Taking The Lan Out of Lan Party
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
QuakeCon 2011 concluded just over a week ago, and it was definitely one of the better years in the history of the event.
RAGE could be experienced by nearly anyone, swag was generous, panels were at their best, and the BYOC was easily the best in years.
AT&T pulled through this year, offering excellent internet connectivity and over five times the bandwidth of previous years.
No longer was anyone screwed because they didn’t configure Steam properly; the internet peaked at 8+ MB download speeds.
Unfortunately, nothing is without drawbacks; the result of this was that LAN networking was restricted to anyone on the same network switch as yourself, which means you could only play LAN games with the people at your table.
This was a very successful method of circumventing file sharing programs such as the infamous DC++.
The internet may be good, but this was an absolute disappointment. It’s taking the LAN out of LAN party.
All change is not growth
QuakeCon used to be a big LAN party. Over the years and more so since the acquisition of id Software by Zenimax, it has become a tradeshow.
Am I against this? Not completely. For one, it nets more sponsors for the event; unlike shows such as PAX or E3, QuakeCon is completely volunteer-run. Any and all support is absolutely necessary for the event to be that much more enjoyable, and having sponsors ensures that.
Having sponsors equates to said sponsor also attending the show to some degree, whether it be a booth with pamphlets, or showcasing a CPU cooled by liquid nitrogen (which still blows my mind a year later).
QuakeCon 2011 showcased a new support from AT&T, sponsoring the BYOC almost completely. Bandwidth was around five times that of previous years, and internet speeds were unrivaled. Of course, it came at a cost as listed above: if you planned on LANing it up with your friends across the BYOC, you were out of luck, as LAN was restricted to one network switch to prevent file sharing, and thusly, piracy.
Okay, let’s look at this objectively: the internet is about twenty-five times faster than what I have at my house, no one has trouble getting on Steam, and just about anyone can host a server and game until the wee hours of the [Sunday] morning. As we move forward and fewer big-name releases feature LAN support, this is a model that the event can certainly move forward with.
Couple that with possible issues like the internet failing, and having to rely on LAN support. What happens when not all of your friends are right next to you, and the proverbial stuff hits the fan?
This article may come off as whiny and complaining, but my goal is to make a point. An event that started as a LAN party is no longer a LAN party and slowly evolving into a large internet-connected gameathon with a few interesting exhibits to look at.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. When I was playing Counter-Strike: Source via LAN in the first few hours of the event, I had people pass by, do a double take, and ask how I was doing it. Fatefully, I had to inform them that the LAN this year was restricted to those sitting at your table.
This isn’t QuakeCon. I can play on the internet with my friends at home, and without any of the pain of hauling my rigs long distances. It’s excusable, but going forward, it needs to be addressed.
What do you think? Is ridiculously fast internet and tons of swag a legitimate substitute for LAN support?