By: Jazmine Martin
This year, Dallas played host to the 19th annual Quakecon at the Hilton Anatole. QuakeCon is one of the longest running, LAN based conventions in North America. A true, “for PC gamers, by PC gamers” to gather for four days of, free internet connection at high speeds provided by AT&T, free PC hardware and software given away during panels and other event functions, talks with industry juggernauts and the little guys while continuing the tradition of Live Competitive gaming for the Quake Belt as streamed through Twitch.Tv. Are you noticing how many times free is popping up? You’re probably wondering how a convention of this scale could be free for four days.
iD Software, Bethesda, and new to the family, Zenimax Studios are the backers for the con. With a roster of contributing sponsors (Alienware, Ventrilo, Intel, Logitech, PC Part Picker) and partners of the con, there’s plenty to go around in terms of freebies and previews. No one attending the con is charged any sort of general membership fee, but if you want the swag bag and VIP experience, you’ll have to shell out some extra cash.
For every attendee, the must see area of Quake has to be the BYOC (Bring your own computer). There, PC gamers can set up their customized rigs (monitor, tower, keyboards) for all their table side neighbors and passersby to ogle as they play the latest to old school games. One of Quake’s long standing rules has been for attendees that have registered for the BYOC is not to bring any external speakers. Why is that? Why, for the experience of enjoying a game online without the constant chatter of section AA3 overpowering your combat lingo during a raid. Quake has also created a unique community amongst its fellow gamers as each BYOC has the option of allowing public use of their rigs to, creating mini tournaments that anyone could enter for a fee to, assisting in emergency repair of gear.
One such popular event for the BYOC is Moded Towers on display at each table. Mods are when tower cases, and often the interior of said tower, is transformed into artistic renders of an epic battle of Master Chief vs the Flood engulfing a CPU to, a complete rebuild of the cover with Batman’s signature logo with legos. These homemade concoctions of electronics and fans have been designed for the visual entertainment each as unique as their creators. Attendees were able to cast their vote for the best mods entered in the Case Mod Contest and a cash prize was awarded to the winner. Literally, anything and everything goes with these creations. Don’t have a rig set to bring with you? Alienware and Ventrilo provided rentals for towers and monitors on-site.
Some major additions to this year’s set up was the opening of the Free Play track for non-pro gamers to play competitively for fun and a tournament track for Tabletop gaming provided by Common Ground Gaming. Ticket to Ride and Magic the Gathering were the main tabletop competitions going on throughout the weekend. Announcements were made for Steam games going on a discounted sale from $4.99 –$2.99 to be offered throughout the duration of Quakecon. A handful of recent games by iD, Bethesda, and Zenimax Studios that would be a part of the special on bundles of any 5 combinations included: DOOM classic complete, Doom 3: BFG Edition, Dishonored: Game of the Year, Fallout Classic Collection, The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial Edition, Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition; any 5 for a whooping, $99.99.
Speaking of sweet additions to upcoming games, Evil Within was also introduced as a playable demo in the vendor alley with a set date of release for North America, October 14th. Pre-orders would receive a Fighting Chance Pack that would aide players with weapons and other resources to get through Shinji Mikami’s (creator of Resident Evil series) psychological, survival horror. The game begins at the site of a gruesome murder scene, you are detective Sebastian Castellanos. While investigating with fellow officers, you encounter a mysterious force and witness another slaughter, you are then ambushed and knocked unconscious. This time, you awaken in an asylum and little clues to what or who may have brought you there. Fans of Mikami’s work are already familiar with the need to find resources and conserve as much ammo as possible while trekking through a twisted world of constantly shifting horror and mystery. Puzzle levels throughout the game ranged from timed, surprise traps that required quick thinking to get free to, digging through supposedly dead bodies that would suddenly come to life.
When the time finally came to level up, Sebastian willingly sits in a chair that straps him down and places a metal lobotomy-like device to his head. Once the player has set the skill levels desired, Sebastian’s head is sliced into; wincing and all. Fans of the Horror gaming genre will be pleasantly pleased with this new league player. Evil Within will be available for PS3, PS4, Xbox360, Xbox One, and PC.
In theme with the Evil Within promotion, the Good Within blood drive for the American Red Cross was planned for onsite blood donations that began Friday afternoon. Donors were given an exclusive, Evil Within blood pack that resembled the donation blood packs for participation.
Quakecon is the convention for spreading the love of PC gaming as well as finding out what’s fresh on the digital streets. Both underground gamers to indie reporters could be found roaming or even camping out in the hallowed halls of Quake in search of that elusive $10,000 raffle ticket or, chugging Bawls energy drinks for $100 gift cards to catching flying merchandise from workshop panels. If you’re looking for a way to network or just want to meet others who still play with a dial up tone, then QuakeCon is for you.