Sunday, September 04, 2011
Quakecon 2011 started off the same way they all do, with Tim and his friends arriving at my house on Tuesday. I was lucky again this year to get the time off work. Since the Quakecon dates are rarely announced in time, I had guessed the wrong weekend to apply my vacation time. We had a smaller group this year, almost the same people as last year. Tim, Adam, March, Steve, Matt, Joe and Jo all came down. Normally, they arrive early to help volunteer for setup. This year though, a vacation was needed and everyone just used the time to relax and have a good minilan (the LAN before the LAN). They do enough volunteering throughout the event, and it was good to finally see them. Usually, between their staying at the hotel and their volunteering, it would feel like I never saw them.
We were feeling a little skittish about the convention this year, after network outages turned Quakecon into IRC’con last year. This year the Quakecon website was hacked and there was very little information available. It seemed like no one really cared about Quakecon anymore and the magic was dying.
Overall though, I think we were mostly happy with Quakecon 2011. If you’ve ever been to one then you know what it is like. Depending on what breaks that year, they are all pretty much the same. The network was much more stable this year, due mainly to a routed network instead of switches. AT&T sponsored internet was a very welcome addition. But there was a flaw in the network this year. Using routers instead of switches meant that searching for LAN games wouldn’t work. To get into a game, you had to manually type in an IP Address, which is a pain to look up. Lacking an official solution to the problem, I personally started keeping track of LAN Games and sharing the info over a twitter account and the IRC room. It was a detriment to the LAN overall, in my opinion, but not a huge one. My efforts seemed mostly futile as there just weren’t enough people following the twitter accounts and joining IRC. Over time, we just started playing games online, since the speed was good enough. In the end, it didn’t really matter if you were playing with strangers in the room or strangers on the internet.
I played mostly QuakeLive of course, and did decent. The most fun, however, were the Left 4 Dead 2 versus matches we played. There were 8 of us, which is the perfect number for a L4D2 vs match, and of us only 3 really play the game. Dead Air had just been released, so we played a lot of that. It was pretty fun to stumble around as noobs.
The vendors area was borderline empty. There was a Dell/Alienware setup, and some Rage. I think a Silverstone booth sold some headsets. I can’t remember the other ones and frankly I didn’t spend much time there. Ventrillo again tried to give away a car and again I didn’t care. Joe wasted a lot of his time standing around the QuickDraw stage trying to win a chance to play a game and maybe win some money. Some money that they probably won’t pay anyways. I stopped fighting over the prizes a long time ago. I never win and why waste the time.
With Jo’s prompting, I went to more panels this year. They had one which was an interview with some of the key id software employees which was cool. John Carmack is a smart guy and it was interesting. What was less interesting was the PC Perspective event. Year after year we go hoping to win big prizes but as always, nothing. I can’t remember anything actually presented there except Nvidia was there and I can’t remember what they were on about. Nvidia Douche   returned this year with a speaking role. I noticed that every picture I took of him always comes out the same. However, March, Jo and I made it interesting by (joining the crowd in) yelling crude things at them. They couldn’t hear us but it was funny to those around. What was terribly depressing was an actual fight that erupted over a PC case given out as a prize. They wrestled and twisted and fell over each other and we all watched in horror. Sad to watch people’s morality absolutely dissolve at the hint of material gain.
Though it was better than last year, we haven’t decided if we are going back next year. There was an idea floating around of renting a place to set up a big minilan and just have the week to ourselves. Maybe over time it will turn into our own convention. Either way, as long as we keep getting together once a year that’s enough for me.