Summer Series: Deck the halls with LAN cables

Player Attack is taking a few days off over the Christmas/New Year break – there’s not much news going on, and plenty of games to play. What are you catching up on, this holiday season? Find out if our lists match up with yours!

The week between Christmas and New Year has traditionally been my greatest gaming week of the year. From university until only a couple of years ago, I held a LAN in my garage that usually ran that whole week, culminating with much gaming and drinking on New Year’s Eve, followed by a hungover clean-up the next day.

I wish I’d taken more photos, actually. Cables littered the floor and hung from the ceiling. Pizza boxes, coke cans and beer bottles covered all remaining surfaces that were not taken up with computer gear. And those LANs saw us begin with ancient CRT monitors and progress through new cases, graphic card upgrades and operating system updates to the point that we were all rocking sleek 24 inch LCD screens and at least semi-decent hardware.

[img_big]center,1756,2011-08-14/DotA-2-5-v-5.jpg,Dota 2[/img_big]

Of course a Christmas LAN was never complete without at least one person’s rig suffering a critical failure on the first day. Their experience for most of the LAN was then the inevitable reinstall of Windows, hardware drivers and necessary software. Once they had done that, they could begin to reinstall each game as we decided what to play next.

Over the years I think we played pretty much every multiplayer game available – from World of Warcraft (I somewhat shamefacedly admit to spending multiple New Year’s midnights watching the fireworks in Stormwind) to Command & Conquer: Generals, various racing games, Dota and Dota 2, Johann Sebastian Joust and other eccentric, addictive indie games, Starcraft 2, Diablo 2 and multiple Call of Duties, Battlefields and nameless other shooters.

Those LANs help defined me as a person with a passion for competitive, multiplayer games of all sorts. I missed a lot of single player games over the years, but there are very few competitive games I haven’t dedicated hours to. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Unfortunately, as people grew older, we began to drift apart. Some years we had 9 or 10 people filling every available surface in my garage. This year between jobs abroad or interstate, holidays or new partners, I’d probably only get two or three people.

So what will I do with this new extra week that I could conceivably dedicate to some epic single player experiences? To be honest, probably Dota 2. The new ranked matches will offer me the chance to spend all of my holidays yelling at the screen or my teammates. What better way to spend an otherwise relaxing holiday?

Then there’s Batman: Arkham Origins. I picked that up at launch, and have still only half finished it. I don’t really know what happened: I have a vague memory of discovering a bunch of new roguelike titles including Rogue Legacy, Nuclear Throne and Risk of Rain. When I woke up, it was December.

I have carefully been dropping heavy-handed hints that there are a few titles I’ve missed this year that I’d like to see in my Christmas stocking. Chief amongst these: Ni No Kuni. A JRPG should more than cover my Christmas break, and to be perfectly honest, I’m dead keen to hear this weird little Welsh dude that everyone was talking about back when the game was released.

If you don’t know who I’m referring to, I can only direct you to the video review that first piqued my interest. Warning: it’s a very vulgar Scotsman, so don’t watch it if you’re at work, but I think he’s hilarious. Here you go!

And, oh god, how could I forget. The Steam Christmas sale. This guarantees two things. One: I’ll have to spend all this week inside playing games, because I’ll have spent all my money and won’t be able to afford to go out. Two: Even if I miss out on every gift and finish Batman by Boxing Day, there is no way I will be short of things to play. Indie games, AAA blockbusters or gaming nostalgia. I’ll play them all!

Perhaps the end of my Christmas LANs means I’m growing up. Certainly, I don’t have a WoW subscription any more, so it’s unlikely I’ll be looking at those fireworks again this year. I wonder, though: how many single player games might have put in special time based events? Only one way to know for sure!

P.S. I was just about to sign off on this article when I received a Hearthstone beta key from the lovely folks at Blizzard Australia/ New Zealand. I must have been a good boy this year, because Christmas has come early! Forget everything I said. It will be a Hearthstone Christmas at my house!

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