03 January, 2010

Keepalive: New Years' LAN Multiplayer

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, January 2, 2010

My traditional way to ring in the new year is to attend Matthew's LAN party. Much playing of games was done.

Nations at War - I largely did my usual, driving out to some lonely vantage point, requesting a supply crate and raining Javelin missile death upon any AI foolish enough as to try and use armor against us. But since Mike was there, doing some lovely helicopter piloting, I was happy to crew his gunship and kill any AI foolish enough to attack on foot (or in jeeps, or, given a few seconds to whittle away at them, APCs).

Once we had them down to one last flag, we switched to ground assault and I switched to medic. I tried to stay just a bit behind all the fighting, running from corpse to corpse as fast as possible, diving into them and using the shock paddles to bring them back to life.

In both cases it felt like I was helping, performing another thankless support role. Pretty much everyone including me was shocked when I had a ridiculous amount of points at the end of the round. None of the games we play (BF2, Quake Wars, Left 4 Dead, Serious Sam co-op) have scoring systems that can be used to measure how well people are playing.

Left 4 Dead 2 Versus - We used to have a rule about no versus games, botmatch only, because Paul and I got cranky when we felt our teams let us down. It turns out that's probably still a good rule because I got cranky. In my defense, it came out after playing through two complete campaigns that one player on my team had no idea how to melee. For those who haven't played Left 4 Dead, that's like having someone on your baseball team who doesn't know what a mitt is for.

Still, it's just a game, and I need to get over it. But when I've got four humans playing the monsters that are coming to get me, my tolerance for friendly blunders gets short.

Breathe. Relax. It's just a game.

I try to get a little a bit better every LAN party. But since there are only ten days or so of LAN party a year in which to improve, it feels like glacial progress.

Serious Sam 2 co-op - We tried to use the Insamnity 2 mod to up the madness, but AI enemies wouldn't activate, it was super laggy, and the game crashed for some people, so in the end we went back to vanilla Sam 2, which is still fun.

Some people wanted us to turn off unlimited ammo, which we tried. But that was no fun at all because as one of the better players, it means I have to waste a lot of time scrounging and using the wrong weapons for the job because I'm out of ammo for the right ones. And with a ten life limit, a lot of people were just sitting out dead even with unlimited ammo in effect.

I prefer the challenge in Sam 2 co-op to be combat rather than scrounging. I know it's wacky, but it's how I feel.

Even having infinite ammo, some of the enemies are still a pain. There is no right gun for fighting witches or exploding clowns.

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