People connected to a server can actually play, or just be spectators. Clients consume "player slots" of the server although they are just spectating.
As a spectator you can view the battle from the eyes of the combatants one by one, or you can choose to have a detailed over-view of the whole battle. As a spectator you cannot be harmed in any ways, nor can you attack other players. While spectating other players you have the advantage of reading their habits, tactics, accuracy and favorite weapons. This is particularly useful in the Tournament game-play, but in this particular gametype do not use the "start" menu unless you want to avoid fighting (see the related example below).
To enter the game as a spectator, press ESC or ESCAPE (key) followed by START (menu item) and then SPECTATE (menu item).
When you are spectating, if you press "ATTACK" button (usually, left mouse click), you begin "follow" spectate mode (seeing in first person for the point of view of another player), and clicking again you cycle between players.
If then you press "USE_ITEM" (ENTER key by default), you switch to "free" spectate mode again (your "virtual camera" can "fly" around the arena as you wish). "USE_ITEM to stop following" did not exist in the original Q3A game: if you are using an old mod, you may need to use ESC menu -> Start -> Spectate again, to exit "follow" mode.
If you are already fighting and you switch to spectator mode using the menu, you will suicide: probably you will lose a frag (point), but please notice that the scoring mode may vary depending from the current gametype.
- If you are playing in Free For All mode (g_gametype 0) and your score is 3, then you select Esc --> Start --> Spectate, you switch to spectator mode and your score is shown as 0 (because you are currently "out" from the match), then you select Esc --> Start --> Join Game and you will enter it again, with score 2.
- If you are playing in Tournament mode (g_gametype 1) and currently fighting, then you select Esc --> Start --> Spectate, you will immediately lose the match, and you will be placed at the end of the queue. When you lose a match in Tournament mode, you always switch to spectator mode and are placed at the bottom of the queue (unless there are only two players in the server). Tip: You can see your position in the queue and your number of tournament matches won/lost when showing the score table (usually, holding TAB key).
- If you are in Tournament mode and currently spectating, then you select Esc --> Start --> Spectate, you will be placed back to the bottom of the queue. To avoid this, if you want to switch from spectate "follow" to spectate "free" mode, simply press the USE_ITEM key (ENTER by default), instead of using the "Start" menu. In Tournament mode, you don't need to manually choose "Join game" from the menu: you will automatically enter the game when it is your turn. In short: when playing in Tournament mode, you don't need to use the "Start" menu unless you want to avoid fighting. Tested with OA 0.8.5.
- In Elimination and similar modes, a dead player is forced spectating until the end of the current round. And a player joining a team is forced spectating until the end of the current round, if the round has already started.