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volume 1, issue 8

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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LAN Parties: It's a Scene, Baby!

4. LAN Party HOWTO

 

4.1. Promotion

The most important issue when having a LAN party is getting the word out. Using a web page is a popular way of doing this. Popular web sites like Blue's News and LANParty.com publish information about LAN parties. It is good to get a party listed here for more visibility. Other web resources are some of the banner ad organizations.

Local newspapers and the news media are also used as publicity draws. There are costs associated with advertising, so it is not something that a lot of LAN parties use. Getting news coverage on TV or local radio or newspaper, however, is not very difficult. Just call the organizations and talk to a reporter about your event. That might produce an article about the LAN party, which would help in the promotion effort.

4.2. Sponsors

Sponsors are necessary for large-scale events. The more prizes that sponsors give to the games, the more interest you have for people to come to the event. It is a win-win situation for them too, because they get publicity and visibility in the community that is going to use their product. It's a very tightly targeted market.

The trick to getting sponsors is making phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. Email is also helpful, but typically not as successful as phone conversations. If you can get in front of a potential sponsor in person, that is even better. Some places to work for sponsorship are your local computer companies, but call the big names too. They love to see their name in lights.

The sponsors will come to events that are well publicized. To attract good sponsors, a good publicity campaign is necessary. That is one of the things that will help land large sponsorship deals too. If it can be shown that the website used for publicizing is getting loads of hits from professional organizations, and such - that's a good selling point for their marketing folks.

4.3. Location

Finding a location is an extremely important step in getting a LAN party set up and running. The first place that most people have a LAN party is in their house. That's fine for small, less than 20 player events, but when there are going to be over 50, it's usually too small - with inadequate power, and seating.

When the party is larger than about 20 people, then power is important, but with extremely large parties, it is a big problem. At the first QuakeCon in Dallas, there was a real power problem. They had to bring in 2 huge diesel generator trucks to supply power to the event. Plan for about 2 to 2.5 amps of power for each PC in attendance. So if a conference room in a hotel is needed, make sure the booking has been made in advance, and the partygoers understand that there will be a charge to cover costs. Other venues can be places like a business, or a warehouse. There have even been events that were held in airplane hangars.

Tables and chairs are usually a problem. Nobody owns enough tables and chairs to fill their house full of spaces for people to come over and set up their computer. Renting or asking the attendees to bring extra stuff is the typical solution. Make sure that the partygoers know about any costs that are going to be passed down to them to attend the event.

4.4. Networking

The network is a primary concern. Give all the guests IP addresses as they walk in the door, unless you have a DHCP server on your network (in which case - tell everyone to set for DHCP).

Most of the LAN party goers have a hub, or know someone who does, so they are not usually in as much constraint as tables and chairs, but most people don't have enough ports on their personal hub to support a medium to large LAN party. Again - ask the partygoers to supply extra hubs and cables.

4.5. Organization

The key to having a good LAN party is organization. If all the ducks are lined up in a row, then everything will go much smoother. This is a major downfall of most medium to large LAN parties.

4.5.1. Servers

Publicize what servers will be officially supported. Try to organize which servers will be running what patches, or types of games. If possible, have the person who is responsible for each server test each configuration planned for the LAN beforehand. There is a lot of tweaking that can be done in the quake and quake II server setups, and some of it can be time consuming. Having server scripts and configurations set before the party will help the organization team to be able to help more people faster.

4.5.2. Games

As mentioned in the prior section, make sure each of the games that require setup is ready to go. Quake servers need to have their .cfg files set and ready for each of the patches planned at the LAN. Quake 2 is the same. Unreal can also take some time to configure the server properly. The more testing that is done on each of the dedicated servers, the better.

4.5.3. Tournaments

Tournaments are not for the weak hearted. If the LAN party is small, then tournaments are usually not very fun, because everyone knows before it starts who is going to take home the prize. As the LAN parties get larger, and the sponsorship increases, the prizes get better. The more people are drawn to the possibility of taking home some of the prizes. The thing to stress about tournaments is that they NEED to have someone take charge of them that isn't supposed to be playing in it. Expect this person to be very busy too. Tournaments require a great deal of organization. Not to mention, getting people to their matches on time is a serious challenge.

4.5.4. Duties

Each part of a LAN party needs to be organized. If there is a superman who is organizing the party, then they will accomplish all of it by themselves. This is not always the case, and other helpers are called for. At the CPL event in Dallas, there were over 50 volunteers to help out with the issues that surrounded the LAN party. Ask the partygoers for help, and chances are it will be received.

The primary duties at a LAN party are: check in people at the door, and optionally take registration money keep servers up and running smoothly organize tournaments, and keep matches underway referee tournaments troubleshoot PC problems troubleshoot Network problems

Keep all of this in mind when there's a LAN party in your neck of the woods.

4.6. FUN

Remember that LAN parties are to have fun. Make sure that everyone does, and they will keep coming back for more next time.

 

- Charles "Bedman" Bedford runs BedlamGaming.net, a Colorado local LAN Party resource.

 

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.