PCXL Magazine October 1998: PGL Tips from the Pros or How to Make a Load of Cash Playing Quake II
When you’ve gone blurry-eyed from sitting in front of that monitor for eight straight hours, fingers unresponsive to anything but flying rockets and the sight of an enemy, you’ve got to question whether there’s a higher purpose to all that. It’s the new Wild West, the new frontier. All those rules still apply — there’s always someone out there faster than you. It’s a sad, sobering real- ization when that moment arises, but there are ways to get better. And better still, if you’re still at school and are getting berated for bad grades or that haggard look from being up til 3 a.m., there’s now a genuine response: “But folks, I’m gonna be a pro.”
As qualifying starts for the third AMD Professional Gamers’ League, the prize pot has reached $110,000. Not bad for a tin-pot idea variously ridiculed and scoffed at when it was first con- ceived. The Season 2 finals saw the eight top Quake II and the eight top Total Annihilation play- ers slug it out. For Season 3, TA has been dumped in favor of Star- Craft, but of course, it’s the Qll tourney that generates the most interest, having made a household name of Thresh (for those house- holds with a PC and Qll nstalled). Season 2 Qll winner Rosco is likely to be back to try to defend his title, but the impression from the early qualifying stages is that the competition is getting tougher.
Top players practice against top players. It’s the only way to learn the lessons that will keep you alive longer. In the practice room, mouse pads and configs are checked, re-checked, and balanced before competition. For $10 (or as part of the deal if you’re a fully paid-up TEN sub- scriber) the chance of glory and, increasingly, riches beckons. And of course, with dollar signs in our eyes and egos bubbling, PCXL had to get involved. Naturally, we thought we’d cheat.
How to get good at Quake II, PGL-style? Well, get in cahoots with the top players from the previous season, as well as some of those topping the rankings in the current qualification and hit them up for the inside scoop, promising their appearance in the finest of gaming mags. That’s what we did, all in the spirit of journalis-tic investigation.
– ROB SMITH, aka PCXL-Blade, is currently ranked 132nd in the PGL, but he does have a real job.
What’s your config choice? And do you use any specific binds or aliases?
I use the keyboard and Logitech First Mouse+ (light and precise) with a Microsoft mouse ball instead of the Logitech one (the MS ball is bigger and picks up less dust). I have mouse acceleration turned off and use a high sensitiv- ity. I also use a 3M precision mousepad. On the mouse, I have button #1 bound to shoot and the third but- ton bound to jump (I don’t use the other two).
On the keyboard, I use the stan- dard W-A-S-D for moving forward and backward and strafe left and right. I use the spacebar to crouch and go down in water. I also have V bound so I can toggle between running and walking. Walking allows you to be totally silent and not make any footstep sounds, at the cost of speed. Since you will generally always use super shotgun over shotgun, chain over machine gun, and grenade launcher over grenades, and anything else over the blaster, I rebound my keys 1-7 so I don’t have to reach across the keyboard to hit “9” for the rail gun. As a side note, if I do want to use the shot- gun instead of ssg, I need only tap 1 twice, once to switch ssg, the second to use shotgun (some weird Qll bug allows it).
I use field of vision 120 (fov), which allows me to see 30 degrees more of the battlefield. The down- side is that objects appear to be moving faster, yet I find the added viewing is worth it (plus I find fov 90 too slow). Using the fov cheat (err … code for 45 and for 180) you can see much more of the area, albeit a bit skewed, or you can use it to zoom in (handy if you bind it to the rail gun). I play for one or two hours every day. The best way to get better is to avoid public servers and play on private servers against good, experienced players, even if it means losing a lot.
Config of choice?
Mouse and keyboard. Test mouse sensitivity and choose a config you’re comfortable with, including keys near your main controls to change weapon.
Any other tips?
There are three things to play by: 1. pressure, 2. strategy, 3. aim. Keep it cool, relax those muscles, and take a deep breath before entering a fight. Try to play your game and not the other guy’s game. That’s a very important goal to go by; it’s the reason why a lot of people can’t play the way we do, meaning the 10 or 12 other Qll top guns I know. It’s a mental game, you have to stay cool and watch your mis- takes. What makes a good strategy is knowledge of the level. Get to know every detail of the most- played map, and then build a solid strategy. Normally what I do on a map I’m just beginning to play is RUN from the guy, run until it’s almost impossible for him to catch you. This helps you learn all the escape routes for the next time you’re in the same situation.
Aim is obviously a good skill to have; this takes practice. Practice makes perfect. The most useful “pro” skill to have, firing a rocket at the ground and leaping to extra
height, is odd. You’re going to damage yourself — that’s a fact. But on most one- on-one levels, you gain positioning and level control advantages from this tech- nique. The purists pull this off manually (fire a rocket into the ground and jump simultaneously … then wow your oppo- nents as you fly to extra health or armor). The easy way: bind one key to pull off the move. While we don’t condone this kind of gamesmanship (although consid- ering our current rankings, perhaps we should), “rj-ing” all over the room like a madman may be effective on servers with more than 30 players, but the real pros pick their shots carefully.
What’s your config of choice?
Three-button Logitech 98 Mouse- Man. Keyboard cfg is based around a home key row of QWERG. Q and R are left/right strafe, G and E are duck and jump. Surrounding keys are filled in with macros and weapon binds. I generally use a number of cheat aliases that let me worm my way to a win. Rg autoaim script, item/weapon timing script, etc. Of the few aliases that aren’t the hardcore cheats, only the walk toggle and the zoom script stand out. Other than that, just team
macros, weapon drop macros, usual crap.
I once killed three guys in midair while falling with only a hand blaster … ya, that’s the ticket. For all those who wanna be like Wolf, study different principles of war; try to understand human psy- chology during combat. Practice aim and movement, try to learn the sounds of each level you play on. And above all else, get your daily bran requirements.
What’s your config of choice?
I use a pretty standard config, a combination of a Microsoft two- button mouse and keyboard. I use W-A-S-D and left mouse for fire. Alt is crouch. For switching weapons I use: 1 – use rail gun, 2 – use rocket launcher, f – use chain gun, 3 – use super shotgun, and c – use hyper blaster. I don’t use any aliases or fov scripts. I am personally against these because it’s not the player doing the action. I almost consider it cheating.
I would think taking opponents out of midair with the rail are my favorite kills. Although in RA2 (Rocket Arena) I would bounce the player in the air with a rocket three times in a row and before he lands, I would switch to rail and take him right out of the air. Those are the sweetest-looking kills I have ever done.
The most important tip I could point out is listen for sounds and be sure to know the level really, really well. Most of the game in a one-on-one is in the mind. Use your head and know where your opponent is at all times. Take unusual paths and use unusual methods of play to throw him off balance. If you can do that, you have a good chance of coming out on top. Also aim is very important, so practice, practice, practice. I play a lot of one-on-ones to work on strategy and level knowledge, and Rocket Arena to work on my aim. When you hear a noise in one-on-one play you bet- ter know where it came from or you’ll be dead before you ever find out.
BE A RANK WHORE
As players strive to gain ground on the rank ladder, some questionable techniques can show up. For starters, there’s the simple “kill a pal” method, in which a ranked friend comes online and you slaughter him, vastly improving your kill-to-death ratio. If you’re an HPB (high ping bastard), checking the pings of new opponents to a game and bailing if they’re all lower than yours can help reduce the lag-induced deaths you may suffer.
FFAs (free for alls) can also be dangerous to rank scores. Accidentally find yourself in a game with any of the top players and that ratio and rank will plummet. Carefully selected one-on-one games against a well-matched opponent give you the chance to do the best you can and score points. That said, FFAs offer more opponents, so if you’re up to the challenge and can control a level, there are many fast kills to be had. If you end up in a game against a much higher-ranked opponent and you get the first kill, quit!
Q2DM1: THE EDGE PRO TIPS
Getting by far the most play during ranked qualifying was Q2DM1: The Edge. But there’s a vast difference between being proficient on a level, and mastering it (as I found out dur- ing a 43-to-i thrashing by SlickSoul — I still suffer the nightmares). Here are some of the pro tips to make the most of this level’s intricacies. (And many thanks to Evil-Demon for having the patience to hand me a thrashing and then point out where I was going wrong.)
Take a shortcut to the armor by rocket jumping here. It s possible. It’s possible to jump up to the ledge, using the slight ramp as extra leverage. Practice, practice, practice. Accessing all parts of the map quickly is vital. Rocket jump up to this platform to get the hyper blaster. Make sure to temper your aggression. Patient, controlled dominance of the level will score more kills than Rambo tactics. Making that jump is tricky and needs perfect timing to land from corner to corner. Quick armor. Move at the cor- ner of each of the boxes and you can leap to the top with two jumps, rather than four. Do a double-jump (tap Jump twice) when standing at this corner to leap onto the top box. With practice you can then turn and leap to the health pack without sustaining rocket jump damage. Control of this room is vital to suc- cess in this level. Make sure you’re getting the health pack on a regular basis, at least to prevent your opponent from snagging it. And keep topped up with the armor. As it was succinctly put to me during one game. “Don’t come at me with a pea shooter wearing just yer skivvies.”
What’s your config of choice?
Won’t catch me dead without my Dell QuietKey board and an Intel- limouse. I have keys bound to each weapon around where my hand is, and also change the yaw speed (M_yaw .###), and pitch speeds (m_pitch .###), for up and down and left and right.
Only play people who are better than you. Never go into ffa’s frag- ging newbies with 600 ping. I play about 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day… [it’s the] only way you’ll get good.
Cheating is merely a nasty term for outsmarting an opponent?
The main method is using bots. Through particular hacks it’s possible to enter a game and have a bot (and the attendant accuracy that a computer con- trolled bot has) play for you. But mention cheating and people get defensive. “We’re doing the best we possibly can to find it,” commented one PGL representa- tive, “and we actually have a very effec- tive method in place to spot bot users.”
Of course, once the hack is blocked by TEN’S PGL system, the cunning trick- sters find another way around it. It seems like a constant battle, but with vigilante groups adding to the policing and the PGL reps scrutinizing match scores, comparing screenshots to scores and following up on complaints, getting your bot through is tough. Once you get to the real final qualify- ing, each game is watched by officials, so if you cheat and you don’t have the skills, you’re gonna be found out real quick.
Another intriguing method involves stripping out the code for character mod- els and replacing it with a large block, which is then covered by a brightly col- ored skin. What this manages to do is give the cheater a bigger, brightly col- ored target to aim at. Proving this, of course, is far from easy, but after investi- gating, PCXL reckons that the PGL is about as above-board as possible.