Polly wants a cracker

Linksys and the gaming geeks

I love this. I just got a Linksys wifi router/hub for my apartment, and was having a bit of trouble configuring it. So I check out the Troubleshooting page and start reading. It’s the usual stuff — tweaking and checking various radio-buttons and fields in the router hardware, to make sure everything is as it’s supposed to be. But then in the middle of the document comes this stuff:

Q: I setup an Unreal Tournament Server, but others on the LAN cannot join. What do I need to do?
A: If you have a dedicated Unreal Tournament server running, you need to create a static IP for each of the LAN computers and forward ports 7777, 7778, 7779, 7780, 7781, and 27900 to the IP address of the server. If you want to use the UT Server Admin, forward another port (8080 usually works well), then in the [UWeb.WebServer] section of the server.ini file, set the ListenPort to 8080 (to match the mapped port above) and ServerName to the IP assigned to the Router from your ISP.

Q: How do I get Half-Life: Team Fortress to Work with the Wireless AP + Cable/DSL Router? A: The default client port for Half-Life is 27005. The computers on your LAN need to have “+clientport 2700x” to the HL shortcut command line; the x would be 6, 7, 8, and on up. This lets multiple computers connect to the same server. One problem: version won’t let multiple computers with the same CD key connect at the same time, even if on the same LAN (not a problem with As far as hosting games, the HL server does not need to be in the DMZ. Just forward port 27015 or 27016 to the local IP of the server computer. There remains, however, a problem with people being booted after a few minutes with an “illegible server message.”

It’s such an interesting glimpse into the geekcore consumer base for wifi. Half-Life and Unreal are the only applications actually mentioned by name in the entire FAQ (other than ICQ). Clearly, gamers must be among the most devoted users of wifi — and, more importantly, probably the most insistent and maniacal seekers of online assistance. Linksys was probably drowning in frantic email from Half-life freaks desperate to debug their routers so they could blow each others’ guts open in wireless tournaments.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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