In June of 2009, the TTL Gunslingers returned for a third time to the site of what has been dubbed the AtLANtica. The recipe was, as it has been for the past three years, very much the same: equal parts sunshine, violence, friendship, salt water, and more than a splash of rum.
Once again, our hosts were the benevolent [and ultra-tolerant] inn-keepers at the DoubleTree Suites in Melbourne, Florida. Our audio/visual providers were the saints that own and operate Hoover AV. Our backdrop was the Atlantic Ocean. Our aim was to celebrate the games we play, and the community that they inspire.
While repetitive in nature, this event has had a way of escalating in scope. The dimensions of the venue were the same as last year. That didn’t stop us from packing it with more screens, more noise, more gamers, and more action. It’s a destination we would recommend to any gaming entity in search of a gathering.
For many of the Gunslingers, the third AtLANtica was a reunion. For others, it was introduction to the mayhem that was much storied at our round table. They came from as far away as Holland, and from as near as just over the state line. In all cases, no name tags were required.
Tied the Leader was born from the culture of LAN Parties. Before Xbox Live captured the Master Chief and imported him into every home with a broadband feed, the founders of our fortified position in the Halo Nation were enjoying System Link games among friends. As the games grow more complex, so do the parties.
The attendees at AtLANtica included some of the same Gunslingers that first planted their flag in the uncultivated soil of what would become TTL. Since merging together from struggling upstarts with names like ‘Dead Theologian Society’ or ‘Clan Meryl Streep’, being a TTL Gunslinger is all they have known – and what a long and strange trip it has been.
These parties are a solid reminder of why we fight. For us, gaming as a member of a clan is about friendship as much as it is about victory or teamwork. Meeting a person, looking them in the eye, and shaking their hand is the surest ounce of prevention [and a never-miss pound of cure] for almost any amount of Internet Drama.
That don’t mean that we don’t get to fightin’. At a TTL function, the party-goers are put through the paces. Halo 3 Free-For-All. Halo 3 Squad Battles. Call of Duty Free-For-All. Rock Band High Scores. Grand Theft Auto Chopper Diving. In keeping with tradition, each wave is weighted with points that count toward winning the trophy that commemorates the event.
Rarely taken is a photograph that can capture the electricity emitted by 50 gamers locked in violent congress mere paces from one another. When the distance between different states or continents is closed to within the same room, the combatents get rowdy. Losing control of said room is a sign of success at any good party.
The spectator element is another sign of success. When gamers find themselves watching to see who carries the day, rather than jumping into the surf just outside the back door, its likely that they are getting that for which they came.
Of course, with an NBA Finals game in play, video games are not likely to be the only thing that is spectated. Fortunately, the local scene features many establishments that can stand up to a request like “TTL, Party of 50…” On one such mission, we provided a Gunslinger escort for a Lakers fan lost deep behind enemy lines, in a sea of Orlando fans.
That hotel hidden away on the Atlantic Coast has become like an honorary member of our clan. Having been there three times, it’s a place as familiar to us as some of the maps we see in matchmaking. Like the hill in the middle of Valhalla, it is a territory we have controlled time and time again.
Depicted above: Covenant Battle Cruiser? Or gathering storm? Sooner or later, the beach calls the gamers away from the network. One can take only so much non-stop carnage. When the breaking point is reached, there is plenty of stimulus right on site to soothe the assualt on the senses.
As an event, the AtLANtica has developed its own unique flavor. Gunslingers who have quested to become well-acquainted with our happenings have remarked that Florida is a better party, but Chicago is a better LAN. That lazy air and the sound of crashing waves dillutes the competitive spirit. The poolside bar helps as well.
Yet, sooner or later, competition finds us all. As we continue to host these affairs, we continue to open up new warfronts for live entanglements. The Gunslingers look to us to keep the offering fresh. No one wants to be able to predict everything that will happen.
Time and time again, we all run home to Halo. The more games we sample, the more apparent it becomes that there is no development house that understands the value of a good LAN Party better than Bungie Studios. It’s the game that brought us together to play against the living in our own living rooms. It’s the best game to bring us back together as we muster up and migrate en-masse to a ballroom.
‘Good Game’ to all that attended. See you next year.
Where? Who knows? There are still a lot of cities with names that can be blended with the word LAN. AtLANta? SeaTTLAN? AmsterLAN? HollywoodLANd?
Or, we could just return to Florida for a fourth AtLANtica. Bungie is still making Halo games. Why should we diversify? One fact rings true: When something ain’t broken…