Computer games, yep, I used to play them. Quite a lot even. If I remember correctly, the first game I played was Nibbles, or Snake, as you would call it nowadays probably. This game with the snake eating things and becoming longer all the time, you know it. I was seven, eight maybe? I was playing on an old 286 still with green-only monitor. As a kid, computers were something quite holy and expensive at first, that I weren’t allowed to touch too often.
But the situation became better quickly. We got some shining new 486 with a color monitor. Colors!! And all those lovely jump-n-run games that were suddenly available! Commander Keen, Duke Nukem 1+2 … I guess about this time I started to run into arguments with my parents about how much I was allowed to play the first time.
We got the first Pentium and with him, a 10 MBit BNC network card, this amaizing 3dfx graphics card and a 33.6 kbaud modem. I remember destroying my first mouse by intense playing of Tie Fighter and X-Wing, as I didn’t have a joystick and the mouse control was quite awkward. We also started to connect our computers on some small LAN parties, playing Duke Nukem 3D and Quake I, and had our first tries in playing online. And my parents tried to stop me from playing by setting some BIOS password.
So, how to fix that? Watching the fingers while typing? Sure I tried, but it was too fast, and they noticed that I tried. Putting a camera there? Maybe, but expensive and not easy to position inconspiciously, given the big cameras at that time. Fortunately I already had had my first programming lessons in Pascal at that time, so I could solve the problem by writing a program to catch the password. It was IDVS, the first password I ever spied out. And I was fucking proud about it!
Naturally, my success arouse suspicion after a while, as I of course used it to play at times, when I was officially not allowed to play. So they changed their strategy, and instead of setting a password, they switched off electricity for my room completely. The fuse box was in the basement of the house and my room right below the roof. Sneaking down the stairs to plug in the fuse, after they had switched it off, was doomed to fail. So I needed to find another solution.
Do some rewireing within the house? Well, they’d notice that. Get a cable from the roof to the neighbours? Maybe, but they would probably support my parents parenting efforts. But hey, the roof! Just over my head there was already the 230 V cable connecting the houses with electricity … why not just use that? I knew the basics about voltages and that there was no further transformer within the house, so just putting some cables there should do the trick. I put in some more effort, to have a robust connection, even if the wires were shaking in the wind, and that there were no issues, even if things got wet from rain. Then I tried it out with some simple lamp, and as it was bright shining without burning through, my smile was probably even brighter than the lamp, and I was online again.
Online, yeah! My first steps playing in leagues and clans online was with Half-Life team death match and TSK. We didn’t play too well, but the whole HLDM league in Germany consisted of only 20 teams, so we played somewhere in midfield there.
After lots of complaints at home from my side, we finally got ISDN and the pings dropped to around 70 ms, so playing first person shooters was even more fun now. I switched from HLDM to Team Fortress Classic. TFC caught me for quite a while, as it offered much more variation and strategy then HLDM. My first TFC clan was ALI, but it was only a short stop, as it disintegrated itself quickly. We gave birth to =IT=, the Inquisitors of Twilight, and I was proudly designing my first background for a clan homepage.
=IT= had some moderate success, but suffered some internal arguments after a while. So I joined NVA, the New Vaccination Army. Thanks to Riipa, the clan homepage is still online and I’m even alive in the member list! We managed to get a name in the German top leagues, but always kept secure distance to the top. Playing in the selection of Bavarian top players was an honor for me, though.
The end of my TFC career came, when Valve introduced some patches to Half-Life, that basically aimed for more reality for Counterstrike, but ruined the used gameplay for TFC. With a fellow NVA mate, Warez, I switched to Counterstrike and joined r7 alias Rainbow Seven. To my disgrace I have to admit, that I was responsible for hosting the homepage rainbowseven.de myself, but I had shut it down some years ago, so it’s not available anymore.
It was the times, when we got our driving licenses, and LAN parties became really huge and popular. The biggest one, that we’ve been to, was the gXp3:arena with more than 2000 players in Göttingen. For training and team building I remember a very nice bootcamp in the Hesse hills close to Marburg, where I got to smoke my first Hookah. On the smaller LAN parties and as a kind of distraction from CS, Starcraft and Age of Empires II remained popular for quite a long time. Epic battles were fought there, and Simon probably still hates Werners and mine Chinese Cho-Ko-Nu Connection.
Our best rank in the German CS ladders was about place 30 of several thousand registered clans. It’s maybe comparable to playing in second Bundesliga, and we took it quite serious. Lots of tactics discussion, training, training games against other clans, and official ladder games. On the big national CS events, we never had a chance, but on the more local LAN parties with 400-800 players, we collected an amazing track record of second places.
Did we actually win one of those midsize LANs? I’m not sure anymore. Anyways, we had a quite good and harmonic team, and one of the LAN parties in Bavaria inspired r7-Rudi to the following video:
A bit later, r7-Hotte came up with his private best of collection:
About the time, when I finished high school, I stopped playing CS quite abruptly. Keep playing seriously was too time consuming, and playing less intense and less professional was not too motivating, as it involved losing too often. Besides that, after some years of playing CS, it was somewhat played out, so I had a break of playing in general for maybe two or three years.
The game that caught me again was World of Warcraft. I played the feral druid Navaria on Frostwolf and initially joined Traces Of The Past, a guild, where some former r7 members had teamed up again already. We fought our way through all the big caves and beasts there. I played PVP more or less successfully in the battle fields. And one day I saw, that I had already played more than 100 full days. 100 * 24 hours, which directly translates to maybe a full year of time, where you could have worked on something else.
That’s when I stopped for good.