- Ok folks, I'm sure you've all heard about LAN parties.
For those who don't know what a LAN party is, it's basically
a bunch of gamers that get together in a big warehouse, network
all their computers together and play games head-to-head for
hours on end. It really is quite fun. Of course, LAN parties
are always nothing but PCs... with the exception of me! Every
two months there is a LAN party just a few blocks away from my
house. I'm always the only Macintosh out of about 50-60 computers.
Everyone there always gives me crap because I'm on a Mac, but
I ignore it. I take pride in being the lone representative of
my platform at these gatherings. Now I'm going to tell you everything
you need to know about LAN parties including finding a LAN in
your area, getting ready, setting up, and configuring the network
once you're there.
- How it works: TCP/IP, the universal computer language!
- Before I begin, I want to explain to you
exactly why and how a Mac works on a PC gaming network. Almost
all games today use a protocol suite called TCP/IP. This protocol
is very widely used and is also the protocol of choice for everything
on the internet. A protocol is to a computer as grammar is to
language. It's a common reference for computers to communicate.
Both PCs and Macs can use this protocol. Since we can both speak
the same language, all we need is a common media to communicate
on. This media is ethernet. Both Macs and PCs use ethernet as
their defacto networking media. With both platforms using the
same protocol and the same cabling we can play on a PC gaming
network with no problem. If you still don't understand exactly
how this works, just think about what allows us to connect to
internet gaming services on the net and play against PCs. The
LAN scene is the same concept except we are using ethernet instead
of phone lines.
- One thing to be aware of where protocols
are concerned... Just because we speak the same language doesn't
mean the games you're playing will get along with the PC versions
of those games accross the network. We must also consider game
versions. All games get patched and updated at some point. Sometimes
different versions of games will not be compatible over any kind
of network. So what? Just keep up with the latest version, right?
Wrong. The fact is, Mac and PC updates for games are almost always
released at different times. During that time period when you
have two different game versions floating around for two different
platforms there can be issues with playing that game accross
those platforms. Just be aware of that.
- Step one: Finding a LAN in your area.
- This part is actually quite easy. Just go
and do a search by location. It will then give you a listing
of LAN parties in your area. There will always be a homepage
associated with each LAN group. You can click on the homepage
of the group nearest you to find out details. It was at lanparty.com that I found out there was a LAN
just a few blocks away from my house every 2 months!
- Step two: Getting ready.
- This step consists of getting your equipment
together for the LAN and making sure everything is in working
order. Always make sure you bring the following: your computer
(duh!), power cords for all hardware, surge/power strip, 25'
Cat5 ethernet patch cable, headphones, software CDs, money, and
anything else your LAN group recommends. Prior to attending a
LAN party I always like to run Norton Utilities on my system
just to make sure everything is running smoothly.
- The surge/power
strip is sometimes not needed, but you should bring it just in
case. Usually 25' of ethernet cable is enough. You will want
to check with the LAN organizers to see if this length is adequate.
Cat5 ethernet patch cable can be purchased at any computer or
electronics store. Make sure you get patch cable, not crossover.
Crossover cables are only for two-computer networks. At LAN parties
the ethernet hubs will do the "crossing over" for you
so you only need a patch cable. Headphones are required at some
LAN parties where noise is an issue. Check with your LAN organizer
on this issue. Regardless, it's nice to have headphones for your
own sanity if things get too loud. The software CDs are a good
precaution in case you have to reinstall something during the
event. I recommend bringing money for the occasional trip to
the QuickStop down the street. Or you can just stock up on food
and drinks before the LAN.
- Another part of getting ready is making sure
your computer is network ready. The nice thing about Macintoshes
is that most all of them have built-in network cards. If you
aren't sure if your Mac has a built in network card then look
in the back of your computer where all the ports are. The network
card will look like a big phone jack, too big for a regular phone
cord. The ethernet cabling itself will look like a fat phone
line. Once you have confirmed that you have a network card, you
need to make sure the appropriate network software is installed.
If your Mac has a preinstalled network card then this software
is already installed.
- Step three: Setting up.
- Basically you just need to plug everything
and press power. Aside from your computer itself, you will need
to take your ethernet cable and plug it into an ethernet jack
on the nearest available hub/switch. You may want to check with
the "network guy" at your LAN to make sure he/she doesn't
have a certain network layout they would like you to follow.
NOTE: don't set up near the speakers for the mp3 server or near
a door that stays open a lot. Trust me, I know from experience.
When you are near an open door you get to experience all of the
temperature extremes. If the LAN party has an mp3 server playing
music then it can get very loud near the speakers.
- Step four: Configuration.
- Once you get to the LAN party you will need
to configure your network settings. Simply go to your control
panels and click on TCP/IP. Under "Connect via" you
will select "Ethernet." It may also say "Ethernet
built-in." For the "Configure" option in TCP/IP
you will need to talk to the "network guy" at the LAN
party. If they have a DHCP server set up (auto-configured network
settings) then just set it to DHCP and that's it. DHCP will automatically
configure everything when you launch a network application. If
they don't have a DHCP server set up then you will need to select
"Manually." For the manual configuration some one will
likely assign you an IP number and subnet mask to put in at the
- You're all done! Now go frag some PC scum!
- If you have questions about any of this please
ask them on the message board so others can benefit from the
- Message Board