All summer and into the fall the debate raged: which was better, Duke Nukem 3D or Quake? Both sides had (and have) their zealots, the newsgroups were overloaded with such sage statements as "no way, you suck, Quake/Duke (pick one) rules!", and yet I did my best to remain objective, mostly by playing both of them for hundreds of hours and thoroughly enjoying myself, whether I was lobbing grenades at a shambler or shotgunning an alien. But now comes the clincher, the answer to the question, and I can at last definitively say: Quake is better than Duke. Why? Because Quake contains a full-fledged development language. Not a level editor, mind you; a development language. Quake C, as it is called, allows regular hacks like you and me (given a few hundred hours) not only to make new levels, but to radically alter the environment, weapons, monsters, player appearance, even the gameplay and the attributes of each. "Big deal," you might be saying, but check out the patches below for a small sample of what you can do:
Flame Thrower Patch
This is the weapon we've all been waiting for, and here it is. This patch adds a toggle to the grenade launcher that turns it into a flame-thrower ... once you've marshmallow-in-the-campfired someone, they run around on fire, screaming and taking damage, lighting up the room like the human torch they are until they find some water to jump into. The writers of this patch have even been so kind as to do a little facial work on your status face and add a "you're on fire" message for those new to being torched. In single-player mode you can use the zombies to light up those dark passageways, as they just stay lit.
This patch creates a personal attack dog which will follow you around and attack any enemies that attack you. "Go for help, Lassie! Tell dad that Timmy's being fragged by a Fiend!" There is also a Dobie Gun (ala the Far Side cartoon) and a fish gun ... you can pretty much figure out what those do, right?
Homing Missile Patch
This weapon patch toggles between the rocket launcher and a homing missile while can be guided by an on-board camera to its target. Once it hits a target -- wall or opponent -- it sticks into that target until it detonates. Also comes in a tactical nuke variety, which adds an audible alarm and kills anything within hearing range
Head Grenades Patch
No, that's not a misprint. It says head grenades all right ... this patch lets you pick up peoples' heads after you kill them, and then throw the heads around. The heads then become reanimated, floating grenades that detonate once they acquire and hunt down the next hapless opponent that happens by.
Flash Grenade Patch
This patch is basically like a phosphorous flare in your face. Drop one, and the gamma level goes to 100% and everybody in the room is blinded for about 10-15 seconds. Needless to say, this makes them mighty easy targets ... unless they get all panicky and trigger happy.
Electrocutioner (aka Stinger) Patch
This patch creates a bomb that acts like a lightning gun discharge when thrown in the water ... kind of like fishing with dynamite. Good for those folks who grab a bio-suit and head down under, hoping to avoid your nailgun.
Reaper Bot Patch
This adds in a fast, deadly bot -- a mechanized deathmatch opponent whose sole goal is to seek and destroy you. Remember the bad guy in Terminator 2? Here he is in Quake. He starts the level with the same health, speed, etc. as you, but knows the level and how to aim as only a computer opponent can. He picks up weapons, ammo, health, etc. just as you would. Time to face your alter ego. With a gun.
Axe of Command Patch
Like the idea of playing sorcerer, or injecting a bit of Hexen into Quake's arguably dungeon-esque environment? This patch changes your axe into a magical weapon which, when it hits a monster, transfers control of that monster to you, allowing you to use whatever you "catch" as your fall guy. Grab a shambler and send him in to clear out all those scrags. Or deathmatch with this patch and send an army of fiends after your pals. Go get them, my pretties!
Boris the Spider
Creepy crawly, creepy crawly, creepy crawly ... Boris is big, bad, excessively like something out of your nightmares as a kid, and he takes the place of the death knights, so it's not like you'll only have to face him once or twice. He can jump farther than a fiend, has a mandible attack, his own little dark theme music, and well, is just downright nasty. Put this patch in your friends' exec string and watch 'em jump!
These patches all require the registered version of Quake, and there are, of course, some amateurish patches out there that add little or nothing, but what Quake C allows is the creation of a completely new game, or at least many new angles to an already excellent one. At the time of this writing, there are people at work adding aircraft, jeeps, etc. to the mix, and there are already "skin" patches and kits available that allow you to custom paint your character or the monsters any way you want. There are bots aplenty, attack cats, slippery banana peels, fragmentation grenades, lava guns, patches that create teams of specialists, each with different weapons and skills, and on and on ... if you can think it up, you can put it in your game. So, as Duke himself would say, what are you waiting for?
The majority of these patches and links to sites which feature all of them are available via The Quake Stomping Grounds at http://www.stomped.com ... this page also lists servers around the world where you can try out deathmatches with many of these patches installed.