LAN Parties: It's a Scene, Baby!
By Charles "Bedman" Bedford
The invention of the multiplayer game spawned a strange phenomenon called a LAN party. As LAN parties are becoming more and more common, loonygames asked Charles Bedford, a LAN party veteran himself, to share a bit of his wisdom.
1. History of the LAN party
Networks started to become useful in business settings around 1989. At that point, most of the games that were built for multi-player action were UNIX based, and had very few people who played them. Mostly they were played at universities where students had access to UNIX systems for their class work. These games were usually character based. Some of these games were Empire, Larn, Hack, Rogue, and Hunt The Wumpus. Only one of which actually pitted the skill of one player against the other in the same game. The others were score based, and kept scores for everyone on the same server who played. The next generation of games started to become popular with the invention of the first person shooter, or FPS game called Wolfenstein 3D, from id software, which was initially released as shareWare. id's second major title was called Doom, and with that - the LAN Party was born.
Doom allowed for up to 4 players to play at the same time, in the same area, shooting each other. You could play head to head against one friend over a modem too, and this was also quite popular. As Doom's popularity grew, more and more people would play at their office, on a network. As more people got used to network Doom, people started to have friends over to play on personal networks.
There were a large number of offshoots of Doom. Some of these are still popular today. Some of the games, like Duke Nukem 3D, are still considered classics. The engines were quite similar to Doom until id's next major undertaking came to the market, Quake. Quake was a new and much improved game. It kept many of the things that people loved about Doom, and added a new '3D'ness to the game. Also - it was built for networking. From the ground up it was the first 'client - server' game. It supported as many as 16 concurrent players, and unlike the Doom type games, any player could come and go as they wished. This changed the way people could have LAN parties as well. Now many more than 4 could play at the same time.
There were a number of other types of games that started to get on business networks. Real time strategy (RTS) games, like Command & Conquer, were early ones. Warcraft, Starcraft, Total Annihilation, Dune 2000, and many others populate this genre of computer network games. Other categories are Flight simulator games, like Falcon 4.0, and sports games like Madden Football, and FIFA Soccer.
The first really large-scale LAN parties were built around Quake. QuakeCon in 1996 was the first national LAN party. It consisted of a huge number of people - approximately 250 - who all came to Texas to do one thing: play Quake. This has been an annual event ever since. There were over 630 people at the CPL event, which was held in Dallas this last July.
That brings us to the current day - where Quake 2 and a slew of new FPS, RTS, and flight sim games are the norm at LAN parties. As more people get interested, the popularity of LAN parties is also increasing.
|Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone. LAN Parties: It's a Scene, Baby! is © 1998 Charles Bedford. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it...we'll find you at a LAN party and woop yer sorry butt.|