Age of Empires 2 multiplayer / LAN network problem on Microsoft Windows Vista or 7

Microsoft’s Age of Empires series is one of my favourite collection of games, especially when played in multiplayer / LAN network mode. When I brought a new laptop with Microsoft Vista, all of a sudden I couldn’t player the multiplayer games, which for me represented a problem.

However I solved the problem and this page shares how I can now play Age of Empires 2 on Microsoft Vista. I’ve not tried this solution on Microsoft Windows 7, but it hopefully should work for Windows 7 users as well.

 

Age of Empires 2 graphics color / colour issue.

Before I share the network solution, I quickly want to share the solution to the graphics problem of Age of Empires 2. When running the game the colours are wrong, but this is solvable as well. All I needed to do was the following:

  1. Right click on the Age of Empires 2 game icon in the start menu.
  2. Select ‘Properties’ from the options.
  3. Select the ‘Compatibility’ tab.
  4. Tell the application to run in ‘Windows XP (Service Pack 2) compatibility mode’, plus untick ‘Run in 256 colors’ and ‘Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution’.

 

How I solved the Vista network game problem.

I believe the problem is the result of Vista no longer having IPX/SPX being available. I think there could be a Novell IPX/SPX protocol for Vista, but I could be wrong, and I didn’t go that route. Instead below are the steps I took to get it running in network mode, but you use any of these settings at your own risk!

 

Step 1 – Static IP addresses.

I had to give each computer a static IP address in the network. This was a pain, but you can do this via the control panel.

 

Step 2 – Configure the software firewall.

I had to setup firewall permissions for the empires2.exe application. I don’t know how safe it is to use the following settings, so you use them at your own risk.

For the application empires2.exe I allowed:

  • All requests in and out for the IP protocol.
  • TCP / UDP in and out for the destination port 6073.
  • TCP / UDP in and out for the destination port range 2300 – 2400.
  • TCP / UDP in and out for the destination port 47624.

Now I actual did the same the file Empires2.ICD. I presume either the empires2.exe or empires2.icd rules are redundant and I shouldn’t be using them. I’ve not got time to check today.

 

Step 3 – Configure the network firewall.

I also have a hardware network firewall box, which I configured. Again you use these settings at your own risk. I created the following rules:

  • For both TCP / UDP external ports 2300 – 2400 for static IP address of computer 1, and then the same rule, but for computer 2’s static IP address.
  • For both TCP / UDP external port 47624 for static IP address of computer 1, and then the same rule, but for computer 2’s static IP address.
  • For both TCP / UDP external port 6073 for static IP address of computer 1, and then the same rule for the static IP address of computer 2.

 

Step 4 – The patches.

You need to make sure the Age of Empires 2 games on the individual networked computers, are all updated to the same version with the patches.

 

Step 5 – Selecting the right network option within Age of Empires 2.

When running the game I now need to select ‘Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay’, instead of ‘Local (LAN) TCP/IP Connection’. Then computer 1 creates the game, and the you tell computer 2 to search for games using computer 1’s static IP address.

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