Welcome to jdrgaming.com Wednesday, February 08 2023 @ 01:14 PM PST

Epic pulls the plug on master servers

It's a sad reality of the gaming world, as in the world generally, that no matter how much a work of culture is loved and cherished, if the corporation that 'owns' it decides to kill it to save a few dollars, there's often nothing you can do but weep.

That's where we are (or more accurately, were; more below) with the massively popular Unreal Tournament series of games, including Unreal, Unreal Tournament (1999, GOTY Editions), Unreal Tournament 2003, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Unreal Tournament 3.

Epic apparently wants to purge the Earth of these games, since it not only killed the master servers for these (and other) games, making it more difficult for players to find servers, but also removed the games from their own stores, as well as from the Steam and Good Old Games catalogs. GOG would not have removed those games from its catalog unless it was threatened by Epic, so it's safe to assume that's what happened.

Epic's official announcement about this sad reaping provides clues as to motive: "Starting today, we will begin turning off out-of-date online services and servers for many older games in the Epic family as we move to solely support Epic Online Services with its unified friends system, voice chat features, parental controls, and parental verification features." They couldn't figure out how to monetize some older games, so rather than leaving a few old servers running as a way of thanking their fans, it's off to the firing squad with them.

Epic had numerous other options. They could have:

  • encouraged fans to recreate the master servers by making the code running them available;
  • open sourced the games;
  • or
  • continued to run the master servers themselves, costing them almost nothing but gaining the respect and love of fans.

But no. In this corporate hellscape, culture is owned by gatekeepers, and if they can't figure out how to make money from it, nobody else is allowed to go anywhere near it. Corporations routinely lock up, hide, and even destroy their own 'property', just to keep it out of our hands. Fuck them.

But sometimes, there are ways to fight back.

Shuttering the Unreal Tournament 1999/GOTY master servers won't actually affect a large subset of its fans, because the community had already created several replacements. With a few changes to game settings (clients and servers), we can thumb our noses at Epic, and carry on playing.

The situation was initially somewhat more urgent for Unreal Tournament 2004: at the time of Epic's announcement, efforts were underway to create repalcement master servers, and I'm happy to report that several are now available. As with UT99, switching to the new master servers for UT2004 involves changing a few lines in a configuration file (clients and servers).

The JDRGaming UT99 and UT2004 servers are now both using community master servers. Both have been tested, and work just fine. Bonus: if Epic games goes out of business tomorrow, we can briefly applaud, then get back to gaming.

Please reach out to UT fans. Let them know that there are solutions to those sad, empty server lists.

BF2 server reverted to Hard Justice

Due to some technical issues with recent versions of Forgotten Hope 2, the JDRGaming Battlefield 2 server has switched back to the Hard Justice mod.

Hopefully at some point the issues with FH2 will be resolved and we can go back to running it regularly.

BF2 server now running Forgotten Hope 2 version 2.61

I finally decided to upgrade the FH2 server. Before August 8, it was still running FH2 2.57.

I held off upgrading because there wasn't a lot of useful information about how to upgrade, or how the upgrades would affect co-operative play. That, and the server files were not available on the FH2 web site for a while.

FH2 2.61 has a ton of changes, many of which are immediately visible in the client. The in-game user interface has had an overhaul: various elements have been moved and/or changed in their appearance. For example, instead of Axis/Allies ticket numbers, there's a graph with a blue line for Allies and a red line for Axis.

Despite some initial problems making everything work (and lots of CTDs), the server seems to be working fine now. In case such things are of interest, we're now running the 64-bit version of the Linux FH2 server; previously we were running the 32-bit version.

However: as is usual with FH2 updates, some maps that previously worked fine in coop mode may now crash when loading, or if bots do certain things in-game. I will gradually test all the available maps, removing any that are not stable, or crash the server, or crash the client when attempting to play on them in coop mode. I will add any maps not currently in the server's map list, and will test those as well.

If you play on the JDRGaming FH2 server, and you notice the server or your client crashing when you try to join, please do let me know which map it was on, and when it happened. Click 'About/contact' at the top of this page for details on how to reach me.

New Minecraft server and world

As of May 29, 2022, the JDRGaming Minecraft server is running Paper instead of Spigot. Paper has several advantages over Spigot in terms of performance. The version of Paper we're running is based on Minecraft 1.18.2.

NEW WORLD! The old world had a lot of ugly block transition issues, the cumulative effect of years of Minecraft server updates. There was also a lot of old mess caused by griefers. So I decided to start fresh with a new world. My apologies to anyone who had done any building in the old world.

Access via whitelist is now strictly enforced. I was able to identify a handful of players from the old server who were good citizens, and I've added them to the whitelist already. If you try to join but are told you're not on the whitelist, please fill out the access request form, and I'll start the process of adding you.

Because access to the server is now limited to whitelisted players, I've removed the requirement for making claims before building.

As always, if you notice any problems with the server, please use the About/contact link in the menu to let me know.

New master server for BF1942 is up and running

Thanks to a group of dedicated fans on various sites and Discord channels, there's a new master server for Battlefield 1942: master.bf1942.org.

If you don't use the in-game server browser, you don't need to make any changes, and you can still connect directly to your favourite servers directly via IP address, or indirectly from web-based server lists.

However, if you depend on the in-game server list, you'll need to replace your Battlefield 1942 client binary with a new one that looks at the new master browser instead of the old, defunct one.

Here's a link to the new BF1942 client files: https://www.moddb.com/games/battlefield-1942/downloads/bf1942-masterbf1942org-patch. Extract the contents of the ZIP file into your Battlefield 1942 folder. You might want to consider making a backup first.

I've tested the new server and the new client, joining and playing on TPU successfully.

The new client binary provides the master server fix, but also includes some other useful fixes:

Battlefield 1942 v1.612 Retail patched by henk on 23-2-2022
version 2.1

Fixes:
~~~~~~
* No CD
* Portable
* Widescreen support - In game
* Widescreen support - In menu
* master.gamespy.com replaced with master.bf1942.org
* Increased accessible ram from 2gb to 4gb
* Removed this message from console:
	 Error: failed  to add player  to buddylist. Couldn't locate player.

The Tanks 'n Planes Unlimited server is now running a new version of the BF1942 server binary, which allows the server to report its status to the new master server. The new server binary includes several other useful fixes. Here's the full list:

Linux Binary version 23-2-2022 by henk

Modified to include:
- master.bf1942.org replacement for gamespy master
- Ignore client version and checksum (allow 1.61b and 1.612)
- Ignore CD key checks
- No longer sends player keyhashes to public queries
- Allows all console commands on remote and local console
- Fix assaultTeam typo. Defending team now wins if timer expires
- Allow 128 players
- Fix armor zombies generated by death bubble
- Fixes IP bans not taking effect

- Fixes segfault in dice::ref2::io::NetworkManager::getNetUpdate
- Fixes segfault in dice::ref2::world::ObjectManager::checkMessages
- Fixes segfault in dice::ref2::world::FireArms::Fire
- Fixes segfault in dice::ref2::io::NetworkManager::getNetUpdateDelta
- Fixes segfault in dice::ref2::world::BFSoldier::handleUpdate

Addresses the following vulnerabilities:
- BFE-200806.01
- BFE-201107.01
- BFE-201111.01
- BFE-201211.01
- BFE-201611.01
- BFE-201611.02
- BFE-201710.01
- BFE-201804.01

BF1942 master server is DOWN

At about 1am Pacific time today (February 21), the unofficial master server for BF1942 stopped responding.

Because of this, your BF1942 client may hang when it starts. Even if it doesn't hang, the server list will not work.

You can still join the JDRGaming BF1942 server by connecting directly to its IP address: 184.71.170.154.

I've reached out on a few forums, asking if anyone knows what's going on. Stay tuned for updates.

Log4j vulnerability mitigated on JDRGaming Minecraft server

There's a nasty vulnerability in the Log4j library used in thousands of Java applications, including Minecraft.

The JDRGaming Minecraft server is actually running Spigot, which is basically Minecraft plus some improvements. It's running Spigot version 1.17.1, which contains the Log4j vulnerability.

Minecraft 1.18.1 includes a fix for this vulnerability. If you haven't already, you should update your Minecraft client to 1.18.1. Run the launcher and it should install the new version automatically.

However, you won't be able to play on the JDRGaming server with a Minecraft 1.18.1 client. To do that, you'll have to create a special install of the Minecraft 1.17.1 client. The Minecraft launcher allows you to install multiple parallel client installations.

You can safely join the JDRGaming Minecraft server with your Minecraft 1.17.1 client, even though the server is currently running the vulnerable Spigot 1.17.1, because the server is now being run with a special option that mitigates (i.e. negates) the vulnerability.

The JDRGaming Minecraft server will be upgraded to Spigot 1.18.1 soon after it becomes available.

XBox 360 Haiku

I was poking around in some old data folders and found a couple of Haikus, which I wrote back when I was having a lot of problems with a series of XBox 360s.

I play my XBox
Across the street, someone farts
My disc is destroyed
An autumn session
The red ring destroys my calm
My screams deafen me

Minecraft 1.17.1

After a significant delay (due to Minecraft's new Java requirements), I'm happy to report that the JDRGaming Minecraft server is now running Minecraft (Spigot) 1.17.1.

I also performed forced full world upgrades for both the previous version (1.16.5) and then for the new version, which should minimize glitches and lag associated with block generation.

Minecraft 1.17.1 includes a load of bugfixes, mostly addressing fairly obscure issues. It also includes amusing changes like this one: "Non-screaming goats now have a rare chance to produce a screaming goat when bred".

I've tested the basics, including checking significant recent player constructions, and things seem to be okay.

If you notice any problems with performance, the world, or its contents, please use the About/Contact link above to let me know.

About base camping

Sisko sent me a video that shows someone camping at the uncaptureable Axis base on the Battle of Britain map:

The video was created using Bandicam in spectator view in a recent session on TPU. It's a good demonstration of the kind of base camping that some TPU players find objectionable.

TPU is a co-op vs. bots server, so human players should only ever attack bots. Since the object of any base camping should therefore only ever be to kill bots, and we needn't feel any empathy for bots, camping on TPU is technically allowed.

However, base camping can also be annoying to human teammates. In this example from Battle of Britain, the camping player is destroying Axis bombers before they can even take off, which means any players defending the factory and radar stations in England have nothing to do. Many players, including myself, enjoy dogfighting in a Spitfire over England, and this camping would reduce the potential for that kind of enjoyment.

The other problem with this kind of camping is that it's not very challenging. Sure, the Axis bots at their base will try to kill the camper, and the camper may not last long in that position, but while there, the camper can easily kill huge numbers of bots. So it's not much of an achievement, except for racking up kills. Padding stats like this can also be annoying for other players.

It's an interesting issue. I'm still not convinced that we need a rule against camping. Instead, I will continue to emphasize that: a) it's kind of lame; b) it's too easy; c) it's a simple way to pad stats; and d) other players may find it annoying. If a player is doing this kind of thing on TPU, and it bothers you, use the in-game chat to politely ask them to stop.

If you disagree, or have something to add to this discussion, contact me on the #tpu_server channel on the JDRGaming Discord server.

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