An Open Letter to the Developers of Quake Live

Quake Live Logo

Ok dear Quake Live. A lot has been going on in the past few weeks, something has been good but most stuff has been bad. At the moment of writing, most things are still very, very bad. Just in case the developers had not noticed, here is a summary of the situation.

How do you even start an open letter anyway? Do you mind if we just jump right into it? I guess a little bit of form won’t hurt.

Dear Quake Live Developers,

This is a list of everything that your latest game update, together with the release of the game on Steam, broke. The good news? Nothing is broken beyond repair if you just, for once, listen out to what the community is saying. For your convenience, I have added a paragraph at the end of the letter detailing what could be done to solve this mess. Don’t worry, it’s nothing difficult.

For now, let’s start with what is not working anymore.

Unable to create servers

I would say that this is probably the main reason why people purchase a Pro subscription (yes I know, the URL says “premium”, which was another availablesubscription which has now been discontinued; oh well, so much for attention to details), and server creation is totally broken at the moment. I can’t spawn new servers and this has been going on for about a week. And no, I am not the only one: just one or two of my friends with a Pro subscription are able to create servers at the moment. All the others have to either ask somebody to create one (there was a tournament yesterday, you can imagine how fun it was to find somebody who could create servers) or play on public servers, certainly not the funniest thing to do.

Login to the QL launcher is broken

Quake Live has now moved to Steam. All good stuff (more about that later in the post), but what about the old client? Yes, it’s still there, and people can still use it. But can they? This is what I have been seeing in the past few days when I try to login to the client:

Unable to login to the desktop client

I struggle to believe this error message, as once every 100 times the login actually works. No, I am not changing email address between attempts.

You can’t unlink your Quake Live account from Steam

Linking your Quake Live account to your Steam account is a permanent action. Seriously? What’s the thought behind this? Please explain, I am all ears.

Welcome back, lag!

Ever since the game was moved to Steam, in-game performance has massively deteriorated. To be honest, it’s a bit better now than it was a week ago, but it can still be terrible at times. Constant “Connection interrupted” messages have been experienced also by players with good internet connections.

At the moment, playing in Northern Europe is still not a nice experience: average ping is around 60-70, and it was over 150 a week ago. I personally have never pinged that high in those servers, and there is nothing wrong with my connection (as a quick speed test confirmed).

“But how can you be so sure that it’s Quake Live’s fault?”, I hear you say. The answer is in the next paragraph.

The official forum is down

This is what you are greeted with if you try to access the official forum:

Quake Live forum is down

The QUAKE LIVE forums are offline in order to reduce the overload on our infrastructure. We are working to restore site responsiveness and will enable the forums at that time.

If they had to take the forum down to alleviate the impact on their infrastructure, how bad must this infrastructure be?

Besides, are we sure that this is the real reason why it has been taken down, or perhaps it is to avoid the flow of criticism and request for support? The truth lies always in between, so perhaps it’s a combination of the two.

Weapon balance has not been improved. But can it be anyway?

Many people have been complaining about the Lightning Gun (or LG, or shaft for the insiders) because it used to be an extremely powerful weapon. I was among those who though so at first, until I finally decided to do one logical thing: learn how to use it!

This weapon is powerful for a reason: it’s not easy to learn and it’s not easy to use. So why did they decide to nerf it down? Good question, glad you asked. I don’t know why. If before the update you could battle against a Rocket Launcher in a 1v1 match if your LG was good, now your LG must be very, very good to win this (I would guess around 45% accuracy).

So now I want the Rocket Launcher to be nerfed. And then every other weapon, one at the time, until we get to a point where every weapon will deal the same damage as every other, so that we won’t get any more complaints from users who cannot learn how to use a weapon.

Free For All is ridiculous now

Before moving to playing CA almost exclusively, I used to play FFA. The latest update introduced Loadouts, an option that allows you to choose a primary and a secondary weapon with which you can start a game and respawn after being fragged.

Quake Live Weapon Loadouts

So no more looking for your favourite weapon, keeping an eye on how much ammo you have left for that weapon etc. You just spawn with the weapon you like and that’s it. Oh, and ammo packs are unfiied, meaning that you don’t have to look on specific parts of the map to get the ammo that you need. Just get one random ammo pack and you are done.

Quake Live Unified Ammo Pack

This has been absolutely ruined.

But surely there has been some good stuff, right?

Definitely. I think making the game available on Steam has been a good decision, it was probably the only thing that could get us new players. Obviously, the implementation was flawed to say the least, but that is another story and has already been covered in this article.

What about bunny hopping and visual timers instead? I don’t know, I am not sure that making the game easier will make more players like it. Why can’t people just learn how to play a game as we had to do when we first started? If a game is difficult, it’s difficult. Period. No need to make it easier to make more players play it. If a game is difficult, then it will appeal to a certain group of players and not to others, it’s as simple as that. Money rules everything, I know, but this was really a flawed idea. If they made Dark Souls easier just to appeal to new players, that game will probably lose much of its appeal. What happened to good ol’ skillz?

Ok TGL, we admit our mistakes. What can we do to make up for what we have done?

Nice to see that you have read this! This is something that I was expecting to be included in the new update but that, to my surprise, was not there from the beginning. The solution to this is quite simple:

Allow players to create matches with the old ruleset.

I know that you can choose Classic mode when you spawn a server (if you are lucky enough to be able to do it, that is), but even Classic mode includes some of the new changes (for example, LG damage down to 6). Besides, I haven’t found a way to create a classic FFA server where you only spawn with the machine gun.

This obviously won’t solve all your infrastructure and performance issues, but at least it would allow old players to keep enjoying the game the way they have been doing since the beginning, while allowing new players to be introduced to the game in a gentler way.

After the update, all you have done is forget about the players who have been giving you support and paying for subscriptions, in favour of new players who might not even stick around that long to become supporters of the game. Who has been paying for the Pro subscriptions to support you so far, new players or old players? The least you can do is to show these players a little bit of respect and listen to their voices.

Until that happens, my subscription has been cancelled. You simply don’t deserve anybody’s money unless you show that you are not the naive, money-grabbing, conceited and deaf people that it looks like you are in light of what has been going on in the past few weeks.