things on games

Is there such a thing as free multiplayer video games ?

Multiplayer LAN games for cheapskates

aka “I prefer free or cheap games”

First of all, a small disclaimer is required. This list is mainly based on my personal experience when roaming LAN parties in combination with the games I like to play myself.

Not all these games require a platform account, but adding friends to your game is way easier like that.

For the biggest part of this list, you’ll be needing  a PC (obviously) and if you haven’t already done so, you need to first create an account on the following platforms through their respective websites :

  • Steam (the mothership of gaming platforms)
  • GOG (for lovers of retro games)
  • HumbleBundle (very cheap games, where your money’s donated to a charity)
  • Origin (that other mothership of gaming platforms)
  • Battle.net (limited amount of games, but huge player base. Does World of Warcraft ring a bell ?)

Steam :

  • War Thunder
    War Thunder
    War Thunder. pew pew vroom vroom

    Lots of fun and easy to learn.
    Flying planes and bombing tanks.
    Cross platform for Linux, Windows, Mac and Playstation 4

  • World of Warships
    A bit more hard core. You get to pilot actual replica of ships in a huge naval battle.
    Starts easy, but gets really intense on higher ranks.
    If you need a slow-paced but action-intensive game, this is for you
  • Warframe
    Yet another Steam game not obliged to run specifically on Steam.
    Sci-fi Spacey third person shooter with a simple and balanced class system.
  • Star Trek Online
    Star Trek Online screenshot

    Command your own crew in your personal NCC-ship.
    Multiplayer Trekkie heaven.

  • Star Conflict
    Massive multiplayer space ship pew-pew.
    Not really a beginner kinda game to start playing, but tons of fun with an experienced group of players. If you’ve played EVE Online and like that game, this is probably for you !
  • Winning Putt
    Sexy golf ?

    Sounds stupid, but it’s stupidly addictive as well.
    Multiplayer golf. What more do you want ? :p

  • Team Fortress 2
    The very first free-to-play game on Steam and still totally worth mentioning.
    This game stood the test of time and still kicks ass in the current-gen list of competitive shooters.
    It’s a team-based shooter where with many game typs such as “capture the flag”, ‘plant the bomb”, “king of the hill”, …
  • OGAT
    Of Guards and Thieves

    The title stands for “Of Guards And Thieves”, in case you’re wondering 🙂
    This little hidden gem has you play as either a member of the thieves or a guard (oooh, unexpected), where you have to infiltrate a mansion ans steal items or prevent the thieves from doing so.
    Sounds simple, but it’s a real blast.

  • DOTA 2
    Defending the Ancients like a bawz

    Spice is the variety of life. Or is it the other way around ? DOTA started as a simple mod for Warcraft 3, but quickly grew towards a thing of its own.
    DOTA 2 (Defense of The Ancients) is one of those games, where you defend your base and conquer your oponent’s. Computer-controlled units are your grunts, where you manually control a leader. As classic as it gets.

Origin :

While Origin occasionally used to have an “On the house” action every now and then, there’s not a lot of actual free games on their platform.
They stopped giving away freebies mid 2018 and don’t have plans to do so again (yet).
Nevertheless, Origin is EA’s gaming platform and it can never hurt to create an account here.

If you’re a fan of specific EA games (list on this Wiki page), have a go at Origin.

Also : PLAY ULTIMA ONLINE !!!

Humble Bundle :

Also, an other website that’s not known for instant-freebies.
HOWEVER….
Humble Bundle’s profit is poured mainly into general healthcare, Red Cross, humanitary help, … projects.
Every month or so, you’ll see a little announcement on their site where you get to buy an “Humble Bundle”,  which usually consists of around 10 to 12 games. Depending on the amount of money you donate, you’ll receive a small, medium o full package of games, usually Steam keys or DRM-free downloads.

It’s a bit of a gamble to get into their “Humble Montly” program, but definitely worth to create an account and stay on the lookout for a good bundle of games.
They even release e-books or specific software such as video editors every now and then !

GOG :

The GOG.COM platform has come a long way over the years.
It started out more like a fan-service to old-school gamers, but quickly grew into a legal distribution platform for the older games.
Now, GOG also provides the newer games on the market but is still known for its classic and historical games.
An easy search (https://www.gog.com/games?sort=popularity&page=1&price=free) will get you into their list  of free games (and demo’s).

  • As a lover of old games, I suggest the Ultima series, but they’re all mostly single-player RPG’s.
  • Gwent is quite likeable though. If you ever played “The Witcher 3”, you’ll love this. It’s the card minigame that has gotten a seperate game of its own. Very addicitve, although most card game players will either stick to Magic The Gathering Online, Pokémon The Trading Card Game Online (basically Magic for beginners) or HeartStone (on Battle.net)

Non-platform :

A couple of game have already been mentioned that are not necesarily platform-bound, but there’s a few ones that are not bound to any software distribution platform.

  • OpenTTD
    Choo Choo mother f*cker

    This beauty is a serious blast from the past, but remains an awesome game over all the years it had to fight to stay in the top game charts.
    As a free game OpenTTD (which is unoficially short for ‘Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe’).
    OpenTTD consists of a very simple concept to create the most optimal and lucrative transport system to get your products from A to B (and even to C and D in the process). The challenge for most people in this game, is getting the awesome train system to work.
    It’s a blast in multiplayer as you’ll soon be fighting over who gets the best coal prices in order to move them to your energy plant and whatnot.
    Fantasic game that gave me a good time in the past and I’m getting the urge to play it again by just writing about it.
    There’s even an Android port for the game, if you’re into that.

  • Pokémon TCGO
    Addictive Pokémon-themed card game from the creators of the all-popular card game series ‘Magic The Gathering’. It’s basically a gateway game to get you to play Magic AND there’s also a physical copy where you receive goodies for the online game per card pack.
    The online game is completely free though.
    You CAN invest real money in card decks, but it’s more of a time investment than an actual cash cow. Very fun to play with your kids, as most of the common languages are translated into it.

Actual non-video games ??? On a LAN party ???

And here we go again with the LAN party thing…
I’ve mentioned it before, but LAN parties are not all about sitting behind a computer screen for as long as you can.
They’re social events.
Part of the main audience happens to love real life party games and/or board games as well, so why not combine both ? As (almost) per definition, the default LAN party will last a complete weekend starting on a friday evening, going on ’till sunday evening. Depending on extended weekends, or going to events such as LANcamp (R.I.P.) this time might get extended to even a whole week.
When you’re my age (old) you lose interest in this mundane task of sitting behind a screen for over 48 hours and need a diversion.

  • SINGSTAR !!
    Hey I just met you and this is crazy, but be my singing buddy and get drunk, maybe ?

    The classic karaoke game that everybody (that sings) loves.
    Get everybody either really drunk and laugh your asses off, or battle in a competition of actual good singing voices.
    Either way, Singstar gets the job done.
    Protip : don’t karaoke near concentrated Counter Strike players (screw you sour-pissing CS player at Frag-o-Matic)

  • Any fricking board game you like to play with friends.
    I mean it, just get together with a couple of mates and pick something (preferably short in game time) as a diversion from your computer screen.
  • Dance Dance Revolution
    Arrows everywhere

    Or In the Groove or Stepmania, whatever floats your boat.
    Just make sure you play it on the controller it’s created for : THE DANCE MAT.
    Oh, and provide a shower opportunity on your LAN party, cause you’ll sweat your ass off…

 

Epilogue

This list of games is never done and you know it.
Let me know in the comments below if you have anything to add to this list of awesome freebies to get your (LAN) party started or throw me a PM on Facebook if you will.

Prepping for a lanparty. (part 2)

Read this first.

Done? Read on.
(keep in mind this text was originally written in 2013. Alterations were made in obvious locations. The games mentioned in this article have also aged nicely)

Back to the future

OCC, Sint-Niklaas, 4th of august 2000.

Over the years, the LAN party scene has evolved quite a bit.
The stereotype idea that people have of a bunch of nerds gathering together, talking geek stuff, eating and sleeping behind their computer screen and constantly playing first-person-shooters is already long gone.
The appearance of a high percentage of female gamers into the LAN scene has cranked up the credibility factor and given these events more of a social background.
Of course, not only the appearance of the opposite sex was the only change of direction.
Social media, free games and a bigger variety and subvariety of games have also played a role in this evolution.
To give you a wild example : expect score beating competitions in simple games such as Peggle and Word Feud Banished, Singstar, FTL, … to be played.
Scrabble Scythe and other board games (classic Warhammer Blood Bowl, anyone?) also take part nowadays.

This little guide will prepare you computer-wise for a fun LAN.

Trackmania Turbo. Keeping the Trackmania hype real

The list below is not and never will be complete. You play whatever game you want at a LAN party. Just try to tune in with your friends and co-gamers to see what they’ll be playing mostly, so you can have optimal fun.
I’ll split up the list in free/paying games so you can decide for yourself.
Also : if you don’t have a Steam account, go and create one. There’s tons of free games on Steam nowadays !

FREE :

  • The Trackmania series (racing – multiplayer)
  • War Thunder (flying – multiplayer)
  • World of Warships (slow boats – multiplayer)
  • JFK Reloaded (banned here and there in the States for obvious reasons – also a score attack game)
  • Team Fortress 2 (first free Steam game – super popular first person shooter)
  • Stepmania (musical madness – plays best with a dance mat)
  • OpenTTD (less played, but still an awesome single/multiplayer game – free version of the original transport Tycoon Deluxe game – still does a great job after years of existance)
  • Tetrinet (not-so-licensed-by-Nintendo multiplayer version of the classic ‘Tetris’ brick-dropping game)

PAYING :

  • EVE Online (MMORPG – space themed)
  • World of Warcraft (MMORPG – fantasy themed)
  • Super Hexagon (psychedelic single player score attack game)
  • Surgeon Simulator (just plain fun – single player – I cried tears of joy playing this)
  • FTL (space ship simulator with a high-score system – single player)
  • Minecraft (incredibly fun sandbox game that actually has an ending – single/multiplayer)
  • Left4Dead 2 (scary zombie first-person-shooter. Absolutely worth every penny – use headphones and play in the dark)
  • Sins of a Solar Empire (old but sturdy real-time-strategy game – single/multiplayer)
  • Borderlands 2 (mature themed first-person-shooter-RPG – 4player co-op)

And don’t even get me started on all the LAN classics such as Battlefield, Counter Strike, Unreal Tournament and the Command and Conquer series and derivatives.

Diablo 3 – every reason’s a good one to play D3 – good old 4-player fun

Other software

  • DC++ (software that makes downloading easy – I can’t stress enough that it’s illegal to share licensed software, and other copyrighted stuff.
    DC++ is basically used to easily share your shareable data through means of a searchable index by connecting to a local server. If you plan to use this software, please hash all your shares beforehand as this takes a long time to complete. For more info on hashing, check the DC++ software manual) Stay on the lookout for my DC++ config guide in a nearby future 😉 – let me throw you a Spanish bone first ==> Manual de Direct Connect
  • A good antivirus solution for your computer (some downloads can and will contain viruses)
    As of the coming of Windows 10, there’s the very lovely built-in Windows Defender, holding the fort for you.
  • Filezilla Client. Want to go old school? Connect to a server using FTP
  • MIRC. Want to feel back in the 80s ? Connect to an IRC server for chatting and file sharing purposes 😀
  • Other than that : come to a LAN party with the right attitude ! You’re here to have fun and so is everyone else. There’s nothing worse than a whiner ruining the atmosphere for all the other players.
  • Oh, and don’t bring a Macintosh… There’s a special place in hell for people who bring a Mac to a LAN party…

Alternative ways to go and much more

Depending on the LAN party, there’s tons of alternative stuff going on besides the default ‘bring-your-PC’ mindset.

  • Board games.
    Yes, board games are having a revival for a long time now. They can find their place one certain LAN parties, depending on the theme
  • Game consoles.
    Kronenburger park, anyone ?

    Ever since the early nillies, video game consoles have started to appear on the otherwise PC-filled LAN scene. I personally have helped to push this fact in the fact, so I’m always ravished to be able to mention it at any given time.
    It’s not frowned upon to even appear at a LAN party with only your game console? Computers are over-rated 😉
    Party games on consoles are a great competitive way of having fun aside from sitting behind the PC. Like I said before, LAN parties are more of a social event than you’d think.
    Games like SingStar, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, … come to mind.
    I even recall a certain somebody bringing his own arcade machine *cough*

  • Rentals.
    *Winks at Speedseats*

    No-one likes to drag their heavy computer around or stash their personal desk chair somewhere in the trunk of their car.
    Nowadays, it’s possible to rent a computer or even an excellent gaming chair for a very limited amount of money on most bigger events. There’s nothing worse than having to finish your gaming weekend with a soaring back ache.

 

There’s so much more to tell about LAN parties.
Just visit one (preferrably more) and convince yourself.
*mumbles something about Waasmunster*

Virtua *cough* Fighter 3

Prepping for a lanparty. (part 1)

And now for something completely different.

Those that know me personally, also know that I’m totally hooked to LAN parties.
With an upcoming one at work (yeah, that’s right, we hold LAN parties at work), I decided to necro an old topic of mine from 2013. I even had to look it up through this site, as I never saved the text locally.
This only proves that once you put something online, there’s no un-posting. Ever.

Here goes.

LAN parties …

oldschool yo
Before the hip kids all did it

You might have heard of them before, and maybe want to attend one (or preferably more) in your lifetime.

In case you don’t know what a LAN party is, I’ll give you a brief rundown :
First of all, the abbreviation “LAN” stands for “Local Area Network“.
LAN parties basically consist of a gathering of people, bringing their own home-computer setups with them, in order to connect them all into one big network.
Mostly with the common goal to play computer games together and hang out in an alternative social environment.

With the coming of high-speed internet, the “social” part has become a larger part of the LAN-life. The reason behind this, is that “in days of olde”, people could not achieve the data transfer speeds needed for fast network gaming of fast data tranfer altogether, over a simple phone line through a dial-up internet connection.

Plus, it’s way more fun to be able to punch someone in real life, who just shot you down in a video game, instead of scolding him over the internet.

Come prepared

In any way, the following list will provide you with sort of a ultimate LAN party checklist as a preparation for your visit to a LAN.

Very important :

  • A computer + its power cable (I can’t state this enough, and yes I’ve seen people arrive without their PC…)
    Some LAN parties provide you with a rental PC, but very few do this. Check your LAN website when in doubt.
  • A screen + its power cable + its connector cable
    Unless you’re carrying a laptop with you, a screen is as important as your actual PC
  • Input devices, such as keyboard and mouse
    Or a braille input device as I once had the privilege to witness
  • Network cable of sufficient length (preferably UTP CAT5 straight cable or anything of higher quality)
    In few cases, the organisation itself provides you with network cable. Sufficient length mostly means 10 meters or more.
  • Power Strip with more than enough connectors for all your PC hardware (for you Dutch speaking who don’t know what a power strip is : “ne priezenblok”)
    Most LANs provide one group of tables with only one power strip onto which you can branch your own one.

Relatively important :

  • Sleeping gear
    Unless you want to sleep on a hard concrete floor, or in a chair with your head on your keyboard, some sleeping gear is handy.
    You can also be a “tough nut” and stay awake all night, cause that’s what tough guys do. However, I strongly suggest getting a little sleep in order to improve your concentration level when you play games on a need-to-win basis.
    My suggestion is to use a camping bed, a sleeping bag and a pillow to a default LAN party
  • Food
    Most LANs provide food at an affordable price. It is however recommended to bring along some snacks for yourself so you don’t have to rely on otherwise mostly fast-food.
    Healthy mind, healthy body, that sorta thing.
  • Software
    Bring all your necessary software with you. This includes, but is not limited to :
    … your Windows (or other Operating System) CD or install medium (a USB stick for instance)
    … drivers for your hardware, in case you need to reinstall your PC
    … games (although nowadays with platforms such as Steam, you can download your games after you formatted your PC, just by logging into the game client
    … anything you can think of, basicallyTrust me when I say that if ever you are in need of a piece of software when you’re hours away from home, you’ll think back to the day you have read this article
  • Personal hygiene stuff
    Basically you bring this along, so you don’t bother your fellow gamer with bodily odors.
  • Sound
    Although most bigger LAN parties have a headset-only policy, in some cases it’s always nice to have someone bring along his speaker/woofer combo for all of us to enjoy his weird choice of music.Seriously, if it doesn’t say ‘speakers allowed’ on the LAN website or in their invitations, DON’T BRING SPEAKERS

Optional :

I can think of a lot of stuff that would be optional for you to bring to a LAN. It depends on what transportation you’ll be taking and how much room is in/on your car, bike, bus, …

  • Your own chair from behind your desk is nice to have, for instance. So are extra blankets or pillows.
  • Extra clothing is not considered as must-have, but it tends to improve your social life if you attend a +3day LAN
  • Money is another thing. If you brought enough food with you to survive the entire LAN, and you’re absolutely sure you will not need to buy anything locally, then be my guest and show up as a bum. However, as Murphy’s Law lurks around every corner, I wouldn’t be surprised you’ll need some extra cash.

With that in mind, you’re somewhat prepared for your first LAN event.
Another handy tip : if you’re new to LANs, don’t go taunting the locals and brag about how awesome you are at some game. Even if you were good at a game, and even if (very slim chance) you’re as good as the LAN visitors who played for ages, you’ll be socially excluded within the minute. The ones I met in real life will know who I’m talking about.

“OK, Zupertails, you got me all worked up now. Where do I go from here with all this info?”

Basically, if you’re from Belgium, like I am, you stay on the lookout on various LAN websites.
Some of them are :

Lanparty.be (basically a calendar where you can see all other LANs in Belgium)

Frag-o-Matic (the biggest commercial one in Belgium we have atm)

9 Lives (one of the bigger gaming communities in Belgium)

The Gathering (the Mothership of all LANs, located in Norway, visited form all over the world)

The Gathering - 2005
pic from Wikipedia

I hope you enjoy this helpful little guide on the world of LAN parties.
Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to mail me, or post a comment (comments are moderated, so it takes a while before they appear).
Facebook is also a popular place where you’ll see me hanging around.

GAME ON!

Also… read on