Saturday, November 27, 2004

Let's not argue about who killed whom.

This week, my brother is visiting from DC, where he has been going to school. We were very excited to get together, because since we last saw each other this summer, both he and my older brother got new computers that are now capable of playing decent games. So, we planned, and when the time came, he snuck away from his wife and her family, and we played some Half-life.

There were a lot of concerns about this, because I’m an experienced player, and they’re all more or less complete novices. My DC brother got the game about a few weeks ago and played through the entire single player game in a surprisingly short amount of time. My youngest brother joined one of the LAN parties with my friends at this forum, but didn’t stay long or do very well. He’s an unbeatable Halo player, and we were doing well to get him away from Halo 2, which he just got recently. My older brother is very new to the entire multiplayer FPS experience, except for occasional games of Halo, which isn’t the same.

So, to counter my experience, I went out looking for new maps, so that I would have to learn all of the maps instead of having intimate, practiced knowledge of their layout. My early efforts at finding maps were disappointing. I found a couple of maps that their author was very proud of, but it turned out that they had very limited weapons, and they were extremely difficult to move around in. They were the sort of maps that a couple of players could easily control against an arbitrary number of opponents. Then I found The Snark Pit. It’s a forum for map developers, and they turn out some great work. I downloaded a lot of maps, and they clearly show the improvements that come from peer review. They are beautiful maps to be in (especially one that with snowfall, giving it an idyllic peaceful feel), and most of them give great game play.

So, Thursday (Thanksgiving) night, we got together and spent about 4 or 5 hours straight blasting each other away through half a dozen maps. They made some good progress in their skills, and so I think that at least two of them (the younger brothers) could hold their own in the Phischkneght LAN parties. We gave up because we were getting tired and our reaction times were dwindling. The peak of the evening was when we were playing on a small map (the Snark Pit review said it was only good for two players) that was just a small open arena. I had a tendency to get the long jump module and jump all over the place, leading my brothers to dub me “Spider Man”. We had a frenzied bloodbath. It got too intense for us, and we had to finish up with a peaceful round of Crossfire.

We managed to get together again Friday night, and we soon decided that the only map we wanted to play on was this arena map. We spent about an hour and a half there. It was insane. My youngest brother and I were neck and neck the whole time (he was usually ahead by 5-15 kills until near the end when I took the lead), and the other brothers had about 2/3 our scores. At the end, the two higher scores were over 300, and the lower scores were over 200. I had the most kills by a small margin, and also the fewest deaths by a much larger margin. In all, there were over 1000 kills during that time, meaning that the average life span was less than 30 seconds. It was the best round I have ever had, with bullets, rockets, and trash talk flying freely. About an hour after the game ended, I had finally calmed down enough that I wasn’t shaking. I think I’ve still got some adrenaline pumping from it.

Anyway, I need to play again. The next time we have a LAN party together, I have about 60 MB of maps for us to try out. We may find a few new favorites. Plus, the less we play Subtransit, the better.

[Edited to correct the size of my maps file from 60 GB to 60 MB. Give me a break. I was writing at 2 a.m.]

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