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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | From the Hardcore Side - 05/05/00
   

From the Hardcore Side
There are people who play Quake, and then there are people who live and breathe it. In "From the Hardcore Side", a new semi-regular feature at PQ, Pappy-R brings all his hardcore gaming experience to you and talks about what's going on in the hardcore scene today.
  — by Pappy-R


The Ins and Outs of Hosting LANs

This edition of "From the Hardcore Side" is a brief look at LAN events - brief because I won't be getting into the technical aspects too much, since that would take a huge amount of time and space, comparing the best options. Let's start off with the technical aspects, which we will cover in general terms.

When considering a LAN event, there are two major concerns that you must look at. First is that the location or venue has ample power to run the number of systems you'll need for the event. That includes the number of players attending, the staff and server machines, and the network equipment to tie it all together. The second consideration is the network that ties all the machines together. Here's a good article for reference to start with, from our own Tech Tips section: Anatomy of a LAN party. This covers the network requirements and such quite well. Here's a rule of thumb for quick reference: any number of players under 25 can be handled easily with just the use of hubs. More than that and switches will be required to maintain a good, steady ping throughout the network. Another tip for LAN admins is to watch for players exchanging large files across the network, which will have a very bad effect on the network as a whole. Porn, music and movies are the greatest enemies to the network at a LAN, and I'm NOT kidding here.

Finding a decent venue to host the party is one of the hardest parts in setting up a large LAN. The people who own the best halls and such are new to this and in most cases just look at you like you've lost your mind when you try to explain what you have in mind for their property. Be polite and have your requirements written down to hand to the owner - power needs, number in attendance and such. By-laws will be the determining factor in your hours of operation for some venues, so be prepared to consider these requirements here.

Now for the players. You want to attract your full attendance to meet your cost and make your sponsors happy. Take a reading of the community you hope to attract before the event. You don't want to be adding, changing, and dropping game tournaments close to the scheduled date. The proper tournaments with a nice amount and array of prizes will attract the crowd you want. If you seem to your prospective patrons like you aren't quite sure what you'll have and how it will be run, you will have people telling you what to do and how to do it. This can and will cause you strife, chaos, and a flop of an event. Feel them (prospective patrons) out before you advertise the event, and stick to a well-laid plan after it is formally announced.

Staff, staff, staff! Trusted, hardworking, caring staff. Without this, the event will fall. The event is based on technical smoothness and problems will and always do arise. Have dedicated people to help you that know their way around systems. For larger events, hiring a network service can be a nice safe way to go, but check them out for equipment and experience first. Your volunteer staff should have only the best interests of the players in mind, and be prepared to be "on call" throughout the event. They may never get to play, and that has to be part of the bargain.

Swag, prizes and free stuff galore will bring in the players as well. A certain amount of the "gate" can be allocated for buying prizes, but you should have freebies from sponsors here to balance it out. Beg for freebies here, people. What you have to give a sponsor in return for free items is exposure. If they get more word out on their product or service, then it warrants some free hardware. Here's an example of what NOT to get - coupons. Coupons for discounts on services from local vendors are near worthless to people that have traveled to the event. People want cool stuff they can take home.

That's part one for the LAN basic's here at the Hardcore Side, and I'm off to an event called FRAGtopia in a few hours. Next week, I'll be holding the first Canadian PlanetQuake event: PapLAN, so there's lots of LAN action coming your way. As a follow up to this article, I'll post from the live event all weekend and let you all know how it works out. There is a live webcam planned as well, so I'll link to that if it goes up.

  — Pappy-R


Questions? Comments? Random screaming? Let us know in the PQ feedback!

 


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