I was trying to coax a Jabber server on my Unix box into spitting out some custom XML when I heard it. I remember this vividly because I was wearing headphones at the time and it was louder than my music.
It was a really meaty, satisfying sound and one that definitely stood out during the afternoon, even in our bohemian San Francisco startup office. I assumed it was Lee doing some “research” and so I turned Kruder and Dorfmeister up a notch and carried on hacking.
I clicked C-x C-s on my Emacs editor, took my headphones off and walked around the corner to where Lee’s workstation was. As I approached his desk I could see he was playing an FPS but it looked like it as running too fast.
“What’s this, is your emulator running at the wrong speed?”
“It’s Unreal tournament, watch this.”
Lee’s character then leapt like superman to the top of a ships mast and then fired an absurdly large gun. His point of view switched to the missile leaving the gun, which he then guided with mouse using shock and awe like precision to bring it down on the head of his enemies. The missile’s camera fizzed from a grey interference to black static and the game was over. Lee’s character then did some sort of victory jig followed by some lurid movements toward the losers.
‘What does that mean?”
“Oh, good game. It’s like a form of etiquette”
For about the next year, at the end of each long and hard working day, a domino rally of startup meer cats would look up from their monitors, look for the approval of fading intro screens to Unreal Tournament and double click their U desktop icons. And for the next hour or so we’d connect over the LAN and become Diablo, Narayan, Courtesy, Midknight & Powers. I lost myself totally in those tight twitchy mazes as my Seinheisers played ridiculously loud John Digweed mp3s. At times I was so immersed and flooded in adrenaline I literally couldn’t shoot straight as my hands shook so much.
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