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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | From the Hardcore Side - 7/7/00
   

From the Hardcore Side
There are people who play Quake, and then there are people who live and breathe it. In "From the Hardcore Side", a new semi-regular feature at PQ, Pappy-R brings all his hardcore gaming experience to you and talks about what's going on in the hardcore scene today.
  — by Pappy-R


Teamplay Strategies, Part II

As I promised, we're going to be taking teamplay strategies and ripping into them so clans new and old can get something out of the following installments of the Hardcore Side. This week I've asked Dave "Charger" Wilson to play with us here. Charger is one of the most intense team strategy builders I've met in the Quake community, and I've known him for a few years to boot. In the four different clans we have been in together, he's taken and been handed the role of team strategist due to his need to break levels and teams into their component parts, and put them back together in a way that makes level control a thing of beauty. You would have heard of Charger sooner since he's written strats pages for each quake, and in volumes, but every team that uses them considers them secrets and they keep them close to the team. Due to what he has to share, this segment is going to be cut into multiple postings. Now let's get into it.

Note: If you're very new to the following teamplay topic, you may want to read last week's Hardcore Side first to get more familiar with some ideas and topics. It's short, so no worries.

Pappy-R: I know almost to the day how long you have been designing strats for quake games, but I think we should let everybody know just how "into" it you are. How long have you been doing it?

Charger: Well, I started playing Quake in my first year of university in 1996. Pretty much right off the bat I've had a love for teamplay and spent countless hours learning every aspect of the maps, from spawn points and camping spots to game flow and control. Basically if it was on the map or could be done in the map I tried to make it my business to know about it.

Pappy-R: This may seem like an obvious question, but to make a point for some readers that have mailed me asking the importance of certain aspects, how important is knowing the level inside and out? And about how long does it take (time spent per level) to get to know a map that intimately?

Charger: I'd have to say that knowing the map is one of the most important factors in teamplay. Teamplay (really advanced teamplay) is all about knowing more then your opponent. Knowing the spawns and the most used routes to certain locations can mean a world of difference. Things like knowing how long it takes to get from one area of the map to another and where ammo is located and of course weapons are important to your team. Map knowledge (knowing every aspect of the maps) really needs to be taken into consideration when designing strategies. For example, Q3DM6 (Camping Grounds) is one of the maps used for 4 on 4 teamplay in online tourneys. A clan should know that there are only 10 spawns on that map and 5 of those 10 are located on the bottom level, with only 1 spawn on the top level. Information like this can really change the way you view/play a map. Learning a map is an on going process, every time I think I know everything there is to know I find something new. But, to get good knowledge of weapon, health, ammo and spawn locations really can be done rather quickly. It's a matter of starting a process: find all the bullets on the level and continue until finished with ammo, then note all the weapon locations, health and spawns. Health and spawns should really be looked into carefully, often health and spawns can play an important role in a teamgame. Be sure to know the location of any and all armor, weather it be shards or Red Armor (RA).

Pappy-R Ok, Lets play a little game. This is where I give you an imaginary task and you get to write for an hour and a half while I go and play some Q3A. I'll give you 3 guys who move well, shoot with reasonable accuracy, and are more than willing to learn. Start with the basics of teamplay and build a team that could compete online in ladders with some success.

Charger This is going to take awhile. ;]

1. Never assume you know it all.

One of the biggest weaknesses of clans is their ability to over estimate their abilities and knowledge. Players and clans are constantly trying to improve on their play and strategies. Thus, this is really an on going learning experience and veteran clans could stand to listen to a little recap.

2. Learn the maps in and out.

I talked a little bit about this already, but knowing more then your opponent in any given sport will give you a competitive advantage. I'd suggest they concenrate their efforts on maps that are widely played in teamplay tournaments, those being the TMP versions of Q3DM6, Q3DM7, Q3DM12 & Q3DM14 (at least that has been my experience). Before you can even think of making a plan you really need to know all the aspects of the map; how can you make a fully informed plan if you don't know all the information? You can't. ;] and that will lead to easily exploitable strategies. There are a number of things you need to be looking for. Spawns - How many spawns are on the map? How are they distributed through out the map? Is there a particular spot that has more spawns then any other area of the map? How best can you control and take advantage of this information? To provide a little insight to that last question, if your team has quad and a particular area of the map has a high number of spawns relative to the rest of the map, odds are they will be able to get more spawn frags in that area. Also remember that a newly spawned player is the second easiest thing to frag. Why second? Well because they spawn with 125 health and machinegun ammo. The easiest being that same spawn that hasn't been touched for 25 seconds and has not managed to pick up a weapon or armor, thus only 100 health and less machine gun ammo.

Ammo, health, armor, weapons and power-ups - know the location and amounts of these on any given map. It will help you to know if you need to watch your ammo and share health. Armor is often seen as key in team games, the idea being that the team with more armor will live longer in battles (unless vastly out-skilled). For power-ups, the clan should know that the opening spawn of some power-ups is random between roughly 30 seconds to 60 seconds. They must know the timing of the power-ups; for example, Q3DM7 - mega respawn is 35 seconds, Quad respawn is 2 mins. You should be especially aware of power-ups on maps as they often can turn the tide in a team game.

Identify key items and areas. This is the most important part of your map knowledge quest. Identifying the key items and areas on the map is the starting point of a strategy. Obviously if an area of the map holds a few of the different controllable items such as talked about above, it may just be a key location and provide a strategic advantage to maintain control over that area. Thus you will need a little bit of experience to know what items are in most demand in levels, but often they are power-ups, armor and powerful weapons such as the Rocket Launcher (RL) and Railgun (RAIL). Also know that due to respawn times it may not be an advantage to hold an area that just has a power-up and not much else. In those situations it may be better to time the power-up.

Determine the map "norms". By this I mean that often there are certain things that always happen or happen 90% of the time. Things like, how do enemies react? Is there a pattern? Often a team will fall into a single attack plan, especially when they are not in control of the map. If you can identify what your enemy does early in the game you can adapt to it and turn it against them. This can really only be done by watching demos and playing games it comes with experience.


Next: communication and specific strategies



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