So it's been a bit over a year since CS 1.4 came out, triggering my migration to Challenge Promode Arena. All I really knew of this mod at the time was that it had a lot of things I'd be missing from CS 1.3; mainly fast weapon combos and being able to land shots while jumping and dodging. I was never a fan of having to stand still to hit people with hitscan weapons, either.


I bought Q3A when it came out, played FFA on and off for a year but basically felt like I wasted $40. I didn't know of gaming IRC networks where I could find people to duel online, and I've sucked at online FPS games since 1997. Sure I was amazed at demos from players like Makaveli, fatal1ty and ZeRo4 playing on the pro-circuit at the time, but it just never inspired me to actually attempt to get good at vQ3 after a few failed attempts at 1v1.

So I started playing CS at b6.5 not because I thought it was better than other games, but because I could always find a server to pub on. Initially I played on server hosted on campus where everyone got sub-20ms pings. Soon I got tired of ping whoring, so from versions 1.0 to 1.3 I played CS with the regulars at the first NuclearFallout server in Seattle (I live in Los Angeles).

enter ProMode:

NuclearFallout not only gave me a place to play CS with regulars, but also got me on gaming IRCnets. Not having much luck finding a populated CPMA server to play on, I naturally went to #promode on ETG. I enter the channel, and I look for someone and a server to play on. At the time, I didn't know anybody either online or in Real-Life(TM) who played this mod, I think I just found a link to and got interested after reading some of the columns and articles.

In #promode, a friendly guy named Drexciyian gives me the IP to the QuakeShit server in New York, and we both hop on. We're in warmup, and he's already flying around cpm3 with a weird combination of bunny hopping, double jumps, and rocket running; cool beans. After figuring out the map for a bit, I type '\ready' and prepare to get beaten down like the newbie I was...

10 minutes later, I'm completely in shock at how he managed to not only destroy me, but he did it while running circles around me as if he was on a different timescale. Wow! I expected the ownage, but I didn't expect it to be done with so much *style*. I had seen lots of good demos since the days of QW and Q2, but damn, this was *it*! Getting my ass handed to me by more excellent Promode players, namely Apheleon and gellehsak reinforced one thing: No matter how many beatings I'd take, I want to get good at this game. Not only that, but to move like they do.

Sure there are plenty of good players who can play well with their aim and
strategy alone, but I wanted to take advantage of the crazy movement and physics that makes Promode unique in the FPS world.

A few months after I started CPMA, the Challenges 1v1 tournament caught fire and popularity of the mod exploded thanks to DonKing. The cool guys at NuclearFallout were kind enough to let me run a server for the mod, and Speakeasy soon had servers at PoPs all across the nation. It was always fun to play and move faster day by day with new players trying the game out even though I was usually getting owned.

One year later:

I've been able to move fairly comfortably around most maps for quite a few months now. My trick jumps still aren't as consistent as I'd like them to be (which would ideally be Apheleon level ;P), but I can do most of them most of the time while under pressure, and being able to move well just feels good.

I don't play TDM or CTF much due to time/scheduling conflicts, and my movement-oriented, item hogging, aim-challenged playing style is not effective at all in TDM. Maybe I'll work on being able to win fights without needing 3 times the armor and health as the other guy this year :P I left a great clan of wonderful people (much love to Chatkill!) since I had trouble fitting practices in my schedule. I never know when I can/can't play/coach with usable ping (sharing DSL with 3 other roommates is w/o a router doing QoS is like that *sigh*), and it's always easier to find one person to duel once my roommates are all afk.

In 1v1, I'm having a blast against most people I play. There's a decently large pool of players that I can have tight matches against on any given map and hour. My movement and timing are fairly good; tactics and rocket usage are decent; but my LG and rail aim leave a lot to be desired. But this can lead to a lot of very interesting and _close_ games where my opponent has twice my accuracy and I have twice the armor/health pickups.

Both my LG and rail are consistently inconsistent, probably due to faster opponents and myself focusing more on map control, movement, and tactics rather than aim. I LG anywhere from 5-20% regardless of whether I ping 20 or 120. My rail is the same across those ping ranges at 5-40%. Of course well-predicted rockets hits and grenade combos are much more rewarding to me, so I end up sticking to those :) Instant-weapon switching in this mod is like having up to 8 alternate-fire modes on a gun; and leads to some very flashy and exciting kills.

About spawn rapes (aka #1 complaint about CPM duelling): I've never been terribly bothered by them. As a newbie, I got spawn-raped in every DM game I played anyways, but Promode movement and sound allows me to evade my opponents while I'm figuring out how to bait, fake and draw them away from items that I want to win back control with. The sharply defined control shifts in 1v1 ensures that most reasonably large leads *can* be erased as quickly as they were built. In semi-close games, every single frag has a huge weight on the rest of the game, so every mistake and misstep the other guy makes can be exploited.

So this is where I am after one year of playing the greatest game I've ever played. Hopefully there will be many more years of this game to come, and I'll be a bit closer in skill to Apheleon and rat than I am now. Unlike nearly other games out there, this one has no gimmicks, nothing to artificially limit the better players; just the most rewarding and fun gameplay I've ever known. Hats off to the Promode team and all the players who finally made the $40 I spent on Q3A in 1999 feel worth it.