If you are into playing computer games then you know that a lot of the games that you can buy have multi-player options. These games can be run simultaneously on several computers on the same network so that you can play against other people rather than against the computer.
So how do you set up your gaming network? Well this depends on the networking protocol required by the game. To play games on your network you will need to first make sure that the networking protocol required by the game is installed on all of the computers on your network. If the protocol is TCP/IP then you probably already have it installed on your computers. This will be the protocol used by many recent games including all games that allow you to play over the internet. Not all games use this protocol, some of the older games use the Novell protocol and you will need to install that on all of your computers in order to be able to play that game.
Most games these days run directly from the CD with just sufficient downloaded to your hard drive to allow you to start the game. You will most likely need to install these same files onto all of the computers on your network in order that the person using that computer is able to start the game.
Depending on the game, you may or may not need a copy of the game CD for each computer. Many games that have multi-player options will allow several people to play for each copy of the CD. You will need to ensure that you have as many CDs as you need for the number of players. If you need fewer CDs than there are players then you should put the CDs into the most powerful of the computers on your network as these are the ones that will act as servers while you are playing the game.
Once you are set up then every player can start up their copy of the game. How you all identify that you want to join the same game will vary from game to game. Age of Empires for example allows a player to create a game that other players can then join. They need to identify the IP address or computer name of the computer being used by the player who creates the game and then search for the game which they can then join. Once everyone has joined and selected who they want to be they select a checkbox to advise that they are ready. The player who created the game also has a button to start the game and this will occur once everyone is ready. Because Age of Empires can use the TCP/IP networking protocol, you have the option to play this game with other people over the internet, you can play the game using several computers on the same local network, or both. Other games that use this protocol should also be able to be played in any of these ways.
Network gaming is basically a matter of installing the correct software on each computer and selecting the correct computer(s) to act as servers. You don't even have to have all of the computers running the same operating system. As long as each computer is running an operating system on which the game can be run and hardware that meets the requirements of the game then you should be able to easily configure your game to be played over a network.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.