toxjq: there has to be changes

Author: Evan “Nomadic” Bradshaw

Johan ‘tox’ or ‘toxjq’ Quick is one of the most revered Quake players of all time. He was kind enough to share some insight concerning Quake Live and his potential future as a competitive player. He also spoke of his feelings on being such a dominant champion of Quake 4, and what he must do if he is to continue to perform at such a high level.

nomadic: First, could you catch us up to speed on what you’ve been up to? Are you still into your fitness? Working / Studying? Do you still participate in Horse Race Betting?
tox: Gopher and I work for my father’s smaller business as sheet metal and ventilation technicians. And I still try to keep the fitness going, but nowadays I usually keep it to twice a week. On Saturday’s I do enjoy the major horse races that take place every Saturday in Sweden.

nomadic: Will we be seeing you come back and train Quake Live as hard as you did for Quake 4?
tox: I don’t think I will play as active as I did during Quake 4, since I was then sponsored and had more time for practicing and traveling. But things can change in the future with more events and so forth. I have vacation atm, so I have been playing some the last couple of weeks. Fazz came and asked me to participate against France in the TDM cup because Fox had holiday in Greece. I knew that they really wanted to go to the LAN finals, so I felt obligated to take part with them. I only practiced a bit before that game, and then I have just kept on playing for now.

nomadic: Speaking of TDM – It has become much more active in 2010. Do you or your brother have any interest in reviving a certain TDM clan?
tox: Gopher has been talking about starting to play a bit for fun, but he doesn’t have a proper monitor for Quake atm, so I think he might start to play some more for fun if he finally goes and buys a new monitor. But I don’t think we will play TDM for online purposes, it could happen that we would make a team again if there would be TDM lans as it were back in Quake 3 OSP. I rather prefer if there were more 2v2 events, maybe together with 1v1 so you had two types of a game at the same event. In my opinion it’s too much hassle to gather 4 people, and much easier to practice 2v2 then 4v4.

nomadic: But don’t you think 4v4 TDM is more fun than 2v2, both as a player and spectator?
tox: I would say that 4v4 is more fun when you travel to an event together with your team and play the serious matches with a lot of pressure. But in my opinion, 2v2 is more fun to play for practice purposes and also to watch online.

nomadic: In your September’09 Fragster interview you said, “I would like to decrease the hitboxes a lot”. How do you feel about the hitboxes now?
tox: I think they have been improved since they made the changes, but if you play an opponent that has a higher ping than you, there are many shots that go right through. It seems like it depends on what situation you’re in on the map, you really have to think about what height you are firing your shots from. But that’s probably more something that comes with experience.

nomadic: So for LAN play – do you think the hitboxes are perfect, or would you like to see further tweaking?
tox: I have yet to play Quake Live on lan, so I don’t know how the hitboxes work there, but most likely they will work better if both opponents have the same ping. I’m also interested to find out if there is the same amount of firing delay for the weapons on LAN. This is mostly what I feel could be corrected. If you look at plasma gun, for an example, it has a lot of delay while playing online. You cannot use the plasma gun in the same way as you used it in OSP and CPMA; like a close range weapon. It’s mostly for spamming corridors and just annoying your opponent now. In my opinion its way to risky to use plasma vs lightning gun in close range atm. So I would like to see some changes with plasma, so you had 1 more weapon you could use in the game.

nomadic: Would you favor plasma or shotgun at close range in Quake Live as it stands now?
tox: Online I would definitely prefer to have a shotgun instead of plasma atm. But it might work perfect on LAN, I really can’t have an opinion about that since I haven’t tried Quake Live on LAN.

nomadic: We haven’t really seen you play T7 or T9, what are your thoughts on those maps?
tox: I have been playing more and more of these new maps lately, and I think T7 is a balanced map so far. You can play the map very different if u want, both super aggressive and also very slow and safe as well. T9 I haven’t been playing as much as T7, but it feels like there can be so many spawn frags on that map. In my opinion, that’s a weakness, as I think luck should be involved as little as possible.

nomadic: Do you favor any maps over others?
tox: I would say that ztn, dm13, and T7 are good maps for competitive play. Dm6 doesn’t work as well in Quake Live than in Quake 3. As for T9, I can’t say there is much you can do on that map. You are kinda forced to play a certain way and it’s hard to find out a different way to play that map. Then again I haven’t been playing it as much as the others have. But I’d rather not see any Quake 3 maps in Quake Live map pools. I think we’ve had enough of that already, and it should only be new maps for competitive play.

nomadic: Would you be opposed to the addition of Hub?
tox: Yes, even dm6, phrantic, ztn, t4, hub, edge etc. I believe there has to be changes to get some new blood into the competitive scene, and since Quake Live is a new game, they should not use maps that have been played for years and years. There isn’t much to explore and it’s hard to come up with a new way of playing each map.

nomadic: Understandable, so in this way you favor T9 to be included in tournament map pools?
tox: Yeah so far I would. As long as they make new maps, it is important they are tested thoroughly. But you can’t announce new maps 1 week before an event like Quakecon, that’s really bad of them and unprofessional. There has to be some kind of organization that decides a map pool, and that map pool should be used for all the events of that year. If people wanna change maps, or add maps, it should be announced at least 6 months ahead of the tournament.

nomadic: What about other changes or additions you would like to see in Quake Live?
tox: I would like to see what happens if machine gun makes 6dmg instead of 5dmg. Its way too hard to defend yourself with machine gun atm, but then again I think 7dmg is way too much. And as I said earlier, I would like to see some changes with the plasma gun. Maybe it should fire a bit faster or the bullets should be a bit larger, because the hitboxes are smaller atm.

nomadic: I think it was obvious to everyone that Quake 4 suited your play style best. Do you feel your game can be adapted to suit Quake Live like it did in Quake 4?
tox: I think the key is to always find a new way of playing, and it’s all about making your opponent unable to play as he is used to, or how he has been practicing to. It doesn’t really matter if you play aggressive or defensive, just if you make your opponent off his game style and his “plan” he brought to the game.

Quake Live is mostly about timing and controlling the items like RA, MEGA, YA. But if you look at Quake 4, it was just as important to control the weapons of your opponent as it was to take armors and megas. Since the weapon respawn is 5 seconds in Quake Live, it’s impossible to keep your opponent from getting the weapons he wants after a period of time. You can be successful for a while, but in Quake 4 it could be better to give your opponent an RA if you could take the lightning gun or rail or rocket. Because then you would win the next fight without any trouble at all. But in Quake Live you are pretty much forced to take all the fights at all armors and megas. And since Quake Live doesn’t have as much dodging involved as Quake 4 did, you almost have to get more armor and health than your opponent if you wanna win the next fight. Sure you can win certain battles if you position yourself a bit better, but in general you pretty much have to be equal or have more to win a fight in Quake Live.

It’s just another way of playing a game, and you do what you have to do to get better at the game you are playing. But that’s kinda the guideline for Quake Live, only control armor and health and get the best position you can for the next fight.

nomadic: Does this guideline favor or hinder you?
tox: In the beginning it most likely would not suit me. I like when I have more options I can choose from, but I do miss that there isn’t as much weapon controlling with the fast respawn of the weapons. That way if you play someone with a strong rail, it could be better to control rail as opposed to taking all the YA’s on the map when you already are 200-200, but its just 2 different types of play.

nomadic: Let’s go back a few years to WSVG finals vs. Fatal1ty.
After you won, and silenced the “99% Bias Against Toxic” room, you said you felt like you had something to prove; that you were the best Quake 4 player. Do you still feel like you have anything to prove?
tox: No, I mean you can always look back on players as they’re talked about on the shoutcast, “Do you think this guy would beat this guy etc.” It’s just speculation and ultimately a waste of time. Everyone who wins tournament after tournament is already the best at that moment, and I guess these players have the potential to be one of the greatest.

But you cannot take a player from 10 years ago and compare him with someone today. I’m sure that player would have been as good as all the rest if he had his prime today. For myself, I already won a lot in Quake 3 TDM, and I think I placed 5th in almost all major Quake 3 events I attended. In Quake 4 I won a lot of 1v1 tournaments and the Quakecon Quad tournament as well as every 2v2 tournament with whomever I teamed with.

I think the difference between me and the other players is that I don’t talk about winning as much as they do. I don’t feel like its any surprise for me, and I’m always aware of every good player at a top level. It’s important never to feel like, “Yes I made it,” because that should be just an average day for you if you want to stay at the top for a long time.

nomadic: When you were dominating Quake 4, everyone was very curious about how you practiced. You said you didn’t like to train with other top players, but that you instead preferred players that were of a “mid tier” range of skill.
Can you tell us the advantages of this type of training regiment as opposed to training with your peers?
tox: I felt that I already knew how to play the map and opponent when I was attending a tournament, so I already knew how I was suppose to play my best game at that point. If you play someone that’s equal in skill as you are and make 1 mistake, you usually end up losing the game, or not getting any items or weapons for a long period of time during the game. In my opinion, you don’t get to practice all the situations as much then. If you play a medium skilled player, you can always get back control much easier then if you’re playing a top player.

So my thoughts were – if I play vs a medium skilled player I get to practice all the situations over and over, many more times during a game then I could if I played a top player. Of course now and then you can also play someone of your level, to improve your tactical game and also see if these things even work against someone at the same level as yourself.

nomadic: Is this your preference for Quake 4 alone, or would you apply it to Quake Live also?
tox: I definitely would use this in Quake Live also, but probably a bit more games vs equal skilled players to first find out how to play a serious game. When you get that right, you can go off and find out different ways to play a certain map or different ways to attack or play defensive etc.

nomadic: Are you planning to attend Quakecon or any other events in 2010?
tox: I’m not going to attend Quakecon this year, but I have been practicing with Stermy and Cypher before this event to help them get in shape. Cypher and I made a deal – if I helped him to improve his game and found out his weaknesses, and if I gave my view of his game to help him, he would give me advice and help me improve on ztn for an example. So Cypher and I have been playing a lot this past week. We had our warm up session; talking about positioning and some things I know about the opponents he is going to play and so on. Stermy and I have also done the same.

I don’t know if I’m going to attend any events in the future, I hope I will but I don’t know when it will happen. Atm I’m trying to get a feeling for the game, and I will see what tournaments come up. But I want to be sure of knowing all the maps before I attend a tournament.

nomadic: That’s a nice trade off, have you found anything on them yet?
tox: Yes, I think we both have learned from doing this. Maybe he got another view of things he hadn’t previously considered, and I have seen things that I hadn’t thought so deep about either. Anyway, since I’m good friends with both Stermy and Cypher, and if I’m not participating in a tournament, I’d like to see them go as far as possible.

nomadic: Last time I spoke with you, you were planning to buy an apartment. Where are you living now?
tox: I’m still living in the same city that I grew up in. There hasn’t been a good time for this kind of market since the crash.

nomadic: Is there a significant other in the life of The Toxinator or is he looking to acquire a target?
tox: Nope, not at this moment.

nomadic: Thank you very much, I really appreciate you taking the time. The final words are yours.
tox: You are welcome, it will be interesting to see if there are new maps being played at Quakecon and let’s cheer for Stermy and Cypher.

Thanks to Nomadic for the much-needed interview from one of the all-time Quake legends.

Disclaimer: All thoughts expressed are the opinions of the individuals and were said without reference to id software/Quake. The talk of maps which are not currently available are simply just speculation.

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