[Acorn Gaming]



iD Software's seminal 3D action game Quake and its sequels are big news the world over. An Acorn version of the original game has been available since 1997, and has been widely discussed in the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.games. Confusingly, however, there have been various releases of players from varying sources. The full story goes like this:

  1. The first version released was a port called !Quake by "Fnagaton the wise", which was quickly claimed by Martin Piper of TBA Software as his own, released without his consent. Martin claimed that it was released by use of a quasi-virus which infected his machine and mailed the complete game off to someone who then placed it on Stuttgart's FTP site without his knowledge. I must admit I am sceptical about this version of events, despite personal assurances from Martin of its truth - it seems more likely to me that Martin gave the software to someone who then released it without his permission. This version was quickly claimed by Martin as a slow, unoptimised version - as indeed it was - with much faster versions to follow. It was released in a 274K TBAFS archive, dated 13th March 1997.
  2. Next, two non-playable versions called !FQuake were released by Jan Vlietinck, as demonstrations of how much faster an Acorn engine could run. These implemented only scenery, however, but did indeed run considerably more quickly. The first release included no light-shading and not all textures were handled, and didn't even have an icon - this was dated 4th May 1997, and was version 1.01. A later release added radiosity shading, mipmapping, sky mapping and implemented all textures properly, and was dated 29th June 1997, being verson 1.11, with an average frame rate of 16fps. These versions are still available from http://www-vis.imag.fr/AcornDemos/FtpArea/3D_engines/
  3. Following these two versions there was quite a lot of discussion in comp.sys.acorn.games about merging Martin's and Jan's versions, and both parties then claimed that this was going ahead, but nothing more was heard on this front.
  4. The next stage in the story was when a release of a full port of iD's source code appeared on the site http://ns.applause.no/~mickey/, unattributed to any author other than iD Software, but much faster than Martin's original version. This version was called !ArcQuake and was dated 22nd August 1997, being a 305K archive. Using this version the game could be played as if on a PC, with internet usage enabled. This version was later tentatively credited to Peter Teichmann, and it seems likely that it was this version that Acorn had on their stand at Acorn World 97, although Martin Piper has also claimed this version as his - given Martin's vocal nature about his first release but sudden quiet on this topic, however, it seems unlikely that this one also originated from him. This same version also appeared on http://rcswww.urz.tu-dresden.de/~teich-p/acorne.html, Peter Teichmann's web page, apparently confirming that this was his version, although this does not prove that it was this version at the show.
  5. More recently a newer version of !ArcQuake was released by Peter Teichmann at http://rcswww.urz.tu-dresden.de/~teich-p/acorn.html, soon mirrored by http://ns.applause.no/~mickey/, and following public demand an ARM610/710 version was also released, called !ArcQuake6, also available from Peter's web site. The StrongARM version is claimed to run at 10-20fps in 320x256, and 6-10fps in 640x480 - all these versions require the original PAK level files to be obtained separately. The current version 1.02 is dated 3rd December 1997.
  6. Then, shortly afterwards, on the 5th of December, Martin Piper of TBA Software announced on their web site that they would be releasing their own, completely rewritten version of Quake, with more details to follow. A beta-test version would be freely downloadable, the announcement said. StrongARM frame rates running the standard 'timedemo demo1' test were given as over 18fps without sound, or almost 16fps with sound. This version uses TBA's TAG3 dynamically-linked 3D-graphics library.
  7. Christmas Eve, the 24th of December, brought a further announcement from TBA about their forthcoming release of TBA-Quake, stating that it was going through "the final stages of testing" and would be released "early in the new year". The references to a free beta are still present, but now prices for a full commercial release are given - £14.99 for an internet-ordered copy, delivered via the internet, or £19.99 for a version on floppy disc. The original iD PAK level files must be bought separately.
  8. On the 30th of December Robin Watts, of Warm Silence Software, announced that Peter Teichmann had given him his code to experiment with, and he had managed to increase the 'timedemo demo1' test framerate from about 8.8fps to 9.3fps - therefore running the same demo test as TBA this version is roughly half the speed of the forthcoming TBA-Quake, presuming that the same screensize and so forth were in use (which might not be the case). Robin said that further improvements will follow if he has the time, and that his updates will be included in the next release of ArcQuake.
  9. The 28th of January brought the announcement by Peter Teichmann that he had updated ArcQuake and that it now supports multiplayer games via a serial-port-connected "null" modem cable.
  10. February 1998, and TBA now say that TBA-Quake will be officially released at the Wakefield Acorn Spring Show 1998.
  11. Early April 1998 and R-Comp make an enigmatic announcement that anyone considering buying Quake for another platform should wait. This leads to the obvious suggestion that they are intending to publish an Acorn version of Quake.
  12. Mid April 1998 and TBA Software give 32-bit Acorn Gaming permission to announce that their port of Quake will be published by R-Comp Interactive. This will be a full release including all the level files, and it seems clear that it will not be possible to buy the game without these level files.
  13. Mid May 1998 and R-Comp finally make an official announcement that they will be publishing Acorn Quake, with previews available at the Wakefield Acorn Spring Show 1998. At the show purchases are accepted and game CD-ROMs distributed, but the actual required player is "to follow"
  14. The start of July 1998 and Peter Teichmann has updated his free Acorn Quake player, ArcQuake so that it is a little bit faster and now supports multitasking in a window, allowing you to run two copies simultaneously on the same machine if you so wish. He also changed his web site and email address, but I've updated all the links above to point to the new site
  15. March 1999 brought an insider hint that an alternative coder had expressed an interest in working on the commercial RISC OS version of Quake in an attempt to speed matters up
  16. April 1999 and there's still neither sight nor sound of the commercial Acon release of Quake, but Peter Teichmann has updated his ArcQuake with a new, faster floating-point library, achieving a 5-10% increase in game speed. It's available from his web site. This is version 1.07, dated 6/4/99 (482K).
  17. Mid-June 1999, and R-Comp finally announce they've given up waiting for Martin Piper to produce his port of Quake. This decision apparently signals a permanent termination of two years of broken pledges of near-release from Martin. R-Comp had claimed their commercial release would easily out-perform Peter Teichmann's free game player, ArcQuake, but now they intend to rerelease Peter's existing player in a commercially-supported form, although it is not clear how many enhancements there will be over the current free version. Price is not yet known, but will be lower than that previously announced (so maybe somewhere just below the £30 mark). No new release date has yet been given.
If you've downloaded the ArcQuake player then you could try looking at John Duffey's Acorn Quake web pages for details about applying various patches, speedup tips, details of the various Acorn utilities, and more related stuff.

You could also see the Acorn World 1997 show report for more details on TBA and Quake.

...this page last updated: 20/6/99...
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Dark Future
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Abandoned games
Darklands, Fantasia's ToyParty and VOTI's EMD have all reported signs of life in the recent past, whilst Skirmish is apparently still ongoing but is way behind schedule and it looks like it might well never make it out. TEK and Iron Dignity are still on the way, although again both are pretty heavily delayed. And as for R-Comp's port of F16 Fighting Falcon, it looks like it will never be released, having been killed by frame-rates that were just too low.

Full Tek review now online - finally!
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