Gaming Guide: Camping

I have to admit I love online gaming.  I remember playing 3D Helicopter Simulator from Sierra (released in 1987) with Rick on a 300 baud modem.  The good old days.

I think it's the concept that you can play real people anytime that makes playing online such a cool experience.  That's why I was so excited about the Far Cry gaming pavilion at WinHEC 2005, showcasing Far Cry on the x64 platform (picture). 

So, you could say I've been interested in online play from the beginning.  I really thought I had seen it all when Andrej and I played Doom over dial-up ... and to see the latest games like Half Life 2 and Company of Heroes shows how far gaming has come.

I wouldn't say I play a lot, but because I played the original Castle Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Counter Strike, et. al., let's face it: the game doesn't change much in terms of how to play.  If you've played one "mouselook" game, you've played them all.

I've played a few rounds of CS:S (Counter Strike: Source) since moving out east (haven't played in months) and it's still quite good (I only play on public servers).  What I really like about the game is the dynamic -- terrorist versus counter terrorist -- played in short rounds. 

For the edification of all, I wanted to define/explain the word "camping" as it pertains to online gaming.  I'm inspired to do this after my 36 kill/6 death romp this evening, leading the team to a 20 to 2 victory and being called a camper (to which I ignore).  Calling another player a "camper" is often used as an insult to denote a player who uses unfair, irritating, or exploiting tactics to gain an advantage in the game by staking out a well-defended area and often not moving.  It's a sliver above calling someone a cheater.

With some possible exceptions I'm not aware of, I'd say that camping is generally not possible in today's games.  The origin of camping came from Quake I (it may have even been earlier, but it was the first time I had heard the term).  Online play back then was initially multiple players on single-player maps, duking it out.  (How boring that is by today's standards.) 

The thing is, those maps weren't balanced very well and not designed for multiple people.  There was often just one super-powerful weapon, and whichever player landed that weapon first would just rain fire/rockets/grenades/whatever onto everyone else.  By the time the player ran out of ammo, the weapon would respawn, and the carnage would continue.  Sometimes, players would "rocket jump" themselves to impossible locations that are obvious exploits: that's camping -- it's exploiting the essence of the game by dominating a resource or bug in a map.

Another camping tactic early on was spawn camping.  Since players would typically respawn in a common place after dying, campers would pick 'em off before they knew what hit them.  (My personal favorite was using a laser trip mine (Half Life 1) on a respawn point, so when the player respawned, they'd trigger the mine.  Hehe.)

But nowadays, most games are so play tested that there is no resource point worth camping, weapons are balanced, and new players often have spawn protection that makes them immune to damage for several seconds. (With round-based games, spawn camping isn't really possible, anyway.)  Since many games are now objective based (as is Counter Strike, where this screenshot was taken), camping is all the more difficult as the nature of the game compels you to do something in order to win the round (you can be alive and well and still lose the round).

That's not to say there aren't good sniper spots in games.  But, sniping is a tactic.  Defending a bomb site is a tactic.  Standing behind a door, waiting for an idiot to go running past is a tactic (and a lesson to be more careful).   I honestly think that many players would consider you camping if you aren't running full speed ahead at every moment.  What fun is that?

Comments (2) -

11/7/2006 12:31:42 PM #

Ahh, 3D Helicopter Sim.  That was awesome!  To be fair, I believe we were both on 1200 Baud.  Dan F. was the only one I remember with 300 Baud, with his PC jr - and that was painfully slow compared to our lightning fast 1200 baud modems Smile

11/7/2006 6:18:41 PM #

Hmmm... you may be right Smile  ... but, I had the PC jr too (and it definitely had the 300 baud modem), although I may have upgraded by then!

Remember the Poughkeepsie BBS (et. al.) and your phone bill? :}

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