As with all great ideas, this one was born in the maelstrom of an end of week trip to the pub. I mentioned that I had recently held a small LAN party for friends and how we had raided my housemates offices for enough furniture. This triggered off a slew of questions, beginning with the usual what is a LAN Party, why would you do such a thing and so on and ended up with the Helastel office being offered as a location for the next time I ran a LAN.
Over the next week this idea quickly evolved into not only using the physical location to host but also using the Hardware and Network infrastructure already present. A query of the office quickly showed that the level of interest in running a LAN for Helastel Employees and friends was far higher than I imagined! And so a date was set… 14th April 2012.
The biggest question question to present itself in the following weeks was ‘which games should we play’? Apart for the usual criteria of ‘It must be good’ we also had to think about the following problems:
Low skill entry level and learning curve
As much as possible the games needed to be easy to learn as approx 50% of the predicted attendees were no gamers (With one or two never having played anything more than spider solitaire!!)
Low Hardware Requirements
Since some attendees did not own gaming rigs we would be repurposing some of the office pc’s
An example spec:
2.93Ghz Intel Dual Core (E6500)
At first glance this is nothing close to the monster gaming platforms that are now available, however if you discount games released within the last 2-3 years this spec is surprisingly adequate.
We needed to make sure that there was enough variety to make sure things didn’t get repetitive. This meant making sure we had both RTS and FPS games available. Also since the FPS genre is so large we also aimed to have at least one tactical and one twitch shooter.
This was less important than any of the other criteria but we were also aiming to gather as many stats as possible. This would mean games having dedicated servers rather than peer to peer multiplayer and also an active modding community.
The final list!:
We ended up having a very a quiet long list of games to pick from on the day:
Game Type Dedicated Server Stats
Age of Empires 2 RTS n n
Counterstrike:Source FPS Tactical y y
Homeworld 2 RTS n n
Quake 3 FPS - Twitch y n
Command & Conquer - Red Alert 2 RTS n n
Command & Conquer - Renegade RTS y n
Starcraft RTS y y
Unreal Tournament FPS y y
Warcraft 3 RTS y y
DOTA (Warcraft 3 Mod) RTS/RPG y y
Team Fortress 2 RTS y y
Left 4 Dead 2 FPS y y
Worms Armageddon Turn Based n n
We also ended up covering all the bases by having a PS3, Wii and N64 available on a large tv in the Boardroom!
We need a Server!
So now the real setup can begin, and step 1 is obtain a server that can be used to run everything.
As luck would have it IP had recently been rummaging beneath the kitchen sink and had put together a new development server for the office (No, really, all the bits bar a new motherboard were found under the sink!!!)
Due to some driver issues with the sata controller and SSD drive it had yet to be allocated to any tasks, and as such was promptly half-inched and appropriated for LAN Party usage. Due to familiarity from running my own games server it was installed with Ubuntu Server 11.10 64bit.
2.6Ghz Intel Dual Core (G620)
250GB 2.5” HDD
I then spent many evenings playing around getting the various game servers installed, configured and recording stats if possible. I hope to cover this in some additional blog posts.
The big day!!!!
And so the day so keenly awaited finally arrived! The first order of the day was to collect fellow organiser Matt Cook and make a Beer run to the Bedminster branch of Asda. After a few roundabouts here and there, we finally made it to Asda, no thanks to Google Maps, to pick up a monster load of beer and of course cider (would be wrong not to being in the West Country). Victorious in our beverage efforts, we headed back to the office.
The afternoon was used for final testing and a few games to “test” the network as people started to arrive. This descended into full scale gaming by around 6pm. By 8pm we had a full complement of attendees:
Max (Maximus Decimus Aurelius)
Nick ([CG] Nick)
Liam ([CG] Liam)
Curtis (Cptn Kaboom)
To warm up we started with a few games of Unreal Tournament. With the blood of 464 ‘frags’ christening the Helastel LAN , Littleman scraped his way through the carnage to come out on top of all 3 games with 90 kills narrowly edging out Cptn Kaboom with 75 kills.
With some strong campaigning from [CG] Liam and [CG] Nick we moved onwards to Counterstrike: Source. For all the planning and preparing I wasn’t prepared for the addiction this caused among the attendees!
The largest adrenaline spike was caused mid way through the night when we switched to Quake 3, after playing this for 40 mins we had to take a 10 min break to allow people to calm down and stop jumping at the slightest thing. Quake also allowed for one of the best surprises of the night when Tina a self confessed non-gamer managed to fight her way into the middle of the rankings beating out several practiced gamers!
It was shortly after this that I realised we were missing Jenny & Tina, a question that was promptly solved by yells coming from the Boardroom, who had decided to sneak off and have a 1v1 Mario Cart grudge match on the Wii. All PC gaming was promptly abandoned to go spectate on the entertainment in the Boardroom.
It was now almost midnight the idea of ordering food was made. [CG] Nick won through with the promise of the best pizza ever… And boy was he right. We ended up ordering 2 ‘Beast’ pizzas from a local takeaway. They were 28” x 24” pizzas weighing in at 3kg with 12 toppings on each and have to be seen to be believed:
After filling ourselves with pizza we returned to playing CS:S, this continued till 4am! At this point we were down to 8 people remaining and decided to conclude the night with a game of Starcraft.
This is a game that will be remembered for all time (Yes we have the replay file!), as one team took an early lead only to have one of its members wipeout another in a massive friendly fire incident, followed by another member build a game winning army only to lose it to a sneak attack.
We finally left the office at 5:30am with the sun beginning to light up our walks home.
If anyone is interested in attending our next event please let us know!