Last weekend was LAN joy-time; my friends bring our computers to someone’s house, we hook them up to his LAN and then we spend the weekend setting each other on fire.
There’s some food, drink and socialising too but the main thing is the pyromania.
Highlights are below.
We had between 6 and 8 people round so we tended to play team games where we could. Getting fair teams is always a bit tricky as people play different games more and so there’s a range of skill levels. It’s pretty cool when you claw out a win against superior odds, though most of the time you just have to put up with a pummelling while you get relentlessly mocked.
When you’re on the superior side you have to play a delicate game; you want to win conclusively so you can be smug over voice-comms but you don’t want to brutally obliterate the other side so that they never want to play again. Diplomacy is the key;
Me : “That was a great game. Pretty close!”
Other team member : “It was a 123 to 3 rout!”
Me : “That’s not really representative though; if we hadn’t got map control it would have been very different.”
Other team member : “You were killing us with the umbrella while spamming the dance animations.”
Me : “That was only for the last two-thirds of the game though.”
Some of the games we played;
This is the free to play iteration of Quake 3, a fast-paced arena shooter. Most of us grew up with Quake and Doom and they were some of the first multiplayer games we ever played.
It’s our ‘warm up’ or ‘fill in 15 minutes’ game as there’s no prep-time and everyone knows what to do. It’s probably the game with the biggest skill disparity as well which makes it a good fit when we don’t have even numbers for another team game. You can put more of the better players on one side but let the other have the advantage of numbers.
Clan Arena is the mode of choice. Everyone spawns with all the weapons and armour and the round continues until everyone on one side is dead.
Your team mates all spectate through your eyes when they’re dead so there’s loads of heroic last stands when you try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to the cheers of you team-mates.
Equally there’s plenty of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory too, though. 🙂
Heroes of the Storm
Currently in closed beta but you can buy characters to get in or get an invite from your friends. A majority at the LAN had it so we played quite a few games. Again, Blizzard games have been a constant staple so a faster MOBA game with the characters from your favourite games is always going to go down well.
We all tend to be ‘skill-challenged’ at MOBAs (with one or two exceptions) so we played plenty of co-op vs the bots. They gave us some close games as they had the edge in a number of areas;
- creative thinking
- predictive planning
- not having drunk team-members
but we eventually got confident enough to play the final boss; going on to the Internet against groups of random players. Initially, we predictably got crushed but over the course of the weekend we got better until we actually won.
Plus, I had a character that could spread creep (slime) over the entire level.
Natural Selection 2
Or “What would have Aliens been like if Lt Gorman had been an RTS player?”. NS2 is an FPS with Alien and Marine teams with the added wrinkle that each side has a commander that plays an RTS instead (building, expanding, teching using a top-down view).
It’s hectic and fun; though less so for the Marine commander as the marines and their commander are more tightly integrated.
The Aliens seem to be able to work fairly autonomously and as long as the commander is building and expanding the creep (yay!) it’ll all turn out ok while the marines need to constantly work with their commander to get things done.
Needless to say, trying to do all that while loads of pointy-toothed aliens are trying to eat you makes the marine voice-chat channel a constant stream of panic, rage and hysteria.
Eventually the Aliens get enough points to evolve to Onos (a triceratops / elephant hybrid) and then it all goes pear-shaped for the Marines.
Half-Life 2 Deathmatch
Re-arranging furniture and killing people with toilets. What more do you need?
More creep spread! We mostly play this for the Arcade (free games that the community has written using the engine). The two we mainly play are Phantom (everyone is outwardly on the same side; two people are secretly trying to kill everyone else. They get much bigger army caps so the trick is working out who’s evil before they smash you) and Squadron Tower Defense.
Squadron Tower Defense (started using the acronym, but thought better of it) is a team-based tower defense game. You pick a race, put down towers and then every 30 seconds increasingly difficult waves of minions spawn.
The skill comes from balancing buying towers (to stay alive) vs expanding your economy (allowing you to stay alive near the end). It’s a razors edge, further complicated by the ability for teams to spend resources sending additional bad-guys into your lanes.
If you’re unlucky you’ll get a particularly nasty additional critter (like a healer) which will tip the battle in the favour of the minions. If they break your defenses you get massively reduced resources so the next wave is that much tougher.
It’s a fun game, but if you let minions through (leaking) for any reason (either you didn’t build enough towers or the enemy team saved up for an uber-badguy) you tend to be knackered for the rest of the game. As the games are quite lengthy you’re then subjected to ruthless mockery for a protracted period.
Each race has a decent build so it’s mainly a test to see if you can remember your build order while thinking up increasingly brutal put-downs for the other side (and only slightly less brutal ones for leakers on your own team).
The game in a nutshell;
Totally skip all the intricate, versatile planning tools and just rob the banks all-guns-blazing.
Fight your way to the car and realise you’ve not brought out the loot you’re supposed to be stealing.
Die in a hail of gunfire from hysterically laughing police.
A top-down co-operative gauntlet-like with an interesting mechanic; you have to use an energy ball to open doors, destroy statues and stun big enemies. The problem is, you can only ‘pull’ the ball to your current position so to make it avoid walls and the wrong power-ups you have to take turns pulling it between you as you move around obstacles.
As you’re also fighting against the monsters at the time this is trickier than it sounds but after a lot of practice and even more deaths we beat the final boss!
Of the tutorial.
RTS with a horribly complicated interface but redeemed by being able to move between planets in a solar system. Even further redeemed by being able to fit rocket engines on moons and fire them at other people.
Finally saw the planet-smashing ultimate weapon too; though unfortunately I was on the wrong side of it…
The LAN was brilliant. Now to get practicing for the next one 😉