Bringing FRAG LAN back from the dead

If you’re ever taken the time to read the crap on the About Me page, you’ll know that I co-founded the FRAG LAN back in 2007.  Sadly, since I left Durban, it appears that the event has slowly gone to the dogs (as evidenced by an article on Do Gaming).

Of course, I don’t want to see something that I started disappear like that, so I popped on to their forums (after a good deal of time and effort trying to remember what my password was!) to offer some advice.  I’m not sure how long the post will stay there though, so I’ve reproduced the contents below:


First off — long time, no see folks. To answer the most obvious question, yes, I’m still alive, Cape Town is treating me well, and Web Africa offering uncapped is definitely no longer “unsustainable” (lead developer on that project). 😉

Now that the pleasantries and formalities are out of the way, on to business.

I haven’t kept in touch with what’s been going on with the LAN since my move to the non-ANC province, but a recent article on Do Gaming pretty much told me the entire story: in the interceding years, the LAN has pretty much been run into the ground and currently has an extremely uncertain future. Now, I’m not here to bash anyone in particular (well, too much!), mainly to offer my own input and suggestions on how to get out of the hole that the LAN has dug itself.

I can pretty much sum up the below simply as follows: get the LAN back to its roots.

The LAN pretty much started out as a small 5-man event in my parents’ double-garage in 2007, and we decided to explore expanding it further. A few months later, it had outgrown both our imaginings, and the resources of those involved; that’s when James came onboard and took it further, and eventually took it over. The only problem was that James seemed to be far more interested in the bottom line than gamer satisfaction, and I guess you all know the rest. (Even I struggled working with him at times, although to be fair, my opinion on things was always taken into serious consideration.)

However, the great thing about those early days was the camaraderie that existed between the event organisers and attendees at the time. The early goal was simply to provide a social event for people to just go and enjoy themselves for the weekend, and we managed that really well. It was easy for us because there was nothing else at the time — UberLAN had recently shut up shop, and Vendetta started at roughly the same time (and went for a little while until James managed to sabotage that effort). From the sounds of things, that’s all but disappeared, with the organiser goals and attendee expectations being totally at odds. That needs to change.

I don’t buy the opinion that “LAN gaming is dying”; despite the always-online requirements of this day and age (which I don’t necessarily approve of, but that’s a different story), there are still times and places for us folk to pack up our PCs, head off somewhere for a weekend, and kill players with the gauntlet while holding the BFG (yes, I was on the receiving end!). But it needs to be done right. If you need an example to model yourselves off of, one need look no further than Organised Chaos in this part of the world — the primary objective there is for the attendees to have a great time, everything else is secondary. (I have contacts within OC management, so if you’d like me to facilitate any kind of knowledge sharing, I’d be happy to help.)

I do think that Doug has the right idea; he’s trying to focus on becoming more gamer-centric while weeding out the seedier elements and getting the event back to what it should be. Thing is, he is going to need your help — if you guys want LAN gaming in Durban to survive, it’s up to the entire Durban gaming community to seize the initiative and get things back to where they should be. It’s going to be a long and hard process, but if everyone pulls in, it’s definitely possible.

Over to you guys.

Carpe Diem.

UPDATE: I’ve had a few folks contact me for clarification about the Vendetta sabotage part.  My only response was to point them in the direction of the embrace, extend and extinguish Wikipedia article.

Ron’s Fun Friday

Get to work, minding my own business – then, at 10am, the local transformer box blows (AGAIN). I was working on a critical update to one of my apps at the time that just HAD to go live today. So, no problem I thought, I’ll just take my work computer and go home to finish it. I get home, and found that for some reason, my stuff wasn’t synching between my computer and the dev work server as it should have been – all my stuff was on the dev work server.

I then phone my network admin, and hear that he and the support people are the only ones left at the office – everyone else had buggered off (bearing in mind that we had scheduled load shedding at 2pm, and this looked like it would take a while to fix). He says no problem, come and get the dev work server (with EVERYONE’s dev work on it, mind you), and take it home with you. I’m like “are you SURE????”, and he’s like “no problem”. So, I drive the 3km back to the office, pick up the server, get the admin password for it, and off I go home again, connect both PCs up to my network, and transfer my stuff to my work computer.

It doesn’t take me long to finish the code changes that I had been planning, but now I have a new problem – my code needs to go onto our daemons server at our server farm at IS in Umhlanga – and I can’t go through the office network, because the UPS died five minutes after I left the second time. Once more, I phone my network admin. He tells me that there’s a back way in, and tells me all the details. I upload my code to the server, and test it – it worked first time, thankfully.  😛

As I finish testing, one of the support people phone me to tell me that the power is back on. So, both computers get loaded back into the car, and back to work I go to put them back. We plug the dev work server and my work computer back in, and I quickly send off a few mails that needed to be sent, as our 2pm scheduled load shedding is about to happen. Sure enough, it happens. At this stage, I decide “bugger it”, and head off to the Pavillion to get some lunch and kill some time.

After Steers, I pop into Look and Listen and pick up two trance CDs (the same one I got for Palu but this time for myself, and another one). I browse around the various shops in the Pav, looking for something to keep me interested. Eventually, I look at the time. 4:15pm. I have to be at Kingsmead at 4:30pm as I’m doing the scoring for Cricinfo for the Pro20 final. So, off I head, only to be caught in the mother of all traffic jams at Warwick Junction. I eventually work my way through, and get into the Kingsmead scorebox at 4:50pm. Fortunately, my rather late arrival wasn’t a problem, as everyone else got caught in the same traffic jam.

So, I sit though 40 overs of a really good cricket match, which the Dolphins lost narrowly, get invited to drinks in the President’s Suite afterwards (nothing alcoholic for me – still had to drive home), and head off at 10:00pm thinking “what else could possibly happen today?”. As it turns out, there was an accident on Spaghetti Junction that had happened moments before I got there, and as it was pitch black I only saw it at the last minute (and, Murphy’s Law, it’s in MY lane). I don’t know how I managed to avoid running into the crashed cars and keep control.

So here I am, at 11:10pm, finally chilling out at home. Won’t be online for much longer, as I’ve got an early morning tomorrow…

Durban’s street name changes

Seems like the opposition parties are not the only ones in a tizz over this – so too is the good old Post Office. During my daily browsing of the South African news sites, I came across this article:

Letters of protests against Durban’s proposed street name changes have been delivered to the incorrect address following confusion over the street name, the Daily News reported on Tuesday.

The afternoon daily reported that a number of letters of objection which were supposed to have been delivered to 41 Margaret Mncadi Avenue were in fact delivered to a home in Margaret Maytom Avenue.

Margaret Mncadi Avenue was formerly known as Victoria Embankment. Residents wishing to object to the city’s latest name changes have been advised to write to eThekwini Municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe at 41 Margaret Mncadi Avenue.

Carol Hayward Fell told the Daily News that the first letter arrived in her letter box last Thursday.

“My first reaction was that Sutcliffe was writing to me and I opened the letter, only to discover it was an objection to the renaming,” Hayward Fell was quoted as saying.

A bemused Hayward Fell has promised to safeguard and pass on the mail.

Durban North councillor and Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader John Steenhuisen warned of the impending chaos in the postal system.

“This clearly shows there is a problem – just imagine the confusion when the more than 100 names are changed across the city. It has major implications for business alike,” Steenhuisen said.

Last week the Inkatha Freedom Party and the DA held a joint march that
drew 10 000 people to the city centre in protest against the name changes.

Now, why am I not bloody surprised?