LIFE ON TITAN
The first thing you need to consider when hosting an online game is what version of Hardwar you wish to host. Only the newest U2.03 upgrade offers the "Dedicated Server" option which makes managing a contiual world possible. Some people, like myself, don't have computers powerful enough to run Hardwar's patched versions, but most players do.
After you decide on a version and whether or not you want to run a dedicated server or just a quick, unsaved online game, just follow the instructions below. Make sure to post your IP address on the bulletin board. The only real difference between running a regular and dedicated game is which radio button you select when the game starts up.
There's really not too much to hosting an online game. Most of the technical functions are done automatically by Windows DirectPlay drivers and HardWar itself. The Host of a game is extremely important because he's making the world that others will play in. You will be selecting all of the options of the game. You will also have to post your game information as described below. These instructions center primarily around Hosts connecting with an ISP like Prodigy, Worldnet, Earthlink, etc.
IP Addresses and Game Times.
These are the two biggest factors for hosts and players. An IP address is the unique Internet address of your computer when you are connected to the Internet. It is a series of four numbers separated by 'dots' (example: 22.214.171.124). The problem with IP addresses is that, if you use an Internet Service Provider, your IP address changes every time you log on to the service.
To find out what your current IP address is just go online and then run WINIPCFG.EXE from your main Windows directory. The program will present a lot of connection information, but we're only interested in your IP address.
I use a simple piece of freeware called IP Assisstant to find my IP address. You can get a copy of this or similiar freeware at most download sites.
The problem with declaring a time for a game is that your fellow gamers will live in different time zones around the world. It can get confusing calculating the differences between time zones.
To solve IP and time problems I suggest using the bulletin board on this site. A host would post a message saying he is currently hosting a game and giving his current IP in the message. Players can read these messages and write down the IP to join his game. Detailed instructions are below and there are plenty of expamples on the bulletin board .
Another problem that crops up for hosts is that your ISP may close your connection, without notice, if there isn't any online activity for a certain period of time. It might be some time before another pilot shows up so you need to keep your connection alive with some sort of pinger or faker. I use and prefer the shareware Alive and Kicking.
Alive and Kicking is sponsored by advertising which you can remove by registering the software. It's very lightweight as far as RAM is concerned and I've had no problem at all with it. It's about a 2MB download. Once installed you just need to run it and maybe minimize it to the system tray. It auto-detects your online connection and starts mimicking online activity so your ISP won't cut you off. Alive and Kicking and similiar software can be downloaded from several download sites.
Hosting an online game means that you must set up the 'Network' options of the game and post your IP address where others can see it: like my bulletin board. It's also a good idea to mention what options you have enabled and whether or not you want players to use the God Hangar. Each individual player can activate God Hangar according to his game configuration.
Step 1 -- Begin by reviewing and setting up options. Now you may want to check and make sure your HardWar game is running okay on your machine. If it's running jerky on your side, it's going to be a nightmare for pilots that join you. Once your satisfied, exit HardWar.
Step 2 -- Go online. Shut down any unnecessary background programs. (I accidently closed my joystick drivers once. That's going a little too far, but it was exciting.) Run WINIPCFG.EXE from your main Windows directory or IP Assisstant to discover your IP address. Write it down.
Step 3 -- Open your browser and come to my site. Go to the bulletin board and post a message with 'ONLINE GAME NOW' as the subject. I prefer it if hosts use all caps in the subject to make games easier to find. General messages should use a mix of lower and upper case letters. Put your IP address and the game options you've selected in the message's body so potential players can see what they're getting into.
Step 4 -- Close your browser and launch your pinger and then launch HardWar. Click the 'Launch' button. Now select 'Host a network game (server)'. Enter a name for the game on the next screen. This name will appear in the joiner's "join" box when he's looking for your game.
Step 5 -- Go through any front screens until you get a box asking you for the type of connection you are using. Select the TCP/IP option for Internet play.
Step 6 -- Let the game load as usual, enter your pilot name and click the 'Join' button to join your own game. Now you can start playing. When another player arrives, you will get a message notifying you in the game if you've got that option turned on. When a new pilot arrives it's nice to message him using the chat function ("c" key).
Step 7 -- VERY IMPORTANT ! When you are finished playing, open your browser and return to my bulletin board and reply to your original letter. In the reply's subject enter 'Game Over'. Now pilots surfing the bulletin board for a game will know that you are no longer playing. Please help me keep the bulletin board up to date in this area.
Write me an e-mail and tell me how things went. Who killed who and all that. I'm going to start posting the results from exciting games.
Don't be discouraged if you don't get a good response to your game or connectins are bad. Keep hosting whenever you can and eventually you'll have some games worth remembering.