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Hello, my name is Jjonez... ? 21 comments

Hi, I'm Wouter Ruythooren, 27, from Mechelen in Belgium.
In 1996 I graduated as a materials science engineer and for the past 4.5 years I have been doing research at the university of Leuven and at IMEC. I'm working towards a Ph.D., which I hope to obtain before the end of the year. The topic is magnetic materials in microelectronics.
I like working in this environment as it gives me the opportunity to basically do whatever I want. I love the international aspect too. At one time, I shared the office with a Greek, Bangladesian and Bellarussian colleague, which lead to many interesting discussions about culture, politics, religion and sometimes even work. Of course, research can also get frustrating when months of hard work turn out to be wasted because of a misprinted comma in a table, and there are more pleasant things then saying goodbye to a colleague who returns to his/her home country (which happens quite regularly).

Below I have gather some information about myself, as Hoony requested.

IMEC, the place I work at
KULeuven, the other place I work at

As you will probably understand from the remainder of this profile, QuakeWorld is one of my major hobbies. Besides that, I have some more clasical pastimes I enjoy. I like to read books by Umberto Eco or Tolkien or plenty of others. Unfortunately, except during holidays, getting my cable really took a huge byte out of the time remaining for this.

Of course, I like to do stuff with friends; usually we end up having dinner and either going to a movie or just drinking until late in the evening. Discussing the supposed deeper meaning of the stories we just read takes up plenty of time.

I used to travell a lot during my engineering studies but unfortunately that has slowed down a bit. I've seen a fair bit of the world, but Asia still needs to be explored.

Sometimes people wonder about my passion for computer gaming, and they typically worry about the violence in Quake. I usually try (and mostly manage) to convince them that it's no more savage then chess and probably better training for mind and body.

Computer Games
I have been playing computer games for as long as I can remember. First on my dads Commodore PET, which must have been around the start of the eighties. (Incidentaly, I am sitting right next to a CBM 4016 here.)

We had an early console system connected to the television set with Pong, Tank Wars, Dogfight; the regular stuff. Not too long after we got our Commodore 64. That little machine lasted for the next 7 or 8 years; being used every single day for both gaming and some programming; I actually got quite good at BASIC.

The very first game on the C64 was Attack of the Mutant Camels (by Jeff Minter). Its not easy to remember the best of the more then 1000 titles, but some of my other favorites are M.U.L.E., Racing Destruction Set, Way of the Exploding Fist, International Karate +, Summer Games and derivatives, Airborne Ranger, Soccer, Beach Head and its sequel (MEDIC !), Raid over Moscow, Choplifter, Archon, Raid on Bungling Bay, Little Computer People. The C64 is still working although it's been a while since I last flipped the power switch.

The C64 era only slowly faded away and turned into the PC era. I had to switch to PC for programming assignements in school, but only slowly did the quality of the games overtake that of the ones on the old Commodore system. SimCity was probably the first game I extensively played on PC; an AT with a Hercules graphics card. After that came Tetris and Ultima Underworld on a 386. Ultima Underworld was so immersive (full 3D environment) that it was the first (and last) game I ever dreamt about. A year later I was introduced to DOOMs full screen splendor (on the 286 of a friend, no less). Games I later played include Ultima VII, Dune, Wing Commander series, Jagged Alliance and sequels, and currently Sudden Strike. 'Jjonez' made his first appeared in Wing Commander as a typo.

a Commodore 64 site
Sudden Strike, one of the games I play

My multiplayer career of course started with the C64; playing a racing, soccer or karate game with my brother. I would often go over to a friends house and play on his Commodore as well. Back to PC's, when we found out DOOM could be played over a serial cable, the same friend (Erik), came over with his computer and after some two hours of configuring (in DOS), we got the link working. I cant really remember what it felt like to see another 'living' character on the screen, but it must have been great fun because we repeated it many times after with Heretic and Duke Nukem, and a few games of Warcraft for variety.

At first I didn't like Quake at all. We tried QTest but found it too complicated and went back to DOOM for a few months. When we finally discovered +mlook however, there was no turning back anymore.

In the summer of '97 I discovered the Quake community on the internet: Bluesnews, Redwood and the Reaper Bot at Inside3d. I also found out about the Belgian Quake scene and LANs at the Linkwars site (now Shrimpwars) and Fragland. It was again Erik who convinced me to try Quake on modem, and after the first few hours of total disgust because of the horribly rough movement, I was hooked. The Runes mod was great fun in FFA back than. I switched to QuakeWorld soon after and played a bit of CTF before going to my first LAN ever, Global Wars.

I joined clan Dimension X a few months later, probably in March '98 and went to every LAN with them for the next year or so. We had one small LAN (10 people) per month and a bigger LAN (30-50 people) at about the same frequency. Dimension X got pretty good with 5 core players (2fast4U, Demon, Shogun, Fraggel and me) and we were the 3rd or 4th team in Belgium for a long time. I actually made a television appearance on a LAN during that time. To be honest it didn't go beyond a distant overview of my team, but you could clearly make me out shouting orders to my teammates (which, by the way, I always do, hopeing to be ignored or we wouldn't win a single game ever). Some of us went to QDay 3 in the Netherlands with some 250 players to get a taste of international Quake (and to discover how bad we really were).

In september of 2000 I got a cable connection (before I had had access to ADSL for a limited time, but only during the weekend). Besides a few QuakeWorld duels, I played mostly TFC on-line though. Around that time, Quake went a fair bit downhill in my little country. Some more small LANs, and suddenly everyone switches to what's supposed to be the next big thing, Quake 3. Including my teammates.

A few others and me didn't quite like Quake 3. Those few others mostly belonged to Gods of Hellfire and were, interestingly, the same people I had encountered in my first few months of modem Quake on the CTF servers (Spunky, BelgiumForce, Qaqtus) and the same people I had met on my first LAN. Sad to see no QuakeWorld future in my previous clan, I joined GOH together with a few other remaining QW players (Razzia and Catay of Batida Swing, Fox of Animal Force and Skywolf, my brother, of Exclamation), mainly to participate in Villains II, the first online league we ever participated in. As we expected, we got seriously hammered by every sinlge opposing team, but we had great fun nonetheless.

In March 2000 I went to my third and most probably last huge LAN-party: Multiplayer Madness. The organisation was quite perfect really, but what's the point in bringing 250 people together to have 50 of them play Q3, 50 different ones CS, some 50 more fiddling with TFC, a similar number playing UT and the rest somehow enjoying FIFA 2000 or Mortal Kombat 34 with no interaction at all between any of the groups? And why do entry fees of LANs increase exponentially with the amount of participants? Must be to pay for the absurdly loud PA system. Anyway, I take a 5-10 people LAN over that sort of thing from than on.

In March and April 2000 GOH participated in the Clanbase QW league.

the Inside 3D MOD site
Blues and Redwood news sites
Shrimpwars and Fragland, the main belgian Quake sites
Dimension X, my former and first clan
Gods oh Hellfire, my current clan
Multiplayer Madness, the successor of the Global Wars LANs
the Villains league
Clanbase online leagues

When Q3 was about to be released, in December 1999, I got a creepy feeling about some of it's features. Somehow, I felt a need to express myself to the world. I asked Griff, who was running Challenge-EU at that time for a column. He hesitated a bit; he had 2 belgian writers on his roster already, but in the end he agreed. I swiftly produced 'The Bot Plot'; my one and only decent column update ever.

I really love the way Challenge worked and works (even though that somtimes results in it not working at all) and was glad to contribute to it. The Challenge-Network is a place where gamers can speak their mind and be heard by other gamers if they want to. It's the only place I'm aware of where you can find game news from around the world, brought by people actually participating in the event/league/debate as players. Opinions are expressed in colmuns, but, more often then no, also in news items. This, in my opinion adds to the news rather than detracts from it. There are plenty of general, neutral and invariably bland news-sites out there already.

Through the continued ramblings about the greatness of QW in my column, I got in touch with Hoony. He suggested I set up a page about developements with the released QuakeWorld source code. I gathered a fair bit of information, but the page quickly fell in disrepair because the next project was taking up most of my time.

the Challenge Network
my column

Challenge Smackdown
That next project was to be an online QuakeWorld league on Challenge. After the Clanbase cup, QW seemed over in my part of Europe. I wanted someting new for my team to participate in and, keeping in mind some earlier chats with Hoony and Griff, JP and me started gathering some people interested in a worldwide QW championship. Challenge Smackdown was officially anounced to the world on May 28 of 2000. I never intended to stay on as the 'leader', but somehow I ended up in that spot because I set up the initial meetings and nobody seemed very keen on taking over that job.

The first Challenge Smackdown season was fairly succesful in the four divisions.The people running the divisions had to deal with more then a few setbacks (move of the Challenge-Network, lack of backoffice, loss of connections). I honestly don't think we could have had a better team to pull it off. Luckily, the second season is running a lot smoother and now well underway. In fact, playoffs have started in a few divisions already.

Through Challenge and Smackdown I learned a lot about dealing with people on the net, or even dealing with people in general. As I said before, I am well used to an international environment in my 'real' life, but making sure you don't offend anyone by an unintended cultural reference is quite challenging. When you don't sit face to face and you can't even hear a changing intonation in a voice, it gets really hard to assess someones current state of mind, especially if you don't know anything more about them then that they like to play the same computer game you do. Being a rather frank guy myself this has put me in a few tight situations, but I am getting good at avoiding that now (not by not speaking my mind any more, but rather by altering the way I do).

Because of my tasks in Smackdown, I also discovered how to set up meetings and keep them organised (pretty hard on IRC). Having efficient meetings is not something one can learn in an academic working environment like mine, I'm afraid.

Besides the fact that I like to play QuakeWorld, this aspect of achieving something together with others is the main reason I am still involved with Challenge Smackdown.

the Challenge Smackdown QW league

The future of Quake
We started Challenge Smackdown because their was nothing else happening in the QuakeWorld community anymore at that time. For me, the main reason I want to 'keep QW alive' is simply that I enjoy the game and to me it's a major source of entertainment. I still use QuakeWorld for this purpose and not, say, Q3 or UT, for the simple reason that QuakeWorld is much more exciting. I don't see the need to switch to something newer just because it is -uhm- newer. Intrest in QuakeWorld is not decreasing anymore. It is now exaclty as hard or easy to find a game as it was one year ago. With sites like Besmella-Quake, Prewar and Smackdown Headquarters, QW now even has a few dedicated news sites once again.

Beyond this, I wouldn't mind seeing First Person Shooter gaming evolve into some sort of sport. For this purpose, I believe QuakeWorld is by far the best platform available at this time. I've done quite few updates about this in my column, so I won't reiterate all the advantages I attribute to QW, but the main ones are the pure fun of the game itself and the availability of its source code. In the long run, especially the latter quality could prove extremely important, I think. Having a game that 'belongs' to the players is the only way to achieve some stability in the community.

On a related note, I don't expect a great future for the more 'realism based' games like Counter Strike. It's not that such games would require less skill or couldn't be fun at all (popular misconceptions amongst Quake players), but in the end their scope is limited by the realism factor itself (can't very well have strafe-jumping, can we?). Moreover they don't offer anything new as a 'sport'; they just emulate existing ones (like clay pigeon shooting or paintball). The same problems would hinder the devellopement of other types of games like racing games, sports emulators (soccer, golf, ...) into a professional gaming platform. On the contrary, QuakeWorld is quite obviously set in a 'virtual' world; the weapons are not realistic at all and the player movement is not too much influenced by laws of real world physics.

This is why I am very strong supporter of develloping our own 'Smackdown Client' as a small step towards professional gaming. Although I obviously hope it can put QuakeWorld back on the professional gaming agenda, even if it doesn't, like with Challenge Promode, the experience gained from the project would be invaluable to the community.

Prewar, Besmella-Quake and Smackdown HQ, QuakeWorld news sites
SD Client project
Challenge Promode

Conclusion ?
This profile turned out to be much, much longer then I expected. Therefore, I doubt anyone will ever even reach these final lines. For those that do: thanks for your attention and have fun with whatever game you prefer to play!

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