Multi-Generational Nerd Massacre.

Over the years, as home networks became more accessible, LAN gaming has been something “to do”. I’m not sure if it’s becoming less so, now, thanks to the proliferation of actual, useful connections to the outside world, and services like XBL, but I remember those halcyon days clearly and with great fondness.

Long before there was World of Warcraft (which I’ve never even tried: I just never got to it, or really saw the appeal), there was Warcraft 2, and Starcraft. Now, I know Starcraft is still a bigmotherfuckingthing™ in Asia, and the tournaments are epic but we definitely don’t see that kind of interest here in North America.

But my first serious introduction to network/LAN gaming was Warcraft 2, followed by Starcraft. Oh, there’s others, but we’ll get there.

Warcraft 2 was awesome. The house at the time (in university, circa 1998) was four guys, with a Co-Axial cable network in house, set up by our resident king-of-tech MightyDogKing. And we played the holy hell out of Warcraft 2. Teams of two, deathmatch, the works.

Zug zug, baby. Zug. Zug.

Sometime in that, we graduated to Starcraft, and Quake 2. Obviously, for different reasons. Starcraft was, well… It was Warcraft 2 in space, with a ton of prettier graphics.

But Quake 2. Oh, Quake 2.

I shudder to think just how much time we lost to that game. We played full-on insanity on the co-ax network in the first house. Again, four machines, occasionally a laptop. Or someone would bring their box round to jump on the network too.

That game, and the OpenGL for it, was the reason I briefly started getting videocard crazy. My first rig, the first one that could play it properly, was a P75 with eight megs of ram. It didn’t have an AGP slot, but it had lots of PCI slots. And I filled ‘em. First, with a Matrox Mystique with two whole megs of dedicated memory. And that would do some stuff, especially with the P75 backing it up. But eventually, that wasn’t enough.

And one night, both MightyDogKing and myself bit the bullet, went to a local computer store, and cleaned ‘em out. We bought four 8 meg 3dfx cards between us. At the time, I think it cost us something like $275, for each of us, with the promise of a hundred bucks in mail-in rebates. Why four? Well, Because SLI, that’s why.

The Voodoo2 3Dfx cards (if you were willing to pay, you could have dual 12 meg cards, but the price was exorbitant) were… stunning. I’d never seen anything like it. With the Matrox for 2D, and the Voodoo2’s for 3D (and lets face it we bought ‘em specifically so we could play Quake 2 at the unheard of 1024×768, with everything turned on, including Glide) and just.. wow. I know we take this stuff for granted now, and I can play Q2 in a window on my damn laptop while watching a high-def video, but at the time, it was nothing short of miraculous.

We left the house we were in, I think a winter after that, but the network (upgraded to Cat5, by now) followed us to an absolute crapshack. And the gaming and upgrading continued. And the Quake 2. There was, suddenly, a server (again, courtesy of MightyDogKing and a tradition was truly born then. Friday nights were dedicated, especially in the dark, long nights of winter as a broke-ass student, to Quake and pre-drinking: then grab the money you did have, and head to the bar. Unless we forgot to go to the bar, which happened fairly regularly. And those marathon sessions were awesome. We had a machine for each resident (4), two guest-boxes, hacked together with leftover parts and monitors from previous upgrades (the Voodoo2 cards ended up in here for a long time) and whatever anyone else brought over. But the server attracted outside players as well, and in some sick kind of wisdom, MightyDogKing put bots on there too, for when there weren’t enough players to fill it out. Some nights, it was as much fun to watch people we didn’t know trying to communicate with the bots.

And skinning. Nothing like getting shot by Homer Simpson wielding a railgun, really. How can you match that?

Finally, we settled into the superhero mod. Pick up runes, gives you major and minor superpowers: limited flight, vampire, endurance, etc.

And that was insanity. There was so much cursing, swearing, and general high-volume denigration from room to room, it’s actually hard to believe now. But holy god was it fun!

The hardware arms race continued for a few years: at least until 2002, I think. Most of us migrated to consoles after that. But that arms race really left us in a situation where we always had enough firepower to put five or six machines together that were capable of playing Quake 2, and later, Unreal Tournament. The good one, the first one, not the twitch-kiddy game that came later.

So here we are, in 2011, looking down the barrel of 2012, and all of a sudden, I’ve got a hankering to play Quake 2 again, to see if that server can go back up.

And fast-forward twenty-four hours. I installed and played Quake 2 again last night and, sadly, it doesn’t stand up anymore. DAMMIT. I’ll admit, I only played the single player, sans-mods, but… damn. Yeah, it’s not there anymore. We’ve come too far.

Maybe I should give Unreal Tournament a try again. I always did love the towers level, even though I suck ass with a sniper rifle.


3 Responses to Multi-Generational Nerd Massacre.

  1. Simon Sage says:

    I played a fair bit of UT, remember Facing Worlds quite well. I don’t know if you’d be just as disappointed in it as you were with reloading Quake 2, but Bambi and I still play a lot of TF2 on PC, which I think still captures that old-school magic without having to stand the test of time.

  2. markramsden says:

    Yeah, I’m just not sure it’ll run on my 4+ year-old laptop, or I’d jump in and give it a shot. That’s actually part of my adoration of the older ones. they run on EVERYTHING.

    I should check the spec on TF2 again though.

  3. phaedravwt says:

    I remember trying to Quake through the 14.4 dial-up at Carleton. Moving to 28.8, then 56k (remember x2 modems?) managed to get me fragged a little bit less, but there was always some jerk playing from work on the company T1 connection.

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