three songs

The location of the Fighternight VII is somewhat strange—well, it’s ok, but it definitely hasn’t the ambience Wolfenstein had. The tables have a crude wooden top, so you have to use a mousepad. That’s not the problem, but the hall is too cramped, there’s simply too less space on the tables. Setting up the comp is a quick business for me, because again I am here with my laptop. But less people smile on me because of the laptop. At every LAN-party I visit there a more people with laptops. Anyway, I quickly found out that it does not matter at all for me if I use a laptop or not, or if there’s plenty of space on the table or not. Not having played Q3A for about half a year left its marks. Now I am no more a genuinely bad player, I am a big time lamer. Still it was fun to play Q3A. And then there still is the spectator-mode, allowing to join the top guys.

For the first time I witness that there is someone completely drunk at a LAN-party. Some tallish guy in the row behind us is completely off the mark after the first couple of hours—maybe he arrived drunken already—and then starts to continuously yell and shout. But security easily copes with him. Without having to use force he is brought out, stuffed into a Taxi and gone for good. All in all one has to say that the Fighternight’s organisation again is very good. You simply go there, unpack your comp, plug it into the hub and presto there’s the network. Which definitely is not a matter of course. All right there is no Internet-access, but I don’t have to use Steam, so that doesn’t worry me too much. For a more thorough evaluation of the organisation by attendees have a look at the according thread [in German]. Then there are a lot of nice casemods—the pics of which still are inside my camera, not yet on the comp. I’ll post some later on.

The guys to my left are not fitting into my positive image of LAN-attendees, too. Nothing against a beer or two, but the effects are inevitable. The two of them play CS:S and of course are purest cannon fodder. At least someone who does as bad in CS:S (while being slightly intoxicated) as I do in Q3A (while being completely sober). Of course they get frustrated and start a little bit of yelling around. But way more decent than the tallish one who was driven out earlier. The two are not downright nasty, but somehow displeasing. Like young lads who for the first time stay away from home overnight—which they indeed are. And now they want everything at the same time. Playing computergames the whole night and simultaneously drinking beer. Which obviously doesn’t go together too well. Nevertheless I stay till 7 AM—then I decide to drive home and sleep in my own bed.

I returned on Saturday afternoon, the two goons beside me haven’t returned and some others are already missing, too. The amnbience now is much more relaxed, very alike the feeling at the LANs I have been before. Again I am into Q3A—call me a masochist. And again spectator mode rescues me from committing suicide. Q3A seemingly starts to vanish from LANs, but right now there again are the ‘real guys’. By the choice of his avatar and certain elements in his nickname I recognize one player with whom I already fought in DM17 at the Gameparade, back in November 2002, the very first LAN I ever attended. He’s a top notch Quaker and I remember that at the Gameparade three of us joined forces to bring him down. All of us had lots of fun in it back then. It’s simply incredible to watch what top-players are able to do in Q3A-gamespace. I admire the skill and don’t mind them fragging me big time—at least for a certain amount of time. Then I go into spectator mode, and this time I decided to stroll around the hall and find the guys in meatspace, which I did. Now I know how they look offline, talked a little to them later, and have to state that they’re overall nice guys. The duel-partner of my Gameparade acquaintance recorded the demo while playing. He tells me that later on he will review the whole match to learn from it. That I call a gamer.

For the first time I try out Quake 4 (Q4) on my comp. After having had a quick glance on it I skip the single-player game and try the multiplayer option. The multiplayer levels are ‘cover-versions’ of the Q3A-levels. They of course are completely redone and graphically ‘improved’. To me they look like someone has poured some buckets of Doom3-looks over Q3A-levels. And then there is a change in relative size. The new rendition of Quakers’ all-time favourite DM17 appears way smaller in comparison to the avatars. To me an essential aspect of Quake-Arena-feeling has been lost. Graphics matter, of course—but gameplay-value and ambience do the more, I guess. To me with Q4 the same fault has been done as with Doom3: Looks and effects ruled over gameplay during the developing process. Just my two cents, though. With CS:S this error has not been committed. The looks have been improved big time, the new looks perfectly serve the original CS-ambience and -feeling, and the gameplay-value is exactly the same: very large. So it’s little surprise that CS, reborn as Source, again dominates this LAN-party.

The other game which I try for the first time and which is widely played throughout the hall is Battlefield 2 (BF2). Again: looks have been improved a lot, compared to BF1942, they serve the original feeling, and gameplay value is not only the same, but improved, too. The smaller size of the maps is open to discussion, but I sense them still to be large enough to have the free-roaming experience. We fool around a lot in BF2 gamespace—then the specialists arrive at our server …

The Fighternight VII is, among others, sponsored by one of the bigger ISPs. And here a perfect example of big company’s naïveté regarding gaming- and cyberculture manifests itself. Hiring goodlooking girls for representing the company is a usual cliché—even a tradition already, thing about the online hype around “E3-boothbabes”—and may indeed work to a certain extent. Given that events like LAN-partys still are male-dominated. Although I observe a slow but steady increase of female-attendees through the years. All right, now there are this goodlooking young girls wearing high-heeled boots and short skirts, walking through the aisles, chatting friendly with the gamers, and distributing lots for taking part in some raffle where one could win a barebone, a ‘shuttle-PC’, or whatever. Nothing wrong about that. But then the girl gives us some card which allows—hold your breath—to download three songs for free from the ISPs newly introduced online-music-distribution system. The player to my right breaks out in laughter, and comments: “Three songs for free! Offered at a LAN-party! At a LAN-party! Have a look at my screen. Guess what I have been doing for the last half an hour …” The screen of course gives live evidence of heavy activity exchanging Gigabytes of music with the other 500plus machines networked together in the hall.