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 the forum. Enter your game's key in the space provided. Click "register" and you're done. You will see that your avatar now has a small "morion" under it, 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 send a private message to post in the Forum Help forum.
Ports to open:
1630 to 1640 — UDP, TCP
"Napoleon's Ambition" 2.2 — SPEF "In Nomine" 3.2 — NCFK "Heir to the Throne" 4.1b (official) — BXPG "Divine Wind" 5.1 — BJLT "Divine Wind" 5.2 (beta) — QMXZ
To challenge friends, playing "Europa Universalis 3" and its expansions, two requirements are necessary: (a) as many licences as there are players, and (b) an Internet or local network connection.
Any multiplayer game will require one "host", who will also be playing. All other players are required to connect to him or her, so to join the game. 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 beforehand.
Windows, MacOSX and Linux users can play together, provided their checksum is the same. Paragraph (c) illustrates what checksums are, but it suffices to say they represent different versions of the game and are altered by patches and mods.
a) The "Metaserver"
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 chat and cold drinks, players are required to register "Europa Universalis 3" and every expansion up to, and including, "Divine Wind" (EU3 Chronicles counts for this purpose). Previous expansions like "Heir to the Throne" aren't sufficient to be admitted in the metaserver, you can only play those via Direct IP or Lan play. 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" from the first and main game 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 link above and click on the "Reset Password" button next to the EU3 game listed there.
Whenever you are certain the metaserver ceases to welcome players and doesn't look to be up and working, you should post in the Forum Help forum or log a ticket at paradox.zendesk.com .
As briefly mentioned above, one host player is required for all to play. To serve as a one, the host player needs to allow incoming and outgoing traffic on the following range: 1630 to 1640, both TCP and UDP - this is called Port Forwarding. In fact, a more detailed breakdown would be:
1638 UDP — Lobby, metaserver
1633 UDP — Game
1634 TCP — Savegame transfer
Port Forwarding is configured in a router for a specific IP address or addresses only, not for all computers attached to that router. One consequence of this is that if the router is assigning IP addresses automatically via DHCP (the default usually) the host's IP Address can change after a reboot, and the port forwarding may not have been applied to the host's new IP Address. To avoid this the host can be assigned a set (static) IP address in the router.
Further helpful instructions can be read at http://portforward.com — after having exhausted these resources, including your router's manual, you might also query forum members by starting a thread where you will specify your router's brand and model.
In addition ALL PLAYERS must configure all of the following devices/services to allow for unrestrained connections on the above port ranges - this is called Opening Ports: routers, hardware firewalls, software firewalls (such as "ZoneAlarm", "IPTables", "Windows" own firewall, etc.) and Internet security suites ( "Norton", "Kasperky", "McAfee", etc.). Generally and most likely, you will only need to configure your router. Here is one site that will help each player determine whether they have successfully opened all required ports.
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 VPN will need to be set up using a product such as Hamachi.
Good attributes for a hosting computer are:
A close geographical location in relation to all other players, which minimises latency issues: what is scornfully called "lag" and often measured by "pinging". The closer the host to the rest of the players, the less likely latency issues will be — also depending on the Internet service provider.
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.
Four letters summarise the game's version, a list matching the latest releases is provided above. 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 a game. 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 in singleplayer, or multiplayer, and one resigns. 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 "out of synchronisation" issues. To join, or host, a multiplayer game it's thus necessary to quit and restart, 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 table on top is a sorry attempt to sum up the latest checksums in use.
d) Syncrhonisation 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 synch", 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.
B. Practical Details
It is obviously possible to chat with other players while in the game; to do so one needs to raise the chat interface, by pressing the tab key.
Messages which are destined to a select few will be indicated by an asterisk.
Players' messages will eventually fade away: it is possible to read a history of them, by accessing the game log and scrolling up. There might be in the future the possibility to exclusively filter chat messages within the log — as is possible with other categories like "combat", "diplomacy", etc.
A complete history of events and conversations is available in the game's "log" 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.
b) Save games
While the lobby transfer function is fully capable of distributing save games to players, it is customary to link end session save games to campaign threads. It is possible to do so by attaching compressed save games to any post. Users are then invited to remove obsolete attachments so not to exceed their available quota.
File hosting services need to be avoided — the wait times and security concerns are unpractical.
c) Pick up games
Given the complex nature of Paradox games, most multiplayer campaigns require lasting efforts to organise sessions — threads are thus born with that end in mind, along with the purpose to collect diplomatic and mundane conversations.
More casual and improvised arrangements are though possible — these games are called "pick ups". People meet in the metaserver and merrily promise to give each other a healthy beating. Players are otherwise discouraged to post their immediate and short lasting need for a game partner: these threads would quickly fill the first page and reduce visibility for campaign threads.
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 decrease speed when players can't cope with the amount of data exchanged and thus avoid synchronisation errors. You can 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.
e) List of ongoing multiplayer campaigns
As is customary, each multiplayer campaign is described and organised within a forum thread. At this address lays a Google spreadsheet which lists ongoing campaigns: permanent or substitute spots are equally recorded. 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.
f) New players or substitutes requests
There is an available list of players who desire to be contacted, should new campaigns be started: it can be found at this address. Players can moreover add their own information, as the tables can be edited by anybody.
There used to be several threads tackling the same issue: requesting substitutes and new players in ongoing multiplayer campaigns. Previous 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.
A public Google spreadsheet was set up — where active multiplayer campaigns are listed, along with their starting times, checksums, save game locations and other details. The need for "subs" and "perms" can easily be flagged, and their numbers and location added.
The document can be easily accessed and modified by anybody who is given the URL below. Accidental and malicious changes can be just as easily reverted. Changes can be notified to people via emails, so to keep updated. It is, in fact, a wiki of sorts — one which doesn't require much elaboration in setting up or even demands that users be registered.
The advantage to having a common document that is updated by several people is that it significantly simplifies maintenance and moderation.
Please, avoid starting new threads inviting substitutes or new players. Use the public spreadsheet or contact Silktrader to edit the campaign's title so that it signals the need for substitutes.
There couldn't be plainer words: cheating is looked down on 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 in 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 every Paradox multiplayer section. 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 analyse 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. There are other alternatives, listed in this wikipedia page.
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.
Last edited by silktrader; 13-02-2013 at 19:20.
Reason: Technical update