The Challenge Pro Mode (CPM) project was created by Richard 'Hoony' Sandlant in May 1999 (when the 'Q3test' was released) after he realised that Quake 3 Arena was going to have a lot of "newbie-friendly" features and after John Carmack admitted a more challenging version might be better for professional gamers (which is where the name "pro mode" came from).
The Challenge Pro Mode's goals were, first and foremost, to make a more exciting and challenging game to play and we hoped that this would help advance Q3 into a professional sport. Along the way we made a choice between making only small conservative changes to Q3A, and making the changes that our design team recommended. We took the path of making the changes that our design team felt were necessary.
Our approach was to form an international project team and to separate "Design" from "Programming". While the programming team might have input into the design process they didn't make final design decisions - that was left to a team of experienced Quake players who tested changes using a "tweaks" mod. The design team consisted of players with a mix of competitive experience across Q1, Q2, Q3 and even UT.
Before the design team began their work we asked the community to 'brainstorm' a list (called the "candidates list") of all the possible changes they would like to see (some were contradictory). We also asked noted commentators (pundits) in the community what they thought might be best. The designers took note of all of these suggestions, and used a long process of tweaking and testing to develop the Challenge Pro Mode design. The team released two public betas of their work for feedback and input from the community.
And that is pretty much how the project team has worked ever since. The result is a gameplay design which we think is "finely tuned".
As the work progressed, the Challenge Pro Mode team expanded to include many mappers, programmers, and talented people, but the biggest development was undoubtedly when Kevin 'arQon' Blenkinsopp added 'Multi-Arena' functionality in 2001.
Challenge Pro Mode became 'Challenge Pro Mode Arena' (CPMA) and arQon became the project's Lead Programmer, spending an enormous amount of time to turn CPMA into the most advanced FPS competition mod of it's type in the world.
The number of active players who play CPMA competitively has never been huge, but the number of people who have downloaded the mod is VERY large - close to 200,000 downloads at the time of writing, although there are overlaps due to new versions being released. A better indicator is probably the number of downloads on CHTV of CPM Map Packs - around 30,000. Another indicator is the popularity of CPMA demos and the number of CPMA competitions - there have been 2 or 3 'significant' CPMA competitions each year (in the US and EU) and CPMA demos are widely acknowledged (even by gamers who don't play CPM) to be among the most exciting 'Quake' demos around.
As we go forward into an uncertain future (with DOOM3 and Quake 4 looking to be slower, more 'realistic' games) it is great to have 'our own game' to play around with. Thanks largely to arQon listening closely to the community and working on adding great features, the mod is really advanced now, truly worthy of its name: 'pro mode'. It is great to see an active mapping community constantly seeking feedback on new maps designed for competitive play using CPMA. It's also well worth it when the most talented CPMA players compete and new demos are released for all to enjoy.
Given that the playability of CPMA is actually increasing as computers become more and more capable of rendering the game at high FPS, and given the fact that QW is still played competitively and beloved by Quake players all over the world, the CPMA team feel that there are a few more good years left in CPMA and we recommend that - if you want a real challenge - you give it a try.
Date written: August 2002.