GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE 2005

67 wins - 0 losses

   The Game Developers Conference (GDC) was held in San Francisco this year as opposed to its usual location in San Jose. I was asked to attend the event sporting S3 colors. Why was I asked? I’ve been enjoying playing FPS games on a serious level since Quake 1 was released by id. I love playing at exhibition events in person. These shows are great. I get to see the people that I am playing against face to face, I get to shake their hand and talk with them a bit after the match. It is a much more personal experience compared to playing online and a lot less stressful then playing at a tournament, where the stakes and the pressure are high. I flew in on Wednesday night. I had Thursday and Friday to show everyone, once again, what a pro gamer is made of.

   Over at S3 we were promoting the new, high end S3 graphics card, the S18 Gamma Chrome. The card ran smoothly, we got top fps out of them for Doom III. The really fast shuttle computers S3 had at the show for my challengers and I was great. The game of choice was Doom III. The time limit was set at seven minutes. The frag limit was also set at seven minutes. Map of choice was Delta Lab, DM2 due to its nice compact size. Challengers did not have to beat me, they only had to get a single frag to win an S3 graphics card. For someone who beats me the prize was a top of the line DVD player, in case I remained undefeated throughout the whole show the DVD player’s fate was to be raffled away.

   DOOM III one on one, the event. As always playing any fps game one on one is very intense and it draws you in completely. Nothing else exists. *I am* the guy running around on the map, I am inside. Spectators are glued to the screen as well, it is fascinating to watch a one on one game unfold front of your eyes. Not only is it incredibly intense to watch people good players play live, but no game is ever the same. The infinite number of possibilities often throws something different in your way. Matches can be similar but still, you always have to expect the unexpected...

   The game. During the first several matches I played I got an adrenaline rush as usual. My heart is pounding, my fingers are shaking, I can't swallow, I hear my heartbeat in my headphones mixed in with the regular sounds of the game. As the countdown is ticking, my hand is resting on my mouse and keyboard, my eyes are intently fixed on my screen. 3, 2, 1, 0...

   No time to think, I spawn and I start playing. All the matches I practiced, all the little details I am familiar with, the routine, being able to walk backwards on the map in my sleep is not helping me out much. This is it. I am playing against another player who really wants to beat me. This is not a friendly match against my local LAN buddy that spends hours practicing for fun. This is it... I are not sitting by myself in my comfortable office or living room, I am in a chair, with signs pointing at me, people taking pictures, dozens of people crowding around waiting to see if I can own up to my reputation. The crowd does not know what to expect. They have not seen me play before, the challenger has nothing to loose and everything to gain. I have to protect my name right here and right now. 3, 2, 1, 0...

   I am running on autopilot, thinking, calculating and timing at the same time... The sensation of my heart wanting to jump out of my chest and my fingers shaking is not going to stop, but I know that too well, because I have been there before. I need that first kill to calm me down a bit... The first frag of the match, to scare him and to comfort me... Where is he? What is he doing? Meanwhile I are running my Delta Lab routine...Unless my opponent in exceptionally good my routine will work just fine... Unless...

   Suddenly there we are, in the same room, no time to think, just like thousands of times before, I aim, fire, I calculate his direction, fire again, I am trying to keep track of my health and keeping the layout of the room in mind, can he get away? Can I get away if I need to? Taking, damage, Aim, fire... The score is one zero, I am in the lead... Routine... my fingers are dancing on the keyboard, regroup, reload, get health... Head him off and prevent him getting a weapon unless that interferes with me grabbing armor, etc...

   After the second or third match I am in the swing of things. I calm down, my heart rate returns to normal. I settle in for two days of non-stop playing. My one advantage for the next two days until the very last match: It will always be my opponents first match, everyone gets scared... The better you are the more you realize that no one is invincible. I have seen the best go down. Why? Because it is possible.  I get over this fear when I sit in one spot playing match after match for days. I get used to the crowd, I often don't even see the crowd around me because I am inside the game.

   Each challenger knows how many people are looking on. He knows that the person he is trying to beat is so far undefeated at the event... The person that sits there, annihilating player after player, only taking a few seconds here and there between matches to shake hands and sign t-shirts. You, the challenger are trying your hardest, you just wish that your fingers would stop shaking and your heart would stop pounding so hard as the countdown continues, 3, 2, 1, 0... And the match is on... No matter how scared you are there is nothing you can do about it now, you wish that you realized you did not have a chance after your friend got beat 7 to 0 and he always beats you when you play, but you thought you had it in you... I am tracking you down , I am looking for you, I want the first frag, then the second... third...

   Match after match, I sit there. Occasionally I look up during my matches.  At times the crowd is overwhelming. At one point my friend Elizabeth after a match said to me, “Kornelia look behind you.” When I did I saw over a hundred people glaring back at me. Sometimes it is nice to be lost in your monitor with your headphones on. The size of the crowd adds extra pressure. Overhead big screen monitors are great. It provides spectators with a great side by side view with both players, without needing to get too close. (Even if there are a lot of people standing around, everyone can have a great view of the action.)  The spectators look on and I keep playing.

   One match ends, the next guy is ready, the countdown starts, the match beings. The match ends, the next guy is eager to play, 3, 2, 1, 0… I relax, I even have time to think about things while I play. My mind wonders. (It actually wonders all over the place…) Each player is different. I like the uncertainty of each upcoming match. The unknown is exciting. I like a challenge. I like it when a player is trying to keep me at a distance and I have to think and work for my frag. 3, 2, 1, 0… This is fun. It’s great to just be here and play. Map routine, running around… Everything is going as planned. Suddenly we engage in a close quarter battle. Not only am I winning this particular match, but my opponent has negative one… Suddenly I realize that I am taking a lot of damage and I am too close to him to back away for health… Fire, Dodge, fire, think… Too late! My opponent frags me for the first time during the show!! The crowd goes crazy!  They cheer, clap and holler as always when a challenger gets a frag. Finally something happened that they have been hoping for, waiting for… Many people watch the matches for hours. For the most part I try to make sure that it is pretty single sided. The people working the booth can not escape. They have to be there all day long to watch their featured pro gamer beat up on everyone in a calm, relaxed, calculated way. The crowd chooses to stay around for numerous reasons. They are drawn in by the live head to head duel and it is fun for them to watch. They are interested in FPS games, and they are curious to see how a serious player plays. They play FPS games and they are watching my playing style trying to figure out if they could beat me. They are all waiting for the one guy who will finally get that one frag… I die. The crowd goes crazy. I can hear the noise through my headphones. I immediately respawn, surprised,  I regroup. Here comes the respawn routine. Where am I, where is he most likely to be and where is he going? I am on autopilot. Thinking, calculating cautiously making a comeback to claim the next frag…

   The matches ran smoothly, there were no technical difficulties during the show. I played 67 matches combined during the two days. There were a few strong players, but after the first few initial frags on my part they could not recuperate and make a comeback. Two people each got one frag against me the first day. Both players played well. The first player to frag me had killed himself earlier in the game so at the end of the seven minute match he ended up with zero frags. The second person to frag me was the only positive score of the two day exhibit with one frag. (I played the second day without any of my opponents getting a single frag.) Game Developers Conference 2005. It was fun for spectators, challengers and I had a blast as usual. The DVD player was raffled away to a lucky winner…

 Stats for GDC ‘05:  

Number of matches played: 67

67 wins, 0 losses. 

Frag count, day 1:    Kornelia: 220 Challengers:  0
Frag count, day 2:    Kornelia: 171 Challengers: -3
Cumulative Frags:   Kornelia: 391 Challengers: -3

 Next stop: 3 days of mayhem at E3. Stop by and challenge me!

Four minute video of the Kornelia Challenge.

The booth girls behind me are glued to the
overhead screens... watching Doom 3...

S3 group shot after the show.

Picture of the crowd.