Pittco: Iron Storm 8

Posted on March 24, 2008
Author: Sean Potter
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5


The Pittsburgh LAN Coalition, Inc., or Pittco, was established in December of 2003 by a number of well-established, smaller Pittsburgh-area LAN parties looking to join their efforts to hold much larger LAN parties. TWo of the BIOSLEVEL's staffs' former groups, Anti-LAN and The Pittsburgh LANFest were absorbed in to Pittco.

Iron Storm 8, Pittco's 9th event, was held on March 15th and 16th of 2008, with approximately 170 gamers in attendance. From a staff member's point of view, this was Pittco's most successful event, despite some pre-LAN crises. More than $2,000 worth of prizes donated by sponsors such as Warrendale-based DVDEmpire.com, ATXPowerSupplies.com, Bawls Guarana, In Win, Razer, Red Bull, Thermaltake, and VisionTek were given as prizes for tournaments in games such as Counter-Strike: Source, Unreal Tournament 2004, Halo 3, Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, and Battlefield 2. For an entrance fee of only $25, the prizes seemed very much worth it.

Setup & Check-In

The staff arrived as early as 8:30AM on Saturday morning to begin setting up the event. The first thing done at setup are tables and chairs, followed by running power cables for the tables.

Pittco recently built three breaker boards, which are essentially breaker boxes and outlets mounting on a wooden board. These are subsequently attached to a 220v power tap, giving us much more power than what was available through the outlets in the room. These were built after the organization experienced many problems with the boards they received when renting diesel generators at past events.

Network cables and switches were deployed soon after power was finished. Set-up only took about three hours, but there is always fine-tuning that needs to be done. One of the last things done before allowing attendees to enter was powering on the dedicated servers for the event. Many of the staff bring their spare machines for use as both tournament and free play servers for the various games played at the event. Pittco also utilizes separate firewall and DNS machines to regulate internet bandwidth and network addresses. The switches are all layer 2 managed switches running a 10/100 speed, with a $25,000 gigabit switch at the core.

1:30 in the afternoon was our scheduled check-in time, when we'd begin allowing attendee check-in and entrance. As the clock neared 1:00PM, we realized that our check-in script was outdate. We used a simple PHP script and MySQL database to check people in before, which checked against pre-paid and unpaid registrants. We had switched from our old registration system to ALP, and had no way to check people in as we went along. Given that we only had about 25 minutes left, I wrote a brand new script in about 15 minutes that, as I'm told, was far better than the old one.

After this, check-in went smoothly. With ALP, those that pre-paid were able to select their seat from Pittco's website. We generated seating charts and nametags from these lists and placed the name cards at each seat so people wouldn't have an issue finding their seat. All attendees were also given bracelets after their checked-in, and were denied entry unless these bracelets were worn.

After about an hour and a half of check-in, there were 150 attendees checked in, with some stragglers trickling in over the next few hours.

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