Monday, March 28, 2016

Random rant about FPS games

This is just something I felt like writing, it may be too long for your taste, or too short, or it may not be something you want to read at all, it will be about nothing in particular, but a bit about FPS games, so let's begin. As a kid, I was an atypical nerd, physically weak, socially awkward and also not very bright, so it would not surprise anyone that I, as most nerds, sought escape in computergames, but while the bright nerds dwelved into more complex genres, such as point and click adventures, real time strategy and role playing games, I sought to the first person shooter. FPS games such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake, game me a place to call my own. I remember vividly the first time I saw the difficulty/episode selection map in Quake, I must have been 11 years old at the time, and I felt right at home. I imagined, with virtual reality, a multiplayer game of quake, where people would just hang out in that map, not shooting each other, just hanging out and being friends, their true faces and voices hidden by glorious polygon models with brightly colored armor. I wanted to disconnect from the physical world as much as possible, and live inside a more comfortable, artificial world, and still connect to people. Had it not turned into a decadent sex party, SecondLife might have become exactly what I day-dreamed about as a 11 year old kid. Eventually, running around in an empty world becomes boring, and then you start to play the game, or you quit it like I did, and start up the Duke3D map editor (build.exe) and create your own worlds. I made quite a few, shopping centers, post-apocalyptic survival shelters, my own house, a rough outline of the street I lived on. None of the maps featured monsters, only a few weapons, where they looked cool, and lots of architecture. I didn't give much thought to gameplay, I just liked to create environments in which one might artificially dwell.

At some point, I moved on to WorldCrafy, building maps for ActionQuake2, only a few maps, and I don't believe any of them ever reached the internet. That's besides the point, this was during a time where LAN parties where still the only way to connect your computer to a high-speed network, exchange files, and play computer games with other human being, who were also guaranteed to be at least somewhat interested in the same stuff as oneself. I started makig maps to be played during LAN parties, and we had some fun playing those. This was about the time that I started seeing the virtual environments as my home, they were places I knew well, where I felt comfortable being. Knowing a multiplayer map like the back of your hand, even when you're only ever playing multiplayer at LANs mean that you must be spending a lot of time within those empty maps at home, and I did, much of the time, I was just walking around, looking at things I've already seen a million times before (at least if each frame counts for a "time"), anyway, I didn't do much but practice jumping and think lightly about attack patterns and where peoples heads were likely to pop out. There were no real analysis (remember, not too bright, just not the analytical type). This behaviour of walking around in empty maps may have come from a lack of access to new games, because there are very natural limits to the amount of new media a 12 year old kid without Internet access can be exposed to. Not much later, Quake3 came and changed everything, it was an awesome game, raw and fast and tight, it was the last real Quake, and it was home. Quake3 was made for people like me, who liked to repeat the same mindless task again and again in persuit of perfection. A place where the brain could be fully saturated with tasks, without having to do any of that difficult and annoying thinking. It was, and still is, a place to waste time while feeling like you're having a great time. True escapism. I never mastered Quake3 to the point where I could consistently go through the whole thing on the toughest difficulty, but, leave for a few maps, I think I could take most of the AIs on Nightmare! Anyway, more advanced FPS games have taken over the popularity from the puritan (by choice or technical constraints, who knows, who cares?) Quake3 style games, and that is where my interest in the genre largely stops. I've got nothing against the Modern Warfare, Battlefields, Borderlands or CounterStrikes, they are just not for me. I've been out of hardcore gaming for too long, so when I do once in a while join a Warsow or UrbanTerror server, I got my behind served to me, and that's the way it should be. I'm going back to the basics, realizing I've never completed a lot of my childhood games, I've only most recently completed Max Payne, Redneck Rampage and Blood, and I'm going through Duke3D and (the new, then the old) Shadow Warror. The new Shadow Warrior is a rant for another time. I am also, so very rarely, playing Action Quake 2, when I can find the time and friend willing to waste an evening in front of a Pentium3-666 mhz with a Voodoo2 card, greetings to HiFi and the others who are keeping that game alive so far past it's technical and cultural expiration date! I just recently saw a major code-cleanup and PERFORMANCE!! enhancements on this old piece, which, by the way, will run just fine on a raspberry pi, it is a true joy to see that love is still given to my favorite game.
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