Fifteen years ago today (6/22/1996) a FPS developed by id software was released. This FPS would set standards in the FPS genre like the use of 3D graphics, free-look mouse control, the use of lighting effects and ambient sound to create atmosphere, enemy A.I., online play, and others... that set the groundwork for the epic shooters we see on the market today.
All of these things that we expect out of an FPS today, have their roots stemming from one groundbreaking game... Quake.
At the time, everything about Quake was "new." Before Quake the only FPS title even truly on the map was the Doom series (also developed by id), and that was more for controversial reasons than due to the gameplay. Doom was good, don't get me wrong... but Quake was amazing, and in my opinion, put the first-person shooter as a genre on the map.
Pretty much everything about Quake was awesome... from the amazing 3D graphics (at the time) to the eerie soundtrack (which was composed by Trent Reznor, and produced by Nine Inch Nails).
Probably the biggest thing about Quake that is still felt in today's generation of FPS games, as well as other genres (and will not be going anywhere anytime soon) was the ability to play with your friends online. There were other FPS games prior to Quake that allowed for modem or LAN play... but anyone who's ever played the original Doom over a LAN, knows it never held a candle to Quake. The ability to free-look with the mouse alone made the multiplayer heads and shoulders above anything else on the market. The use of the internet as a means for people to play the game with other players though... really paved the way for your multiplayer oriented shooters of today like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, etc..
There have also been rumors floating around that id is toying with the idea of re-booting the Quake series with a current-gen/next-gen remake. Personally, I think it would be pretty amazing to see the original Quake re-done using today's technology.
Quake had a few follow up games, but they did not follow the same plot-lines as the original. Don't get me wrong... the other Quake games were good (personally, Quake II is still one of my favorite FPS's out there)... but none of them were as eerie, atmospheric, or as ground-breaking as the original.
So... As the classic that is Quake turns 15, I feel a bit of nostalgia. I was 13 years old when the original Quake hit the shelves, and I remember spending many hours tying up the phone-line while I played over the modem with my buddies, and pissing off my parents and sisters... good times... And even though it's 15 years old, I still feel as though the gameplay is awesome enough that I could jump into a Deathmatch on the House of Cython map and still have a blast.