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Monday, February 20, 2006

The Answer to Your Multiplayer Problems

Well, if you're like me, you've spent an ungodly amount of time fighting with firewalls, routers, and network settings when trying to set up a simple multiplayer match. It's not an easy thing to do, and games usually don't make it easy. On more than one occasion I've had to give up entirely, simply because despite no matter what I tried I could not get the multiplayer component to work. Civilization III proved to be especially problematic in this regard. Having to spend six hours configuring a multiplayer game can really suck all the fun out of a multiplayer gaming session.

Well, the answer to our problems has arrived in the form of the VPN client Hamachi, which is quite literally one of the best things to happen since sliced bread. Whoever thought this program up should be given a medal. It creates a secure virtual LAN through both hardware and software firewalls with ease, and configuring it is a snap. It has worked with all of the games that I have tried it with, including SMAC, Civilization IV, and Master of Orion II, all of which were run while also simultaneously hosting a TeamSpeak server. I have yet to have a Hamachi-related problem. It's definitely worth a download, especially if--like me--you've been reduced to head-banging frustration by the configuration of multiplayer game sessions in the past.

5 comments:

  1. Interesting. Especially Master of Orion II. Have you tried the dos version (orion2.exe) or the win version (orion95.exe)?

    How many players? And what was your average lag between the turns?

    So far I prefer to use kali in combination with the new 1.4 dos patch. In 1v1s there is no significant lag at all.

    1.4/kali setup:
    http://masteroforion2.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_masteroforion2_archive.html

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  2. To get Hamachi to work with MoO II, you simply set up IPX protocol for the Hamachi network connection.
    We tried it using the Windows 95 version of MoO II, and there was no appreciable lag. For comparison, I've had it work with extended Civilization IV and SMAC games without any problems whatsoever.

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  3. "We tried it using the Windows 95 version of MoO II, and there was no appreciable lag."

    I doubt this a bit. Even in a real LAN the win version had a very poor performance (at least for all moo players I know). 1v1s might be acceptable for some players, but even there you have to wait several seconds between the turns or in combat. (In dos version a 1v1 needs far less than a second between the turns. Even intercontinental.) When you try a 4way there are further synchronization problems and it sums up to several minutes. Moo2 was developed in dos and they just made it compatible with win95 though the mp part never worked properly afaik. After TEN was closed we used kali for IPX simulation and the dos version worked often fine up to 6 players. In comparison I have never finished a winversion game with 3 players. Recently we have some problems, not sure if they are caused by XP sp2 or some other issue. Just 4ways and sometimes 5ways seem acceptable. So some players try to figure out the problems now and they are looking for alternatives. In the meanwhile LordBrazen tested a 1v1 (dos version) with hamachi. You can read the details here:

    http://lordbrazen.blogspot.com/2006/02/playing-moo2-over-internet-with.html

    It worked fine, like kali. Next step should be a test with 5-6 players. It seems hamachi should be the future.

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  4. Yes, you're right, there were several seconds of lag (1-3) between turns, which I think is pretty good for an older game over an IPX connection. The lag wasn't any slower than the single-player game; therefore, I'm not sure that the lag is a function of the network connection or protol, but might be caused by the game design as you suggested. We never noticed more lag than that, even in the later part of the game with most of the planets colonized in a large size map. But again, this was only 2 human players and 4 AI; further testing is necessary for larger multiplayer matches.

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