Malcolm Owen On April 5, 2002 at 12:02 pm

If you are going to a Lanparty in the future, it might be helpful to those others who are going, or indeed yourself, if you prepare for the lengthy gameplay in advance. Here’s a whole bunch of hints, tips and things you might not have thought of for when you go to said party.

48 Hours
The weekend long parties require you to be awake for long periods of time, and to rest as little as possible. Before the big Summer LAN season hits us, try staying awake for as long as possible on weekends, starting out with only a small sleep depravation, and then increasing your waking capacity. After a month, you should be able to hold your body at a healthy 4 hours sleep Friday night to Sunday night. Of course make sure that you sleep on the Sunday night, so that for work or school you have as much rest as possible (This will almost certainly happen after the LANparty anyway, so you had better get used to it)
One strange thing that may be of help is knowing about the human body’s own subconscious. We humans, being creatures of habit, need the time. The problem is, we all look for signs to show what time it actually is, so our body can rest or eat etc. One good idea is to hide all clocks and timepieces you get into contact with. Watches, mobile phones, pocket alarm clocks, all must go! Try and cover the system clock in windows if you can. If at all possible, sit in a place that does not have a good view of the windows, as the sun, being a natural clock, orders our brainwashed bodyclocks to sleep when it is dark. If the LANparty is being held in a large building with artificial light and few windows (Or indeed, heavily covered up windows), the body is confused as to the actual time, and thus guesses. It is usually pretty accurate, to within about 3 hours of your usual patterns. When you eventually hit the wall of tiredness, you must try and push your body to make it through the typical 6 hour rest period, with some easy going gaming. An example would be my trip to a LAN in Holland, where I hit the wall at 2am, but stayed working till 6am, almost gave in, and willed myself to watch a DVD with the headphones loud. After the DVD had finished (Roughly 7:30am) I was almost wide awake, and was back to normal peak form by 9am. The good thing was it was held in a huge sports centre, with no windows except for an emergency exit at the back of the hall, the front entrance, and a café. The lights were on all the time, so time didn’t feel like it was passing, and being sucked into a big UT match helps too!
You may find that in order to stay awake for long periods on the weekends, you may need supplements, such as what is dealt with later on in this article. Indeed, use these energy drinks, caffeine supplements and such at the beginning, but as you get used to the new time structure, you can stop using them, saving you money, and also possibly lengthening your possible limitations.

Sitting On It
While actually at the party, you should try and make yourself comfortable, as you’re going to be sat in the same seat for extremely long periods, and you don’t want haemorrhoids. Take a cushion with you, or if possible, take your own chair! There have been stories of people taking their office chairs with them to replace the cheap plastic crap everyone is given for the weekend. Indeed, I have witnessed someone taking essentially a modified armchair, which was very padded, with wooden rests on hinges placed for the keyboard, mouse, joystick and food in front of whoever sat there! It is unlikely you will be able to do this, due to space restrictions both at the event, and with your transport. Unless you are going in a transit van, you won’t be able to take that three piece suite with you!

Your PC
Assuming you are taking your PC to said party, you should prep it. Ideally, you should be able to get to a party, unload your gear, set-up your box and get fragging within an hour, but if you are fully prepared, you can do it in under 30 minutes! (I can do 20! Woo!)
While at home, turn off any programs that autostart except those which are essential to your computer’s survival (Proxy servers, firewalls, porn site autodials) and install all the games that you want to play at the party. Get the latest patches for them too (As, in the case of some games, it may take a long time to finish the patching process, thus patching beforehand is a great thing). If at all possible, try and ask for what your network configuration settings should be from the party website. You can set these up at home, but if you do not know how to do this, leave it and allow the party admins to do it for you.
Another suggestion on the software side of things is to get hold of any popular games that may be played over the weekend, and set those up too about a week before. This gives you time to tweak the configurations to what you want, and also to practice most of the maps that come with the title (Server admins are a lazy breed and rarely install specialised maps, and thus run what comes with the game anyway. Visitors who set up their own servers also tend to stick with what are on the CDs, but in the cases where you don’t have the maps, you can always download it over the network and play it straight away)
The night before, pack your PC into easily cartable parts. All cables and wires should be coiled up and taped lightly to stop tangling. To lessen the mess, you can also only pack the items that you dearly need for the party. My suggestions are:

  • PC Box
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Headphones
  • Game CDs
  • Joypad/stick
  • Network Cable

That is roughly all the hardware you need. I include the joypad/stick for those multiplayer platform gamers and flightsim enthusiasts, as it is highly unpractical to fly using a keyboard only. You have no need to bring printers, speakers, second monitors or your Playstation2 with you unless you have space. I mean, come on, do you really think bringing along a steering wheel and pedals would be a good idea when you are in a cramped space?
If you were wondering about my 20 minutes, here’s what happens:
10 minutes – Unloading, carrying to desk
3 minutes – Putting on table, connecting main cables
3 minutes – Boot up (Windows 2000! ARGH!) while at the same time putting the cables in for the joypad, headphones and PDA
2 minutes – Network configuration
2 minutes – Running game, starting server (if none available), adding bots (if own server), frag!
On a small side note, I must point out that you should check to see if you are covered by your household insurance if you take your PC outside your home, as we don’t want the machine breaking because someone put quavers in the DVD drive and then having to pay for it to be fixed ourselves, do we?

If you drink coffee, good! If you don’t, learn to drink it! Caffeine actually makes the body stay awake longer, thus it is good for LANparties! You must have a constant supply of it as soon as you start drinking it, as it soon wears off and you will feel more tired and lacklustre to the world around you. Save it for when you are starting to get tired.
Alternatives to coffee include energy drinks such as Red Bull, Red Devil, Red Rooster, and of course, Lucozade. These keep your energy levels up and make you last longer. You can even get caffeine tablets to keep you running!
As for food, go for snackfoods that can be eaten at the PC safely, for example pizza, burgers, chips and tacos. Avoid anything that can drop vast amounts of crumbs onto your seat or into your keyboard, as you will regret it in the future. Don’t have anything that can spill easily, except for the drinks of course.

There is not much to cover here, except that if you have to travel long distances to a LANparty and not in a car, send your box by courier, as they will get it there on time, and safely too! (They have things called "Insurance", and such. Very handy it is too!)If you have to drive there yourself, make sure you rest before you go home, as tiredness at the wheel kills. So does drinking, so sober up!
If it is at all possible, arrange for someone else to drive you home, as you can rest easily in the car, without the worry of running over little Timmy who’s playing football on the road.
In the event you are flying to the party, you are asking for trouble (like I did!). Declare when you are buying the tickets that you are taking your PC with you. Granted, you won’t be able to take as much stuff with you (Like your monitor), but you will be there only for a short time, so a spare change of clothes isn’t much of a problem. Arrange to have as much of your computer hardware to be borrowed or rented at the party itself, to save you carrying it and risking it through customs. Make sure you declare your PC is for personal use and is coming back with you, or they might be suspicious of why a lone traveller has their PC in their suitcase (The metal detector and X-ray machines were fun, I can tell you!)

And lastly, the most important rule of preparing for a lanparty – Remember to have fun! There is no need to be serious and tense before you enjoy yourself for the weekend. Indeed, the more relaxed and happy you are, the better it will be!

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