QuakeCon 2005 open for business
Fans of id Software's classic first-person shooter series have made their annual pilgrimage to Texas.
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GRAPEVINE, Texas--The bustling Dallas/Forth Worth airport is always busy, as it is the night before QuakeCon. The annual convention, which used to be a small gathering for serious Quake fans to enter into competitive tournaments has now become big business. The event has left its home city of Dallas and is now being held at the fabulous Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in nearby Grapevine, Texas, a hotel complex so huge that you might actually miss the convention if you didn't know it was being held there. Then again, this is Texas, where everything is big, from the gift shops to the $35 steaks at the hotel restaurant.
The morning of day one there aren't any colorful cardboard standees of Quake characters, but there are the customary lines of dedicated fans either sitting cross-legged in the carpeted hallways or standing in long lines hauling heavy CRT monitors and elaborately decorated cases for their computers. These are fans who are looking to enter into BYOC ("bring your own computer") competitions for fabulous prizes provided by such bigwig sponsors as Nvidia, Intel, and Alienware, which have sizable booths on the show floor.
The huge show floor is split into two halves. On one side lies the competition area, with row after row of computers, which doubles both as a venue for the online competitions for Quake II, Quake III: Arena, and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and for the "case mod" competition, where judges will determine which devoted fans have tricked out their computer cases with enough decals, glowing lights, and doodads to take the prize of best case mod. On the other side lie the booths for major and minor hardware vendors, as well as multiple setups to play Quake 4 in multiplayer, which is also where we ourselves got our hands on the game. Crowds of players of varying skill levels hover around the monitors, watching, playing, or waiting in line to play. In the meantime, id developers hold private sessions in meeting rooms off the show floor to demonstrate the single-player game of Quake 4 on both the PC and, for the first time, the Xbox 360.
The QuakeCon agenda also includes another screening of the Doom movie (following the screening shown earlier this year at San Diego Comicon), in addition to a keynote address by elusive id Software luminary and renowned programmer John Carmack. Members of the press are looking forward to the address, playing Quake 4, checking in with the major hardware manufacturers, and seeing the game running on next-gen console hardware. However, most everyone here is looking to get onto the show floor, plug in their PCs, and make use of their finely honed shooter skills. QuakeCon is now open for business.
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