Note: Release this early as I’ve missed a few. Thanks for reading!
I remember the time fondly. Having switched away from gaming on computers (via my C64 and the like) I had been hooked on Nintendo console and handheld systems. One fateful day, I went over to my friend James’s house to play on the new computer he had built, which in and of itself was a new concept to me. He also had a massive stereo system connected to it. It was at his house that I first encountered real network gaming. He started Quake 2 and joined a deathmatch server. I was floored. I had never thought of such a thing, here we were, playing a game against real PEOPLE across the INTERNET. I never laughed so hard at getting beat down in a game, and I wanted more. I wanted to get better. I was hooked.
I started pricing computer parts the next day. I ended up with a Pentium 166mmx (gives you an idea of the timeframe here), a Riva 128 video card, and a couple of game recommendations from James. I installed and played Quake 2, never getting very far in the single player as each new patch for multiplayer killed your savegames. I started going to PlanetQuake, and that’s where I found out that there was a whole community of people coding modifications for games. I installed a couple of the most popular, Rocket Arena 2 and Jailbreak. Rocket Arena (2 for Quake 2, it was available for all the Quake games as well as UT and others) takes deathmatch combat and evens the playing field. A player with knowledge of a particular DM map could dominate based on knowing where to get all the items and weapons, not based on skill. RA2 just gives you all the weapons allowed (based on map/server settings) and once you get killed, you are out for that round. IIRC, You could play one-on-one or team matches, though my favorite were the maps that took everybody and split them in to two teams. Mayhem.
Jailbreak is another teamplay mod, again splitting players into red and blue teams. You have a base to defend, the major difference being that upon death, you were put in a jail. Your teammates could then attempt to break you out by busting in to the enemy base. Some maps also had a way to break at least a few of your guys out of the jail cell, if you could get some cooperation. Both mods, in fact, first got me thinking about team-based play as fun. Up to that point, my attempts to play CTF usually ended up with me going back to regular ol’ DM. Now I gave it another try. (UT’s CTF really sold me though)
These mods, along with Starcraft and MechWarrior 2 (the other game witnessed that fateful day) are what got me back in to gaming on the PC platform, and I’ve been there ever since. Even though it seems to be drying up a bit with the advances console gaming has taken.