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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | The Gauntlet: Teamplay v. Free-For-All

The Gauntlet
Are you a team player or do you not play well with the other kids? Spyke and Lee'Mon fight it out in this week's Gauntlet.
  — by Lee'Mon and Spyke

Welcome to the "The Gauntlet"! They say that there are two sides to every argument, and the debates within the Quake community are no exception. That's why we created "The Gauntlet".

Our top two PlanetQuake staff writers, Spyke and Lee'Mon, often find themselves on opposite sides of an argument. We could have them each post their own editorial, but PQ readers have let us know what they really want: bloody combat!

So, we squared the two off in a custom arena, and let them use whatever facts, opinions, arguments, and insults necessary to make their point. Then we let you, the readers, decide the outcome! So watch and read as these two enter the battle royal, and vote on which side you agree with!

This week's topic: The Mission Pack madness continues. Spyke continues to live up to his "I Frag Alone" moniker by admonishing the Mission Pack's focus on teamplay. Lee'Mon, on the other hand, welcomes id's attempt to turn Q3A into an excellent team-building game. The argument has escalated, and the two now find themselves in a full-blown argument about teamplay in general. So stand back, because it's Teamplay vs. Free-For-All, and it's gonna get messy.

Lee'Mon: First off, judging by a couple of emails, some messageboard posts, and this article at the 6th Floor, Spyke's claims of a Columbine map were sorely mistaken. The map in question is not Columbine, was made before the shooting, and happens to be a fairly well-liked map amongst Action Quake2 fans. So, before we go into Rant Mode, Spyke here will first go into Retraction Mode. Take it away, Spyke!

Spyke: In last week's Gauntlet, I made some statements that have turned out to be completely false and harmful in nature. I'd like to say I'm the victim of misinformation, but unfortunately I'm the victim of ignorance in this case. Thus, I would like to apologize to anyone I have offended with my statements, and retract those statements, which I do now wholly regret making. Thanks for understanding.

Lee'Mon: I'd like to thank the readers that pointed this out, as well as the AQ fans that pulled in enough votes for me to once again reign victorious. Anyhow, enough with the apologies. It's time to rant!

Has anyone not figured out my first impressions of the Q3A Mission Pack? id has the potential to take the Q3A engine and develop a completely new team-based game around it. While that's probably not quite what's going to happen (most of the weapons will likely stay, for example), I'm anticipating an excellent pack. Q3A's graphics combined with some real teamplay... it's a match made in heaven.

Now, teamplay's a game mode that's closer to my heart. But I've got a feeling Mr. Renegade is a bit more of a loner. So, I'll give him a chance to persuade to you that teamplay is useless. [snort]

Spyke: Useless, I tell you.

Let's start by taking a look at id Software. More importantly, the name "id Software". Most specifically, the word "id". The id is the part of the human psyche that Freud theorized contains the most primal urges of man. Man, by instinct, is a loner. The phrase "every man for himself" is not uncommon. Thus, we must presume that within the id of every man is the instinct to go about something by one's self.

Now, let's relate this to gaming. Again, we look at id Software. Beginning with Doom, we had deathmatch. A pittance of man vs. man, in a free for all battle to rise to the top. Sure, we had co-op, but that didn't pit teams vs. each other. Even in Quake, id focused on deathmatch. Until mods, everyone played DM. But Quake marked the emergence of teamplay.

I don't like teamplay; I've had that established for a while. I don't like having to depend upon others to help me win. I don't want to have to help watch someone's back. I want to win, and I want to win by myself. If I lose, I lost by myself; I didn't have someone else dragging me down. I guess it's a dignity thing.

Lee'Mon: No, it's a trust thing. Weren't you ever taught that "united we stand, divided we fall"? I'd make a joke about intimacy issues, but I believe I just did.

ManKIND, by instinct, only desires food, clothing, and shelter. However, mankind has grown, evolved, and developed a social structure. We have organized into groups, and in the context of war, we have fought together, in an organized fashion.

I hate to bring back the same argument I used last week, but some players have just desired more than a free-for-all. They're tired of the solitary feel of multiplayer and the Internet in general. If I want to feel like it's me against the world, I'll play single-player. If I want to feel like the other faces out there are actual people, I'll look for teamplay.

Spyke: There's another problem with teamplay. The "actual people" part of it. In my experiences playing pickup games of both team DM and CTF, many people can be megalomaniacal, ordering you around like they were God, or completely lackadaisical, sitting around doing nothing, hiding in a corner somewhere. People's personalities in real life extend to the net, and if they're tyrants in real life, they'll be tyrants online, and so on.

In addition, if the "actual people" you're looking to play with happen to be your friends or a clan, you're stuck with waiting on them if you want to play. I don't know about you, but if I were wanting to play with my friends, I definitely wouldn't want to be waiting on them. When I want to play, I want to play now, and FFA offers me that chance.

Whaddya know, here's another thing! Joining teams in the middle of a game is awkward. Sometimes you don't know if they want you to join in or not, and in many cases it's hard to catch up. The same is true for free-for-all, but it's definitely easier because of the short-lived nature of the game.

Lee'Mon: Always gotta win by the numbers, eh? Personally, I've had plenty of fun jumping in on pickup games with five minutes left, joining the losing team, and trying desperately to bring back some sense of defense to the home base, even if it's to no avail. Why? Because those occasional times that I can be the deciding factor, the one who swings it around for my team, I get a sense of satisfaction I've never gotten from FFA... ever.

You find just as many arses in teamplay as you do in FFA. Your only contentment is that the other team has just as many of them. Most people can deal with the overly bossy "leaders" and the corner-sitters, but strangely enough, the players that are the most annoying are the ones that act like they're playing a friggin' Free-For-All.

Spyke: Well obviously those people are poor souls who have been misled by the evil people who play team games. Liberate our lost brethren!

So you have fun losing? That's a new one. But again, I like doing things for myself, by myself, and when I win, I get the satisfaction that my mad skizzles have helped me achieve this. Not someone else's skizzles, mine. And if I lose, there's no one I can blame but myself. Not that idiot who mindlessly fired grenades into a small room, not the guy who sat in the corner the whole time, me. I look out for number one.

And this, my friend, is why I think FFA games are superior to team games. They require fast action and adrenaline, not slow careful planning. They emphasize the id, rather than the superego team games demand. They're fast.

Lee'Mon: I heard the exact same argument when Q2 came out. Old-school Quakers felt that fast action and adrenaline was superior to strategy and planning. Well, that's not entirely the case. Strategy and action aren't better than one another. They're just different.

A great deal of players have craved more than the pure adrenaline action of FFA. They want to try and put the community of gamers to a bit of use, and act together as socialized people (context of the game nonwithstanding.) Sure, Americans tend to emphasize the individual, but most other countries recognize the importance of a group effort.

So, let's see... team players prefer the mind-stretching strategy of team games, along with the socialization of a group of players working together. Whereas FFA has... umm... help me out here...

Spyke: The triumph of an individual showcasing the skills of one compared to another, whereas teams can easily be unbalanced. FFA has players reacting quickly to rapidly moving opponents, and worrying about everyone, not just the players on the other team.

So in short, FFA = one-man pw33ning army, fast action, not having to fret over teammates' faults. Care to wrap things up on your end?

Lee'Mon: Teamplay = Intense strategy, the camraderie of teammates, the thrill of being something larger than just you... and plenty of action to spare.

Well, we're at a deadlock here. Guess people should just play what they like the best. If you've only fragged alone, go ahead and try teamplay. If you can find some friends to team up with you, so much the better. But if it's not your cup of tea(m), you can just go frag yourself. ;^)

Spyke: Man, that was just a bad pun. I think you must now forfeit.

Um.. what can I say.. Real men frag alone? Just think of all those great action movies where the hero doesn't cooperate with anyone! That's what FFA is like! Vote for me!

Lee'Mon: Heh... you'd love for me to forfeit. Shall we leave this one in the hands of the fans?

Spyke: Alas, I fear we must. (Spyke slips the readers $20 each)

Lee'Mon: Guess you gotta go with your strengths...

Spyke trusts no one!

Lee'Mon refuses to go out for groceries without a Demoman and Pyro for backup.

What's Your Opinion?

Which way do you swing?

Free-For-All! No one must stand in the way of my personal victory!

Teamplay! The next best thing to shooting rockets out of your back!



Have a hot topic for the next debate? Let us know at!

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