Introduction

This tutorial will try to guide you through the steps necessary to play Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption online through a router or gateway computer. Basically the steps necessary to do this are to login to your router, or access your gateway computer and set it up so it will forward certain connections to a certain machine only. If you are technically more adept you could try reading only the "Quick and dirty" section of this article to get you started faster. Mind i've put much more information in this article than strictly necessary to get it to work, this is because i believe some insight can always be of great help and you should know what you're doing. So enjoy reading and learning!

Quick and dirty

For those people who already know how a router works and how to administer it:

Configure your router to forward all traffic (TCP + UDP) on port 27960 to the machine on which you wish to play Vampire. Usually this option should be called "Port forwarding" or "Virtual Server".

Administering your router

There are many different routers out there, and they do not all work in the same way, so it is impossible for me to explain everything in detail for your specific router. However most routers do have some common administration options and default values so i will be going by those. I myself use a D-Link DI-604 router together with a hub.

My router

Thats the front of my router. Sorry about the bad quality but thats my cam. If u look near the white spot u'll notice it says "WAN", which means wide area network, also known as the internet. My router has the possibility to connect 4 cables to.

Getting to know your setup

First lets try to get to know your setup a little bit better. There are many different setups of which i will discuss only the two most common here.

1. Direct connections to the router: Usually a router has a number of sockets by default, for instance my router has 4 sockets to put plugs in. Ethernet is the protocol used to communicate in a LAN or with your router over the cables that go in these sockets. If your computer has an ethernet card (or NIC: Network Interface Card) then you can connect your computer to the router directly with a network cable. To those computers it will look like they are directly connected to the internet, the router just forwards ("routs") all traffic from the outside and vice versa.

2. Local Area Network (LAN) using a hub + router uplink: A hub is a device usually much looking like a router in which you can also plug several ethernet cables, for example in my hub you can plug 8 cables. Now the function of a hub is entirely different from a router. When a computer sends data out over a cable connected to the hub, the hub will check for any other machines connected to the hub and broadcast the data on to all these machines, and the machine that this data is meant for will pick it up. So this allows all computers to communicate simultaneously. This actually creates a little network called a Local Area Network. You don't have to be connected to the internet to have a LAN. A router usually has one specific socket called an 'uplink' (it should be written on your router near that socket). The uplink socket looks exactly the same as the others but the difference is in that you can connect a cable from your hub to your router in that socket and then all the machines that are connected to the hub will be able to communicate with the router.

Here's what the back of my router looks like, you can clearly see the sockets and that there's only two cables plugged in (aside from the broadband cable, which is seperate on the right):

My router

And this is what my hub looks like:

My hub

IP numbers and the like

Ok now that you have an idea of your setup, we're going to talk about IP-numbers for a bit. You see, the router needs to know what data to pass to what machine behind the router, so every machine needs a specific identification number, called an IP-number (Internet Protocol number). An IP-number is a 4 byte integer and is usually represented by taking the 4 byte values seperately and seperating them by a dot like this: 192.168.0.1. Now the default IP-number of your router will probably be 192.168.0.1, as it is the standard. But how do i know the IP-numbers of the other machines you ask? Well, if you're running Windows 95/98/ME do this: Click your start button, click "Run", type in "Winipcfg" without the quotes and press enter. It should bring up a dialog that shows you your local IP-number. If you're running Win2k/XP do this: Open up a console window (Start->Run->"cmd") and type in "ipconfig" without the quotes and press enter. It should print out your local IP-number. Mind this IP-number is not your internet IP-number. The machines connected to the router don't really need to know the internet IP-number because the router will keep that, the machines connected just send everything to the router and vice versa. Ok now there is one aspect you definately need to understand here. There are two ways for the machines connected to the router of getting an IP-number. The first one is the standard when you unpack your router and install it: DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Don't let the name intimidate you, this simply means that a new machine connected to the router will request a new IP-number from the router. As the router keeps a table of all the IP-numbers connected, it can therefore assign the new machine a unique IP-number, thus preventing address collisions (which is why it's the default, it's dummy-proof). Usually the router will assign the machines IP-numbers from an IP pool, meaning IP-numbers ranging from a certain number to another, like: 192.168.0.2-192.168.0.10. But you can change the range of this pool. The problem is however, when one machine shuts down, after a while the router will scrap it off the list and when it boots up again the router will think "hey a new machine lets pick a nice IP-number for it" and this might be a different IP-number from the one it had before (mind this is theoretically, i've noticed in practice the IP-number usually stays the same anyway). Now to get Vampire to work we want to make sure that the IP-number of the machine we want to play on stays the same, for reasons i will explain in the next section. But first there is another way for machines connected to the router to get an IP-number, and that is by setting it manually. Of course you have to make sure you don't pick an IP-number thats already in use by another machine or you will get a mess, and you also have to make sure the IP-number you pick is within the routers IP pool. We call this a static IP.

Here's a simplified version of computers directly connected to the router and where the router has built-in hub capabilities to create a small LAN:

Routing and port-forwarding

Now imagine this: You're playing Vampire, you see a nice game that you want to join, so you click it and press Join. Now what happens? WON keeps a listing of the IP-numbers associated with every game. So now WON tells your computer the IP-number of where the game is hosted. The first thing your computer will do now is try to connect to that IP-number on port 27960 through TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP is connection oriented, which means there is a sort of handshake between the participants. Lets say the person hosting the game is behind a router and is using DHCP. Your game tries to connect to that person by sending data over the internet to that specific IP-number, and so the data arrives at that persons router. But now what? Obviously, there is one machine behind the router that is listening for data on port 27960 for any people who wants to join, but how does the router know what local IP-number to send this data to?? It doesn't... Well, mine doesn't anyway. I believe there are some modern routers who keep a listing of which machines are listening on what ports etc so they are "smart routers" but since you are reading this, i presume you're not lucky enough to have one of those. So, this is really the key element to getting it all to work. All we have to do is tell the router that when it receives data on a particular port, it should forward (route) everything to a specific local IP-number, the IP-number of your computer, the computer you want to play on.

Assigning your machine a static IP-number

First we're going to have to make some preparations. Seeings we're going to be configuring the router to forward certain connections to one IP-number only, we have to make sure our local IP-number doesn't change, so we're going to make it static. Don't worry it's really not that hard. Ok lets dive in. Open up the Control Panel (Click start->Settings->Control Panel, mind all these instructions are based on XP, it should be quite similar for Win98/ME). Now double click "Network connections", this will give you a list of all the connections your computer has going. There should only be one, probably called "Local Area Connection". Right, now right click that connection and select "Properties" like this:

This will open up a dialog listing some protocols and settings for this connection. From the list select the entry "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)" and click the "Properties" button:

Now you should get a dialog like this:

Now, i'm guessing that in your case the selection will be set to "Obtain an IP address automatically", which means it's using DHCP. We don't want that, so select "Use the following IP address". Now the hard part for me is to tell you what IP address to use, because i don't know how many machines there are connected to your router, so i'm just going to make a safe guess here. Lets say you have a router to which you can connect 4 machines, and the default setting for an IP pool is 10 IP addresses minimum, set it to 192.168.0.10. So where it shows 192.168.0.5 in the image you enter 192.168.0.10. The other fields should be exactly the same as in the image: Set subnet mask to 255.255.255.0 and default gateway to 192.168.0.1 (the routers IP address). The DNS server address should be the same also, but if it has a specific value for you then don't change it, just leave it as it is, i won't get into that right now. OK all done, so click OK. If you're running Win2K/XP your computer should now have a static IP address! If you're running Win98/ME you will have to reboot first. Now open up Internet Explorer and make sure everything still works. If it doesn't, try changing the IP-number to something lower like 192.168.0.4.

Configuring your router

Phew, finally, we've come to the final and most important part, so lets do this. Usually routers have the possibility to administer them through a web-interface. This means that your router is actually running a mini webserver with pages you can visit in your browser to configure it through. So lets try this first. As the default IP address of your router should be 192.168.0.1 open up Internet Explorer (or whatever browser you use) and type in the URL: http://192.168.0.1

You should get a login dialog asking for a username and a password. If it shows an error page then it means that either your router has a different IP address, or it does not have a web-interface. In the last case you should look for any software that came with the router and install that as it may help you to configure your router that way. But lets presume you have the login dialog. "Huh? I never set a password for this thing..." I hear you saying. Probably not.. But it could be that your father or whoever manages the network has set it up so if you think someone has, then you should ask them for the login/password, or to configure it for you. But lets presume it hasn't been touched yet. There are a few standard out-of-the-box values for the username and password. Normally you can find these values in your manual, but here are the default ones:

Username: admin, Password: password

Username: admin, Leave password blank

Username: admin, password: admin

Same but replace admin with "Administrator" everywhere.

One of these combinations should hopefully allow you to log in to your router. Now as i said there are various types of routers, all with different web-interfaces and options, so i cannot possibly predict what you will get to see next. The option you should be looking for is usually called "Port forwarding" or "Virtual Server". In my case it was under a tab page labeled "Advanced" and it was called "Virtual Server". The Virtual Server or Port forwarding option will allow you to specify a port (or range of ports) and an IP address, and possibly select a protocol (TCP, UDP, ...). You should create a new entry by enterring 27960 as the port number and enter the static IP address you set your computer to earlier (like 192.168.0.10). If you have to select a protocol too, then select both TCP and UDP, or if you can only select one, make two entries for the same IP address and port number for both protocols. Now find a button that says save or something to save the changes you made. Mind i had to reboot my router before the changes would take effect so you might want to look out for a reboot option too. Thats it, it should all be in order now!

Configuring your firewall

One last thing you should check is the firewall. Modern routers often have a built in firewall. Or you may even be running a software firewall on your system which prevents you from playing. Basically, you will need to check if your firewall does not block any incoming traffic on port 27960. Routers usually have the option to either allow all inbound traffic, or deny it. Then they allow you to maintain a list of which ports to deny/allow traffic on. So if your router has a firewall option, click it and make sure it's set to allow all inbound traffic.

The final test

Ok, now comes the fun part: testing it. Open up Vampire and see if you can join any games. You should now be able to join other peoples games as well as host games for other people :) Have fun!

Conclusion

Well, I hope I was able to teach you something new about routers and networks in general. I realise that this article didn't really go very deep in regard to protocols and hardware, but that is not what this article was intended for. I was also rather in a hurry so i hope this didn't affect the overall quality of the article. If you have any further comments or questions feel free to post comments.

Mordred