Héctor Ramos

The Day Quake Shook Me Into Programming


Yesterday saw the 14 year anniversary of QTest’s release. I still remember that day.


I was a 12 year old video game lover who used to tinker with computers at school but had only just got my own PC a few months before. Computer games caught my eye, since for the first time I might be able to program my own game. I had this realization when a friend showed me Doom and how he would load it up with modified levels and sprites.


The Doom mod community was mature and daunting for a 12 year old who had only just discovered it. The arrival of QTest meant that I would be able to be there from the start. I got it from Tucows, probably, and proceeded to play for hours. This was the game I would learn to program and mold to my own idea of the perfect video game.


Eventually, Quake was released and the mods started to appear all over the net. Programming for Quake was pretty easy - the language was called Quake C. It was the perfect language to learn programming. It was based on C, had the same syntax, but didn’t have structures or arrays. This made it easy for my pre-teen mind to grasp the basics and kept me from needing to learn data structures too early. I would compile my mods using qcc (the QuakeC Compiler) which I later learnt was a play on gcc as I moved up to C (Quake II dropped QuakeC) and C++ (Half-Life).


I recall writing a few tutorials on how to make your weapons fire multiple rockets, which would spin around using trigonometric functions I had just learnt that day in school. I got into 3D modelling and 2D texture mapping. I got into level design and writing specs. I created a website and joined Captured.com as an editor. 


I guess you could say that thanks to QTest, I learned how to program in C and C++, learned how to use 3D Studio to create models, learned basic computer science concepts while making game levels, develop pretty good Photoshop skills while texturing all the models. I created a modification for Quake which had my entire high school as the game level, and enemy players looked like the principal. Players were dressed with the school’s uniform. It was a hit in my high school’s new LAN, where we would stay after school to have huge 16 player deathmatch skirmishes. The teachers, of course, didn’t agree with us shooting down other students, then Columbine happened, and my Quake mod was forever deleted. Wish I had backed it up…


Thanks to QTest, I developed interest in everything that led me to study Computer Engineering. Thank you, id Software.