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Lattyware's Guide To LAN Parties

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Edit: Randallrocks has notified me of a wiki he made devoted to the subject of lan parties, so if you want more information and ideas, check it out!

 

Lattyware's Guide To LAN Parties

A LAN Party - The best description I have ever heard of it was said by a friend in two words - 'Cluster Geekery', but if you want something a bit more wordy:


Quote:
A LAN party is a temporary, sometimes spontaneous, gathering of people together with their computers, which they network together primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer computer games.

-- Wikipedia

A LAN party is an amazing thing - and if you have some friends (2 upwards) who game - have one. Trust me on this, Games and LAN parties will be the best you have in your life. They are far more fun than any other form of play. Fact. Once you have a LAN party, you will be hooked, and you'll carry on having them. You have way more interaction and fun when you are playing in the same room, and rubbing someone's face in something is never more gratifying. You also get 100% lag-free gameplay.

My Story.

I began with LAN parties years ago when a friend invited me round after school to play with him and two others (total of four) on two Xboxs wired together with a crossover cable (in a 'System Link', as M$ named it). We played (the original) Halo, two a console on tiny TVs. It was great fun. We started doing this more and more often - and I invested in an Xbox of my own, and we began to play Halo 2. We had four consoles hooked up to a small hub I had lying around and a TV each.

Contrast that to today. I regularly have 6+ friends over to play, and we all bring around monitors and 360s/PCs and hook up. I have had 16 people across two rooms for 48 hours of constant gaming. The way these things grow.

What do I need?

First of all, I'll do a runthrough of what you'll need networking-wise:

2 Devices:

This is a standard ethernet crossover cable (Cat5 Crossover) - You can connect two devices (Console -> Console, PC -> PC, Hub/Switch -> Hub/Switch) using one of these. They appear to be a dying breed as devices can now crossover automagically, but they were needed in ye-olden-days.

The one above is the one that comes with 360s. This is perfectly usable.

2-5 Devices:

These are a small cheap hub and an assortment of random Cat5 Patch cables. You can connect a device to a hub/switch with one of these. They are the type you are most likely to have.

6-8 Devices:

This is a new switch with more ports. 8 and an uplink. Uplink ports are just faster ports, designed for daisy chaining switches together. These are also some new Cat5s, to increase the number, and to replace the old, rather delapidated (more on that later) ones.

9-10 Devices:

Now you realise you need even more ports. So you just hook up a few together. This works, albeit costs you extra power points (more on that later too) and general work.

+ Internet Connection:

Next everyone wants a net connection while they play. To satiate this (sometimes a need, again, see later on) want, you can hook up a wireless acess point as displayed. Even more Cat5s ensue.

11+ Devices:

Now you need some serious hardware. Displayed here is my current setup which consists of a 24-port switch (designed for rack mount servers) and 100m (16 x 5m, 2 x 10m) total of Cat6 cabling. Cat6 is the faster sibling of Cat5, supporting Gigabit ethernet. The length of cabling is a must - too many times have games been interrupted by a cable being too short.

Now, before you get put off, at the smaller end of the scale, you can get a network set up for a couple of quid (in the case of a Crossover) or under a tenner for a small network of 5ish. Even for the higher end, the 24 port hub was £35 [~$70USD] from ebuyer, and the Cat6s £1.39 [~$2.80USD] a pop. In the end, it's not that bad (my most recent setup cost around £60 [~$120USD] for it all, but most people won't need anything as drastic).

Things to remember when buying.


  • DO think about how many people you are going to have. Overbuying is always a lot better than underbuying here.
  • DO buy snagless cables. The majority of my Cat5s die because they get pulled out of a tangled mess by a friend, and the clips snap off. Buy snagless ones - they will save you money in the long run.
  • DO buy moulded cables. Again, with non-moulded ones, the casing can slip out, wires break, and when a cable does not work, you always end up in hell trying to find what is causing it.
  • DON'T think colour matters. It does not. Go for the cheapest.
  • DON'T buy cables for 'quality' - apart from Spec and Snaglessness/Being Moulded all cables are the same. Your ping will not be any better because of the brand.
  • DON'T buy from PC-World or the like. You'll spend 10x as much.
  • DON'T buy too short. Consoles getting pulled around because of short Cat5/6s is a bad thing. Serious problems can arise, not to mention annoying set up. Don't go overboard though - you want to be able to find your way through the mass of cabling.

Inviting.

Invite people you know and play with to begin with. Try to start out small and build up.


  • DO invite people who are outgoing. LAN parties should be noisy, brash and up-close-and-personal. That's the point.
  • DO make sure everyone is brining the right stuff, has labled everything they are bringing (this avoids loss and makes it easy to return the stuff they will leave behind.), knows how to get to the place, and how much power they will be using.
  • DON'T invite bad loosers. People who sulk or complain just get on everyone's nerves.
  • DON'T invite people who won't be playing. They will get bored and end up doing damage.

Setting up.

So, you have your networking equipment and a guest list, now what? You need to set-up. Do this 2 hours or so in advance. First of all, set up power strips for everyone. Make sure everyone has enough ports. Here is the basic idea:

For each person:
1 for device (PC/Console)
1 for TV OR 1 for Monitor (AND 1 for Speakers)

AND

1 for each Hub/Switch/WAP

AND

1 for Fans, phone chargers and the like (people who go to LAN parties a lot will appreciate power for these).

Power is a hard one to get right.


  • DO use 8-scoket power strips. They give more options.
  • DO label all plugs. This avoids the endless onslaught of 'You just turned off my PC!' 'That wasn't my monitor?!' that always goes on.
  • DO set up a seating plan, and how you will route networking cabling.
  • DON'T ever allow daisy-chaining of power - this'll lead to catastrophies.
  • DON'T overload your circuits. Make sure you can power everything.

Greeting and getting people in their seats.


  • DO give them stuff on paper for more complex events.
  • DO make them feel welcome (especially if you don't know them well) and show them around, where they will be, where to plug up.
  • DON'T ever expect anyone to be on time. They are always (at least 1 hour) late.
  • DON'T expect everyone to turn up. People always forget/flake.

Playing.


  • DO enjoy yourself.
  • DO make sure you get everyone involved.
  • DON'T set up tournaments unless people who are knocked out can be playing aswel.
  • DON'T exclude anyone. What may seem like a short amount of time is ages for someone when they are not playing.

The clean up.


  • DO make sure everyone has everything.
  • DO make sure everyone gets off nicely.
  • DON'T expect anyone to help you clean up.
  • DON'T expect your carpets to ever be clean again.
  • DON'T expect to feel like cleaning up.

General Advice


  • DO check stuff! A lot of things can go wrong at LAN parties. Try to get it right.
  • DO label everything! It makes everything easier.
  • DO make your first one a console one. Consoles are infinitely easier. More people have the same games, Networking is easier, it generally requires less set up and lighter loads, and also, less space.
  • DO make sure everyone has the game(s) you want to play.
  • DO take some pictures! It gives an atmostphere, and is often funny.
  • DO have spare stuff ready so if something gets forgotten you can step in.
  • DO make your first event around 6 hours long. This is good enough for quite a few games, but not overly long.
  • DO invite as many people as possible. The more the merrier.
  • DO have Alcohol or Energy Drinks if you are staying up for long (like overnight) (but see the one below).
  • DON'T have Alcohol or Energy drinks if your friends are... volatile.
  • DON'T expect anyone to sleep at an overnighter. It's 24-hour gaming.
  • DON'T try to play too many games. Switching games takes time and you'll generally only end up playing one or two.
  • DON'T expect to be able to use both Consoles and PCs - you'll use one the whole time and never use the other, or split the group.
  • DON'T play online with a huge party - you will get terriable lag - ruining one of the points of LAN parties.
  • DON'T play split-screen. Everyone should have their own. It'll cause annoyance.
  • DON'T allow 5.1 systems and music. This will drown out other's audio and cause annoyance.
  • DON'T be afraid to enforce rules.
  • DON'T be afraid to tell people to use headphones.
  • DON'T neglect food! Pizza is the dish of choice, (everyone eats pizza) and snacks and drinks should be at hand.
  • DON'T let it get too hot! People, consoles, PCs and monitors produce a lot of heat. Open doors, windows and turn off radiators. Also have fans if possible.
  • DECIDE what is allowed and not allowed beforehand. Are you going to allow people to transfer files around? Are you going to allow alcohol? Choose before and inform people.

Note that TVs are bigger and harder to bring around, while monitors are easier, but often have no (or rubbish) sound built in - so you'll generally need more power. It's a trade off. CRTs loose on both fronts, and I recommend against them.

The death of a Cat5.
Examples of broken Cat5s and snagless ones.

Non-Molded:


Broken Clip:


Snagless:


Tying up cables.
This is my recommended way:






Be ready to travel.
If you are going to a LAN party, try to invest in good kit for the job. Bring a good power strip along, or some Cat5s. Get some small speakers with a headphone port. Help the host a bit.

Good:



Bad:



Games to play:
PC: UT2004, Civ4 & Empire Earth 2 (3 sucks).
Xbox 360: Halo 3, COD4, MW2
When playing Halo, try out some fun custom gametypes. Things like Rocket Race are hilarious beyond belief when everyone is shouting. If you don't like Halo online, you might find you like it in LAN, it really is a different game. Mess around with gametypes and have fun.

Remember guys, have fun! LAN parties are a great experience - and one that no one should miss. You can learn all of this through trial and error, and the main thing is just to try and get everyone playing a game. If you do that, everyone will be happy.


Edited by lattyware - 4/8/12 at 6:09pm
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post #2 of 25
nice guide, sir. rep+

as far as electricity is concerned, what should be expected? how would one go about calculating how to spread the electrical load, especially if being hosted at an individual's home?
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post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, it all depends on your house. My personal method is 'hook up stuff till the lights flicker' - so far, nothing has broken my house. I have drawn 12 consoles and monitors/TVs off one room using 5 sockets with 8-plug extensions before. The best bet is to do 6-8 a room, and split over more than one room for loads. This also is useful for teams.
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post #4 of 25
Very nice, should have read this before I had peeps over for a LAN lol total chaos
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post #5 of 25
never been to a LAN party

partly because everyone in Staten Island are console freaks
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post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaNemesis28 View Post
never been to a LAN party

partly because everyone in Staten Island are console freaks
I'd say 70% of my LAN parties are with 360s - consoles are easier, especially with getting people to attend.
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post #7 of 25
im gonna have a ton once i move out! my parents dont like people in there house
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post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by OmegaNemesis28 View Post
never been to a LAN party

partly because everyone in Staten Island are console freaks
I might be throwing a LAN party in my house in NJ.... before I get any furniture.
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post #9 of 25
They can be fun but make sure there are enough comps/consoles because like he said... Watching people play is soooo boring. Also make sure people bring money for pizza because they will never pay you back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post
I might be throwing a LAN party in my house in NJ.... before I get any furniture.
An OCN lan party?
    
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post #10 of 25
Nice guide Latty!

Couple of points I figured out for my second and third event;
Make a list of stuff for participants to bring.
---system (including input devices)
---monitor (we were pc'ing it)
---power strip and all power cords necessary
---network cables
---headphones
---games (we usually stuck with 2 or 3 games)
---food (I'm not gonna feed everyone for free) (coordination with others makes for a great feast)
---beverages (some for you, some to share) (or I just get a keg and everyone chips in)
---Change of clothes (my parties last for days...)
---Sleeping bag (see above)

I have held 3 events so far in the last 2 years and all my friends keep asking when the next one will occur. Got to get the wife to go to Cabo with her sisters again. The second and third events drew 12 people. I think we got maybe 6 hours of sleep the whole weekend. After the second event when everyone was leaving on sunday night, one of my neighbors saw people he did not know carrying tons of computers and monitors out of the house and called the cops. They got a good laugh when they found out what was going on. He got invited to the third party.

That raises another point;
DO tell your neighbors about your party.

...and with PC's make SURE everyone's system is virus/trojan free...

BTW, no pictures were allowed maybe next time when we are not so
Gaming rig
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
C2D E8600 ASUS Striker Extreme eVga 8800 gts 640 OCZ Platinum 4gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
WD2500JS NEC DVD+-RW Windows XP SP3 2x LG L226WTX 22" widescreen 
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Ideazon Merc Stealth Ultra Atx 600 Cooler Master CM690 Logitech Mx 518 
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Gaming rig
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
C2D E8600 ASUS Striker Extreme eVga 8800 gts 640 OCZ Platinum 4gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
WD2500JS NEC DVD+-RW Windows XP SP3 2x LG L226WTX 22" widescreen 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Ideazon Merc Stealth Ultra Atx 600 Cooler Master CM690 Logitech Mx 518 
  hide details  
Reply
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