Yesterday 5punk.co.uk was ten years old and I wrote about some of the games we’ve played and peoples’ memories of them. In celebration we played some games last night – lots of us did, maybe twenty at one point. In order to get all those people together we had to find games we all had, and it comes as no surprise that those games were all first person sh0oters. Maybe it’s because they’re easy to pick up because they’re mechanically similar, maybe it’s because they’re convenient to drop in and out of with any number of players. Either way, shooters are so popular among 5punkers that today they get their own article.
Before I even joined 5punk the stage was being set for our antics. On the forums last week Fabyak thought back to early games of Unreal Tournament where every 5punker downloaded badger skins and, instead of playing properly, did that badger dance. I didn’t witness this, but I know 5punkers – this will have gone on for a long time. Later we would return to UT with a special blend of mutators. For a long time Dr Kitteny Berk maintained a game server for us – named Bukkake – and upon this we had the brain melting combination of instagib, 300% speed, a very small map, and about a dozen players. We collectively could manage about half an hour at a time before vomiting and bleeding eyes set in (or eye tinitis as Mr Johnson described it when we resurrected it briefly last night).
The grand-daddy of 5punky shooters is Call of Duty: United Offensive. Never has so much meme been owed to so little by so many. Most of the entertainment came from custom maps, specifically broken ones. Bonneville, also known as ‘that one with the railings beginning with M’ was famous for having several areas where one could climb to places where one shouldn’t have been able to climb. This rarely gave any kind of tactical advantage, more often just making people a target, but we did it anyway for the hell of it. This has become something we call ninja climbing and attempt to do in most games, although rarely with such success. Bonneville was, naturally, also famous for its railings, which were impervious to bullets.
Most popular was a map called Quarantine. On the surface it was a well designed circular map, with a nice mix of cover and open spaces, and a circular flow which conducted people naturally into conflicts. Better than that though was the AIDS cannon. On top of a rather vulnerable garage, on a well travelled part of the map, was a mounted anti-tank rifle. As a weapon is was ineffective and far from worth the risk of using it. However, it was its bugs which endeared it to us. When you fired the AIDS cannon the only indication was that it silently shook. No firing noise, no explosion at the other end, only a shaking gun and a player animation which looked like he was wanking off the gun. Naturally this delighted us, and it was named for the silent, shaking death it caused. Getting kills with the AIDS cannon was notoriously difficult, but this only made it better. If you wanted to be overt when using it you could shout ‘wank it!’ over Teamspeak. Even better was if you got a kill, prompting cries of of ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAIDS!’
Quarantine was enhanced further by our discovery of an oversized bath which, in the course of ninja climbing, we found you could climb into but not out of again. Rather than avoid this deathtrap 5punkers flocked to it. It was in a building with three entrances, making it a moderately risky proposition to hang around, and when people began to defend the area during their climbing antics the game of Capture the Bath was born. This was almost a sport to us – it took on complex tactics of feints, rushes, and misdirection in an attempt to get one player close enough to slam-dunk a grenade and kill the enemy team who were huddled in its enamelled shell.
Call of Duty 2 came later, although to slightly less enthusiasm. We still tried to climb, and we still captured baths, but the sparsity of bug-ridden custom maps limited our fun to what we made ourselves and a mod which dropped a piano on you if you team-killed. The final CoD game to be taken up in large numbers by 5punk was CoD4, which had very little broken fun but was chaotic enough and a balanced enough shooter to keep us playing for a good long time. It did have its comedy moments though, such as when Roman convinced a former member who, to be brutally honest, never really got our sense of humour, that you could install CoD2 twice and play CoD4.
Battlefield 2 was a big game for us. We often find that because of how well we know each other we inadvertently play well as a team, and BEEF (as it was known) caused this phenomenon quite often. It wasn’t all harmonious though – Pnut, in a move which would later be repeated in many other games, famously killed an entire squad in an early foray into helicopter piloting, by backflipping it straight into the deck of the aircraft carrier the second it took off. A helicopter was also the scene of another meme courtesy of a Deject and Bobbins gunship duo. The gunships came armed with TV guided missiles for destroying enemy vehicles, but I’m not sure Bobbins was quite sure how to use them at the time. So when danger loomed and there was no retaliation, Deject was heard over Teamspeak screaming “FIRE THE TV MISSILES!” in a mixture of panic and rage, much to the great amusement of everyone else. Not all the fun was in the game either. I believe it was Deject again who commented, long after everyone else had noticed (not me actually, but I kept quiet. Sorry Deej), that the loading screen between games showed you what the next map would be. By far the most funny BEEF-related event for me though, even though it was a little troll-y, was convincing a drunk Pnut that we were playing a dinosaur mod for Battlefield 3, stifling our chortles while he searched for the download in frustration and talking about how overpowered the T-Rex was. Sorry Pnut.
Counterstrike Source has been a constant for most of 5punk’s existence. It also happens to be the source (pun not intended) of another 5punky meme – the tournament. Back in around 2007 there were several attempts to organise one of these mythical events. 5punkers were paired up and amusing names derived. Roman and Bobbins became team RO-BO, creating a monster which almost destroyed the world. It didn’t, but it did destroy the tournament, winning it at least in some part by default. Predictably half the teams didn’t turn up, I certainly don’t remember playing alongside Gunslinger as team Gun Pants (or Dogslinger, I had spraytags for both). Most famously, and source of yet another meme, was the hapless Bob47 who deftly avoided his round multiple times, culminating a last-minute concert. Henceforth our tournaments would be plagued by ninja-concerts, appearing suddenly from nowhere.
Being a competitive game, and being quite a large group at the time, clans often challenged us to matches, or scrims, which we defined as “where two clans or teams play each other, not sexually.” Being a completely uncompetitive group we always declined, usually by stating that we are not a clan. This became a mantra at one stage, reflecting but not quite replacing the community slogan of ‘the gaming equivalent of a kickabout in the park.’ Both persist to this day, along with the rarer tertiary slogan of ‘we’re shit.’ Famously, back in the early days, there was an attempt to create a competitive Counterstrike clan within 5punk, known as 5perm. It went as well as to be expected, without a single game played.
Counterstrike Source has also been the platform for a few popular mods. Recently the discovery of a variant hide and seek mod has led to hilarity in trying to hide in obvious places, visions of fire extinguishers scooting along behind the hunters, and garishly flashing objects which are meant to be inconspicuous. More about those antics can be read in the Friday Diary blog posts. Long ago the zombie mod prompted ingenuity from the undead team in trying to reach well entrenched survivors. When one tried to escape the hordes by standing on a ledge to stream the zombies into an easy killing zone, 5punkers tried to dislodge him by creating a tower of zombies beneath him.
Piles of 5punkers are a reoccurring phenomenon, related to ninja-climbing. In an early one of our occasional forays into Planetside 2 we found that Vanu tanks, the hovering Magriders, could climb like goats. This still leads to us positioning them in unlikely places (a tactic not unique to us, or indeed to that vehicle, in PS2), but at the time we came up with our most glorious use for them. While attacking a walled off tech plant we discovered a rocky overhang which was close enough to a tower that you could almost jump your Magrider over the gap. When several tried and failed, we realised that by piling tanks up at the bottom we could create a bridge. We did, it worked, and has been used as a successful tactic several times since.
Less successful has been our troop transportation. In the style of Pnut’s Battlefield 2 helicopter antics, I myself killed 12 of us by rolling our APC, while LegoShoes has done the same in a dropship at least once. Even when we survive, 5punky transport turns into a comedy road trip of bad driving and terrible navigation. More deliberate but no less funny was our cloak trolling. Trolling is perhaps a strong word really, but when Roman realised that a cloaking and uncloaking infiltrator made a somewhat sexual squelching noise we all took to the class and produced a cacophony which sounded like a pornographic record breaking attempt. All except Pnut that is, who abstained because he found the noise repugnant. Naturally, we trapped him on the roof of an APC and surrounded him with squelch.
Some games never stood a chance of being played correctly. SWAT 4 was a tense game of tactical and methodical close quarters battle, where weapons must be used as a last resort. For 5punkers it was a game of shooting your teammates with bean-bag guns and tasers at the worst moment, then giggling. Joint Ops was a hardcore military sim in the same vein as ArmA (antics in which I hope someone else will elaborate on in the comments). It was used by us as a sandbox for silly vehicle based antics, such as the tower of tuc-tucs, and the purple-and-green-smoke-spewing speedboats. Tactical Intervention was never intended to be that serious, it was meant to be a spiritual successor to Counterstrike, but the discovery of a level which consisted of a car chase led to long nights of hilarity for a brief time. The broken physics meant that it was more Wacky Races than Bullett, and we took this as an excellent excuse to piss about, much to the dismay of the lunatics who were actually trying to play the mess of a game properly.
I’ll end this piece on first person games with a recent favourite, which can be read about in the Friday Diaries. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare boasts a wonderful melee combat system, but more importantly silly physics and screaming. We’ve found a few conventional ways of entertaining ourselves – pink outfits, silly runs, amusingly shaped rocks – but the star of the game for us has been the increasingly rare low gravity mode. Our amusement at gliding through the air, screaming and flailing, is almost endless. There was more fun to be had than hacking at each other one night recently though when someone invented peasant football. It was realised that, on an objective mode map where you have to attack or defend a group of peasants, you could issue them a swift kick and send them into the air. The real objective was abandoned in favour of trying to boot the hapless peasants between two buildings.
That recent note concludes our nostalgic trip through 5punky shooters. Tomorrow we finish on community tales, of memes and bashes and MMOs.