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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Quake - Utilities
 

Quake - Utilities

Posted by Alasdair Bailey on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | ,
 

Utilities
 

Perhaps there's something about Acorn users and writing little utilities, because while having several thousand fewer people capable of playing Quake, there are still a number of handy little gimmicks out there, some of which are pretty much essential for Acorn Quake playing. Let's divide these up into little sections again.
 

Builders | Compilers | Dialers | Decompression | Filing | Network | Sorting
 


Builders


Qbuild
 
So far it's the only Quake map builder available for the Acorn platform (except those running under RiscBSD and ArmLinux), and it's been ported by R Fred Williams.
 
So far it requires lots of memory to run (the manual says 12Mb, but this is a little on the tight side, I suspect) and takes a very long time to compile a map.
 
If you're expecting a full 3D editor in the vein of the 3D Construction Toolkit then I'm sorry, but this isn't what you're looking for. It compiles .map files into .bsp files for you, and not all that much else. If you've painstakingly composed a level on your PC card however, and wish to use a proper computer to compile it, then this is for you.
 
A number of people have emailed me asking how to decompress the shareware PAK files. The simple answer is that you need a PC card. If you don't have one, you're stuck really, as the free QUnPack only seems to like the bought CD. I will send Id an email asking for permission to upload a plain zip file containing the shareware PAK only, but I remain doubtful that this will be acceptable to them. Sorry, in all. If anybody does find a way of getting the PAKs from the shareware release, please send me an email and I'll stick it on here faster than you can say "Pork Pies".
 



 

Compilers
 

A little while ago, there was a post to c.s.a.games about a port of QCC the QuakeC compiler. It pointed to a place at
http://www.obsnd.demon.co.uk but I cannot for the life of me remember the directory. I'm sure that the author (Walter Lord) will be happy to tell you exactly where it is if you email him; alternatively, you can download it from here.


An alternate version of the QCC compiler has been written by David O'Shea. It's a port from the PC version, as far as I can gather, but it does have a graphical front end thing to it, making it better that the above compiler in my book. You can download it from the David's site over on the Emerald Isle. David has also written a PAK file thing.
 


Diallers


There are various ways of getting Quake to play using a modem-modem link. The first two involve using specific dialling software.

  • The first program acts as a PPP host, allowing Quake to communicate over a PPP protocol, which should be fairly fast over a modem. It's available from Steven Newbury's site, can dial out and accepts dial ins.
  • The second little utility is called QDial, and establishes what the computer thinks to be a null modem link over the phone. You can download it from Dylan Piergies' web page
  • The third, and altogether most complicated way of getting it done is via !Connector. This little terminal program will dial out for you, and allow you to talk to the person over the other end without entering any login or password information. As soon as you see the Modem connection successful message, you can begin chatting away in a pre-fragmatch bravado session. After you've both agreed, you run !ArcQuake and one person asks Quake to listen for a connection signal, by pressing F5 then going to Direct Serial and asking for Quake to wait for a connection. Once this is done, the other player connects down the phone line, and the fun starts.
These should theoretically work when playing against PC owning friends.
 

Decompression


Many Quake patches are supplied as DOS executables (.EXE files) which extract themselves when run on a PC. This, unsurprisingly is a problem if you want the contents for your Acorn.
 
I was emailed recently about my claim that you need a PC or a PC card to decompress these .EXE files. The email stated that you could in fact extract the relevant files using an Acorn program by the name of !Zipee, which is available from the authors
GeoCities page. We haven't tested this, but it should work.

I've recently been emailed by somebody saying that SparkFS is able to decompress .exe zips. I won't be able to try this, as I haven't got it, and it costs money, but that's what the mail said so that's what I'm telling you. SparkFS is alledgedly very good indeed, reading pretty much every compression format you can throw at it. It seems like that when David Pilling writes something, he writes it well. (His Twain drivers cover pretty much all scanners, and ArcFax covers all know modems anywhere pretty much.


Filing


Quake, as you may have noticed, depends entirely on two large files in the ID1 directory for all it's graphics, sounds, levels and models. These files are massive, by Acorn terms, taking up 18 megabytes for PAK0/PAK and 33 megs for PAK1/PAK. They are not individual files though, more a selection of files in their own little file system, similar in practice to an X-File or or ZIP file. These files are only accessible using clunky command line driven stuff on other platforms (as far as I am aware), which is where the Acorns have one over the other platforms.
 
The system that allows you to use these PAK files as normal directories is QuakeFS, by Chris Rutter. It allows full access to the PAK files from the main installation, as well as giving you access to any new stuff in certain QuakeC patches. It does not allow writing to these files yet, although I believe it will do when TBA launch TBA-Quake. It is available from Chris's
web site.
 
There is another programme capable of doing the same thing (and a smidgen more!) available from David O'Shea. David's version allows you to go into the WAD files contained within the PAK it's self, as well as (I believe) WADs extracted using Peter Smith's Quiver (I haven't tested this BTW). David's version is uses a different filetype to Chris Rutter's !QuakeFS, therefore you need to make a choice about which you would prefer to use for the task, else you'd be constantly changing filetypes. I personally would go for David's version, as it allows you to delete stuff from the PAK file (sort of, the !Help file say's that doing this is a bit dodgy). This kind of implies that writing to PAKs might be in the pipeline. I'm fairly sure that QuakeFS (Chris Rutter's offering) has ceased development, at least temporarily, so PakFS might be the better option. You can download !PakFS from David's site.
 
The CD-ROM installation from the full Quake requires a PC card to run... well, it did up until those clever chaps down at the Cybervillage knocked up this piece of code (8K ZIP!) to decompress it for you. You can download it from The Cybervillage.


I am currently working on getting iD to allow us to put a zip file containing the shareware PAK file, so that those of you without a PC card or emulator will be able to play.

Network


The internet has often been described as "a reward to the patient" ; slow modem speeds mean that home users have to be prepared to wait.
 
It seems that Quake over the 'net is still a dream for most Acorn owners, as every server I have tried has had a lag of around 1.5-2 seconds, which is enough to severely disadvantage you in any deathmatch game. The chances of joining a very slow server can be minimised, however, by using Allan Eagle's !QServer application.
 
What it does is send the QuakeFinger messages to the remote server of your choice, and sends back information about which level is being played (Smaller ones have smaller lags in general), who's playing, and any special server settings, such as gravity levels, and CTF information.
 
This makes it easy to see if there's any point trying to connect over the 'net, as very busy servers (or ones with recognised QuakeMasters) can often be very slow indeed. Download !QServer from
Acorn Arcade's own sever.
Allan has done a fair bit of work on !Qserver since the last release. The programme now allows you to do all sorts of clever things, including (but not limited to) changing player colour, both trouser and 'blouse'. It also allows you to easily set up key bindings, allowing you to have the most esoteric key combinations you could possibly imagine, having z for left and m for right, the sky is your limit. Aliases are also accounted for. Aliases allow you to compose the most tricky of Quake tricks into a single key press. I have been playing Quake now for over 6 months, and I have pretty much mastered the rocket jump, but occasionally you see otherwise dire players on deathmatch servers rocket-bounding, and even grenade-rocket leaping around with the ease of a frollicking lamb. They don't have any kind of extraordinary quake powers to them, they're not gods, they merely have the rocket jump actions bound to a key. Pretty snide trick if you ask me. Aliases can be used for s!
lightly more silly things as well though, for example changing the +forward key so that you have

    "+foward ; change_pants_color +1"
instead. This may not seem particularly silly until you realise that it makes your trousers change colour more often than your girlfriend can change her mind.
 
Right ho, Allan emailed me today about how you get !QServer working properly. It's actually fairly simple. All you have to do is load the !Run file in !ArcQuake and add the gibberish "%*0" (that's a zero rather than an "oh") just after where it says either QuakeN or Quake6, so the live would become:
    If "<ArcQuake$CPU>" = "SA" then <Obey$Dir>.QuakeN %*0 else <Obey$Dir>.Quake6 %*0
Of course, he spread this information over comp.sys.acorn.games fairly sharpish. Possibly due to me slaughtering him in our first few games. You may seem dubious, given LiStA's deadly reputation, but trust me, I had equal frags to him on the first 5 matches. When I went on later at about 11ish he lived up to his reputation and beat me 18 - 2. Ho hum. I'll nail him when I get my T-1 leased line installed. Honest.


 
On a completely unrelated note, I've discovered that issuing a

    *Configure baud 1
at the CLI or in a task window make the quake playing experience far far far smoother. Try it. I don't know why it works, but it does, so there.
 


Something else which speeds up internet play is a faster modem. My 28.8 doesn't seem to go all that fast, giving me quite a bit of a disadvantage. When Cable & Wireless get their act together and give me a cable modem I'll tell you how much difference it makes.
 


Sorting


When you have a very large collection of patches, levels and other paraphernalia, you need some way of storing them sensibly and accessibly, and preferably to not have to edit the !Run file every time your try a different patch.
 
This is where Quiver, the best front-end companion to Quake available, come in..
 
Quiver is a front end utility allowing you to select which patch you want to play, and which level you'd like to play it on. It also includes wad hackers and lump suckers which are supposed to be very useful. We'll take their word for it!
 
Download it from
Peter Smiths' web page


 
QuakeFT is an alternative way of filing. Both systems have their merits, Quiver is slightly more powerful, offering far more options, but QuakeFT provides a much simpler way of loading BSPs (Levels), demos, savegames and configures, allowing you to simply double-click on them. Looking at the programme, it's a very simple system, but highly effective.
 
If you find Quiver a bit too constrictive or difficult to maintain, then I would strongly reccomend QuakeFT.


Download it from Mathew Stone's web page.
 

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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Quake - Utilities