Parties: It's a Scene, Baby!
LAN Party HOWTO
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.