OK, so the idea has come up often: We've all got the interweb, and we're too lazy to come over to people's houses all the time, so there's no reason we can't have an "always connected" LAN. With most of us on broadband, and the rest being online practically all the time, we could be playing a lot of LAN-ish games without the hassle of lugging computers and laptops around, save for a few problems...
The nicest way to get our respective networks together without worrying about NAT is tunneling. The upside of tunneling is that we get a (possibly secure) tunnel between our private networks, and we can browse all the resources inside without worrying about opening ports in firewalls and things. It's also a lot more secure, considering the alternative is opening ports to the big bad internet.
The downside is difficult setup, no decent software, and routing. It's really the lack of decent software that makes the setup so hard, but even with something decent, you have to negotiate the NAT and fight against unhelpful switches and routers (at least, for me and Michael). Once that's all figured out, wacky routing tables might cause people hassles and otherwise make the whole system less than transparent.
There are two ways I can see of doing this. The first is to get everyone connecting through a central hub (let's say me or Michael). The problem with this is that every packet we send through this virtual LAN must then go through that hub. Want to send packets to tim? You have to route it through Michael. This not only increases lag to anyone who wants to connect to anywhere but the hub, but it also sends the ul/dl quotas of the hub through the roof. Since no one has "true" unlimited internet access, this way is probably a no-go.
The alternative is for everyone behind a NAT to have a subnet of their own (pretty much me and Michael), and put everyone else on another subnet. Then have individual tunnels to each person they want to connect to. This way would also involve everyone getting dyndns accounts (to work around dynamic IPs) and creating a whole bunch of tunnels every which way. This has even more of a setup, but if completed successfully, might be a happy solution to all our problems. Whenever you want to play a game you just ping whoever's runnign the server to see if you're good, then start playing.
However, even without a VPN we can still play on public servers (or even if Harpy's machine is the server, for example), so we might be OK without that, but we must surmount another big issue:
Between us, we run on all three major platforms: Windows, Linux, and some BSD variant. This kind of limits our choices to old games, or open source games, or old games that have been made open source like Quake or Doom. However, there aren't too many open source networked games that aren't fpses, and it might be a bit tough to get people to play those old things again. Perhaps if tim could download the mac edition of nwn and we could all play that...
However, even with games, we can't have a true LAN atmosphere without:
Using TeamSpeak would be a really easy solution for Harpreet. Just set up a server on Harpy's machine and we could all download the TS client. Nice, no hassles, and free (I think). However, TS is not a good telephony solution, and it'd be pretty good to use SIP (eg: something like FWD
). The good thing about using FWD is that as well as being standards compliant, it allows us to use whatever client we want, and use the system for free phonecalls as well as gaming chat. Unfortunately, unless you use the FWD client (windows only) I don't see any other clients that can do conferencing.
This would basically mean that we'd need at least one Windows user among us to conference everyone in. However, this is effectively the same problem as having a teamspeak server on someone's computer, but that server could be anywhere.
Then we could all be happy.