So I guess this is it. Haven't launched Quakelive in a while, and have barely played at all for the past few years.
Haven't watched any demos or events for years, and lost the need for it.

I guess many have been posting the same goodbye before me, and I haven't ever been a very important figure in the community, so no big news here. It's just me waving goodbye to a game I've enjoyed for ten years.

Why now ? Because of a fortuitous chain of events, starting with these posts which were brought to my attention by my old mate Lofwyr who, for some reason, 3 years after he stopped playing at all, started beeing accused of beeing a cheat.

But I won't debate about that anymore. It's just that it brought me to think about the past 12 years, a lot of which I've spent playing regularly a game called Quake (all of them, actually), and how everything that went on during those years seems to have been forgotten and lost by most.

So this is both a post about remembering those times, and about saying goodbye.

* DISCLAIMER : this post is a lot about Clan Arena. Read it at your own risks. *

How did I start playing Quake ? My internet gaming story starts around 1998, with my first internet connection, a lousy 33.6k modem lent by a friend of mine, and Action Quake 2.

I remember that game very well because it is linked to my discovery of the internet.
While a more or less "realistic" modification of Quake 2, it still retained the Q2 physics, with double jumps and all, and was very much a skillfull and fun game. Especially with the playing conditions we had. :)

While a few years before, the most extreme gaming experience I could imagine was a two hours two-players NBA Jam session in one of my friend's living room on good old SNES, a few years later, I discovered LAN gaming with Jedi Knight 1, and Action Quake 2, and soon enough, my best high school friend and LAN buddy lent me a 33.6k modem and helped me subscribe to the internet.

I installed mIRC and ICQ, Gamespy, and all of a sudden, I was playing with all those guys from all over Europe for hours, several times a week, communicating with them on a daily basis !

It was a great time, we were all discovering all of that, and enjoying it a lot.
There were no leagues, few clans, most clans were mostly about gathering to have fun playing together at the same time on public servers and taunt each other, and "clanwars" mostly consisted of random encounters on public servers between two clans which would turn into chaotic gang fights to "protect" our "territory" (read : our favored server).

For us, it was the Joystick servers (from Joystick magazine, the biggest french gaming publication at the time, on which official Undernet IRC channel I've known many of my future Quake pals, notably soixante, oued, Heartaxe, DeepoS, Parker... And a bunch of others, would be too long to name them all, and I'm pretty sure none of you would recall any of them anyway).

With latencies mostly ranging from 150 to 350 ms (best case scenario for me with a 33.6k modem), the rest was largely a matter of useless details... Hitting two shots in a row was an achievement at the time, especially with 60 Hz 15" screens and crappy ball mice on even crappier mousepads, plus the added latency of crappy hardware and configurations...

Latencies got better, hardware and configs too, and soon enough Quake 3 was out, but I didn't care much for it at the time. Action Quake 2 had that model designer nicknamed crt, who designed a mod for Half-Life called Counter-Strike, for the sole purpose of testing his modeling skills.
That's how one of the most popular online game ever was born... Just like Quake was born out of a poor, rushed attempt at creating a 3D RPG with a superior graphical engine.

So as almost all my friends switched from AQ2 to CS, I followed them and spent a couple years playing CS, slowly losing interest in a game that was a lot slower and getting even slower as patches went by.

That's when the, I think, 1.4 beta of Rocket Arena 3 went out, in the summer of 2000. A couple of my friends, including soixante, followed the path of some of our IRC pals who happened to be the spine of X3, one of the most notable french clans in RA2 during the Q2 days, and we got into a clan created by soixante, called *BunK*. In a way the little brothers of X3, in a way, because it ended up beeing a very different experience, mostly about making fools of ourselves and enjoying it a lot.


That comeback to Quake was the start of eight years of fun for me, as grumpy a player as I have been (and boy how annoying a cunt I have been at times), as unperfect as Quake 3 was, I re-discovered it all amongst one of the most fun clans the french scene ever had, close to some of the finest players the french scene ever had, from the old QW grunts like moun who taught me a lot about TDM, QW and CPM, [X3]DeepoS, and all those X3 guys who haunted the RA3 servers day and night to try and get the most out of what fun RA3 had to offer - some like Snowstyle or Dayak never even accepted to play a league game, despite beeing arguably some of the most skilled players of their time !

There was also one of the best CA player ever, if not the best, together with a great clanleader who rebuilt X3 from scratch around 2002 and made it one of the best european clans, Lofwyr, who later became one of my closest friends. But I'll come back to that.

With them I experienced it all : the first few big Q3 tourneys, the Ice Climbers, fatal1ty, blue, I can still remember that T4 demo where we discovered the blue bug and that anonymous newbie who beat blue thanks to beeing practically unhittable ; Lofwyr showing me that relatively unknown teammate of fatal1ty's, a "czm", who was supposedly a great teamplayer, and whose Lofwyr probably was the biggest fan ever (imagine a 13 years old girl at a Justin Bieber concert, and you'll probably get it right), way before he became a 1on1 player, and one of the best Quake players ever ; the rise of clans like aAa, bx*, the growing competitive streak of the younger players, the aliasing, the cheating accusations, some of it valid, most of it wrong ; the top of it all, which has to be the ESWC 2005 Final between cooller and czm, even though our favored czm lost it because of that goddamn fucked up rocket jump (WHY czm, WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US ?) ; I remember the LAN Arenas, the CPL events, the ESWC's, the Quakecons ; good and bad times altogether, most of it beeing good times, filled with new experiences.

As a player, I discovered the rocket launcher and rapidly learnt to love it, beeing rather good at prediction after years of very high ping gaming ; I decided to get an isdn line to be an "lpb" (untill the average client settings changed, maxpackets 100 and so on from the cable and DSL guys started flooding my poor little 64 kbps line... :) ).
Dayak taught me how to dodge, because at the time experienced and skilled players enjoyed passing on their knowledge and teaching the beautiful game instead of despising newbies, also participating to a better community spirit, passing on "ground rules" which favored certain ways of fragging, respecting the other players, not killing a guy during an obvious lag, not camping but rather doing our best to meet and fight each other so that spectators wouldn't wait for too long, going for the beautiful frag with style rather than the easy kill, etc.

I also remember that, at the time, aliasing on public servers was a very rare and lame thing that most players didn't do, using the exact same nickname they used on IRC. We knew each other and had fun playing together.
Yes, this time existed way before Quakelive accounts - but I guess everyone has fake QL accounts for public server games by now.

Of course not everybody adhered to that, but it worked rather well for the most of us, and if we hadn't been so young and lousy at dealing with people we disagreed with, it would have probably gone on for many years this way.

This is what defined the X3 spirit, and their playing style, and when I got better and X3 accepted me amongst them (years later, after the first generation collapsed and was replaced by their latest recruit Lofwyr who built it all over again practically from scratch), this is what made it one of the best times of my Q3 history.

We tried for many years to impose our offensive playstyle based on close combat, against the odds, despite an overpowered railgun which made the game really defensive and sometimes extremely boring - I remember that induce vs some clan (X ?) Clanbase final which lasted like 4 hours....

We spent a lot of time thinking it over and discussing it, getting better at it through practice and experience, and eventually winning games.

Lofwyr was our mastermind ; in addition to beeing our top player, he was also the leader, the brains behind it all, the one who got most of us together, and made it all worth it, the thousands of hours spent talking about it and practicing 3, 4 times a week to get to where we wanted to go, weighing the cons and pros of many different strategies, re-designing our way to regroup, setting key points to control in all maps, adapting to every possible gamestyle, from the campiest defensive play to the most chaotic scandinavian evading FFA .

I also remember how we tried to make the game better for ourselves and the community.
It was in Lofwyr's living room, while I was the french Q3 league head admin, that we decided to come back to Quakeworld's and Q3 OSP CA's 100/200 health/armor setting, while the norm was 100/100 at the time, so as to diminish the dominance of the railgun.
We later made it 200/100 for the purpose of pain sounds beeing disturbing for those who were used to 100/100, and imposed that setting in a summer fun league, just to try it out. We had access to most french servers' adminning rights, so it was rather easy to force the try on everyone.

To our great surprise, it was later largely adopted by the community, first spreading on public servers, then beeing voted the default setting in the french regular league, then in every league, the very conservative Clanbase included, and even in Quakelive CA later on.
Funny, all those years later, to remember how it started with a little RA3 brainstorming session in the middle of one of our week-end parties, and how it took off and spread later on. :)

The game got a lot better thanks to that, even to those who favored railgun a lot and found the game much more challenging that way, and thus it got even more fun and X3 started to get really closer to the playstyle we favored.

We never were the Barça of RA3, for one because players like myself lacked the genuine talent and superior thinking someone like Lofwyr had, but boy did we try hard to get there, and how much fun that long path was, and how gratifying those few big victories we earned were. :)

Well, actually, X3 did come close to beeing the Barça of RA3, but that was after I left them, after one of my reknown rage bursts.
I happened to act really stupid at times, easily getting angry for things that really didn't deserve it, and this was probably the most stupid thing I did - although it was probably for the better for X3.

Alas, before I could come back to X3, RA3 started dying for real, making X3 lose interest due to the lack of competition, getting in the final of the last big tournament without practicing at all, and still getting close to winning it.

And Quakelive was here, sucking up most of the few remaining active players.

So I installed QL, and started playing it, in a clan for starters, but that never was the same. No clan could compare to X3, not even come close to it, even by far.
I've tried many of them in many mods, TDM with alpha and the likes of St_Germa1n, sayan, garfield, etc ; CTF with holyshit and the likes of kharn, plag, sayan, zebulon, etc ; and many lesser clans, but I've never found the same drive to really get better and stick to our way of playing the game in any other clan.

It was hard enough to find a CA clan with all of its players really caring for CA, having fun getting better at it, instead of despising it while still playing it...

So I gave clans up, and started playing on public servers. We still tried to reform X3 a year ago, and of course failed. Work, lack of interest, etc... I guess that was the final go at playing Quake for me.

Since then, I barely even launch Quakelive or open any Quake-related website, and even when I do, I still don't feel like playing anymore. Even a cooller game doesn't make me curious anymore. I don't know if I've seen it all or if the game failed to get better. I guess a bit of both.

Point is, before I said goodbye to Quake, I had a few of my many memories I thought were worth sharing with you. Hope you enjoyed it.

So this is it.
Goodbye Quake, you were born in a weird fashion, out of a rushed project which turned out not beeing what it was intended to be at all, most of your features were bugs or implemented by the community, and you could have been better in so many ways.

But we really enjoyed you nevertheless. Thanks for the tons of fun, and thanks to everyone I had fun with, and especially everyone from X3, of course.