Online Wing Commander Milestone Reached (May 2, 2005)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Here at the CIC we've looked forward to eventually making a number of significant announcements. One major goal was the ability to run virtually all original Wing Commander games on modern computers. Since the first 486 66 MHz systems were released, this has been a battle that we've fought with great success. With the release of myJEMM and DOSBox, many Wing Commander fans are going back and enjoying games they haven't played since the mid 1990s. Today we're happy to announce that yet another milestone is being reached. The famous HCl has achieved a breakthrough that allows Wing Commander Armada Proving Grounds to be played online. Proving Grounds was the free expansion for Armada owners that added six player battles, exciting ship upgrades, awesome asteroids and improved ipx network code. The program has been tested with four people so far. It's a blast, but Armada's DOSBox joystick support is unstable, and the internet connections must be very low latency for the game to be smooth. HCl has a list of issues he is currently trying to tackle to make the game more playable.










In the shots above you can see the game's lobby and ship select interfaces. Proving Grounds' asteroids are second to none in the Wing Commander universe. The larger ones show up on sensors, and you can duck behind them to hide in their radar shadow. Do you recognize each of the cockpits?
We are very excited about the prospect of hosting formal online Wing Commander matches. HCl's next goal is fixing the way Armada deals with joysticks and seeing if there is a way to reduce lag. We're going to see if some of those issues can be resolved before we publish detailed instructions on how to get the game running online. The core Armada game uses Netbios rather than ipx, so strategic Armada play is a bit further off. One of the coolest things about HCl's advancement is that all that is necessary to play is DOSBox and Armada. No Kali or tunneling intermediary software is required!

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Original update published on May 2, 2005
 
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FlashFire82

Spaceman
HCl for president!!! Woo hoo!!!

By the way... I got Armada to run in DosBox not long ago.. but it seems to run a little rough around the edges.. choppy and the sound is pretty choppy too. Any good suggestions? I played around with the cycles and all... but finding a happy, smooth running middle ground was kinda' tricky.
 

AKAImBatman

Spaceman
ChrisReid said:
HCl's next goal is fixing the way Armada deals with joysticks and seeing if there is a way to reduce lag. We're going to see if some of those issues can be resolved before we publish detailed instructions on how to get the game running online.
No pressure. ;)

One way or another, this is excellent work. True multiplayer Wing Commander has always been a dream of mine, and now you're bringing it to life. Way to go HCl! :)
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
ghehe.. finally!

(now to figure out a way to take on a squadron of x-wings head-to-head :D )
 

Kilrah

Spaceman
I guess that now we can dream about playing a wc game online. :)
Unfortunately for me, I steel have to make an upgrade on my internet connection at home. :(
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
FlashFire82 said:
By the way... I got Armada to run in DosBox not long ago.. but it seems to run a little rough around the edges.. choppy and the sound is pretty choppy too. Any good suggestions? I played around with the cycles and all... but finding a happy, smooth running middle ground was kinda' tricky.
This emulation business requires much more powerful computers than you'd expect. Ideally you'd have something in the 2-3 GHz range for this. HCl got it working on an Athlon 1.4, but it was consistently choppy for him. If you disabled sound card hardware acceleration for Prophecy, turn it back on to make the sound go more smoothly here. Even if we had this technology several years ago, we might not have been able to implement it until now. HCl said the actual amount of data being transmitted was not very high, but it does want a very low latency connection. Even if he doesn't find a way to optimize the code, what he's already created would make for great Proving Grounds network games on linked up high powered laptop computers. Hopefully something can be done about the joystick instabilities.
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
Wow, that's really amazing.

Armada is such a cool game. The same 3D engine of WC3 and WC4 with the cockpit look and feel of WC1 and WC2.
 
I'm definately excited about this! I've been a fan of online/lan stuff ever since I first played Starcraft over the school library's networked computers.

I don't suppose there will be any cooperative missions or anything though right? Teams would be awesome though, Kilrathi against Confed ships. I suppose if things like that emerge it will be later on however.
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Good news on the joystick front: after spending last night poking on the Armada joystick routines, i managed to figure out why Armada doesn't like the way DosBox emulates the joystick axis. After tweaking the routine a bit, the joystick now seems to work correctly under DosBox. :) I'll probably upload the patched Armada and PG EXEs tonight, after some final testing with the CIC staff.

Mario
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Hehe, you're incredible. We'll all be in and out throughout the day. Had more people than usual drop by to get Armada running today (combined with higher site traffic from the movie showing on tv). A couple came in to talk about buying a copy now as well.
 

Maj.Striker

Swabbie
Banned
This is just awesome!!! When I get home today I'm going to reinstall Armada and Download Proving grounds! :) Are there any specific things I"ll need to do to Dosbox to run this?

BTW, cockpits are (From last to first)

Wraith
Shoklar
Gladius
Arrow
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Striker is correct! In your dosbox.conf you'll need to set ipx=true (which will disable non-patched armada and proving grounds) and then someone needs to set up a server using the ipxnet command in dosbox. You'd execute using loadfix and HCl's modified exe for proving grounds and go to join an ipx game after that.
 

Starkey

Avenging Rooster
I currently use MyJEMM to play Armada (well, since I own a Win98 Pentium 166 I can even play it on pure DOS)...

However, since I´ll need the internet for the online games pure DOS is ruled out.

So, if I understood right, this thing will only work with DOSBox, right? What about MyJEMM?
 

THE_WUQKED

Spaceman
HCl said:
Good news on the joystick front: after spending last night poking on the Armada joystick routines, i managed to figure out why Armada doesn't like the way DosBox emulates the joystick axis. After tweaking the routine a bit, the joystick now seems to work correctly under DosBox. :) I'll probably upload the patched Armada and PG EXEs tonight, after some final testing with the CIC staff.

Mario
:eek: OMG, you are really godlike :eek: - I have waited month for such a fix, and the you think you could try to make a fix and only need one day or so :eek:

Great work! :cool:
 

Cpl Hades

Mr. Kat
Starkey said:
So, if I understood right, this thing will only work with DOSBox, right? What about MyJEMM?
MyJEMM doesn't do IPX tunneling like DOSbox does. There might be some way to get it working with some tunneling thing like Kali, but that's probably more effort than it's worth. DOSbox really is the best bet.
 

Penta2

Spaceman
A related question: Is there any prospect of seeing MyJEMM for WinXP, so those of us with modern PCs might be able to go back and play games like Strike Commander?
 

IPhoenixI

Spaceman
HCl said:
Good news on the joystick front: after spending last night poking on the Armada joystick routines, i managed to figure out why Armada doesn't like the way DosBox emulates the joystick axis. After tweaking the routine a bit, the joystick now seems to work correctly under DosBox. :) I'll probably upload the patched Armada and PG EXEs tonight, after some final testing with the CIC staff.

Mario
Wow, your on a role :D. Good job with all the work, I can't wait till we someday all play WC games togeather. :)
 

FlashFire82

Spaceman
ChrisReid said:
This emulation business requires much more powerful computers than you'd expect. Ideally you'd have something in the 2-3 GHz range for this. HCl got it working on an Athlon 1.4, but it was consistently choppy for him. If you disabled sound card hardware acceleration for Prophecy, turn it back on to make the sound go more smoothly here. Even if we had this technology several years ago, we might not have been able to implement it until now. HCl said the actual amount of data being transmitted was not very high, but it does want a very low latency connection. Even if he doesn't find a way to optimize the code, what he's already created would make for great Proving Grounds network games on linked up high powered laptop computers. Hopefully something can be done about the joystick instabilities.
I understand the difficulties that emulation presents... I've been on the emulation scene for more years than I care to think about now - but this still seems a little rough. I do understand that I'm probably a little low on the power aspect on this computer... but I'm wondering... it only seemed to run choppy pushing keys on the keyboard (i.e. flight control w/ kb was not smooth), the sound I can live with. I wonder if it will operate more smoothly with a joystick? Hm... must start experimenting...
 
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