Gotta LAN man.
I remember it really clearly: It was my 13th birthday party. My step dad worked at an engineering company that was closing down, so they said it was fine for us to use their computers for a LAN party. Before this, I’d never gotten to have a LAN party, so it was a pretty big deal. Maybe it was different for you, but in 2000 it would have been really unlikely for a group of 16 or so middle-schoolers having their own computer to play games on, so this was pretty much everyone's first brush with that most interactive of multiplayer, the venerable LAN party.
I can’t imagine that this experience didn't somehow contribute to how I found my way here to J!NX.
There was only one game installed on every system on the network, Unreal Tournament. It’s funny now to look back at how insanely cool it was that their work let them have games to play after work or at lunch. I can’t imagine that this experience didn't somehow contribute to how I found my way here to J!NX. I hadn't played a lot of first-person shooters at this point other than Goldeneye for n64. I was kind of wondering why, and while doing some net sleuthing the answer turned out to be that pretty much every FPS game I played around that time all came out in the same year and I didn't get my own computer for a while after that. 1999 was a hell of a year for FPS games: CounterStrike, Unreal Tournament, and Quake 3 all came out in ’99. Crazy.
When I think back on that birthday party, I remember how much fun it was to get to spend time with friends playing computer games in the same room. Previous to this computer gaming was usually done alone, or one person was playing while others hung out and watched. And the thing that really tied the day together was Quake 3. I really miss classic deathmatch games. The FPS genre has come really really far in a lot of ways, especially in graphics, but I think it’s a disservice to stop producing what I think is the most inviting FPS game mode there is. I mean, what other kind of game makes you think of a word like Gibby-Bits.
This birthday was the very beginning of a long love affair with gaming with friends and computers in person. In high school there were 2 years straight where every single Friday I'd get together with 3 of my best friends and we'd play for hours and hours. Most weekends consisted of 2 things: Play games all night, aided by copious amounts of pizza and soda followed by sleeping off the aftermath of everything I just said. It was just what we did, and I don't know how often I have as much fun playing games now as we did back then.
A lot has changed in the 14 or so years since I fell in love with LANs. Almost every game has well-implemented online multiplayer now.
It might just be nitpicking, having pre-selected weapons for each player is fine. Team Fortress 2 is a great game that I've played to death. I've definitely played more CounterStrike more than I care to admit. But all the varied class choices, and weapon loadouts that are the hallmark of modern FPS games totally change the deathmatch format. No longer can I frantically run around a map I don’t know yet hunting for weapon and health spawn points.
A lot has changed in the 14 or so years since I fell in love with LANs. Almost every game has well-implemented online multiplayer now. There are a veritable cornucopia of ways to talk to each-other while playing over Vent, or Mumble, or whathaveyou. The world of gaming does feel at least a little bit less isolated than it did in the days when you still needed to know your friend’s IP address to attempt to set up a match, and you’d better pray no one picked up the phone. I’m really happy that the ecosystem has changed to support and encourage more interaction, but to this day if you invite me to an all-weekend LAN party I will pack up my rig faster than you can say “Where’s the Cheetos?”. Some things change as time goes on, but some thing will never change. Though I might be just as likely to bring beer as I would Dr.Pepper to the party these days, I still get excited like a 13 year old when I get to LAN with friends.
Are you a LAN fan? If you have a story of the first time you hooked some computers together and have a little head to head smackdown among friends I’d love to hear it.
I need to go find my Ethernet cables,