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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | June 29, 2002
   

PQ Mailbag

Yet Another Weekly Mailbag (TM)

Another batch of email fed to Dire Hamster. This week we're covering the deathmatch vs teamplay debate, graphics and game purchasing, and a host of other letters that were possibly written by brain-damaged monkeys! I can hardly wait!


Feedback - the Gauntlet

I can't say I was astounded by the volume of mail the Gauntlet F4nt0m45 and I whipped up to fuel the ancient "FFA vs teamplay" debate. There was some, though. So let's, as they say, get it on.


From: Jeff Brown
Subject: FFA vs. Team play

Well, having been retired from netplay for the past few years (due to an internet connection as slow as most glaciers), I must say that I've missed out on a lot of playing with real people instead of the bots that come with a lot of the newer games. However, I do go back far enough to remember the glory days of playing Team Fortress and Squake (Super Quake for the uninitiated, an FFA) for Q1 during my first two years of college away from home. And I must admit, I usually had more fun on the FFA mods. Sure, team play had its benefits at times, but for the most part, it was always a matter of finding my niche on the team after every game had ended. I'd frantically look to see what the team needed as far as support. If they were weak on defense, I picked class A, but if they needed offense, I went for B, etc...

Then there was the matter of trying to initiate game plans with a bunch of strangers, finding your place in the chain of command, and trying to type out orders/warnings without ending up a fine red spray on the wall. Some of the recent reality based mods I've played recently with the bots are so slow action wise, and it's so easy to end up killed, that it's usually not worth the time or effort to download the +100 meg files in the first place.

However, with the FFA, it's usually a matter of orienting yourself to a specific map. Then, once you've got an idea of where your choice equipment is located, you're already a step ahead. Excuse me while I revel in the glory days as one of Thomas Jefferson Hall's third floor Quake Hermits, but our FFA matches were always faster moving and often resulted in 1-on-1 mini duels amidst the larger scuffle. I enjoyed the fact that personal skill had more say in the outcome of the match. It was nice knowing that you could charge after an enemy and not wind up running into the rest of the team as you rounded a corner. Everyone was on their own, and there was no worries about the crazy teammate destroying you instead of covering your flank. You expected the other guy to blast you whenever they got the chance.

Granted, my memories are colored by more private FFA servers and public TF servers, but I always found it hard to follow the movements of others. The simple joy of the hunt, kill or be killed is what drove me to play online. Even on the few public FFA servers I played on, it was all a matter of primal instinct, not assaulting a guarded base.

This is not to say that some don't revel in the strategy that team play may bring, but for those of us who prefer our prowling solo and not worrying about how to take out the flag guard, FFA brought that feeling of pleasure that being endlessly sniped by the other team's fortified defenders could never could. I prefer facing down two rogue players that would just assume blast each other as to take me out than charging forward into battle against a team dug in inside their base. Perhaps it's personality, perhaps it's merely the experiences I had in my youth, but damnit, 1-on-1 is for me.

_____________________________
"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

-The King of Hearts, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll

Dire Hamster: Well, one of the nice things about teamplay, class-based teamplay, at least, is that there's something for every player - the HPBs can still play a part in the game (albeit a fairly boring one) healing teammates, or building sentry cannons. Those with a better ping can play flag runners, or snipers. Stupid players who suck at the game can just spam proxy grenades, and hope someone is stupid enough to run through them, then switch teams as soon as their team starts to fall behind. I'd definately agree though, that team games are better with your friends.

a madman: If I'm on a LAN I usually end up playing team games, if for no other reason than because my friends are all CTF fans and they hate losing to me in DM anyway. It's not so much that I'm bragging as it is that my friends aren't that great at the game. Still, I prefer FFA if I don't have anyone in the room I can order around. Planning any kind of strategy by typing is pointless - it's obsolete by the time you hit enter.

So, I usually don't even bother in a public server. It's not like the jerks on my team are trying any harder, or the people on the other team are going to get organized either. Thus, I tend to fill that vital role in public CTF servers of "the jerk that treats the game like it's a FFA match." I see it as a valuable contribution - if the entire enemy team is pissed off and trying to kill ME, they're not nearly as likely to kill some other guy that just wants to run in and grab the flag without making it personal. Still, this style of gameplay does lend itself well to the prowling that Jeff and I both enjoy.

Dire Hamster: So, just to clarify - when you say you treat the game like a FFA, are you saying you indiscriminately shoot anything that moves, or do you just try to rack up as many frags as possible?

a madman: I said I was a jerk, not an asshole.


From: Hedhunta
Subject: teamplay vs dm

i really cant get into dm, its too simple, and i just cant get the same rush as i get from wasting half the enemy team on the way out of their base narrowly escaping death while my teamates mop up whoever i didnt kill..

-Hedhunta

a madman: You want brain surgery, play Life and Death 2. You want to kill half an hour without wondering if your teammates have figured out which mouse button fires the gun, play FFA. Sometimes a little anti-intellectual violence is just what you need after a long day at work.

Dire Hamster: Not that you have any experience with that. You have about the only job I know of where you can show up in your underwear, reeking of bourbon, and not get fired.

a madman: Speaking of which, you should see our staff meetings!

Dire Hamster: Also speaking of which, remind me not to mix vodka and Diet Dr Pepper again... again.

a madman: I thought you learned your lesson the third time. Now were you planning on responding to the letter at any time, or are you hoping our witty banter will fool the readers?

Dire Hamster: It's worked so far, hasn't it?


Questions and Answers

We write the questions, you write the answers. Last week it was pretty simple - "Are graphics a major factor in your game purchases?" So... let's find out.


From: Deathgiver
Subject: re: Are graphics a major factor in your game purchases?

Graphics are a major factor for me when I buy a game, especially since about a year ago I bought a PS2 just so I could play the games of the so-called "future". I bought a ps2 because our computer was out of date and I knew we wouldn't be getting anything in the future. However, four months later my dad buys a new kickin' computer. It's 800 mhz with a NVideo TNT2 graphics card with 32 ram and we have a nice 21 inch monitor. I had recently bought max payne for computer since the college I go to lets students borrow notebooks for the year. I bought max payne for the graphics but especially for the "bullet-time". Because my dad bought the new computer, I made him get me Quake 3 Arena right away just to see what the new computer could do. I already had Q1 and 2 so Q3 wasn't an entirely new experience, but I really liked the graphics.

Of course, in my spare time I have about seven different emulators just so I can play gameboy games, nintedo games, snes games, n64 games and sega games. The only thing I dislike about games now is the immersion factor. Games that make you devote 40-60 hours of your life just so you can beat the hell out of them. A friend of mine beat FF X two times in five days. He spent 150 hours of his christmas vacation playing that game. I would never want to do that! The only games I probably will never play again are the old atari games. I like to play games, but I don't like the feeling of being completely immersed into a game. It's takes the feeling of "just a game" away from it. The one thing that is most important in games is gameplay. The graphics can completely suck, the game can have no storyline, but as long as it has awesome gameplay, people will eventually play it and love it for that. A game can have the best graphics in the world, but if the gameplay lacks, no one will pla! y it.

Right now I enjoy playing games on my GBA emulator and games for my SNES emulator, and their graphics are quite a bit outdated. Long live two-dimensional characters and plots that sucked, but you have to long those graphics!

Lucas

Dire Hamster: Ok, is it just me or does this guy say one thing in one sentence and then say something completely different in the next sentence? Sometimes he doesn't even wait a sentence. First he says he cares about good graphics, then he says he bought a PS2. Then he says "a new kickin' computer," then he says a TNT2. If that's his brand of sarcasm he should be a little less subtle because right now I'm really not sure if he's sarcastic or just completely out of touch with reality.

a madman: No, take a step back and look at the letter again. He says that graphics are important in BUYING games. Stealing games, obviously, is completely different. "Doesn't matter what it looks like as long as I didn't pay for it" is the vibe I'm getting from this one.

Dire Hamster: I tell you what, though, immersion and a game that takes a really long time to beat are two completely different things. In general, I stop caring about any of the characters in a game after around 20 hours of play. At around 50 hours through a game, I wish the characters would just hurry up and die. If the game takes 90 hours to beat, well, then I wish the developers would die.

a madman: Anyway, this one still doesn't answer the question so much as it rewrites the question completely and then fails to answer that one, too. I'd say the opinion "people buy games if they have good gameplay" is nearly universally shared. At the very least, it doesn't merit a whole lot of discussion. I suppose it is the promise of new and better graphics that sell most consoles and video cards, however.

Dire Hamster: I'd say it's more accurate to say that people buy games because they have good graphics, then realize they've bought a really crappy game with good graphics.

a madman: Speaking of which, does anyone want to buy a nearly new copy of "Aquanox" for $5?

Stay tuned, because the ?otW continues on the next page.

Next: Like usual, more mail awaits!


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