IL-2 Sturmovik Multiplayerby Chuck "SmokingCrater" Norton
Article Type: How-To
Article Date: September 18, 2002
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Multiplayer. Bigger than Ever.In the beginning there was Pong. That's right, that venerable old classic from lost days of yore. Remember how we struggled against our friends and neighbors to be titled champion, if only for a fleeting moment? I do (sniffle). Little did we realize it, but in those early days, the seeds of one of the latest crazes (pronounced: ad·dic·tion) had already taken root. Now, it has grown to be a fully developed evolution of gaming. What the heck am I talking about? That little phenomenon that has tightly gripped the gaming community known as “multiplayer”.
In this day and age it is foolhardy of any game development firm to produce a game (regardless of platform) without the capabilities of online multiplay (MP). While this originally began as a strictly-PC (personal computer, not politically correct) field of play, its recent migration to consoles has seen its popularity explode. Additionally, with the advent of broadband Internet service and faster, better PC hardware, online gaming is pushing new boundaries that just years ago seemed all but impossible.
Though it can be argued that first-person shooters (FPS) are the most prevalent type of online games, there is a growing number of gamers seeking a different kind of high: altitude. Over the past few years, titles like Jane's World War II Fighters and Warbirds have given us a medium to test our online mettle against others from around the world. The latest addition to this pack is 1C: Maddox Games/Ubi Soft's IL-2 Sturmovik. With some of the most realistic flight models to date, this sim is one that really pits man against man (and woman against woman) in their struggle for control of the sky.
The focus of this article is to give you, the reader, some pointers about MP in IL-2. Now, I can't go into what tactics to use in the Bf-109G-6/AS, or how to get a La-5FN off your tail in an FW-190 (although, I hear CTRL-E helps in this situation), but I can at least get you going in an online game (either one you join or one you host) so you can start learning for yourself how to fight.
Get ConnectedThe beauty of playing MP these days is that there is a myriad of ways in which to go about it. There are all kinds of third-party programs out there that support IL-2's MP half. Let's say you want to set up your computer to act as a server for you and a couple of your friends. The first thing you will need is your IP address. To get this, first go to an MS-DOS prompt. (Usually there's an icon somewhere on your desktop for it.) At the command line type 'ipconfig' (without the quotes). There you will see a line that says "IP Address……..xx.xx.xxx.xxx" where the x's will be a series of numbers. [ Note ] This is the number you need to give to your friends in order for them to log on to your computer. Beware that if you're using a dialup (not recommended for hosting IL-2 games) this number will change every time you log on. That is not the case, however, if you are using broadband.
Join or Serve?Next, start IL-2 and click on the multiplayer button. Now, if you are connecting to someone else's computer, just select "Join Server" and at the following screen type in the IP address that they gave you. If you're hosting, however, you have a few more options. First, give your server a name. Then, you should define the type of game it will be (dogfight, coop) and how many people you want to allow be logged on at one time. Additionally, if you don't want outsiders joining your server, you can opt to implement a password. After creating your server, select the mission you'd like to use and the desired difficulty settings and you're off!
|In-game MP configuation options screen|
Game Flavor?This would be a good time to give a basic rundown of each type of game. In dogfight, its basically every man or every team for him/herself. You can choose to have a free-for-all in which anybody can select any airplane, or you can opt for a team play setting. Usually, this means that if you choose to fly for the Russian Air Force (VVS) you only get Russian airplanes and vice versa.
The other option is co-operative mode, or coop for short. In this style of play, each team (either Russian or German) is given an objective to complete. The team that completes that objective first is the winner. For example, a typical mission could feature a flight of escorted IL-2's attacking a German armored column while the Luftwaffe tries to intercept. Russian pilots could fly either bombers or fighters, while the Luftwaffe mans their interceptors. If the Russian forces are beaten back, then the German forces are considered winners. However, if they fail and the armored column is destroyed, then the Russian forces are victorious. Its fairly straight forward.
Matchmaking ServicesBoth the dogfight and coop game types are supported by third party software that allows the user to search for servers worldwide.
Probably the most popular for IL-2 is HyperLobby. This is a free download that allows you to host or join many different servers. Additionally it has support for online, squadron-based campaigns such as Virtual Eastern Front or Ilyushin Online War (IOW).
|HL's main interface|
Joining a game in HyperLobby is as simple as clicking on one of the server names on the left of the screen. A single click will bring up a dialog box giving more detailed information regarding who's on the server and difficulty/password settings, etc. Simply click the button marked "Join this session" and away you go. IL-2 will launch automatically and after a successful connection, you will be off and running…or flying, as the case may be.
|The Session info 'join game' popup|
To host a HyperLobby dogfight server, click one of the open slots in the middle column below the "Dog Mission" heading and click the blue button that appears. The top slot under each heading is used for hosting. HyperLobby will prompt you to set some server information (name, number of players, password) and then it will launch IL-2 automatically. Once it does so, you'll see the usual IL-2 MP screen. Double check your settings, select your mission and difficulties, and begin flying. Now, you just have to wait for a few others to join up and then let the battle begin.
Hosting a coop game is done in much the same manner, but in doing so, you usually wait for as many people to join up as you can before launching the server. By joining up, I mean selecting one of the open slots below your name. This is so that you don't have to wait for people to join after you start up. Then, once everyone has selected their team and aircraft, you can launch the mission.
The All Seeing Eye
A second, and increasingly popular third-party program is called "The All Seeing Eye," or ASE for short. Despite rumors that it was becoming a pay-to-play site, the fact is that, as of this writing, it remains a totally free service. ASE functions in much the same way as HL, with a few differences of course.
First off, there are many filters you can use to sort through the available servers. Servers can be included/excluded for items such as ping and number of players. Also, they can be sorted in ascending or descending order. This is helpful if you’re looking for a low-ping server with only a few people on it. Another nice ASE feature is that when you single-click on any server, it automatically brings up a detailed list of who is in the game and what kind of difficulty settings are being used.
In ASE, every difficulty option is listed along with its current setting. This is one advantage that ASE has over HL, because HL will only report difficulty settings as "Custom, Realistic, Easy." It’s a good bit of information to know so that you have a good idea what to expect when logging on to a server.
Joining a game in ASE is as simple as double-clicking on the desired server, while hosting a game only requires you to click the blue "HOST" button in the upper menu bar. Setting up a game from there on out is identical in procedure to the previously mentioned methods.
|The basic interface of The All Seeing Eye|
Both of these services provide fast, free, and user-friendly ways to access hundreds of online servers for IL-2. The competition is fierce and the connections are usually good. Gaming and gamers alike have come a long way from the days of Pong, but despite the years, that same spirit of friendly competition has prevailed. It is my hope that this article will help you to indulge that spirit of competition as you take to the skies in IL-2. See you in my sights and Check Six!
[an error occurred while processing this directive]