Setting Up Multiplayer: A Comprehensive Guide

by Guest Writer Joe Keefe

 

“Three and Four, bracket high. Two, drag left with me.”
“Two.”
“Three.”
“Four.”
“Flight, you are weapons free at this time. Engage bandits.”
“Three, Fox One.”
“Four, Fox Three.”

“Good kills, flight. Let’s go back to the lobby and see who else is around.”

With a little dedication and commitment, flying multiplayer in a sim can be a very rewarding experience. But many simmers continue to stick to single player flight only, be it because of lack of interest, lack of time, or difficulty configuring their hardware for the proper connection. Hopefully this article will eliminate your hardware difficulties, taking you much closer to an enjoyable multiplayer experience.

Routers and Firewalls

A typical home network consists of a DSL or cable modem, a router, and one or more computers. Since the modem is usually provided by your ISP, the router is often the key component in your home network. The main function of a router is to take your single broadband Internet connection and distribute the bandwidth through wired (Cat-5) and wireless (wifi 802.11b and 802.11g) connections to all of your computers.

The Lynksys WRT54G. Image courtesy of Linksys.A typical and popular router is the Linksys WRT54G, a 4-port wired router that also supports 802.11b/g wireless connections.

Procedures for this router will be used as an example throughout the rest of the article. Other Linksys routers will have very similar or identical procedures. For non-Linksys routers, the general procedure will be the same but the specific steps will be slightly different. Remember, manuals are your friend; you should have a manual that came with your router, and PDF manuals are available from all major manufacturers’ web sites.

All modern routers include NAT, or Network Address Translation. Put simply, NAT takes the single external IP address provided by your ISP and assigns internal IP addresses to all of the computers on your network. In addition to sharing your single Internet connection, NAT provides a hardware firewall, because it prevents inbound traffic to any of the computers on your network unless a computer requests that traffic.

Windows XPFirewalls are of course a good thing, but they provide a hindrance to our online gaming. The inbound traffic that NAT firewalls prevent consists of information from other multiplayer participants — information that says “I’m here, and I want to connect to your computer.” In order to let that information pass through your router, you must configure port forwarding.

Another type of firewall is a software firewall Software firewalls, such asZone Labs Zone Alarm or what comes with Windows XP Service Pack 2, use the processing power of your CPU to block traffic. Although their means of functioning is very different than a hardware firewall with NAT, they provide the same capability to the end user.

Windows XP Firewall

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