The Haus

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Fun with a 28.8K Modem

id's John Carmack updated his .plan with some fixes and a bunch of good tips for folks trying to play Quake III Arena on the 'Net with a 28.8K modem. Here's a sampling:
I have been playing a lot of Q3 on a 28.8 modem for the last several days.

I finally found a case of the stuck-at-awaiting-gamestate problem that turned out to be a continuous case of a fragment of the gamestate getting dropped. I have changed the net code to space out the sending of the fragments based on rate.

Note that there have been a few different things that result in stuck at gamestate or stuck at snapshot problems. We have fixed a few of them, but there may well still be other things that we haven't found yet.

You can still have a fun game on a 28.8 modem . . . Make sure your modem rate is set correctly. If you have it set too high, large amounts of data can get buffered up and you can wind up with multiple seconds of screwed up delays.

Only play on servers with good pings. My connection gives me a couple dozen servers with mid 200 pings. 56k modems often see servers with sub 200 pings. If you ignore the ping and just look for your favorite map, you will probably have a crappy game.
. . .
I just implemented "sv_minPing" / "sv_maxPing" options so servers can restrict themselves to only low ping or high ping players. This is done based on the ping of the challenge response packet, rather than any in-game pings. There are a few issues with that -- a LPB may occasionally get into a HPB server if they happen to get a network hiccup at just the right time, and the number used as a gate will be closer to the number shown in the server list, rather than the number seen in gameplay. I would reccomend "sv_minPing 200" as a reasonable breakpoint.

Q3A Map Pack has a major map add-on for Quake III Arena, including a whopping 12 new maps in three tiers. The site is in German so you may want to wear lederhosen or use a Babelfish. You can download the maps here. It's a 21 megger, so pack a lunch.

Thanks Evil Avatar.

Update! These maps are not the original work of the author of the map pack. They are a "best of" collection from around the Net. I do not know if they received permission from the authors to do this. I caught this when I looked at a screenshot and recognized Tom Mustaine's map (story) in there.

Update #2: Here is a translation of the readme.txt file with a little help from a Babelfish:
Here is my newest level pack. In the pack are 11 new Deathmatch levels and 3 new CTF levels. Also, a few additional modifications were made e.g. new Crosshairs, new Lightning gun, new Razer Model :ID etc....

Installation: Simply unpack the contents of the zip file with Winzip into your Quake III Arena/baseq3 directory, and then start Quake3.

Take care! Fetze (RoNiN) E-Mail:

Official Q3A FAQ

id has posted their official FAQ for Quake III Arena. Included is the bug that I spotted and found a work-around for (story):
When I try to play a team game with bots, they will not follow my directions

This is remedied by removing any characters that are not a letter or a number from your "player name". For example if your name is "~cooldude~", change it to "cooldude" and you should be able to control your bots. We are fixing this in an upcoming release.
Thanks Blue for the heads-up.

Q3A Shader Manual

id's Paul Jaquays updated his .plan with news about the Quake III Arena shader documentation.
The Quake III Arena Shader Manual is available for download.

Yes, Q3A map and model makers, here's the Christmas present that Santa's elves hadn't quite finished yet. It's in the format of an MS word document and has some graphics nested in it, so it's a little large.

Kenneth and I are playing around with making a simple html version of it, but that may be a little while yet.


How's that for abuse of acronyms? Anyway, now that I have Unreal Tourament, I finally got around to downloading the Digital Extreme's Capture-the-Flag maps. Both are very nice. CTF-Orbital is a classic CTF map with plenty of room for lots of players. CTF-HallOfGiants is a huge cavernous room with low gravity and cool tubes to propel you all over the level. Because everything is so big and so open, it really taxes your framerate. Later today, I'm going to fire up a slew of bots and see how they play. You can get CTF-Orbital from Digital Extremes or Unreal Universe. You can get CTF-HallOfGiants from Digital Extremes or Unreal Universe. Or you can get them both in one ZIP from Unreal Universe. Just unzip them into the UT Maps subdirectory.

Linux User Saves Hotmail

I've seen links to this all over the place. It seems there was an outage in Micro$oft's much-maligned Hotmail system over the Christmas holiday. Why? Because they forgot to pay Network Solutions for their domain name. Ummm. Yeah. Some enterprising young man (a Linux user, no less) wanted to get his email so he put the registration on his credit card to restore service. I would certainly hope that M$ would give him a little more than the $35 for keeping their sorry butts afloat. Check for the story.

Memory Prices Dropping?

Ars Technica pointed me to this article on PC World. Memory manufacturer Kingston has cut its prices 20-50%. Hopefully this will start a pricing war that will bring memory prices back to something resembling reasonable. At least until someone coughs in Taiwan . . .

CliffyB .plan Update

Epic's Cliff Bleszinski updated his .plan with his suggested settings for Unreal Tournament competition settings.

Tuesday, December 28, 1999

Gamespot Q3A Guide

Gamespot Has whipped up a big ol' guide to Quake III Arena, much like their Unreal Tournament guide (story). Once again, you can buy it in PDF format, but I don't know why you'd want to. Thanks Frans.

Shaded Released

Quake3World is reporting that Shaded, a utility to assist in the creation of Quake III Arena shader files has been released. If you are an aspiring map maker, check this one out.

Open Sourcing Linux UT

Brandon Reinhart updated his .plan with more news on open-sourcing parts of the Unreal Tournament Linux port. Here's a taste:
I'm back from visting relatives and I've been rolling on the Linux open source stuff. I've got my project approved with Source Forge. Once I get everything set up, I'll announce the URL but I'm sure the sneaky will be able to find the page.

I've chosen the Artistic License. I feel that it allows mod developers a lot of freedom with the open code, while not putting Epic into any weird positions with the undisclosed part of the engine.

I plan on open sourcing the following libraries:

Profoundly Bad Christmas Music has posted a link to this Christmas song that's so bad it's absolutely hysterical. It's a little ditty called R2D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It's off a 1980 album called (no, I'm not making this up) Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album. The vocals are by none other than Jon Bon Jovi. It's a 2.25M MP3 and definitely worth the download.

More on Quake 1 Cheating

Well kids, John Carmack's solution to the Quake 1 hacking problem (story) has gotten the open-source community's undies in a collective bundle. Eric Raymond, an "expert in these things", wrote a diatribe called The case of quake cheats which was slapped up on Slashdot. Here's a snip that I have real problems with:
I think one major lesson is simple. It's this: if you want a really secure system, you can't trade away security to get performance. Quake makes this trade by sending anticipatory information for the client to cache in order to lower its update rate . . . [I]t may have been a necessary choice under the constraints for which Quake was designed, but it violates the first rule of good security design: minimum disclosure.
Well DUH! Quake servers are by no means the same as webservers (he makes a comparison to Apache in his article). Tradeoffs like this in the fluctuating world of Internet latency are necessary to get a game that is remotely playable especially at the time that QuakeWorld first came out. Minimum disclosure = unplayability. Then everyone loses.
Fortunately, the aim-bot cheat is also much less interesting from a general security point of view. It's hard to imagine anything but a twitch game in which the client user can cheat effectively by altering the millisecond-level timing of command packets. So the real lesson of both cheats may be that a closed-source program like Carmack's hypothetical secured program launcher is indeed a good idea for security -- but only if you're a hyperadrenalized space marine on a shooting spree.
Once again, the author shows his ignorance of the situation. Aim-bot cheats are one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) bane of online gaming, especially in Quake II. None of the author's solutions can deal with this situation. The basic premise of his whole article is "if Quake were open source from the beginning none of this would have happened." Unfortunately, he can't seem to tell the difference between security vs. performance in an e-commerce site and in an online game.

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