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Quake 4 Designer Diary #1 - The Characters of Quake 4

Get the details on the major characters are in Quake 4, and how Raven Software came up with their names.


Quake 4 isn't just an Xbox 360 launch title and one of the biggest PC games of the year. It's also the latest chapter in the blockbuster franchise that established the 3D shooter as we know it today. However, Quake 4 is the first game in the series that isn't being designed directly by id Software. Development duties went to Raven Software, the company responsible for the Star Trek: Elite Force and Soldier of Fortune games, as well as the last two Star Wars: Jedi Knight games. Combine Raven's reputation with id's cutting-edge graphics technology, and you know why Quake 4 is an action game on everyone's list this year. In this first chapter of our designer diary series for Quake 4, two members of the development team describe how they named the various characters in the game. Names may sound like little things, but clearly a lot of thought went into them

This is Rhino squad, your elite team of Marines in Quake 4. For some reason, they like posing in front of purple backgrounds.
This is Rhino squad, your elite team of Marines in Quake 4. For some reason, they like posing in front of purple backgrounds.

Dramatis Personae

Bob Love and Eric Biessman
Raven Software

Like any large creative project, the names used in Quake 4 have some history behind them. For the hero's squad, we came up with a long list of potential names. In the "mythical names" section of the list, we came across "Unicorn," and our project lead, Eric Biessman, saw this and quickly created a skin for our hard-as-nails Marine with the logo of a doe-eyed unicorn and rainbow on his chest plate. Needless to say, Unicorn was dropped from the list. Soon after that, it was eventually decided to have animal names for all the squads. Having previously been a tank company's name, Rhino squad became the name of the hero's band of Marines. -- Bob Love, writer/programmer

The overriding goal of creating Rhino squad was that each member has a distinctive voice that can be easily identified over the radio. We played with a bunch of different accents, and when we wound up with our final mix, and the team's makeup was decided, it was fairly easy to choose names. -- Eric Biessman, lead designer

Rhino Squad

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Corporal Matthew Kane
Age: 23
Born: Lunar Colony, New Hope
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 180

Above all else, Corporal Matthew Kane is a survivor. He was involved with the disaster on Space Station Armstrong and was the only one to emerge alive. But exactly what happened there may never be known--he is under the strictest orders to remain silent. After several months of recuperation, Kane was assigned to Rhino squad. This was due to Lieutenant Voss, who saw Kane's potential to be a truly valuable asset to the team. However, the squad knows him only from his mysterious reputation. They don't trust him, and they believe he might be too much of a loose cannon. Yet with their upcoming mission on Stroggos, they will quickly find out just what Matthew Kane is capable of.

The name Kane was used because Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, is said to have always used a hard "K" sound in the names of his heroes. Plus, Kane just sounds badass. -- BL

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1st Lieutenant Scott Voss
Age: 30
Born: Mars Colony, Kingsland
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 170

After the death of its former commander, Lieutenant Daily, Rhino squad wasn't sure it would ever find someone capable of leading it. Then the squad met Lieutenant Scott Voss. He epitomizes the old saying, "It's not so much the size of the dog in the fight as it is the size of the fight in the dog." He's not physically large or overtly demanding, but there is something about his demeanor that demands respect from even the most reckless Marine. Rhino squad knows very little about Voss because he never speaks of his past. But were he to talk, they would hear tales of the horrors he endured after being captured during the Mars riots. He was tortured for six months before being freed; he still suffers nightmares and is highly claustrophobic after having been placed in a coffin and buried for days at a time. Voss knows Rhino squad questions his reasoning for bringing Matthew Kane into the group. But Voss has a sneaking suspicion this new guy just might prove to be Rhino squad's most valuable asset in its battle against the Strogg.

Lieutenant Voss got his name because it rhymes with "boss." -- EB

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Master Sergeant Marian Bidwell
Age: 28
Born: La Grange Point, Space Station McKinley
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 190

Master Sergeant Marian Bidwell was born in space and plans on dying in space. Both his parents were Marines for life, and he intends to do the same. He supplied falsified documents in order to join the Corps while still two years under the legal age limit. He's seen more war and death than most men twice his age, but Bidwell still loves the Marine Corps and all its traditions. The master sergeant can be extremely brutal during training. He knows the only way a Marine is going to survive under enemy fire is to train under extreme duress. More than a few Marines have been severely injured during exercises, but Bidwell will never lessen the training. Rhino squad is too important to allow anyone but the absolute best out onto the field.

Master Sergeant Marion Bidwell needed a less-than-tough first name to balance out his no-nonsense attitude. It had to be something no one in the squad would dare call him to his face. -- EB

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Lance Corporal Nikolai "Sledge" Sledjonovitch
Heavy Weapons
Age: 25
Born: St. Petersburg, Russia
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 240

The son of a former Russian Olympic weightlifter, Nikolai was raised on a farm where he spent most of his childhood doing intense physical labor. He eventually grew to dwarf even his father's huge physique. While his family had expected him to go to college to study chemical engineering, Nikolai surprised everyone by choosing to join the Marine Corps. After his first two days in boot camp, he was given the nickname “Sledge"--a moniker that has stuck with him ever since. Soft-spoken and a man of few words, Sledge is a welcome addition to Rhino squad. He can easily handle equipment that would normally take two men to lift. His strength has become the stuff of legend--Sledge is the only human who has fought a Strogg hand-to-hand and won. Admittedly, he required three weeks in a hospital afterward.

Sledjonovitch received his name because it was easy to get the nickname "Sledge" out of it. -- EB

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Corporal Alejandro "Alex" Cortez
Age: 22
Born: Mexico City, Mexico
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 145

Growing up on his family's ranch, Cortez took to guns while very young. His father still brags about how, at the age of 8, Alejandro could kill a jackrabbit from 150 yards out. After his sister was killed during the first Strogg attack on Earth, Cortez joined the Marine Corps determined to have his revenge. Extremely cool in a firefight, he has a way of getting to vantage points no one else can find. Silent as darkness and swift as the hand of death, Cortez was assigned to Rhino squad after he single-handedly defended a communications outpost armed only with a depleted pistol--14 rounds against 14 Strogg--and at the end of the fight he still had one round left.

Cortez is an homage to Robert Rodriguez, the director of movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, and the Spy Kids series, where the family is named Cortez. -- EB

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PFC Jeremiah Anderson
Age: 19
Born: Chicago, Illinois
Height: 6'
Weight: 150

Anderson is the youngest member of Rhino squad even though he's been with them for more than a year. Coming from an affluent family in Chicago, Jeremiah could have easily used his grandfather, General Anderson, to avert serving on the front lines. Instead, he requested to be a part of Rhino squad, hoping to always be in the thick of the action. When Master Sergeant Bidwell heard a general got Anderson assigned to the squad, he made it just that much harder on Jeremiah. Much to Bidwell's surprise, Anderson thrived under the stressful conditions. Although Jeremiah considers himself a healer, he isn't afraid of using a gun, and with his knowledge of Strogg physiology, he is an expert at stopping the enemy with a minimum of shots.

Anderson seemed like an average American kid. -- EB

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Corporal Dell Morris
Age: 24
Born: Toronto, Canada
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 175

Corporal Dell Morris has been with Rhino squad for more than three years, which makes him second in seniority only to Sergeant Bidwell. He is highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat, having achieved black belts in tae kwon do, jeet kune do, and aikido. Gifted with a quick wit and boundless energy, Morris likes nothing better than to give a running commentary as he mows down Strogg. While his chatter can be a bit trying on his squadmates, Morris is a complete professional in a firefight. The team has come to look to him for guidance when the lieutenant or master sergeant aren't around.

Morris seemed like the name of someone who could think on his feet. -- EB

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Corporal Johann Strauss
Tech Marine
Age: 21
Born: Düsseldorf, Germany
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 130

Johann Strauss possesses one of the most gifted minds of our age. By the time he was 4 years old, Strauss could perform complex trigonometry equations in his head. At the age of 8 he was fluent in six languages and could recite all of Shakespeare's works from memory. He was part of the research team that discovered how the Strogg used black holes to travel across the vast distances of space. He currently holds a Ph.D. in advanced computer science and in biotechnology and is one of eight people fluent in the Strogg language. In keeping with his genius status, Strauss also has a tremendous ego and can be extremely brash. He would have remained in research were it not for a run-in with General Nathaniel Hastings. Strauss insulted the general so badly that he found himself on the front lines a week after the argument. While in the field, Strauss found he excelled in working with Strogg technology. Because of his talents, he was assigned to Rhino squad. Now they receive missions deep in enemy territory that require interaction with Strogg security and computer systems.

Strauss was called Strassa for the longest time until it was discovered "strasse" is German for "street." -- EB

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Corporal William "Billy" Rhodes
Age: 25
Born: Ft. Worth, Texas
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 180

William Rhodes knew from a very early age he wanted to be a Marine. He entered the Corps as soon as he was old enough, and he quickly showed a gift for demolitions. Where anyone else would require a detailed blueprint of a structure to know where best to place a bomb, Rhodes knows instinctively where the weak points are. Be it a heavily fortified damn or a reinforced bunker, Rhodes can reduce it to rubble with a minimal amount of explosives. Hailing from Texas, Rhodes plays as hard as he works. He's been demoted twice due to altercations with MPs while out on R&R.

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