Networking and games under XP? What's painless?

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Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Denny on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 03:35 pm:

Okay, due to the number of bloody crashes Iíve had while trying to get work done on my ďproductionĒ PC in recent weeks, and the fact that my notebook running XP has crashed exactly twice (one lockup, one W2K driver it REALLY didnít like) in about six weeks, Iím going to upgrade my main computer to XP as soon as I get a free afternoon. (That is, wipe and install fresh.)

While Iím doing this, I figured now would be a good time to consider updating how I have my home network set up. Currently Iím using Sygate for sharing. Works very wellÖ The only glitch Iíve had is not being able to run audio/video from Netmeeting on client PCs.

However, Iím considering going for a router (such as the LinkSys BEFW11S4 Access Point/Cable Router/4-port switch), both for extra security and so Dawn can use her PC on the net without having to power mine up first. The other alternatives are to stick with Sygate, or to use Windows XPís built-in sharing.

Iíd like a solution that works pretty transparently with games and NetMeeting on client PCs. Iíd love to hear what solutions you guys are using for networking, and how well they work for gaming. (Do *any* allow multiple players to play online simultaneously over a single cable modem connection, or will NAT just not allow that since both clients look to be coming from the same IP?)

My current setup: Main desktop with Ethernet connection to cable modem, 802.11b card hosting file/Internet sharing in peer-to-peer mode, running Windows Me; Client desktop with 802.11b card, running Windows Me; Client laptop, 802.11b card, running XP Pro.

The future setup will stay the same (I'm leaving Win Me on Dawn's PC for playing older games), except I'll have XP on the host machine, and I may change from the 802.11b card to a Router/AP.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Denny on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 04:37 pm:

Ah, I love it when people answer their own online questions...

It sounds like ICS might be the way to go with an XP and Me setup, given that DX8's DirectPlay has some hooks to allow online play with ICS sharing.

I assume XP and Me's ICS will talk to each other?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Gordon Berg on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 05:39 pm:

So if you go with ICS, this means Dawn will need both machines up and running, right?

Most hardcore gamer's that have fast access use a dedicated router that can serve out some IP's via DHCP. They're not that expensive and the Linksys is a popular choice. I just got back from my friend's LAN party in California and he has cable modem access. The three computers he owns sit behind a UMax router that serves out up to 50 DHCP addresses. Everyone who showed up with their machines had no problem playing games either locally or out via the net (we had 15 people/computers show up -- had some pretty wild AVP2 matches ). In the past, he's often had LAN parties that were nothing but dedicated MMORPG sessions, with everyone connecting out to Asheron's Call at the same time (now the favorite is DAOC obviously). But some games have been known to get a little finicky when more than two PC's go out over the same line -- I've seen it happen with Unreal Tournament in some cases.

Anyway, all your boxes sit behind the same firewall and do whatever LAN stuff you want, etc, and NAT won't be an issue. Screw using ICS, let a dedicated router do that for you.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 11:50 pm:

I hear very good things about the latest batch of routers from Linksys et al. Don't have to keep systems powered up (duh), many have simple built-in firewalls, and they've got easy control for opening up the ports you need for gaming.

I don't have any personal experience with it, having only one machine, but if it were me, I'd go with the router.

Especially since some of them offer 802.11 expandability, or at the worst, you can get an 802.11 hub and plug it into another port on the router.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 12:08 am:

Well, I have precious little experience with multiple PC online for multiplayer gaming at the same time, but we have a router hooked up with cable modem access, and consistently have four computers here gaming. No problems, though, like I said, we don't do online stuff much. The modem I have, while very nice, takes a little more IP configuration than most do, so we can't just plug the computer in and go, but some routers are much more straightforward.

I'd go for the router any day of the week, personally.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 09:46 am:

Screw any type of software solution and get an SMC Barricade cable/dsl router or whatever the Linksys flavor of the month is. They are so easy to setup and you get a hardware firewall in the process. Also, I know that with the SMC you can attach a modem to it if your cable or dsl goes out. I have tried this and it does work. It is slow but then again it is using a modem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Desslock on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 12:51 pm:

>I assume XP and Me's ICS will talk to each other?

Yes, poorly, however. It also won't solve your problem of not wanting to have the main system turned on when you use the internet on the other system. If you've got high speed access and you want to use ICS, you'll also need two ethernet cards in each computer, which will slow them down (which you can avoid by designating IP addresses for you LAN).

I went through the exact same decision-making process -- messed around with ICS and found it didn't work particularly well on the second system, perhaps because they were on different O/Ss (ME and 98SE, in my case). So instead, I bought a Linksys rounter and now I couldn't recommend it higher -- it works amazingly well and has the additional benefits you mentioned.

Stefan


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Desslock on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 12:54 pm:

>I bought a Linksys rounter

Uh, you know what I mean.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 07:21 pm:

The software solution seems appealing, but in practice it doesn't work out. The hardware is so cheap and feature-rich, it just doesn't make sense to cut corners on this.

I recommend the Linksys BEFSR41:

http://shopper.cnet.com/shopping/resellers/0-11643-311-1516994.html


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Denny on Sunday, November 4, 2001 - 05:16 pm:

Hmm... Well, you guys make some good points. Sounds like the router route won't cause much problem for games.

Now to decide between SMC and Linksys... Looks like Linksys has more gripes online, but that could very well just be due to the fact that it's the model that's available at retail shops like Best Buy.

I'll probably go one that integrates the 802.11 functionality as well. I'm running out of power sockets in my office (one problem Bluetooth isn't going to address)--integration is good. :)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Jim Frazer on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 02:57 pm:

I took the easy way out and bought a 5 port hub. Cable into hub, hub to the network cards, and viola. I'm paying $6 a month extra to my cable provider for the extra IP address, but I figure what the hell. It allows both me and Colleen (my fiance) to play online at the same time without any problems.

I've had a lot of problems playing games behind firewalls, so I shot down the firewall/router solution a while back. I know most online games now-a-days have that problem licked, but I just got to the point where it wasn't worth it anymore.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 04:52 pm:

I used to have a setup like that but then I had to make sure each pc was secure to the net by putting ZoneAlarm on all of them. Gets to be a hassle with so many machines. With a hardware solution it is easier and more secure. I can even swap connections with a quick switch of the router setup. Cable to DSL in 5 minutes no reboots.

Also, from what I have seen the only game that had problems with NAT was Asheron's Call beta and that was only when 2 people tried to play at once. Literally everything else worked great.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Denny on Monday, November 5, 2001 - 11:25 pm:

Okay, ordered the LinkSys router. Has built-in 802.11b, 4 ports... Looks nice.

However, it looks like to use Netmeeting (or any h323 videoconferencing app), you have to put that PC in the DMZ.

Now, doesn't that put the PC outside of the firewall? Kinda obviating half of the advantage of having the router?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 10:51 am:

I would guess that on most routers you can switch your machine in and out of the DMZ relatively easily. The SMC is a simple checkbox with no router reboot required.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message  By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:15 pm:

Some protocols are very poorly designed for NAT-- they require too many incoming connections, and sometimes on completely random ports.

Luckily there are only a few like this.


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