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Most of these tips apply to both game server and game player (client) problems unless otherwise indicated.  Let us know if you have a tip that we haven't covered, or if you find a mistake!

Tip #1: Get a real IP 
Might as well just get this out of the way...

If you want a trouble-free gaming experience (and especially a trouble-free game *serving* experience) then you may need to bite the bullet and buy another IP address from your ISP.

This frees you from all the NAT routing based problems and connects your game machine directly to your ISPs network, just like before you installed your router.

Tip #2: Try DMZ
Most routers have either a "DMZ" or "default server" function that places ONE client outside the NAT firewall.  Try it if you're having problems hosting a game server.  This probably won't be much help on the Linksys routers, which have problems with their DMZ implementation.

Tip #3: Tweak your TCP/IP settings 
This is a bit of a double-edged sword.  In some cases, messing with the various TCP/IP parameters can actually slow down your cable-modem or DSL connection.  But users have also reported that they're key to solving some game serving problems.  You'll have to judge for yourself. 

The best source for speed related Registry tweaks can be found over at  They've also got a good definitions page that will tell you what these terms mean!  DSLreports also has their Tweak Tester II, which checks your connection first, to see if tweaking will help!

Tip #4: Half-Life - Multiple Players 

How to set up HalfLife for multiple users behind a NAT firewall (The following info was contributed by Gene Montgomery)

I figured out a fix for multiple computers connecting to the same server. The default client port for Half-Life is 27005, so for the extra computers on your LAN, add "+clientport 2700x" to the HL shortcut command line; the x would be 6, 7, 8, and on up. This lets multiple computers connect to the same server. 
NOTE: Reader Chris Norehad says that the above is unnecessary with version 1.30 and higher firmware. This has not been confirmed.

One problem: version won't let multiple computers with the same CD key connect at the same time, even if on the same LAN (not a problem with

As far as hosting games, the HL server does not need to be in the DMZ. Just forward port 27015 to the local IP of the server computer. I still have the problem of people getting booted after a few minutes with "illegible server message."

Tip #5: Kingpin/Quake2 - Multiple Players 

How to set up Kingpin for multiple users behind a NAT firewall
(The following info was contributed by Jeff Swiatowy)
I have found that adding the line "set clientport xxxxxx" in the autoexec.cfg file in the game directory will allow multiple players. 
In Kingpin the default port is 31501. So for every machine on your LAN you need to add "set clientport 3150x"; "x" being 1 for the first machine, then "x" being 2 for the second machine, etc.

Tip #6: Quake3- Multiple players

How to set up Quake III for multiple users behind a NAT firewall (Thanks to Russell Haupert!)

Typically, many Quake III users have been reporting that Quake III is unable to support multiple player connections from behind a NAT. While the first player behind the NAT joins fine, adding additional players is problematic in the default configuration. Symptoms include rejected challenges, dropped delta packets, and severe "connection interrupted" messages. 

By default, Quake III clients send and receive data over the same port, causing the server to treat multiple clients as a single data connection. Quake III does have the ability to specify individual client ports for communication by adding a command line switch.  Follow the procedure below to add this switch.

  1. Right click on the QIII icon 

2. Choose "Properties" 

3. In the Target field you'll see a line like "C:\Program Files\Quake III Arena\quake3.exe

4. Add the Quake III net_port command to specify a unique communication port for each system. The complete field should look like this: "C:\Program Files\Quake III Arena\quake3.exe" +set net_port 27660 

5. Click OK. 

6. Repeat for each system behind the NAT, adding one to the net_port selected (27660,27661,27662)

Updated 3/14/01
Tip #7: Death by server ping [Gamespy, Unreal Tournament & others]
The first thing that some games do is launch a massive set of pings to find other servers to play with.  Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with this:

  • If a number of pings are launched at the same network, that network's border firewall could shut down any further traffic from the IP address (or network) sending the pings.  This usually doesn't break your router, but could cause you to not be able to connect to some of your gaming buddies, at least temporarily

  • Routers can only support so many simultaneous connections at once.  If your router locks up or loses its WAN connection when your software goes into its "server search" mode, then you probably are running into the router's connection limit.  

There's not much you can do about the first problem, since you have no control over your ISP's network.  But the second problem has some solutions:

1) See if you can reduce the number of servers that are searched for at one time.
In some cases, this can be done by highlighting a block of 50 to 100 servers at a time.

2) Try DMZ
(Thanks to SMC for this tip!)
If your router supports "DMZ" or "Exposed server" or whatever they call the feature that lets you put one computer outside the firewall, put the game machine in DMZ first, then let it run its server update.  Then take it out of DMZ.

3) Use Gamespy's "Refresh up to XX servers simultaneously" feature
[Thanks to Todd "Tungsten" Northcutt of GameSpy and James Howard for this tip!]
The number of servers pinged at any given moment is a variable that the user can set. Both GameSpy 3D and GameSpy Arcade allow the user to select their connection type during the installation process - this determines how many servers our software will query simultaneously. 

Here are the values we recommended, based on connection types: 
33.6 k or slower = 5 - 14
56k/64k ISDN = 15 - 19
128k ISDN = 20 - 34
DSL/Cable = 35 - 45
T1 = 46 - 65
T3 or higher = 66 - 80

80 is the maximum number of servers GameSpy will query simultaneously. (GameSpy 3D will only query up to 64 servers at any given time.) The number refreshed can be changed in both programs by the user.

GameSpy 3D: Tools > Options > "Refresh up to XX servers simultaneously"

GameSpy Arcade: File > Options > Network (use the slider)

4) Use a different server browser than Gamespy
[Thnx to Dave Hopper for this info!]
"Another solution is to use a different game server browsing program like Ping Tool. The problem with Ping Tool is that you may not like the way it works or it may not support the game you playing online, however it never locks up the connection
[Ed. Note: As of September 30, 2001, Ping Tool has been discontinued. We'll try to list a new apprpriate tool here when we find one.]

You can also use the built in game server browsers inside of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament as they work and don't lock up the connection either."

5) Try direct connection
It's a pain to do, but you may need to connect the computer directly to the cable modem for the update.

6) Buy another router with a higher limit.
Check the Hardware Router chart and get a product with the highest number that you can find if your favorite game does the server update thing.

Tip #8: Know your WAN IP address
Some on-line games require you to give them your "Host IP address".  This is the IP address that your ISP assigns to you.  A simple and reliable way to get this information is to use TZO's MyWanIP utility, which you can get via our Tools page.

If you're using a Linksys or SMC Barricade router, you can get your WAN IP sent to you via email.  Go here for the info and download!


Tip #9: DirectX/DirectPlay games
Microsoft games are among the most difficult to play behind a NAT router due to the large number of ports they require to be opened.  Microsoft heard your pain, however, and has provided a way for multiple gamers to play behind a NAT router.

The catch is that you must use two Microsoft products to take advantage of this magic:

  • DirectPlay 8
    This is part of the free DirectX8 package that you can download from the Microsoft DirectX Web site.

  • Windows Me Internet Connection Sharing

When you use these two products together, the game is able to communicate with WinMe's ICS (via DirectPlay8) and automatically ask for and receive the ports it needs to support the game.  This happens not just for one player, but for any number of players behind the WinME ICS NAT router.

This capability has also been included in the upcoming Windows "Whistler" release, but is not included in Win2000 or Win98SE's Internet Connection Sharing feature.

Note that you must use both DirectPlay8 and WinMe's ICS.  This feature does not work by just using DirectX8.

If you want some of the technical details on how this is done, try this Microsoft article on NAT or this article on the DirectPlay8 changes. Earthweb HardwareCentral earthwebdeveloper CrossNodes Datamation

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