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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Classic PQ | QuakeCon & M3: a Look Back
    QuakeCon & M3: a Look Back

Some Observations

By Dweomer

A Ton of Work & Effort

It is worth mentioning before I share my observations that the amount of effort and work that goes into pulling something like QuakeCon off is immense. I got to see first-hand at M3 that those involved in making sure ample power is available, networks are working, and tournaments are running well have to deal with a lot of work, some stress, and very little sleep. Doubt it? Ask Polish and the gang from QuakeCon how much actual Quake they played.

QuakeCon & M3: a Look Back - by dweomer

Large LAN parties are a strange and wondrous thing. You never really know how they will turn out, and it isn't till you take a look back afterwards that you can really see what worked, and what didn't. Of course, my opinions about what worked and what didn't might differ from yours, but that didn't stop me from writing this article.

Atmosphere

Anyone who attended both QuakeCon and M3 will tell you that the two events had very different feels to them. At both parties the official word on computer speakers was that due to power constraints they weren't allowed. The thing is, at M3 everyone made a respectful nod toward the official word and blithely ignored it. While it aggravated the power problems to some extent, overall this was a very good thing.

M3 was characterized by constant noise emanating from the main room. As you approached the main room - sounds of killing, dying, and triumphant shouting reaching your ears - you knew something exciting was going on. Another nice thing about the speakers was there was music, players were playing CD's on their CD-ROM's and one enterprising player went so far as to bring along a large stereo system which was loud enough to provide music for half the room. The constant din of deathmatching, music, and players shouting to be heard gave M3 an energy that was exciting just to be around.

The situation at QuakeCon didn't lend itself well to that. As it was hosted in a hotel, we were required to be more quiet - and indeed, very few speakers were used. Given what deathmatch is all about (fighting, killing, being killed, and generally smacking the other player around), it was an odd thing to walk into a room with hundreds of computers and have it be fairly quiet. The rows upon rows of computers with players sitting quietly playing with headphones on seemed at times more like a university computer lab than a deathmatch arena. Unfortunately, there was little anybody could do about it, the organizers had to keep the Holiday Inn happy.

"Shhh.... they're playing Quake!"

However, I think at times the efforts taken to keep things quiet were a little extreme, particularly during the finals of the tournament. The finals of the tournaments at M3 saw dozens of people standing around the two contestants talking, yelling, ooohing and aaahing! The finals of the tournament at QuakeCon were a lot like ... golf. It was deathly quiet, and the audience clapped politely and murmured their appreciation when a particularly well placed grenade shot happened to land on the green. I know there was a lot riding on those final matches, but isn't deathmatch supposed to be exciting?

BYOC

The advent of LAN parties has spawned a new acronym: BYOC - bring your own computer. For those who were able to bring computers to QuakeCon, it was heaven. For those who didn't, let's just say it wasn't. At M3 the policy was that if you left your computer on and in Quake, it was ok for other people to use it while you were away. It was encouraging to see how many people we're willing to share their workstations with others, and there was only one (minor) report of a computer having been tampered with.

I'm not sure what happened at QuakeCon. Either the policy about using other people's computers was not clearly communicated, or the policy was "hands off!" Whatever the reason, it was not an uncommon site to see people standing around wishing they had a computer to play on - while fifty to a hundred computers sat idle or turned off. It was difficult for people who had to fly in to bring their own computers, and I think a little bit more effort could have been made to share.

Rooms: Parties, Sleep, Showers, and LANs?

One of the really nice things about QuakeCon was that everyone had beds to sleep in, and showers to clean up in. M3 was more of a camp-out, and by the last day the main room was fragrant. But for the love all things hygienic, why was QuakeCon just as fragrant?! Put down your rocket launcher and shower up!

The rooms also lent themselves rather well to the throwing of parties, and taking breaks from the action in the main room. Many a good time was had by attendees wandering the halls of the Holiday Inn, and just stopping in on other room parties, meeting new friends, and having a good time! Being comfortable partying with people you didn't know was great to see, it really showed a sense of community - or was everyone just really drunk?

Several rooms also setup private 4 computer LANs for deathmatching. This sounds kind of cool, but think about it. You flew or drove hundreds of miles to come to biggest LAN party in Quake history (so far?), why on earth would you limit yourself to 4 person deathmatch when there were many 16 player games being played downstairs? (BTW, 16 players on DM4 is a very interesting thing to watch. When the players first entered the game there was this rumble of telefragging that went on until the top player had 17 frags - without ever shooting a shell!)

Seminars & Demos

QuakeCon added a nice touch to the standard LAN party by holding seminars, and showing demos of upcoming games (something that was missing from M3). It was very cool to see Hexen 2, Sin, the H3D goggles, and Daikatana (during the Centaur Interactive party). Also, QuakeCon debuted a patch by Razor that adds crouching to Quake, and makes it so you can see what weapon your opponents are carrying. At the Ion Storm party there was a preview showing of the much-touted, and as-yet unfinished Ranger Gone Bad 3. There were also cool seminars led by the likes of John Carmack, Paul Steed, Zanshin of the GLQuake Dojo, and Zoid & Morbid talked about QuakeWorld, as well as some others.

Until next time . . .

For the record, I really enjoyed both QuakeCon and M3. I just thought the differences between the two events were interesting (hence this article). Somewhere in between the two events lies Quake heaven. I guess we'll have to commit ourselves to the onerous task of having another LAN party, and another, and another . . . until we get it right - and even if we never do we'll have a lot of fun trying!

Finances and time willing, I'll see you at the next LAN party.

-dweomer

Have anything to add? Disagree? Send your comments to PlanetQuake and we'll post the interesting ones in our mailbag section.

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