How To... Use The Net To Improve Your Gaming Lifestyle Want to make your Net connection make your gameplaying more fun, rewarding and better value for money? Adam Phillips takes a shovel to the turd of techno-babble that surrounds the Net and clears a path 'Information Superhighway', 'The Global Village' - don't you just hate the hyperbole? While corporations and elitist Net-heads throw nonspecific buzz words at us humble public with the unrelenting intensity of an ebola outbreak, those of us who are still - shock, horror - unconnected are left, more often than not, wondering what all the fuss is about. "I heard that you can use this Net thing to download Dutch porn." Well, yes... "And lets you watch women gettheir kit off live?" Hmm... yep, but that's another story. Because of the onslaught of all the blinding hype, some of you may not have cottoned on to just how useful the Net can be for improving your gamesplaying in every area. Unlike the glossy ads/niche magazines, here PC Zone presents an overview of what paying 15 or so quid a month for a Net connection and œ100 for a modem can actually do for your gameplaying in real terms. IN THE BEGINNING You've read all the mags with their boring-but-bloody-useful charts on the best Internet Service Providers; bought a modem; selected your browser; got used to the basics of 'surfing' the Net; and you're now hungry for a Net-enhanced gameplaying 'experience'? Then read on. (You can find the Web addresses for the sites mentioned here in the Useful Sites panel on page ??) THE WORLD WIDE WEB Chinstrokers say: A hypertext heaven where people from all walks of life can communicate through video, sound, images and text. Nirvana for the wired generation. We say: The WWW is made up of millions of digital pages of info on any subject you care to mention. Unfortunately, 95 per cent of it is utter crap, but the other five per cent is worthy of further investigation. Believe it or not, pretty much every aspect of PC gaming is covered on the WWW. Take buying the games in the first place. There are a variety of mail order companies online who all offer Net users the ability to order the latest (or aging) games via simple online credit card forms. Some also offer you discounts if you make an order via their site - eg: Special Reserve won't charge you for postage & packing. Once your game has landed on the doormat, any problems you encounter while installing can be answered via the standard tech phonelines or by going online. All major publishers and many developers have homepages on the WWW, and have either e-mail addresses to send your whinges to or, better still, detailed FAQs with up-to-date troubleshooting guides. The beast that is the PC games market is, software that is bugged to hell has been known to be released (Tell me about it - Ed). Fortunately, developers/publishers usually have all the patches at their homepages ready for download. If they fail you, then online games magazines (that's e-zines for those who want to sound all Net literate, like) such as Game Power have all the latest patches available and are updated on a daily/weekly basis. With the game up and running, what happens if you get stuck with the gameplay itself? As we'll be reporting in next month's issue, the Net offers punters an obscene number of homepages dedicated to cheat codes, hints and walkthrus. Sites such as Cheats.Net are invaluable for those of you who can't figure out how to beat a game by yourselves. Once you've finished a game, don't throw it in the bin quite yet either - class games like C&C andQuake have a mass of levels designed by Netizens online and, unlike expansion disks, they're free - everything from new maps to new units are available, which can inject a new lease of life into a once aging title (check out the Useful Sites panel on page ??). Finally, the likes of Happy Puppy offer hundreds of demos to download. So if you're itching to get your mitts on the latest 'play one level of the next big thing' demo, pop along and download it. Be warned though: the Net's major weakness is its lack of speed, so large files can take an age to download. With a Net connection, you can order software online at discounted prices... ...hunt through archives for that latest patch... ...drop in on certain superb sites boasting a mass of gaming goodies... ...find a walkthru for that game that's been beating you round the head with frustration... ...download new maps for flagship titles such as StarCraft... ...or simply get the latest game demo straight from the developers. NEWSGROUPS Chinstrokers say: The true light and dark of the Internet - emotions and opinions outpoured in postings for the whole world to see and respond to. Therapy for the wired generation. We say: Imagine a place where reprobates, pyschos, geeks, nutters and 'normal' people post messages to one another about absolutely bloody anything. Be very careful out there. This is the equivalent of ground zero on the Internet - there are hundreds of newsgroups, each dedicated to a particular theme or issue. From spanking and sheep loving, to Unreal and Quake 2, if you have a question you need an answer to (and you can't find it anywhere else), then newsgroups are the place to go. To make life easier for yourself, use the top newsgroup-specific search engine Deja News to find out if your question has been answered already, or to save yourself the time-swallowing effort of ploughing through huge indexes of newsgroups available on your ISP's server on the hunt for precisely the right one. Once a newsgroup has been located, simply tap its address into your newsgroup browser. Once there, you can 'post' your questions or opinions. Keep your postings brief and, more importantly, relevant - hard-core newsgroupies can be a testy bunch and don't like time wasters. Worst still, post something offensive and you can expect to be 'flamed' - where angry folk inhabiting the newsgroup will drown you in a flood of rage-ridden e-mails. Finally, make sure you return to the newsgroup over the next few days to see if anyone has posted an answer to your original posting - it's bloody annoying, but newsgroupies rarely respond to your e-mail address directly, only to your actual posting. Visit Deja News (www.dejanews.com), tap in the item that you want to locate in the newsgroups, and... ...hey presto! The results. The search engine also enables you to search the newgroups for your own particular areas of interest - ie PC games. MULTIPLAYER GAMES Chinstrokers say: The next level in immersive experiences. Competitive rivalry on a global scale. Team-building skills for the wired generation. We say: A great excuse to kick the crap out of fellow human beings without ending up going to prison. Everyone's writing about them. Everybody, we are assured, is playing them. Multiplaying games are the next BIG thing in software - no more AI problems in the shape of ropy computer opponents; let the humans battle it out among each other. The problem for most folk is the cost and the equipment required. All the ravings in the press about the joys of multiplaying online can sometimes ring hollow when you realise that most journo bods are playing across the office network on kick-ass PCs, and don't have to pay a single penny for the experience. While cost is an issue (see How Much? panel on page ??), there are some practical and affordable (as long as you don't get addicted) methods for checking out the latest in gameplaying advancement. The one that gets the official PC Zone stamp of approval is the multiplaying Wireplay service from BT, whose start-up package is a regular feature on our cover CDs. If you've yet to be tempted, then use the following beginner's guide to how to set up your system and then indulge yourself playing Quake against hordes of psychotic fellow players. By the way, for those who think their machines may be too slow for such an experience, everything featured here was carried out on a poxy P75 (clocked to a P100) with 16Mb of RAM and a Diamond Stealth 64 graphics card (which is some three years old now) - hardly a ninja PC now, is it? So what's stopping ya? GETTING STARTED 1. First off, grab that copy of Quake, wipe off the dust and install it. Once done, pop this month's PC Zone CD in, run the PC Zone prog, select the Wireplay folder, and double click on Quakeworld 2.21. Following the onscreen instructions, two programmes will be installed on your machine - Quakeworld and Game Spy 3D. After that, return to the Wireplay folder and double click on the Wireplay Client option. After a couple of messages, you'll be presented with an option to either do a Recommended install or a Custom one. Click on Recommended. 2. During the installation routine, you'll be presented with the Configuring The Connection screen. Simply select the modem you'll be using (it's in the pulldown list at the bottom of the left window) and then click on server types (check under the Allowed Network Protocols and make sure TCP/IP is selected). Then click on Okay. The installation program will then make the relevant registry changes and create the relevant desktop icons. 3. After reading the text files to check for any messages/update info etc, double click on the Wireplay icon on your desktop (note: you'll need to use Small Fonts for Wireplay - to change your settings, go to your Window Display Settings and make the necessary adjustments). You'll then be presented with the Setup screen - the prog will ask you to select the games you have installed on your machine which you want to multiplay with. For now, click on Quakeworld (Quake) and then hit the ADD button so Quakeworld appears. Click on the update path at the bottom of the window and press Find. The prog will automatically find the releveant file location of Quakeworld. Then click on Okay. You'll be asked if you want to register for Credit Card Billing - select No for now. You'll then be asked to come up with your nickname - tap it in and then click on New User. 4. The next screen offers you the chance to join either Rapid Play or Games Worlds - Rapid Play is designed for games that were originally intended for local area networks, not for country-scale consumption. For now, click on Games Worlds and, after a message, you'll be asked to register. Simply slap in your name, address, password and so forth. For the Callback number, enter your phone number. After re-entering your password and reading a couple of brief messages, you'll be whisked away to the noticeboard. This displays all the current games available on Game Worlds. Click on Quakeworld, catch up on the latest Quake news, and then... 5. ... click on Launch Game and you'll find yourself at the hub of Quakeworld - Qview. Similar in operation to Microsoft Explorer, this server browser displays all the info about the various servers hosting blood-drenched deathmatches. There are four main servers in all: Quake Deathmatch, Quake Clan/Competition, Quake Teamplay and Quake 2. You'll find that Quake Deathmatch is already selected, and the window on the right displays all the deathmatch servers available, with key information such as the number of players currently slaughtering each other on any particular server, and the all-important ping rate. 6. As well the standard deatmatches where usually seasoned players blow the hell out of each other, there are also variations on the theme, including a Newbie/Novices server where the stronger you get, the weaker your weapon becomes (oo-er). This means that the best player will end up wielding a mere axe if he becomes too good, and therefore the overall gameplay is more balanced. Another variant is the Get Rich Quake server where players fight it out among each other and have to grab as many Quake coins as possible to win. We recommend though the Newbie server for beginners - click on it twice in Qview and you're off. Enjoy! Collect the Quake coins to win the Get Rich Quake game - the new graphics and sound files are all downloaded automatically onto your hard drive. You'll just have to wait a while. On the Newbie/Novice game, players doing badly automatically start off with a more powerful weapon than a mere shotgun. I'm doing so well that... er... I'm not even on the on-screen scoreboard. Bastards. 7. Played the basics? Become addicted? Course you have - and you have now indulged yourself in the basics of multiplaying. A further mass of options await you as you gain confidence: joining or creating clans; climbing up league tables; creating your own clan skins (costumes) for your character on screen; and, of course, indulging yourself in other classic titles such as Quake 2, Duke Nukem, WarCraft II and Command & Conqueror. PC Zone's parting advice? Remember to eat and sleep. Oh, and go to work - you've got to pay those phone bills after all. Join with other players and form clubs... ...or create a Quake clan. The ones shown here are just the tip of the icerberg. Work your way up the league tables and attain glory and mucho kudos. Get stuck into special blood-frenzied events. A Helping Hand PC Zone asked James Kaye, one of the top dogs at Wireplay, for some friendly advice for the newbie player 1. Read the comprehensive Help section on Wireplay News - it's got all the relevant FAQs as well as beginner's set-up advice etc. 2. Make sure you have all the correct downloads etc, such as the latest version of Quake 2, and any extra maps you want to play. All the downloads have a clear and concise explanation next to them so you'll know what to download. If you have the free Wireplay CD, you can also install some major maps as well as our skin pack file which has most of the skins that are registered on Wireplay. You will also find our skinpack at www.wireplay.com in the Quake section of our website. You can obtain the free CD by calling 0800 800 918. The June issue of PC Zone (issue 64) has a special Wireplay-sponsored CD which is crammed full of Quake goodies, so it may be worth your while to get hold of that back issue of the mag. 3. Most of the popular games have clubs which are run by Club Captains who hold newbie nights and are very welcoming. The Captains hold weekly tournaments and they will pair up people of a similar experience level. 4. In a game, don't be afraid to ask other users for help. Wireplayers are a close community and are willing to help others out. Just type in you message (after pressing 'T') and hopefully you'll get a response. 5. E-mail any one of our League Masters if you want to be partnered with new people or need any other help. League Master details can be found in the Leagues section of the Wireplay Website or in Wireplay Quake News. 6. Anyone can start a clan. Either find an existing one from the list in our Quake News, or in the Quake section of our website, then simply contact the Clan leader via e-mail. If you want to set up your own clan then e-mail us at email@example.com and we'll put up all the details, or even your appeal for others to join. 7. If you have any set-up problems, ring our helpdesk on 0345 577 577. They are open 12pm-12am, seven days a week, and are able to deal with a wide variety of Quake issues. USEFUL SITES World Wide Web Search engines Yahoo www.yahoo.com Deja News www.dejanews.com Online mail order Special Reserve www.reserve.co.uk Developer/publishers sites Acclaim www.aklm.com/games/index.html Activision www.activision.com/games/pub-index.asp Bullfrog www.bullfrog.co.uk/ Electronic Arts www.ea.com/ Epic MegaGames www.epicgames.com/ Gremlin Interactive www.gremlin.co.uk/ GT Interactive www.gtinteractive.com/ ID Software www.epicgames.com/ Microprose www.microprose.com/ Microsoft www.microsoft.com/games/ Sierra www.sierra.com/ Take 2 Interactive www.take2games.com 3D Realms/Apogee www.3drealms.com Virgin Games www.vie.com/games/index.html Specific game sites Examples of some of the top sites for gleaning patches, deathmatch maps, FAQs or new levels Duke Nukem www.dukeworld.com/ Grand Theft Auto http://gta.stomped.com/ Quake www.quakeworld.com/ Red Alert www.lookup.com/Homepages/69636/cc/cc_home.html StarCraft http://ferior.hostnow.net/ Total Annihilation www.annihilated.com/ Tomb Raider 1&2 www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Peaks/7281/ Unreal www.unreal.org/ Game E-zine sites Homepages dedicated to all things PC - whether it be reviews, cheats, patches or demos Games Mansion www.gamesmansion.co.uk/ Game Power www.gamepower.com Happy Puppy www.happypuppy.com/ PC Game Finder www.pcgame.com/ PC Game Review www.pcgr.com/ PC Zone www.pczone.co.uk/ NEWSGROUPS Below are examples of the kind of newsgroups available to find info and mingle with other gamers. There are also plenty of newsgroups dedicated to hardware problems/issues such as 3Dfx cards alt.games.starcraft alt.games.unreal alt.global.quake alt.games.quake alt.games.3dfx 3dfx.products.voodoo2 alt.games comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.flight-sim comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.sports comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.misc Glossary A little wet behind the ears when it comes to Net-speak? Ne'r mind, lad, PC Zone's here to help ya Clan: Quake gamesplayers organised into teams. Rivalry abounds as different clans clash in the quest to become numero uno. Deathmatch: A free-for-all session of multiplayer Quake where everyone tries to kill each other. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): A usually extensive list of questions and answers on any and every subject imaginable, from individual games to breast cancer. Prevalent on newsgroups to avoid newbies asking the same basic questions over and over again. Be sure to read them or else you'll just piss off regular visitors to the newsgroup. Frag: To kill someone in Quake. Apparently the word is derived from killing someone with a fragmentation device. As well you know. Lag: Used to describe the slowness of a Quake multiplayer game. Caused by a cruddy connection or poor settings. See 'Ping', below. Newbie: Er... you - someone new to the Net. Ping: Measures the speed of your connection to the server. A high ping rate means a slow connection; a low one means... you get the idea. Server: The 'host' computer that enables players to network together. Server Browser: eg Qview. Software that enables you to find servers. Decent versions offer the ability to see how many players there are on any given server, and give you a lowdown on the ping rate. Skin: A graphics file that can be applied to your Quake character (model). Vital for any self-respecting Quake clan. How Much? There are two options for Wireplay gaming Pay-As-You-Play: costs 2.5p a minute off-peak (Mon-Fri 6pm-8am, and at all times over the weekend). At other times it's 6.4p a minute (minimum charge 5p). Bear in mind that you can't put the Wireplay number on your Friends And Family or Best Friend discount schemes (but which you can as a subscriber - see below) because the PAYP option is treated as a premium number, not a local call. Which we think is a bit stingy if you ask us. Has anyone read about BT's profits over last five years? Subscription: Use a credit card and you can subscribe to Wireplay for œ9.95 a month or œ99 a year. The Wireplay number can also be put on the aforementioned Friends And family and Best Friend discount schemes as well.
"Use the Internet for games"