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Playing the Multi-Player Games on the Internet

(Windows Users Only)

The multi-player features described below are only available on the Windows version at this time. Multi-player internet play is not available for Macintosh.

Dragon's Eye, Dynasty, Pandamonium, and Mah-Jongg were designed to be played against other people - the ultimate opponents. In order to play these games against other people, your computer must be connected to other computers via the Internet. It's recommended that you first familiarize yourself with these games by playing against the A.I. opponents. That way you don't have to learn "on the spot" how to use the games' interfaces - and other players don't have to wait while you learn.

Overview - How Internet Play Works

Very briefly, here's how Internet play works.

* First, make sure your Windows computer is connected to the internet.
* Then, make sure the CD is in the drive.
* Next, start the game.
* At the title screen, click the Multi-Player Connect button.
* After the Player Information box, you see a list of Internet game servers.
* On the servers list, pick a nearby or populated or pre-agreed server.
* In the chat area, meet up with other players.
* When players are ready, one of you create ("host") a game.
* Players meet up in the game lobby.
* Players verify that the host has set up the options in a manner agreeable to all.
* Everybody launch.
* Play!
* After playing, you can return to the chat area to start another game, or exit the program to Windows. To return to the chat area, go to the Games menu and select the "Multi-Player" option. To exit the program, click the X button at the upper right corner, or choose "Quit" from the File menu.

For more details, keep on reading.

Starting a Multi-player Game on the Internet

First, your Windows computer must be connected to the Internet. If you have to manually connect to your Internet Service Provider, do that before going on to the next step. Players who are always connected (for instance, via a LAN or via a cable modem) need not do anything, and can skip to the next step.

Next, there are two ways you can start a Multi-Player game on the Internet:

1. From the game's title screen, click the button labeled Multi-Player Connect.

2. From the Games menu in the game, select the Multi-Player Connect option.

After taking either of those actions, you need to fill in information about yourself on the Net Player Information dialog box.


Click OK. Then you will be presented with a list of game servers.

CHOOSE A SERVER

Choose a server in your country, or not too far from it. The farther the server, the poorer the lag time you will experience. If you can't tell where the servers are located, just pick any one with a low ping time on it (preferably under 500), and/or one with lots of players listed on it.


The server at the top of the list is probably the closest one to you. Don't select a server near the bottom of the list, with a high ping number! If you play on a server with a high ping number (about 700 or above), you will experience lag problems. If you don't get a list of game servers, there is a problem with your Internet connection, and you need to fix it.

Next look under the Players column. Hopefully they don't all show zeroes. If a server has a non-zero number under Players, go to that server to meet other players. If there are zeroes on all the servers, you are the first one to arrive. Just go to the server at the top of the list (or the previously agreed server, if you had previously arranged a play session with someone).

Select the Connect button to enter the chat area.

THE CHAT AREA -- THE PLACE WHERE PLAYERS GATHER

Hopefully you will find people in the Chat area when you arrive there. Did you post play invitations beforehand at the mahjong newsgroup or via the Shanghai Forum? More about how to post play invitations and find players below. For the moment, it's assumed that you have arranged to meet players, and/or there are one or more players in the chat area when you arrive.

Type and press the Enter key on your keyboard to send messages to the other people you see listed there.

NOTE: You can play with players who are using Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials. Those players do not have access to some game modes (they are not included in Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials). Those players can not play the Dynasty, Pandamonium, Chinese Mah-Jongg, Japanese Mah-Jongg, or Western Mah-Jongg games with you. Make the most of it -- you can invite them to play American Mah-Jongg or Dragon's Eye with you.

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR OTHER PLAYERS

If you don't see anyone in the Chat area, you may need to go Back to the Servers List and try another server, to find a server that doesn't have zero players. If all the servers show zero players, then you could just go to the server at the top of your list and wait for other players to come. Did you issue play invitations via the Shanghai Forum or the mahjong newsgroup? More on how to issue play invitations below.

If you have to wait in the Chat area for other players to arrive, don't launch a game. If you launch a game, nobody will be able to join your game.

Tom Sloper (designer and producer of the game) says, "While waiting for players, I use the computer to do other things: run ICQ and let other players know I'm online, check Email, check mah-jongg bulletin boards... I just wait for the bird chirp sound to tell me someone is in the Chat area. Then I pull up the game window and go from there."

Creating (Hosting) a Game

To play a game, someone will need to "create" a game (by pressing the Create button). That player is called the host. Other players who want to play in that game need to join it (by highlighting the created game after it appears in the Games frame, then pressing the Join button).

1. To create a game, press the Create button. That will create a new Game Lobby and the Host (you) will be the first person to show up there.

2. Select what kind of game it is that you'll play.

3. On the pop-up dialog box that appears, select the game options. Chat with the other players and make sure that they agree with the options you've selected.

4. Add computer players as needed.

a. For Dynasty and Pandamonium, you can have from 2 to 5 players in all (including computer players).
b. For Dragon's Eye, only 2 can play (if someone is going to play Dragon's Eye with you, you don't need computer players too -- if nobody is playing Dragon's Eye with you, then you don't need to be on the Internet, you can just play against a computer player without going online). c. For Mah-Jongg, 4 players are required. The computer will fill in any empty seats.

5. Adjust the difficulty of computer Artificial Intelligence players as desired.

a. Highlight the A.I. player.
b. From the Players menu, select A.I. Player Difficulty.
c. Select desired difficulty setting.

6. When you're ready, ask all players to press Launch to go play.

7. Press Launch. It wouldn't be any fun if everybody else goes to play and you're not there!

Joining a Game Created (Hosted) by Someone Else

1. To join a game created by someone else, first highlight a game from the list, then click the Join button. (Note: after highlighting the game, you will see the names of the players appear in the Players list below the Join and Create buttons. If you decide not to join the game, you can deselect the game by clicking the Create button.)

2. After pressing Join, you go into the game lobby. Here you can view the options of the game, and chat about them, but only the Host (the person who created the game) can change the options.

3. When everyone is ready to launch, press the Launch button. You shouldn't be the last one to Launch.

Finding Players to Play With

When you decide to take the plunge and play Shanghai: Second Dynasty online, you may go to the servers and not find anyone. Here's some information on how to find opponents to play with.

First, when you go online, give the server list a moment to poll all the servers and find out how many players are online everywhere. Then make sure to look in all the servers. There are Shanghai players all over the world. But because of time zone differences, you are most likely to be online at the same time as others in your own time zone. Shanghai players tend to play weekends more often than other times. Most Shanghai players play solo -- so you should not expect to come to the game server(s) and find a horde of other players gathering there, unless you are aware of a pre-arranged meeting.

Many online players use ICQ (a free downloadable program that allows you to see if other players are online when you are) in order to connect up -- if you see that another player is online when you are, you can send that player a challenge to meet you at a specific Activision server. You can do an Internet search for ICQ and find it and download it for free (it is not provided by Activision). If you're using ICQ, you can send instant messages to each other even if there are game server problems. Contact www.icq.com for help with ICQ.

But the best thing to do is to pre-arrange play sessions in advance. You can post announcements looking for other players at news:rec.games.mahjong, or at the Shanghai Forum (go to http://www.activision.com/games/shanghai and click the "Forum" tile). When posting an announcement, state what time you want to play (and what time zone you live in) and which game server you will use.

Online Etiquette

Be nice to others and others will be nice to you. Vulgar language and harsh words will not win you any friends (and may get you kicked out of the game server).

Use the Shift key to start sentences and names with capital letters, typing mostly in lower-case letters (the way you see it here in this guide). Typing in all upper-case letters is considered "shouting." And (e. e. cummings aside) typing in all lower-case letters is considered strange.

Chatting With Other Players During a Game

While playing online with other players (either in Mah-Jongg or in one of the Shanghai games), it is nice to be able to discuss rules and things with the other players. Not that you'll have a lot of time for chat! To type a message to the other players, first press the spacebar. This will open a window in which you can type a message. To send the message, you can press the Enter key the Send button. You can close the message-entry window by pressing the Escape key or the Cancel button.

If your only intention is to urge the next player to take their turn if they're lingering too long over their tiles, there's a button for that. The Urge button will gently remind the next player that other players are waiting. However, if any player has the sound on their computer turned off, they will not hear the Urge signal.

Setting Up a Power Dragon's Eye Game

If you have not yet read the section on Creating (Hosting) a game above, please do so.

Before you can play:

1. Set the game type as "Dragon's Eye."

2. Set the options.
a. Which of you will be the Slayer, and which the Master?
b. Which layout do you want?
c. Do you want the Power Tiles or not?

3. Chat with the other players and make sure they agree with the options you've selected.

4. Let the connection stabilize by chatting before you launch. You don't want to try to play if someone shows high ping numbers -- high numbers (above about 700) are very bad, and there will probably be bad lag, and the game will probably be very slow.

5. Ask the other players to launch when ready. You should be the last one to launch.

During the game:
Many menu items that were available when playing offline are no longer available when playing online. See also Chatting With Other Players During A Game and Troubleshooting Internet Play, below.

When one player wins, you will see an Endgame Results dialog box. You can choose to play a new game or exit. If both players select New Game, a new game will begin. If you select Exit, you will be returned to the chat area. You can also exit at any time by clicking the X button at the upper right corner ,or by selecting Exit from the File menu, or by selecting Multi-Player Connect from the Games menu.

See also Chatting With Other Players During A Game, and Troubleshooting Internet Play, below.

Setting Up a Dynasty Game

Set the Game type as Dynasty.

Set the options.

As Host, you can select whether Power Tiles will be used or not, and you can select the Dynasty layout upon which the game will be played. You can select a layout supplied with Shanghai: Second Dynasty, or a custom Shanghai layout that you have created or acquired by clicking the Browse button and selecting the custom layout file from your hard drive. (The other players do not have to have that custom layout on their hard drives - the game will provide the layout and the arrangement of the tiles to the other players. Note: after the game is done, the custom layout will not be present on other players' hard drives if it was not present before the game.)

Set the A.I. players -- how many do you want, and what difficulty level?
Dynasty can be played by a maximum of five players. The other players can be any combination of human and A.I. players. All human players' names automatically appear when those players have joined the game; all A.I. players (as defined by the Host) are simply called "A.I. #3" or "A.I. #4," etc.

Playing Dynasty Online

No More Moves

When Power Tiles are used online, your game is not necessarily over when you hit a No More Moves situation - since there are real people playing (not just artificial beings inside your computer), somebody cares who wins - and somebody might get a Power Tile that gives you another chance to continue playing. So if you see the No More Moves box, hang in there - you still have a chance!

Ending the game

The player who clears his/her layout first is declared the winner of the round. The first player to win two rounds wins the game. You are returned to the chat area after a game winner is declared. There is no Wall of Fame when playing online.

Tile sets

All players can be playing with their favorite tile sets - the game does not care if Player 1 is using the Mah-Jongg tiles, and Player 2 is using the Fantasy tiles, and Player 3 is using a custom tile set, for example. It is strongly recommended that you only use a tile set that is installed on your hard drive; playing online with a tile set that requires frequent accessing of the CD will likely cause delays while playing.

If there are problems:

If any player's computer is disconnected (intentionally or accidentally) from the game during play, that player is automatically out of the game. His/her layout is marked as though it had reached a No More Moves situation, and s/he is ineligible for a win.

Setting Up a Pandamonium Game

Set the game type as Pandamonium

Set the options

As Host, you can select the Shanghai layout upon which the game will be played. You can select a layout supplied with Shanghai: Second Dynasty, or a custom Shanghai layout that you have created or acquired by clicking the Browse button and selecting the custom layout file from your hard drive. (The other players do not have to have that custom layout on their hard drives - the game will provide the layout (and the arrangement of the tiles) to the other players. Note: after the game is done, the custom layout will not be present on other players' hard drives if it was not present before the game.)

Set the A.I. players -- how many do you want, and what difficulty level? Pandamonium online can be played by a maximum of five players. The other players can be any combination of human and A.I. players. All human players' names automatically appear when those players have joined the game; all A.I. players (as defined by the Host) are simply called "A.I. #3" or "A.I. #4," etc.

Playing Pandamonium

Many menu items that were available when playing offline are no longer available when playing online. See also Chatting With Other Players During A Game and Troubleshooting Internet Play, below.

No More Moves:

When a No More Moves situation occurs (as it is bound to do, with so many people playing simultaneously on one layout), the game automatically shuffles the tiles.

Ending the game:

The game ends when all the tiles are gone or the game is unplayable. The winner is the player who removed the most tiles. In the case of a Draw Game, you'll just have to play again (and ain't that just a shame)! When the game ends, you are returned to the chat area. You can start a new game if you want to play again.

Tile sets:

All players can be playing with their favorite tile sets - the game does not care if Player 1 is using the Mah-Jongg tiles, and Player 2 is using the Fantasy tiles, and Player 3 is using a custom tile set, for example.

If there are problems:

If any player's computer is disconnected (intentionally or accidentally) from the game during play, that player is automatically out of the game. His/her tile count ceases being added to, and s/he is ineligible for a win.

See also Chatting With Other Players During A Game and Troubleshooting Internet PLay, below.

Setting Up a Mah-Jongg Game

Select the options. Make sure you discuss the options with the other players. They might get mad at you later if you don't. Some Mah-Jongg players have strong opinions about optional table rules.

Set the A.I. players -- what difficulty level do you want them at? Mah-Jongg requires four players. If you cannot find three other people to play with, the computer will fill in the remaining seats with A.I. players. All human players' names automatically appear when those players have joined the game; A.I. players are simply called "A.I. #3" or "A.I. #4," as appropriate.

During the game:

Many menu items that were available when playing offline are no longer available when playing online. See also Chatting With Other Players During A Game and Troubleshooting Internet Play, below.

Urge

When playing online, an Urge button is displayed in the interface button array. This button can be used to "urge" a slow player into hurrying up and making his/her move.

Autopass

The Autopass feature is important when playing online. If all players have Autopass turned on, the game will move quickly. But if a player needs a full opportunity to consider whether to take discarded tiles or not, that player could turn Autopass off. However, then the player would need to be considerate of other players, and quickly press the Pass button after each discard.

Ending the game:

1. American Mah-Jongg never ends until the players decide to stop. When you decide to stop, there are four ways to go:
- On the score dialog, press the Exit button.
- In the File menu, select Exit.
- Press the X button at the upper right corner.
- In the Games menu, select Multi-Player Connect.

2. Chinese and Western Mah-Jongg end after four rounds. The game will let you know who won. If you press the OK button, a new game will start. To exit the game, press the X button at the upper right corner, or select Exit from the File menu.

3. Japanese Mah-Jongg ends after two rounds. The game will let you know who won. If you press the OK button, a new game will start. To exit the game, press the X button at the upper right corner, or select Exit from the File menu.

When you exit the game, you will then be returned to the Internet chat area.

If there are problems:

See Chatting With Other Players During A Game and Troubleshooting Internet Play, below.

While playing online with other players (either in Mah-Jongg or in one of the Shanghai games), it is nice to be able to discuss rules and things with the other players. Not that you'll have a lot of time for chat! To type a message to the other players, first press the spacebar. This will open a window in which you can type a message. To send the message, you can press the Enter key the Send button. You can close the message-entry window by pressing the Escape key or the Cancel button.

If your only intention is to urge the next player to take their turn if they're lingering too long over their tiles, thereีs a button for that. The Urge button will gently remind the next player that other players are waiting. However, if any player has the sound on their computer turned off, they will not hear the Urge signal.

Troubleshooting Internet Play

If you think there is a problem, try to chat with your opponent by pressing the spacebar on your keyboard. Type your message, then press Enter. If you can't chat (if pressing the spacebar doesn't open a chat window), click on the game's title bar to make sure that the game window is the active window, and try again. If you can chat, discuss the problem with your opponent. If your opponent doesn't respond, there may be a problem.

If a player drops out of the game, the computer takes over for that player (the player's name remains the same, but the person is no longer playing -- the computer is playing). The remaining players can continue playing, or you can return to the chat area to try to meet up with that player again. Note that there may be a 40-second delay before a player whose game was exited "abnormally" can be detected by the server.

If you have an instant messaging program like ICQ, you can send messages to that player to see where the player is. If the connection was severed, you may both be playing against computer opponents.

Most problems are caused by Internet lag. If you are playing with someone far away, or who has a poor Internet connection, or if your Internet connection is poor, or it's raining somewhere, you might experience lag problems. The best thing is to just quit the game (either from the File menu or by clicking the X button at the upper right corner of the game window) and try a new game, at a different server.

Ending Internet Play

When you exit a multiplayer game by clicking the Exit button, you return to the chat area. If you click the X button at the upper right corner of the game window, you return to Windows. From the chat area, clicking the Back button returns you to the Shanghai: Second Dynasty title screen.


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