For nine years, gamers have followed id Software around to several different venues to hear the latest announcements, hear keynote speeches from John Carmack and all the guys at id Software, and to haul their computers into the Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area. This year, QuakeCon is bigger, badder, and better than before with nearly 6,000 gamers crowded into the brand new Gaylord Texan convention center in Grapevine, Texas.
This is my first taste of QuakeCon and I must say I am very impressed. However, this event has not always been this big. It started in a very small motel nine years ago with John Carmack funding the space needed for the two hundred or so fans that were present to play games on their own computers. There he gave a keynote speech from the back of a flat bed truck with the small crowds huddles around him in the little motel parking lot. That was then and this is now. NVIDIA, AMD, Bawls, GearGrip, Z-Board, Creative Labs, and others are now funding this event and it is a sight to behold.
Lan gaming is fun. But when you can haul your box, monitor, and all your accessories to a table surrounded by other gamers you have only spoken to through forums and chatted with online, you have an all new appreciation for what gaming is about. QuakeCon is a social event that you must experience at least once. Since registration is free, you have no excuse but to come at least once.
I was accompanied to QuakeCon 2004 by our PC Content Editor John Bean and our Assistant Editor Emily. Emily and me are both experiencing this event for the first time. However, John is a veteran. He has attended five other QuakeCon conventions. Emily didn't have a PC to bring to the BYOC but John and me both did. For most, getting their PC inside the convention can be a complete pain in the butt. But thanks to the fine folks at GearGrip, we were able to carry our equipment with ease. I have a custom built P4 3.0 GHz box and a 17� Dell LCD. John has a custom built AMD Athlon XP 1.5 GHz box and a 17� CRT to carry. While you can't reduce the weight of a heavy CRT, GearGrip provides a wrap around the screen with a nice handle to carry it. Also, using the case harnesses from GearGrip, we were both able to get our towers in with no problems. The best product GearGrip has, in my opinion, is the LCD screen harness. It not only allows for easy transportation with a shoulder strap, it also gives you a hard front that is padded on the back so your LCD won't be harmed. Just make sure you don't drop �em. We will have a full review of these products coming up. But trust me, if you carry your computer equipment around, you need to get these products.
After everyone settled in at their BYOC spot, we went to a keynote address hosted by Cat from G4TechTV. It appears that Cat now does not work for G4TechTV though. She is writing a monthly column for Stuff Magazine and has a new video game show coming on Comedy Central. However, her keynote speech was very boring and the only thing that saved the keynote was some awesome footage of Doom 3 and the announcement of the GeForce 6600. This card will be utilizing PCI Express and will run dual cards in SLI mode. The biggest thing about this card is that it will retail for only $199.99 and offers the same level of performance of the GeForce 6800 cards. Not bad for two hundred bucks.
After the keynote, the press and a few VIP guests were greeted to a reception. Since this is a fan event, I felt sorry that not everyone could get a chance to eat the great food. However, once I had a taste of the food and had a few drinks, I quickly forgot about the fans. I am sure I will get fragged later once I hop onto a Doom 3 of Q3 Arena deathmatch though.
While we still have a few workshops to look forward to on Friday, the big thing will come on Saturday when Carmack speaks. He is having a baby on Friday, the 13th. Apparently, from what I was told, he and his wife plan everything and are very schedule oriented. They actually planned and are inducing labor on Friday the 13th. Sounds like a bad omen to me!
So far, QuakeCon 2004 is a blast. Stay tuned for more!