Analysis on biological population in Quake

How much entertainment can you derive from numbers when you are bored? Judging from the hours I spent making this post, quite a while. Most of it was due to my horrible spreadsheet skills, but anything counts.

So having just finished the Quake expansions, I got to thinking – could you learn biology from Quake? Or at least statistics? Jurassic Park, at least the book version of it, taught us that even a mathematician can become a biologist in a matter of hours. So, with my degree in economics and therefore lack of a soul, clearly I’m the best candidate to learn about living beings. The focus today will be on the Hell Knight, or Death Knight as they also call him.

Spoiler: the Hell Knight tends to pick up fights with Ogres pretty often. Spoiler 2: the Hell Knight usually wins.
Spoiler: the Hell Knight tends to pick up fights with Ogres pretty often. Spoiler 2: the Hell Knight usually wins.

Why the Hell Knight? Because he’s the coolest monster, so sue me. That aside, he’s also one of the most ubiquitous, second perhaps only to the Ogre, who mostly disappears in the fourth episode anyway. So we can probably learn something about population if we analyse his appearances. So let’s get started with the graphs, which took me a long time because I really suck at formatting cells in OpenOffice. The monsters numbers were obtained from the Quake Wiki, a very good resource, and required read if you’re a fan.

Hell Knight

Ok, so this is the number of Hell Knights in each level of the main game. As you can see, he doesn’t appear at all in the first episode. Clearly he’s deemed too badass and dangerous for starting players – better pit them against Fiends and Shamblers instead! Could also be that he hadn’t been created yet when the shareware levels had been made. But this mundane a theory is not fit for a complicated analysis such as this one.

Granted, the total number of monsters doesn’t tell us all that much. We need some relative numbers, such as percentages! After all, you can’t call yourself a scientist if you only work with absolutes.

Hell Knight

Better now. Hardly readable, but this is the best I could muster for now. It’s worth mentioning that I’ve put the secret level for each episode as the last one in these tables. Reasons vary: the secret level is usually more difficult, and since the difficulty of the levels in Quake tends to follow an upward progression (I’m making words up as I go here), it makes sense to put them last. Also, the name for the maps (ExMx) always have the secret level as the last one. As you can see, science is always right.

Now we have some numbers. How do we make them a little more understandable? Why, with graphs. And pretty pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a graph must be worth a thousand numbers. Let’s translate all of these arab numericals into bars.

Hell Knight

Great. Look at all those bars going up, to the sky, like a shuttle aiming for infinity and beyond. Putting this graph on any degree dissertation is guaranteed to score top marks. So uh, now we can analyse a bit. The first level never has any Hell Knights, because they don’t appear in the military bases. And then, you can see they are numerous in the second episode in particular. Not so much in the third one, and then they return for the final episode.

Let’s try and look at the graph for the relative distribution, just because it’s the last one missing.

Hell Knight

So, uhm. The Hell Knight is most prevalent in the second episode, but also most uneven. The third episode seems to show a downward trend overall, implying perhaps that stronger monsters start to take its place. The return for the final episode might be thus explained: as Ogres start to disappear, the Hell Knight takes their place as the standard mook. That also would fit well with the relatively even distribution.

Some statistics, but not much biology, I’m afraid. The first graph shows, in the fourth episode, something that looks like a gaussian distribution, a typical phenomenon in living systems. But this is not a living system, right? So I’m not actually sure what I wanted to say, but uhm. I’m actually just making all this stuff up as I go.

Anyway, statistics also say that 3 rockets are enough to gib a Hell Knight, and by the third episode you’ll be using the rocket launcher a lot. So that’s a lot of pieces flying around, and biologically speaking, with no more corpses for Quake to resurrect (does he even resurrect bodies?), maybe you can make them go extinct?

Or maybe… life finds a way.


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