The warm summer nights brought a lovely, slightly warm temperature to the outdoors, loud crickets, romantic evenings, and plenty of other things I'm sure I missed. These nights I did not spend in hot pursuit of a potential girlfriend. These nights I did not take relaxing strolls through the neighbourhood. These nights I did not slowly breathe in the fresh air and listen to nature. These nights I fragged. Religiously.
I could scarcely believe it at first. These supposedly hardcore gamer friends of mine were relative newbies to this geeky fun. Their occasionally noteable Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament scores meant nothing. Their Starcraft rush tactics were meaningless (though, regardless of their status as gamers, I would always hold this opinion). The slightly confused looks on their faces when I referenced the auto-aim of yesteryear or a somewhat well known Heretic deathmatch level a friend of mine's brother had made all began to make sense. These friends of mine... they had never been baptised in plasma. They lived lives of void. Their deathmatching alter egos were born after Hell had been beaten back. A space marine wasn't a previous profession to them: It was a vague legend. They had never played Doom!
As I confirmed this with each of them, I could hear the menancing MIDI theme of Doom II's title splash screen in the back of my mind. These boys had no grasp of the odd nature of the BFG9000's blast area. They never knew the satisfaction of seeing a persistant and lethal cyberdemon dissolve in a cloud of blood. I doubted they ever even played a game in VGA, without the ability of the engine to produce levels with multiple stories, an engine with a "low res" option that took away 640x480 and presented an even blockier world of 320x240. They didn't know Hexen. They didn't know Heretic. Doom was almost a myth. I dare not even ask if they knew of Wolfenstein.
Fortunately, I had a copies of Heretic and Doom II: Hell on Earth on my hard drive, which I had reinstalled in a fit of nostalgia (or perhaps a subconscious order from the deathmatch dieties). Unused to the engine, the graphics, and the weapons as they were, I proceeded to christen the boys into the original realm of (relatively) popular multiplayer those summer nights. No flags. No customisable names. No customisable skins. You were Green or you were Brown or you were Red or you were Indigo. And you didn't access the multiplayer menu from within the game.
Meet DM.EXE. It will be your guide tonight. Oh, and welcome to Turbo: 250.
That first night I discovered that reaching 100 frags will look like 00 frags because the space for displaying the number of frags only holds two digits. We continued to play until I was in the 200 range. Even after that, some continued on without me. I don't know why but it was fun introducing them to my ammunition again and again with such ease. And, I think, they grew up a bit too.
A mostly true story.