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Twitch and Shout: shoot em up at the old Avatar Corral

Twitch games are fast moving shoot em up worlds in which players battle each other and an assortment of nasty characters, scoring points and building up armor and every more powerful weapons. We should all be glad a nuclear war was never fought and hope that future wars can be fought inside these worlds instead. We are going to take a look at two front runners in this category: Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. Get your twitching finger on that trigger!


Quake is the eagerly awaited successor to Doom, that high speed shoot-em-up 3D wonder of 1994. Like Doom, Quake is played through first-person view and in gloriously fast 3D. The big difference with Quake is that the monsters and fighters you are stalking and eliminating are other real people playing against you through the Internet. Up to 16 combatants can be running around in a particular Quake server (this event is known as a deathmatch). The usual assortment of grunts and ogres are also present, making for complete gore and mayhem.. Dead avatar players and kill bots look all the same.

One of the key cultural icons in Quake is to have the largest totable weapon pointed in front of you. Weapons range from the wimpy axe all the way through various shotguns to the super nailgun, rocket launcher and ultimate thunderbolt. When you pull the trigger, the gun takes some time to come up and fire, giving Quake extra time to overcome that bothersome network latency. As you run around Quake, you pick up new weapons, ammo, health kits and other objects. If you are killed out of the game, you retain ownership of most of these items.

Quake Clans

Another part of the Quake culture are clans. These are like the guilds in medieval fantasy worlds like The Realm. With names like The Unholy Alliance. Terminal Gibbage, and the Widow Makers, you can imagine that these "social" organizations are out there to protect each other while blasting away at their declared enemies. For the low down on Quake clan society visit Will Bryant's super Quake Clanring at:

Another very powerful feature of Quake is that you can build your own Quake worlds (called levels, from their dungeon metaphor). There are several Quake level editors on the market, many of them shareware. THRED, is one of these and can be found at:

Getting your hands on Quake

ID Software provides a shareware version of Quake from their website at: You can also purchase a registered version of Quake from retail stores almost anywhere. To run Quake you need a Pentium-based PC with 8MB RAM, and 30MB disk space. Major soundcards are supported for some pretty gory sound effects.

Duke Nukem 3D

A hot contender with Quake is Duke Nukem 3D ("Duke"), another "twitch" game full of human and non-human combatants. In Duke, murderous aliens have landed in a futuristic (ie: wasted) Los Angeles and human beings are now on the endangered species list. Duke has 28 levels, including a space station and moonbase.

Created by 3D Realms Entertainment and published by G.T. Interactive, find Duke at the official Duke Nukem 3D home page at: Duke can be downloaded in a shareware version or purchased in fully licensed form. It can run on a 486/33 with DOS or any Windows PC supporting a DOS application.

Let's Deal! Boardgames Gone Virtual

Old fashioned board and card games are a natural for play over the Internet and just about every game you can think of is being played out there in cyberspace right now. We will take a quick look at a couple, incluging Hoyle Internet Blackjack, Risk and point you to some sources for many more.

Hoyle Internet Blackjack.

Figure 12.1.1: hoyle1.jpg
Playing in Hoyle Internet Blackjack

The Sierra Internet Gaming System provides dozens of networked multi-player games. One I liked in the board game genre was Hoyle Internet Blackjack. As you can see in the preceding figure, you sit your player "avatar" around the blackjack board, the dealer deals, and you play. Not being an experienced player myself, you can see my paltry winnings here. No real money is exchanging hands but some small Caribbean islands are working on real Internet gambling. An artificial intelligence player called Howie will replace any player who leaves a game and tournaments can be hosted. Could whole teams of Howies play each other?

Hoyle Blackjack is available for Windows by order from Sierra's homepage at: The cost is $14.95.


One of my old favorites, Risk, is now available for play over the Internet. You can match wits with other Internet "generals" with world conquest on their minds. Neworking is provided by Mpath's MPlayer system. Risk must be purchased on CD. See information about it and other games including Scrabble. Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Battleship at Hasbro's home page

Internet Gaming Zone

Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone ("the Zone") provides dozens of games, from bridge to chess to golf. Most are free of charge and many are designed for play over the Internet. A unique feature of the Zone is ZoneMatch lobbies, which allow players to find each other easily on the Internet and start a game. Enter the zone at:

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.