With another QuakeCon behind us, it’s time to reflect on the magic that happens every year at the largest LAN party in North America. Over 2,800 people brought their computers to the Hilton Anatole in Dallas to play games and gawk over some really incredible machines.
In the strange world of the QuakeCon Bring Your Own Computer room, having a beautiful, powerful, custom PC tower makes you part of the crowd. To stand out, your PC has to be massive, creative, well-lit and, preferably, home to a fully stocked fish tank. A lot of cases drew inspiration from popular games, while some paid homage to TV shows like Archer. Some were just incredibly well designed pieces of engineering, and that’s OK too.
In the exhibition hall, Bethesda’s decorations towered over everyone as people lined up to play Elder Scrolls Online and Wolfenstein: The New Order. Elsewhere in the hall I saw the excellent shooters Takedown and Rekoil, both completely opposite in their goals and yet both incredibly fun. The Omni virtual reality treadmill was on display and drew a huge crowd every time it started a run through a level of Half-Life 2.
QuakeCon turned 18 this year, and it looks set to continue breaking records and being the destination for fanatical PC gamers. This is QuakeCon in pictures.
Bring Your Own Computer
With over 12 miles of cables and almost 3,000 participants, the QuakeCon Bring Your Own Computer LAN is hard to capture in full. The short version: it is really, really big.
The Mario Mod
If you're not playing, the real joy of the BYOC is checking out the incredible case mods. Here, a coffee-table size Nintendo Controller has been built to run classic Super Mario.
The Archer Mod
Inspired by the anachronistic PCs of Isis agents on TV's Archer, this mod showed that bulky and beige can look pretty good.
The Quake Mod
It is QuakeCon, after all. Quake fandom was thick on the ground.
The Fish Tank Mod
An otherwise unassuming little PC tower held the strangest sight of the show: a functioning fish tank.
The Fish Tank Mod
According to one of the builders, on Friday night the tank sprung a leak. The fish hung out in a fast food drink cup while their home was repaired.
Rise of the Triad LAN
Rise of the Triad was available for fast-paced LAN play in the exhibit hall.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Beneath a huge Elder Scrolls Online symbol, players got to try out the new Elder Scrolls MMORPG.
Wolfenstein: The New Order's Nazi dog-tank
Huge booth decorations were everywhere. Next to computers running next year's Wolfenstein: The New Order, this mecha-dog towered over everything.
The exhibit hall
The Fallout 3 Mod
The Skyrim Mod
The Hoth Mod
The Icebox Mod
Encased in ice-colored plastic, this case used a cascading water-cooling pump for the illusion that entire case was slowly melting. Phenomenal!
The Mad Scientist
Like a steampunk evil genius lair, this mod used a tall coil cooling tower and three water reservoirs to great effect.
The Omni drew huge crowds with its combination of a multidirectional treadmill, Oculus Rift VR headset, and gun-based controller. Here, the demonstrator moves through a level in Half-Life 2.
According to the builder, this is an original 1980s boombox. The speakers became cooling fans and the tape deck became a tiny Windows 8 display.
The Light Show
The Gas Mask
Some cases were remarkable not because of their creativity or their sense of humor, but because the engineering and attention to detail was so awesome.
Tim Willits takes a moment to speak to the crowd from the main stage.
John Carmack's keynote
Late on the first day, John Carmack took the stage for his keynote address. He spoke at length about the future of computer technology, his quest to continue learning new programming languages and what the next generation of consoles means for PC gamers.