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PlanetQuake takes a look at Quake server admins.

Profile on a Server Admin

Server admins - they're the unsung heroes in the Quaking community. If we didn't have them, we wouldn't have any online gaming, and the MP scene would be pretty much... er... dead. This column profiles a new server admin each week and gets their views on the Quaking scene.

lemurboy and ahnuld - Kitty1 (

Kitty1 is running 2 Q3Atest servers right now at{27690,27691} by lemurboy and ahnuld, members of the C9 Clan. They're graduate students in EE and CS at Stanford University (go figure!).

PQ: How did you guys get started with Quake?

ahnuld: Some of the guys were playing Qtest and just around that time, our entire group moved into a brand new building. As a consequence of that, Intel donated dozens and dozens of Pentium 120s to the department. Our group ended up with a few and they also populated an entire room in the basement and gave us access to them. The intended use of that room was not as a Quake Lab, but that's what it turned into. We had all these machines (which were considered fast at the time) and everyone just started getting into it because eight of us could play at LAN speeds all in the same room. It was pretty cool. It was about that time that we decided to start our own server so that we could play against other people when our friends weren't around. The first kitty1 server was just a plain old Pentium 120. We publicized kitty1 on Stomped and people just started showing up.

lemurboy: Yeah, quite a few of the graphics students were into Qtest MP, but most of us in the systems group (this was a little before ahnuld's time) were still "busy" with Doom2 on our SGI workstations. I remember the first time I saw Qtest... I was just awestruck by the fact that they were doing true 3D scene rendering so quickly, and I loved how it made you feel like You Were There. I would run around in the levels alone just looking around and getting goosebumps thinking about how cool the game was going to be. :-) But at that time, those of us in the systems group didn't really have a network of PCs to play on, and setting up Qtest matches was pretty yicky, so we didn't fool with it much. As soon as Quake was out though, we picked it up, and when the Internet play possibilities opened up -- and then we got the Quake Lab delivered to us like an Act of God -- we were hooked and gone.

PQ: Why do you think kitty1 became popular?

ahnuld: I'd like to say it was because of lemurboy's awesome administrating abilities but I think Stanford's massive pipe to the main backbone and central location in Northern California also had something to do with it. Also, after we had been running for a while, Intel decided to donate *eight* Quad Pentium II 200's to the graphics department. Well, since half of our clan was in graphics, we were able to "procure" one of those boxes. With this new box, we were able to run many Quake servers at once with no noticeable performance problems.

lemurboy: It's always handy to have your servers be at the top of the ping list for everyone, and we had excellent server uptime so they stayed there. That in itself attracted a lot of the best players, especially from west-coast clans, so usually we'd have a few players on from Legends, XP, Postal, and so forth (I'm probably forgetting someone). And not even using fake names, imagine that! That made for a snowball effect of sorts... great players want to play with great players (and the not-so-great players want to hang out with them too). Since none of our clan except for xris probably qualified as "great players", we needed the draw from those other clans. :-)

PQ: What did you guys do about the inevitable lamers that showed up?

ahnuld: I'll handle this one! Firstly, we were actually playing quite a lot back then, and never underestimate how good a 3ms ping can make you, so our first line of defense against lamers has always been the demoralizing beatdown.

However, along came a certain unnamed copycat clan that also resided at Stanford and our ping advantage disappeared. The worst part about this clan was their insistence of ignoring our stated server rules. These guys were the biggest trash talking, fouled mouthed idiots that you've ever seen. Also about this time, our friends in the graphics department were developing the evil StoogeBot and I was able to leverage their network code to write an auto client who would stay in the game at all times with admin privileges, so you could ask it to kick or ban people who were unruly. This tool became known as QSmack. When I first starting writing QSmack, I only intended on it being a way to talk to players in the game. However, when these hooligans showed up, we knew that QSmack's true purpose was to ban lamers!

It was kind of funny, because in the beginning, QSmack had many bugs and didn't always prevent the banned players from connecting to the server. I specifically remember an episode where I was busily hacking away on QSmack and one of the other C9ers was playing in a room across the hall from my office. He was shouting at me how the members of clan idiot were scoffing at our "admin bot" because it only kept them out for one level and they could reconnect at the next level change. They were doing the debugging for me! With that feedback, I was able to track down (with lemurboy's help) the bug and quickly put a fix in. Within 5 minutes, clan idiot couldn't connect at all! It was hilarious. We would disable the bot on purpose and let them reconnect, they would think they found a new bug and we would taunt them some more and reban them! It was fantastic.

From then on, QSmack proved to be invaluable. We added the ability to ban another player while you yourself were playing and it was an instant hit with everybody in the clan. If you were playing a game and someone started acting up, you bring down the console, type a few commands, and they were permanently gone. It was beautiful.

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