• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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Entil'Zha Anla'Shok
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Apr 19, 2001
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Now and again, support questions crop up regarding MP games and people getting disconnected.

Please note that there is a DirectX related issue that affects this. It is known, so there is no need to report this as a bug, or post it as a question in either the MP forum or the tech support forum.

When does it affect you?

To be affected, the following must be true:

1) You are behind a NAT enabled router.
2) The host is behind a NAT enabled router.
3) The game is paused

You know when you are behind a NAT enabled router, when the IP number of your PC starts with 10. or 192.168.

What are the symptoms?

When the game is in paused state, after about 30 seconds after pausing, the amount of communication traffic drops drastically. If you have a router or switch with traffic indicator leds, this drop can be clearly seen.

At this point, players that joined a game get the message that the host has left the game. The host has in fact not dropped out, but because of the cutoff in communications in DirectX' DirectPlay layer, the joined PC's have lost contact with the host. Roughly 30 seconds after this has happened, the host gets messages about all the other players having dropped out.

What can be done?

Not a lot. This issue is a combination of factors, of which the NAT enabled router seems to play a big part. Testing has shown that if for example only the host is behind a NAT enabled router and the other PC's are directly linked to the internet, or all PC's are on a local LAN, the problem does not occur.

It appears that the DirectPlay component of DirectX (which is responsible for the the MP related communications), in combination with the port address translation tables in the routers and their associated time-outs, needs a continous flow of data traffic to keep the connection alive. Pausing a game halts the game engine, at which point data stops flowing from host to client and back in regular intervals.

So, if you are affected by this issue, either do not pause the game, or, if you must, make sure players continue to generate data traffic by manipulating their assets via the game's user interface. But the better way is to slow down the game speed to a near pause setting. That should provide sufficient time for whatever you wanted the game paused for.
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