This section covers playing hardwar online across the internet. For things specifically related to U3 or UIM, see Upgrade 3 and Upgrade IM sections. On this page:
6.1.1 How do I play online (client)?
Ensure you are using the most recent patch. The online game plays badly with versions before U2.02. You'll also need to have your client running the same version as the server - the server will probably be running the latest patch. Find an existing game - you will need an IP address for the server running the game. Try looking on http://hardwar.proboards.com/ to find games. You can also install Hardnet, which allows lobby chat and organising games (download http://www.hardwar.co.uk/hardnet_3b_inst.exe and patch http://www.hardwar.co.uk/hardnet_3b1_patch.exe ). From the Hardwar launcher, select Launch - Connect to a network game (client) - TCP/IP option for Internet play - enter the IP of the server you want to connect to - select one of the games running on the server (there will probably only be one). Hardwar will now load. Enter a pilot name (you may need to type slowly) and click Play. If you are connecting across a firewall, see How do I play online across a firewall/router? What TCP and UDP ports do I need to open/forward? below. For general online troubleshooting see Why can't I connect to an online game? below.
6.1.2 Does the online game have a plot?
Only the host's pilot can take a direct part in the plot in a network game. However certain key events, such as the Port blockage and gang trading of body parts will affect all pilots. These will affect the availability of items such as fusion cells.
6.1.3 Is there an online etiquette? Can I kill other players?
This varies from game to game. Often the host will announce certain rules, such as limited use of God Hangar, or no devastators. In short term or death match games player vs player combat is common. Players commonly use God Hangar to equip their moths. In long term games player vs player combat normally only occurs between consenting players. Killing newbies (players with no hangars, low financial reserves, and/or few registered kills) is unacceptable. Killing computer controlled taxis is unacceptable, because Killing too many taxis will result in a general slow-down of the economy, eventually forcing a new game to be started (although it is possible for the host to edit taxis back into the game - see Can taxis be recreated? below). Before logging off, park your moth in an infrequently used hangar with many spare bays. Logging on as another player's character is unacceptable, except perhaps to move a moth which is occupying a bay in an important hangar. For U3 beta 4 games, also see What should I _not_ do in a U3 beta 4 online game? below.
6.1.4 Why can't I buy any engines or pods when playing online?
Engines, pods, and some other items of equipment such as afterburners, are manufactured by Moth factories. They are only sold to the public by trading posts, which don't manufacture them. In long term popular online games it is common for these items to eventually run out. God Hangar may be used to restock the main game arena, although some items of equipment can never be restocked. Engine and pod shortages should be fixed by the introduction of Shears Yard in Upgrade 3.
6.1.5 Why am I not added to the Police's wanted list when I kill innocent pilots in an online game?
The feature has been suspended in U2.0x games, possibly to avoid a video being played when you pay a fine - the video might crash an online game.
6.1.6 I disconnected and now my character is dead. What should I do?
Start a new character. When you disconnect your ship keeps on doing whatever it was doing before. If you were in flight or in combat (and you probably were), it is likely that by the time you re-connect, your moth would have crashed and been destroyed. You need to adopt special tactics for long term online play. Your priority should be to buy a hangar, and then buy and install a clone, available from the clone farm. When you die, for whatever reason, your character is cloned. You lose your moth, cargo, and one clone. It is advisable to store spare moths and/or a large cash float to deal with online deaths.
6.1.7 How do I talk to other pilots?
Press the chat key ("C" by default). Type a pilot callsign at the "to" prompt and press return. Now type the one line message and press return again to send. To talk to all human pilots leave the "to" line blank. Note that in U3 and UIM, chat can be sent to a pilot called "System". Chat sent to this 'pilot' is interpreted as a terminal server command - see Terminal Commands and Scripting in the U3 section.
6.2 Technical Issues
6.2.1 Why can't I connect to an online game?
If you enter an IP address and no games appear, or the game crashes on startup try: (1) checking with the host that the game hasn't crashed or been taken down, (2) checking that you and/or your host have configured firewalls and routers to allow online play (see How do I play online across a firewall/router? What TCP and UDP ports do I need to open/forward? below), (3) pinging the host's IP address to check that the connection is reliable - use ping.exe and tracert.exe from the DOS/Command prompt, (4) running dxdiag (usually Drive:\Program Files\directx\setup\DxDiag) and checking the network tab for errors, or (5) starting a standard offline game to see if the same problems occurs offline.
6.2.2 How do I play online across a firewall/router? What TCP and UDP ports do I need to open/forward?
See the following Microsoft knowledge base article 'DirectX: Ports Required to Play on a Network, Q240429': http://support.microsoft.com/kb/240429 . U2.0x uses DirectX 7 settings. Jeff writes: "Hardwar UIM.06 ... still uses the DirectX 7 ports." The first Hardwar client normally uses TCP port 2300 and UDP port 2350, both incremented by 1 per subsequent client. TCP port 47624 is needed to start/join a game. Mun writes: "I've forwarded ports 2300 and 2350 on TCP and UDP, and port 47624 on TCP (so 5 ports)." There are some reports of Hardwar also needing UDP 6073 open (a DirectX 8 setting) - your mileage may vary. On Windows XP's firewall, Anidem writes: "I had to try to set-up a network game first. Windows Firewall was not recognizing Directplay from the joiner side. Once you start your own game you can list Directplay in the exemptions tab."
6.2.3 In an online game, when I buy and sell, the server crashes. What am I doing wrong?
You are probably clicking the buy/sell buttons too quickly. This can result in your moth becoming overstocked. When you sell the overstock the game seems to suffer a logic flaw and crashes the host game. I believe this is fixed in Upgrade IM.
6.2.4 The frame rate in online games seems very low. Online games seem to lag a lot. There are some small graphic corruptions. Is that normal?
In U2.02 and later, the frame rate in online games is clamped to 10 frames per second (compared to 27 frames per second in offline games). Online games also suffer lag. Lag is particularly bad when using 56K modems. Lag gets worse the more players are online. Other small graphics corruptions occur in online games, for example hangar names are blank and hangar doors are shown as part open unless you are close to them. Some of these issues were addressed by later Upgrade 3 versions.
6.2.5 When launching a dedicated server session I get an error message saying that the VFX COM class is not registered. What should I do?
This appears to be due to a bug in the installer, which turns force feedback on, even if you have no joystick. Change the controller to mouse in the standard game launcher. That will clear the greyed-out force feedback checkmark, which cannot otherwise be changed. Then change the controller option back to keyboard, close the Hardwar launcher and then start the dedicated server.
6.3.1 What are the technical requirements for hosting an online game?
The basic computer specification is similar to that for the standard game (see What are the minimum system requirements to run the game? above). The memory, sound and video requirements for a dedicated network server are lower (see What is the difference between a dedicated network server and a network game? below). Although a network game can be hosted using a 56K modem, the game is almost unplayable because of lag. Any broadband connection (256kbit/s or better) should be able to host a game effectively, although such hosts will not be able to accommodate the maximum of 16 players without problems. Faster connections and higher specification computers seem to be able to handle games for more players before experiencing game slowdowns. Jeff writes: "Each U2.04 client seemed to need about 30K upload bandwidth from the host for relatively little lag. With 128K upload bandwidth four players were good, five was like molasses, and six was like a slide show." IanMartin writes: "The upload (client to server) is generally a few bytes per frame. ... The download (server to client) I think could easily get to about 30Kbits per second, but with 16 clients, that should be well within the capacity of the kind of server it was designed for (1Mbps)." The Upgrade IM readme suggests allowing 64Kpbs per remote player. Note that only UIM allows the number of remote players to be capped - at between 3 and 16.
6.3.2 What is the difference between a dedicated network server and a network game? Can I connect to my own dedicated server game?
A network game is one that requires the host to keep a full version of Hardwar running throughout. The game is started or loaded as 'network game (server)'. To save the game the host saves their game as if playing offline. U2.02 or later allows a dedicated network server to be run. This runs Hardwar in a console window, auto-saving every 10 minutes. This mode does not render the game world, and only requires 4-5Mb of memory. There is no game specific requirement for video or sound. If the host wishes to join their own dedicated network server, use HardLuck (see What is HardLuck.exe and how do I use it? below) to allow multiple instances to be enabled in the Misc tab of the launcher. Start a second instance of Hardwar on the same machine, and connect to the first using address 127.0.0.1. Fragile Dog comments: "When connecting to your own game you have to set the terminal port [on the second instance of Hardwar] to 0 to disable it. It can still be open on the server." Note that each instance of Hardwar will consume additional system resources, so this approach may not be possible on an older machine.
6.3.3 What should I tell people connecting to my game?
The only thing they absolutely need to know is your IP address (see How do I tell what my IP address is? below). Since there is currently no standard version in use, it is important to state the version of the game you are running (commonly either U2.04, U3 beta 4, U3 beta 5, or Hardwar E 0.9...something). It is useful to state your approximate location in the world because servers on different continents normally have longer ping times, which may affect play. You should state the type of game you are running (for example, short term death match, long term, experimental) since this will affect who joins and how they play. Also announce any special rules or conditions, such as the use god hangar, or whether the plot is running. Other setup conditions such as moth hopping or blood money are less important, since they are regulated by the game's code and are fairly obvious to players.
6.3.4 I am hosting an online game, but I need to know my IP address to allow other people to play. How do I tell what my IP address is?
In Windows 9x run winipcfg.exe from the command prompt. In Windows 2000/XP run ipconfig.exe from the command prompt. Alternatively, if you are behind a firewall or using a router, try http://checkip.dyndns.org/ . Remember that your IP address may change each time you connect to your ISP.
6.3.5 How do I stop people using God Hangar to cheat in my online game?
The traditional method was to ask them not to. The alternative method is to download Solidox's Hardwar Hangar Editor (see Are there any editors or Software Development Kits for Hardwar? below) and use it to edit a savegame file so that God Hangar menus are disabled. Then load that save game as your online game. With Upgrade IM or certain U3 versions, God Hangar access can be turned off from the launcher's Network tab.
6.3.6 Nobody joined my game. Am I wasting my time?
Probably not. Even popular games can be empty for hours at a time. Host as often as possible, and as long as possible. If your server is available often and the connection is good, your game will become more popular. You'll rarely get more than about five players at a time because the game isn't that popular.
6.3.7 Can I automatically restart a dedicated server after it crashes?
Yes. Use PlaguedMind's utility, available here http://www.plaguedmind.dsl.pipex.com/ASROC4.zip or http://www.downloads.hardwar.info/ (this version should work with any version of Hardwar). PlaguedMind gives instructions for use: "(1) Extract ASROC.exe and KILL.exe into a directory. (2) Run ASROC.exe. (3) Enter the server type, OS, HW directory etc. (4) Click Start. The text box with hex values in it shows the current time in Hardwar and the tickbox next to it shows when ASROC is monitoring this value. [The utility works by checking the in-game clock - if the clock is frozen it assumes a crash has occurred, kills the original process and starts the server again.] Also if you want to change the timeout delay after you have started Hardwar you need to enter the new delay and push the reset button next to its textbox. ... The time delay is counted in milliseconds. So the 1000 default means it will update the time every second." If multiple instances of Hardwar are being created check that kill.exe is in the same directory, and consider increasing the timeout delay.
For those running UIM.06, see What is MSGC? in the UIM section.
6.3.8 Can taxis be recreated?
Taxis are used to transport AI pilots to moth factories. Without them, the overall volume of AI-controlled pilots will drop dramatically. In the original game dead taxis did not respawn. Misopians (see What is Misopians (Mis[Opian]s)? below) can be used to edit new taxis into the game. Flap writes: "Get any dead pilot (those in limbo). Choose a moth in a moth dealer. Have him to board that moth. Change that pilot home to a cab company. Change its occupation to a cab driver, and there you go. You've got a new cab driver."