You've all probably played
Action Quake2 on the 'net, and come to realise what a
wonderful Quake2 mod it is. You've roamed around pranging
people in the head with your M5, launching them across the treetops
in jungle1 with your handcannon, or stabbed them in the head in the
tight confines of bxtrain.
Great as it is, there's
something missing... Internet play is fine, but there's lag
and, most of all, those hideously expensive phone calls.
The only real way to play
Action is on a LAN. Fast, furious, lagless. In this guide, I hope
to help you in the running of a networked game of Action Q2,
whether it be at home with a couple of mates, or a sneaky half hour
at lunch on the LAN at work.
I'll assume that if
you've got this far, you know a bit about Action itself - a
good read of TragedyTrousers' guide should more than
Of course, there's a few
goodies on a LAN server that you'll rarely see on the
Internet. You can turn on fancy effects such as bullet-holes and
shells flying out of your weapon when you fire - maybe even
breakable glass if you're running the right version of
You'll also be able to play
maps that you'll probably never play well online. Deepcanyon,
the master of lag for some people, is perfect on a LAN game.
Cliff2, another map that some people find too slow, absolutely
races on a LAN!
I don't claim to be
exhaustive in my coverage of every aspect of LAN servers, so if you
have any comments or corrections, please let me know.
||What you need to run a
||Connecting to the
||Administration on the
||Coping with multiple AQ2
||Setting up your own
Part 1 - Infrastructure required
If you're fortunate enough to
work in an organisation that already has a LAN, and they don't
mind you playing the odd game or two hundred at lunch or after
work, then you've no worries - assuming the network supports
the TCPIP protocol.
To check this, fire up the Windows
95 or NT4.0 control panel find your network properties and take a
look at the 'protocols' section. TCPIP should be in
there. If it's not, then you're out of luck - unless you
can persuade your company to install a new network!
I don"t have a LAN!
OK, so you don't have a LAN
at work, or you've got an office full of 486s - or maybe you
just don't have the free time. You can still enjoy the
pleasures of a LAN game. All you need is some basic hardware and at
least one friend who lives close enough to attach his computer to
I recall a guy I used to work
with, who had a friend with a leased line and a super-fast PC. Not
being one to miss out on this blistering connectivity, and not
hampered by the fact that his friend lived in another street, he
set about building a little network for him and his mate.
Let me make it clear, that neither
I nor the other staff at The Niche condone stringing network cables
along streetlights like this chap!
The technical ins and outs of
setting up your own network are covered in Appendix
Part 2 - What you need to run a server
Well, this depends how
well-endowed your network is in the PC department. The ideal
solution is to have a dedicated server which each player connects
to. Failing that, you can set up a server on your own computer as
well as playing on it.
Each PC (including any dedicated
servers) will need to have Quake2 installed and the basic Action
files installed (get 'em from The Niche downloads area).
You'll also need all the maps you're going to play
installed on all PCs - server included.
If you're going to be running
any of the new Action Mods (such as AQ:E or Fireteams), you'll
need to install those files on the server only, but more of that
Part 3 - Dedicated servers
This will offer you the best in
performance. A basic Pentium can run a fairly speedy Action Quake2
server - say, a Pentium 200. Expect to get up to 10-16 players on
these, but it may crawl a little on larger maps with that many
Better PCs obviously mean better
servers - I can quite successfully run two Action servers on a
single P2-450 with 128Mb RAM with a fair number of players on each.
A single server could support up to 32 players if it's a good
machine. It really just requires a little bit of experimentation to
find a sensible limit.
Starting a dedicated server is
easy-peasy. Create a windows shortcut on the PC in question, or a
batch file, if you're an oldie like me. In this shortcut or
batch file, you'll need something like the following:
+set game action +set dedicated 1 +set rcon_password
Obviously, you have to replace
'd:\quake2\quake2.exe' with the path and drive of
wherever you've installed Quake2. Now, this is a pretty basic
setup - you can put more in this command line, but that'll do
us for now. Running this will present you with an Olde Worlde
console-type window, and if all goes to plan you should see the
message 'Quake2 initialised'.
What's with the '+set
game action' etc. on that line? Well, we're basically
setting a few server variables direct from the command line.
Don't panic if the sound of server variable scares you, these
are just simple configuration values. In the example above:
- This tells Quake2 that this is
an Action Q2 game rather than an ordinary Q2 game
- Instructs Q2 to start up as a
dedicated server, without the actual Q2 playable game.
- This is a password that you can
use to access the server from within your Quake2 client.
There's loads more you can
put on this command line, but it can get confusing after a while.
When you start running proper servers, you'll probably want to
use a configuration file for the settings. We'll look at these
a little later.
The rcon_password is kind of
useful, especially if the PC you're actually playing on
isn't close to the server. You can use this to send commands
to the server without even leaving your seat. Using the above
example, you simply bring up the console when you're playing
<whatever commands we want to send>
rcon wibble map
Handy for lazy people like me, eh?
I like cliff2, by the way, in case you hadn't gathered by
Shutting down a server
To do this properly, simply send
the 'quit' command to the server console. Remember to
make sure the server's empty, or you'll upset a lot of
Part 4 - Client/Server
No, I'm not getting into a
lecture on databases and business computing solutions here, this is
simply hosting a server on the same PC that you play Quake2 on.
The odds are that you won't
be fortunate enough to have a dedicated server most of the time -
unless you can infect someone at work with a drawn-out, virulent
infection that'll keep them away from the office for a few
So, there's nothing else for
it, you have to run an Action server on the same PC that
you're playing on.
Now, there's obviously an
overhead to this - your computer will have to cope with the server
functions as well as all the processor thrashing that simply
playing Action inflicts on you. For this reason, it's wise to
select the player who has the most powerful PC to run the server.
I've lost count of the times I've connected up to a game
and found some poor sod with a P-266 is hosting the server with a
load of guys with P2-450s connected to it. Be sensible - it makes
it better for everyone.
It's best not to simply fire
up a dedicated server (as above), then start up Q2 as normal and
try to connect to the server on your own machine. When you have a
separate Q2 client and server on the one machine, they seem to
'fight' with each other. There may be no real technical
basis for this, but that's just what I've observed over
the past couple of years.
Because you'll be playing the
game and hosting the server, you'll want to restrict the
number of players to something a bit lower than a dedicated server.
My P2-450 can cope with 8 to 10 players comfortably, and maybe up
to 16 - it all depends on the map really.
To make life easier for you,
create a shortcut for launching your Quake2 in 'Action'
+set game action
This will save you from having to
change into 'Action' mode each time. Launch Action
Quake2, and go to the 'Multiplayer' menu and choose
'Start Network server'. Here you can name your server,
set timelimits and the maximum number of players. Choose
'begin' when you're ready.
Action Quake2 will start up as
normal (perhaps a little more slowly though, but it shouldn't
really be noticeable). Other players can then connect to your
server and you can get cracking with your trusty handcannon...
Just remember that you're a
server - it's all too easy to forget sometimes and simply quit
when there's still others playing. Not the way to make friends
with someone who was just about to pull off a spectacular kill!