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Firewalls protect you from MP.

Foreword.

A rather annoying problem has been bugging many players ever since Emperor came out. Some people have noticed that they cannot host games, or sometimes even join them. The main problem usually turns out to be some kind of protection from outside connections on the player's machine. The reasons are diverse, but the result is the same - inability to fully enjoy Emperor Multiplayer. To try to solve that problem, I have compiled a list of most common security devices, and software, which cause the game to function badly. The list is by no means complete - it is more of a technical FAQ for the game, if you will. Additions are always welcome, however, so if you have a firewall or a router that is not listed below, and were able to configure it so that you have no problems running Emperor Multiplayer, feel free to e-mail me, Vovan <vovansim@yahoo.com>, with step-by-step instructions of how you did it, and they will be included in this document (with proper acknowledgements, of course ;) ).

Contents:

Introduction.

How do I know I am being protected?

There are several symptoms common to this problem:

  • On the lobby log-in screen, you get "init failed" message instead of the username / password fields.
  • When you click the "Host" button in the lobby to start your own game, you get the following warning: "Sierra has not yet verified that your machine can accept connections. Other players may have difficulty joining."
  • You can host a game without the lobby complaining, but the players either cannot connect to it or see a RIP tombstone ( RIP ping ) instead of ping.
  • Some people can join your game, while others cannot.
  • When players join your game, there is no ping for some of them. (RIP tombstone next to their name)
  • When you join other people's games, there is no ping for you.

It is not at all necessary that all the symptoms are present: if only one more can be observed, it is pretty much a sure bet your computer is being protected.
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General solution.

OK, I am a tech wizard, so just tell me what to do, and I'll figure out how on my own.

The general solution would be to either turn all the protection off altogether, which could be unsafe at times, or allow access to your computer on the following ports: 25332, 25333. These are required. Also the desired ports would be: 15101, 15200, 15300, 15800, and 20941. (For more information on what these ports are used for, check out the Game ports section of the lobby help, accessible through the help tab.)
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Step-by-step instructions.

All these techie things make me dizzy. Just tell me what to do and how to do it, and I'll be happy.

There are several ways in which you computer might be protected from outside intrusion:

  • Software firewalls: A software firewall is something that runs on your machine to restrict connections. The most commonly used one is ZoneAlarm, but there are also such great pieces of software as McAfee™ Firewall, Norton™ Firewall, etc..[1]
  • Routers: These are most often used to connect several computers to a broadband modem (DSL, cable, and such). So, if you have several computers that share a broadband connection, chances are that you either have a router (which very often have built-in firewalls) or a proxy server.
  • Proxy servers: Proxy servers are one of the most restrictive types of security. All communication is routed through the proxy, and only types of communication the proxy recognizes is allowed in either direction. These could be installed on a computer to share the Internet connection with other computers on the LAN. These could be used as an alternative for routers. [1]
  • Network Address Translation (NAT): NAT allows several machines to share a single public Internet address. Each machine behind NAT has its own private address and the same public address. There are many ways NAT is implemented, including (but not limited to) most broadband routers, Internet Connection Sharing™ (ICS), and a number of Linux firewalls. Many ISPs are also applying NAT to their subscribers as well. [1]

In this article, I will not describe exactly how to take care of the proxy server configuration, if you have one. For one, there are so many different firewalls out there, that to write down step-by-step procedures for configuring would take up a lot of space; secondly, these are rather rare occurrences, and if you had someone set it up, that person will very likely know how to configure it (or whether it can be configured to accommodate multiplayer at all). Only some of the most frequently used routers and firewalls are described below, with step-by-step procedures of making them work with Emperor Multiplayer. Needless to say, if your machine is protected by more than one of those - by a router and by a firewall, or by two firewalls, etc. - you will need to configure all of those.
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Software firewalls.

Programmatic control of Internet traffic.

Firewall Concept. Logical Network DiagramA firewall protects your network from unwanted Internet traffic. The primary functions of a firewall are to let good traffic pass through while "bad" traffic gets blocked. The most important part of a firewall is its access control features that distinguish between good and bad traffic. Therefore, the problem of firewalls with Emperor is that they consider it "bad" traffic, because it does not use the normal ports, used for frequent communications, such as Internet surfing. Therefore, the main goal of configuring a firewall, is to let it know that Emperor Multiplayer is good traffic, and make it let it go through.

Here are several of the most common firewalls that cause problems for people:

  • Windows XP - Note that Windows XP has a built-in firewall, which is turned on by default, so even if you are not aware of it's presence, it is still there. Make sure to check out this page if you use Windows XP.
  • ZoneAlarm
  • McAfee Firewall
  • Norton Firewall
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Routers.

So, what's a router any way?

Router Concept. Logical Network Diagram A router is a device that determines the next network point to which a packet (data) should be forwarded toward its final destination. The router is connected to at least two networks (Internet and your network) and decides which way to send each information packet based on its current understanding of the state of the networks it is connected to. A router is located at any juncture of networks or gateway, including each Internet point-of-presence. A router is often included as part of a network switch.

For convenience reasons, routers often have built-in firewalls. Configuring software firewalls installed directly on your computer was discussed in the previous section. The firewalls installed on routers can be configured in a similar manner. The only difference is that you will very likely need to connect to your router through an HTML interface, using your Internet browser. Router manual usually have the instructions on configuring their built-in firewalls. So use them as your resource.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on setting up the most commonly used routers to work with Emperor multiplayer:

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[1] Taken directly from the "Internet Security" article under the help tab of the lobby.