I remember the feeling of instant buyer’s remorse upon playing Team Fortress 2. Because the person who introduced me to it invited me to an empty 2fort server. It had nothing to do with the game itself but rather the family Windows XP I was playing it on chugging and spluttering. It was trying its damnedest to impress me, but the frame rate was abysmal. I, being the young, naive and incredibly handsome hero of this story, thought it would work flawlessly if I simply belieeeeeeved! For reasons unknown to even the greatest of scientists, this approach simply didn’t work. But then I found my salvation in this scrappy little playground by accident.
I believed the max player count had an effect on the frame rate (regardless of the amount of players actually ON the server) so clicked on a server with less than 20 players. The first thing I noticed was how smooth the gameplay suddenly was, easily hitting 60fps. The sheer joy of being able to go head-to-head with another player with a stable frame rate… It was BEAUTIFUL. Wandering out into that central arena with this newfound advantage was a day and night difference. I remember dueling for HOURS and not realising it. It was the perfect environment to hone my skills, as well as learn a basic amount about each class and what they brought to the table.
Considering the only other PC game I’d played up until this point was Counter-Strike: Source, it wasn’t the smoothest transition. I was still going for headshots as every class against every class and wondering where the conventional weapons were, but the instant respawns and the lack of an objective meant I didn’t have responsibility hanging above me like a guillotine like I would have if I’d been able to join regular servers. Soon I fell in love with TF2 as I learnt the ins and outs of the game, the purpose and applications of each class and that aabicus loves orange chicken. Both on my own and from the friendly faces of the server I’d soon become a regular alongside.
Soon (if I wasn’t dueling in the arena) I was partaking in the windows wars on the second floor and third floor as a Sniper or a Pyro with a flare gun, dodging pot shots and desperately hoping not to be hit in the back as I desperately leapt towards the health cabinet. Or I was launching an attack at the top from the safety of the fourth floor, trying to regain control of the rafters and from there proceeding to do one of my favourite things in the entire map. BASE RAIDING. I remember the first time I saw someone do it. A Pyro I’d reached the end of the plank with after winning control, an invisible wall blocking us from entering the enemy’s top floor.
To my horror, he suddenly jumped off and surfed (or technically “airstrafed” I suppose) to the left around the enemy platform, then sharply back to the right before crashing into the window frame and crawling inside. I could hardly believe what I’d just seen. Like an excitable puppy, I got a running start, flung myself over the edge aaaand broke my legs and killed myself. But I wasn’t deterred! No, sir! Though I felt quite embarassed having played CS:S for two years that I didn’t consider holding crouch on the way down and that’s why I simply slid down the wall to my death. But soon I had it down to a science and could even land on the third floor or the spawn door and surprise would-be gladiators or people peeking out the second!
I have so many amazing memories harbored in this map. My first moments of loving TF2, base raiding and trying to spawncamp for as long as possible with limited health and ammo (Because of this it was actually fine, practically encouraged, though there were actual rules and good admins, believe it or not!), meeting amazing people, insane plays and moments, earning achievements competitively and co-operatively in order to get the new weapons for everyone and plenty more I could ramble on about forever if you let me. To you guys, it may look like crap… But to me? It’s home…
…And that’s why I love dm_duel_v1.
P.S. – There was one guillotine we all got hit by – the spawn door. This became an infamous (and hilarious) beginner’s trap we’d all stumbled into at some point. The door would open and shut so fast and so often you could be skewered and left paralysed unless someone saved you or put you out of your misery. Keep that in mind if you play it!