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[Review] Quake 3 Arena

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Quake III Arena or Quake 3 (also recognized with the abbreviations Q3: A, Q3A or Q3) is a first-person shooter video game published on December 2, 1999. The game was developed by id Software, with music composed by Sonic Mayhem and Front Line Assembly. Quake III Arena is the third title in the series and differs from previous games in the Quake series in excluding common elements from so-called single-player games, focusing instead on multiplayer action. The solitary experience in Quake III Arena is a sand fight against PC controlled opponents, in a style similar to its competitor, Unreal Tournament.

As in many games of the genre in its multiplayer mode, the objective in Quake III Arena is to move through the entire battlefield by eliminating (fragueando, from English frag) the enemy players and scoring points based on the targets of the type of game. When a player's life points reach zero, the player's avatar is eliminated (fragmented); then the player reappears at another point on the map and continues playing with his restored life points, but without the weapons or items that he previously collected. The game ends when a player or team reaches a specific score, or when the time ends. The single player mode of the game consists of this objective against computer controlled opponents (bots). The game modes that come by default in Quake III Arena are deathmatch (mortal combat), team deathmatch (mortal combat by teams), capture the flag (capture the flag), and tournament (tournament), in which the players put Test your skills among them in one-on-one battles, and one elimination round.

An official expansion, called Quake III: Team Arena, (Q3TA) went on sale in December 2000. This focused on emphasizing team play through new game modes, as well as including new weapons, maps, items, and player models. Even so, Team Arena was criticized because its novelties were late, and had already been implemented through modifications made by fans of the game. A few years later, Quake III: Gold was put on sale, containing Q3A and Q3TA as if they were a single video game.

On August 19, 2005 id Software published the complete source code for these two games under the GNU General Public License (GPL) license, as well as with their previous engines and works. This does not make the game completely GNU, anyway, since the textures and other data were not published with the code. A project called OpenArena solves this problem, creating "open" content and delivering it with the graphic engine as a stand-alone clone of Quake III.


At the beginning of March of the year 1999, ATI showed a copy of the exclusive game for internal use for hardware vendors. (IHV) This contained a fully functional graphic engine of the game and a level with various textures and weapons running. This IHV copy brought all the weapons that would eventually appear in the game, however, many of them were not yet complete in terms of their models. A chainsaw and a hook-throw (the weapon included in CTF of Quake II) were in that IHV demo, but eventually they did not appear in the final release version of the game. This also included several of the sounds that would later appear in the game.

After the fiasco of the IHV, id Software launched a beta of Quake III called Q3Test on April 24, 1999. Q3Test started with version 1.05. This included three levels that would then be included in the final release: dm7, dm17, and q3tourney2. They continued updating Q3Test until version 1.11.

Initially in Q3Test the console commands did not need to be prefixed with '/'. If a command was entered as a typo or incorrect command, it would be displayed as a text message so that everyone can see the error. This caused a serious problem for the administrators of servers, because if one entered the password to access the administration options of your server and wrote the wrong command, you could uncover the password of the same and let others control the server to taste. Adding a '/' before entering a command ensured that it remained private.

During a time in the final release of the game, the Gauntlet (weapon body-to-body of the game) could be used to instantly kill any player by activating and removing the text dialog box at the same time. If the player approached, he died instantly.

Other versions

Q3A had its version for the Sega Dreamcast console in the year 2000. This version brought support for the online game for 4 players against PC and Dreamcast players. Its portability to the console is also considered as the best of a PC game to a console of its time, thanks to its fluid number of frames per second and its online game. Before Activision could launch an "official" map pack for the game on the console, a "hacked" copy of all the maps of the Dreamcast game appeared by surprise. This pack included the maps designed specifically for the split screen action of the console, which never had plans to be launched for PC. Once the "official" maps pack came to light, getting that other pack became more difficult. PC players needed an old version of the game (1.16n) to play with their Dreamcast pairs, but the maps ended up running smoothly in the final version 1.32.

Playstation 2
Quake III Revolution was released for the PlayStation 2 video game console in 2001 and contained several adopted elements of Quake III: Team Arena, as well as a single-player campaign more focused on missions. It did not have the same success that its counterpart of Dreamcast, when lacking of game in line. Even so, it had a four-player split screen mode and was one of the first games to take advantage of the full potential of the console.

Q3A also has an unofficial version for the Xbox console, based on the release of the source code, which added wing filtering of the console SDK made it possible to create a free port, although it still requires original Quake 3 files that can not be distributed, and that the end user must possess, that without forgetting the fact that the executables created with the filtered Xbox SDK are illegal. The game is a faithful port of the PC version, making online game play possible with the Quake 3 servers (as well as the LAN online game with PC versions) and without using the Xbox Live ones. It is compatible with existing Quake 3 mods with the possibility of slowdowns with some too complex or heavy with the available resources.

Xbox 360
Quake III: Team Arena was recently revealed in an ESRB listing for the Xbox 360 console. The title is being developed by Pi Studios.

Also based on the released code was a port for portable Playstation that runs at 15-20 fps, it is still impossible to connect to LAN, and large maps do not run but it is somehow playable.


Unlike other video games that appeared at the time, Quake III required a graphics accelerator board compatible with OpenGL and did not include a software graphics renderer. The graphic technology of the game is based firmly around a system of "shaders" where the appearances of many surfaces can be defined in one of several text files referred to as "shader scripts". The shaders are described and rendered as several layers, each containing a texture, a blending mode that determines which one should overlap the last, and texture orientation modes such as environment mapping, verticalization, (scrolling) and rotation . These features can be easily seen within the game, with many bright and active surfaces on each map, and even more so in the character models. The system of shaders goes far beyond the simple appearance, defining also the contents of the volumes, (for example, a volume of water is defined as such by applying a shader of water to its surfaces) emission of lights, and what sound to reproduce when entering a volume.

Quake III, in addition, introduced curved surfaces based on splineas in conjunction with the planar volumes, both responsible for the vast majority of the smooth surfaces present in the game.

The original version of Quake III brought support for animated models using vertex animation with attached labels, allowing models to maintain the separation of torso and leg animations, in addition to holding weapons. With the release of Quake 3: Team Arena, support for models on skeletons was added. Quake 3 is one of the first games where the third person model can see up, down, and in the surroundings. (Due to the separation of the head, torso and legs).

The videos in the game use a proprietary format called "RoQ", originated in the game The 11th Hour. Graeme Devine, designer of Quake 3, appears as the creator of the format in The 11th Hour, which also contains videos in RoQ. Internally, RoQ uses vector quantization to encode the video and DPCM to encode the audio. While the format itself is proprietary, Reverse Engineering was applied successfully in 2001, and the current RoQ decoder is present in the source code released from Quake III. RoQ has very little use outside the games based on the graphics engines of Quake III or Doom 3, but is supported by many of the current players (such as MPlayer) and there are also several decoders made by third parties.

Other visual characteristics include volumetric fog, mirrors, portals, debris, and vortex distortion in the form of a wave.

The Quake III sound system has output for two channels using an output loop buffer, mixed from 96 tracks with stereo spatialization and Doppler effects. All sound mixes are made inside the engine, which can create problems for the licenses that are expected to implement EAX or support for surround sound. Certain po[CENSORED]r effects such as echoes, moreover, are conspicuous by their absence.

One of the biggest problems with the sound system is that the mixer does not have its own thread, so if the game stops for a long time (particularly when navigating menus or connecting to a server), the small output buffer starts repeating itself , a very remarkable problem. This problem is also present in the Doom, Quake, and Quake II engines.

Quake III uses a "snapshot" system to collect information about game screens and upload them to a UDP client. The server updates the interaction of the objects at a fixed frequency and independent of the frequencies of the clients that update the server with their actions. Then try to send the status of all objects at that point on time (the current screen) to each client. The server tries to omit as much information as possible about each screen, sending only differences from the last screen confirmed as received by the client. In addition, almost all data packets are compressed using Huffman coding, using static and pre-calculated frequency data, to reduce bandwidth even in the future.

Quake III, moreover, integrated a relatively elaborate trap protection system, called "pure server" or pure server. Any client that connects to a pure server automatically activates pure mode, and when it is active, only the files within the data packages can be accessed. Clients are also disconnected if their data packets fail during one of several integrity checks. The file cgame.qvm, due to its high potential to be modified with bad intentions, is subject to additional integrity controls. The system can be an obstacle for developers, who must manually deactivate the pure server to test maps or modifications that are not yet in the data packages. Later versions replaced the pure server with the support for the PunkBuster anticheat, although all the links between the game and this software are absent in the released source code, due to the closed source nature of PunkBuster and its inclusion in the code is a violation of the GNU License.

Virtual machine

Quake III also contains a virtual machine used to control the behavior of the objects, effects and prediction of the client, all these in the server, and the user interface. This presented many advantages, since the authors of the modifications did not need to worry about ruining the game with bad code, and customers could show more advanced effects or better game menus than were possible with the Quake II engine, in addition to the high customization that the user interface won for the modifications.

The MV files were programmed in ANSI C, using LCC to compile them to the 32-bit RISC pseudo-assembler format. Then, they are converted by a tool called q3asm to QVM files, which are multi-segmented files composed of static data and instructions based on a reduced set of operational input codes. Unless there are operations that require a specific endianness, a QVM file can run on any platform supported by Quake 3.

In addition, the MV contains bytecode compilers for the x86 and PowerPC architectures, executing QVM instructions as native code instead of doing it through an interpreter.

The game

Game modes
Quake III Arena brings several types of game. They are:

  • Free for All (FFA) - Deadly combat. In this mode all players fight with each other. Win who more deaths (frags) is scored at the end of the game, or who reaches the limit of established frags.
  • Team Deathmatch (TDM) - Deadly team combat. Like FFA, this is about fighting, but not all against all, but divided into two teams. The team that writes the most frags, or the one that reaches the frags limit, wins the game.
  • Tournament (1v1) - One-on-one duels tournament. Two players play, while the rest watch the game. The winner of the duel participates in the next, the loser becomes a spectator.
  • Capture the Flag (CTF) - Capture the flag. In this modality there are two teams, each with its base, and within each base there is a flag. The objective of this modality is to get as many flag captures as possible within the sti[CENSORED]ted time, or to reach the flag limit first. To make a capture, you have to infiltrate the enemy base, take your flag, return to the base, and touch your own flag. To make a capture, the own flag must be in the base; If it is not there, it will have to be recovered.


Unlike its predecessors, Q3A does not have a mission-based campaign. In its place there are a series of fights that simulate the multiplayer experience using computer controlled opponents, better known as bots. (See below).

The history of the game is very simple; the best warriors of all time fight for the fun of a race called Vadrigar in the Eternal Arena, continuity with previous games of the series and even Doom is reflected in the inclusion of characters related to those games in particular (like that some information included of each character in the manual), a familiar architecture of map (mixture of Gothic architecture with technology), and specific items; for example, the item Quad Damage and the Rocket Launcher, belonging to the first and second installments, and the powerful BFG10K, which debuted in Quake 2. Perhaps the game should be partially considered as a canon of all series of games Quake and Doom, since the game is based on another dimension: the Eternal Arena.

In the game, there are a series of maps that consist of combats with different characters of the game. These range from the easiest difficulty (Crash, in Tier 0) to the most difficult (Xaero, in Tier 7) regardless of the level of difficulty that has been chosen from the main menu. The syntax of the map names are composed of the name of the game, the type of map, and then its number. For example, Q3DM5 is "Quake 3 Map DM number 5", while Q3TOURNEY3 is "Quake 3 Map Tournament number 3". While the common DM maps are designed for 16 players, the Tournament maps are designed for 'duels' between 2 players, and in the single player game they can be considered as the battles against 'bosses'.

In addition, the weapons are designed in such a way that there is no "dominant" weapon. The balance of arms was obtained when reviewing previous versions of the games of the series; Quake and Quake II. For example, the Rocket Launcher in Quake is so effective that it dominated the entire scene of DM combat, and its Quake II counterpart has less power to such an extent that other weapons became strong against it. The Quake III version is effective in terms of use, but it does not have much power, allowing it to be countered in many situations.

The weapons start as items. They appear at regular intervals at specific places on the map, depending on the value for the variable g_weaponrespawn. When the player takes the weapon, the ammunition reserve for it is subject to a fixed number. However, if the player has more ammunition than indicated by this number, and regardless of whether the player has taken another weapon or more ammunition for it, only one additional round is added. When a player dies, all their weapons, except the Gauntlet and the Machine Gun, are removed from their inventory. The player, in addition, drops the weapon he was using until his death, allowing other players to take it and duplicate his ammo amount in that weapon.

There are curious things in the design of some maps of Quake III Arena, for example on the map called: "Q3DM14" there is a figure hanging on the wall that resembles Jesus Christ placed the crown of thorns and has a black appearance; on the map "Q3DM15" there is the cut off head of one of the Q3A programmers and it closely resembles the programmer John Carmack.


Quake III Arena was designed specifically for the game between multiple players. This means that the game allows players, whose computers are connected to a network or the Internet, to play games with each other, in real time. Uses a client-server architecture structure that requires clients from all players' computers to connect to a single server. The multiplayer focus of Q3A made possible the emergence of a community similar to Quakeworld, which remains active to this day.


Like its predecessors, Quake and Quake II, Quake III Arena can be modified to support other types of games. The most po[CENSORED]r modifications (mods) are:

  • Rocket Arena 3. A mod focused on the Tournament mode, allowing players to play on the same server in 4 different arenas. Although it depends on the Arena's own configuration, the players' weapons can be configured so that they do not harm those who use them, allowing the constant use of the Rocket-Jump technique or jump with Rocket Launcher. Unlike the normal Quake, when a player dies, he remains a spectator until his entire team dies.
  • DeFRaG. A modification that allows players to train their jumping skills (trickjumping) and compete against others by completing all kinds of tests using these skills.
  • Weapons Factory Arena. A modification based on CTF like Team Fortress, which also uses player classes and modifications to the type of game.
  • Orange Smoothie Productions. It provides many implementations and allows you to customize and manage the game.
  • Excessive Plus. Special for online games, where E + organizes its own tournaments worldwide, between sounds to the characters, agility to move with the help of weapons.
  • Urban Terror Enter the type of tactical game, e.g. team play in more realistic environments.
  • Challenge Pro Mode Arena (formerly known as Promode) * A modification for game types that includes physics and options that allow you to manage air control, rebalance weapons, change weapons faster and implement jumps.


Quake III Arena contains an advanced artificial intelligence system, (for the time) with 5 different levels of difficulty. Each bot has its own 'personality', (sometimes humorous) expressed through a number of chat lines based on various factors to simulate the speech of the players at random. The factors include the percentage of opportunities of each bot to speak, responses when a player or bot is eliminated with a certain weapon or when they eliminate it idem, when they commit suicide or see other bots or players committing suicide, correcting, but not eliminating, a player or bot and / or being trapped, praising or despising an opponent when they are eliminated by this, making a kind of mocking comment after eliminating an opponent, random answers based on words that the player or bot writes in the chat , and random phrases and lines that have been entered into the chat based on the percentage of the bot to chat as well as other types of chat.

Each category of bot-chat has some lines that must be written by the bot, reducing the chance of any bot repeating the same line for a long period so that the "bot chat" seems more realistic, although sometimes it is inevitable that the repetition of lines occurs. These bots serve as good practice and can be difficult for a newbie to handle and even more for an experienced player, although many of the bots that come with the game are not as advanced even in the difficulty level "Nightmare" ("Nightmare" ") to show a tough challenge to a very experienced player.

The Gladiator Bot of Quake II was transferred to Quake III and incorporated into the game by its creator. The chat lines were written by R. A. Salvatore, Seven Swords and Steve Winter. The Gladiator Bot Zero was renamed Xaero and is the toughest opponent in the game.

Competitive game

Quake III Arena's multiplayer development led to the development of a large community of competitive players, and like its predecessor in the series, it was used extensively in eSports tournaments.

In the competitive Quake III Arena, there are two distinct disciplines, sometimes referred to as "rule sets" or "Rulesets". The game Quake III Arena as it comes in the box is referred to as the Vanilla Quake 3 ruleset. It is referred to as 'vanilla' in contrast to the CPM ruleset of the Challenge Pro Mode Arena modification.

On July 26, 2006, Challenge Pro Mode Arena with the VQ3 Ruleset was selected by the CPL as the game for its tournament, in addition to converting it as the unofficial competitive mod for Quake III Arena. Previously, OSP was the most used modification for tournaments.

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