Retro Game Pc Build focused on Tribes
This is a story about pc gaming, game pc builds of yesteryear, building a retro pc game box today, and etc that might be of interest to you nerds... I mean geeks... I mean T2 players. You might want to get a snack and something to drink, this will take a while. Also pleas keep in mind I'm doing this from memory and thus mistaken on a lot of points.
When I first started building pcs (1998) there was a fair amount of pc parts to be found locally, especially of the oem/surplus variety as the hq of Gateway was only a hundred miles away from Omaha, where I lived at the time. When a pc oem is nearby, you might rationally expect the local area to be flooded with refurbs, seconds, and etc from that oem as just about anything the oem doesn't feel like storing it sells off. About once a month there was a huge pc fleamarket in the Sioux City area filled with Gateway surplus as Gateway was just across the border in South Dakota. Coincident with Gateway moving production and hence surplus around the country and even to Ireland, we had no place to get pc parts cheap like in the heyday of the Gateway surplus craze. We, the local pc building community, suffered pc fleamarket withdrawls. That is, until a pc fleamarket opened at the Omaha Nebraska National Guard armory - and you could find great deals there, from familiar "vendors" who previously had loads of Gateway surplus to private party local sellers both, sometimes even some random Gateway surplus. At the time, the slot cpu sockets were common and it was easy to find just about any core you wanted, from slot-1 Pii 233s up to 1ghz slot-A Athlons, and for much (and I can't emphasise this enough - much much much) cheaper than in the local pc retailers brick and mortar shops. Take for example a pc consisting of a Athlon 800 Slot A cpu, say 512 sdram, dvdrom, and a 20gb hdd as found at a local unnamed brick and mortar pc shop for around $800 or more. I noticed the same overpriced pcs sat in the same shop for weeks and months at a time, you figure the owner would eventually drop prices but no. With identical spec Gateway surplus parts from a fleamarket you could roll more or less the same pc for maybe $200 at most. I know a guys gatta make a living, but rape is rape no matter if you're in Omaha or Moscow where the police are stern but fair.
The amount of surplus was astounding at first, the vendors had literal pallets of mobos, cpus, cd/dvd roms, hdds, mem, etc, all from Gateway. Most of these surplus parts were returns to the oem for some fault or other reason such as quality control discoveries or merely obsolete, but many were perfectly serviceable.
It was common for the fleamarket vendors to "warranty" the part - if it was doa or failed they'd replace it next month at the next fleamarket or refund your money. I picked up a few Jabil - Kadoka mobos (Athlon Slot A Gateway OEM boards) dirt cheap, built a few pcs and gave a cpu and board to Rusty, my Tribes buddy/nephew. How about 2 mobos for a measly $25? A cdrom for $10? How about a pallet of Voodoo 3s? Or perhaps a pallet full of Aureal pci sound cards? One trick I recall from then was if you found a tiny colored paper triangle sticker on a Gateway surplus part, look at the point of the triangle, the circuit trace or part there might be severed/scraped or otherwise damaged. You looked over every part before you laid down your cash and walked away from that fleamarket table with your "new" part. Eventually the pc surplus dried up as Gateway lost sales, moved to Ireland, and got bought out, consequently the fleamarket in Sioux City stopped being worth the drive as parts dried up and prices rose.
How does any of this crap relate to Tribes?
Prior to all this happy surplus pc parts fleamarket stuff, Rusty, bless his little heart, got me into the pc game Tribes; he and Gizmo mercillessly spawnkilling me over and over till I learned to instantly press the w button after spawning and move the mouse to get out of his/their blaster spam.
WSAD uber alles, arrow key users be damned!
Didn't even know how to move or shoot, how pathetic.
Before that I'd never pc gamed before, well there was that Atari 800XL or whatever it was that had missile command, miner 2049er, and pole position in high school, but I digress as that was much more akin to console play than current day pc gaming.
Thru the magic of being simultaneously pissed off and exasperated by something taking place on a pc screen... I became hooked on game boutique Dynamix's loveingly hand crafted goodness... in a masochistic way.
It became an almost daily ritual to meet at the coffee shop after work and use their pcs - all had Tribes as well as other games - mostly demos, and spend an hour or two fragging away. I learned how to ski, use the jetpack, place turrets, etc to the point I was no longer dying within a few seconds of spawning.
It's also perfectly normal to kill everyone in Hitman Codename 47, drag their bodies into an intersection, and then stand in triumph atop the pyramid of dead.
Speaking of Tribes...
Rusty had provided me with the full game and updates on a cd he had burned at home from a legit copy of Tribes. We found out later the reason Sierra went with WON.net to authenticate Tribes 2 purchasers for online play was Dynamix/Sierra found there were more people playing Tribes than had purchased the game, something on the order of several times as many. Apparently Rusty and I weren't the only players sharing a legit disk.
Anyway, when Rusticles and I were walking thru a mall in Omaha one fine day we stopped at the game shop. They had a single copy of Tribes, new in box, $14. Of course I bought it, and bought several copies of T2 later on when it came along. Perhaps some old vets recall emailing Sierra with pics of your T2 cd case with code so they would unlock your T2 game from forgotten pw or somesuch - this obviously from the time user authentication was still being performed.
From what I understand, Tribes 2 was originally to be a free update to Tribes, but Sierra said nope, new game, you gatta pay to play, so we did. When you think about how there were more people playing T1 than had bought the game you can't really blame them for going with authorisation.
Happymod came along subsequent to Tribes release. Hm spoofed memory locations the game would use in legit fashion - filling the fake locations with forbidden content the legit game denied to players - and then directed the game to use the fake mem locations. This relatively amazing hack for Tribes showed you where every player in the game was at all times even thru walls or terrain, and every emplaced turret. Happymod, or hm as it's called, had more or less ruined ultra mod play in Tribes because in ultra it is common to shoot across a map.
For ecample, one time in an aerial fight (ultra has unlimited flying and even boost) I had to lead the guy off screen as he was so far away, meaning he was off the screen to one side or the other for me to get him, guesstimating where he was going to be with my string of bullets. Hm also made the base players bitch even tho it had far less an effect on gameplay for base nerds than ultra nerds. Base weapons could hardly go 300m, some ultra weapons shoot across the map.
So what did the devs do for T2 in spite of hm? They included perma iffs for the flags - with happymod in Tribes 1 the flags were 50 feet tall and could be seen across a map! Normally in Tribes there was no flag iff at all, if someone stole your flag you had no idear where he was unless he was in your view. Also there was one guy, "da jackal", that was literally hard coded into the Tribes game by Dynamix so he would be kick/ban from any server, lol, he must have been a real pain as the Tribes devs are great guys. I also heard they tried to or did hire HapPy to work on Tribes 2.
Following on his success in HM, HapPy rolled out HM2 for Tribes 2. This one did the same thing for T2 that HM did for T1, but added a new twist, an aimbot. Aimbots for T1 exist but only a few people have them, specifically L Spyro and nofix, each coding their own.
I had in-game recordings of Spyro and nofix running their aimbots in an ultra and base match respectively, it was fun to watch the realisation sink in on the players being slaughtered. And the accusations. Lol. It was always fun to obs nofix in matches as he was otherwise a good player. L Spyro only seemed interested in games to see if he could hack them, not play them.
Remember the first time you fired up T2? Today the image quality of T2 and especially T1 are laughable compared to pc games made in the last 15 years, but they were decent for their time. The owner of the coffee shop had preordered T2 and had Rusticles and I install and set it up when it showed up. We were amazed at the image quality improvement over Tribes, and T2 had water! If you ever saw water in Tribes you'd understand why we were so blown away with a puddle of water in T2.
And Derms. T1 did not have derms so that was new. And yes as mentioned by many the game was filled with glitches, it even had slightly different models and/or textures than those common to T2 today, but to say we were enthusiastic is an understatement. Also the master server lists for both T1 and T2 were filled with servers that were in turn maxed out in player count then. If you ever played at places like Houston or Miami Vehicles in T2 or any Homelan Federation Shifter mod server in T1 you know what I mean. Today T2 has like 20 servers and 20 players on a good nite mostly playing classic, T1 might have 40 servers and 30 players and the majority will be rpg mod players.
Prior to wasting time at the coffee shop with Rusticles and the game pcs, my only exposure to pcs was the lowly Cyrix 586 rig at home, it ran 95 and then 98 when it came along. Most of the pcs at the cafe were of the pii 350 to 400mhz class, all running 98 - this being 1998 era.
Before the Cyrix I had some dos running laptop type systems used for HAM radio but nothing major or expensive. Never gamed on any of them, just used for office type work and seeing what all it could do. Then after being exposed to Tribes, the urge to build a more powerful pc for home use hit. I wanted a pc at home that'd game at least as well as the ones at the cafe. All the people I played Tribes with had innernets at home cept for me, plus they all had pcs that would play Tribes.