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XPilot multi-player Internet game FAQ


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Archive-name: games/xpilot-faq
Last-modified: 1998/05/13
Version: 3.6.0
Submitted-By: faq@xpilot.org

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This is the Frequently Asked Questions list With Answers for XPilot.
Copyright (C) 1993-98 by the XPilot FAQ Group (faq@xpilot.org).
This FAQ is posted in rec.games.computer.xpilot on irregular intervals.
It is also part of the XPilot distribution.
It can also be obtained from <URL:telnet://meta.xpilot.org:4402/> or 
<URL:http://www.xpilot.org/FAQ.html>
Or by mailing the following message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu:

    send usenet/rec.games.computer.xpilot/XPilot_multi-player_Internet_game_FAQ

New questions in this release: none
Questions changed in this release: 3, 4, 5, 7
Questions changed in the previous release: 18

Questions:

1) Does this FAQ answer all my questions about XPilot?
2) What is this wonderful game called XPilot everybody is talking about?
3) What is the latest version?
4) Where can I get it as soon as possible?
5) Where can I get precompiled XPilot executables?
6) Sound?  Does it really have sound?
7) How can I uncompress the XPilot distribution files?
8) I do not have the patch program on my system, so how can I upgrade?
9) Compilation fails, because the compiler generates lots of error messages?
10) How should I start the game?
11) The xpilots server complains that it is unable to read globe.map?
12) xpilot fails: ioctl SIOCGIFCONF (Operation not supported on socket)?
   or: Couldn't send query packets (Operation not supported on socket)?
   or: Can't make socket non-blocking (Operation not supported on socket)?
13) xpilots fails: Could not create Dgram socket (Invalid argument)
14) Why is the client so slow?  Why is my display so jerky?
15) Where can I get new maps?
16) How can I distribute my own carefully crafted maps?
17) How can I design my own maps easily?
18) How can I design my own ship?
19) I have a problem because this and that is not working.
20) What is the meta server?  Where can I find other players?
21) What information on XPilot is available on World Wide Web?
22) What is the NM (Newbie Manual)?
23) How can I contribute bugfixes and new features to the game?
24) Why do I never get any items (triangles) to appear in my maps?
25) What are the Well Known Problems for the latest version?
26) Is there a XPilot version available for DOS, Windows or the Mac?

Answers:

1) Does this FAQ answer all my questions about XPilot?

No, this FAQ is only meant to get you up and running and covers some
issues not found elsewhere.  In the XPilot distribution there is
authoritative documentation any wanna-be XPiloter should read.
Pay special attention to the two manual pages in the man6 directory
and to the four README files.

More, many more questions are answered in the WWW XPilot Newbie Manual
    <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/NM/>

2) What is this wonderful game called XPilot everybody is talking about?

XPilot is a multi-player tactical manouvring game for X and Unix workstations.
Players have a fighter which they move along in an artificial world
and shoot each other using various kinds of weapons like bullets, mines,
smart missiles, heat seekers and so on.  It is a fast paced game with
a lot of tactics.  There are also robots flying around shooting players
and other robots.  Players can pickup special bonuses to improve the
possibilities of their ship like more engine power or special weapons.
The aim of the game is to score points and to have a lot of fun.

People can create their own maps using either a standard text editor or
a nifty map editor with easy-to-use graphical user interface.
Nice maps are a popular item to share with others.

The game is very configurable in that you can specify many parameters
in a defaults file, in the map file or on the command line.  Configurable
options include the speed of shots, the lifetime of shots, the force and
direction of the gravity, whether players can use shields or not, the chance
that some kind of special bonus appears in the world, the number of screen
updates per second and so on.

Since release 3.0 it is possible to play games across the Internet if
the roundtrip times are below 150 milliseconds or so, depending on the
frame rate of the XPilot server.

XPilot is copyrighted by Bjoern Stabell, Ken Ronny Schouten and Bert Gijsbers.
Many people around the world have contributed a plethora of ideas and source
code or helped in other ways to have XPilot run on a diverse set of UNIX
computers and VMS.  See the CREDITS file for more details.

The XPilot home page on World-Wide Web is:
    <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/>

There is a large and entertaining Newbie Manual on WWW which encompasses
more than 160 articles.  Its URL is <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/NM/>

3) What is the latest version?

4.0.0.  Which is XPilot release 4.0, patchlevel 0.

4) Where can I get it as soon as possible?

Anonymous ftp to ftp.xpilot.org (145.18.160.22).  Use as login name
anonymous or ftp and supply your email address as password.
Go to the directory /pub and look for the file named xpilot-4.0.0.tar.gz.
Some patches for older versions are also available.
Other anonymous ftp sites may have it as well, the most up to date is
ftp.x.org (130.105.100.3) in /contrib/games/multiplayer/.

5) Where can I get precompiled XPilot executables?

The Liverpool Archives distribute binaries for HP 700 series workstations.
Go to hpux.csc.liv.ac.uk (138.253.42.172) in /hpux/Games/Networking/.

6) Sound?  Does it really have sound?

There is optional sound support for machines running the rplay package.
When you have compiled and installed XPilot with sound support configured
then run rplayd on the machine which is running your XPilot client.
You will probably need "rplayd -n -t 0" so that it takes input from the
network port and doesn't time out and die.  If that is running on the
client machine, XPilot should automatically figure it out and start
playing the appropriate sounds for you.

Rplay version 3.1 is not just for Suns any more.  So far there is support
for SunOS 4.1.x, Solaris 2.x, Linux, 386bsd, BSDI/386, HP-UX, and
SGI Indigo is almost done.

There is also sound support for NCD MCX X terminals.  These X terminals
must be running release 3.1 or later of the NCD software.
Greg Renda can provide you with more details at greg@ncd.com.

The NAS (Network Audio System) support will also work with any machine running
a netaudio server.  At the moment, the following are capable of doing this:
    NCD MCX X-terminals (running NCDware 3.1 & later)
    Sun Sparcs
    SGI workstations
    Linux
    FreeBSD

And there is sound support for DEC AudioFile.  AudioFile supports Digital RISC
systems running Ultrix, Digital Alpha AXP systems running OSF/1,
Sun Microsystems SPARCstations running SunOS, and SGI Indigos.
Tom De Pauw can provide with more details at tom@wimsey.com.

7) How can I uncompress the XPilot distribution files?

The files are in GNU zip format.  Older versions of GNU zip use
the .z extension, newer versions of GNU zip use the .gz extension.
GNU zip is available from your favorite local ftp site.  Look for gzip.
Two of the many ftp sites having gzip are ftp.uu.net (192.48.96.9) and
prep.ai.mit.edu (18.159.0.42).  The last one in the pub/gnu directory.

Alternatively, if you have an older version of GNU zip and do not wish to
upgrade, you can use something like :

    gzip -d < xpilot-4.0.0.tar.gz > xpilot-4.0.0.tar

or even better :

    gzip -d < xpilot-4.0.0.tar.gz | tar xvf -

8) I do not have the patch program on my system, so how can I upgrade?

Get patch from one of the major ftp sites mentioned above.
Or from prep.ai.mit.edu in the /pub/gnu directory.

9) Compilation fails, because the compiler generates lots of error messages?

This is probably due to not using an ANSI C compliant compiler.
Consider using gcc.  Also, do not use the -ansi option together with GCC,
because some system include files are not fully ANSI compatible.

10) How should I start the game?

When you have managed to compile XPilot successfully you will have
two new executables.  One program is named 'xpilots', which is the
server program.  If you do: `xpilots -help' then you will see some
configuration options with explanations.  Start this program in one window
simply by typing: xpilots or ./xpilots.  Nothing much will happen yet.
The other program is named 'xpilot', which is the client program.
Startup this program in a second window.  If you start this program
without arguments it tries to find an XPilot server on your local network.
Otherwise give it the name of the host where the XPilot server is
running as its last command line argument.
The xpilot client program should now print a message like:

*** Server on darkstar.frop.org. Enter command>

Now type a question mark '?' to see some possible options.
Or simply type a return to enter the game.

Newbies should note that in order to fire one has to put down
the shield first.  This is done by pressing and releasing the
spacebar once.

11) The xpilots server complains that it is unable to read globe.map?

First read the READMEs more carefully.  They tell you that you
need to adapt the Imakefile or Makefile and possibly the config.h
file to your XPilot installation configuration.
Specifically modify LIBDIR to the directory where you have your XPilot
lib directory and MAPDIR in case you have changed your map directory.
There are also two manual pages included which may offer you more help.

12) xpilot fails: ioctl SIOCGIFCONF (Operation not supported on socket)?
   or: Couldn't send query packets (Operation not supported on socket)?
   or: Can't make socket non-blocking (Operation not supported on socket)?

When you try to run the client it fails with the following messages:

    xpilot: ioctl SIOCGIFCONF (Operation not supported on socket)
    xpilot: Couldn't send query packets (Operation not supported on socket)

or if you try to run the server it will fail with the following message:

    xpilots: Can't make socket non-blocking (Operation not supported on socket)

Whomever installed gcc on your system forgot to run fixincludes which
converts the ioctl definitions in the header files so that they will
compile properly.

Colin Benson <cbenson@spock.retix.com> adds:
The thing that caused the SunOS 4.1.3 gcc build to fail with the socket
message is that the compile line generated by make includes '-I/usr/include'
which makes gcc pick up the standard include files rather than its
special includes.  I directly hacked the makefile to cut this out
and the resulting build worked.

Craig Powers <craig_powers@stortek.com> writes:
We had fits trying to get xpilot to compile correctly with gcc on our
Solaris2.3.  The compiler said that it was in the file signal.h.  We thought
it must be a problem with the program since we had compiled small programs
with gcc and they seemed to work.  It turned out that our problems were due to
the compiler not being installed correctly.  We made our sys-admin guy go
through the whole installation for gcc.  This time xpilot compiled the very
first time!!  So check the installation of gcc.  It may look like its working
correctly but it isn't.  It seems that gcc wanted to modify the header
files and our sys-admin guy didn't let it.  What I think really happens is
that gcc takes copies of the systems header files and modifies them and saves
these in a special place.  Then a enviroment variable is set so that gcc
knows where the modified headers are.  After our sys-admin guy let gcc do
this, everything worked.

13) xpilots fails: Could not create Dgram socket (Invalid argument)

You are probably running Linux or one of the BSD flavors on your PC
and "forgot" to install the network support of your operating system.

For Linux you should install the N series of disks n1, n2 and n3.
You won't need everything that's on the disks in order to run XPilot,
i.e. you can drop things like lynx, tin, nn, etc.

14) Why is the client so slow?  Why is my display so jerky?

This is probably due to you not using a standard MIT X server, but
one of those customized servers supplied by your workstation vendor.
Some of these servers, like the Xnews and Xsun servers from Sun
and an Ultrix server, are known to have serious performance degradation
for X clients that frequently change their colors or colormaps.
Because XPilot changes the set of colors at a rate of approximately 15
times per second this will not work well if your hardware is not superfast.
Try to use the MIT X server instead.

Or, if you like to experiment a little, compile the src/paint.c file
with the macro ERASE defined as 1 (add -DERASE=1 to DEFS in the Makefile).
This will have the client use a different drawing technique, which is
reported to speedup the client for older/cheaper workstations by
about 50 percent.
The ERASE option was first implemented for release 3.0.6 and needs
more work as it is not perfect yet.  Improvements are welcome.

Owners of SPARCs could try the new SPARC_CMAP_HACK compile time option
together with the ERASE option.  This causes a very big speed improvement
on SPARCs with a cg3 card.  Be warned however that this is relatively new.
SPARC_CMAP_HACK should only be allowed if the display is the console of the
machine you're running on. Otherwise, since /dev/fb has world write access,
whoever is using the console will find their palette flashing. Perhaps there
should also be a command line option to switch it off.
Please note carefull that this is a very experimental option and that it
only works on SPARCs.

Decrease the window size (it is resizable now), this will
result in fewer packets sent over the network and a lot less
work for the Xserver (clearing a 1024x1024 window is ~4 times
more work than clearing a 512x512 window, and clearing/copying
for double buffering often seems to be the limiting factor).

Decrease sparkprob.  This will result in fewer sparks being
sent over the network (sparks take up much of the network
bandwidth).

Decrease the number of colours.  This might help, but it depends
on which double buffering routine you use and probably on the
implementation of the Xserver.

Play outside working-hours.  Some bad performance is due to
saturated LANs - a network/LAN with as little as possible load,
or at least an even load is a necessity for getting good/smooth
response.

Make sure you run the server on a different machine from the client.
Or run it at a lower priority like: nice -20 xpilots.

Try another double buffering method - you can choose between
pixmap copying and (if you have PseudoColor) color switching.
The effect depends on your platform.

Try a different visual.  Try: "xpilot -visual list" to see a list
of supported visuals on your system, or use xdpyinfo.

Decrease the frames per second generated by the server by setting the
-fps option.  This won't make the server faster, but it might
make the game run more smoothly and evenly, and perhaps make
the game more fair.  Users joining across the Internet really appreciate
a slightly lower frame rate (try values like: 14, 12 or 10).

15) Where can I get new maps?

anonymous ftp:
        ftp://ftp.xpilot.org/pub/
        ftp://xpilot.sdsu.edu/pub/

gopher:
        Name=xpilot-maps
        Type=1
        Port=71
        Path=1/pub/xpilot-maps
        Host=xpilot.sdsu.edu
        (Note that you can only retrieve maps with gopher...)

16) How can I distribute my own carefully crafted maps?

See the previous question.  The sites mentioned in the previous question
are eager to add your map to their set of maps, but it is perhaps also
a good idea to post an announcement in rec.games.computer.xpilot
explaining the ideas behind your map.

17) How can I design my own maps easily?

Use the XMapEdit program, which was made by Aaron Averila.
You can get it by ftp from ftp.xpilot.org in /pub/xmapedit/.
The map format is in ASCII so you can also make or change maps
with your standard text editor (vi, emacs).  And everybody did
it that way before XMapEdit, but that seems hopelessly complex
and tedious now.  Special thanks go to Aaron for making XMapEdit.

A new updated version by William Docter is available from
<URL:ftp://ftp.xpilot.org/pub/xmapedit/>

18) How can I design my own ship?

On Unix, use editss.  You can get it by anonymous ftp to
dnpap.et.tudelft.nl in the /pub/Private/Ronald directory.
Or from ftp.xpilot.org in the /pub/contrib directory.

On Windows, there is Lewis Beard's XPShipEditor.  It is
distributed with the Windows Binary release of XPilot.
You can fetch the Visual Basic source from <URL:http://www.lwb.org>

There is also Jonny Svrling's Java "Ship Shaper" available from 
<URL:http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~d93-jsv/xpilot/sshaper>
This is reported to work on Windows but not Unix.

19) I have a problem because this and that is not working.

Make sure you use the latest `officially released' version.
You will be most cooperative if you try to fix it yourself first.
If you tried everything and you still cannot solve it then post
a help request to rec.games.computer.xpilot.
There are some things that are generally helpful to mention, when relevant:
 
   The XPilot version and where you obtained the distribution.
   Your hardware.
   Operating system.
   Windowing system (X11, ...)
   C Compiler used.
   Changes you made to configuration files.
   Any changes you have made to the source code or installation
   procedures.
   Any problems you had during installation.

20) What is the meta server?  Where can I find other players?

The meta server is a server program that allows people to find other
XPilot servers running on the Internet.  XPilot servers can report
their existence to the meta server on startup and every three minutes
of active play.  Then other players can query the meta server and
find status information on XPilot games in progress.

The meta server also maintains a nickname database containing all the
nicknames in use by Internet XPiloteers.  XPiloteers can add their
nickname interactively and protect it by a password.

You can connect to the meta server with:

  telnet meta.xpilot.org 4400

Help is available online.  Example session:
<pre>
    telnet meta.xpilot.org 4400
    Trying...
    Connected to meta.xpilot.org..
    Escape character is '^]'.

    Welcome to XPilot Meta server

    This is the available ports on the Meta server:
    4400:   This port.  Interactive user port.
    4401:   Program port.  It lists all info in one go and terminates.
    4402:   FAQ port.  It will give you the FAQ in one go and terminate.
    4403:   Nick-name port.  This will give you the current nick name list.

    Type "help" to list possible commands.

    >list
    3.2.9          :144.168.23.100           :15345    :0   :2.51      :Team-combat
    3.2.9          :stra27.hw.stratus.com    :15345    :1   :20d 2.14  :The Wide Colony (version 1.0)
    3.2.9          :i11s17.ira.uka.de        :15345    :2   :13d 10.29 :The Globe
    3.2.9          :wpyx78.physik.uni-wuerzburg.de:15345    :2   :0.16      :The Globe
    3.2.9          :irz201.inf.tu-dresden.de :15345    :4   :11d 8.52  :The Black Hole
    3.2.9          :skolem.uni-paderborn.de  :15345    :0   :13d 1.33  :UNI-PADERBORN
    3.2.9          :micro.iesd.auc.dk        :15345    :2   :6d 6.32   :CyberParadise
    3.2.9          :bird05.cs.ohiou.edu      :15345    :4   :0.00      :CloudScape
    3.2.9          :adder.ee.byu.edu         :15345    :0   :NA        :The Globe
    3.2.9          :polaris.cis.ksu.edu      :15345    :1   :2.30      :Refrigerator
    3.2.9          :carbon.lance.colostate.edu:15345    :2   :1.07      :Team Warfare
    3.2.9          :mizar.wustl.edu          :15345    :5   :21.00     :Chambers of Carnage
    3.2.9          :scratch.eecs.umich.edu   :15345    :7   :1d 15.24  :Blood's Music
    3.2.9          :xpilot.modeemi.cs.tut.fi :15000    :0   :6d 22.00  :Mta tournament
    3.2.9          :dutian.twi.tudelft.nl    :15345    :2   :0.00      :Team Tournament
    3.2.9          :surt.ifi.uio.no          :15345    :1   :0.36      :Fireball
    3.2.9          :oversoul.edb.tih.no      :15345    :0   :23.18     :Tournament
    3.2.9          :tsunb.ctn.cogs.susx.ac.uk:15345    :3   :1.21      :Borgtown
    3.2.9          :eden.bioc.cam.ac.uk      :15345    :3   :0.24      :ShadesNicks
    3.2.9          :lagrange.cms.dmu.ac.uk   :15345    :4   :0.39      :The Globe
    3.2.9          :meehpa02.ee.man.ac.uk    :15345    :0   :7d 0.06   :Tournament
    >server scratch.eecs.umich.edu
    >status
    SERVER VERSION...: XPilot 3.2.9
    STARTED BY.......: pkenny
    STATUS...........: ok
    MAX SPEED........: 12 fps
    WORLD (100x100)..: Blood's Music
        AUTHOR.....: Patrick Kenny - pkenny@eecs.umich.edu
    PLAYERS ( 7/12)..:

    NO:  TM: NAME:             LIFE:   SC:    PLAYER:
    -------------------------------------------------
     1... *2 Ender              003   342     turtle@ender.sdsu.edu
     2...  2 DR.DEATH           003   249     boyns@hercules.sdsu.edu
     3...  4 Phoenix            002    75     dan@starfire.ne.uiuc.edu
     4... W2 Arafat             000     0     furth@tph21.tuwien.ac.at
     5...  3 Lei                003    -5     caol@misty.cs.byu.edu
     6...  2 Hero               003   -13     jmin@sunny.cs.byu.edu
     7...  3 Neptune One        002  -189     garrett@athena.sdsu.edu

    >quit
    Connection closed by foreign host.
</pre>
Try port 4401 instead of 4400 to get the server listing in a different format.

Port 4402 will get you the latest version of this FAQ.

Port 4403 will list the current nicknames database.

Due to some software problems the meta server may not be running
at all times, but it mostly will.  In case it happens to be unreachable
there is an backup meta server at telnet meta2.xpilot.org 4400.

The meta server is developed and maintained by Ken Ronny Schouten
and Bert Gijsbers with email address meta@xpilot.org.

21) What information about XPilot is available on World Wide Web?

The XPilot Page on the World-Wide Web can be found on URL
    <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/>

Highly recommended is the online XPilot Newbie Manual, the creation
of Karen Gould and Erwin Zierler with the help of many contributors:
    <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/NM/>

Other WWW pages related to XPilot are:
    <URL:http://heron.met.nps.navy.mil/~forsythe/index.html>
    <URL:http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/che/xpilot.html>
    <URL:http://vitruvius.cecer.army.mil:8000/~rglaeser/xpilot/xpilot.html>
    <URL:http://ernie.ucsc.edu:8001/1g/xpilot>
    <URL:http://ece.uiuc.edu/lard/lard.html>
    <URL:http://www.sdsu.edu/~boyns/xpilot.html>
    <URL:http://www.sdsu.edu/~turtle/>
    <URL:http://www.sdsu.edu/~garrett/>
    <URL:http://krusty.eecs.umich.edu/people/kennyp/xpilot/xpilot.html>
    <URL:http://rs560.cl.msu.edu/misc/xpilot.html>
    <URL:http://www.cldc.howard.edu/~ltb/Xpilot>

22) What is the NM (Newbie Manual)?

The Newbie Manual is a World Wide Web (WWW) book (not page, it is made
up of many many pages all linked together) which you access using programs
like Mosaic or Netscape by opening the Newbie Manual address which is:

    <URL:http://www.xpilot.org/NM/>

This will connect you to the Manual which you read through by clicking on
the highlighted links.

It has some really cool pics, stories, and most improtantly, pages on
almost all the weapons, showing what their icons look like, how to use
them, what their keys are, and tons of strategies written by very 
experienced players.  There is an entire article on all the modifiers, like
the V modifier, and these articles have loads of links to important
cross reference material.  The manual is not complete, but is an extremely
useful documentation guide to playing XPilot.

23) How can I contribute bugfixes and new features to the game?

Make your contributions as context diffs against the latest version
and mail them to xpilot@xpilot.org.  You can make context diffs with
the diff command.  Use `diff -c oldfile newfile' or `diff -cr olddir newdir'.
The authors very much appreciate fixes and improvements.  XPilot has a
longstanding tradition of incorporating code from hackers all over the world.
Ideas for new features can of course be discussed in rec.games.computer.xpilot.

24) Why do I never get any items (triangles) to appear in my maps?

At startup the xpilot server looks for a configuration file to
retrieve default values for some of the options.
The default name for this file is LIBDIR/defaults, where LIBDIR
is defined during compilation in the Makefile or Imakefile.
If you forgot to change the value of LIBDIR before compilation
or if you have (re)moved the XPilot directories after installation
then the xpilot server cannot find this file anymore.  In which
case some of the values will have no or a useless value.
This is the case if you do not get any items to appear in your maps.
An example defaults file with reasonable default values can be
found in the XPilot distribution as xpilot-3.x.y/lib/defaults.

25) What are the Well Known Problems for the latest version?

None.

26) Is there a XPilot version available for DOS, Windows or the Mac?

Yes!!!  Dick Balaska <dick@buckosoft.com> has accomplished a tremendous
feat with a version for Windows.  See <URL:http://www.buckosoft.com/xpilot/>

For the Mac the only solution is to run Mklinux, xpilot even runs on it.

EOFAQ

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