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November 24, 1998 -- Previous Mailbag

John Romero: Man with a plan, or Man with a Dead Groundhog?
From: David Chase

If GamingInsider's reports are correct the current death toll for ION's Black Thursday is ten employees. I don't know about you, but the metaphor that keeps coming to mind involves rats and a ship. Add to that the fact that sales of ION's first release can only be described as "abysmal", and you've got a gaming company in trouble. And well, that sucks.

I think everyone in the gaming community chose a side when Romero left id, but no matter what side you chose I think we all wanted to see ION do well. Nobody can deny that Romero has been one of the most relevant figures in gaming history, having a list of credentials FAR longer than the standard "wolf, quake, doom" that most people identify with. And quite frankly no matter what you think of him he adds a hell of a lot of personality to the industry.

So is ION doomed? I don't know about everyone else, but I think Eidos will continue to increase its holdings in the company, quite likely doing a Raven/Activision-type dealie. The end result will be the employees still won't get their equity and John Romero will get even richer when ION is bought out. Kinda ironic when you consider that some former employees feel he's at the root of the problem. Let's see how this works:

1) John starts id and makes oodles of money.
2) John goofs off and id gives him oodles of money to leave.
3) John starts ION and is given oodles of money.
4) John goofs off and Eidos gives him oodles of money to leave.

The situation reeks like a dead groundhog in the ductwork, but you've got to admit he's a man with a plan. I just wish we'd see more flashes of the John Romero of old, who in many ways has built PC gaming as we know it today.

Stop the calls, we have a WINNER!
From: dbug(POMF)

I thought I'd send you some info about an invention of my friends. He calls it "Magic Coffee." Instead of brewing with water, you use Dr. Pepper and then mix in as much sugar as you can get to dissolve.

Pros: It's got enough energy to wake the dead. Cons: Once a coffee pot has made Magic Coffee, it ALWAYS makes Magic Coffee.

Editor's note: Going out to get a new coffee pot. BRB.


But remember kids, Doctors say too much Magic Coffee can make you cranky...
From: Mark Dezura AKA Mars

I am not sure if you remember me? We met at M3 and the Fray. I just want to say that I was very surprised to see loonygames would have Angel Munoz use their website to spread his propaganda. I don't know or care what side you support in the PLG Vs CPL war. I think it is a little crazy to call either a professional league. In fact I was a sponsor for The Frag (first one) but that was when I thought the event was a LAN party not some vehicle for Mr. Munoz and his organization. To call his organization professional at any level is a joke. I had always though that Bluesnews' and loonygames' tried to bring a little professional journalism to gaming news on the Internet but I guess I was wrong.

Blue responds:
Hmm. I think listening to both sides of the story and allowing readers to decide these things is one of the precepts of professional journalism.

I certainly would not like to have a policy of not running interviews because I have pre-decided that I don't agree with the speaker.

For the record, both points I make have nothing to do with whether I do or don't agree with anything in the Angel interview. Fact is, I have no editorial control over loonygames--my title there is publisher, loony is Editor-in-Chief, and in charge of all content on that site.


And Mark responds to the response:
Thanks for the reply. I think we are all settled on this.


Is your Grandpa Inflatable or are you just happy to see me?
From: Eli, Pottery Major

I'm not sure who to send this complaint to, but in Quake 2, why is it that if you shoot a rocket off of a high ledge, say up in Tokay's Towers for example, and you jump down after it, that you pass up the rocket, hit the ground first, and then the rocket comes down and blows you up? What's the freaking deal!!! Why does the player fall faster than a rocket propelled projectile? I don't remember this ever happening to me in Quake 1. I hope that one of you bigshots that id gets to test Quake 3 brings up this issue for the sake of Inflatable Grandpa.

All you need is Lithium
From: Allen Derusha

The following paragraph is from skysoul's letter in last week's Mailbag

>IMHO, quake2 map design is not as good as quake1 or even Unreal's with respect to maintaining playability in crowded, resource starved, camper inducing situation, like that found on crowded servers. ...the fair way to deal with maintaining playability in camper inducing situations IMHO, would be to make item respawn times shorter as the number of players increase (so that people actually have a chance going against a particularly irksome camper) as well as maybe a respawn protection of some kind, 3 seconds of invulnerability immediately after a respawn sounds about right. Enough time to get the hell out of someone's crosshair I think. What do you think?<

skysoul just described the default settings of the lithium server mod. It can (and by default does) crank up respawn speeds as more clients connect, and uses a (coincidentally) 3 second respawn shell to let you get out of someone's crosshair :)

Lithium also can kick people that camp, by detecting somebody hanging out without moving for a period of time...

SiN's virtues
From: Sgt.Walsh <QMB>

Sin is one of the best FPS to come out in awhile (Shogo was good albeit somewhat disappointing for the anime-mecha fan inside me). It's like playin in a comic book with excellent action and plot. Now to shoot down flames.

>>Sin takes too long to load between levels!

OK that's true but they did tell us some tricks we could use to fix that. Load times are negligible when you are playin multiplayer over the net (which is just as good as Q2!). And a permanent fix is forthcoming in the patch.

>>It doesn't keep our screen resolutions and controls!

That's what the LOGIN IS FOR. Create your own login and it'll save everything you do.

>>The AI is just as bad as the demo!

How long did you play the full version? The AI is good for the 3 seconds its present, before you blow the crap outta the guy. What the heck is the point of having incredible AI for enemies that are supposed to die in droves?? ALSO, I recall after sprayin the hell outta a guys armor (which is the coolest thing in a game yet) he took to the hills, running through the level, opening doors and whatnot .. they have good path finding and can make their way down stairs just as good if not better than any other AI I've experienced out there (Unreal et al).

>>It runs SLOW!

BAH! I'm runnin on an AMD K6/200 with 64 MB SDRAM and a Monster I ! It runs fine!

>>Finally, How am I supposed to get the patch without Internet connection?!

If you sent the flame then you gotta have an internet connection, duh. I sell computers for a living and it seems to me whoever wants one nowadays wants to be able to get on the Internet, so don't gimmie that crap about not being able to get on the Internet to download a measly patch, besides name a great game that HASN'T been patched (that's asking for trouble on my part, heh).

A change of heart...and maybe a blood transfusion too.
From: Mitch Withrow

The following is from Mitch's letter in last week's Mailbag

>I have been playing computer games since 1970 and as each year has gone by computer games have become more realistic. This is fine, but I am beginning to think that they are becoming TOO realistic.

In most games the settings are unrealistic or the enemy is some sort of fantasy character. This makes the game unreal enough that the blood and violence does not register and it is like a live action comic book. Now the enemy is beginning to look, react, and move like real human beings.

When I first played Quake II it was fun until I got into the detention center and heard the moans and groans of captive Marines. The moaning and please for help were so disturbing that I had to quit the game and take a break. As I replayed the game I got used to it and started killing the Marines to shut them up.

I purchased SIN today and played a few levels. It is very realistic and extremely violent. I found myself laughing and enjoying blowing away the bad guys. Unlike Quake II I was not disturbed by my feelings during the game but only after I had a chance to think about it.

I am not opposed to blood and violence in computer games, but I believe it can desensitize us if it is too realistic. I think we need to draw a line somewhere about realism in computer games, or I fear that our hearts and minds will turn to a darker view of reality.<

I can't believe that someone would post such drivel. Unless, of course, they were drunk and doing some soul-searching at 4 in the morning when the letter was composed. I WAS drunk and doing some soul searching when I wrote the letter and was still drunk and soul searching when I sent it that evening. I'm not drunk now, so everyone should ignore the letter. Thank you.