Today we had our (what has become) annual TGW LAN party and despite initial worries from some parties not taking the time to install games and find out where Ben lives, it turned out to be our best yet. As usual the key to LAN success, aside from preparation, is game choice but we seem to have learnt from past mistakes and do a better job, so I thought I’d note down what works and what doesn’t.

Good games

Quake III Arena

Why did it take us about two years to start playing this at LANs? Very impressed to have got IOQuake working flawlessly on CRUX in about ten minutes even if to do so I had to make it my window manager. Made brilliantly fun with so many players running around. This is something we want to start playing over our VPN more often, why don’t we already?

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance

Our group game if you will. Each year Ben and I come up with a killer strategy which usually succeeds but this year we were overwhelmed by experimental and strategic bomber spam. Works great because of the epic scale but doesn’t scale so well technologically, with the game dropping in speed as you play and units ignoring you more and more.

SupCom has all the ingredients for a fantastic game but they don’t quite come together as you want. For example there is a feature that lets you set up ferrying routes, and you can have factories assist each other so by ordering one factory to construct tanks, bots etc. you can have them automatically airlifted to the front lines, but the power levels are imbalanced in such a way that this is rarely actually useful, despite being really cool. You can have massive navies with aircraft carriers and then begin a ground assault etc. but you can just mass air superiority fighters and drop a few nukes on the navy and it spoils it, which is a shame.

Still we enjoy building loads of nukes in secret submarines positioned around the map and seeing who gets the upper hand.

Left4Dead 2

What a fantastically intense game, as I’ve said on this blog recently. The big difference from Quake 3 is having objectives and not re-spawning immediately: we played versus mode, and with a proper campaign to work through it’s got interesting continuity. Playing as the Infected is lots of fun aside from having to sit around and wait to respawn a lot. Good fun for being reasonably accessible and doesn’t take much practice to be useful to a team.

Warcraft III custom maps

My best LAN party experience was playing Video Game RPG, a Warcraft III custom map, which was very easy and we stomped through and enjoyed all the references. Designed to be played in teams where no-one really knows what they’re doing, so a lot of fun.

CnC generals

A fun alternative RTS.

Bad games (that are good not at LANs)


Starcraft II? Please. DotA is the true e-sport, but the learning curve (until DotA 2, maybe) is too high to work at LANs, because of the cumulative success from being fed by the worst player.

Sins of a Solar Empire

SupCom is just about okay but the scale of Sins is just a bit too big, we found.

HalfLife 2 Deathmatch

Might as well play one of the above instead; too much of an advantage to those who play lots of shooters.

I think that’s all we’ve ever tried.

Today’s results:

Game  Team Ben, Sean, Joe, Matt Jonathan, Pete, James
L4D2 versus Victory Defeat
SupCom Utterly crushed Barely touched
Quake III team deathmatch Victory (close) Defeat
Quake III capture the flag Victory Crushing defeat

The J/P/J team had such success they inspired Jonathan to suggest playing SupCom tonight (we declined after such a intense day), which is surprising since he doesn’t seem to play that much.

Don’t know why I wrote this post really. I think I wanted to practice my touch typing but I’ve given up because it’s just so slow. Right now I’m not looking at the keyboard or thinking about it and am typing super-fast as I always do, but hopefully I can improve on my 25wpm when doing it properly.