In Response To: NYC LAN Writeup. *RIDICULOUSLY Long* (Stuntmutt)
: Transatlantic LAN Antics.
: A "Suffer THIS!" NYC LAN Writeup.
: A little while ago, I received an email from Mig Chavez asking me if I was
: free the third week in August. I said I was, and asked if he was coming to
: London, because I'd be happy to take him out, show him round etc. His
: reply said simply, "more like you coming over here."
: Mig was holding a LAN party. However, in this case, the L stood for anything
: but Local. BOLL and X9 were coming from Sweden. c0ld Vengeance and myself
: were coming from the UK. Anton P. Nym of Enkidu fame was making the
: journey from Canada. Even some of the American atendees had quite a long
: haul - Warbow was driving in from Ohio (which actually took longer than
: for us to fly in from London), and Shishka was coming from Seattle.
: My fiancee is very understanding. She tolerates me sneaking off onto Live
: every time she's out of the room for five minutes. She tolerates the
: Master Chief and Elite action figures that mar the look of the 'shabby
: chic' decor she has worked so hard on in our flat. She tolerated the fact
: that we're saving up to get married next year and I'm blowing a load of
: money on a flight to the USA to play video games. She even got up to drive
: myself and c0ld to Heathrow airport at five in the morning. Come on. If
: that's not "The One" material, I don't know what is.
: Mig Chavez.
: So c0ld and I got on an American Airlines (wait for it) 777 and eight hours
: minus five hours time difference later, we strode out into the arrivals
: lounge at JFK airport, to be greeted by a smiling man holding a sign which
: read, "c0ld & Stuntmutt," then in smaller letters
: underneath, "I don't think we're in Kansas any more." It was
: Mig is a top bloke. Down to earth, unassuming, friendly, a really warm
: character. He drove us from the airport back to his home in Queens,
: pointing out such landmarks as Shay Stadium and the flying Saucers from
: Men In Black. He took us to his favourite diner for a quick pit stop and
: we ate and chatted. The conversation was very "on topic", lots
: about Halo, Live and gametypes. Mig mentioned a gametype that had come to
: his attention via KP, with the colourful monicker of "Fist Ass
: Now I said my fiancee was understanding. She had made some jokes about flying
: out to another country to hook up with a bunch of men I'd met on the
: internet. I could see that understanding being somewhat stretched by a
: phonecall along the lines of "Hi angel, arrived safely. Just waiting
: for some more guys to arrive then we're all gonna play Fist Ass
: Mig told us that BOLL and X9 had arrived and were staying with Louis Wu out
: in Connecticut. c0ld and Mig then broke into fluent Swedish and conversed
: freely for several minutes. Or so I thought. c0ld later told me they were
: actually discussing the ramifications of playing at PAL 50 as opposed to
: PAL 60 in plain English. Mig 's phone went. He said it was Wu and that
: he'd be bringing "The Swedish twins" over later that evening.
: "Hi angel. We're having some Swedish twins over tonight..."
: Mig lives in Queens. His street and house really look like the exterior shots
: in 'The King Of Queens' (or at least they do to my English eyes). I kept
: expecting Lou Ferrigno to appear next door watering the plants. Mig's
: living room is open plan, and it was here he was going to house all the
: equipment. After c0ld and I had scoured Mig's TiVo in vain for any
: reference to the cricket score back home, c0ld got to work hooking up
: wires and cables while Mig and I went out to a hire company to get some
: It's worth pointing out that such things have to be considered. Even though
: Mig kept referring to it as a small LAN, sixteen people need places to
: sit, and tables to put their gear on (not to mention the innumerable bags
: of chips, drinks and M&Ms that Mig had so kindly stocked up on). I know I
: couldn't scare up sixteen chairs and half a dozen tables in my flat. Hence
: we headed off to "Party Time", a company that rents out
: everything you could need for social gatherings. As an aside, I have to
: mention the delicious irony of hearing one of the ladies who worked there
: pick up the phone, and in a flat monotone that rivalled Marvin The
: Paranoid Android, mournfully answer, "Party Time."
: An hour or so later, Mig's front room was starting to metamorphose. There
: were tables all along one wall, chairs everywhere, a couple of Xboxes set
: up and televisions lined up in readiness. c0ld and I started some real
: time Halo CE racing. We both started Pillar of Autumn (Legendary)
: simultaneously, first to the cutscene the winner. Then Mig and I played
: co-op Legendary T&R. Poor Mig. I was a first class hindrance to all his
: valiant efforts. He was very patient with me, but his voice soon took on
: the same tone as the "Party Time" lady, and he spoke in ever
: decreasing sentence lengths -
: "Don't get too far ahead Stunt, you'll trigger the next wa..."
: "Stunt, your shields are down, be caref..."
: "Stunt, behind y..."
: We headed out to a Chinese restaurant, and when we returned, BOLL, X9 and
: Louis Wu were waiting outside to greet us. It was great to see BOLL again,
: his friend X9 is a great lad (though I swear he spent the weekend singling
: me out as the person to kill most each game) and finally, I got to meet
: the man behind halo.bungie.org.
: Louis Wu.
: By thunder he's tall! Stiff neck tall. Hey you up there tall. He can be a bit
: of a giggler as well. Good natured, friendly, happy go lucky. He'd even
: brought a case of good beer. How could I not take to him immediately? But,
: oh friends, put an Xbox controller in his hands, start up a game of Halo
: and Louis Jekyll becomes Wu Hyde!
: Louis Jekyll says it's all about fun. Enjoying the games. Playing to have a
: good time.
: Wu Hide is a competitive, vicious, no quarter asked or given player whose
: trash talk could scare sailors out of bars.
: De Niro had "You lookin' at me?" in Taxi Driver. Johnny Depp
: explained "Fuhgeddaboudit" in Donnie Brasco. For Louis Wu, the
: stock phrase that can be used to express almost any emotion is "You
: guys suck! "When he wins a game, "You guys suck!" When he
: loses a game,"You guys suck!" etc. During the course of the
: evening, over many games of Halo 2 Assault, Rocket Ball, Slayer, CTF and
: Snipers, we heard plenty of both iterations, plus many variations therof.
: Oh, and if you want further proof...
: A bit later in the weekend, we played a game of Oddball on Backwash. Wu was
: getting more and more irate about people killing him when he didn't even
: have the ball. The more he complained, the more c0ld and I went out of our
: way to kill him. When he asked why we kept doing it, I said because it was
: hilarious watching him getting more and more wound up, which, indeed,
: merited the most vehement "You guys SUCK!" of the weekend.
: We all crashed out in the wee small hours. Sadly, my sense of time was all
: over the place due to the transatlantic time shift and I was wide awake
: again a few hours later. It was five o'clock in the morning. My body
: thought it was ten o'clock the following day. I sat and waited for the
: rest of the world to catch up with me. I vaguely recalled that somebody
: had disgraced themselves by drinking way too much beer and spitting some
: all over the carpet. I think it was c0ld. Uh, yeah, c0ld, must've been...
: More Arrivals.
: The Swedes were up pretty early, so I played some Halo 2 co-op with X9. We
: did Cairo Station on Legendary, and again, I was an albatross around my
: partner's neck. After we'd died several times in the same place, and
: always because of me, X9 quietly said, "This is challenging." I
: don't think he meant because of the difficulty setting...
: Mig joined us and offered X9 a one on one race through the same level. It was
: a sucker bet. Mig was good. Speed run good. X9 is no mean Halo player, but
: Mig beat him to the flying pickle by several minutes. Speaking of speed
: runs, Ducain of High Impact Halo arrived, having driven in from West
: Virginia. More Xboxes got hooked up to more TVs. It was really starting to
: look like a LAN now.
: I then got to see something very interesting indeed. I had a unique insight
: into a Day In The Life of Louis Wu. Now we can all guess how much effort
: Louis puts into updating HBO and the amount of time it must take. But
: actually witnessing it really brings home just how labour intensive and
: time consuming it is. He was somewhat hamstrung by having to remote access
: his systems, and the fact that his security routines, put in place by his
: good self, were so effective that they were even baffling him at some
: points. But while the rest of us sat back and enjoyed multiplayer carnage,
: Louis dutifully combed through his inbox which was crammed with hundreds
: of new messages (including ones offering him four extra inches and
: procedures to straighten out any sharp bends!).
: He reads ALL your emails. He reads ALL the forum posts. He gets genuinely
: excited when movies get high scores from the MPRSS. He gets really upset
: (I'm talking borderline depression) when he thinks he's made a bad job of
: something, say converting a movie from a wmv to quicktime. I can't stress
: enough how much work he puts in. It's quite, quite amazing, and obviously
: a labour of love. I'm not trying to kiss his ass (I've just spent three
: days trying, with arguable success, to kick it) but hats off to you, sir,
: hats off.
: I was also taken aback by the rapport between Mig and Louis. They know all
: about us. All of us. They obviously talk on the phone and by email all the
: time, and pick up where they left off on conversations about who is doing
: what, who's doing great stuff, who's being a dick, who to keep an eye on
: for good or ill. They're like a Neighbourhood Watch for the Halo
: We had a break for New York City pizza (topped with cheese thick as roof
: insulation!), then set up to have some Old Skool fun with system linked
: Halo CE Multiplayer. Shotgun CTF on Battle Creek. The shotguns! Oh my
: days, the shotguns! Devastating from half a map away, instant kills, a
: kick like a mule. Rocketball on Hang 'Em High. The rocket launchers!
: Hooley dooley, the rocket launchers! Slow to reload, sluggish repeat rate,
: seemingly smaller blast radius. I hadn't put Halo in my Xbox since the
: release of Halo 2. It was amazing in several ways to play it after getting
: so used to H2. The original's graphics now seem so dated and primitive,
: but the games themselves were insanely fun.
: A player called Jynx arrived. I didn't know him from any forums or the online
: community, but apparently he'd met Mig at a LANfest, they'd become friends
: and he'd attended quite a few. We switched back to Halo 2 and played
: Ninjanaut, Snipers on Midship ("Snipers on Midship? Who gave c0ld
: party leader?!") and a game of first to three Assault on Zanzibar
: that seemed to go on for hours. Because NO-ONE arms the bomb on my watch.
: Precious hup! There was also a somehat amusing comment from a Mr c.
: Vengeance along the lines of "Nobody panic. Wu's got the
: sniper." Heh heh heh.
: I must confess that at this point, I conked out. I had to stumble away and
: crash out, so I missed the arrival of a load more players, and dozens of
: matches that went on into the night. Curse my jetlagged eyes!
: 16 Players.
: Woke early again the next morning. Wandered up to the front room to see
: bodies littering sofa and floor, people I didn't recognise. I went back
: towards my room and was greated in the hall by a bearded gentleman whom I
: recognised from a photo I'd once seen. Even if I hadn't, I'd know the
: voice anywhere.
: "Hey Stunt."
: Now, there were a lot of people I'd been looking forward to meeting. But one
: in particular was Warbow. We had a bit in common, both having made little
: Halo comics, but also, because of the way things worked out for him,
: Warbow plays Xbox Live at the same time of day as we do in Europe. We're
: members of the same clan, the HBO Helljumpers and we play together over
: Live all the time. It was great to put a person to the name. Wu staggered
: out of his room in nobbut a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. You know how
: images burn into monitors? My eyes SO needed a screensaver right then.
: The three of us tip-toed round the prostrate gamers and headed out to a
: Dunkin Donuts. We ate bagels, drank industrial sized vats of coffee and
: just shot the breeze about what we did for a living, state of the nation,
: everything and nothing. It was great. For me, the whole point of a LAN is
: social as well as gaming. Actually meeting guys you've known only via
: email and intermittent communicators for the first time. For those who
: argue that video games make people insular and cut them off from human
: interaction, I'm holding up two fingers. Count 'em. They're both for you.
: Back at the LAN, it was like the Dawn Of the Dead. Corpses rose from the
: floor, shambled to bathrooms and refrigerator, hauled themselves into
: chairs. Xboxes were booted up. Projector TVs flickered into life. Anton P.
: Nym (aka Steve) was here. Fuhrman (a friend of Jynx's) was here. Count
: Zero and Finn were around. Nof and KP (resplendent in his pink shirt)
: joined us. We played Halo 2. Fuhrman said he had to go to work. Mig, the
: old, wise head, gave him the responsible and fatherly advice that he
: should cop a sickie and stay with us! Fuhrman played with the gamertag
: 'Muddbutt.' I suggested we should join forces and become 'Stuntbutt.' But
: I believe Nicole Kidman already employs someone to fulfill that role.
: Konrad appeared with two dozen of the most fantastic doughnuts. Lophan and
: his friend Drawls showed up. They were both first class geezers, and
: Lophan has a wicked, dry sens of humour. Again, that social element. You
: don't just get to meet people you're acquainted with, you get to meet new
: people, make new friends. We introduced one another to new gametypes -
: c0ld and I threw in Chamb0 Flag (a cross between SWAT and multiflag CTF)
: and Tower Of Power (not, in fact, named after my winkle, but a game that
: requires the storming of a single turret on Ascension - 250 kills,
: shotguns, no shields, Ascension, primary turret on). I think the latter
: went down particularly well judging by the "oohs",
: "aahs" and general caterwauling for its duration.
: We also observed what I'm told is a LAN tradition and changed our gamertags
: so that we were playing as people who couldn't be with us. For some, the
: screenshots we took of the lineups will be an affectionate nod. But
: possibly not so for others ;-)
: It was a good mix of players - there were some really skilled guys (KP, Jynx,
: X9, Konrad, Fuhrman was), some above average players (c0ld found a rich
: seam of form, Mig knows his way around) some surprise packages (BOLL is a
: stone killer on the quiet), then down at the lower end, myself and Steve.
: I'm sure Steve won't mind me saying, but he and I were sort of wildcards.
: No-one expected much from us, but now and again, we might just pull off a
: little move or be the extra man that made the difference and turned the
: game. Either way, we were having a whale of a time.
: I've never been one for the Zombies gametype, but we played it on Backwash,
: and with the gentlemen present it was a blast. Jynx kept issuing a
: creepily deep and guttural cry of "Braaaiiiiiiiiiins", and as
: the zombies grew in number, they struck up a unison chant of "One of
: us, one of us, ONE OF US..." whilst roaming the map looking for
: And I'd just like to take this opportunity to mention that c0ld Vengeance is
: a screenwatching f*cktard.
: Mig brought in some amazing Chinese/Indian fusion food. The lily-livered
: scuttled off and ordered pizza, but several of us tucked in to the
: delightfully spicy, unusual dishes Mig had selected. It ended up with Mig,
: myself and Nof sitting back as Jynx regaled us with his absolutely
: unpostable exploits with the opposite sex. I swear there's a book in that
: man. At the very least, a TV series that the other HBO would give their
: clackers for. A sort of "Sex and the City - The Revenge of the Blokes
: We played more. Between you, me and the gatepost, single bomb on Gemini was a
: surprise hit that I'm sure will start to feature a lot more in our custom
: games on Live. But with 16 men in close proximity, a couple of projector
: TVs pumping out a serious amount of heat, the aftermath of spicy food and
: gallons of carbonated drinks, as you can probably imagine, things were
: getting a little...ripe.
: We broke for some fresh air and sat in Mig's garden. I'd purchased a litre of
: Jack Daniel's (come on - Old No. 7 - had to be done!) on the flight. Half
: a dozen of us saw it off in under thirty minutes. Job jobbed, gents.
: Again, more responsible advice from Mig. He urged me to keep plying Wu
: with bourbon to see if we could get some meaty stories out of him (sadly
: to no avail). We overheard some techno music coming from a house on the
: street behind Mig's. He shrugged and said there were some funny goings on
: over there sometimes. Uh huh? His was the residence with repeated shotgun
: blasts and raucous howls issuing out of the windows!
: So there we were. 16 men. Thrown together. Fired up by liquor. KP had a pink
: shirt on. There was only one thing for it. It was time. Time for...
: Fist Ass Extreme.
: The idea is it's kind of a 'blind' Slayer game type. But played as an Oddball
: match. Plasma pistol starting weapon. Random secondary. Three oddballs on
: map. The object is not to pick the oddballs up. As I said, it's a slayer
: game. but because it's Oddball, you don't get to see how many kills you're
: making (the respawn screen shows accumulated time instead). You play until
: you get sick of it and end the game by general consent. It's only in the
: post game lobby that you find out how many kills you made and who actually
: This was another game type that went down a storm. Each time you spawn, you
: instantly switch to the secondary weapon to see what you got. Every
: respawn was like Christmas morning with the rocket launcher taking the
: place of a shiny, red bicycle and the magnum a proverbial lump of coal.
: The air rang with triple kills, killtaculars, BOLL's bizarre exclamations
: (his English is excellent, but he prefers to 'speak' in sound effects and
: facial expressions), me repeatedly yelling "X9, you #@$&!!!" and
: 'someone' wailing that "You guys suck!"
: KP won. He's a very good player. Oh, but did I mention he was wearing a PINK
: Again, for me it was crash out time, but others played on til about
: three/three thirty. Louis had to get home to be with his family the
: following day so I bade him a bleary eyed farewell. Quite a few others
: disappeared that night and early the following morning. If I didn't say
: goodbye, my apologies. You were all top blokes!
: The Tail Enders.
: By Sunday morning, we were much reduced in number. But swelling the ranks, we
: had the arrival of bungie's favourite prodigal son, Shishka. I have to
: say, I expected Shishka to be a little reserved, a bit of a serious chap.
: That's possibly because he's best known for wielding his bungie.net admin
: powers to exact swift and terrible retribution at the drop of a n00b. In
: person, he's got a great sense of humour and is a really good laugh. I'd
: almost go as far as to call him jolly, but I won't, for fear of damaging
: his 'hard man of forums' image. He also turned up with an armful of
: goodies that we've been circling like sunstruck vultures since his
: We started the day off gently with a screening of "28 Days Later."
: As it was playing, I mentioned to Shishka my surprise as how serious Louis
: takes his playing. Shishka laughed and said one day he was going to get
: Louis a t-shirt printed up that says "Stop shooting me you
: assholes!" We watched soem Red vs Blue Season 3 Public Service
: Announcements then got a few games together.
: There was an epic game of CTF classic on Coagulation that I really enjoyed,
: culminating with me walking the flag from their base to the rocks outside
: our base, only to have c0ld run me down in a ghost. But before he could
: return it, Shishka nipped in and got the capture. Three nil to the blues!
: Trousers down for the reds!
: Somewhat foolishly, I suggested a USA vs The Rest Of The World best-of-three
: mini tourney. That was me, c0ld, X9, BOLL and Steve against KP, Shishka,
: Warbow, Konrad and Count Zero. We even stacked the deck by insisting on
: our favourite ChambO Flag gametype.
: They shafted us sideways. KP labelled our sniper "Sir Miss A Lot."
: They spanked our bottoms on our own gametype. They scored double our time
: on Sanctuary Oddball. We were so disheartened, we chickened out of the
: pointless third game. Team America. F*ck yeah.
: Shishka introduced everyone to Team Showers, apparently a bungie office
: favourite (sadly, I missed this game as I went out to call home. No, I
: didn't mention Fist Ass Extreme). Then we played a Juggernaut game where
: the Juggernaut was ridiculously fast, strong as Hercules and invisible. I
: never got a look in, and ended on a score of -2! I was sharing a screen
: with Count Zero who was doing very well, and even when I tried to screen
: watch, he was beating the tar out of me. But while we were playing, Steve
: raised an interesting point. We'd been litening to the game announcer's
: voice echoing inside our skulls all weekend. And what a voice. But can you
: imagine having a voice like that in everyday life? Steve wondered what it
: might be like when the guy orders a pizza - "Double cheese. TRIPLE
: CHEESE." And upon being told the price, "Un-freakin'
: By now, everyone was pretty Haloed out. We chilled and watched a movie
: (Spaceballs!) while Mig whipped up a pasta dish. It has to be noted that
: Mig is a dab hand in the kitchen. He made us fresh pancakes from scratch,
: cooked pasta, sauce and side dishes and laid on a sensational breakfast
: buffet this morning that I'm ashamed to say I visited no less then three
: Konrad and Count Zero departed, KP went home. We loaded up Halo CE once more
: and played Nuclear Shotgun CTF again, followed by a ridiculous game of
: Rocketball on Prisoner. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. We managed so little
: accumulated time that eventually, we just ended the game. And that just
: about ended the night for me.
: Dry Your Eyes Mate.
: A fond farewell to both Steve and Warbow this morning. We're down to the last
: five now (me and c0ld, BOLL and X9, Shishka and Mig). Everyone else has
: jumped onto Live and I'm tapping in this writeup. I realise that it's
: somewhat unusual to compose a writeup whilst still actually AT the event
: itself, but my feet literally aren't going to touch the ground until
: tomorrow, I have a ton of work on when I get back, I've spent far too long
: away from my lady (she'd have my plums in a jar if I got home and said
: "missed you, but excuse me while I just type a writeup") and the
: soonest I'd be able to do one would be the weekend.
: Thank you to everyone. Everyone was friendly, great fun, had a good attitude,
: brought gear, shared stuff, pitched in. The games were played in a
: fantastic spirit and the whole thing was a joy from start to finish. It
: was an honour and a privilege to spend time with you all.
: I can't thank Mig enough for his generosity, his hospitality, his expertise
: in the kitchen and his absolute insanity for opening his house to us all.
: Mig, you extended me a fabulous opportunity and I will always, always be
: Louis "It's NOT about the fun, it's about me winning" Wu - you
: roxxor, sir. It was a pleasure to meet you at last.
: Finally (jeez-a-loo, this rubbish still hasn't finished?!), just to pitch in
: on the ban violent video games debate. I flew across the Atlantic because
: there were some people I wanted to meet. Other people flew and drove even
: greater distances to do the same. Whilst here, I got to meet new people,
: friends of the friends I'd come to see.
: So I got to travel. I got to see another part of the world. I was made
: welcome in someone else's home. I had a great time and got to make new
: friends. And the catalyst for all this was a video game.
: Can't be all bad then, as far as I'm concerned.
: All the best,
You guys suck