After the cancellation of OCC21 at the beginning of August, I lived in fear and terror that this would be the first summer in years without any LAN party. But there it was: my ticket to a happy ending after all: Frag-o-Matic 8.1!
And it came just in the nick of time, the summer is almost over. I have never been at a FoM LAN party before, but I have heard alot about it. Some are really positive, others just hate it. So I arrived at this LAN party with mixed expectations and a very critical mindset.
First: meet the crew. The first encounter with the crew was quite a shock. I expected them behave kinda like the OCC crew: helpful and friendly. But there is no one I can compare them with. I actually remember me saying that they were worse than the FU group (which I am a member of). OK, they treated me fairly, but with little more effort than just the bottom basics. There was no help to put on the dreaded wrist band (they called me a sissy for asking some assistance, a bit later I was happy not to ask help as I realised they would’ve taped in on my hairy arm anyways), and there was no explanation about what to do with the chips they handed me. Later I found out they were tickets for a screen and a computer case. An other visitor was even told that it were drinking vouchers. All and all pretty innocent pranks, but still it gives a weird first impression.
Finding the power: I set out to find me a seat among my fellow Freaks United gamers. The first place I occupied didn’t seem to have enough power sockets, which I thought was pretty weird. But I moved my stuff to some place else, no worries. Power never failed, so that’s good, right?
Network: I always bring a 20m CAT5 cable along to LAN parties, you never know where you gonna end up, and this time I also brought a spare one of 15m. And it was good as well, some of my gaming friends sat about 20m away from the switch or just forgot to bring one. After some cable swapping we all got hooked up, so no worries there, but I imagine some less experienced (or mal equiped) visitors could have had some problems getting connected to the table switches. I have seen several LAN parties, and it is pretty unusual to sit so far from the table switch.
Food: Maybe I just wasn’t hungry enough, but I really didn’t find much food during the LAN party. OK, there were cheese and ham sandwiches and croque monsieurs, I have seen announcements about spaghetti (never found it though), and there was a (fairly good) BBQ at Saturday. The expected food stalls with rib burgers were no were to be found. No pizza (WTF?! No pizza?? Although I have seen some people who ordered pizzas to be delivered there…), no fries…
Competitions: There were many competitions, but I usually don’t participate in any of them. I do had the impression that they were all organised pretty ok, although some lazy ass CS players thought otherwise during the price ceremony. The fun competitions are more my kind of game, and those were present in full abundance. They came up with some pretty amazing fun compos: make your own helmet, helmet race, electricity challenge, photoshop challenge, computer case throwing… They even came up with more fun compos like gathering garbage and empty beer bottlles to speed up the cleaning process and get rid of the last prices. Very original! Thumbs up for this.
Other gamers: Well, most discussions would deal about the use of speakers on a LAN party. Some are asking to ban speakers once and for all, but a silent LAN to me just doesn’t feel right. Loud noises are never fun, but the constant muziek and background noise at normal level are part of all LAN parties. People were very understanding when you asked them to turn down their volume, and for the first time I didn’t hear CS blasting through bass boxes, although they were shouting, banging the tables and applauding loud enough to be heared anyways. A few hot headed CS players also spoiled the gaming fun at the price announcements (and for only five mouse pads I feel they made them look like real childish, but hey: they did confirm the CS stereotype).
Arrival and departure: to be honest for a LAN party in the middle of the busy station neighbourhood in Sint-Niklaas I expected a huge chaos, but there wasn’t. I amazed to see that there was no huge queue waiting to sign up, or cars blocking the roads while unloading computers. Maybe it’s just me getting used to OCC standards. 😉
The end: I had a great time, and I’m sure my friends had a great time too. We met some amazing people, and I really hope to see them again at the next LAN party. This FoM event is quite different than what I have experienced so far, but I returned home with good memories (and without pillow: my thanks to my friend SNake for retrieving my beloved pillow and giving me a good night sleep) about this surprisingly original LAN party.
Afterwards: the reactions of felllow gamers. I thought this was the quitest LAN party I have ever attended. Perhaps the ban on all speakers should have given me a clue. Anyways, I thought it was really quiet, except for some enthousiastic CS players, shouting and cheering, and an occasional blow horn here and there, but all very low on the Scale of Annoyance. Still I haven’t seen this much ranting and nagging on the forum afterparty about speakers ever before. Quoting rules and regulations while they probably had some rule violations of their own. Am I just too easy going, or is everyone just too small headed to ignore other speakers, or at least go over to the person annoying you and asking him to turn it down a bit? For the quietest LAN ever, there sure is alot of aggro about the noise.