Today is the 14th anniversary of QTest, our release to the public of the Quake executable along with three deathmatch maps, to test our network code over the internet.
Quake was our first internet-playable game, and we knew it would be great to let players try out the net code before the game's release so we had some lead time to fix all the bugs found with it.
At id Software, we never had a QA department. We were our own QA team, us programmers, designers and artists. A pretty small group, but we were pretty thorough. The network code in Quake, however, needed to be tested way more than our small group could handle because of the amount of networking hardware our packets had to travel through.
It paid off - Quake was released with pretty reliable network code. Playing Quake on a LAN was always a much, much better experience, so John Carmack addressed that with the QuakeWorld release in November 1996 by fixing the network code and adding client-side prediction. Now, the issues he fixed are just part of normal network programming.
The day we released QTest, we invited a very small, select group of hardcore DOOM players to our office to test our release right in front of us. They're known as the QTest 7. They are:
- NaTaS (Mark Fletcher)
- PoLiSh (Jaroslaw Krzysztof Marcin Wolski, aka Jerry Wolski. R.I.P.)
- Wendigo (Brian Hess)
- Avatar (Mackey McCandlish)
The release of QTest paved the way for high-speed internet FPS gaming. I guess you could say that February 24, 1996 was the beginning of the future. Long live QTest!