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Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Quest for Better Online Gaming



Getting tired of playing games online and having it feel like you're in the Matrix? Even though your reticule says otherwise, do your bullets hit "nothing but air"? Does your competition evade your "mad skills" because you're short on bandwidth because of sharing an internet connection in your household?

I'm about tired of "the Matrix" as DemolitionNinja calls it. I've narrowed down the problem, and it appears to be the file downloading that goes on in other parts of the house. Naturally, I adjusted my router's settings accordingly, but it was in vain.

After some research, I found a slew of information on Linksys WRT54G routers, which is the router I happen to have. Wikipedia assisted me in finding 3rd party open-source firmwares for these routers. Said firmwares enhance the feature-set and even fix problems. Some of the added features are those seen in $600 routers, but can be added to this $60 router.

Continue reading...


There are optional ways of doing this via additional hardware, but why add a potential failure point and spend additional money?

First, find out which model of WRT54G router you have here. Note that your serial number should be on a sticker on the bottom of the router.

Then it's time to choose which open-source firmware you will go with:

DD-WRT



HyperWRT


DD-WRT has the most features of the two, but it may have more features than you will need and is probably for the more "techie" people. HyperWRT retains the look and feel of the Linksys-provided interfaces, and still provides a good set of features. I recommend the latter unless you really need the extra feature-set.

Since we just care about gaming for the sake of this article, I'm going to pick HyperWRT to keep it simple. It allows the traffic control features we want, and the interface is familiar.

Before going any further, I am not responsible for any result of you using this information or following the instructions here or at any of these links. You perform any of these procedures at YOUR OWN RISK.

If you want to be on the safer side, have your PC and your router plugged into a UPS, should the power go out during the process. Be sure to write down any special settings you'll need later, such as port forwarding, blocked websites, etc. Lastly, make sure you have the manual for your router. If not, download it from Linksys.

Per your router's version learned here, download the appropriate .bin file for the HyperWRT upgrade.

Next, we will want to reset the router to the "factory defaults". Note that this is especially important if switching from HyperWRT to DD-WRT or vice versa (in which it would be called "clearing the NVRAM").

Log into your router, click the "Administration" tab, and click on the "Factory Defaults" subsection. Select "Yes" and click "Save Settings". This resets everything, including the password. When finished, you may need to renew your DHCP lease (click "start", "run", type "ipconfig/renew" and click "OK").

To upgrade, go to the Administration page, Firmware Upgrade, then upload the file .bin file. In my case, the file was called Hyperwrt_G_Thibor15c.bin. Use the "Browse..." button to get to it, hold your breath, and click "Upgrade". It is imperative that you let the upgrade finish.

When done, continue and log back into the router. The interface is very similar, so at this point add back in all the settings you wrote down. Here are some of my suggestions:

Setup -> Basic Setup
  • Set time zone

Wireless -> Wireless Security
  • Use WEP and at least 64bit encryption (10 character hexadecimal key)

Wireless -> Advanced Wireless Settings
    You can supposedly "safely" manually set "transmit Power:" to up to 100mW. Only if you need more range though!

Administration -> Management
  • Change the password (32 char max, no spaces, but symbols are okay).

  • Disable "wireless access web" if you don't need it. Always make changes via wired if possible.

  • Disable "allow wireless access" for Telnet Daemon. Again, this should be done through wired unless otherwise necessary.

Applications & Gaming -> QoS (Quality of Service)

Okay, this is what we're interested in. Select "Enabled" for "Internet Access Priority". Leave the Category on "Applications" and select "Xbox Live" in the Applications Drop down. Set the priority to "Highest". This should add XBox Live in the summary below. You can make unnecessary duplicates, so make sure you pay attention. I did the same with EDonkey and Bittorrent, except I set their priorities to "Low".

Note that specific games are available in the options for priority, such as Wow, Diablo 2, and Counterstrike. The port ranges have already been figured; you just select the priority.

Click "Save Settings". That should do it! If not, you can also set priorities with MAC address and/or the router's ethernet ports. I recommend diving into this only if it is necessary.

So far, I had no connection interruptions because of my room mates' downloading habits. If I do, I'll be sure to update this article on setting priorities via MAC address.

Update:


Unfortunately, there are external factors to my problems. Apparently, Comcast isn't providing us as much bandwidth as they used to, which really sucks for a household with multiple online gamers.

However, this just means our QoS settings need greater specificity. Since I have a couple of often-downloading PCs, I needed to obtain their MAC addresses. The MAC's can be obtained in the router's web interface under Status -> Local Network. Click the "DHCP Clients Table" button to get a list of network devices that have used an IP address on your network. Hopefully you know the "Client Host Name" of the PCs in question.

As for the MAC addresses of your Xbox, 360, PS2, DS, or PSP, you can use these directions to find them.

Back into QoS, select the "MAC address" category. Enter a name, the MAC address you find, and it's appropriate priority, and then click Add. Repeat for all the MAC addresses. I should point out that you should avoid doing this for EVERY device. Just give XBL and your console's MAC "Highest" priority. Any PCs that download a lot should be set to "Low" along with Bittorrent and EDonkey.

If you still need to go further, then select the "Ethernet Port" category, and set the port that your console is plugged into and set its priority to "High" or "Highest".

Click "Save Settings" to finalize your changes.

This has fixed my problem, hopefully this information can help someone else.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Cyberpunkk said...

THE MATRIX IS EVIL!! How is that you unload massive amounts of ammo and hit NOTHING as they suddenly apear in front of you and kill you with one hit with THE KNIFE??? Who uses the KNIFE?? mmmmmmmm ya. The matrix. Don't try to fight it. It will win.

9:12 PM  

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