Some time ago, well, about 2 years ago I think I asked for blog access on this site. Until today I've never used it. I had in mind some big article talking about some of my History in Quakeworld, almost like my memoirs as it were - how I got started, fun games, sad games, clans I played in, memorable matches, changes in the scene etc. You know, the sort of fairly personal thing that would probably bore a lot of people, especially newcomers to the scene, but also bring back a few memories from people I've played with and against over the years. Due to personal circumstances I wasn't really playing any more and it seemed like a good time to write it. I started drafting a copy at work back in 2007 and it reached about 32k in size (rawtext) before I abandoned it half-finished. Purity would have been proud.
But this article isn't it.
This article is just some thoughts I have about returning to the 'scene', or more specifically, the 4on4 scene. I haven't played an official map since May 2006 and only around a dozen maps between then and a month or two ago. I've never 'quit qw' - I don't think that is ever something I will do - but a combination of lack of time and rubbish connections have left me mostly just playing a bit of frogbots or FFA here and there over the past 3 years.
So anyway, what has changed since I was away? From a technical perspective, development seems to have been pressing ahead as fast as ever. QTV is a great addition to the spectator experience, and I like the stats churned out from KTX. Teamoverlay seems a bit cheaty for playing but no doubt great for specs - the commentator is now virtually redundant
Some further strides towards optimum quake experience seems to have been taken too, I like cl_earlypackets a lot, although how much of that is down to a placebo affect I don't know... but yeah, in my opinion this is one area that sets QW apart from most FPS games. Even if you ignore the quality of the gameplay, I've yet to see a more advanced 'gaming platform' than ezquake+qwfwd+mvdsv+ktx+qtv, which nobody outside the scene would expect from a 13 year old game that hasn't been maintained by the developer for 10 years.
So what about the clans and players I see today? Looking at the Div1 EQL signups, from the old days the only top clans I can see are tVS, fOM, FS and SR, and their lineups have, not surprisingly, all changed to some degree from what I remember them. Perhaps what is more interesting is looking at players who have improved during my absence from the scene, at least in my view. Suddendeath seem to have developed a pretty solid game. I'm loathe to name any specific names (in case they think I'm saying they sucked 4 years ago!) but there are also a few players I've got raped by in mix games recently that I would definitely have viewed as easy meat back then. And of course, this is as it should be. If you stop playing for a while, it's inevitable that new blood will come through and improve, just as I did 10 years ago.
But what about my own game? Well, I've been using a 22" TFT screen for the last 3 years but inspired by the human reaction time test in the forums, I did a bit of experimenting with my old 17" CRT and have been playing with that the past couple of weeks. I was getting frustrated with meeting a player with the same ping, pressing shoot and then dying without even getting a shot off. Still happens (I'll be turning 30 in March, so my reactions aren't what they used to be!) but a little better I hope. Now that I have a playable ping again I've also rejoined my former clan Boefje, that I played in about 5 years ago under the pseudonym Maverick (my original QW nick, that I changed because I discovered that a top UK player of the time already had it). I mentioned SuddenDeath earlier and we used to play them quite a lot back then, I still remember one prac on dm3 where SD had 2 pents, 4 rings, 17 quads and we still won
Looking at their play now, I suspect we couldn't survive that many powerups from them again. We have been placed in div1 which will be quite an experience if I play some maps, even at my peak I was only a midtable div1 player at best so after 3 years of rust I can see months of humiliation ahead
In terms of actual teamplay, I don't know what anyone else thinks, but returning after a break the hardest thing I find is getting used to reading msgs and being aware of teammates again. All those hours on FFA may have kept my aim from tarnishing too much, but they sure as hell haven't done much for awareness of teammate status and saving items etc.
Overall it feels like the skill level in QW has actually closed up a little in recent years. Not just due to the apparent 'retirement' of some elite legends (where is Hib? Fix? Shiva?) but more because your general average clan player now seems to have decent aim and 'game knowledge' (item timing, places to shoot - 'routine' if you like). Mistakes are more likely to get punished than I remember.... I can see my fuckups really getting exploited this season
Regardless, it's good to be back...