From peace loving Quaker to piece loving Quake-er by Tim Royal

From peace loving Quaker to piece loving Quake-er by Tim Royal


The boss outguns you, sending reports of your gruesome demise across the intercom system. Your wife has an incredible knack for finding your hiding spots, decimating you from behind to win the “who does the dishes” match. Little Suzy cost you thirty grand to send to pomegranate sculpting school: Now you’re victimized by her deep-rooted skill in a circling machine gun duel.

Don’t just take that rampant abuse. Fight back. Quake II isn’t a game for the faint of heart or finger, but there’s plenty of ways to improve your multiplayer skills and take that coveted “Quake II Limited Edition Bronzed Corn Dog” home (for your wife to polish after she loses the rematch). With a little advice and enough practice to make your thumbs picket outside your wrists for better working conditions, you’ll be a perpetual guest atop the frag count standings.

“Some Assembly Required” – Beginners tips

Beginners who’ve either never played a 3D action game online will do well to remember these basic but important tips. Players who’ve given up on multiplayer action gaming after playing the perpetual role of fluorescent orange clay pigeon will benefit as well.

First, get a keyboard, mouse, or joystick configuration that works well for you. You’ll find it eerie how players migrate towards a particular set-up that fits their style, and then defend its superiority over all other configurations. Few people find success with the joystick, but a combination of keyboard and mouse, or simply the keyboard, works well for the widest variety of Quake II players. While customizing the keys to your liking, keep in mind the necessity of quickly changing weapons, sliding left and right (an even more important consideration than turning left and right), and the critical need for targeting opponents quickly from above and below.

Next, try a little target practice in the privacy of your own server (In the multiplayer options, create your own server and join it). Start with the lowly pea shooter, officially named Blaster, or the dreaded picky Railgun. Find a crate, some protrusion of debris, or any object that you can fix your aim on, and start pelting it with blaster fire from all directions. If you feel self conscious shooting at a helpless inanimate object, simply pretend it’s wearing nothing but underwear. Now, migrate to firing and consistently striking the crate while sliding right and left. Rudimentary? Absolutely. Nonetheless, the ability to remain trained on a fixed position while jockeying left and right cements your reputation as either a raving fearsome lunatic bent on destruction or a sponge bath in training. Boring as it may sound, a solid block of time devoted to this makeshift firing range does wonders for perfecting your accuracy from all sides, above and below, while jumping or crouching, and shimmying to the sides. Translating this expertise to the online Quake II arenas should help you survive for at least a few seconds longer.

Once you feel more confident in your survival skills, it’s time to wage warfare across the Internet. Something noticeably absent in this advice is the recommendation of playing through the solo missions of Quake II. Quite simply, the difference between multiplayerQuake II and solo Quake II is as drastic a contrast as playing TIE Fighter in hopes of improving your skills in Jedi Knight. While defeating the solo game on the most difficult level is noteworthy, even commendable, it resembles the online experience in game name only. There’s no concrete step-by-step method for taking out enemies because, unlike computer AI, we exasperating humans simply refuse to follow predetermined logic hard coded into our brains.

Expect to die. A lot. A whole lot. Don’t get discouraged minutes into your first game. It’s not uncommon to spend more time dead than alive at first. If you need to pause, your best bet is to find the entrance or exit to the level (signified by its double red and green doors), and hide inside momentarily to breathe and collect your bearings. Tap the [F1] key to see who the top frag king is and to check your ping time. If ping times for you are consistently greater than 400, try a different Quake II server. Dying fair and square is painful enough: dying because lag delays your weapons fire and throws your aim off doesn’t even qualify as entertaining.

Using the right tool for the right job

Many folks erroneously envision Quake II as a typical “He / She who controls the most powerful gun… controls the game.” While initial appearances seem to reinforce this philosophy, in reality any weapon in Quake II (yes, even the wimpy pea shooter that spits yellow molten Crayons, caressing its victims for minor damage) can be as effective a killing tool as any of its peers. This fairly precise balance lends well to using weapons contextually: That is, picking a weapon capable of exploiting your environment and current situation.

Blaster – In the past, 3D action games gave newcomers to the multiplayer arena a millisecond grace period and a useless weapon to grant the weak minded individual a false sense of hope. Quake II bucks that trend a bit with the blaster, a rapid firing BB gun capable of shooting your eye out and inflicting 30 points of damage per second on unsuspecting or weakened enemy players. It maintains a medium velocity spray of fire covering a surprisingly long range, though in most cases it’s still a last resort weapon. The only exception would be when facing a Rocket Launcher manned by a neophite at medium range, or a Railgun (which requires utmost precision to target accurately). Among its other damnable features, the Blaster feels compelled to spray a long streak of fluorescent yellow trails, giving away your position and probably your life. Still, it’s a delightfully twisted treat to watch a Railgun vs. Blaster fight in progress: the ultimate clash between raw, precise power against puny, but relentless, speed.

Shotgun – If Quake II weaponry had its own lonely hearts club, the shotgun would be chairman and lone attending member. Even on its best day and only inches from its target, the shotgun will proffer a paltry 48 hits of damage per second, while taking far too long to reload. In the absence of other weapons, it’s only barely possible to recommend the Shotgun over the Blaster, since the Blaster spray seems a bit more forgiving when firing than a single Shotgun blast. Worse, those 48 points of damage require all twelve pellets to hit the target, not an easy thing unless you’re firing at a corpse or your opponent has yet to figure out what the keys with the little arrows on them are for. If there simply isn’t an alternative, maintain the standard sidestepping maneuver while keeping the enemy directly in the center of your sight. Don’t lead your target, because the shotgun pellets travel to the target almost instantaneously.

Machine Gun – As an all-purpose weapon, the machine gun adds versatile, rapid firepower to your personal arsenal. The machine gun strikes with as much intensity regardless of range, pelting victims to death at the rate of 80 points a second, both near and from afar. Accuracy takes a backseat to quantity with this weapon; more often than not, it showers the terrain surrounding your intended target with bullets as much or more than the target itself. Take advantage of the machine gun’s lack of kickback (in contrast to the solo game) to maintain constant aim directly on the target. In a middle or close range circle fight, the machine gun’s continual stream of fire not only damages your opponent, but the perpetual riddling of bullets on his or her torso wreaks havoc on aiming accuracy and psyche. The Machine Gun also facilitates firing from (and then dodging back into) cover since it has no warm up or warm down time.

Super Shotgun – Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Packing an incredible wallop, the Super Shotgun explodes for a daunting 100 points of damage at close range. One or two trigger pulls is all it takes to turn any enemy into a crimson throw rug. At medium range, this weapon lessens in impact severely (around six points of damage per pellet, spreading widely as distance to the target increases). Any distance where you can’t see the whites of your enemy’s eye pixels, and you might as well tickle a buttercup under his chin for all the damage you’ll cause. Kamikaze attacks work well with the Super Shotgun. Run up to your opponent through or around opposing firepower, blast from inches away. If your foe survives, duck or sidestep and fire again. Rarely will you need a third blast. Nose to nose fighting is a Super Shotgun wielder’s playground, narrowing the enemy’s opportunities for fighting back (without destroying himself or having too close an object to aim at). The force of impact can throw enemy aim off, while the reloading delay is offset by the momentary pause that the Super Shotgun’s impact causes your enemy.

Chain Gun – A tricky weapon to harness, the Chain Gun explodes for a ferocious barrage of bullets, ripping opponents to shreds (to the tune of around 200 points of damage per second) in record time. When this gun finds its mark on the target, the firefight is essentially over. One of its drawbacks is the excruciatingly slow warm up time. Nearly a second passes before it spins to an efficient firing speed, which is more than enough time for a Hyper Blaster or rocket launcher to deliver the hot potato of digital death to your doorstep instead of the other way around.

The Chain Gun’s inertial effects make it terribly difficult to steer around towards a moving target. Looking through your opponent’s eyes, imagine in your youth trying to dodge the lawn sprinkler head as it rotates 360 degrees. Finally, expect to eat up the entire supply of machine gun ammunition with just a single sustained burst. Never try to take out a target with less than a hundred bullets in your inventory. Running out mid-frag leaves a two second gap of helplessness while switching to an alternate weapon.

Grenade Launcher – Sounds so deadly by name, but let’s take a closer look at Grennie’s report card. Firing a single grenade per second, it has the potential to pummel opponents directly near it for a 100 points of damage. So far, so good. Give it an “A”. It hurts anyone (including yourself) within its medium radius. Still seems fine. We’ll mark it at “B+”. Now come the parent/teacher conferences, and the real dirt goes public. In reality, only a direct hit with the grenade will cause full damage. In theory, anyone silly enough to go roost atop the grenade will take the full brunt of its belated explosive potential, but even the most uninformed soul realizes what a grenade will do, and what the ticking noise means. Aiming at targets above or below with the grenade launcher presents an awkward and tricky dilemma, especially when coupled with the timing delay issues.

That said, the duties of the grenade launcher relegate it to either close range fire to hit the enemy in the face (causing the full impact to tally 100 points of damage), or as suppressive fire. If used as the former, aim the launcher towards a victim’s knees so that the natural arcing trajectory can hit the target in the torso. If you’re escaping a more heavily fortified predator, laying a trail of grenades behind you does wonders for the tormentor’s ruddy complexion and tenacity for pursuit.

Railgun – Years ago, a movie called Sniper graced (or depending on your cinematic tolerance level, disgraced) the silver screen with a short but memorable slogan: “One shot. One kill. No Exceptions.” That statement applies 150% to the Rail Gun, because if your “one shot” doesn’t net you “one kill”, you’ll be the “one killed.” As an all or nothing proposition, the Rail Gun requires absolute steadiness in targeting opponents. When it finds its target, expect to see any unarmored opponent crumble to the floor. At 100 points of damage, opponents who pause long enough to be targeted (even for an instant) will feel this blue light special gutting them from anywhere on the level. Long distance targeting actually becomes easier since at long range the evasive movements by your prey aren’t as pronounced.

Because of its precision, the Rail Gun can be sidestepped easily by a constantly moving target at medium or close range. The best course at short range is to sway sideways while moving the enemy backwards into a corner. Once pinned, its much more difficult to escape the slug emitted by the Railgun. At medium range, draw a bead on the scurrying victim and squeeze the trigger. As with the shotgun, don’t lead your target. The blue spiraling trail is for effect only , and actually lags behind the invisible slug.

Lastly, consider the psychological impact this gun has on its potential victims. There’s an unwritten respect (awe, admiration, silent irritation caused by itching and swelling… whatever the cause) for anyone who can wield the Rail Gun effectively. Suddenly, no cubby hole or lookout point feels safe, no slight pauses for breath are recommended, and a feeling of helplessness overwhelms others who can’t escape its instantaneous firepower. It is tricky, and it will take more time to learn than finishing the review lessons in “Sanskrit For Dummies”, but if you really want to make an impact on the Quake IIcommunity, this is the weapon of choice with which to do so.

Rocket Launcher – Still considered the weapon of choice by many, the rocket launcher fires a medium velocity rocket (duh) that can hurt any unlucky bystander within a moderate radius when it explodes. A direct hit on an opponent carves 100 points of damage, give or take 20 points. A surprisingly speedy rate of fire give this weapon the ability to blanket entire areas with frag producing firepower. Like a pit bull, it does leave a luminescent yellow trail, but enemies typically find themselves too preoccupied in dodging to notice the pinpointed location of its previous owner.

In long corridors or moderately sized rooms, the rocket launcher has no equal. In more open spaces, the rocket launcher’s pathetic velocity allows your target to scurry away with enough time to flip you off before dodging (or worse, line up a Railgun shot and send your stomach on a permanent smoke break). Whenever other players crowd near walls to keep their backside unexposed, aim at the walls around them to generate indirect damage. In wide open spaces, make every effort to corner victims, usually by firing rockets in both directions where they’d be struck when they sidestep. Continue to narrow the cone of fire until victim is golden brown and crispy on the edges. Serves one.

A common mistake made by new players is to aim the rockets directly at intended targets. This has the effect of causing immense damage with a direct hit, but causing no damage if it skims past the target to merrily crash into the walls far beyond. Instead, reverse the Air Force motto and “Aim low.” Steering the crosshairs towards opposing knee caps will allow stray rockets to explode much closer and still cause indirect damage.

Hyper Blaster – George Washington and George Bush gave inspiring orations on the “thousand points of light”. Well, this one shoots them out at ten a second, and they’ll probably inspire more fear than any competing emotion. The rapid firing rate, coupled with fifteen points of damage per shot, earn this gun maximum respect rom a distance. It’s not an instantaneous hit weapon, so agile opponents can do a reasonable job of sidestepping most of the cells in less constricting environments. Short range gunfights are the Hyper Blaster’s stomping grounds, since it fires up quickly (more so than the Chain Gun’s one second delay) and damages more effectively than other weapons. Another advantage is that this weapon stays relatively quiet (cells jetting past your ears sound strangely like a whisk broom rubbed against a snare drum). A curious drawback of the Hyper Blaster is its effect in slowing down the game. Since Quake II tracks each shot as a projectile, a solid stream of Hyper Blaster fire has the potential to bring the multiplayer game to its knees. Still, wielding this weapon gives players the best chance of striking targets while inflicting above average damage..

BFG – Lest you assume otherwise, BFG does not stand for “Big Furry Grape.” It’s a mean, lean, green machine designed to eliminate droves of opponents if used properly. If this weapon needed a more polite acronym exspansion than the one it has, it’d have to be “Built For Grandma.” It’s slow as molasses to warm up, slower even still for the glimmering green projectile to travel any great length, and slowest by far to reload of any weapon in your arsenal. Lest you think this tortoise suffers too much, its best to remember that it can damage the hare for over 1,000 points of damage, though not in the way you might think.

The BFG causes damage four separate ways. First, it has lasers that shoot out from it to strike nearby targets for 50 points of damage a second (roughly the same rate as your dentist). Second, any victim that contacts the actual projectile dies. Period. No trial, no jury, just green meets black meets silence. Third, the blast radius spreads 100 points of damage abroad. Finally, when the BFG projectile detonates, the program checks for unimpeded line of sight between both the detonation point to the potential victim and the firing player to the victim. If the conditions are met, expect to absorb 1000 points of damage. Hope you brought a Snickers bar.

Because of this unorthodox damage type, it’s best not to aim the gun like a normal weapon. As an alternative, send the BFG in such a direction that it strikes wall, floor, or ceiling only far enough away to avoid reciprocal damage from the blast, while keeping the victims well in view (your presence counts, too).

The Ten Qommandments

Moses never mentioned Quake II in the initial draft of the Ten Commandments. Moses is dead. Enough said. Each of these commandments has been hand picked by a judicious panel of twenty six experts (and an “Enter” key).

First, watch where you’re going to be, not where you’re going. Leisurely veering around a wall into another corridor leaves you hopelessly out of position for a quick shot if encountering an opponent. Instead, turn a corner by running up to the lip of the corner and sliding into view of what’s around the bend. By sliding with your body faced towards the new direction, you’ll have the perfect angle to pull the trigger on a (hopefully) slower reacting foe. With Quake II, the first shot almost always wins the firefight.

Second, jump purposefully. Time spent in the air equates to time spent vulnerable to the whims of any earthbound opponent. Jumping excessively or frantically will momentarily stun or distract anyone with their sights on you, but they’ll quickly learn the necessary steps to help your body auger in to terra firma sans soul. The ability to switch direction of travel and aim steadily drastically erode while airborne. In a firefight, jump only when its logical and sensible (particularly against the Railgun). The best rule of thumb is: If you’re about to jump but have no idea where you plan to land, you’re jumping illegally (and unwisely), and the Quake II police will storm the level and arrest you for jayjumping.

Let the punishment fit the time” constitutes our third commandment. While a tad paraphrased, the concept here is to use the weapon that best exploits your situation. For example, in a large arena with little or no obstruction, rarely will rockets strike an agile opponent successfully. Switch to the Hyper Blaster, Chain Gun, or if you’re feeling brave the Railgun, and you’ll have a better chance of damaging them. In long tight corridors, reverse logic advocates Rockets, Hyper Blaster, or the undocumented Stale Chicken Nuggets Launcher for maximum damage. At great distances or in bodies of water where movement is impeded, only the Railgun will do. At short range, the Super Shotgun can’t be topped. In rooms with enough space to maneuver, consider the machine or Chain Gun. Beyond location, consider the enemy. If they’re firing with a rocket launcher, a Hyper Blaster or Super Shotgun can riddle them to death if you’ve got good sidestepping abilities. If they’re using a simple Shotgun, remain at a distance (even allowing yourself to absorb the minimal damage), and line up a solid shot with your Rail Gun. Never be afraid to switch weapons based on what’s coming at you in the form of hostile projectiles.

Fourth, camp sparingly. Not because the multitude of whining voices in the alternate Quake II dimension impolitely encourage you to do so, but because it’s simply not inherently effective. By “camping” we mean snuggling into a hidden spot and waiting for an unsuspecting enemy to come along for unwilling target practice. Conceptually, it’s possible to net a few kills using this method, but the problems far outweigh the benefits. As a static entity, any sharpshooter will nail you on sight, and devoid of escape opportunities and maneuvering room, there’s little hope of surviving the confrontation. This isn’t to say that camping should be eliminated from your strategy altogether: even Thresh camped during the last three minutes of his victory match against Reptile in the PGL finals. Simply remain cautious of camping predictably or with no room to escape if your first shot doesn’t take down your intended target.

Fifth, kill your mouse speed and kill your chances. Set your mouse sensitivity as high as it can possibly be. It’ll be disorienting, confusing, even nauseating at first, but as you acclimate to a touchy mouse, you’ll hone your reflexes to react much more quickly. To flick the mouse and spin your view 180 degrees means anyone trailing you gets an instant RSVP. Few moments in life are as excruciating as watching another player’s gun come to bear while your sluggish mouse flounders into firing position just in time to stare up towards the fluffy clouds above Boot Hill.

The sixth commandment goes as follows: Rocket Jumping sounds like great fun. Don’t do it. Sure, everyone raves about how cool it is and how everyone else is doing it. Heck, it’ll amuse you greatly when you learn to jump, fire your rocket beneath you, absorb fifty points of damage, and land on some ledge that probably has an ordinary way to get to it anyhow. It’ll also amuse other players to see you take those fifty points of damage, saving them the trouble and ammo. Do yourself a mammoth favor, and just say no. Save those rockets for use on your friends instead. They’ll be sad you did.

Seventh, music masks the savage beast. This seems obvious, but many beginning to intermediate Quake II players forget how important sounds are in locating and tracking opponents. Sure, theQuake II soundtrack helps pump up those audio endorphins. Yes, it even elicits that all-powerful, throat ripping, teeth clenching angry sensation not seen on the music circuits since Glenn Miller shocked the nation with his risqué, inebriate suggesting title, Little Brown Jug. Ditch the music, and you’ll find it heightens your sense of transpiring activities around you in the game.

Eighth, duck with care. The ability to duck adds tremendous versatility to your dodging technique. Used properly, and combined with strafing (side to side movement) and purposeful jumping, you’ll transform yourself into a highly elusive target. Ducking, however, reduces your movement rate by half, slowing down movement to give your enemies a better chance of targeting you. Up close, ducking tends to surprise people, allowing an initial blast (especially with the Super Shotgun) and a follow up blast from the crouching position that emphatically levels opponents. It’s never safe to assume that ducking behind a barricade or block completely covers you from view, since many times your cowlick can remain just a touch higher than the upper ledge.

Ninth, become a Quake II travel agent. Knowing the different levels means having complete mental mapping of where you need to be, where you should never be caught at, and where important items or favorite weapons can be found. Without a shortcut for this tip, spend lots of time exploring the different maps and their intricacies. Look for crevasses. Gauge which areas promote your strengths with the different weapons, and become familiar with those portions of the level thoroughly. Visualize perfect spots to pick off opponents. Examine the lighting and lack thereof. Locate the information booths on each level in case you find yourself in an emergency situation requiring medical attention or a motorized shopping cart. With so many Quake II servers available, there’s no need to practice running through the levels and reenacting firefights. Simply get acquainted with the levels in solitude, then head out into the wilderness and hunt for some virtual bear.

Last, and more crucial than the other nine mandates combined, don’t stop moving. Crochet that memorable piece of advice into a dangling nostril bracelet two sizes too small. Scrawl it in red nail polish on the bathroom mirror (try Cover Girl Calypso Coral for richer, lasting shine). Whatever it takes, cement the concept of perpetual motion into your cerebrum. Stationary targets are the stuff Quake addicts dream of. That single hesitation, apprehension, pause for breath, or extra second spent trying to line up the “perfect shot” will cost you everything when facing any worthy opponent. As a classic example, proficient Rail Gun sharpshooters rarely miss a shot on a static target, but will often never hit a target that’s shifting to the side or in erratic directions. Even if you’re hovering near a particular position, sway side to side. Shift position every half second. Boogie, shimmy, rap, break dance, or just plain fidget if you have to, but maintain some element of motion . The only instance where this advice might require exception involves masking into a dark background, but even then it’s not a bad idea to shift locations if it doesn’t jeopardize your invisibility.

Earning Stripes: Moving your dorsal fin to bigger ponds

If competition around the local waterhole trickles away, it can only be for two reasons. Either the participants slithered away, shamed by your rapidly advancing skills, or the nursing home staff decided theQuake II server was too stressful on their patients and shut it down. In any case, it’s time to move on to bigger, more challenging ponds.

Bigger fish are rougher fish. Setting the stage for battle involves some sacrifice on the part of the player. For instance, to truly make yourself competitive, turn the gamma correction way up, till the game appears washed out and brightly rendered. Ugly? Sure, but you chose to marry her, so don’t blame us. Is the game ugly, too? Definitely, but with that washed out, brighter than pleasing screen you can view dark hidden corners and unlit areas much more clearly.

If you can survive the fish-eye look for any length of time without experiencing stomach spasms from nausea, set up your configuration by adding (either to your config.cfg file, or by tapping the tilde key to bring the console command down) the line “/cmd FOV 130”. This handy modifier sets your field of view to a much broader range than the default 90 degrees. With a wider range to view you’ll find yourself caught off guard from the peripheral areas far less frequently. It takes some time to adjust your aim and caress your innards into keeping those cookies incarcerated in your digestive jail cell, but it’s well worth considering, especially if you’re prone to surprise attacks.

Sound means everything as the skill of your opponents increases. Stealth is a learned art, not a default behavior. Almost everything inQuake II makes noise. Not just conveyor belts, elevators, and weapons fire. Those are the obvious sources. Grabbing power-ups, regenerated power-ups and weapons, jumping, running, and falling make painfully loud noise as well. In games of eight players or more on a small map, the sounds blend in so much to be irrelevant. Most of the kills in situations of high traffic deathmatches occur due to some skilled players’ inherent knowledge of levels (thereby getting the powerful weapons first), or opportunity kills as the hordes of players stumble into each other’s line of fire. Any number less, or the same number on larger maps, and the ability to discern the sounds of others becomes a critical factor.

Many people choose to toggle running to automatically do so every time they move. Don’t. Set a convenient hot key (which will be depressed 900f the time) to allow running on demand. Running makes telltale noise, but walking does not. Listen for the direction of sounds. Many times, those ambient noises reveal the general, but not specific, vicinity of other players. Key in to certain noise makers on the level that are activated by human interaction. The sound of a lift instantly narrows down possible locations to two or three. Splashing water, opening doors, a weapon or power-up being snagged, and players jumping onto crates or ledges all make distinct sounds that reveal activity.

At the same time, use the psychology of sound to either prepare an ambush for opponents or give them false audio impressions that turn the tables. Tap a lift, then jump off and wait for pursuers in the shadows. Open a door, then immediately fall back into the recesses behind. Chew gum loudly, then spit it out so they’ll trip on it and skewer themselves on their armor shards. Use rockets, which unlike the other large weapons emit a jarring sound as they travel and explode, to mask movement sounds if you’re cordoned off by opponents in a medium sized room.

While the modern scientific community would prefer to call this technique “Para-psychological military indoctrination,” we’ll choose to call the next few tips “twisted mind games”. Use sneaky tricks to keep opponents off guard and uncertain of your abilities and whereabouts. Fire a couple rounds from the lowly blaster or shotgun in the direction of a known soldier, then switch to the rocket launcher when they charge in for an apparent “easy kill.” Many doors have protruding edges around their frame, making it easy to run just inside and leap atop them to shower liquid love from your Hyper Blaster on any followers. Force the grenade launcher to earn its pay by firing a grenade into an overhang just as you enter a corridor, which will send it ricocheting backwards into any pursuers.

Lastly, apply all the advice together until its subconsciously followed. Keep unpredictable, especially when facing the same opponents. You’ll be surprised how fast they learn your quirks. Never open a door at the center. Hit the edge, trigger the opening sequence, and back up or move forward away from any lurking campers with their gun sights waiting. Frustrating as it is, make a point to play against the best: you’ll only get better. Don’t grabunnecessary power-ups, aurally giving away your position and leaving a trail for folks to follow. Begin firing the BFG and Chain Gun in anticipation of their wait times. Hold your fire if it’s obvious you won’t hit anything. Most of all, don’t stop moving.

Ye Olde Quake II Novelty Shop

Remove the brutally competitive nature of the game, the fanfare of watching loved ones crushed beneath the churning metal shards of your chain gun, and the teeth gnashing frustration of setting the perfect ambush only to be scuttled by everyone’s favorite buddy, Mr. Lag. Dissolve all that away, and you’ll find an online community devoted to Quake II that offers some astounding and creative modifications to keep the game from ever getting stale.

After the initial (and to some of the more reserved gamers, disconcerting) rush that accompanies waging online battle to the virtual death with unnamed foes, try setting up a server and inviting friends to your “party”. The process is astoundingly simple, and with utilities like ServerConfigMOD 1.6b2 beta, plenty of additional options allow players to alter the game drastically. Like to fly? Set gravity to mimic Mars. Distraught by the low firing rate of the rocket launcher? Cheer up and bump it to double its original game setting. Want something more satisfying than “Player X kills Player Y”? Stuff hilarious, insulting, demeaning, or patronizingly comforting obituaries into the message queue. All thanks to the open ended architecture of Quake II.

While twenty total conversions (i.e. brand new games based on theQuake II engine) are currently under development, and the official add-on pack awaits release, there are other enjoyable variants available. The most illustrious and entertaining Quake II MOD available has to be JailBreak, a fantastic derivative rewarding teamwork and bravado. Players divide into separate teams, similar to Capture the Flag. Dying sends you into a prison cell with other comrades who didn’t look both ways before crossing. It’s up to your teammates to storm the fortress and hit the designated trigger, unlocking the doors and setting you free to escape and rejoin the fray.

Teamwork brings with it its own advantages and disadvantages. Working together sounds easy, but without a way to communicate securely with your members (a feature pending in most MODs), its tough to stay in sync. If you’re working with the same group, use keywords or special phrases to send status information (some folks simply select a word that starts with ‘a’ to signify they’re being attacked, or ‘b’ for return to base). Share the wealth in respects to power-ups, especially when its easy to automatically go for the spawned items after hours of deathmatch play. Make a point to split up in opposite directions against a single opponent, creating a nasty crossfire and no safety for the enemy player’s backside. Nothing frightens a ragtag, disorganized group more than a team of enemy soldiers working as single unit, covering each other’s movements. Team play breeds numerous opportunities to create diversionary tactics while one or two teammates use their stealth techniques (walking, no jumping, slipping past noisy power-ups, etc) to sneak up on unsuspecting members of the opposing team.

If you’re bent more towards the creative side of life, take a look at level design. Now that it’s reasonably simple to create levels, more and more individuals are finding it as entertaining to build levels as it is to fight in them. Arguably, the best ones available are the $29QOOLE shareware package and the retail Deathmatch Maker 2.

Another favorite activity when away from the butt end of Quake II‘s weapons involves skins, bitmaps that make you look different in the game. Though especially popular for clans, a host of different faces, male and female, are freely downloadable off the Internet to personalize the way you look to others. Just do yourself a mammoth favor and avoid the bright red Santa Claus skin.

It’s stunning to walk into the world of Quake II to experience a living thriving universe of activity, both in the game and from the flurry of development to keep the game continually fresh and exciting. It does get nasty, particularly on high traffic servers, but in general the hype about delinquent prepubescent behavior (by folks of all ages) exceeds the reality of the frequency of such conduct. Beyond the proverbial side streets and seedy back alleys, there’s a ton of value and enjoyment available. Statistically, under 100f all advice and teaching is ever retained. Make sure that fraction of information absorbed from this article includes the most important tip: don’t stop moving. The first time you sidestep randomly just as a Railgun slug flies by out of nowhere, whizzing past you into the sofa where Simkin your three-legged kitten likes (er, liked) to snooze, you’ll be glad you did.

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