TCP/IP Connects for On-Line Sims


Connecting to the Internet for multiplayer gaming purposes can be one of the most aggravating experiences in your life… warping; dropped connects, insane lags are just a few of the ugly things that pop up… Joystick configs; video card hassles, crummy Internet providers all compound the misery. The purpose of this document is to shed a bit of light on the rocks; and make it a bit easier to identify the problems and select a solution.


What kind of sims? Do I have what I need?

The scope of this article covers TCP/IP inclusive Sims like ATF Gold, USNF97, and Warbirds H2H. The TCP/IP connect routines are built into these sims and do not require a ‘third party’ server or a ‘DOS’ operating environment or a ‘network emulating’ program to fool the sim into thinking its being operated on a traditional cable type network. (e.g. Kali or Kahn) TCP/IP Multiplay capability is a brand new feature in off the shelf gaming, and we can look forward to lots more sims that feature this unique ability to host multiple players in real time on the Internet. Unfortunately, this is so new a concept, the documentation for connect specifics are scanty at best. In the past five weeks two new multiplay sims have been introduced, with many more waiting in the wings. Our prayers have been answered. <gg>


What The Games Want

The TCP/IP Multiplay environment is very demanding. Your game is looking for an uncorrected and uncompressed data flow, and your normal Windows95 Internet work/desktop environment normally prefers and defaults to the opposite. You are going to need to create a connect environment that supports the games need for unrestricted high speed two way data thruput. A high speed modem and a Pentium speed processor combined with a good Video card is a prerequisite for success in Multiplay. If yer drivin an old dog 486 with a 14.4 modem and a 1mb dram card; give it up now. <gg> Fast Pentium processors and quality video cards and modems are a mandate for acceptable Internet gameplay. Bring lotsa ram to the fray too… you’ll need all the hardware power you can muster to host a multiplayer session. The ‘Bleeding Edge’ is very hardware specific. <gg>


Configuring the Connection

With a Windows95 based operating system the modem configs can be a nightmare, particularly if you happen to be unlucky enough to have a Win95 PnP modem. What I’m gonna do is outline a method that has been proven to work with most modem types, and provides you with a way to refine or tailor your connect without messing with the settings that already work fine for you when cruising the Internet or running provider software such as CompuServe or AOL. What we’re going to do is generate a new ‘Dialup Networking’ connection that will be used to connect to the Internet for gameplay purposes.



  1. From ‘My Computer’, select ‘Dial Up Networking’.
  2. Click on ‘Make New Connection’
  3. Name it "Game Connect".
  4. Plug in your IP’s phone number in the box, click next, then ‘finish’
  5. Now edit your new connection, left click the new Dialup Icon, select ‘Properties’..
  6. Your current modem should already be highlighted, click on ‘Configure’.
  7. Select 115200 connect, DO NOT check ‘connect only at this speed’.
  8. Click on the ‘connection’ tab at the top, then ‘advanced’.
  9. Put a check next to ‘ use flow control’, select ‘Hardware (RTS/CTS). If ‘Use error control’ is checked uncheck it. This will also turn off the compress data selection.
  10. Take note of the ‘Extra Settings’ box; we may have to come back here; but leave it blank for now. Click on ‘OK’.
  11. Now click on the ‘Options’ tab. Only the ‘Display Modem Status’ option should be checked. Make it so.
  12. Click on ‘Server Type’ . Type of dialup server should already be PPP: Windows95,…" . Next, in the ‘advanced options’ box, check ‘Log On to Network’, then uncheck ‘enable software compression’ and ‘require encrypted password’. Finally, only "TCP/IP" should be checked in "allowed network protocols".
  13. Click on ‘TCP/IP Settings’. ‘Server assigned IP address’ should be checked, "Server assigned name server address’ should be checked, and ‘Use default gateway on remote network’ should be checked. Finally, uncheck "Use IP Header Compression’.
  14. Click ‘OK",OK’, OK.. The ruff stuff is done. Reboot the computer.


This cures about 90% of the connect difficulties experienced with most connects for TCP/IP play on the Internet. If after trying this setup; you still experience difficulties; read on… maybe one of these discussions will shed light on what you are experiencing, and point the way to your ‘cure’.


The ‘Handshake’ is King

Getting a good high speed ‘handshake’ (your ‘connected at’ speed when your modem connected to your IP) can be a heartbreaker… many modems; particularly PnP "Windows" modems can be extremely stubborn to convince that you want a FAST handshake speed. Getting a fast handshake (115200bps) is crucial to the quality of gameplay in NF97 and ATFGold. Sims with lower graphics workloads like Warbirds can tolerate (even improve in stability) a lower connect handshake. Most PnP modems normally default connect to your IP at 62K or less with compression and EC enabled; no matter what you did with your Windows 95 connection preferences. For these; you must perform a ‘lobotomy’… remember the ‘extra settings’ box? (step 10, Configuring the Modem) We can put an initialization string in here, tailored to your modem type to defeat it’s natural inclination to confound your efforts at getting a fast non corrected and non compressed two way data stream with the other computer. For some; just adding ‘&F2’ (without the quotes) is all that’s required. For others; ‘&F1&K0&M0’ (those are zero’s) do it. You can try some of these setups plugged into the ‘extra settings’ box that have worked on various modem types..


Alternate ‘extra settings’ strings:

There are others… if you are lucky enough to have a ‘Big Name’ brand modem, help can be had on their website for strings that work best with that particular brand of misery. <gg> For most; &F1 or &F2 or &F3 will load the modems default NON error correcting and NON compressing protocol stings. Check you modems manual for pointers…


Other Tricks

Still cant get the connect speed up? You can try selecting a different modem. Some PnP Windows modem types have a ‘proprietary’ lock on your comm port; and will not allow you to share the port with a different modem configuration or a second modem. If you are one of these poor souls; this won’t work at all. (sorry!! <gg>) For a huge number of others, switching modem types in the modem setup dialogue is all that’s required to kick the connect speed up to 115200. Here’s how to set up the preferred Optional Modem.


Adding a Second Modem Configuration

Go to the control panel and select modems.. click on ADD. Do not let windows auto detect; you will select the new modem from a list. Next; from the list; select the '28.8 Standard' modem, found under 'standard modem types'. Assign it to your normal comms port (if you have one of those nasty PnP Windows modems, you won’t see your normal comm port here) and click 'next' and 'finish'. Now; you'll go ahead and highlight the newly installed modem and click on properties, and set maximum speed to 115200. DO NOT put a check next to 'connect only at this speed'. Now click on the 'connection' tab at the top of the screen; and then click on 'advanced'. You'll note that there is no error control; and no data compression... and that flow control is set for 'Hardware; RTS/CTS'.. LEAVE IT THAT WAY!! Click out; 'OK, OK, Close.'


Now, go to Dial Up networking and select your game connect Icon, and select ‘properties’. In the window at the bottom select ‘connect with’ and select your 28.8 Standard modem. Betcha yer connect speed is 115200. <gg> If it ain’t, read on…


The IP Nightmare

Your provider is a crucial key to success with TCP/IP connects, and his connect to the net must be EXCELLENT. Gents; yer 19.95 generic provider can be just fine for cruisin the web… but just not cut the mustard for Internet multiplay. To make matters worse.. some ‘generic’ providers can have connect routines that override the user selected modem defaults or be of such poor quality that a non error corrected connect is impossible. Check your provider out carefully… does he have a T1 connect to the net? Are you trying to connect and play through a provider like Compuserve, AOL or Prodigy? If so; get another provider, or get used to being dropped; discoed; hung in the game, and messing up the play for anybody you try to connect with. Make sure your provider has a T3 Connect to the Internet. Anything less and you’ll never be happy with the gameplay.


Windows 95… arrrrrrrrgh!

Nothing can be more aggravating than those confounded continual "protocol errors’ message dialogue boxes. If yer even a little bit suspicious about what was a good connect attempt gone awry; reboot the machine. Many times I’ve made radical changes to connect protocols and simply could not connect…. And a simple reboot cleared it up. Often; for no apparent reason 95 does take a dump on the winsock or connect protocol with the modem and refuses to connect. REBOOT!


Follow-On Connects

Another cute trick is recognizing the modem spool up tones… often when a connect with one protocol is followed by a connect attempt with a new protocol will result in a lousy or failed connect… As an example; I connect to Cserve using a program based connect protocol which is entirely different than my Internet connect protocol. When I start a connect to the Internet after having used the Cserve connection; my modem starts up with the tones I recognize from the previous Cserve connection. I have to stop the connect, and restart it to get the correct Internet strings into the modem! Stay alert! <gg>


In Closing

Finding where the rocks were involved a lot of spills into the creek…. I’d like the to thank some of the many daring pilots that let me crash their machines while we probed the outer limits in connectivity So;. Bear, Thumper, Helspont, a’CID’man, Sabre, Shortfork and the many fans of USNF97 et al….




HANGTIME, B1, VMF-257, ‘WildBunch’

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