Internet Games for Dummies


While everyone else is trying to prove that the Internet isn't all fun and games, Internet Games For Dummies is here to show you that it's at least chock-full of them.

In Internet Games For Dummies, computer gamester John Kaufeld opens up the world of Internet gaming, where there's something for every computer game lover: galactic battles, fantasy adventures, card games, blood-and-guts shoot-em-ups, and more. In-depth chapters explain how to ready your PC or Mac for the total ...

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While everyone else is trying to prove that the Internet isn't all fun and games, Internet Games For Dummies is here to show you that it's at least chock-full of them.

In Internet Games For Dummies, computer gamester John Kaufeld opens up the world of Internet gaming, where there's something for every computer game lover: galactic battles, fantasy adventures, card games, blood-and-guts shoot-em-ups, and more. In-depth chapters explain how to ready your PC or Mac for the total gaming experience, from going online through commercial services like America Online to connecting directly through an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

With Internet Games For Dummies, you can go straight to the best of the best downloadable games and log in to the most-active multiplayer Web-based games. You can even find some tips on improving your gaming skills, whether the opponent is someone else out there on the vast World Wide Web, yourself, or just plain lady luck.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If you ever needed a reason to go out and upgrade your old 486, then here it is. No one needs a Pentium 2 for writing a letter in WordPerfect, but it sure makes playing multiplayer versions of Diablo or Quake 2 a lot more fun. Kaufeld begins with upgrading your machine and choosing a game provider, then looks at dealing with technical problems, family-oriented games, general game information, and tricks to staying alive online. Public libraries would do well to stock multiple copies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764501647
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents


Who I Think You Are
A Few Words about the Games Themselves
Mysteries Awaiting You Herein
Part I: Fighting, Frolicking, Mayhem, and Merriment -- All Available on the Internet
Part II: Let the Games Begin!
Part III: Upgrading Your Way to the Ultimate Game Machine
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Making Sense of the Little Pictures
Taking off for the Wild Net.Yonder

Part I: Fighting, Frolicking, Mayhem, and Merriment -- All Available on the Internet

Chapter 1: Getting Ready to Play on the (Information) Highway

Picking Your Way through the Internet Termitorium
Choosing the Right Provider
Pulling on Your Winsocks
Preparing Your Kids for Online Life

Chapter 2: Exploring the Online Options

Multiplayer Games for the Online Do-It-Yourselfer
Visiting the Internet's Amusement Parks (and Paying for the Privilege)
Playing the Company Way
Exercising Your Imagination with Low-Tech Games
Enjoying the Online Services

Chapter 3: Tricking Games into Working through the Net

When Is the Internet Not a Network?
Meeting the IPX Magicians
Downloading and Installing the Little Fellows
Kali: The One that Started It All
Setting up Kali
Taking Kali (and your games) for a spin
Kahn: The Roguish Upstart
Cranking up Kahn for the first time
Joining the fun

Chapter 4: Battling through the Net's Game Services

Commercial Game Services: You Give Us Money -- We Let You Play
2am Game Club
Multi-Player Games Network (MPG-NET)
NetPlay Game Club
Total Entertainment Network (TEN)
Vendor-Specific Services

Chapter 5: Getting Your Fun through an Online Service

Comparing Online Services and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Does Connection Stuff Matter for Online Games? (Why or Why Not? Write Your Response Below)
Finding Cool Content within the Gates

Chapter 6: Digging for Tips, Tactics, and Other Gaming Gold

Getting the Goods on the Game Industry
Game magazines
Commercial news and game review sites
Other news, review, and preview destinations
Searching for Exactly What You Want
Game-Specific Add-ons, Player Finders, and Other Goodies

Chapter 7: Practicing Proper Netiquette: Salad Fork, Dinner Fork, and Then Chainsaw

Join a Game and Play Until It's Over
Disagree, but Don't Get Personal
If You Don't Know, Ask
Go Easy on Beginners
Remember: It's Only a Game

Part II: Let the Games Begin!

Chapter 8: Touring the Stacks in Search of a Game

Action Games: Mayhem, Carnage, and Other Pursuits
Business and Economics: Wrestling for Dollars
Classic Games: Rockin' to the Oldies
Combat Simulations: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Role-Playing: Exploring Worlds Unknown
Sports Games: Play Ball!
Strategy: Thinking Your Opponent into a Frenzy
Trivia and Word Games: What's a Nine-Letter Word for Fun?
Vehicle Games: Robots and Race Cars and Spaceships -- Oh My!

Chapter 9: Unsealing the Game Vault and Diving Straight into It

A Few Parting Thoughts to Make Your Life Easier
A-10 Cuba
Admiral Sea Battle
Age of Empires
Army Men
Atomic Bomberman
Baseball Pro '98
CART Precision Racing
Close Combat; Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far
Command and Conquer; Command and Conquer: Red Alert; Command and Conquer: Sole Survivor
Dark Reign
Deadlock, Deadlock 2
Descent, Descent II
Diablo; Diablo: Hellfire
Doom, Doom II
Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem Forever
Earth 2140
Earthseige III
Extreme Assault
Final Bell
Football Pro '98
Heavy Gear
Hoyle Blackjack, Hoyle Casino, Hoyle Classic Board Games, Hoyle Poker
IndyCar Racing II
Jack Nicklaus Online Golf Tour
MechWarrior II, MechWarrior III
Meridian 59, Meridian 59 Revelation
Microsoft Flight Simulator 98
Microsoft Golf
Monster Truck Madness
NASCAR Racing 2
Outpost II
Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain
Power Chess
Quake, Quake II
Red Baron II
Redneck Rampage
Star Wars: Jedi Knight
Star Wars Monopoly
Star Wars Rebellion
Starfleet Academy
Streets of SimCity
Strike A Match
The Realm
Trophy Bass 2
Ultima Online
VGA Planets
Virtual Pool 2
WarCraft, WarCraft II
War, Inc.
Worms 2
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter; X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power
You Don't Know Jack: The Netshow; You Don't Know Jack Sports: The Netshow

Part III: Upgrading Your Way to the Ultimate Game Machine

Chapter 10: Updating the Basics: RAM, Processor, Hard Disk, and CD-ROM Drive

Picking Flowers, Picking Upgrades
More Power: Upgrading Your Computer's CPU
More Speed: Adding RAM to the System
More Space: Doing the Disk Drive Tango
More Speed, Part 2: Updating Your CD-ROM Drive

Chapter 11: Adding Vivacious Video

A Good Picture Is Worth 1,000 Trips to the Computer Doctor
Directing the Xs of Video Life
Video Boards from A to Z (or, at Least, from Color to Resolution)
Finding Visual Perfection at Phosphors-R-Us

Chapter 12: Cramming Music and Mayhem into Your Machine

Shuffling the Sound Cards and Picking a Winner
Saving Bucks with an Upgrade
Giving in to the Upgrade Urge
And Now, a Few Words from Your Speakers

Chapter 13: Taking Control of the Action

Putting the Game at Your Command
Throttle and flight controls
Driving controllers
Special controllers
Feeling the Force (or Did That Joystick Just Smack Me?)
Fixing Common Problems

Chapter 14: Faster Connections (Usually) Mean Faster Games

Bits, Baud, and Bandwidth: Stop the Modem, I Want to Get Off the Phone
Blowing Your Mind with High-Speed Access
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
Cable modems

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Chapter 15: Ten Common Game Problems (and Tips for Fixing Them)

Wrestling with an Out-of-Control Joystick
Games Run Verrrry Sloooowly
Opponents Here, Opponents There, Opponents Popping Up Everywhere
Multiplayer Games Don't Talk to Each Other
Out of Memory, Act 1: The Full Hard Drive
Out of Memory, Act 2: RAM Troubles
Game Images Have That "Lego" Look
Games Whine That They Need a Different Number of Colors
Stubborn DOS Games Don't Like Windows 95
Your Sound Card Hides from DOS Games

Chapter 16: Ten Ways to Make Your Games Play Better

Add More RAM
Upgrade the Processor (CPU)
Apply a Different Controller
Update the Drivers
Replace the Video Card
Try a Different Access Number (or Even a New Provider)
Check Your Modem Configuration
Upgrade the Modem
Run the Game by Itself
Free the Hard Disk Space!

Chapter 17: Ten Family-Oriented Games The Name Says It All
Go: An Oriental Pastime of Strategy and Shape
Hasbro's Great Board Games: Battleship, Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble
Trophy Bass 2
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter

Chapter 18: Ten Great Stops for Internet Gaming Information

Game Alert
Game Briefs
Games Domain
Games World
Happy Puppy
Multiplayer Dot Com

Chapter 19: Ten Neat Gaming Areas on America Online and CompuServe

Game Parlor (America Online)
GameSlice (CompuServe)
Legends of Kesmai (Both)
Megawars I and Megawars III (CompuServe)
NTN Trivia (Both Services)
RabbitJack's Casino (America Online)
Simming Forum (America Online)
Strike A Match (Both Services)
VGA Planets (Both)
WorldPlay (America Online)

Part V: Index


Book Registration Information

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First Chapter

Chapter 2
Exploring the Online Options

In This Chapter

  • Running almost any game over the Internet
  • Trying an Internet game service
  • Checking the company-sponsored systems
  • Role-playing and board-gaming the Internet way
  • Frolicking on America Online and CompuServe

As the modem finally synchronizes with its counterpart at your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the piercing tones give way to a still silence. On-screen, the words Connected at 28,800BPS happily appear. You're in -- you made it! Innumerable Internet game sites (and, more important, thousands of would-be opponents) await the tender touch of your trigger finger. The Web browser looks at you anxiously, anticipating your commands.

But you're stumped. Where do you find fascinating sites and players to challenge? How do you ferret them out through the Net's nooks and crannies? You start with this chapter -- that's how!

The following pages introduce the online world's most common ways and places to play, offering quick introductions to the LAN-to-Internet game applications Kali and Kahn, organized game systems such as HEAT and TEN, and vendor-sponsored arenas such as and Westwood Chat. Add to that some notes about low-tech games and special opportunities available through the private online services, and you have a great place to start your journey into online gaming.

Use the individual sections in this chapter for a quick start, and then flip to the chapters later in Part I for more details on your favorites. For now, jump in and start playing!

Multiplayer Games for the Online Do-It-Yourselfer

Even though it's all the rage right now, the Internet is still the new kid on the virtual block. Yes, it's international; yes, it connects millions upon millions of computers. But until just a couple years ago, the Internet was primarily the realm of academics, researchers, and obtuse computer nerds.

Businesses, on the other hand, spent the last ten years installing Local Area Networks (LANs) like crazy in offices, departments, and randomly chosen cubicles all around the world. Of course, these businesses thought that LANs would increase worker productivity, move information through corporate channels more quickly, and generally render the firm invulnerable to all competition. Little did they suspect that their networks would also fuel a whole new genre of interactive games.

As the number of LANs grew, game developers noticed the trend and started writing multiplayer games specifically designed to run on business networks. Because the majority of these networks use Novell Netware, the authors of the games selected the Novell communications protocol (technically known as IPX) as the standard for their games. That's why almost every multiplayer game you pick up in the store works with IPX-based LANs.

The sheer number (and innate coolness) of IPX-based games frustrated Internet gamers because the Internet doesn't do IPX. After giving the issue some thought (and likely consuming a lot of late night Chinese dinners), some clever programmers came up with a way to fool games into believing that they're running on a normal IPX network, whereas they're actually traversing the Internet.

The programs Kali and Kahn perform this feat of deception for most popular multiplayer games. Because of their low registration fee (less than $25 each at the time I wrote this chapter) and broad game support, these programs' popularity grows daily. Table 2-1 gives you some quick details about the contenders, including where to download them on the Net.

Table 2-1

Where to Find the IPX Wizards


Web Site Comments

Kali Current leader; thousands of registered users; over 100 servers worldwide.

Kahn Relative newcomer; relying on ease of use to compete with Kali.

To get started with Kali and Kahn, follow these quick steps:

  1. Check your games to make sure that they support IPX networks.

    If the programs work with specific game networks (such as the Total Entertainment Network [TEN], Mplayer, or HEAT), don't fuss with Kali and Kahn. Instead, skip ahead to the following section for notes about these custom systems.

  2. Check both the Kali and Kahn Web sites to see which one supports your games, and then download and install whichever one does.

    If they both work with your game, I suggest trying to download Kali from the Kali Web site first.

To uncover all the gory details about installing and using Kali and Kahn with your favorite games, flip ahead to Chapter 3.

Visiting the Internet's Amusement Parks (and Paying for the Privilege)

For the most part, gamers enjoy meeting new people, chatting with them, and then vicariously blowing them to smithereens. Unfortunately, finding victims -- er, other players -- among the millions of Internet users isn't exactly easy. If only you had some organized gathering spots where gamers could hang out and play together....

Well, your wish is my command. With a wave of the magic modem, say hello to online game services -- the Internet's version of a combination arcade, game shop, and snack bar (unfortunately, however, without the snacks).

These systems bring together everything you need for full-featured Internet gaming, including hot game titles, strong chat areas, player-ranking systems, scheduled tournaments, and even prizes for top performance. Best of all, the game services run almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so whenever you need to hop in for a quick round of fun, they're waiting for you.

Table 2-2 lists the top game services on the Net as of this writing. For the most active, up-to-date list, trip over to Yahoo! (at and search for the term online networks. If everything works the way it should, Yahoo! presents you with a link to a category list lovingly titled Business and Economy: Companies: Software: Games: Online Networks (see Figure 2-1).

Table 2-2 A Sampling of Online Game Services


Web Site



Game Gateway






The Arena

Total Entertainment Network

Of course, life experience says that anything this incredibly fun and useful simply must include a wee, tiny little catch. Unfortunately, the game services follow this rule. (Alas!) So what's the catch? That's easy: They want your money!

Yes, you read it right -- the game services bring a lot to the table, so they feel that you should pony up a little yourself. Most of the systems use either hourly rates (for example, TEN and Game Gateway) or monthly subscription fees (such as HEAT and Oceanline). Some don't charge anything (Mplayer and NetPlay come to mind), but they get even with you by presenting a constant stream of ads. After all, they need to make money somehow.

Because the computer industry prides itself on maintaining a constant state of change, make sure that you double-check the pricing details for whichever game services you decide to use.

If the thought of organized gaming (complete with prizes and digital watering holes for swapping battle stories) stokes your fire, follow these steps to get started:

  1. Browse through the various online game service Web sites until you find one that looks interesting.

    Look for your favorite games among the titles that each service supports, because not every service works with all the big-name games.

  2. After you find an interesting candidate, download the service's software from its Web site.

    Most of the game services use their own special programs to support chats and organize games. The programs usually run about 4 to 5 megabytes in size, so keep a lively novel or computer manual handy while the software makes its way to you.

  3. Install the service's software, and then follow its setup and sign-on instructions.

    Every service is a little different, but the common steps involve choosing a name for yourself on the system, telling the system about your games, and finishing whatever other registration tasks the service deems necessary.

After you finish all the annoying preplay steps, you can fire up the game system's program, sign onto your Internet connection, and start playing!

To sink up to your eyeballs in the details of the world of online game services, skip ahead to Chapter 4.

Playing the Company Way

Not everyone in the world wants to make money from your playing time. Some companies just want to sell games -- millions of them, if possible -- and an occasional T-shirt, mug, and strategy guide. To achieve this end, several companies offer their own online game services.

These services differ in two important ways from the commercial systems that I mention in the preceding section. First, the company-sponsored systems usually limit themselves to their own brand of games, so don't expect to find a lot of players for Sierra On-Line NASCAR Racing II on the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone. Second, and more important, these systems don't charge anything to play. (I suppose it's only fair, however, because the companies already made money when you bought their games.)

The company-specific game services listed in Table 2-3 represent the Best of Breed as of this writing. Because this idea seems pretty popular, I expect other companies to follow suit as time goes by. Look through Yahoo! (at or your favorite Internet search engine under the term online networks for an up-to-the-split-second list.

Table 2-3 Company-Sponsored Game Services


Sponsor Web Site

Blizzard Entertainment

Internet Gaming Zone


Westwood Chat

Westwood Studios

Getting started with these systems takes a slightly different approach than on the commercial game services. Here's what to do:

  1. Haul out your game documentation and look for the developer's Web site address.

    Because these services center around particular companies, starting with your manual (yeeeewww -- what a terrible thought!) makes the most sense.

    If one of the companies listed in Table 2-3 made your game, you can skip ahead to Step 3. Otherwise, continue with Step 2.

    Neither Net nor network: The mysterious Dwango

    Somewhere between afternoon and night comes twilight, when the skies are too dark for day but too bright for night -- and the time's still too early for the long distance rates to change. Twilight isn't exactly day or night -- it's just itself. And with that thoughtful introduction, I present Dwango, the peculiar individualist of game services.

    Although Dwango's a multiplayer game system, it's not truly an Internet-based animal. Instead, Dwango (at relies on local dial-up connections with servers strategically placed in cities all across the country. Thanks to some high-speed communication links, these local servers collectively form the Dwango system. In effect, Dwango represents a national game network, built from the ground up.

    This status begs the question of why a sane, rational company would want to create its own private network when the Internet already exists (and someone else paid for it, I might add). The answer revolves around the gamer's worst enemy: latency. Although the Internet moves data all around the world with splendid accuracy, its occasional communication delays remind me of the U.S. Post Office.

    Because Dwango uses its own proprietary communication network, it doesn't suffer from the Net's delivery whims. As a result, lag times are almost nil -- true nirvana for the die-hard action gamer.

    The downsides of Dwango are its pricing structure (hourly fees) and the fact that the company doesn't have servers absolutely everywhere yet. If you live in a city that's covered by Dwango, however, you may want to give the service a try. Be careful, however -- those incredibly low lag times may hopelessly spoil you!

  2. Check the company's Web site to see whether they recommend any multiplayer game sites.

    If the company doesn't maintain its own game service, you may end up back at one of the commercial game systems that I mention in the preceding section. If that happens to you, sigh deeply, reflect on how much fun the game is going to be after it finally works, and then flip back to that section for help and guidance.

  3. Point your Web browser to the Web site for the company's game service.

    Sit back and watch the site unfold before your eager eyes. Or, better still, go grab a drink and some snacks. By the time you get back, the site should be ready to use.

  4. Follow the site's on-screen instructions for getting started.

    As the commercial services do, most of the company-specific systems use some kind of special software for chatting and setting up games. In addition, you need to sign up for a user ID on that particular system. Don't worry about that, however -- it's one of those marketing things. No charge is involved (at least not when I wrote this).

As you probably guessed by now, these hints get you started in the right direction, but you need to know a little more -- particularly about launching the games so that they work the way you expect. For the lowdown on the entire process, check out Chapter 4.

Exercising Your Imagination with Low-Tech Games

As hard to believe as the concept may seem, not every game requires flashy graphics or speedy data connections for enjoyable play. In fact, the Net offers lots of games that come to life through a vivid imagination instead of a powerful 3-D video card.

Despite their unassuming nature, low-tech games proudly draw their lineage from the earliest days of the Net, when computers stood in glass-enclosed technology temples and 2,400 bits per second meant blinding speed. Fancy graphics didn't exist then. (Heck, gamers were thrilled to use the computer at all!) So everyone played games in the only mode available: text. Gamer/programmers didn't take long to figure out how to assemble letters into rudimentary graphics, however, so the first video games soon came to life.

Today, low-tech games remain popular because of their demands for quick thinking and boundless creativity and their distinct lack of demand for high-speed Internet connections. Sure, brutally crushing someone in the visually lush Command and Conquer brings a certain thrill, but matching wits in a free-form role-playing scene or a challenging round of chess leaves you breathless just as well.

No matter which direction your interests run, low-tech games deliver the goods. For a little taste of what's available, check out Table 2-4. Quite a variety, eh? The table includes the game's address, as well as info on what programs you need (Web browser, Telnet client, or other specialized software) to give the game a try.

Even if you need a special program to play your chosen game, that doesn't mean money out of your pocket. Most sites offer free download links that lead the software you need straight to your hard drive. (I hope you have plenty of space!)

Table 2-4 Low-Tech Games That Pack a Punch


Internet Address Platform

Chinook Checkers Web browser

Hangman Web browser

Internet Chess Server Telnet (Go to the Web site at the same address to register and find out how to use the ICS service)

NetGammon Downloads special program from site

WebChess Forms-capable Web browser

Enjoying the Online Services

More than 11 million people get Internet access through the major online services. Although some net.purists sneer down their joysticks at America Online and CompuServe, both systems offer an incredible bounty of games -- many of which aren't available to the rest of the Internet universe.

Games were an early mainstay at CompuServe, the online world's Great-Granddaddy (if any system can truly claim that title). Many years later, newcomers Prodigy and Delphi relied on games to power their service mixes. Current star America Online proudly boasts an incredible variety of interactive games ranging from classic word puzzles to the latest in multiplayer role-playing games.

If you belong to either (or, for maximum gaming activity, both) of these services, check out some of the games in Table 2-5. These are merely a smattering of the coolest game-related spots out there. For the America Online sites, the table shows the area's keyword (which is the America Online navigational tool). The CompuServe sites include the area's go command (which is CompuServe's equivalent to the America Online keywords).

Table 2-5 A Taste of What's Available from the Online Services


Service Keyword or GO command

Battletech: Solaris

CompuServe go Battletech

Legends of Kesmai

CompuServe go Kesmai

Strike A Match

AOL keyword Strike

PBM Gaming Forum

CompuServe go PBMGames

Online Gaming Forum

AOL keyword OGF

NTN Trivia

AOL, CompuServe keyword NTN, go NTN Games

If all this info has your trigger finger twitching, flip ahead to Chapter 5 to pick up the details.

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