loonyboi's Quake III Bus Tour Report
Day 1: Houston CompUSA

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Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
August 23, 1999

August 22 - Day One: Houston CompUSA

10:00 AM

So, I'm writing this from the inside of the Q3 tour bus. It's definitely a classy job in here…it's very much air-conditioned, which is certainly something I'm into. :)

The nine PCs are all AMD Athlon 550s, with flatscreen monitors (some of which are those kickass Apple ones that I love so much). The bus' interior is dark…very dark, actually. They've put a tarp over the windshield, and therefore have actually blocked out any natural light.

The only real light in this main reception area that I'm writing this from comes from the back light on the massive Q3 logo in front of me. There are some small overhead lights that are pulsating slowly between blue and red, showing off different hidden designs on the tour poster on the wall (it's mighty nifty to look at).

I found out how the exterior was made: essentially, the exterior art is just a big digital printout (if you get real close, you can even see pixels) that's "shrinkwrapped" around the huge thing. I guess that's the best way to do it…a heck of a bunch better than actually painting it, I suppose. The thing feels like a demented rock star's bus. I guess that's what they were aiming for, and in that regard, it works very well.

More later, after I get a chance to play and people show up.

11:50 AM

The fun has begun! Whee! There are now eight very happy gamers fragging away on the machines.

Some overheard comments: "Damn! Look at that eyeball, dude!" "Who's a camper? Kill the camper!"

I find the fact that despite the extremely close proximity between each of the players, at the end of the matches, people are still typing "gg" very amusing. Hey, at least they're cordial.

Here's the way the whole thing here works: people wait on line. The radio station is out there doing their thing for everyone waiting in the heat, which certainly helps. Eight people at a time are brought in and seated in the main area. They're given an intro to Q3 (for those who need it, that is). Once that's done, they're brought in and set up to play.

For experienced people, they play two matches on the new maps with a frag limit of 20. New gamers (fresh meat) are given typically one match up to 20, which is usually on its own separate server (to give them time to learn).

The winner from the match gets a swanky Q3 t-shirt, and everyone walks away with a mousepad, cup, and poster. On their way out, people fill out a survey and enter to win an all expenses paid trip to LA for the last bus stop at Activision (and get still more free stuff when they do).

Okay, cool stuff. Dig: Anna asked, "so how did you guys hear about this?"

Responses: "website." - "Blue's News."

Life is good.

The most common question seems to be, "when will the game be out?" To which Anna's response is that it will be out, "when it's done." Groans from the crowd usually follow this. The level of experience thus far has been fairly high…I guess the hardcore users got here nice and early.

A couple of people have said that they played lots of Doom multiplayer, but not Quake 1 or Quake 2. I suspect that there are lots of people for whom that's the case. It'll be interesting to see how many.

I've been "recognized" a couple of times so far today…that's pretty strange, but it's nice to know people are reading this stuff and like it enough to introduce themselves. I haven't even seen last night's bit online yet, but people are already commenting on it to me. Thanks guys…I appreciate it. :)

1:00 PM

Whee! I just played against a bunch of guys. I really like the new maps. One of them is a decent sized elaborately laid out map, while the other is a tight, confined arena that's great for insane DM carnage.

I did remarkably well…I'm chalking it up to the fact that I practiced on the maps earlier. We've had one minor goof so far today: unfortunately one of the PCs blew out its speakers (although I suspect it's just a loose cord or something). We've got back-up speakers, but until there's a spare moment to switch it, one unlucky soul will be playing deaf. I walked down the line and talked with some of the guys outside. They're all really nice, and happy to be here. It's a total love-fest out there.

The radio station's got several cases of that Quake II: Quad Damage set, and they've got a carnival style hole in one set. You sink two out of four puts, you get a copy (and a drink cooler, and a t-shirt, and some other stuff). I tried, and damn…I sunk the first one no problem, but screwed up the rest. Oh well.

1:35 PM:

Phil, Brian, Seth. There. These three guys agreed to get us staff people something to drink in exchange for getting mentioned on this here page and a cool beans Q3 t-shirt. I'd say it was worth it, wouldn't you?

And hey! I finally managed to sink two puts. I didn't claim my prize - better to leave it for the others, I figured…but it was the principal of the whole thing that I cared about. :)

1:30 AM

Boy, I can't believe I haven't done this in twelve hours. Weird. I feel like I'm going through withdrawal. :)

Anyway, the afternoon continued much like earlier…lots of people came in (it was a non-stop stream of people from start to finish). I played a few more times…any time there were only seven (or less) people who wanted to play (sometimes people just wanted to watch) I hopped onto the spare machine. I even won a couple of times. Yeah, baby. Ph3ar my m@d sk1ls y0.

I had one particularly good match with a fellow that plays under the handle UltrA. It was always a question of one frag - one minute I was ahead, then him, then me…and so on, until he won, 20 to 19. One of those classic matches. Great playing dude. I want a rematch. ;)

I got to meet lots of really nice people, and was completely surprised whenever someone recognized me. Heck, one guy even approached me inside the CompUSA and asked if I was Jason Bergman. A little creepy, but I still got some kind of kick out of it.

I am pleased to say that I managed to spend an entire day at CompUSA and not buy Everquest. My goal of never playing it continues. I did, however, pick up some floppies ("film" for the camera), and Super Mario Land 2 for the GameBoy (hey, I need something to play now that I've finished Pokemon, dammit). I also saw that PCGamer that has Carmack on the cover…I should have bought that as well…I imagine I'll pick that up for the plane ride back.

Anyway, after the festivities came to a close, Anna, David and I did dinner and then went out to see American Pie. The movie was good…it's enough to make a New Yorker blush, but it was definitely a good flick. I'd say it's the best film of its kind since Porky's, which everyone knows is a classic (pop culture trivia: what holiday movie was written and directed by the same guy as Porky's? I'll post the answer tomorrow, assuming I remember).

Oh yeah…regarding screenshots: unfortunately, as the PCs in the bus have almost everything non-essential disabled, to enable the ability to take screenshots could be a security hazard. Soooo…actual physical screenshots are impossible, I'm afraid. But, as I'm armed with the Blue's News Gratuitously Expensive Camera™, I've taken some pictures to show off the new model. Hope that's good enough for now…post what you'd like to see from the maps to the message board, and I'll try to get some shots for you guys. I aims to please. :)


Tomorrow's stop

The Houston Chronicle. That should be interesting. More to come…stay tuned. Whee!

Day One Photos ||| Read Day 0 - The Introduction || Back to Blue's News