<<

. 39
( 61 .)



>>

regular Ethernet cable. You don™t need any drivers or other special software
on the console. The console doesn™t know (nor does it care in its not-so-little
console brain) that there™s a wireless link in the middle of the connection. It
just works!

Not many wireless Ethernet bridges are on the market yet, and none are yet
available in the faster 802.11a or 802.11g flavors of wireless LANs. We fully
expect that to change and to change fast. So if you™re using one of these
newer technologies in your LAN, don™t despair. Keep an eye on the vendor
Web sites or on one of the other wireless LAN news sites that we discuss in
Chapter 20. You™ll probably see a solution for your network before too long.

D-LinkAir DWL-810
D-Link (www.dlink.com) has developed this product with gaming consoles in
mind. And in fact, D-Link even has its own online Gamer™s Haven site with lots
of great gaming information on it (games.dlink.com). The $129 list price
DWL-810 (see Figure 12-2) doesn™t need any special drivers or configuration
but does include a Web-browser based configuration program that enables
you to do things like enter your Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys. (Check
out Chapter 10 for more information on this.)
236 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network




Figure 12-2:
The D-Link
DWL-810
Ethernet
bridge.



Because this bridge can also be used to connect to wired Ethernet hubs and
switches, you need to use a special kind of Ethernet cable ” a crossover
cable ” to connect the DWL-810 to your console. (A crossover cable is basi-
cally an Ethernet cable that™s used to interconnect two computers by cross-
ing over [reversing] their respective pin assignments.) Luckily, D-Link
includes one in the box ” just remember to use that cross-over cable and
not a regular Ethernet cable when you hook things up. If you use this bridge
with one of D-Link™s access points, you can actually take advantage of their
proprietary system that speeds up the network to throughputs up to 22 Mbps.

Linksys WET11
The Linksys WET11 ($129; www.linksys.com), like the DWL-810, allows an
easy connection between any Ethernet device and your Wi-Fi network. The
only substantial difference between the WET11 and the DWL-810 is the addi-
tion of an uplink switch on the WET11. Instead of using a cross-over cable to
connect to a game console (or any other individual device), you simply slide
a switch on the back of the WET11 to a particular position. On the WET11
devices that we™ve seen, the switch position for connecting to game consoles
is labeled X ” the position labeled II is used for connecting to a hub or
switch. Because of this switch, you use a standard straight-through Ethernet
cable with the WET11 instead of a cross-over Ethernet cable.
237
Chapter 12: Gaming over a Wireless Home Network


Dealing with Router Configurations
So far in this chapter, we talk a bit about the services and hardware that you
need to get into online gaming using your wireless network. What we haven™t
covered yet ” getting online and playing a game ” will be either the easiest
or the hardest part of the equation. The difficulty of this task depends upon
two things:

The platform that you™re using: If you™re trying to get online with a PC
(whether it™s Windows-based or a Mac) . . . well, basically there™s nothing
special to worry about. You just need to get it connected to the Internet
as we describe in Chapter 9. For certain games, you might have to do a
few fancy things with your router, which we™ll discuss later in this chap-
ter. If you™re using a gaming console, you might have to adjust a few
things in your router to get your online connection working, but when
using a game console with many routers, you can just plug in your wire-
less equipment and go, too.
What you™re trying to do: For many games, after you establish an
Internet connection, you™re ready to start playing. Some games, how-
ever, will require you to make some adjustments to your router™s config-
uration. If you™re planning on hosting the games on your PC (meaning
that your online friends will be remotely connecting to your PC), you™re
definitely going to have to do a bit of configuration.

Don™t sweat it, though. It™s usually not all that hard to get gaming set up, and
it™s getting easier every day. We say that it™s getting easier because the com-
panies that make wireless LAN equipment and home routers realize that
gaming is a growth industry for them. And they know that they can sell more
equipment if they can help people get devices like game consoles online.

You need to accomplish two things to get your online gaming ” well, we
can™t think of a better term ” online:

1. Get an Internet Protocol (IP) address.
Your access point needs to recognize your gaming PC™s or console™s net-
work adapter and your console™s wireless Ethernet bridge, if you™ve got
one in your network configuration. If you™ve got WEP configured (see
Chapter 10), your game machine will need to provide the proper pass-
word. And your router (whether it™s in the access point or it™s separate)
will need to provide an IP address to your gaming machine.
2. Get through your router™s firewall.
The previous step is really pretty easy. The step that™s going to take
some time is configuring the firewall feature of your router to allow
gaming programs to function properly.
238 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network


Getting an IP address
For the most part, if you™ve set up your router to provide IP addresses within
your network using DHCP (as we discuss in Chapters 5 and 7), your gaming
PC or gaming console will automatically connect to the router when the
device is turned on and will send a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
(DHCP) request to the router asking for an IP address. If you™ve configured
your gaming PC like we discuss in Chapters 7 and 8, your computer should
get its IP address and be online automatically. Or, as we like to say about this
kind of neat stuff, automagically. You might need to go into a program to
select an access point and enter your WEP password, but otherwise, it
should just work without any intervention.

If you™ve got a game console with a wireless Ethernet bridge, the process
should be almost as smooth. The first time that you use the bridge, you
might need to use a Web-browser interface on one of your PCs to set up WEP
passwords; otherwise, your router should automatically assign an IP address
to your console. Sometimes, however, a router might not be completely com-
patible with a gaming console. Keep in mind that online console gaming was
introduced in November of 2002, and many home router models have been
around much longer than that.

Before you get all wrapped around the axle trying to get your game console
connected to your router, check out the Web site of your particular console
maker and your router manufacturer. We have no doubt that you™ll find a lot
of information about how to make this connection using those resources. In
many cases, if you™re having troubles getting your router to assign an IP
address to your console, you™ll need to download a firmware upgrade for
your router. Firmware is the software that lives inside your router and that
tells your router how to behave. Most router vendors have released updated
firmware to help their older router models work with gaming consoles.

Some older router models simply aren™t going to work with gaming consoles.
If online gaming is an important part of your plans, check the Web sites that
we mention earlier above before you choose a router.

In most cases, if your console doesn™t get assigned an IP address automati-
cally, you™ll need to go into your router™s setup program ” most use a Web
browser on a networked PC to adjust the configuration ” and manually
assign a fixed IP address to the console. Unlike DHCP-assigned IP addresses
(which can change every time a computer logs onto the network), this fixed
IP address will always be assigned to your console.
239
Chapter 12: Gaming over a Wireless Home Network

Every router has a slightly different system for doing this, but typically you™ll
simply select an IP address that isn™t in the range of DHCP addresses that
your router automatically assigns to devices connected to your network.

You will need to assign an IP address that isn™t in the range of your router™s IP
address pool but that is within the same subnet. In other words, if your router
assigns IP addresses in the 192.168.0.xxx range, you™ll need to use an IP
address beginning with 192.168.0 for your game console. For example, if your
router uses the range of 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.0.32 for computers connected
to the network, you™ll want to choose an IP address like 192.168.0.34 for your
console. Every router™s configuration program is different, but you™ll typically
see a box that reads something like DHCP Server Start IP Address (with
an IP address next to it) and another box that reads something like DHCP
Server Finish IP Address with another box containing an IP address.
(Some routers might just list the start address, followed by a count ” mean-
ing that the finish address is the last number in the start address plus the
count number.)

The key thing to remember here is that you™ve only got to come up with the
last number in the IP address ” the number after the third period in the IP
address. The first three (which are usually 192.168.0) won™t change. All you
need to do to assign this IP address is to pick a number between 0 and 254
that is not in the range that your router uses for DHCP.



Dealing with port forwarding
After you have your gaming PC or game console assigned an IP address and
you™re connected to the Internet, you might very well be ready to start play-
ing games. Our advice: Give it a try and see what happens. Depending upon
the games that you play, any additional steps might not be needed.

The steps that we™re about to discuss shouldn™t be required for a game con-
sole. And although we haven™t checked out every single game out there, we
haven™t run into any incidences where you need to get involved with the port
forwarding that we™re about to discuss with a game console. After you get
your console assigned an IP address and connected to the Internet, you
should be ready to start playing. If you have an older router that doesn™t
work well with console games, you might consider putting your console on
the router™s DMZ as we discuss in the upcoming section “Setting Up a
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).”
240 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network

If, however, your games don™t work, you might need to get involved in config-
uring the firewall and Network Address Translation (NAT). As we discuss in
Chapters 5 and 9, home network routers use a system called NAT to connect
multiple devices to a single Internet connection. What NAT does, basically, is
translate between public Internet IP addresses and internal IP addresses on
your home™s network. When a computer or other device is connected to your
home network (wirelessly or even a wired network), the router assigns it an
internal IP address. Similarly, when your router connects to the Internet, it™s
assigned its own public IP address: that is, its own identifying location on the
Internet. Traffic flowing to and from your house uses this public IP address to
find its way. After the traffic (which can be gaming data, an e-mail, a Web
page . . . whatever) gets to the router, the NAT function of the router figures
out to which PC (or other device) in the house to send that data.

One important feature of NAT is that it provides a firewall functionality for
your network. NAT knows which computer to send data to on your network
because that computer has typically sent a request over the Internet for that
bit of data. For example, when a computer requests a Web page, your NAT
router knows which computer made the request so that when the Web page
is downloaded, it gets sent to the right PC. If no device on the network has
made a request ” meaning that an unrequested bit of data shows up at your
public IP address ” NAT doesn™t know where to send it. This provides a
security firewall function for your network because it keeps this unrequested
data (which could be some sort of security risk) off your network.

NAT is a cool thing because it lets multiple computers share a single public IP
address and Internet connection and because it helps keep the bad guys off
your network. NAT can, however, cause problems with some applications
that might require this unrequested data to work properly. For example, if
you have a Web server on your network, you would rightly expect that
people would try to download and view Web pages without your PC sending
them any kind of initial request. After all, your Web server isn™t clairvoyant.
(At least ours isn™t!)

Gaming can also be an application that relies upon unrequested connections
to work properly. For example, you might want to host a game with your
friends on your PC, which means that their PCs will try to get through your
router and connect directly with your PC. Even if you™re not hosting the
game, some games will send chunks of unrequested data to your computer as
part of the game play. Other applications that might do this include things
such as audio and video conferencing programs (such as Windows
Messenger) and remote control programs (such as pcAnywhere).
241
Chapter 12: Gaming over a Wireless Home Network

In order to get these games (or other programs) to work properly over your
wireless home network and through your router, you need to get into your
router™s configuration program and punch some holes in your firewall by set-
ting up NAT port forwarding.

Of the many routers out there, they don™t all call this port forwarding. Read
your manual. (Really, we mean it. Read the darn thing. We know it™s boring,
but it can be your friend.) Look for terms like special applications support or
virtual servers.

Port forwarding effectively opens a hole in your firewall that will not only
allow legitimate game or other application data through but might also let the
bad guys in as well. Only set up port forwarding when you have to and keep
an eye on the logs. (Your router should keep a log of who it lets in ” check
the manual to see how to find and read this log.) We also recommend that
you consider using personal firewall software on your networked PCs (we like
ZoneAlarm, www.zonelabs.com) and that you keep your antivirus software
up to date.

Some routers let you set up something called application triggered port for-
warding, which basically allows your router to look for certain signals coming
from an application on your computer (the triggers), and then enable port
forwarding. This is a more secure option, if it™s available to you, because
when the program that requires port forwarding (your game, in this case) is
not running, your ports are closed. They only open when the game (or other
application) requires them to be opened.

When you set up port forwarding on your router, you are selecting specific
ports (ports are actually a subsegment of an IP address ” a computer with a
specific IP address will use different numbered ports to connect different
applications to the network) and sending any and all incoming requests using
those ports to a specific computer or device on your network. When you get
involved in setting up port forwarding, you™ll notice two kinds of ports: TCP
(Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol). These

<<

. 39
( 61 .)



>>