Networking infrastructure for a LAN gaming setup?
March 17, 2010 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I would appreciate some input on what type of network topology to implement in a small-scale network of about 20 computers for multi-player gaming purposes. What kind of networking hardware would be required in such a situation - routers, servers, cabling etc. Last but not least, as far as network security is concerned - what are the key things one should look out for? Thanks to all that can contribute some ideas
posted by naskar to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are they located relative to each other? Are they all just in the same room?
posted by thoughtless at 7:31 AM on March 17, 2010

Are they all in the same room? If so, is there a reason using a 24-port switch and running a bunch of cat5 cable wouldn't work?
posted by jmd82 at 7:31 AM on March 17, 2010

I'm assuming a large room for a mini-LAN party.

For $300 you could buy a consumer-grade 24 port gigabit switch. You would need the one switch plus one cat6 or cat5e cable per computer. Everyone would have to have the same IP settings (say 10.10.10.x with subnet mask of configured manually.

There is no need for a router unless you want to connect to the internet. With a typical home router, like the common WRT54g, you'd plug one port of the switch into the router. Most common home routers like the have dhcp server to handle the addressing so it should just work.

As you'd be doing peer to peer, the only security would be hosted based so patch your systems and keep those firewalls running. I'd recommend no one be connected without current anti-virus.
posted by anti social order at 7:37 AM on March 17, 2010

is this a temporary or permanent installation? Will all the computers be in the same room as the network equipment? Will you need to provide internet access to these computers?
posted by xbonesgt at 7:37 AM on March 17, 2010

For reliable gigabit Ethernet speeds, use Cat6 or better yet, Cat6a cables. A router which can hand out DHCP addresses is good to have as one port on your central switch, to eliminate problems with client network configs; if you want to change network parameters or include some logon protocols, like an automatic virus scan, you can change your DHCP in one central place, and use a machine configured as a full fledged DHCP server, instead of a simple router with basic DHCP capabilities. If you want to provide a game server, chat, or other services, it's easy to do, once you've got your own DHCP/DNS servers running, and all clients logging in via your DHCP; just add the appropriate server processes, content, and alias the needed ports on your DNS, and everybody that plugs into your network will be automatically pointed to the right places, as soon as they boot.

If your central switch supports individual VLAN isolation per port, so much the better, insofar as security is concerned.
posted by paulsc at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2010

From your tags I'm guessing you want to set up a business, rather than have your friends over for a party.

If these machines are going to be accessible to the public, you have to give some thought to software maintenance: Customers are going to screw with your machines, either intentionally or by accident.

Luckily for you, since the machines are public you probably don't need to keep any of the data on them, so you can wipe them regularly and re-image from clean backups. It's a good idea for the privacy of your customers as well, since it will get rid of any malware that sneaks in, either through the network or from a customer.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:03 AM on March 17, 2010

  • 1 PC with no internet connection to use as a file server for the game machine PC disk image.
  • 20 PCs, reformatted every night with the PC disk image
  • Switches. A 24 port switch will do, but for wiring purposes you'll probably be better off with a series of smaller switches that can be placed per table.
  • One internet device -- DSL modem, Cable modem, whatever, preferably with some firewall capability.
  • Use the firewall to prevent any internet traffic to or from the file server and run a full bore virus checking system on it as well.
  • Reformat every single game PC every night.
Remember to set up your PC image to use DHCP for the internet address so you can use the same image on every box.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:19 AM on March 17, 2010

Thanks for all the replies so far! I forgot to mention that all the PCs would be in the same room, however the networking equipment will be in a separate room. I'm trying to plan this scenario out as best as I can, and thanks to all your contributions I've got a better idea of how to go about it.
As this network is built with multiplayer gaming in mind is there any one important peripheral I have to consider in order to ensure minimal latency? e.g. A gigabit ethernet switch (or something of the sort) etc.. ? Finally, is a server necessary in this case? I'd like to have one.
posted by naskar at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2010

You could swing for a larger switch with more manageability, ala cisco 3750 series, but it's not strictly necessary. A server would almost be a must for a business - DHCP and hosting dedicated game servers. Plus the ability to push an image down for security as listed above.

Note that some games require connection to the DRM servers, and if you're hosting WOW raids you will want a bigger internet pipe than just a basic DSL or cable line.

You may want to read up on some basic networking. Some of the Network+ training material would seem like a good fit.
posted by anti social order at 1:35 PM on March 17, 2010

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