Tag Archive for Team Fortress

The Gamer I Am Today

This month’s Gamer Banter is “What was the game that made you a gamer?”

To be honest, I’ve been a gamer since my dad brought home a Pong system in the late 70s.  Then it was the Atari 2600.  The games that cemented me as a gamer were Yar’s Revenge and Pitfall.  I played those games for hours on end, entire days, flipped them and kept on playing.  Sure, we had dozens of games, but those are the ones that stand out.  We had an NES too eventually, and we got a PC.

Over the years there have been many games.  Zelda and Mario on the NES (and Pro Wresting… Starman forever!), while over on the PC it was dominated by Sierra games, from The Black Cauldron to Leisure Suit Larry through the King’s, Police, Space and Hero’s Quests, The Colonel’s Bequest, Gabriel Knight and the Manhunter games.  And Doom.

Doom was a game changer.  By that time I had discovered BBSs and had a group of friends online.  Much like I’d once bought, with my own money, an Adlib Sound Card to play games like Loom that required better sound and a 1200 baud modem so I could get online, I bought a token ring network card and then begged my parents to let me take the PC to a friend’s house.  I’d played Doom through dozens of times on my 386, but with 4 PCs in the same room, network cards and coaxial cable, suddenly we were deathmatching.  We were yelling at each other across the room, taunting each other in text chat.  Gaming stopped being something I did by myself and started being something I did with other people.

Sure, the BBSs had multiplayer door games, but this was different.  It became a regular thing, and soon it became something we could do over the Internet.

Even so, as much as I was a gamer, I still did other things.  Then along came Team Fortress for Quakeworld.  See, deathmatch was fun, but it never felt quite right for me.  But here came a game where not only were we on a team, but roles in that team formed.  I wasn’t the best player, but I was a demon on defense.  Those BBS people, we formed a clan and we played in tournaments.  We played against teams in other states, in other countries.  It was a new kind of social element to gaming.  Deathmatch had its culture too, but it was ultra-competitive, insular, everyone was your enemy.  Team Fortress fostered camaraderie.  When not in a tournament match, hopping on a public server meant you worked with your team whether they were in your clan or not.  It lead to a lot of respect on the battlefield.

Then came EverQuest.  In some ways it was so natural to shift.  From being part of a team in Team Fortress to being part of a group in EverQuest.  I was comfortable with the idea that I couldn’t win on my own.  I didn’t want to play alone.  Groups and raids and guilds, sitting in the East Commons tunnel on Saturdays looking for deals, message boards, all of it.  It was another level of social.  In the Quakeworld world after tools like GameSpy came out it was easier to track down your friends, or people you’d enjoyed playing with, but in EverQuest, anyone you played with you could put on a list and look for them anytime you were on because they were always on the same server as you.  And it was lasting.  I’m still friends with a couple people from the TF days, but I still talk daily with a bunch of people from my EQ server.

Looking back and looking forward, the kind of gamer I am is one that enjoys active social interaction with his game.  This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that reads my blog as my biggest complaint about most MMOs is when they lack a good social aspect or community.  My Venn diagrams summed it up pretty well I thought.

I was always a gamer, born into a gaming world, but I’d have to say that Team Fortress and EverQuest are the games that made me the gamer I am today, and the gamer I will probably be for the rest of my life.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part, please email him for details.

Other Gamer Banter participants:
carocat.co.uk: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Yuki-Pedia: A Tale of Two Games
gunthera1_gamer: Early Gaming Experience
Extra Guy: Ah yes, I remember it well
The Average Gamer: What Made Me a Gamer
Sivercublogger: Uncovering Lost Treasures
Master Kitty’s World: Gaming Through the Years
Gamer Unit: What was the game that made you a gamer?
Game Couch: Karateka
Next Jen: What Made Me into a Gamer

Bass Groove

When it comes to most games, I’m a team player.  I disliked Quake Deathmatch, but I was obsessed with Team Fortress.  So, I wasn’t surprised at all when I finally picked up a Guitar Hero controller a couple of years ago that I really enjoyed playing the “second fiddle” rather than the lead guitar.  When Rock Band came out, while I did thoroughly enjoy playing guitar, the fact is that I enjoyed taking up the bass in a band on tour much more.  A little thing that makes me enjoy online play a bit more since everyone else in the world seems to want to play guitar.

Rock Band 2 came out this past Sunday, and having pre-ordered it a while back, I went and picked up my copy.  The game is great.  Its like Rock Band, only better… sort of.

The one drawback to the new game is that there is no straight tiered solo playlist.  You can’t just get in and play down the list to unlock songs.  To unlock songs you need to either have two people and do the challenges, or you play by yourself in a band on the tour mode.  Basically, its the old multiplayer tour, but playable by one person.  The drawback is that like the old multiplayer mode, you end up playing the same songs over and over in sets until you unlock more… well, unless you owned Rock Band 1 and a bunch of Down Loaded Content (DLC), because then you can choose from any previous song.  All your RB1 favorites and all the songs you paid extra for, right from day one.  Functionally, the single player mode works like the original game, but the presentation makes it feel different.

The advantage to this system, is that as a single player, I can play bass as my method of choice going through the tour and unlocking songs.  And that totally rocks.

Ten

In 1998 I was playing Team Fortress with people I’d known and a larger group that had grown from my earliest days “online” dialing in to BBSs. At the time, I was hanging out in IRC chat on the GamesNet servers, mostly in the Disciples of Syrinx room. I had moved back home with my parents at the end of the previous year after successfully (in my mind) living “on my own” for a few years so that I could focus on school, doubling up my classes, and finish my four year degree in six years (maybe I hadn’t been so successful on my own). I spent my free time, and since I wasn’t working there was quite a bit of it, playing games and reading the .plan files of developers. Mostly it was the id software crew, but there were others. Blogging wasn’t so popular back then, but people did have websites, and game developers, especially in the first person shooter arena, kept up with .plan files. With college nearing its end and loving computer games, I had this idea that I would get into the gaming industry. Months later and many unreturned phone calls and rejection letters, I would set aside that dream, but at that moment, I decided to start maintaining my own .plan.

I did it in IRC at first, so the only people who could read it were people who knew to look and only when I was online with my mIRC client. Soon enough I moved it to Geocities. June 17th, 1998 marked my first post on the internet, and because I’m a pack rat and paranoid about computer crashes, I always kept spare copies of everything, so if you want, you can dig through the archives here and actually read everything from the beginning. After Geocities, I moved to my own domain, loadfix.com. If you try to go there now, it redirects to a .de domain that gives back a 403 Forbidden error. A year later I would move on to squadleader.com with dreams of eventually running an online magazine for first person shooters. I never did, and now that domain is a squatter’s hope for cash (a crap website placeholder of links doing nothing but praying someone wants to buy it). I would have kept squadleader but for one, I wasn’t playing shooters anymore after EverQuest took over my life, and the other reason is it turned out I didn’t own it. Sure, I registered it, paid for it, but my hosting company put everything in their name, so when I tried to switch providers, they kept the name. Thus begins the probablynot.com era.

To be perfectly honest, when I put my first ever posting on the internet, I never thought I’d still be doing it ten years later. In fact it didn’t even cross my mind to consider it. In one respect, its like keeping a diary, and now and then I’ll go back and root around through the old posts and laugh at myself, or shake my head, smile, or nod knowingly. However, unlike a diary, its out there for other people to read. There are times I’ve considered going back and deleting some of the old posts. When I migrated from Coranto to WordPress, I had the perfect opportunity to just lose all the old content, or pick and choose what to put back in, but I ended up importing all of it. Good or bad, I wrote it, its me, or at least was me at the time, and as I’ve written before, if you are happy with who you are, you can’t really regret your past because your past has made you who you are.

However, ultimately, my decision to import all the old posts came down to one thing, that I’ve been doing this, emptying my brain onto the Internet since 1998, for me. When people comment, or send emails, about what I’ve put out there, it feels good, but I’ve never done it for that. I always just wanted to put my thoughts down on “paper” but I didn’t want to hide it under my mattress or in a closet or behind other books on the book shelves where no one would ever see it, because maybe, just maybe, my words might affect someone else, or someone’s reading of my words might affect me. Do I sound emo? I think I sound emo…

Anyway… ten years… some times it just kind of blows my mind a little… well… here’s to the next ten years.

The Intelligence has returned to base!

The thunder of shotguns, the gentle rumble of sticky bombs, the whine of the chain gun.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Team Fortress is back.

I’ve made mention before that I played the original Quakeworld Team Fortress for a number of years. I participated in leagues, belonged to a clan, and loved nearly every minute of it. Team Fortress Classic, which was released for Half-Life was… lets just say it was a disappointment and leave it at that. I found EverQuest and spent the next 8 years immersed in MMOs.

I tried TFC again not too long ago, okay it was nearly three years ago, and I just couldn’t get in to it. The game just didn’t play right.

Last week, Team Fortress 2, built on top of Half-Life 2, was released, and the magic has returned. Its like the old days again. I’m not the best player in the world, but I hold my own and I’m good at teamwork, so I can have fun even when we are losing. I usually come in around the middle of the pack as far as kills/points go. Of course, the return to glory is also a return to the age old frustrations: when the flag leaves the flag room, chase it. Most servers are set to run games to 3 points, so letting the flag go just is never a good thing unless you are letting it go to assist bringing in our own 3rd point.

But, the fact that I care enough to be annoyed by it means the game has done it right. Its awesome, and I’ll be hanging around a while. If you care, keep an eye out, I play as ProbablyNot.

The World of Warcraft

It’s not often that a game really grabs me. I’d played computer games for a number of years, even hauling my PC around to other people’s houses to hook up to a co-ax ipx network to kill each other on an alien planet surrounded by monsters in DOOM. But the first game that really hooked me, that really sucked me in, was Team Fortress. It was a mod for the Quake game that expanded on the idea of deathmatch and capture the flag. Rather than give every person the same weapons, every player got a subset of them, and different health, armor and run speeds. It was capture the flag, but with real team play, because you needed the other players and classes to offset your weaknesses. I played it for 5 years.

I’d just set TF aside… the Quake version was rife with cheats and hacks, and the new version for Half-Life just wasn’t the same… and along came EverQuest. What initially drew me in was its similarity to Team Fortress. No single class was a god among mortals, they all had their strengths and weaknesses, they all had their place. People needed each other, and a great many friends came of it. I played it for 5 years.

Last year I finally closed the door on EverQuest. It had just become more of a chore than a joy. Like most people, I wish I’d quit about 6 months before I did, but then if not for those last 6 months, I wouldn’t have felt like quitting. Heh. So from EQ I went to City of Heroes. I still play. Frankly, I think I’ll always play. Never hardcore, but nothing really compares to being in your heroic spandex and wading in to a room of ten or more villains and emerging victorious by the skin of your teeth. There is a reason I read comic books for so long, and wish that I could still afford to collect. Superheroes fill a void of heroic impulse, stupidity and bravery all wrapped in one, that just can’t be filled anywhere else.

Blizzard created a world many years ago. Off and on, their Warcraft series has always held a place in my ‘frustrated distractions’ category… the games I would play when I was having an off day in my main game. The World of Warcraft, their MMO based in the same world is just… fascinating. The level of detail, the richness of color… its like a fantasy novel come to digital life. The one thing it lacks is that, for the most part, you don’t need other people… you can play solo from beginning to end. Sure you might miss some quests or dungeons, but one should never expect to explore 100% of a game world in an MMO. Heck, 5 years of EQ and I think there are still some places I never went to. But one of the things that it manages to capture so much better than EverQuest ever could, is the simple idea that while I don’t need other people, the things that can be accomplished in small groups, the way the classes compliment each other in so many varied ways… I don’t need other people, but I want other people. So here’s to the next 5 years of gaming.

A Return to the Trenches

Long ago, before the dawn of Everquest, in Quakeworld, in a land of two forts, a soldier stood. Logan5. His rockets fired true, his grenades landed squarely, his shotgun shells littered the ground, and his enemies laid dying at his feet. First of the proud Disciples of Syrinx, later of nobody’s heroes, and finally fading away to nothing…

Three nights ago, he returned.

I bought a video card a while back, and in the box was a coupon for a free copy of Half-Life 2. The coupon shuffled in with the other papers on the computer desk, and was almost lost. The release delays of HL2 seemed endless, but finally the game is here… and… Wow.

When I first played the original Half-Life, I’d been gaming for years. I’d battled my way through Doom 1 and 2, Quake 1 and 2, and dozens of other first person shooters. They all had one thing in common… sucky AI. In every game, you could exploit the AI flaws to trivialize the game. All the monsters reacted in certain ways, and you could predict their movement to the point of boredom. That’s why on-line play, the Quakeworld servers, were such a wonderful draw. It was on those servers that I found what would be the longest running game of my life (yes, it even beats EQ, which lasted 5 years)… Team Fortress for Quake.

Playing through the early versions, I saw John, Robin and Ian’s vision of the game develop. And when it solidified, it was awesome. The maps they made, and the ones players made, lead to a level of clan and tournament play that simple deathmatch just never got me excited enough for. I’d come home from work and play TF for hours, hopping server to server, hanging out with teammates and rivals. And in a game that ultimately lacked ‘tangible’ goals, any animosity was fleeting, friends were friends, enemies were friends, and for 30 minutes at a time, from map to map, the adreneline flowed.

When Team Fortress Software was purchased by Valve, I knew I needed to keep an eye on them. And when I met Robin and some of the Valve guys at E3 and they showed me Half-Life and the Team Fortress Classic mod for it, I was hooked. I bought the game when it came out, and something odd happened… I played the single player game, and I sucked… or rather, the AI didn’t. Soldiers flanked, drew fire, fled and laid traps. The tried and true methods of getting monsters stuck on corners or behind halfwalls didn’t work any more. Even Deathmatch for HL was fun and not like the rocketfest that Quake DM was.

TFC came out, and I played it for a while. But as much as I loved HL and TFC, I stopped playing after a while… EQ had come into my life, and that was it.

Now, EQ is done. I don’t think I will, ever again, play a game that requires that level of investment, or requires you to play a certain way to avoid that investment (when only some classes can solo, you have to play them to avoid getting stuck looking for a group). I play City of Heroes, and I love it… its very low key, I can solo as any character, groups are fun and easy to find, and while it does take some planning and game knowledge to pick powers and place slots, there is no gear hunting to keep up with the Joneses and the ever expanding difficulty of the game. I also play Eve Online, which is another low key game… I train my skills while I’m offline, and I hop on now and then to fly missions or kill pirates. I’m looking into World of Warcraft… still not totally sold on it, but my time in beta did show me that it could be played solo or duo without much difficulty, and that my game could remain fun even if I didn’t “raid” the “high end”, it holds promise for the low key gamer.

When I redeemed my coupon online for Half-Life 2, it came with a bundle… HL, TFC, Day of Defeat, Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Source (CS using the new HL2 game engine), and more. So after I loaded up HL2 and was blown away by the graphics and how well they ran on my years old PC (Doom3 runs like shit, and this game looks better than Doom3), I loaded up TFC and hopped on a server… It took about 15 minutes before my fingers were finding the right keys again, before I stopped kicking my own ass in sacrifice and started putting some of my foes in the dirt, but then it all came flooding back… The reason I loved TF, and it wasn’t just the classes and team fighting, it was that a game was 30 minutes or so… you jump on a server, dive in, play, then when the map recycles you can leave and no one says anything bad about you… the map was done.

Logan5 is back, sort of… turns out while I’ve been gone from the FPS world, someone has been using the name, so I’ll use something else… I’ll think up something while I play the original Half-Life through again.