may be so but the impression was of battling a more nimble foe.
With the recent release
of the GeForce 256 and Savage 2000 and the ensuing 3dfx response the future
looks fantastic for gamers. DirectX 7 has been promised to the public in the
very near future. With T & L and Dx7 around the corner it comes to pass
that 3dfx have chosen to rely on complete alpha blending and their inhouse
t-buffer technology. At this point I am eagerly awaiting the winner of that
battle. I have begun to wonder what other features and products will be announced
in the near future in expectation of the Christmas shopping season.
As to the game certain
informatin appears solid. It appers that Quake III Arena is indeed on target
for the Christmas shopping season. Remember that Nov. 30 begins the official
Christmas shopping season this year. id employees stated openly that Quake
III will be easily modified with such mods as skins and levels. I also learned
the game will ship with 30 + levels (arenas in id speak) for everyone to deathmatch
in. Has id created the ultimate first person shooter? Time will tell but consider
Quake II and it's reign as the benchmarking tool used by most to compare hardware
performance. The true measure of Quake III's success may be if it survives
the test of time as well as Quake II did.
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