This past weekend I went to a LAN party in Frisco, TX. I haven’t been to too many LAN parties, and the ones I have gone to have either been three guys in an apartment for an afternoon, or something like QuakeCon, where’s it’s a huge and somewhat clinical affair (i.e., didn’t know most of the people there). This one had like 13 people over two rooms in a house. Couple that with the fact that I got to sit on a nice leather couch the whole weekend and this easily trumped the previous experiences in that regard alone.

The main games we played were Unreal Tournament 2003, Jedi Knight II and Battlefield 1942. Now the problem I had with the insistence on playing Battlefield 1942, aside from the fact that I don’t own the game and had to become a dirty pirate for the course of the evening to join in, is that I really didn’t “get” the game. I knew it was a World War II game. I knew that it was highly rated. I had even tried out the demo and I liked the fact that you could do things like drive tanks and jeeps and planes in addition to being foot soldiers. But I didn’t really get the “point” of the game.

Compare this to the aforementioned UT2K3, where the main game type is straight deathmatch. Guy with gun runs around and kills other guys with guns. Whoever does the most wins. Game looks sweet as hell. This sort of thing I can do easily, so I tend to play this sort of game a lot. Mindless deathmatch is just plain fun.

But everyone at this party is insistent that we play Battlefield 1942, so I cave. And it’s boring. I can’t drive the tanks for crap (they keep tipping over). I walk forever and ever and then get killed in two seconds by someone I can’t see. And every once in a while the game ends and I have no idea why.

Now the funny part is that this party spread two rooms over a house, and though it didn’t really completely work out that one team was in one room and another in the other, it did pretty much work out that the people I was in a room with didn’t know how to play the game (save for one guy who was on the other team and decided to remain mum about the rules). Slowly but surely we “got it” – the controlling of flag and spawn points, the depleting ticket system, the best way to man a tank. Suddenly I realized that everyone is right – this game does kick ass.

So now I wonder – how many games have I missed out on because they needed something other than a twitch nerve to play? I guess I understand Counter-Strike a little better now, and why at certian points in time more than 50,000 people play it online, sometimes to their own deaths. Of course the problem I’ve always had with Counter-Strike is that the matches never last more than a minute or two and usually the people on all the servers are dickholes.

Of course the other problem with the games which require “thinking” is that there’s other limiting factors – namely the intelligence of the other people playing the game. I’m sure I was no fun to play with before I got it, and I’m sure if we didn’t have enthusastic players at this LAN party we would have been right back to those other games. Like I said, one of the problems with Counter-Strike is the lameness of some of the people playing the game – or when I try, most of them. A game which I desparately want to play online more and I probably can once I get my new job on is Neverwinter Nights. I’ve had a few good sessions with the game online, but only after going through several crap servers. Oftentimes I join a server and spend forever trying to find the other players. Then when I do I’m either instantly annihilated by whatever 50th level monster they’re up against or the people are complete jerks. And by this point I’m dead tired so I can’t play long. This game needs a “go to the action” part badly.

Anywho, I wrote this a couple of days ago (as you can see by the post date) and though it didn’t really go anywhere like I wanted it to, but I like it enough to post it.