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lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Sun May 28, 2006 9:10 pm
quote : #1
profile : pm
Posts: 5889
Type: NTSC-U/C
In April of 2004 I first contacted a person who is a qualified expert on GameSpy. This person’s name is Luigi Auriemma. Over the course of a year and a half he and I collaborated on a project that would inevitably make Starlancer for the Sega Dreamcast "Online Forever". It needs to be known that I did no programming on this project, and that all coding is to be credited to Luigi. We each had different roles. I brought my research and knowledge of Dreamcast Online, and he brought his knowledge of GameSpy, PC games, and programming. This project will probably end up being the most influential development in Dreamcast Online, simply because of the range of titles it effects. For now, the software only works 100% with Starlancer. However it also restores partial functionality to 3 other titles. This will increase the possibility of getting a few more titles online down the road.

This project took a lot of work, and while the software does so much for us, it's Dreamcast functionality alone isn't really something that would have motivated Luigi enough to work on it as long as we did. How do you motivate someone to help you get a beta port of a mediocre PC bowling game back online for a console that hasn't been sold on store shelves in 5 years? It helps that Luigi is genuinely interested in both programming and games. The key element in-fact was that the software affects games beyond Dreamcast Online. While the software was becoming compatible with Dreamcast titles like Starlancer, it was also becoming compatible with PC titles like the Toca race driving series; one that Luigi is a big fan of. This gave him more personal motivation to flesh out the project beyond just helping out the Dreamcast Online community. Honestly, I do not believe this project would have been completed had there not been a broad scope for its functionality.

We started out by producing a simple master list emulator that proved to work with Dreamcast UT. It was based on a previous proof of concept Luigi already had drawn up. The first successful Starlancer connection was made on June 17th, 2005. At this point a good amount of work had been done, however the real challenge came when we began troubleshooting PBA Bowling 2001 and The Next Tetris. It was especially challenging for Luigi. I would send him back reports on what was working and what wasn't, and he sometimes had a difficult time finding out what was wrong. There were times we both questioned whether we should keep working on this, but another day would go by and he would respond with good news, and progress would continue.

Our work ended in November of 2005, when we were unable to solve a potential IRC problem preventing the room lobbies from showing up in PBA Bowling 2001. Regardless of this, the work put in was worth it because we helped secure the future for Dreamcast Starlancer. If you look at the Online Game list, not having Starlancer online would leave a large hole in the list. I think the biggest positive from the software is that we can currently play the game online without fear of it losing it's online functions.

I would like to publicly thank Luigi Auriemma for the time he devoted to writing this software. It is difficult to find someone who would be sympathetic enough to a cause such as Dreamcast Online. There are many instances where we have gotten no help from the outside. This time was different. Luigi spent many months of his own time working on developing the software to make Starlancer Online forever. For that, everyone who plays Dreamcast Online owes him a debt of gratitude for his contributions to the Dreamcast Online community.

I need to point out that I have already discussed further projects with Luigi Auriemma and have even shown him network packets from PS2 games that use SNAP. He has already informed me that emulating SNAP would be a very time consuming and complicated project. So I recommend that people not harass him to "bring back every dreamcast online game", because pretty much every other Dreamcast game uses SNAP.

---


What games this software effects:

Starlancer
PBA Bowling 2001
The Next Tetris Online Edition
Unreal Tournament

What works:

Starlancer works with the software without any problems.

Unreal Tournament is able to reach the master list, however because we do not have dedicated server software this does not restore any online gameplay functionality to UT. This is still very important. Because down the road if someone were to create a server compatible with Unreal Tournament, the game would need a master list in order to be online forever. Also, to troubleshoot and begin work on a server, someone would need a master list for testing.

What does not work:

The Next Tetris Online Edition will allow you to login, connect to gamestats, and peerchat, however from there it locks up. The game isn't frozen, but it simply sits waiting for the proper command to go to the next screen. I have tried contacting the original developers for more information, but was met with no reply. I was unable to determine which master list Tetris tries to contact, if any at all. It may use peerchat for match making.

PBA Bowling 2001 is working 95%. There is one last puzzle to solve. Getting the lobbies to show up. The game connects to every emulated service from GameSpy. However once it has connected it fails to show the Rookies, Amateurs, and Pros lobbies. You simply sit at the Enter Room screen with nowhere to go.

I should also point out that the game stats are not actually logged in any of these games. The service was merely emulated to get the player past this part without any errors. It was deemed unimportant.

---


This software is not user-friendly to setup, and requires a firm understanding of computer networking to get it all running. Having a working PC-DC setup is required for local testing. To setup an environment for connecting a game, you will need to run multiple applications on a single PC. Setting up the software properly will depend on which game you are trying to run. Some games use more or less services than others. These services include things such as the masterlist, gamestats, user login, and peer chat. For the chat server you will have to run your own IRC server, and link it to the peerchat server emulator. For gamestats, and user login, you will have to run 2 instances of the login server emulator on different ports.

GameSpy compatible Dreamcast games will access any number of the following services, which you will have to redirect the game to, either via HEX Edit, a DNS server, or the hosts file on a windows PC:

master.gamespy.com
peerchat.gamespy.com
gpsp.gamespy.com
gpcm.gamespy.com
gamestats.gamespy.com

If anyone should solve the remaining problems with PBA or Tetris, I expect the information to be shared with the online community. At this stage, hoarding software or information that restores network functions to Dreamcast Online games makes you no different than Sega. It puts us all in the same exact position that we were in when a game was online, but we had no means to run the game ourselves. Do not force your fellow community members to endure this scenario again. If you solve a problem, or code new software release it to the community so users can enjoy their games without the fear of losing network functionality.

---


Starlancer is still online at GameSpy, so announcing this software merely gives everyone the ability to run the services necessary to play the game online in the event of it's termination. This announcement is really designed so that you can save this to your computer and not have to worry. Those who are technically inclined will enjoy experimenting with the software and setting it up for local network testing. The software has actually been available on the Internet at Luigi's homepage for quite sometime. The delay in announcing it was due to me wishing to fix PBA Bowling 2001. After being unable to determine the problem, I am now announcing this to the Dreamcast Online community so someone can hopefully solve the final part to getting PBA Bowling 2001 back online.

On a personal note, ever since I started OnlineConsoles and became involved with Dreamcast Online, I wanted to save just 1 game. I wanted to somehow secure a single Dreamcast Online game for the future. I feel privileged to be able to contribute and be involved in a project that was able to keep a Dreamcast game online.

Regards,
Ben Pekarek
ben@onlineconsoles.com

---


Download:

Luigi Auriemma's Homepage

GS master list (enctype 0) v0.1
GS peerchat server emulator v0.1.1
GS login server emulator v0.1


Last edited by lordnikon on Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:37 pm; edited 2 times in total
  _________________
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noonotthat
rank 9
Posted:
Sun May 28, 2006 9:52 pm
quote : #2
profile : pm
Posts: 119
Type: NTSC-U/C
wow, this is amazing, i cant wait till we get some UT dedicated server software, but this is going to give the dc alot more punch in its online part, and thank you Luigi, thank you very much.
  _________________
I need to get back into quake 3 so get at me!
lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Sun May 28, 2006 10:32 pm
quote : #3
profile : pm
Posts: 5889
Type: NTSC-U/C
noonotthat wrote:
i cant wait till we get some UT dedicated server software

So far there is zero evidence that this would ever happen anytime soon. So you really need to look at this from a realistic perspective. This software's impact on UT is extremly minimal. All it does is let you view an empty master list, which is exactly what happens when you currently sign UT onto the internet. The software does not increase the likely hood that a dedicated server will be coded for Dreamcast UT. It only provides a place for the servers to be listed, if any when such software would ever get created. Which is unlikely.
  _________________
I'm already numero uno on Dark Helmet's hit list...
Einhander
rank 20
Posted:
Sun May 28, 2006 11:17 pm
quote : #4
profile : pm
Posts: 389
Type: NTSC-U/C
I love news like this. It seems every so often we get one step closer to securing a larger amount of DC online forever titles. I'd also like to thank Luigi Auriemma for his work.

With people messing around with software related to DC Online games, who knows what we'll end up with in the future.
 
hebe
rank 13
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 12:47 am
quote : #5
profile : pm
Posts: 220
This is brilliant news, and it bodes extremely well for the future! I will help you as much as possible, and if you ever need any testers or negotiators(lol Laughing ), I'm always willing! Give your mate Luigi a huge hug and kiss from us all as well, and when is that donations box opening up, as I would like to give you a treat! Razz

Sorry but I tried to download those for testing and none of them worked. The all link to the altervista site

Last edited by hebe on Mon May 29, 2006 4:43 am; edited 1 time in total
  _________________
Who woulda thought it? Your brain is slowly melting into a pulp of mouldy plastic, and will then explode in a gory shower with millions of tiny bits of brain! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Twisted Evil
lordnikon
rank 86
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 1:15 am
quote : #6
profile : pm
Posts: 5889
Type: NTSC-U/C
hebe wrote:
...and when is that donations box opening up, as I would like to give you a treat! Razz

I am not putting up any sort of donations box. I just couldn't live with myself if I put one up. I would feel guilty.

hebe wrote:
Sorry but I tried to dowload those for testing and none of them worked. The all link to the altervista site

I just fixed the links. They will work now. Luigi seems to have some stuff in place to prevent hotlinking his files. So I just hosted them here at DCOC.
  _________________
I'm already numero uno on Dark Helmet's hit list...
Smurph
rank 11
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 4:38 am
quote : #7
profile : pm
Posts: 152
w00tabulous. Been waiting some time for something like this to happen. Now all we need is a connection code generator.

I think I might port it to true C++ and implement separate server threads in a single app.

Last edited by Smurph on Mon May 29, 2006 5:04 am; edited 2 times in total
 
Dreamcast â„¢
rank 39
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 4:53 am
quote : #8
profile : pm
Posts: 918
Type: NTSC-U/C
Incredible team work. This is certainly another major milestone in the online Dreamcast scene.

And, not only has Mr. Auriemma supplied the Dreamcast community with the software capable of prolonging the life of even one Dreamcast game indefinitely, he also supplied us with the source so we too can make contributions ourselves. Because of his work, now someone who may be proficient in certain programming languages but lacking in server-side concepts can look at this and understand how a server goes about connecting several users and managing those connections. Who knows, this may get someone interested enough to bring yet another game back ( I know this has gotten me quite interested. )

( I'm also really enjoying the comments left in the source. Very Happy )

Congratulations and thank (the both of ) you again for investing so much of your own time / effort into conceiving / developing / debugging this idea from the ground up.
 
Smurph
rank 11
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 4:54 am
quote : #9
profile : pm
Posts: 152
Dreamcast ™ wrote:
Incredible team work. This is certainly another major milestone in the online Dreamcast scene.

And, not only has Mr. Auriemma supplied the Dreamcast community with the software capable of prolonging the life of even one Dreamcast game indefinitely, he also supplied us with the source so we too can make contributions ourselves. Because of his work, now someone who may be proficient in certain programming languages but lacking in server-side concepts can look at this and understand how a server goes about connecting several users and managing those connections. Who knows, this may get someone interested enough to bring yet another game back ( I know this has gotten me quite interested. )

( I'm also really enjoying the comments left in the source. Very Happy )

Congratulations and thank (the both of ) you again for investing so much of your own time / effort into conceiving / developing / debugging this idea from the ground up.


I agree, I was just too lazy to write all that. XD
 
Segata Sanshiro
rank 9
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 9:12 am
quote : #10
profile : pm
Posts: 108
Type: PAL
Congratulations to both of you. It's been one of the greatest (good) surprises we've got in the past few months. I'm really glad to see how a few people still invest their time in something that won't give them money, but something that will make a lot of people enjoy.
 
gRimGrAvY014
rank 26
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 9:39 am
quote : #11
profile : pm
Posts: 548
Type: NTSC-U/C
This is great news!
 
Nico0020
rank 11
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 11:30 am
quote : #12
profile : pm
Posts: 167
Type: NTSC-U
i know i havent posted here in awhile. but very nice cheif. very nice indeed
 
Mertens
rank 14
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 2:00 pm
quote : #13
profile : pm
Posts: 234
Type: NTSC-U/C
This is great news. Thanx to both of you for all this hard work. I think the news would be even better for me if programming didn't confuse the hell out of me. I can barely handle html. Anyway, it's nice to know Starlancer will be online forever, obviously I love this game. Also glad to know that if gamespy suddenly took it down right now, I wouldn't have wasted the last 6 months barely getting in one or two games Crying or Very sad
  _________________
STARLANCER PLAYERS, check for me on jabber if you want an unscheduled game or to see if i'm already playing.
Also, please read THIS to have a better online experience.
crazyBigDan
rank 7
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 5:42 pm
quote : #14
profile : pm
Posts: 65
Type: NTSC-U/C
Quote:
If you look at the Online Game list, not having Starlancer online would leave a large hole in the list.


i think that if we lost any of the games on that list... there would be some form of a large hole
 
lo
rank 5
Posted:
Mon May 29, 2006 11:27 pm
quote : #15
profile : pm
Posts: 35
Wow, great thx Smile
 
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