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In Sharon's dream world of Harry Barker, Quakish is the dominant competitive sport in the hacker community. While hackers delight in many forms of intellectual mind games, such as one-liner programs and obfuscated coding, Quakish is about as close as any of them come to any sort of physical sport. Indeed, since Quakish is usually played in various forms of virtual environments, usually the only form of physical ability required are lightning reflexes in the fingers and mousing hand. Still, Quakish dominates most other forms of sport-like entertainment in the hacking world, with various levels of recreational, academic, and professional play. For fans of Harry Potter, Quakish would be roughly equivalent to Quidditch.

History of Quakish

This hasn't been much revealed yet about the history of Quakish. It is fairly obvious that it is the natural evolution of the first-person shooter, a form of video game popular around the turn of the 21st century in which players navigate through an immersive 3D world, shooting enemies with various forms of weaponry. Indeed, Quakish likely derives its name from the Quake game series created by id Software. The common theory is that the first official Quakish clients used the Quake 7 engine, and that so many players and fans referred to it as "Quake-ish" that the name stuck. Historically, though, Quakish has used many 3D game engines over the years, including Quake 8, Unreal 6, Half-Life 4, and others. During the events of Harry Barker and the Napier's Bones, the most common Quakish engine in use is Doom 6.

The dominance of Quakish among hackers likely comes from its popularity among the Brotherhood of the Twisted Pair. Indeed, with the institution of Hollerith's School of Phreaking and Hacking, Quakish became the school's primary intermural sport, instilling a life-long love of the game among most of its alumni. It is believed that the school's influence in popularizing the game has resulted in its wide-spread modern appeal and the foundation of professional leagues throughout the hacking world. Many hackers who never attended Hollerith's now follow the professional games and children commonly play simplified versions in friendly play long before their formal hacking education begins.

Core Competition Rules

As Quakish is purely a virtual sport, it is played entirely in a simulated 3D environment. Commonly, this involves players sitting at computer terminals networked to a central server, controlling virtual avatars via keyboards, mice, joysticks, and sometimes other input devices. Some institutions with more ample funding, including professional leagues and large schools such as Hollerith's, may have advanced virtual reality environments that are far more immersive, making the players feel as if they are actually present in the game. Most spectators, however, continue to watch the game via monitors streaming feeds from the central server.

Each Quakish team consists of seven players in four positions:

  • Runner: There are three Runners per team. Their primarily goal is to attempt to sneak into the enemy camp, capture their flag, and return it to their team's home base. These players may multitask within certain limits; for example, they may help the Hoarder protect the team's flag, but they cannot activate Guarder hazards. Runners can move freely within any area of the map.
  • Hoarder: The sole Hoarder on the team stands guard at the team's flag to protect it, somewhat in the fashion of a goaltender or goalie in other sports. The Hoarder cannot leave the team's base, but can move anywhere within its borders. For example, the Hoarder need not stand directly next to the team's flag, but he may hide behind obstacles and shoot enemies Runners as they approach the flag.
  • Guarder: Two Guarders control a series of environmental hazards near the team's base in an effort to prevent enemies from getting in. They are restricted to the area where the controls for these hazards are located. They may move freely within their designated areas much like Runners, shooting and dodging, but they aren't allowed to leave the confines of those areas. Enemies and non-Guarder players on the same team cannot control the Guarder's hazards.
  • Sniper: The Sniper's primary task is to sneak around, hide somewhere within the map, and snipe enemies. Different strategies place Snipers within their home base (to snipe enemies trying to steal the flag) or in the enemy base (to snipe them as they return home). Snipers can move freely within any area of the map and often the primary scorer on the team. Their secondary goal is to find the Golden Power-up hidden somewhere within the map. The Golden Power-up is hidden from other players, and only Snipers wear the necessary goggles to spot the Power-up's true location.

During the course of the game, teams accumulate points based on various actions:

  • Each enemy frag: 1 point
  • Frags by friendly fire: -5 points
  • Fragging the referee: -100 points
  • Captured enemy flag returned to home base: 10 points
  • Finding the Golden Power-up: 150 points

The team with the most points at the end of the match wins. The match ends either when a specified time limit runs out (if one is set), or until the Golden Power-up is found. Most academic and minor league matches have set time limits (usually one hour), although professional, tournament, and exhibition matches may not, subsequently resulting in matches that may go on for hours or days at a time.

There are several items or "power-ups" present in the game which players may use to gain advantages over their opponents:

  • There are numerous weapon types which may vary from map to map and league to league. It is traditional for every player to start with a simple pistol with a set amount of ammunition. Other common weapons include shotguns, double-barreled shotguns, chain guns, rocket launchers, rail guns, plasma guns, and the "BFG 1M". Non-standard exhibition games may introduce specialty weapons. The player also always has a "default" weapon that can be used when no ammo is available; this is usually the player's bare fists, but some maps and leagues permit the use of chainsaws and other melee-style weaponry.
  • Ammo power-ups for each weapon are available, and most leagues impose limits on the maximum amount of a certain ammo type the player may carry. When the player has no ammo left, he is forced to use his "default" weapon until more ammunition can be obtained.
  • "Medkits" can increase the player's health, repairing damage and in some cases even increasing temporarily their maximum hit points.
  • Armor upgrades provide added protection to the player beyond the basic armor provided at the start of the game. Most armor upgrades remain in effect until the player takes enough damage to render them ineffectual, although some upgrades provide virtual invulnerability for a limited period of time.
  • Some maps and leagues include very specialized power-ups such as:
    • A "berserker mode" power-up that grants invulnerability and increased power for a limited period of time, at the expense that the player must us their "default" melee weapon instead of any ranged weapon;
    • "Clipping modes" that let the player walk through walls.

Players on the same team are allowed to share various power-ups and weapons. For example, Runners can find more advanced weapons and ammo and return them to the Guarder, who can't leave the base. The exception to this rule are health-based power-ups, which cannot be shared; there are usually health power-ups somewhere in each base for the Guarder to use, however, although their location varies from map to map, making different maps more difficult than others.

The Golden Power-up is a special case in that it offers no special powers. Rather, it serves as a goal to be obtained; the game ends once it is found. The Golden Power-up is usually hidden somewhere within the map that is difficult to reach, although crafty referees may hide it "in plain sight" in an easily-accessible location that is often overlooked. Note that while finding the Golden Power-up awards the Sniper's team 150 points, it does not guarantee his team will win the game. It is theoretically possible—although fairly difficult—to score enough points by other means to negate the bonus of finding the Golden Power-up and win the game without acquiring it.

Other general rules include:

  • There is usually a three-second "respawn" pause between the time when a player is fragged and when he respawns. Non-standard exhibition games may adjust this period to suit the flavor of the game.
  • Traditional play requires maps to be mirrored, giving each team identical base structures and a common neutral zone for truly fair competition. Specialty maps, usually only found in pro league exhibition matches or unofficial play, may give one side an unfair advantage for novelty of play.
  • There are no penalties for "fouls"; i.e. anything goes except hacking the server or clients to gain an unfair advantage. Hacking the server or client hardware or software constitutes a severe violation of the spirit of the game and usually results in a forfeit of the match and sometimes banning from the league.

Rule Variations

Some professional leagues, exhibition matches, and many unofficial "pick-up" style games introduce a number of variations to the standard rules to increase the level of excitement. For example, as previously mentioned, some exhibition maps give one team an unfair advantage over the other, making one team the underdog against a better equipped opponent. Many pro leagues do no impose time limits, resulting in much longer matches that only end when the Golden Power-up is found. Quick games may do away with the Golden Power-up completely and base scoring entirely on the number of frags the team collects in a short amount of time. Specialty weapons and power-ups provide variations of game play, as do different lighting and gravity settings. Extreme examples include one-on-many matches where a single player must taken on many opponents, and free-for-all "deathmatch" games with no organized teams at all where scoring is based entirely on frags.

Hollerith's Subnet Teams