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Hello, My name is Hoony...   3 comments
My name is Richard Sandlant, I’m 38, married with a baby girl, and I live in Sydney, Australia. For the past eight months or so I’ve been looking after our little girl at home and working on Challenge stuff in my spare time. If you’ve ever had a child to look after, you’ll know “spare time” is a relative term.

My usual work is consulting and research, but I’ve been lucky enough to really develop my “hobby” with Quake over the past few years. Outside of Quake and computer gaming, I’m interested in surfing, movies, and a good beer.

The sort of stuff I like to write about, is anything that I find new and interesting. With Quake, the entire development of the game into a "sport" has been of huge interest to me. You can check out how I started the Challenge network with CHAU and how "everything seemed new" in the archives I've collected from CHAU's first pages, right here. In those days, it seemed like every day held another cool discovery. The term "International Quake" seemed like a radical concept. In fact, I used to have a little saying: "International Quake will Rock Your World". These days, no-one would bat an eyelid at that, which just shows how far the game has progressed in that short time.

The sort of stuff I like to read about is event coverage and any sort of discussion or analysis about the game and where it might be heading. The sites I like to check out every day are, not surprisingly, the Challenge sites, though Cached is good for US coverage and Izn0 has always been good for coverage and general discussions. I used to enjoy Methos and FPS Spectator also.

Outside of Quake I like the David Letterman Show and I’m a Star Trek fan (particularly TNG). I don’t have time to visit many other Web sites – I might check out Shugashack. In terms of other interests - I used to be a surfer in my younger days, I once managed a student Bar (loved that job), I play the guitar and was once the "lead singer in a band", and I studied political science for about 10 years in University. I've got a Ph.D and I'm pretty well-read in political and economic theory. These days I don't read much at all, perhaps because for so many years I speed-read my way through the most turgid stuff imaginable.

My nick - “Hoony” – came about through a bit of free-association really. I was just about to go online for the first time at Multiplay, an online gaming company which I had joined as a Business Development Manager, and I needed a nick. I started hitting keys randomly, and “Hoony” came out, although I had the name “Honus” in mind after watching a demo of M3.

My current gaming rig is a PII 450 with 128 MB RAM, and a Voodoo3 2000. I use a Logitech Wingman with a 3M pad. It’s nothing too special but it gets the job done. I started off using the right mouse button for “forward” but changed about a year ago to the standard w,a,s,d set-up and found it changed the way I moved quite dramatically (for the better). If I had the time to practice I’d be an average player, but as it is I’m pretty bad.

About gaming in your community:
I live in Sydney, Australia, and Australia produces some of the best players in the world (witness Reload (Q1) and Python, Lobby and Scoob (Q3A)) but due to a number of factors it’s very hard for our players to be the very best. For starters, our Internet is pretty bad by comparison with the US or Europe. We’re only just getting cable as a widespread system for gaming. Most of our players were modem players until recently, and to get a decent game Australia had to develop a very active LAN scene. The second reason it’s hard for Australia is the sheer size and location of our country. We’ve got gaming populations in different states who may as well be in different countries, and if our players want to play in the US or Europe they have a long way to travel. Luckily we have NZ and Asia nearby but Australia hasn’t really had the sort of competitive opportunities available to the Euros or the Americans to develop it’s talent. However, while obstacles like this might make it harder, we definitely have the talent and these obstacles can be overcome.

The Australian Quake scene is loud and brash, and loves to be crude. Aussie Quake news tends to be liberally sprinkled with stories that will make your hair curl and other stuff your mother would be shocked to see. I’d say this trait is very English, actually. Our gamers pride themselves on being able to say what they like, and the more outrageous sometimes, the better.

Aussies are also fiercely patriotic (did you see “Aussie!, Aussie! Aussie!, oi, oi! oi!” and “Reload will own joo!” at TGi and the Razer/ CPL?). If you pass the muster (“caw”), you’ll find Aussie Quake players are friendly, generous and big-hearted.

As mentioned above, the Quake scene in Australia is spread out across a large and sparsely populated continent. This leads to a lot of distinctive communities and inter-state rivalries. The Western Australians are so far away that they only see the East Coasters once or twice a year. Due to the lack of online action, particularly inter-state, the local scenes have organised themselves around regular LANs. Every now and then, somebody organises a national LAN and all the tribes meet. Australians are great lanners, often lanning somewhere every weekend and often for several days straight. They don’t worry too much about hopping in a car and driving for 12 hours to get to a big LAN in another state. When they arrive they just brush the Wombats and Koalas off the Roo-bar of their 4-wheel drive and crack open a tinny.

There are great players from Australia that are well-known internationally. Reload was and still is one of the best QW players ever seen. Although he was beaten soundly on DM4 by LakermaN and other top Euros, he was undefeated on DM2 and we think that if he had the exposure to European talent for long enough he’d be owning all of them just like he owns Australia and New Zealand. In Q3A Python is in a similar class, and Lobby and Scoob demonstrate the depth of talent around the country.

The best site to find links to local Aussie sites is, of course, Challenge.AU, though the writers at CHAU haven’t been updating it as much as they might have done recently.

About games you play :
I’ve been enjoying computer games since the early 1980s, but I only really got a chance to get into them “seriously” with Wolfenstein, DOOM and Quake. The FPS genre is the one I enjoy the most. I’ve tried strategy games but find them too time-consuming. When you’re my age there are just too many things to do so you want a game that you can drop into quickly and leave after 30 minutes. I also enjoy the “immersive” experience of a good FPS game and I am fascinated with the 3D engine and all of the design issues involved.

I used to play QW online a lot, by modem, but when Q3A came out I switched my focus to that and unfortunately it sucks on modem so I don’t play online any more. My wife lets me go to a LAN once a month, but my life is so busy that in practice this hasn’t worked out either. Unfortunately, I also spend too much time on Challenge stuff – administrative tasks, writing articles, helping Challenge people, projects like Challenge Pro Mode, and all sorts of things.

I usually give all the decent FPS games a good work-out – such as Half Life and Unreal Tournament, but so far Quake is still the best game in my view. Why do I keep coming back to it? The most important thing is probably that id Software have consistently managed to make Quake (even Q2) "feel right". Even the graphics, models and animations are good enough to “suspend disbelief”. I still think Q1 is the "perfect" game, Q2 is not bad but not real good either, and Q3 looks great and feels nice although I think the gameplay is too newbie and mass-market orientated.

I haven’t checked out EverQuest yet, though I am 99% certain that I would like it very much. The only reason I haven’t checked it out is because I know it would require time to have a decent look and time is one thing I have very little spare.

Time constraints have also prevented me from being in a clan or playing Quake competitively, although I would love to have tried both. I’ve played 4on4 only once or twice, at a LAN, and had an absolute blast of a time (even high-scored my team in one game, though we still lost that one). I enjoy 1on1 as well. Perhaps I should just drop Challenge entirely and pursue my real interests as a “player”? It wouldn’t work – I have family responsibilities and that means I can’t be relied on to be available for practices and clan matches, or to really support the team. As far as 1on1 goes, as we all know the key to success is a great deal of practice and once again I don’t have the freedom to be able to do that.

When I played online, then, it was mostly FFA. I actually liked FFA, even playing with horrendous packet-loss and a ping of about 250-300. I enjoyed CTF as well, but not TF. I didn’t really have time to try out all the wild and wacky mods for Q1 and Q2, though I know that, especially for Q2, they were half the fun.

My favourite map in QW was DM6, though I loved FFA when DM3 came up. In Q3A I enjoy DM13 the most, though I only have the opportunity to play bots.

My “all-time-favourite” moment from gaming would have to be taking Reload to the TGi, closely followed by the Village Challenge LANs that GreySeer and I did. The whole experience of “discovering” international Quake with Challenge.AU was enormously enjoyable.

The people that I admire the most in the Quake scene are those who contribute something positive to the advancement of the game – whether it’s playing it or organising stuff for it, writing about it or dreaming up new things that we can do. It’s the people who only complain that I have the least time for.

And the person that Hoony chose to profile next, is Marie from CHFR :-).

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