Have You Played… Quake 2 CrateDM?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Have you played the Quake II mod CrateDM? If so, please tell me all about it. It’s a simple but oh so wonderful idea, which is best explained in its readme file: “CrateDM pits opponents against each other in a room full of crates, and the players are crates.” That’s it. All-crates Quake 2 deathmatch. Before Old Man Murray even created their Crate Review System, CrateDM was at the cutting edge of crate culture.

CrateDM exists in that strange hinterland of old mods – things I can find, think sound amazing, and likely never get to play properly. CrateDM is a mod to lark about with some chums, chasing crates around a crateroom, vanishing and confusing everyone by standing still, and laughing and gibbing until Jolt Cola spills frothing down your chin. I don’t know anyone who’d be up for that now. I remember stories of CrateDM from pals who played it Back In The Day When We Were All So Young And Beautiful but ah, it’s too late to get to play with people who are excited about a small and silly mod for the game we play every night. I’ve barely played Q2 in a decade myself.

I still adore the idea of it. The idea of CrateDM still brings me a lot of pleasure. I can’t think of it without smiling. Maybe the thought will make you smile too.

If you want to actually play, you can download CrateDM here. Who could resist this rich selection of player skins?


  1. zxcasdqwecat says:

    Holy shit.

  2. Distec says:

    There was a spiritual successor for Half-Life as wel; Boxwars.

    I remember when Planet Half-Life had a “mod of the week” column (or was it by month?), and this was one of the ones they featured. I think I tried out every one of their recommendations, in a time when I was sampling new mods almsot every week.

    I think player count was still low enough that I spent more time playing more popular mods, but I remember being highly entertained by the bizarre setup, getting vicarious thrills watching opponents play a deadly game of “prop hunt”. There was a freewheeling, care-free nature to a lot of mods from that era that I feel has evaporated since.

    I’m sure the audience reach would be smaller, but I would love more features/retrospectives on all the weird mods that were coming out from Half-Life, Quake, and a few others back then.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Boxwars was entirely excellent. It was a regular at the LANs I used to do back in the ’90s, and the silly, giggly, wholly real tension, nervousness and excitement it generated were just marvellous. There’d be this careful, apprehensive build-up as people crept, and watched… And then someone would show their hand, as often as not fire at an inanimate crate, then panic, flee, and everyone else would spring to life. Properly superb, and it worked very well with low player counts.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Arnvidr says:

    This sounds brilliant. Anyone know of anything similar in any more modern, or open source FPS?

  4. AceJohnny says:

    For anyone looking for a modern implementation, I recommend Prop Hunt for TF2.

    Hell, it’s even been covered ’round these parts before!

    PS: Webmaster, did you mean to wrap the whole comment input area in an to the New Forum Rules? Because that makes it impossible to comment without removing it, and I can’t find a way to accept the conditions (And I daresay I haven’t been a bad actor worth gating out)

    • AceJohnny says:

      Ah crap, forgot to escape the \ in my PS comment, hence the incorrect link…

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I’m glad you mentioned Prop Hunt. I haven’t played it myself, but watching others do so has sent me into laughing fits on a couple occasions. Probably a slightly different feel from the uniformity of crates Crates CRATES, but if you’re looking to play something like that, I reckon it’d do.

  5. Strangely Brown says:

    I have, in fact, played CrateDM, and it was bloody good fun at LAN parties.

    Well, until you sort of unconsciously memorised the layout of the level, anyway. The magic of it kind of wore off when you could round a corner and A-HAH! fire the rail at a crate in a stack of crates. Frag. Wish the positions would be randomised, or at least have more than 2(?) levels.

    Still, happy memories. Thanks Alice.

  6. Clippit says:

    I’ve played the UT2004 version once online; I didn’t realise it was from Q2. It’s probably what started me thinking FPS-type games could be much better with a mechanic besides shooting. There’s a CS map “cs_akdark” which works in a similar way – here everyone’s in a pitch-black room so shooting gives you away and the tension is delicious.

    It’s the hide-and-seek that generates tension, which generates the squeals. When you play you realise that to stay still you can’t even look around – this just makes it more intense and hilarious. It’s best in instagib mode with frantic zapping and sneaky hiding in a stop-start mix like musical chairs.

    The idea has legs but as mentioned above there are a few things that break it:

    Subconsciously memorising the layout makes it easier to spot the odd one out. Procedural generation could fix that.

    Alignment is another issue – so implement a ‘snap’ function and maybe allow a limited amount of looking before the 3rd-person model turns (indicate this with brackets on the crosshair).

    Tricky pickups like Q3’s one-shot random teleporter (i.e. get me out of here) would help focus the game on risk, reward and being a coward and stop it playing too much like normal DM.

    Very limited ammo – 1 or 2 shots – would make you pick your shots. Ammo might regenerate or be picked up (forcing you to move).