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OWR Goes LAN Gaming On The Xbox 360

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So what exactly does OWR mean? It’s a symbol of great pride for some and makes others cringe in fear as soon as they see those three letters together in another’s game handle! It may cause hatred in some, due to being pwned all the time, and happiness in the hearts of others, after pwning others. But the true meaning that they are trying convey is F…U….N!

Online Warrior Resistance is their name and FRAGGING is their game! OWR is a group of people who love to play XBOX games online. OWR was originally created by Dave “ NEOMITE” Holibaugh and Jason “DeathInMeJaice” Freitas. They started out playing together in 1998 with PC online games. They began to organize into PC LAN parties and ran into several problems. PC parties started to become compatibility nightmares, as in Jason’s words, “One person’s rig had hardware that wasn’t compatible with the games or not powerful enough to run it correctly or even incorrectly setup to run properly.” So when the Xbox came out, compatibility issues were all fixed in one shot and with the advent of Xbox Live, they recently got the idea to grow into something much larger as OWR. With a machine that is comparatively more affordable than gaming PCs, standardized across the board, and delivers near PC graphics; OWR were able to get more and more people together much more quickly and easily. One more advantage was the fact that they could easily rent games for the party if anyone ever forgot their copy; something that really can’t be done on a PC (Although some would argue that you could possibly install the whole game on the hard drive, thus disregarding the need of a CD. But CDs are still needed for game authentication, so that theory can also be quashed.)

When the original idea was tossed around, they had originally named themselves Our Wives’ Retreat; since many of them were already married. But they thought it over and decided on Online Warrior Resistance. For the most part, this group is a bunch of casual gamers who meet up every two months for a growing LAN party. They don’t officially compete, but are pretty much skilled enough to do so; but the available time is something they lack. This is why they are only meeting bi-monthly right now; having everyone coming from many different destinations to meet at a single place also takes a little planning ahead. They are officially a southern California group and their LAN parties are open to anyone in southern California. They are trying to make their parties grow. Their parties are held in members’ houses ranging from Murieta , near Temecula, to all the way down south to Chula Vista; both of which are located in San Diego County.

The particular party I attended was in Chula Vista. The city with a “beautiful view.” As soon as I approached the door, I knew these guys were serious Xbox players, because there was a big wanted poster from the game Grand Theft Auto IV on the front door of they guy’s house. There were tables laid out in the front living for food and a table dedicated to just for prizes. Then I walked further in and found the entrance to the garage, the actual place where all the gaming was done. There were four tables laid out with about 12 Xbox machines and various HDTV’s and computer monitors connected. There was a huge spaghetti mess of wires all over and power plugs plugged into different areas of the house. They even got creative with extension cords and routed one from the second floor window down to the vehicle entrance of the garage. They had to do it like that to attempt to prevent themselves from blowing out a single circuit. As you can see from the pictures, though, they still ended up blowing a circuit and had to reset the breaker and re-position another extension cable. About half of all the machines and televisions lost power. They had more wanted posters from GTA IV hung up all over the place and some were even custom made with pictures of OWR members. I had shown up at 12 in the afternoon the actual party started 10 am. People were already playing and connected by the time I got there. So I saw that these guys were pretty serious. There was plenty of food for everyone. There were two huge 6 foot subs, fried chicken, fried rice, potato salad, and various snacks and beverages. Since this was going to be an all day event, plenty of energy drinks were available.

The day started out with participants playing Call of Duty 4. The day started out with about 6 people and ended up with about 12. Various games were created and played in COD 4. One of the co-founders, Jason, was online playing with the party, but was at his house. He could not make it due to family constraints. He was connected via a video stream through skype on a laptop. He could see the party through an Xbox webcam that the other co-founder, Dave, had hooked up and we could see Jason on the laptop. Various battles and smack talking ensued. Everyone was having a blast until the circuit blew, a perfect time for a good smoke break. After everything was operating normally again, we all began to play Grand Theft Auto IV through the multiplayer. That game was very different and fun. A couple people had also rented the new Quake game to try out its multiplayer. The graphics on that game are very cool. The vehicles and robots were just outrageous. Another major break followed. Two others began to play Guitar Heroes III. One guy was playing the devil on expert mode and everyone else was just watching in awe. This guy was freaking amazing! He was doing the roll offs without strumming the guitar. Then the nitty gritty came up. The last four hours of the LAN party.

OWR had created an ingenious system to give away prizes. They wanted something that was completely fair. They setup a way of winning prizes without the need of gameplay skill in COD. It basically starts out almost like a basic superbowl pool. A grid is drawn out with a hundred squares. The top of the grid is red, while the side is black. Each column and row gets a digit 0-9. They shuffled 20 playing cards, a set of clubs for the black A-10 and set of hearts for the red A-10, and had people pick cards randomly. As cards were picked out, they would number the rows and columns randomly. After that each player would have the opportunity to purchase squares at 4 dollars a pop. At the end of the square assignments, though, they had to change it to 2 bucks a pop, because all the squares could not be filled up. They setup the last 4 hours dedicated to playing COD 4 in team deathmatch. At game time every level would be played. At the beginning of each match, each person had to pick auto assign to randomly get assigned to allies or insurgents. At the end of each match they would record the scores of the two teams. They would tally up the scores of the two teams every half hour. Then the two separate totals would be looked at and they would take the last digit of each total and assign it to black and red accordingly. Whatever square the two numbers pointed to on the grid was the winner of that prize. I took a picture of this grid and on it they show what could be won at each hour and half hour. They had the good prizes lined up at the end of every hour and the less expensive prizes given at the mid hour mark. It was also setup so that one person could win more than once, and this happened more than a couple of times (insert grrrr face here). They knew people of all skill levels were going to show up and this was the best possible solution that they could come up with. So winners basically walked out with prizes out sheer luck and randomness. The Bit Bag had donated two GTA IV guides as well as the Xbox 360 version of the actual game.

OWA worked really hard to get these donations. They called up Activision, Midway, and Alienware for donations and really didn’t receive any love. What Dave ended up doing was going around local business’ and asking if they could donate anything or even money for the LAN party and in exchange he would mention their name to the LAN party or the website. He eventually raised enough money to make purchases of reserved games, paid in full, that weren’t even out yet at the local game stores. He also received some various items that he gave out as consolation prizes. One thing I did realize is that land parties like these can really start pumping money into the local game rental stores. When I was at the party, I noticed that a few people rented extra copies of COD 4 , just in case you became that I forgot my game and I live 2 hours away guy, and almost everyone rented a copy of GTA IV. They really wanted play GTA on the LAN. A couple of others had also rented the new Quake game as well to try out. If you own a game rental store, you might want to start supporting groups like these. They really generate an interest in gaming.

There were some drawbacks I did notice while I was there and it had nothing to do with the great party or the awesome people who were there. First was the fact that COD 4 did not allow more than one person playing on one box on any multiplayer mode. This limitation also included internal LAN play. I could sort of understand the point of view for playing across the internet ( maybe some bandwidth gets saved or peoples stats are at stake), but at the internal LAN level bandwidth should not be an issue. Halo 2 and Halo 3 both allow you to play with four players on a single box across the internet and in an internal LAN. You can have lots of fun with just 2 Xboxes and 8 people in a single house; I know because I have done it before. What also kills me is that you are able to do 4 player split screen in COD 4 on single box multiplayer mode. Second is the maps situation. I play COD 4 many times, but we don’t play online at all. The first thing I noticed at the LAN party was that more maps were available to people who were playing online than to people who play on a single box. I would have friends talk to me about certain maps and have no idea WTF they were talking about, because I never played online. Another major “maps situation” had occurred while I was playing at the LAN party. It was about the bonus maps. You know what I am talking about if you have already downloaded them, one of them happened to be a map called Chinatown. Well I was using another person’s Live account while I was there. I didn’t fully transfer my Xbox live account to the 360 yet; that is why they were letting me use another account. Well while we were playing we had attempted to start up match with one of the bonus maps. I took a picture of the lobby when this happened. I was using the account sick moves. In the game lobby while everyone was getting ready and getting invited, I could see a picture of the Chinatown map. The owner of the account had told me that with another account, he had downloaded the bonus maps to the machine already. This is probably why I had could see a picture of the map. Nobody was quite sure of what was going to happen, because they knew that the account I was using had not purchased the maps; but I figured if the maps are already paid for and downloaded I should be able to play. So we went ahead started the game…………. And VOILA! A big fat you know what in the you know where. I took a picture of the next couple of screens. It came up a little blurry, but the next screen that came up was :

ERROR
YOU DO NOT HAVE THIS MAP. You can get this map downloading map packs from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

After you push the button, the screen goes right to the purchase screen to purchase the COD 4 bonus map pack. Even though this is not a Microsoft studios game, this whole maps BS totally reeked, stunk and smelled like some crazy Microsoft licensing scheme. If you ever had worked in IT, you guys know exactly what I mean. This goes right up there with those crazy Microsoft licensing schemes like per seat, per server and CALs (Client Access License). This is one of the major reasons why I am turning into a damn Linux guru. For large companies and corporation, this all about the bottom line. One player per box forces more copies of the game to be sold, Xbox live subscriptions to be made and the per account bonus pack purchase forces more Xbox marketplace purchases but it all equals to : MO MONEY, MO MONEY, MO MONEY in the pockets of Microsoft and game companies. You hear very few complaints about the 1 person per box rule, because that means they don’t ever have to share a screen. But in the long run it leaves fewer friends invited to these types of shindigs, because not everyone owns an Xbox. The super casual gamers who like to play occasionally but don’t own an actual system get totally left out of the situation. Something like this could affect the future of gaming sales. I know many super casual gamer people, myself included, who have played online with their friends on the same box at the same time and have enjoyed it so much to make their own purchase of another system, games, and online accounts. Most Xbox live gamers just see this as something they cannot fight and just deal with it to have fun.

That is probably the most important thing of this OWR LAN party. Everyone, including myself who didn’t bring an Xbox 360, had a freaking blast! The funniest thing that did happen was when all the major prizes were given out, Co-Founder Dave try to come up with a game plan to compete to win the consolation prizes. His original game plan was to have all the people together in the Crossfire level, we maxed out at 16 people in the room, and have 15 people line up shoulder to shoulder and have one person at a distance get shot until he got to last stand. Everyone had to get the last stand perk set on them. Then when he got to last stand, he would have to attempt should as many people dead as he could; the others would not move. Well that didn’t quite work out. Trying to organize 16 people, 5 were online and the other 11 were at the LAN party, turned into a huge mess and a comedy act. Everyone kept on jumping around and didn’t line up, lots of laughter soon followed. I stabbed someone by accident and that started a free for all shoot out. Then one guy was dry humping a dead guy, then another guy joined in on the action. We tried to come up with different scenarios, and we finally decided on 2 games. One was headshots only with a pistol, last man standing wins. The other was knives only, last man standing wins. That worked out the best, but still not too well, because reactions got into play where someone would whip out a gun by accident and shoot the other guy or different weapon was used other than the pistol. But the comedy uplifted everyone and basically made the day good. Surprisingly the game only had a connection drop out one time and it was for a few seconds. So with 12 boxes going and somebody video streaming on the laptop, lag did not become an issue and also made the day good. I took a group pic of the people who were left at the end of the night including their winnings. After something like that you knew these people weren’t too serious. They just like to have fun. With names like VOCHEEZIE, NEOMITE, VANILLASKILLET, CRY 2 YO MAMA, & SICK MOVES, how can you expect these guys to be super serious about competition?

OWR can be found at http://www.owr.fernandeztech.com/. You can check out the site to find out when and where the future LAN parties are going to be held. The next one will be on July 26, 2008. They also plan on video streaming their LAN parties on their site as well. It’s open to all of southern California. It’s definitely growing. Females are also welcome. One of the people there at the LAN party was a female and an OWR member. They always play with people who are not physically there too, via Xbox Live.

OWR is seeking support from any business, game related or not, for their prizes and gifts. Any donation, cash or actual company products, are very much appreciated and promotion of these donating companies and their products at these parties are no problem for these guys. Businesses out there should definitely keep on eye on these guys, because they really promote gaming because they love it, not because they have to.

– Eric Mudd

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