How to set up a LAN

Ever wanted to play with no lag? To communicate with your allies without having to type everything you want to say? To be able to play truly face to face against someone? Then, you'll need a network. A network will also allow you to use printers and programs from other computers.

Playing over a LAN (Local Area Network) is much more fun than over the internet. However, a LAN is usually not accessible for everybody. To solve this problem, you can buy a network card for your own computer and then connect it with another computer. Of course someone must have a car to transport the computer if there is only one computer available for each person (the common case), but if you plan to play for an entire day, the additional work (about one hour, maybe a bit more) is well worth the investment. If all your friends have network cards, you can even make large game tournaments with 8 or 16 people! Believe me, the free weekend that you invest into that is well worth it! Of course there should be some people who are familiar with the PC hard- and software.

Hardware requirements

All you need is a free ISA or PCI slot. Then you have to buy a network card. A cheap Ethernet card with 10 MBit/s is more than enough far you. You should buy a Plug and Play ISA Ethernet Card that is NE2000 compatible. The latter is important for MS-DOS applications and quite common. A PCI card just costs more without yielding much more performance, and a 100 MBit/s network does not make much sense for a Personal Computer. 10 MBit/s is more than enough - compare it to ISDN (64 KBit/s).

Then, you will also need a cable to connect the computers. This cable is called a BNC cable, and it should have a resistance of 50 W. To fill the gap in the T-shaped plug at both ends of a peer-to-peer network, you will also need two terminal resitors of 50 W.

All in all you will need:
1 per playerISA Ethernet card 25 $
1 per playerBNC cable (50 W, 10 m20 $
2 per networkTerminal resistors (50 W)< 5$

As you can see, the network hardware costs about as much as a new game, and it will make all your games a lot more fun to play, so it is worth the price.

Software requirements

Installing the network under Win95 is a pain, as it is with any new software. With Win NT, it's much easier. Since there is no general recipe how to install new hardware under Win95 (the crappy hardware manager has so many bugs and flaws that I cannot describe them all in 100 years), you will have to muddle through that yourself. All you have to do is to install the proper network driver and the following network protocols (in the control panel/network): For the network card, an NE 2000 driver should do the job if the driver that is on the diskette fails. Usually you don't even need TCP/IP, but it's better than IPX for more complicated networks. All the other protocols are not supported by games and will not be needed.

To start the game, choose "multi player", then "IPX network". Most games will find the other computers automatically, so if all drivers are working properly, this will be no problem.

Well, this is pretty much everything you need for a LAN. Good luck with installing the new hardware under Win95, and have fun with your games! You will be amazed about the performance (pings are around 2ms), and the atmosphere is much better (you can hear your opponents curse if you kill them, you can give commands by shouting around, you'll have an instant feedback that is not available in the internet).

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