In late February 1996 I was working on what would later become Windows 95 OEM Service Release 1 and Windows 95 Service Pack 1. We’d learned a lot since the shipment of Windows 95 six months earlier and there were a number of updates and fixes being prepared for the market. Working in our Las Colinas support center, I was one of the leads on developing Product Support Boundaries (meaning, where did product support define where our support ended and someone else’s began) as well as testing for the new software. This involved a ton of research and technical writing, and as well a lot of online support for the hardcore beta testers via Compuserv, Usenet, and other online forums.
OEM service releases were versions of Windows specifically for companies like Dell and IBM and other companies to pre-install on computers and were slightly different than retail copies of Windows in that they were specifically tailored for the hardware the OEM was shipping. So unlike the high of being a part of the development of Windows 95, the following service pack and OEM releases were more boring than an often used metaphor.
One more interesting tidbit in this sea of historically tech mediocrity trivia, I had just been issued a brand new Gateway Pentium 233mhz machine with a 720 megabyte hard drive and 32 megs of RAM. Meaning that, at least for gaming, the machine was significantly more powerful than my home machine. This coincided with the release of Qtest.
It’s safe to say my life would never be the same. Over the next several months I would stay long past normal work hours playing Qtest on my hot rod work machine until I spent some bonus money to trick out my home rig to play it just as well.
Of course I had played Doom point to point over Modem, and even played a 4 player game over LAN. But Qtest showed everyone the power of the Internet as a gaming platform, and just a few months later Quake was released. Quake put forth the concept of a player “user name” on the internet for online shooters. For a long time mine was “Poppin’ Fresh Dough Boy” and my signature rocket kill taunt was “Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven!” But of course I eventually reverted to “Stepto.”
Ping times. 3d cards for glquake. Custom skins. Mods. Rocket Arena. Installing an ISDN line in my apartment to run servers. Capture the Flag. Team Fortress. Grapple monkeys. Gibs. Rocket Jumping.
15 years later.
I’ve never laughed as loudly as I have during Quake matches. The combination of over the top gibs and blood sprays still to this day strikes me as funny. The action of Quake 1 was fast paced and unforgiving. People learned the rhythm of maps first on Quake, how to time getting the rocket launcher then jumping round the corner to nab the red armor and the quad damage just down the hall.
In celebration of Quake, I did some idle querying to see what it would take to run a server and have people connect for nostalgia. I was chocked to discover there is a modern Quake movement out there to update the game and keep its original roots.
Therefore I have set up a Quake server on Stepto.com. First, you will need a copy of Quake retail, specifically its .pak files. You can most easily get this from Steam for $9.99. Second, go here and install the engine for your platform (Windows, Mac, or linux). I chose the Dark Places engine because it is cross platform, free, and dead easy to setup and it looks amazing if you download one of the texture packs for it.
Last, just point your Quake multiplayer game to the address Stepto.com.
I dunno how long I will leave the server up, and for right now it’s only running a very basic standard map rotation. But I played with some randoms last night and had a blast. I might add some maps and bots such that anyone can join and have fun at any time.
15 years ago an amazing technical achievement was released. If you’ve never played it, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.