Lots o’ fun!

Posted: 14th February 2011 by admin in General
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Our LAN party on February 5th was probably our best ever! We had an amazing turnout, right around 30 people. We even flipped our first breaker. Thankfully one of the librarians got it taken care of quickly and we were back up and going in no time. This most recent event made me think about how far we’ve come since our first event in May of last year.

The idea behind the LAN party was simple – I had three goals:

  1. I wanted a way to advertise Digital Engine Software that allowed us to meet people. We had tried a couple of different advertising methods up to that point that weren’t particularly successful – we had the most success with word-of-mouth.
  2. I wanted to incorporate a charity into the event because it bugs me how much companies spend on advertising compared to their altruistic endeavors when they can easily be paired together.
  3. I wanted to do something that was fun, that we knew about and that would attract similar minded folks.

The first LAN party was…tough. I spent a ton of time getting companies to lend us hardware, lining up donated drinks, looking for donors for raffle prizes, getting posters, looking for host sites, organizing food and attempting to figure out how to set up the room without having any access to it before the day of the LAN. Not having any experience we decided to meet up at 8:00 a.m. so that we could be sure that everything was set up before our 3:00 p.m. start time. It was snowing of course. I had something like 18 loads of equipment which required two full vehicles to transport. None of the ethernet jacks in the room connected us to the internet so Kevin had to bridge the wireless and for people looking to update their games this was a little slow. Fortunately we had a single gigabit router so we did alright hosting recent game version backups on our server. Unfortunately most of our games we played that day required a connection to Steam, a connection that was sketchy at best. We spent almost our full 8 hours setting up. We ended up with a total of about 15 people. For those 15 people we had 14 12 packs of pop (kindly donated by Pepsi) and 30 pizzas (which I ordered early so that I could get a good deal) – OVERKILL. Tear down and clean up took another 2.5 hours and I wasn’t done putting everything away until 3:00 a.m. – a 19 hour day. Now that’s not to say everything was bad, we had a lot of fun, I still can’t believe we got Richard Stallman to sign an XKCD comic (I’m going to have our e-mail correspondence framed, it was awesomely bizarre) and we learned a ton.

Following the first LAN we knew we were on the right track but we definitely needed to make adjustments. I convinced Peter and Kevin to let me buy our own equipment. We had all the ethernet cable and most of the power strips we needed so it was just a matter of buying the networking equipment. All said and done it cost us about $300 and it was worth every penny. We had to find a free place to hold the events otherwise cost would have inhibited future events. For our first LAN the TechRanch donated the money to cover our room which was heavily discounted by the good folks at the Hilton ($200). Everywhere else I checked was at least $100 more expensive (in some cases much more than that). Thankfully we found the library which has been perfect and completely free. Finally we decided to do away with any entrance fee (which is a requirement for using the library room anyway) and just take orders for pizza. We do still buy drinks but the cost is a whopping $30  a time and the library has a refrigerator so we don’t even have to worry about bringing coolers.

This most recent LAN party was the third we have held at the library. We started setup when the library opened (10:00 a.m.). I have consolidated all of our equipment into two tubs and a garbage can (so much nicer than two vehicles worth). We had a fully functional network at 11:00 a.m. – we were completely set up at 11:30 a.m. People started showing up about then playing without interruption (minus the breaker) until the library internet shut off at 10:00 p.m. thanks largely to the awesome library internet and our full gigabit network. Everyone helped pick up and we were out of there by 10:30 p.m. I was completely put away by 11:00 p.m. Over four LAN parties we have increased our play time by 2 hours and cut our setup/tear down time by 8 hours. Honestly I don’t know if we have gotten any work from the events but we have met a ton of cool people, been able to donate money to several charities and learned a lot about setting up large scale networks quickly. Despite not being exactly what I envisioned I am very happy with the way the events have evolved and I can’t wait to put on the next one…stay tuned!

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