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Thread: Reference Ports, savegames, metaserver, chat and other resources

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    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Reference Ports, savegames, metaserver, chat and other resources


    A warning this forum's multiplayer section can be read by anyone, however you must be a registered owner of "Europa Universalis III" in order to post. To register please click the My Games link at the top of this page. Locate your game's serial key, which was provided by your digital vendor, or written on your game's manual, and write it down in the space provided. All there is left to do is to click on "register". You will notice a small "morion", under your avatar, matching the game's edition or expansion. You will then be able to post in this forum. For assistance with registering your game you are welcome to either send a private message to the forum staff, or post in the forum's Help Section.


    ***


    Ports to open:

    1630 to 1640 UDP, TCP

    Latest checksums:

    "Napoleon's Ambition" 2.2 SPEF
    "In Nomine" 3.2 NCFK
    "Heir to the Throne" 4.1b BXPG
    "Divine Wind" 5.1 BJLT
    "Divine Wind" 5.2 QMXZ

    Mumble Server:

    Address: mumble-de.cleanvoice.ru
    Port: 62508

    Players roll call:

    Editable spreadsheet link

    Metaserver Status:

    Up

    ***



    Table of Contents


    Requirements

    Network and Hardware
    Checksum

    Joining a Game

    The Metaserver
    Direct Connections

    Hosting a Game

    Hardware Configuration
    Software Configuration

    Campaigns Organisation

    Forum Campaigns
    Players List and Substitutes Requests

    Practical Considerations

    Text Chat
    Voice Chat
    General Practices

    Problems

    Synchronisation Errors
    Cheating



    Last edited by silktrader; 15-08-2013 at 18:29. Reason: Formatting

  2. #2
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Requirements

    To challenge friends online, two basic requirements are necessary: (a) as many licences as there are players, and (b) an Internet or local network connection.

    Network and Hardware

    Multiplayer games can be played on local networks and on the Internet. Every game requires one host, who may also play. All other players are required to connect to him. There are two ways to do so: either a) using Paradox matchmaking server, dubbed the "metaserver" or b) connecting directly to the host's IP address, which needs to be communicated to players.

    Besides having an functional Internet or local connection, there aren't additional requirements for normal users. Hosts, on the other hand, have to properly set up the environment in order to welcome players.

    Windows, Mac OS X and Linux users can play together, provided their checksum is the same. The next paragraph introduces what checksums are.

    Checksum

    Four letters summarise the game's version. These letters are visible in the bottom left corner of the first screen, once the opening menu becomes visible. Players need to feature the same checksum as their host to join games. Patches, beta or otherwise, are generally referred to by their unique checksum, rather than the date of release.

    Checksums change every time a game is started and one resigns, in singleplayer as in multiplayer. There should be a one letter difference between a "fresh" run and an old one. This is so to ensure that all multiplayer games are started anew, minimising synchronisation issues — it's therefore necessary to quit and restart the program, if you were previously playing. As with most Windows applications it's possible to promptly close the application by pressing the "ALT + F4" combination.

    Several folders aren't included within checksum calculations: download, interface, gfx, mod, music, sound, tutorial, localisation, logs and mod. You can freely change those to customise your experience. All the other folders and their contents determine the game's checksum. It goes without saying but, while altering the "mod" directory by installing modifications won't alter the checksum, loading a mod will.

    The first post describes the latest checksums in use.
    Last edited by silktrader; 16-08-2013 at 12:30.

  3. #3
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Joining a Game

    There are two ways to join a game, provided it hasn't already started: (a) connect to the host's IP address, or (b) use the matchmaking server.

    The Metaserver
    The EU3 metaserver has been taken down, as have all metaservers. As described below, Direct Connection still works just fine.

    Paradox's warm and welcoming matchmaking server is labelled the metaserver. Players gather there to discuss, organise and ultimately start their multiplayer campaigns. The metaserver's functions are similar to those of chat servers: channels can be created and people's conversations are visible to all participants.

    To access the metaserver's comfortable lounge and cold drinks, players are required to register the game and its every expansion, including the latest. Previous expansions aren't sufficient to be admitted. You are reminded that games can be registered in the appropriate section, by selecting "My Games", on the forum and entering the serial key you were provided at the time of your purchase this is a direct link.

    The option to log in the metaserver will show once the game is started and players have selected "Multiplayer", then "Metaserver", in the main menu. The metaserver's login and password are identical to the ones used to access the forum, and they are case sensitive. The first time, you may have to go to the My Games page and click on the "Reset Password" button underneath the game's poster.

    Whenever you are certain the metaserver ceases to welcome players and doesn't look to be up and working, you're invited to send me a message or log a ticket at Paradox ZenDesk.

    A last but important word of caution connecting to IP addresses is as effective as using the metaserver and often more practical. The next section describes how.


    Direct Connections

    The option to connect via IP addresses is available after selecting the "Multiplayer" entry in the main menu, then "Direct IP". Once the host has started the game, players may enter by writing the former's IP in the provided box. This is what such an address would look like: 64.233.191.255. It goes without saying but the hosting player must communicate his address to his peers.

    For privacy reasons, should people undertake these conversations in the forum, they're advised to erase their IP address from their posts once the notice has served its purpose.
    Last edited by AndrewT; 25-12-2013 at 00:10.

  4. #4
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Hosting a Game


    Hardware Configuration

    One hosting player is required for all to play. To serve as a one, the host needs to allow incoming and outgoing traffic on the following range: 1630 to 1640, both TCP and UDP. A more detailed breakdown would be:

    1638 UDP Lobby, metaserver
    1633 UDP Game
    1634 TCP Savegame transfer

    These ports need to be open, which in most cases requires the host to forward this range in his router. This article won't describe how to forward ports: there's a surprising variety among available equipment. A satisfactory guide on how to properly configure routers to forward the ports above can be found at this address.

    Ports are generally forwarded to static IP addresses. You need to be certain that your computer is always assigned the same IP by the router, via DHCP or manually. Alternatively, you will have to repeat the router's configuration every time your hosting computer's IP changes.

    The heinous "game not found" message is common with improperly configured routers.

    Good attributes for a hosting computer are:
    • A close geographical location in relation to all other players, which minimises latency issues, or what is scornfully called "lag" and measured by ping responses. Generally, the closer the host is to the rest of the players, the shorter Internet routes are.

    • A stable internet connection. Very high bandwidth is by no means required: ADSL2 or ADSL2+, which are nowadays the most common means to access the Internet, are perfectly suitable. Dial ups on the other hand will not allow one to play without having to put up with upsetting delays.

    • A capable processor and abundant memory.

    Software Configuration


    Concurrent downloads, streaming or other bandwidth intensive activities should be limited during the game.

    In addition to the points above, the host must configure any firewall (such as "ZoneAlarm", "IPTables", "Windows" own firewall, etc.) and Internet security suites ( "Norton", "Kasperky", "McAfee", etc.) so to allow incoming traffic on the specified port range. Generally and most likely, you will only need to configure your router.

    There are various online tools that allow one to verify whether ports were properly open. Unfortunately, due to security measures in most routers and the fact that Europa Universalis relies on UDP (stateless), these tools aren't reliable.

    It is possible, though it shouldn't be a starting assumption, that you may be behind what is generally called a "private network" featuring a restrictive NAT, or even a tyrannical ISP which doesn't allow traffic through certain port ranges. College and university networks might not allow traffic on the required ports, as may some fibre optics internet providers relying on "residential gateways". If this is the case a virtual private network (Hamachi, Tunngle, OpenVPN, etc.) may be set up.


  5. #5
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Forum Campaigns


    Campaigns Organisation

    Given the nature of Paradox games most online games last for weeks, are played for a few consecutive hours each session and occasionally require a bit of organisation. Our consuetude is play for four hours and once a week but the frequency is obviously entirely in players hands. This forum is a useful platform to coordinate people's schedules and gather their conversations.

    It is customary to title each long lasting multiplayer campaign with a unique name. The first post is expected to inform about the starting day and time, and contain an up to date list of schedules, players and rules. Maps, witty comments and reports are a welcome addition to any multiplayer game.

    To facilitate organisation and the search for new players every campaign's thread title follows a standard format:

    "Campaign Name" — Day Played, Start Hour with Timezone

    A quick glance at the first page of this forum section provides an overview of current campaigns, when they are played and which geographical group they cater to. The ones that are about to start generally feature few posts, thus few pages and occasionally bear the temporary tag *starting*.

    A list of ongoing campaigns can otherwise be found at this address. The spreadsheet can be edited by anyone following the link. The tables can also be viewed in this practical fashion. Those who add or alter information are asked to do so in an orderly and accurate way. There are fields for starting times, required checksums, save games and other details, including the need for substitutes.


    Players List and Substitutes Requests

    You may occasionally read *need perm* or *need sub* tags, which indicate the desire for new players. You are welcome to signal these needs by sending a private message to moderators. Please, avoid starting new threads inviting substitutes or new players.

    There is an available list of players who desire to be contacted, should new campaigns be started: it can be found at this address. You're free to add your own information, the tables are public and readily editable. The advantage to having a common document that is updated by several people is that it significantly simplifies maintenance and moderation.

    There used to be several threads tackling the need for substitutes and new players. Previous threads and efforts to announce available spots proved to be unmanageable in the long run:
    • The original poster wasn't able to update the "request" thread anymore.
    • Sending private messages turned out to be tedious for many (full boxes, forum down, etc.).
    • People started chatting and digressing in the thread.


  6. #6
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Practical Considerations


    Text Chat

    It's possible to chat with other players while in the game: one needs to raise the chat interface, by pressing the tab key. Text entry doesn't allow for copy pasting or for special characters, but the chat feature remains handy. Communications will appear on the left top corner of the game's window and slowly disappear as the game proceeds.

    By default you will talk to all the players in the game. The "none" button though resets the selection and allows you click on specific shields, thus speaking privately to one or a group of players. Private messages are indicated by an asterisk.

    You can read a history of exchanges by enabling the bottom log and scrolling up. A complete history of events and conversations is otherwise available in the log folder (game.log within the installation folder). Assuming the game isn't restarted, you will be able to read again whatever was communicated to you. Searching the text file for nicknames will quickly highlight the sender.


    Voice Chat

    It's often very convenient to rely on voice communications, especially when coordinating war efforts. Two applications have proved to be popular Mumble and Teamspeak. While either software's configuration escapes this article's scope, they are easily set up provided users have a functioning microphone. You're strongly invited to use the push-to-talk feature, in lieu of voice activated messages.

    Mumble remains, in this author's view, the best option, for it's open source, fully functional and cheaply hosted. For your convenience a Mumble server was set up and is available to every Paradox player. The address reads:

    mumble-de.cleanvoice.ru
    62508

    Pausing

    A free flowing game is usually more enjoyable to all participants. The common practice is to let games proceed at speed three. The host will automatically slow down the game when players can't cope with the amount of data exchanged, thus avoiding synchronisation errors. You must expect pausing to be minimal, and often frowned upon when frequent. Most campaigns will be set to speed two when large conflicts erupt. Some even slow down the game to speed one when peace settlements involve several players or become heated.


    Savegames

    While the lobby transfer function is fully capable of distributing save games to players, it's advisable to link end session save games in campaign threads (generally the first post). You should compress eu3 files: since they are text based the size reduction is noticeable.

    Users are permitted to attach files in this forum's section: you're welcome to either rely on this feature, or to use file hosting services, as long as they don't present advertisements or security concerns. Users are invited to remove obsolete attachments so not to exceed their available quota.


  7. #7
    Sometimes Hero Demi Moderator silktrader's Avatar

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    Problems


    Synchronisation issues

    "Out of synchronisation" events, often shortened to "OOS", are mismatches of data sent and received to the host. Whenever any one player receives the dreadful message "Game is out of sync", collective sobbing starts, and a time consuming rehost is intimated to all. Should a player continue to play, despite the initial "OOS" he or she will certainly crash and cause ungodly problems.

    These measures contribute to avoiding "OOS" errors:
    • the map cache needs to be cleared every time the map is changed (such as when some patches are installed, when mods alter the map's contents, etc.)
    • bandwidth usage needs to be minimised while playing
    • choose a capable host low latency, high bandwidth, capable processor and abundant volatile memory)
    • one should avoid tabbing out of game when the host starts the game
    • large fleets, comprising thousands of ships, should be limited or divided in smaller units

    Whenever synchronisation errors occur players are advised to save and rehost the game. There are times, such as at the start of a game when large amounts of data are exchanged, when these glitches occur with higher frequency. Playing past the critical moment and rehosting after a few months of game time proves to be useful.


    Cheating

    I couldn't choose plainer words cheating is strongly disapproved and inhibited in the multiplayer context. Paradox' capacity is that of a) heeding users' reported issues and b) providing technical help and fixes in the form of patches when required. The proper conduct when dealing with new found cheats, what some dub "exploits" or general suspicions, is to bring them to the staff's attention in this section, or the "Bug Reports" one.

    A black list naming cheaters is unthinkable, as it would stir confrontational arguments. The forum's policy with regards to cheaters is the following: on being caught a first time users will be verbally warned, a second occurrence would warrant a ban preventing the cheater to access the forum's multiplayer sections. You're reminded not to accuse players unless you have proofs of their misdeed, which will be examined.

    The quickest and most effective way to detect frauds is to scrutinise saved games. During a multiplayer campaign, anybody, at anytime, can save the game be they the host or otherwise. When a campaign is paused in anticipation for a rehost the game is usually saved, the same goes when a session is over. It is therefore possible to compare two saved games it's surprisingly easy to do so when the saving date is the same, or close enough. Most file comparison applications will assist one's inspection. One of them is the open sourced WinMerge, for Windows.

    The following bit is an example showing WinMerge's typical output:



    In this case, a hypothetical cheater wishes to strengthen one of his generals by increasing his fire rating, while at the same time extending his life. A few lines below you can see another attempt at trying to boost his next monarch's ratings. Some changes would be hard to spot while in the game, exploring the interface. The heir's ratings, for instance, don't exactly catch the eye, but by reviewing the save's content it's possible to extricate such attempts.

    The numbers on the left represent line numbers. Saved games tend to be long files; it's possible to browse differences by hitting the "alt + arrow down or up" combination. Generally, there will be very few differences between games saved on the same date. Malicious edits will be immediately visible in a location pane.

    Some elements, which are irrelevant for the purpose of a security check, may change, from a player's save to another: slider locks, armies origins and destinations, etc. To prevent these from distractingly appearing in the comparison one can adopt "filters". In the "Tools" menu there is an option that allows the creation of "line filters". By entering "target", for example, one would exclude every line containing this word from being counted as a difference. Since it's possible to include statements on the same line as a "target" entry, a more secure filter would be: "^[ \t]+target=\d+$". It's a regular expression, a way to specify that "target" should be preceded by at least one space or tab character, and succeeded by a bunch of numbers and the end of a line.



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