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"Leet or Lame?" by Troy H. Cheek on Oct 25, 2004
Some years ago, I stumbled across a game called Quake by id Software. (I'm not going to provide links or search engine references for you. If you don't know about the game by now, you'll never understand it anyway.) Although I liked the single player game, the online multiplayer deathmatch games were better. I had a crappy dialup connection back then, so my pings were horrible, but I was still pretty good and occasionally even won a match.
Of course, part of my good performance was not to even try to match the reflexes and low pings of the younger generation of players. I called this "strategy." Said younger generation of players called this "cheating."
As my old college buddy Greg likes to point out, I'm old. I'm only a few years older than him, but apparently the dividing line between young and old is somewhere in those few years. Even though I'm a member of the videogame generation, I'm from the Atari wave. The early Atari wave. These Nintendo and Sony and Sega kids are younger than me, were trained on more complex and convoluted games, and have apparently been trained since birth to operate ten different controls with ten different fingers.
I was trained on a single joystick with a single fire button. I couldn't operate ten different controls at the same time if I took my shoes off. (I was going to say that I couldn't operate ten different controls at the same time if I was naked, but I figured I'd avoid the cheap joke.)
In Quake, and the later online-optimized Quakeworld, you can move forward and backwards and turn from side to side with one little cluster of controls. You can also sidestep with another set of controls. You can also twist at the waist and fire your weapon in a direction other than the one you're running in with another set of controls. You can also jump, fire weapons, and change weapons with their individual keys. Some specially modified versions of the game also had other options with special controls.
I promise not to use the word "also" for the rest of the article.
In the single player game, I'd run around using the basic movement controls with one hand and fire/switch/jump with the other. If I wanted to sidestep, I'd take my hand off the basic movement controls. If I had to shoot in a direction other than the one in which I was moving, I'd again take my hand off the basic movement controls, this time to use the mouse. This worked well enough against the mostly stationary, mostly stupid monsters in the game.
Trying this online against live opponents would quickly get me killed. For some reason they had absolutely no trouble running one way, shooting in the other, all while sidestepping around me and changing weapons on the fly.
"Learn to circlestrafe!" I was told. Apparently, that's what they call it when they circle around you, using the sidestep and turn controls, while constantly keeping you in their crosshairs.
"Learn to use the mouse!" I was told. Apparently, that's what they used to point their weapon some direction other than straight ahead, allowing them to run down a corridor while firing off rounds into each side room. Another important factor is that you can use this to fire at people running up or down steps. Firing a rocket at a person's feet is a pretty effective tactic, too.
My problem was that it took me two hands just to perform a decent circlestrafe, leaving nothing available to actually fire weapons. Using the mouse at the same time just got me hopelessly turned around, bouncing off walls and getting caught in corners. Sure, I could now hit people running up stairs, but I was having trouble hitting people standing right next to me on level ground.
I eventually re-assigned some of the keys and managed to occasionally circlestrafe. I practiced alternating firing my weapon and jumping over my opponent's incoming fire. I learned not to change the elevation of my weapon unless I really needed to.
That elevated me from "pathetic" to "loser."
So I decided to use strategy.
I realized that most of the other players were running patterns. They would run around the map, going into each room where a weapon or armor or special ability appeared, timed so that they'd get there right after it reappeared from the last time they grabbed it. They knew the maps so much better than me that I knew I'd never be able match them running patterns.
I did figure out that, in getting from Weapon "A" to Armor "B" they might have to go down long twisty corridor "C" with little cover. So I grabbed a weapon and started down the long twisty corridors heading in the opposite direction. Blam! Hey, that was easy.
That was when they started calling me a cheater. They said I was camping and somehow keeping the anti-camping measures from detecting it.
Now, I read some FAQs and had some online discussions back when I first started online gaming, so I knew what camping was defined as. Camping is when you get a good weapon, then go to a place where new/returning players appear. When they first transport in, it takes them a second before they get their bearings and run off to start their patterns. You sit in the area with your weapon pointed at that tranport spot, blast them as soon as they appear, get the point, and then return to waiting.
I never did that. It wasn't sporting. Besides, killed in this manner, the players never dropped any interesting weapons or power-ups. The game was altered at some point so that someone remaining stationary like that was detected and kicked off the server or had some other penalty inflicted on him.
However, some people expanded their personal definitions of camping to include anything other than running a complex pattern throughout the entire level like they were doing. Stick to the corridors where they weren't expecting to meet anybody? You were camping. Hang out in the armor room because you expect the armor to reappear any second now? You were camping. Circle a large central room picking up the same two pieces of armor and reloads for a single weapon, waiting for someone else's full-level pattern to bring them into range? You were camping.
And if you were camping by their personal definitions and the anti-camping measures didn't kick in, you were cheating.
I would like to point out as an aside that the only times I was ever accused of cheating was when I was winning. I could play in exactly the same manner and come in 2nd or 3rd or even dead last without so much as a whimper.
Well, I eventually outgrew Quake and Quakewold. I moved on to Quake II, then later Quake III Arena. With Quake III, id Software dropped the convoluted single player plot and just made it all deathmatch. I wasn't very good at that, as by then even the monsters were circlestrafing, jumping, and calling me a camper. Besides, with my crappy dialup and horrible pings, I wasn't much of a match for anybody.
However, I recently remembered these games, and now I have a Ultra Blazing Fast Internet connection thanks to Cardassian Cable (bringing you four -- no, five! -- sports channels!). Quake and Quakeworld didn't appear to have many players left. My Quake III Arena box was empty. If I loaned it out to you, please return it. But Quake II had many servers still in operation, and it was no trouble finding a game to join.
I still couldn't play. I was still old. Athritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy don't help, either.
After getting bloodied and beaten for two solid hours, losing game after game after game, I finally accidentally picked up a railgun just as it respawned. Turning towards the sound of approaching footsteps, I fired a shot through the doorway before turning to run. It just happened to catch the approaching player right in the face.
"Somebody's camping in the railgun room!"
"He's got an aimbot! Shot me before he could see me!"
"Catfish is cheating! Somebody call the admin and get him banned!"
Ah, the memories.
Copyright 2004 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to $mail:theview$
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|This page last updated on Oct 29, 2004 by Troy H. Cheek|