Monday, May 10, 2010

Successful LAN Checklist

One can argue that LANs are dying as of late in recent years. They would not be wrong. Often the reason for LANing in the past was because of games not being suitable on the slow connections a decade ago, combined with the proximity to the dedicated server. These factors would often convince people that gathering a group of like-minded individuals into a building for digital entertainment over faster and closer networks was a good idea. They were right.

Of course, the speed of connections today and the games people play are one of the reasons people don't LAN anymore. Hell, some games do not even support the feature in general (Modern Warfare 2, upcoming Starcraft 2), which is really quite sad considering their origins. There is also the fact that the vast majority of games released in the last few years are terrible for LANs, massive in size, no AI/Bots other than singleplayer, requiring 50 security and authorization checks per second and even requiring a constant internet connection. Why not just play at home online?

It is difficult to argue against, but there is one very good reason why people should still LAN. Because they are social events. Yes, you are doing something you enjoy with friends who also enjoy doing it, in close scream-in-your-ear proximity with the capability to easily reflect on awesomeness later. Who wouldn't enjoy that? I can only think of two types of people. The first would be someone who doesn't like other people and the second would be someone who doesn't have any friends.

So providing you do choose to LAN in the future (which you should), there are 5 simple rules that I believe everyone (hosts, participants, guests) should follow to make the experience not irritating for everyone.

1. Headphones. Put them into your sound card and cover your ears with them. Not everyone wants to hear you play the same Queen or Linkin Park song over and over again at full volume. Having speakers on low-medium volume playing the currently played game is fine, but please, consider the well being of the people surrounding you.

2. Many Games. Depending on the duration of the LAN this can vary in size from 0 to ... lets say 10. Playing the same game over and over, while mind blowing for some, can get incredibly boring for others (especially those who are perhaps not that great or are new to it). Screaming "HEADSHOT!" into your friend's face for the 23rd time, while exciting for you, may be both uncomfortable, tedious and deafening for them.

3. Bring discs/files. If you are suggesting a game to play, consider the accessibility of the game for everyone. Wanting to play Doom 3 deathmatch when you don't have the discs, or a cracked version, nor do they and there are 5+ players (Doom 3 DM is 4 players) is worthy of submission to If a game can be bought off steam and files transferred, great. However, if the game costs $90 and you are the only one who has it, fail.

4. Don't be a faggot. Don't cheat. Sitting in a room with several other testosterone induced individuals can be a very a hairy situation. You are there to have fun with friends and getting upset/emo about what happens in games is a real mood breaker. This happens the other way around as well. Boasting and/or inappropriate trash talking can grant you both contempt and punches to the face. Coop gaming is always good neutral ground.

5. Have a plan B. Things will break. Operating Systems will magically uninstall, cables lost, save games deleted, routers explode and of course, networks will shit themselves. Calm down and relax. Unless you are the host, you are moving a piece of hardware (that shouldn't and normally never is) several kilometres to run at an unknown location. You cannot possibly expect things to work smoothly. Bring an extra LAN cable, a copy of your OS, an external HDD with your drivers and DEFINITELY your own power board. NEVER rely on another person. People are shit!

If everyone was to follow these 5 simple rules at/prior to every LAN I can guarantee that the experience will be enjoyable for all!

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