Held roughly every three months at the Vanderburgh county 4-H fairgrounds in Evansville, Indiana, AsylumLAN is if anything, one of the most consistent LAN events in the area. Now on their 30th event, it’s difficult to argue that their commitment to the local gaming community is in any way lacking.
With dozens of sponsors and a loyal following in the area, Derek and his wife Kimberly have set out to build on the initial success of the LAN back when it was held in the house of Rick Trevino. Even if you only go by the number of events held, it’s clear that they’re doing something right.
With this past LAN being so special, their 30th consecutive event, not only did I make my way down last weekend, but riding shotgun was none other than my iron fisted boss and owner of Techgage, Rob Williams. Not content to share the weekend with myself, Rob made sure that his Canadian friend Chris, our own power supply guru Matt Harris (madmat) and Cory (THUMPer) from our forums enjoyed the LAN as well.
With everyone in town, and big plans for the weekend, our first order of business was to prepare the our PCs. While my PC was already built and ready to go, we needed to piece together Rob’s machine as well as the rig for our overclocking contest sponsored by our friends at Asus and OCZ. With the four of us burning the midnight oil, we completed our machines and headed to bed, resting up for a long weekend of games, contests and little sleep. Insert Bawls joke here.
For those unfamiliar with the area, Evansville is located in the south western corner of the state, roughly a three hour drive from Indianapolis and one that is in no way enjoyable. It’s simply an uneventful tour of the state via two incredibly straight roads. Leaving around 3 pm, we started our trip south, gaining an hour thanks to the time zone differences and arrived in Evansville just in time to miss the setting up of the everything… just like we had planned.
Seriously, we left with every intention of helping setup for the event but as it turned out, we didn’t quite make it so while the staff was inside finalizing the network, we hung around the outside of the building, waiting for registration to open. When the doors did open, we quickly got signed in and found our way to our seats, directly across from Derek, Kimberly and the rest of the AsylumLAN staff.
As the event progressed, and more and more seats filled up, Derek, who goes by the gamer tag “Grymskull”, emceed the event from start to finish. Taking over the reigns handed to him by Rick prior to AsylumLAN 28, Derek announced the opening of the landmark party. We have already mentioned a few times that this was the 30th AsylumLAN. It’s easy to simply show up and enjoy yourself at these events but this LAN has become something that the attendees have come to expect and as the seats slowly became less and less vacant, Matt, Rob, Chris, Cory and I all sat down and realized that we were completely lost as to what we wanted to play first.
Each LAN party has certain games that the attendees can vote for prior to kick off and the winning games get their own specific tournaments with trophies going to the winning teams at the end. For those games not included in the tourneys, it’s up to the gamers themselves to organize matches, host games and get things going in an unofficially organized manor.
One surprising exclusion this year was Counter-Strike: Source. Receiving too few of the votes, everyone’s favorite multiplayer game was not being played competitively but that didn’t stop anyone from finding an open game and fragging away. As for the official tournaments, newcomer Team Fortress 2 got its own tourney, along with Battlefield 2, Unreal Tourney 2004 and Track Mania. First up for the Techgage crew was tried and true Half-Life 2: Deathmatch. While not a favorite of Rob, I supremely love this game and for all that play it; there is something to be said for taking out your opponent with a toilet.
After a few rounds of HL2: Deathmatch, we decided to fall back on a few favorites. Rob, Chris and Matt all got into a few matches of the original Unreal Tournament and I settled in for a little Bioshock action. All the while, players from across the Midwest practiced their games of choice either with their respective clans or on one of the many independent games setup by those who simply want to play against other gamers.
One thing to point out is the way the network handled everyone playing against each other at once. In theory, if the servers are setup correctly, all each attendee needs to do is plug their PC into the local switch and all will work as it should. The thing is, with as many people all connecting with each other, there are a lot of places that the network can break down. We were all pleased when everyone was up and running without a problem in sight.
This is a testament to Kimberly, going by the gamer tag “Devlar”, and her group of dedicated staff. One thing she has going for her is her networking know how. As the head of the IT department at the local college, she has employed many of her students to take part in the setup, maintenance and tear down of the network and with each one doing their part, everything ran as smooth as possible throughout the entire party.
For those who might not be entirely up for three straight days of gaming, there were other events to keep your attention, as well as prolong the onset of carpel tunnel. The first night, the traditional Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament was held and carried well into Saturday morning. For the first time ever at AsylumLAN, those without PCs could partake in their own tournament as the first console tournament on the 360 took place and the game of choice… you guessed it, Halo 3.