A story about #gaming. The year was 1998. by Andreas Blom

A story about #gaming. The year was 1998. by Andreas Blom

Online gaming was just ridding itself of diapers.  A scant few massively multiplayer games existed (Lineage for one, it was released that year). Quake 2 was the game to play, having been released the year before. A childhood friend of mine, (Asmodai by name) invited me to play a new mod for Quake 2. The mod was called Loki’s Minions Capture the Flag – #LMCTF , the first Capture the Flag modification for Quake 2, released the day after the Quake 2 source code was released.

Something to remember here is that during these days, nobody cared about achievements, unlocking new weapons or downloadable content. Such things didn’t exist. I quite liked it that way. I still do.

This modification had a few notable features, one being the off-hand grappling hook, accessible at any time whilst wielding any weapon. This allowed for almost limitless movement and even aerial combat. Four powerups were available for all players to share. Having one of those meant a significant advantage. How does, double firing speed, 50% extra damage, 50% less damage taken or regeneration sound?

Another notable feature was the sound packs. Radio sounds for your team (“Base is Clear”, “Have Quad, respawn in 60 seconds”) played for your team at the push of a button. There were also voice sounds, played in an area around your character (mostly used for taunts). In order to hear the sound being played, you required a compatible installation, i.e. the file being played. Quite simple but it allowed for more sophisticated communication since Voice Over IP was far from being common back then. Most communication regarding matches took place over ICQ or IRC. Quakenet being the preferred server network. Some clans still have their channels on quakenet, 17 years later.

Anyway, I joined the server (Inet by name). My nickname was Insanity. After only a few sessions I was approached by my future clan. I believe it was on LMCTF16 – Compound. After chatting a bit with the other members I was drafted. I was member number five. The clan was formed by three friends from Luleå. They worked together at the time. At this point in time we were:

Gobi, our fearless leader
Dexter, the patient and wise man
Thanquol, the unbreakable warrior
Asmodai, the prankster.
Insanity, the loyal friend (Me).

Together we formed Clan RoX. A few nice guys with “prefixes after our names” (as our fearless leader so eloquently wrote in the story of our forming). The most important thing for being a RoXer was not to be the absolute best, but rather to be a nice and respectable guy. Being a highly skilled player came in on a close second place. This permeated the way we played, the way we behaved and the way we eventually recruited.

Not yet being 20 I was several years below the average age of players in our Northern Europe LMCTF community. It wasn’t until years later when Counter Strike became mainstream that the average age of online gamers sank like a rock.

We played mostly on the Inet (later renamed Edome) server or the Kiukku clan server (later renamed Knucklebone, after RoX and Kiukku co-funded upgrades for it). Clan Kiukku were a clan rather close to us. They were just ahead of us on the Online Gaming League ladder for LMCTF Europe. We were fixed on third place with Kiukku on second. A Finnish clan with its server in the then almost mythical Helsinki university. In 1998 a 100MBit per second internet connection was the white tiger of connections. Rare and powerful. Such internet connection was available at the university of Helsinki. On fourth place were our brothers in the clan Neckbenderz or NBZ for short. They were headed by Lt. Mansson. We often played against them in friendly matches. When it come to internet connections we had the advantage of one ISDN player and if needs be, three players on 2Mbit per second. This gave us the edge over many other clans stuck on modem which was the most common connection at the time.

Eventually the clan grew, we recruited (in no particular order) P3Te!, personal friend of Joghe (kiukku). (Joghe was a person who taught me an important lesson, a very nice guy all round. He played with us when Kiukku were on a break.)  NannyOgg, Danish biker and cool guy Beavis, Danish warrior who taught me bunnyjumping or tripplecording as it was called back then. He was almost unbeatable in one on one Rocket Arena. Enigma, Danish supreme prankster and nice guy. Longshot, Swedish warrior.

The community consisted of hundreds of players in dozens of clans. I recognized most of the names when playing on the public servers. The European clans were formed mostly by Swedish, Finnish and Danish players. A few Norwegian players and a few from the continent were also around. Every now and then there would be a tournament. Foursome, Wargrounds, Sixpack and League of Nations are a few of the ones organized in Europe.

The world spun and matches were played. I remember one of my top performances clearly, not because I played well, and defended like few other times (I did mostly play defence) but because of the outcome of the game. We had a clan game against NBZ, the clan closest to us. They all had lousy connections, 200+ping. We had two players at 100ping and three players at 50ping, which translates to a rather significant advantage. The map was LMCTF20 Wargrounds. We were using the Kiukku server with Joghe as server administrator.

The game was terribly uneven, we gained control of most of the map early on and simply devastated the opposition. We had completely trampled them. But the victory was a bitter one. I was truly ashamed. The reason was something Joghe said: “Rule #1“. What he meant was that this is just a game and everyone is there to have fun. We had played a friendly match against friends. There was no prestige. We had humiliated friends of us at a time when all everyone wanted was to have fun. It was an important lesson.

We played them again some time later. This time without our three 2Mbps players. They played from home on their modems. This time the NBZ beat us soundly, despite our slight ping advantage.

In 1999 I attended an event that I still remember clearly. We had us a RoX LAN. Our hosts were the Luleå trio. NannyOgg and Enigma rode the train from Copenhagen all the way to Luleå. A more than 30 hour trip. Longshot had bought a BMW 3-series four door sedan in Gothenburg, he and Beavis drove this to Umeå where they picked me up.

The trip up north was uneventful. Despite being hungry we accidentally drove past Max Hamburgers in Skelefteå and had to wait another two hours for dinner which turned out to be pizza. I had one with curry on it, quite tasty as I recall it. We held the LAN in a very nice apartment at the top of a building in central Luleå. We all carried CRT monitors looted from the offices below, up to the huge conference room and setup shop there.

We were (in the order we joined the clan),
Gobi,
Dexter,
Thanquol,
Insanity (me),
Enigma,
Beavis,
NannyOgg,
Longshot

We played games, drank beer, drank whiskey, steamed in the sauna, smoked cigars (I had brought cigars for us all on a whim) and generally had a very nice time. We were an online family that had met for the first time that weekend in late 1999.

The Luleå trio had arranged for something special for day two. They took us to a shooting range. This was an incredible event. It was a setup with a few different targets shot at from different stations with different guns. Each person would do the all different stations whilst being timed. Scores were also taken for accuracy. The adrenaline rush was fantastic. I remember Dexter had the highest accuracy (which was his goal). Gobi won overall due to being slightly faster. The shooting was a great team event that bound us more tightly together. I believe I never thanked the Luleå trio properly for arranging this event.

As the weekend was over, I brought a lot of memories with me back home. Important memories. More matches were played. Clans with only “fakenickers” showed up (they did never beat us; we made sure to have our very strongest team the day they faced us).

Clans were formed, one even reformed to rid themselves of a single player. A significant event in our otherwise quite ordered community. Eventually players began trickling over to Counter Strike.

I attended a LAN in the Swedish capital during the fall of the year 2000. Well there I met many of the people I had played with. I alone represented our clan. (On a sidenote, I actually still play with some who attended this LAN).

LMCTF11LMCTF11lmctf10and11

Clan RoX continued playing for a while before activity declined a bit. We were kept together during this period by our Danish prankster: Enigma. In early 2001 during one of the lull periods, our Danish prankster died in a car crash. His Peugeot 206 GTI must have hit the grovel in a curve, he spun and hit a tree.

Enigma died on the 6th of April, 3 days before his birthday that year. A week before Easter. Our internet family had suffered a severe loss. On a whim I decided to attend the funeral which would be on Easter eve that year.

I flew to Copenhagen and went in through the wrong door at the airport, bypassing security being escorted by a friendly guard to the luggage belt. I was picked up by Jaboby, a Danish guy from another clan (Lost Souls). We had a few beers and spoke some on the Friday of my arrival. The funeral was to be the next day. Jaboby picked me up before the funeral. Him and another guy from the same clan. Me and NannyOgg attended the funeral, representing the clan and the four of us represented the European LMCTF community.

Jaboby had arranged to buy flowers from the clans. he had also collected and printed everything the European community had written about Enigma’s passing on forums. This was delivered to Enigmas parents at the funeral. I ate dinner at Hard rock café that evening, remembering the Danish prankster.

When I got back NannyOgg arranged something. Fate had made sure we had a map with a church on. LMCTF11 – The Enchanted Kingdom. So we arranged a funeral service of our own in our own church. NannyOgg spoke of the actual funeral. How we’d heard Dido – Here with me during the funeral service and how the coffin had been carried out to the tones of REM – Everybody hurts.

We concluded with a memorial game on Enigma’s favourite map: LMCTF10 – the Toxin Refinery. There were somewhere between 50 and 100 players attending on a map that was dimensioned for at the most 16 players.

The European LMCTF community was in decline. Quake 3 had been out since more than a year and most people had moved on to other games. It would never again be what it was. A replacement mod had been developed for Quake 3 – ACTF. but it wasn’t the same. Eventually someone made LRCTF for Quake 3, a mod truer to the original but by then Quake 3 was almost dead too.Besides, they were sequels or remakes lacking that edge that the original had. They also lacked the players that had at one time formed the Northern Europe LMCTF community.

I had the good fortune of participating in an interesting time of online gaming, getting to know many interesting people and playing a fantastic game. It was an important period for me and the sense of belonging to something was probably more important to me than to many other people.

Contact was kept with few of the clan mates, but as chance had it I spent New Years Eve in Luleå 2014. On New Years Day 2015 (2015-01-01) I went to Thanquol for some coffee. It was like seeing your long lost brother. 17 years later things had of course changed but the friendship had remained.

So what did we play?

Here, let me show you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwTWh7XTjzw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB82zy7_ciA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVZIwA3nPJ4

Dedicated to
Clan RoX – [RoX]
Our lost RoXer Enigma.


Notable mentions (in no particular order):
Men in Guns – [MIG]
Clan Kiukku – (kiukku)
Neckbenderz – <NBZ>
Team 21 – [21]
Warrors of Gehenna – [WoG]
Red light Clan – [RLC]
Lost Souls – [!]
Clan strid – [strid]
Reservoir Dogs – (R.D.)
Extremely Evil Elks – [E!]
Doctors – [Dr.]
Zero Army – [Z]
Clan THOR – [THOR]
The Can Warriors – [TCW]
Brothers in Arms – [BIA]

Link to the Google+ Original Post by Andreas Blom.

LMCTF10 Toxin Refinery by Mark Shmitz Major –  http://lmctf.wikidot.com/wiki:lmctf10

LMCTF11 Enchanted Kingdom by Mr. White –  http://lmctf.wikidot.com/wiki:lmctf11

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