Tips on Getting Multiplayer Micropose Diplomacy to Work

by Geenius at Wrok

First thing out of the way: I have not tried playing MPD over a LAN. I do not have a LAN to play it on. If anyone else has installed MPD on a LAN, please let us know how it works. 

There seem to be three primary factors that determine whether a MPD game can be played successfully: 

1. Nature of connection (Zone or TCP/IP) 

Zone-mediated games are significantly more unstable than TCP/IP games. Unfortunately, most of the people who show up on the Zone to play are impatient to start a game, and few of them seem to even understand what a TCP/IP connection is. All who read this should do what they can to spread the word: If you try to run a game through the Zone, YOU ARE ASKING FOR TROUBLE. About 70 percent of the time, one of your players will not make it into the game with you. Close to 100 percent of the time, at least one of the players who does make it into the game will drop. Once a player drops, there’s no replacing him. In contrast, if a player has trouble joining a TCP/IP game, it’s not as big a deal — you can still recruit another player to join, whereas if you allow the Zone to mediate your game your “table” is closed as soon as you start it, meaning that potential substitutes are locked out. Use TCP/IP. Use TCP/IP. Use TCP/IP. 

2. Power of host player’s computer 

MPD -devours- system resources. If a player with a weak machine tries to host, there will be major delays in the setup screen when options are changed or players join or drop. Also, players’ computers are more likely to get out of sync at the end of a phase, which pretty much wrecks the game. Even though the box says you can run MPD with a 166 MHz processor and 32 Mb of RAM (the configuration I happen to have!), this is not nearly enough to play host. The host should be running at 300 MHz at the very least and have a minimum of 64 Mb of RAM, preferably 128 Mb. In every game I’ve been in, I’ve polled the players present and asked the player with the most powerful machine to host. The results have shown this to be a good approach. Interestingly, modem speed doesn’t seem to matter all that much — at least over a TCP/IP connection. If you’re connecting through the Zone, -especially- if you leave browser windows open, modem traffic will slow you down. Did I say you should use TCP/IP? (Actually, closing other resource-gobbling programs while running MPD is -always- a good idea. And if you formed your game through the Zone, make sure you disconnect from it before you start, or at least put your Zone Messages on “do not disturb.” Because someone -will- page you, which will yank you out of the MPD screen and back onto your desktop, and it can take as much as a full minute to get back into the game if your machine is slow!) 

3. Network stability 

Finally, there’s network traffic. It’s probably a bit much to expect players to use ping and traceroute to test their Internet connections with the host address, but that’s the only way to be reasonably sure that you won’t be disconnected by a network “burp.” Incidentally, Road Runner cable Internet burps -a lot-, at least in my market, and that has nothing to do with the network path; it’s a function of the service itself. You’re probably better off with a regular modem (or a T1 line 🙂 ). From what I can gather, a slow network connection will not, by itself, result in a disconnection. But the combination of slow net and Zone or slow net and overburdened host machine increases the likelihood of disconnection dramatically. All three together practically guarantee it.