If you don't have time to get out of the office for laser tag, you can still blow off steam by blowing away your colleagues onscreen - in Quake, a popular kill-or-be-killed game from Id Software. That's what people do at Netscape Communications. About 100 programmers and engineers on Netscape's internal Quake mailing list notify one another whenever they want to pick a fight. Michael Lopp, a Java platform manager, set up a Quake server inside the company firewall. He offers three tips for getting up to speed on Quake or its sequel, Quake II.
Speed is everything.
Lopp puts his monitor's resolution at an extremely low setting. He gladly trades visual impact for greater speed. "It's all about frame rate," he says. "How many frames per second can your machine deliver?"
Know the landscape.
It's less important to know your opponent than to know the lay of the land. Explore the game when no one else is playing. That way, you'll know where to find a hyperblaster (for example) amid the chaos of combat.
If you stay still for too long, you'll get a warning to move along. That feature prevents one player from holing up at a key vantage point and wasting everyone else. Keeping on the move also makes you harder to hit. "Never stay still for more than a few seconds," warns Lopp.
Coordinates: $49 (for Quake II). Id Software, http://www.idsoftware.com ; to find a server on which to play Quake, visit GameSpy 3D http://www.gamespy.com .