QuakeCon 2004: A Console Gamer's Viewpoint
Let me first clarify that I am not, per se, a console-specific gamer. I do own a PC, though it's not about to win any awards and only has integrated graphics (hopefully not for much longer), and the only (recent) game I have installed is Call of Duty. That being said, my personal philosophy on the PC vs. Console debate is that if you pick one and ignore the other, you're guaranteed to miss out - it's about software, not hardware, in my opinion. My roommates' PCs are high-end enough, and between the three of us who live together there are three Xboxes, three GBA's, a Gamecube, two Playstation2's, an SNES and a Genesis. Needless to say, I like to play a bit of everything. I just can't afford to keep up with the great strides PC game developers are making.
So, anyway, I strutted alone into the beautiful Gaylord Texan convention center Friday, about noon. I had an idea of what to expect - I'm not new to online or PC gaming, and I recently sat and watched a 12-hour Doom 3 marathon, so I wasn't blank to that, either. That doesn't mean, however, that it wasn't impressive.
Rows and rows of computers took up a good eighty percent of the convention center's main room. The lights, of course, were down, and there was very little in the way of vendors and displays in much of the huge room outside of one relatively small section. Rows and rows of PC's stretched on for what seemed like forever, some of them occupied, some dormant. I found it was interesting to walk to the end of the room down the main aisle and look at all the cases and cosmetic mods on the PCs, then turn around at the end and walk back and see what games were being played on them.
About then, it sort of dawned on me that I hadn't actually checked in for the event and probably shouldn't have been inside yet. I found the information desk and got directions to pick up my pass. A few guys from G4-TechTV were right behind me to pick theirs up.
I made my way back downstairs and back to the convention center. I stopped briefly to watch a couple of kids play DDR, then went to the Developers' displays in a room adjunct to main room.
Several heavy hitters were showcasing their hardware here, including CreAtive, AMD, ABit, and nVidia. Doom3, naturally, was the Con's centerpiece, and the bragging point of just about every hardware company there - there was nary a display monitor that didn't have an Imp or Hellknight on it. nVidia was pushing its newest graphics card and had a few test machines set up with a decent variety of games on it. I played a bit of Painkiller, though it wasn't for the first time, some FarCry, some S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and a single player level from the upcoming Call of Duty expansion pack on these machines. I registered at the nVidia booth and secured my Doom3 t-shirt, and meandered off.
Much to my delight, two demo stations were set up - one for the upcoming Xbox version of Doom 3 and another by Activision for a lan game of the aforementioned Call of Duty expansion pack, United Offensive. Doom 3 of course ran nicely on the Xbox, though it was not as crisp as it would be on an updated PC, and I'll definitely dig into it when it becomes available. I was quite excited by the Call of Duty game. A new multiplayer mode called Domination borrows from such titles as Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, the Battlefield games, and the Onslaught mode of UT2004. Five flags were posted around the map, and two teams competed to capture all five and hold them. New features to the game (besides the mode itself) were W:ET - style rank promotions, Battlefield style vehicles, and at least a couple of new weapons. I personally can't wait to get into this one.
Anyway, back to the events. Pro-gamers Kornelia and Johnation "Fatal1ty" Wendel were on hand to accept challenges from gamers, and their sponsors handed out prizes to opponents who - get this - actually managed to score points against them. I didn't bother trying.
Gaming keyboards, cases, fans, lighting, sound and video cards were the main staple of displays. As a not-quite-hardcore-PC-gamer, I felt.... well... like a huge n00b. It didn't occur to me until I got there, either, that the Halo t-shirt I was wearing probably didn't help the blank look on my face.
My ignorance (read: poverty) aside, QuakeCon was an amazing event from any standpoint. It blows my mind that someone could plan something on a scale like that. It also excites me to see that kind of devotion to my favorite hobby from that many people. I want UNITY between PC and Console gamers! We all have so much to offer. At QuakeCon, there was definitely a sense of comaraderie that nobody could ignore. As long as we were there, we were all 1337, Bawls-guzzling, all-nighting, quad-damaging frag hounds, and it was a good time for everybody.
Even if Soldier006 did TK me in Call of Duty. On purpose. Sitting right next to me. Oh well, I still pwn3d my way into second place.