A local area network means having a number of PCs connected so that they can communicate with each other. This could be a network in your office, or a network in your house. If you want to do this at home but haven’t networked your PCs yet, take a look at the home-networking guide to get started.
First you need to install the game on each PC that is going to participate in the game. Depending on the game, you either just need one copy of the game and it comes with an option to install the full version on one PC and a network player version on all the other PCs – with this setup you only need the game CD for the PC that has the full version installed and serves as a server – or you might need a copy of the game for each PC if the game requires the CD in the drive during gaming.
Starting a game
Once that is done, you need to set up the game. The best way to do this is pick the fastest PC to be the game server, because it has to do a little bit of extra work to be the server, and go to the main menu of the game. Each game has a slightly different menu, but the concept is the same. There will an option for multi-player, and within that category you have two basic choices: Start a network game or join a network game. Since you want to set up a game, choose Start a network game. You will be presented with several options, such as choosing a name for this game, how many player are allowed in the game, what level or map to play in, any time limits, etc. After making all your choices and clicking OK, this PC will start the game.
Joining the game
Now that the game is created, the other players start the game on their PC and go to the multi-player menu as well. They want to choose to join a game – the one that you just created. If they are properly connected to the network, they will see the game you created listed, and all they have to do is select it and click Join. This will connect them to your PC and put them into the same game. Now you can race or battle against each other to your hearts content.
This is pretty easy to set up and should work very well since you’re on a local network meaning the PCs are very close together and the game should be very smooth and fast with such little delay between the game server and the other players that it is unnoticeable.
Now let’s take a look at how this works over a much bigger network, the Internet.