Friday, September 10, 2010

Quakecon 2010!

Well I forgot my headphones for my flight from Dallas to Cleveland, so all I can do is type.  Yet again, no one else has made a review of Quakecon 2010, so the job defaults to me.

Quakecon time is always my favorite time of the year.  Mostly, I am excited to have my friends come down to Texas to visit me.  This year I was really excited to have everyone over to my new house, with plenty of room for people to sleep, set up computers, and go outside.  With two spare rooms with beds plus the pull-out sofa, I thought I was well prepared, however people ended up ignoring the beds to sleep on the floor, and slept on the sofa without pulling it out.  This year I actually remembered to charge the pump for the air mattress, however it deflated a bit during the day and March slept on an under inflated mattress because I forgot to tell him where the pump was.  Sorry about that.  Sleep always seems like a minor concern though, as they are so tired from driving that they can pass out anywhere and be fine.

The best part of the entire weekend, in my opinion, was my little minilan party that I had for the people who were not volunteering.  My sunroom is a natural candidate for LAN parties.  Our new dining room table extends quite far, and I’m able to have 3-4 people on each side.  Most people have pretty decent laptops these days to make the journey easier, and this helps the minilan setup as I don’t have to run cabling and power requirements are minimal.  I will have to invest in some more fans though, as the air vent is small and the windows are big!  We had fun all day wednesday playing Quakelive and soldier of fortune 2, starcraft 2 was also played.  Quakecon 2010 was off to a good start and it hadn’t even begun yet.

The very second that I had finished packing up my desktop for the LAN, we got word from Tim that the line was moving, and the convention was accepting computers for drop-off.  So we hastily packed up the Jetta and sped off downtown to get in line.  Only to our welcome surprise there was no line!  I’m not sure if there was just no one around, since no one had pre-registered this year, or if the system was so good that it destroyed the line in 45 minutes, but we cruised right in and started filling out our information.  The registration system had its up and downs this year.  It was lightning quick, but the only things you could register this year was a computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and headphones.  Everything else was left at-risk.  I’ve never felt less secure at Quakecon, but most people are decent folk, and as long as you don’t leave tempting items in full view, you’re probably fine.  As far as I’m aware, no one from our group lost anything. 

This year we followed my new seating suggestion, which was to sit our group with the aisle between us instead of the table, which I thought was much better.  I got to sit next to Jo and Matt, but all I had to do to talk to everyone else was turn around and it was easy to talk to Ben, Joe, and Steve.  I also tried to keep Jo and I on a schedule of arriving later and leaving later in the day to be around more when the Tech Desk volunteers were finished with their shifts.  It’s strange to think about being lonely in a LAN party of 3000 people, and I felt that way in 2006, but I definitely had fun with everyone this year.

There were problems however, as anyone who follows the event knows.  The story is, that at the last minute the provider of the network switches and routers backed out at the last minute.  This caused the staff to have to use older, slower equipment which was quickly overloaded.  Internet connectivity has never been fast at Quakecon, but I’ve never seen so many computers tethered to phones before.  These days you are lucky if a game even comes out for the PC.  You are luckier still if it has multiplayer mode.  But now for certain, if it has multiplayer support, you know you won’t be able to play it unless you have an internet connection.  So without the internet, basically every single new game wasn’t working, including their own Quakelive. 

Well you’d think that’s not such a big deal, we can just play some old school games like the good ol’ days.  Some Quake3, Jedi Knight 2, SoF 2, etc.. Only this year was also the beginning of the new authoritarian “no file-sharing” policy.  While I won’t deny there is potential for illegal file transfers, file sharing through direct connect is the easiest way to share legal files like game patches and updates.  While Adam did get a file server up and running later in the event, the effort it took to take files over to him, and get people motivated proved to be too much for most people.  Quakecon can function without the internet, and it can function without file sharing, but without both of them combined, the party largely stalled and became IRCon 2010. 

A big complaint many people had this year was that Quakecon has finally “sold out”.  People point to paying to skip the (nonexistent) line, and the “Quakecon Store” where you could buy shirts instead of fighting for them.  I hated fighting for shirts anyways, so those complaints didn’t bother me.  But I do agree that the vendor area has a different aura about it than when I started attending.  Maybe the new-ness has just worn off, but I thought in the beginning it was more personal.  You could really actually use and test the new products instead of just look at tech specs and demos.  A lot of vendors just play videos, and I have youtube at home.  I forced myself to walk around, but I still don’t understand the rage about Rage or why there is a spaceship there.  Now there are two mustangs for you to win a chance to lose, instead of 600 video cards which would be cooler and more useful anyways.

My usual review of the LAN events still stand also.  The quickdraw tournaments are a hassle to get in the running for, and more of a hassle to actually get chosen for.  I’m pretty sure that the winners from last year still haven’t received their prize money anyways.  About the only reason to actually try for the quickdraw is that Quakelive actually worked on those computers, and not in the BYOC.  Quakecon 09 ruined most of the events in my mind, as I have absolutely no desire to watch people humiliate themselves for a video card that will be outdated in 2 months anyways, or quakecon girls who are hired to distract you from the fact that there’s nothing interesting going on. 

I have a lot of bad things to say about Quakecon in recent years, but the fact remains that it’s still one of the best things that happens every year.  The fact that everyone wants to get together once a year and have a weekend just like old times means way more than a faulty network and stale events.  I’ll host Quakecon myself next year if I have to, and I hope everyone will try to take time in August 2011 to keep the tradition alive.  There were many good times, like the minilan, watching Avatar, going out to eat, and I did have fun playing the games we got to play.  To the people who took the time to come, I still had a great time with you.  To everyone, I hope you’ll come next year.

Posted by eclipse on 09/10 at 06:58 PM
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