Supporting Third-Party Game Services
Last updated: 22 September 98
Games developed with Anet normally run either standalone
or connected to the Anet game servers. However,
the marketplace dictates that it be possible to enable games to use third party
game networking services. This allows the game to reach the widest audience,
and potentially allows for revenue from subscription-oriented game
Third-party networks, such as Kali,
that perform IPX emulation can be used without any special support;
the user simply selects IPX. However, the integration and performance
this provides leave something to be desired. The remainder of this
document will not discuss IPX emulation.
Anet now directly supports three third-party gaming networks under Win95:
Microsoft Game Zone.
Also, an alpha driver for Dwango is
included in the SDK.
Anet's third-party network support has two parts:
These files are in the win\bin and win\dll folders of the Anet SDK.
- a command-line launcher program named anetdrop.exe, common to all
third-party networks, plus
- if the third-party network is not IP-based, a wrapper transport dll
specific to each third-party network; currently, wheat.dll and wmpath.dll.
Wrapper Transport DLL's
If a 3rd party game network supports IPX emulation or can provide
the IP addresses of the players on the commandline when launching,
anetdrop.exe can be used with the existing wipx2.dll or winets2.dll
3rd party game networks that have their own game networking API can
usually be supported by writing a wrapper transport DLL.
Example sources can be obtained from Dan Kegel. Wrappers have been
written for Heat and MPlayer under Win95, and Dwango under DOS.
This option does allow for primitive score reporting to the game network,
and is fairly easy to implement.
Games must be written specifically to support Anetdrop. They should
check for a commandline switch, e.g. -drop; if it is present, they
call dpCreate(&dp, NULL, NULL, "freeze.dat"),
or dpRequestObjectDeltas() to see whether they are host or client,
and then skip their player marshalling screen and proceed directly to their
game setup screen.
When the game is installed, a special text file named
anet.inf must go into the game directory.
It contains, among other things, the name of the executable anetdrop
will launch, and a few parameters, such as the session type to use for that
Anetdrop can be used with any Anet transport and any appropriately
enabled game. An example program, chat.exe, is included with the
Anet SDK, in win\bin\chat. Anetdrop is run by the 3rd party network
game browser, which uses commandline parameters to tell anetdrop what to do.
Run anetdrop once without any commandline parameters to get a list
of the legal parameters. Here is the current list:
-n=path # which transport to use, e.g. -n=anet/winets2.dll
-h # host a session
-m=maxplayers # Max number of players in session
-j # join a session
-J=16 # join any internet session (16=lobby, 0=game)
-s=mygame # session name
-p=myname # player name
-a=184.108.40.206 # address (of host; used when joining if no broadcast)
-g=server_name # Name of the server to connect to
-v # Allow player variables
-w # Don't exit until command does; return its exit code.
-x # Let launched program init comm system
-b=9600 # Baud rate
-c=0 # COM port to use (0=COM1)
-f=5555555 # Phone number to dial when using modem, omit to answer
-i=ATZ # Modem initialization string
-d=1 # Dial method (1=Tone, 0=Pulse)
-o=220.127.116.11;18.104.22.168 # open connections to the list of addresses
-o=@ADDRESSFILE # open connections to the address in the file ADDRESSFILE
-k # Disables the dialog boxes
To get used to anetdrop without worrying about funny drivers, you can try
it out first with one of the standard drivers, e.g. the loopback driver.
Try the following (assuming you've installed the Anet SDK to \anet):
..\anetdrop -h -p=player1 -n=wloop2.dll
This should start one chat program and cause it to host a session.
Start another one and have it join the session by typing
..\anetdrop -j -p=player2 -n=wloop2.dll
You should be able to chat back and forth. (The loopback driver is
kinda slow, as is the chat program's keyboard handling, so don't
worry if chat seems sluggish.)
Press ^D to quit.
Next, try it with the Internet driver. This time, specify a session name, too:
..\anetdrop -h -s=testChat -p=player1 -n=winets2.dll -g=california12.activision.com
..\anetdrop -j -s=testChat -p=player2 -n=winets2.dll -g=california12.activision.com
You should still be able to chat. Plus, if you peek at the server
gtest -n=winets2.dll -p=california12.activision.com
you should be able to see the named session. (65 is the session type given in
Running Anetdrop with MPlayer
Here are some notes on testing games on MPlayer.
Contact your game's liason at MPlayer for a game id for your game, and for
test accounts on MPlayer. Ask them to set up a single UDP GULP
named ANET_UDP; this is the GULP the WMpath2.dll driver uses to communicate.
(The default is a TCP gulp, but you don't want that; it slows down
performance noticably, and causes jerkiness.)
- Make sure that you have installed the game and the Mplayer Client
software. These instructions assume that you've installed the game in the
C:\DarkReign\ directory. You might also want to read through the MPlayer
SDK documentation to understand their architecture.
This step would normally be done by Mplayer Automatically.
You will need to make some additions to the Mplayer section of the
registry. You will need to traverse the folders HKey_LOCAL_MACHINE ->
SOFTWARE -> Mpath -> Mplayer -> Manifest.
You will need to select EDIT -> New -> Key.
If your game's MPlayer game id were 176, the key would be called "GAME176".
Open the newly created Key and add the following string values (modified for
BMP leave blank
Cmdline "-n:wmpath2.dll -j -x -v -w"
Config leave blank (or give full path of game config DLL)
Help leave blank
URL leave blank
Version "Beta Version"
The Cmdline value contains the parameters passed to anetdrop.
- At this point, you should be configured to launch a game on Mplayer. Please
remember that the previous instructions assume that you installed Mplayer in
the default directory and the game is in the "C:\DarkReign\" directory. If
not, please make sure the Registry entries reflect this. I'm attaching a file
called "DarkReign.mpi". When you double-click on this file, you should cause
Mplayer to start up, validate, and ask you if you want to create a new account
or logon. Select Logon.
- The game's Game lobby is usually a restricted lobby which means that only
specific accounts can logon to Mplayer and enter this game Lobby.
Use the accounts MPlayer gave you in step 1 above for testing.
- Once you've logged into Mplayer, you should arrive in the game's Game
Lobby. At this point, you will receive a message indicating that special
files have been downloaded that will allow you to test the game in MPlayer's
Developer Universe. You should receive two shortcuts on your Windows 95
Desktop. By clicking on the "Developer Universe" shortcut icon, Mplayer will
startup, you should logon, and you will eventually make it to MPlayer's Main menu.
- While logged on to the Mplayer Developer Universe, double click on the
DarkReign.MPI file on your desktop. This will take you to the game's Game
Lobby within the MPlayer Developer Universe.
- Once you've logged into Mplayer, you should arrive in the game's Game
Lobby. Select Create Room and have all other players meet in this room.
Player with the "M" is the Moderator of the game. Once everyone has clicked
"Ready To Play", have the Moderator launch the game by pressing the Launch
- If you have created a Game Configuration DLL,
the Config value in the registry (see above) should be set to
full path of the DLL, e.g. "C:\DarkReign\MpDRConfig.dll".
When in a game room, select Settings icon in
the upper right area of the User Interface to verify that the moderator can
change the game setting and launch into the appropriate scenario/settings.
Verify that the non-moderators can see these game settings.
- Play the game....
Running Anetdrop with Microsoft Game Zone
Here are some notes on testing games on MS Game Zone.
- Games on the Microsoft Game Zone require that each game is incorporated
into the Game Zone software package. You will need to contact the Game Zone
for this to occur. They will require some artwork to be used for your game.
- The Game Zone tests two registry keys to determine if the game is
installed. They require the path to your game and the version number of the
game. Keys with the names "AppPath" and "Version" are currently being used,
so it would be nice to remain consistent. It is expected that these keys are
present in the release version of your product.
- All Anet games on Game Zone currently use manual IP and use the
- Since the game is being launched from the command line using anetdrop,
the anet.inf file will need to be correctly configured.
- Your will need to supply the Game Zone with the command lines that
launch your game for both the host and the clients. Game Zone can provide the
following constants to the command line.
%n - Name of the player
%p? - Address if player number ? where 0 is always the host
%c - Number of players in the session
A typical command line for the host is:
anetdrop -n=winets2.dll -h -n=%c -p=%n -o=%p0;%p1;%p2;%p3;%p4;%p5;%p6;%p7
Whilst the clients use a slightly modified command line:
anetdrop -n=winets2.dll -J=0 -p=%n -a=%p0 -o=%p0;%p1;%p2;%p3;%p4;%p5;%p6;%p7
Additional paramaters may be required such as -x if your application has a
lengthy delay before initializing the networking and -v if your appication
requires player variables. Refer to the anetdrop
options for more information.
- The Game Zone will setup your game on Retail Test until it is ready for
release. Your game won't actually be located in the list of games available
for play, you will need to obtain the exact URL from your Game Zone contact.
- Create some test user accounts and then enter the session which the Zone
has provided. From here you should be able to chat to other players, create
games and join games.
- Once a game has been created and other players have joined it, the host
launched the game... It is at this point that the anetdrop command lines are
- Play the Game...
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