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   Lan Guide

The Niche LAN Guide

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 suffice.

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 Action!

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.


Part Description Status
Part 1 Infrastructure required Available
Part 2 What you need to run a server Available
Part 3 Dedicted servers Available
Part 4 Client servers Available
Part 5 Configuring your server Available
Part 6 Connecting to the server Available
Part 7 Administration on the go Available
Part 8 Coping with multiple AQ2 mods Available
Appendix A Server variables Available
Appendix B Deathmatch flags Available
Appendix C Configuration examples Available
Appendix D Setting up your own LAN Under construction

Part 1 - Infrastructure required

Existing LAN

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 yours.

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 D.

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 anon.

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 players.

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:

   d:\quake2\quake2.exe +set game action +set dedicated 1 +set rcon_password "wibble"

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:

   +set game action

- This tells Quake2 that this is an Action Q2 game rather than an ordinary Q2 game

   +set dedicated 1

- Instructs Q2 to start up as a dedicated server, without the actual Q2 playable game.

   +set rcon_password "wibble"

- 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 and type:

   rcon wibble <whatever commands we want to send>


   rcon wibble map cliff2

Handy for lazy people like me, eh? I like cliff2, by the way, in case you hadn't gathered by now...

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 people!

   rcon wibble quit

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 months.

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' mode:

   d:\quake2\quake2.exe +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!

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