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Get answers to all your burning Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars questions straight from the people behind the game in this extensive FAQ!

1. Who is Splash Damage? What have you guys worked on in the past? How did you become involved with id to develop ETQW?
Splash Damage Ltd is an independently-owned game development studio based in London, England, and was formed in 2001 from key members of the online QUAKE III Arena mod-making community. The team was introduced to Activision by Kevin Cloud and Robert Duffy of id Software in 2002, and developed id Software’s Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (Wolf ET) winner of multiple ‘Game of the Year’ awards and a British Academy Award Nomination. The game was an all-new stand-alone chapter in the Wolfenstein series, introducing the totally new gameplay style of campaign based multiplayer first-person combat, with distinct military roles and character advancement. With over 6 million registered players, Wolf ET remains consistently in the top three online games worldwide.

In the summer of 2003, shortly after the release of Wolf ET, and with a set of tough goals in mind, Kevin Cloud and Paul Wedgwood (both owners of their respective companies) started working together on a new high concept, evolving Wolf ET’s gameplay into what would eventually become Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Excited by the success and following of Wolf ET, Activision signed up to fund the idea, and Splash Damage worked in collaboration with id Software on the game’s research and development phase for the first year with Robert Duffy from id Software acting as Technical Director. During this period, the teams at Splash Damage and id Software refined the full game design. Full production of the title began a little over two years ago and the game is currently approaching its ‘Beta’ milestone, with id Software and Activision staff taking part in regular playtests with Splash Damage staff. Splash Damage’s team of 30 developers is now working feverishly towards completing content, refining game play, optimising technology systems, and balance, balance, and yes, balance.

Splash Damage is also proud to have contributed multiplayer maps to the commercial releases of Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Game of the Year Edition, and DOOM 3.

2. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was originally scheduled for release in 2006, but is now reported as due for release ‘When its done’. Why is that?
We returned from the 2006 Los Angeles Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) on a huge high; ETQW scooped over 30 awards and nominations from dozens of magazines, websites and official show judges, including Game of Show, Best PC Game, Best Shooter, Most Anticipated Game and perhaps most importantly, several awards for Best Multiplayer Game of E3 2006 (including the E3 Game Critics Award).

Following E3, Splash Damage and id spent weeks reviewing the status of Enemy Territory. 2006 has been a great year for the team, with an incredible response from the press and the community. It's also been a challenging year, as the team has given extraordinary effort towards completing the game. Unfortunately, sometimes effort isn't all you need -- sometimes you just need more time. To ensure the quality that’s wanted, the decision was taken to push the release out of 2006 to allow for extended testing, feedback and game balancing.

3. When creating ETQW, how much did you go back to the old concepts and designs of Wolf ET? What have you done to improve upon the Wolf ET formula? Also, will ETQW be a free game like Wolf ET was?
Wolf ET was fundamentally designed to encourage and reward team play - where every unit class can make a difference and players at various skill levels can jump into a game and contribute to the overall mission. Wolf ET also provided a system for persistent character advancement and reward within a multi-battle campaign. This system rewards players with promotions and specialist skills for not only being good with a weapon, but more importantly contributing to the team through their class-specific skills. It’s these core concepts and systems, of encouraging and rewarding team play, on which ETQW is built. However, with our new technology and in using the QUAKE universe, we’re now able to significantly advance the gameplay with much larger and diverse battlefields, incredible vehicles, widely different opposing forces and a broader system of character advancement.

Set in the QUAKE universe during the original Strogg invasion of Earth (as a prequel to the events chronicled in the QUAKE II and QUAKE 4 games), Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars (ETQW) pits the armies of Earth’s Global Defence Force (the GDF), with their conventional approach to warfare, against the invading Strogg and their advanced alien weapons and technology.

ETQW is set in large outdoor areas, built using a unique and revolutionary approach to terrain rendering devised by John Carmack called the MegaTexture. The game’s physics and networking systems have been developed specifically for multiplayer combat. In-all, the technology behind ETQW has been designed with the goal of creating the most engaging and rewarding team-based multiplayer combat available - with visuals, sounds, and physics all geared toward immersing players in a nightmarish war of survival.

As with Wolf ET, the gameplay is focused on teamwork, but enhanced with specialist vehicles, fire-support and intelligence deployables, base structures, character abilities, persistent advancement and improved team communications - all with the goal of aiding each team in pursuing their military objectives across missions and campaigns.

As a stand-alone, AAA title, with a long development schedule and significantly advanced technology, ETQW will be a boxed, retail game.

4. Coming out of E3 there was a lot of talk about the new MegaTexture technology. Tell us about the MegaTexture and how it works. Is this another revolutionary step forward in game design (much in the sense that the DOOM 3 engine was when it was introduced)?
The all-new MegaTexture technology renders the entire battlefield un-tiled and unbroken to the horizon, representing over a square mile of unique terrain with inch-level detail.

However, the MegaTexture technology was not designed purely for visuals - special properties are derived from the MegaTexture that allow realistic friction on surfaces; vehicles slide on gravel or wet roads, but have better handling on dry pavement, while vehicles driving over dirt produce more dust than a vehicle driving on pavement or rock. This is also true for the dust trails kicked up by vehicles, the footsteps made by players and the gravel hitting the under chassis of a vehicle when off-road.

5. How have you advanced the engine and what steps have you taken to create such an amazing outdoor world? What else is the DOOM 3 engine capable of?

ETQW’s engine is really quite different from Doom 3. It shares some systems, such as basic lighting and normal mapping, but ETQW’s main challenges were the development of technology to render huge outdoor areas, provide realistic vehicle physics and improve networking for large military combat.

Outdoor dynamic lighting allows for every battlefield to be fought in day or night, while accurate simulation of the celestial bodies, atmosphere, vegetation, weather, water, ambient-lighting, and shadows combine to reinforce ETQW’s immersive realism.

Splash Damage and id Software set out to develop all-new advanced terrain rendering, physics and networking technology, and this demonstrates the flexibility of id Software’s technology. Splash Damage do not believe that there is better engine technology for game development that offers the same power or flexibility as id technology.

6. In the past, games built on the DOOM 3 engine have been limited in the amount of players for MP. How have you overcome this obstacle for ETQW? How many players are you aiming to have in a full game, and what is your philosophy behind how many players make a "good" MP game for ETQW?
ETQW’s networking system uses a new approach called ‘Area of Relevance’. Best thought of as ‘Level-of-Detail for Networking’, the system only transmits the data that is necessary based on your distance from a target; for example, you don’t need to know how many grenades someone is carrying when they are a mile away. This keeps the network stream efficient, and allows the advanced physics and rendering right to the horizon to co-exist with multiplayer combat.

The game will be balanced for 24 players with a hard limit of 32 players per server. ETQW's gameplay is all about focusing the action rather than dispersing it; we've found that the sweet spot that gives the most players the best time the most of the time is with about 12 players per team and our maps are optimally balanced for 24 clients. That said, we've had very enjoyable 6v6 and even 5v5 matches and we're confident that ETQW will satisfy even the most dedicated clan players.

Sometimes very large player-count servers descend into a street-fight, rather than supporting coordinated teams pursuing tactical objectives. ETQW’s gameplay is focused on securing enemy territory and pushing your team’s front-line forward. This allows for very focused combat - with everyone knowing where the front-line is, what to do when you get there, and what your rewards will be for success. It’s rare that anyone will wander the battlefield looking for a fight - and in-field vehicle drops take the legwork out of long-distance travel.

7. QUAKE is one of the most popular and best-selling PC game franchises in history. Where does ETQW fit into the overall QUAKE timeline? What is the story behind ETQW? Is ETQW story related to QUAKE 4 in any way?
ETQW is set in the QUAKE universe as a prequel to the QUAKE II and QUAKE 4 games. It portrays the original Strogg invasion of Earth, pitting the armies of Earth’s Global Defence Force, with their conventional military weapons, against the invading alien Strogg and their advanced weapons technology. The story in Quake IV picks up during the retaliation against Stroggos that started in Quake II. Both Quake II and Quake 4 come later in the timeline than ETQW. ETQW might be thought of as Quake Zero.

ETQW is a full retail, completely stand-alone game, being developed by a different team and independently of Quake 4. Careful consideration is being given to maintaining a consistent Strogg universe, but as ETQW is much earlier in the QUAKE timeline, it does not rely on content from Quake 4. ETQW’s new engine is unique, and is not shared with Quake 4.

8. Why focus on a MP only game? What does/will ETQW bring to the table?
Enemy Territory is a multiplayer game, and the core of Enemy Territory gameplay (whether that’s Wolf ET or ETQW) is team play. So, when you’re relying on your team-mates to perform specific tasks or you’re covertly observing the enemy and trying to learn their tactics, it is far more satisfying and rewarding when the other players are human. As gamers we love multiplayer games, and as developers of a multiplayer game, our goal is to have people playing with other people. When a person would rather play with a computer controlled 'bot' rather than a live opponent, the design has failed as a multiplayer game.

id and Splash Damage feel strongly that our development time is better spent on improving team play and ensuring that players are able to easily understand their role on the team and within the campaign. We’re focusing every effort on making a game that is not only deep and rewarding for veteran players, but is also a game that new players can jump into, know where to go, what to do when they get there, and what their reward will be for success.

Naturally, ETQW is not the first game to do this, with World of Warcraft being the most notable recent game to be multiplayer only, yet featuring in-mission training that takes part while playing online.

9. Tell us about the different character classes, both for the GDF and for the Strogg. How many character classes make a return from the original Wolf ET? How many new classes are there? Is the gameplay for character classes the same between the GCF and the Strogg, or is the gameplay different and dynamic depending on which side you choose?
ETQW’s character class structure is similar to Wolf ET. Both the Strogg and GDF feature infiltration, assault, defence and support roles. However, a significant goal for the game is that the GDF and Strogg don’t just look different to each other, but more importantly, they play differently to each other. All of their tools, abilities, and weapons reflect their different technology and culture; their asymmetric capabilities dictate different approaches to combat.

Aside from their models and texturing, this asymmetry is also immediately noticeable by their appearance and animations – the GDF adopt realistic military poses, while the Strogg are more animalistic. The game’s animations were designed specifically with team play in mind; each character’s complete weapon and tool load-out is represented visually, with supporting animations that ensure you always know exactly what your team-mates are doing.

An example of the gameplay asymmetry between the teams is the Medic class. The GDF has a traditional Medic, much as in Wolf ET. The GDF Medic’s role is to revive and heal team-mates and establish supply stations in the battlefield. He has advanced communications equipment that gives him vital data on the status and location of his team-mates, but he’s also a strong combat class, equipped with a configurable assault rifle that can be used in both scoped and grenade launcher mode.

Over on the Strogg team, they’re kept alive by the Technician class. The Technician is also a 'life support class', but the Strogg’s reliance on Stroyent (derived from human organic matter) for food and fuel means that the Technician can replenish both life-support and ammunition. The Strogg Technician can also extract Stroyent directly from GDF players using his Stroyent Extractor Spike. The Technician can even stroggify GDF troops that have fallen in the field, creating a Spawnhost that allows his team-mates to get back into combat right at the front-line by taking over the stroggified GDF corpse. Playing Technician is a completely different challenge to playing Medic.

This asymmetric gameplay mechanic extends right across the game. The Strogg and GDF teams are balanced against each other with a paper-scissors-stone cycle of dependencies and vulnerabilities between the various classes, weapons, vehicles, deployables, base structures, items, abilities and character advancement rewards to offer unparalleled gameplay depth and variety.

10. Can you also tell us about the different vehicles in ETQW? How many different vehicles will there be per side? Is the game play for vehicles the same between the GCF and the Strogg, or are the vehicles unique to each side in the way they are used? How much does the terrain (if at all) affect the vehicles during game play?
The physics system goes further than simply emulating ‘rigid bodies’ moving snugly over smoothed ground. Instead, it heightens ETQW’s team play potential by allowing off-road driving, rock hopping, air stunts and vehicle jumps - all of which reinforce ETQW’s goal of providing specialist vehicles to provide great team play. ETQW’s vehicles can be thought of as an extension of the character class system - each vehicle offers basic transport, but more importantly can be used to augment the player’s battlefield role, giving them access to unique routes and combat tactics.

Asymmetry between the Strogg and GDF team is achieved by realistically modelling the Strogg and GDF’s differing approaches to vehicle propulsion. The GDF use fairly traditional combustion engines, augmented by ground-effect rotors and fast jets. The ground vehicles include the one-man Husky Quad, six-wheeled Trojan Amphibious Personnel Carrier, and tracked Titan Tank. Air support is provided by vehicles such as the Anansi Hovercopter (capable, because of its reversible thrusters, of vertical-take-off-and-landing and reverse loops and fast altitude gains/drops), Bumblebee Assault ‘Copter, the Vampire Air-Strike Bomber, and Magog Sky-Crane (air-lifting deployables to the battlefield). The GDF’s vehicles feature a wide-array of anti-personnel and anti-armour weapons, some featuring stealth technology, or providing re-supply and re-equipment capability in the battlefield.

Conversely, the Strogg rely on their use of alien technology, including graviton repulsion, heavy walker pneumatics, bosonic orb and plasma weapon technology. Their vehicles include the personal Icarus GravPack, Hog Truck, Desecrator Hovertank, Tormentor Attack Craft and Cyclops Heavy Walker. Because of their propulsion types, they each feature advantages and disadvantages compared to the GDF vehicles.

For example, while the Cyclops Heavy Walker is extremely powerful and is capable of traversing tough off-road obstacles and inclines, its inability to rotate fast on the spot makes it tough to defend against a circling GDF Titan Tank.

The Strogg Tormentor is powered by four gravitonic repulsor engines, allowing it to pull-off some insane moves, but the heat generated makes it an easier target at high altitude for the GDF’s anti-aircraft missiles, whether fired from the GDF Soldier’s Rocket Launcher, or the GDF Engineer’s deployable Anti-Vehicle Turret.

11. How about the terrain? How many different environments are you planning to have in ETQW? I know we already covered this about the vehicles, but in general, will the different types of environments directly affect the gameplay, or will the gameplay be the same gameplay-wise, but just look different? Also, are there weather effects, and if so, how do those come into play?
Rather than all maps in ETQW being based on a single style of terrain (such as jungle), there are three themes in development: Temperate, Arid and Arctic. These are then augmented by unique geographical locations, individual plots to the missions, and unique objectives. Each map (mission) in ETQW takes place in a completely unique environment, with a different time-of-day, year and atmospheric conditions. Each battle charts a critical moment of the Strogg invasion, much as Wolf ET retold the important missions of Wold War II.

Because the type of surface being walked over, driven over or shot at, can be determined from the MegaTexture, each experience of fighting within dense foliage, across arctic planes or arid deserts is unique - this is true of the vehicle traction, explosions and vehicle particles, and audio effects. Sand storms, snow and rain all affect visibility. Because ETQW can render right to the horizon, designers can choose visibility conditions that are right for the battle, rather than the technology constraining the design.

This combination of light, shadow, differing atmospheric conditions and audio effects will be an important factor for players determining the best cover and concealment to use while crossing the battlefield.

12. When it comes to weapons, what can players expect to see?
The GDF’s weapons technology is 'futuristic conventional': they use assault rifles, pistols, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers, landmines, and demolition charges, - pretty much what you’d expect from a human army 50-60 years from now. Their weaponry, targeting, imaging, and guidance technology is advanced compared to today’s, but their battlefield tactics would be recognisable on a modern battlefield.

The Strogg, however, are very different. They use directed-energy weapons, gravity manipulation and cybernetically augmented command and communications technology. Their weapons include remote-control drones and a greater array of area-affect and damage-over-time capabilities. Their tactics are dictated by their technology. For example, the tracer effects from Strogg weapons are more likely to give their position away, forcing the Strogg to seek direct combat instead of cover or concealment. The Strogg experience battle differently - when they take damage, their vision is distorted by distinctive interruptions to their biomechanical augmentations. Many of ETQW’s Strogg weapons are predecessors to the ones they use in the latter QUAKE universe, including early prototypes of the Rail Gun, Lightning Pistol, and Hyperblaster.

13. How about hardware - can you tell us about the system specs to run ETQW?
Minimum system specification optimisation is not yet complete, but you’ll definitely need a 3D graphics card : )

The goal is to keep the minimum specification requirements as low as is feasible while maintaining a reasonable framerate for those players on low-spec systems (framerate being, even more important for a multiplayer game than a single player one.) The game will also support the very latest hardware, including the next generation of graphics cards, processors, sound cards, widescreen displays and analogue controllers, allowing high-specification system owners to get the most from their game system.

14. How much planning is going into the game in regard to supporting the mod community? Will there be tools released post-launch?
id Software has a reputation for excellent mod-community support, and with Splash Damage’s roots firmly in that territory, you can be sure to see the release of a Software Developer Kit that allows great flexibility and power for mod-makers.

Because the MegaTexture features unique detail, Splash Damage has developed a tool called MegaGen which allows Level Designers to generate a unique-looking MegaTexture for their maps, using ‘Geometric Texture Distribution’. This system makes use of settings for the required geographical theme (such as the height of the water table, altitudes of silt lines, maximum incline for grass and moss to grow, precipices gathering stones and pebbles), and then distributes these textures across the whole terrain using custom normal and height-map based blends (ensuring that grass grows smoothly in to the crevices of rock, rather than being blended equally and looking unrealistic). Level Designers can lay down routes quickly with the Road Tool, simply dragging them across the terrain, and then compile the MegaTexture as easily as they did a Wolf ET map.

New and experienced Programmers have powerful tools too, with the majority of the game controllable in script, much can be accomplished without modifying a single line of source code. Nevertheless, the source code for many of the game’s components will also be released, allowing for more advanced modifications and total conversions. Mod-makers will be able to script their own vehicles, and create new hardware shaders and particle effects.

Artists aren’t left out either, with our suite of tools providing control over models, texturing and animations, allowing artists to realise their conceptual visions in whatever level of detail they wish to pursue.

15. How do you see ETQW fitting into and/or blowing away the competitive landscape of other online multiplayer FPS games like Battlefield?
Both id Software and Splash Damage are fans of Battlefield (and both companies are known for running Battlefield game servers for their staff and friends), but ETQW should be thought of as a different kind of game with different development and gameplay goals.

ETQW is fundamentally built with the goal of creating gameplay where teamwork makes a significant difference in whether or not you complete objectives. The game is also unique in pitting asymmetrical forces against one another - it’s no longer just a choice between two similar but differently named machine guns, the choice of whether to play Strogg or GDF is significant, the strategies are different, and the experience is different.

ETQW’s builds on Wolf ET’s successful team play approach that has won millions of fans the world over, but is set a century after those World War II battles. It pits the Allied troops of the Global Defence Force against their most horrific threat yet - the Strogg invasion of Earth, set in the epic QUAKE universe - a conventional human military force taking on the marauding Strogg with their alien technology.

The game’s technology includes generational steps forward in terrain rendering, networking and physics, all focussed on improving gameplay rather than visuals alone.

And while it’s true that ETQW can be played instantly - and there’s absolutely no reason not to jump right in, grab a weapon, drive a vehicle and have fun blowing up the enemy - ETQW’s game depth allows for previously unseen team play potential. The new Mission System ensures that regardless of whether you know which combat role you’re playing, what weapons you’re carrying, or what your team objectives are, you’ll know where to go, what to do when you get there, and what your reward will be for victory. This coordinated team play system evolves as you use it and your character advances, to provide the infrastructure for a significant improvement in interface and communications for fire-teams. We are convinced that even someone new to the FPS MP genre, will quickly move up from having fun in their 'sandbox', to completing military missions as part of a crack small-unit squad.

16 - At this past E3, the trailer said, "Coming in 2006", is this still true? Do you have any further clarification on the release date for ETQW? If not, can you at least say whether or not the game will be at E3 in 2007?
No : )