HOW TO Play Baldur’s Gate 2, Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale 2 Multiplayer Co-Op over LAN, the Internet, or TCP/IP Without Crashes

by on August 1, 2012


Need help getting Baldur’s Gate 2, Icewind Dale, or Icewind Dale 2 to run in multiplayer mode on a modern PC? Well, fortunately, the Melting Pot staff have recently picked up these classics from Good Old Games aka GOG, and we’ve been fighting the same bugs you’re probably facing. So, whether you’re facing a black screen crash on Windows 7 or Vista, a “Cannot Connect” problem or port forwarding/NAT/UPnP woes that make you wish you had a degree in networking – we’ve been there, and we’ve fixed it.

Let’s get going.

Updated 1st August 2012

Fixing the Black Screen and Permissions problems with BG2 and IWD

GoG.com have done a great job of making these old games work well on modern operating systems, but it seems that networking may have been a little lower on their priorities. There are a couple of bugs in all three games that will make them lock up with a black screen if you don’t take steps to avoid that.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to fix the problem:

  • Find the Startup Menu link for your game, right-click it, and select “Properties”
  • Select the “Compatibility” tab.
  • Tick “Run This Program In Compatibility Mode” and “Run This Program As An Administrator”.

There’s one more thing you’ll need to do to avoid Nasty Crashes Of Doom, and that’s to never start the multiplayer portion of the game in full-screen. For some reason to do with the archaic resolutions these games run in, if you start a multiplayer game in fullscreen, the screen will go black, and never go back.

The simplest way to do this is to press ALT+ENTER when the game’s on its intro screen, before you hit “Load Game”, “New Game” or “Join Game”. That should put the game into windowed mode. From there, you can join or start your game, and then once you’re into the game proper, hit ALT+ENTER again to go fullscreen – which should happen without any problems.

There are apparently mods out there that will solve this problem, but it’s a simple enough issue that we haven’t bothered to test them yet. We’d be interested to hear about them if you know about them, though!

Getting Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale to network properly

Next problem: Getting all your PCs to talk to each other.

You’ll need to select the “TCP/IP” option for multiplayer if any of your PCs are running Vista or Windows 7 – these operating systems don’t support IPX by default.

Running BG2 or IWD over a LAN

If you’re on a LAN, things should be fairly straightforward from here. Firstly, you’ll need to get the IP address of the computer that is hosting the game. Don’t do this using any Internet “find your IP” service – that’ll give you the IP of your router, which is less useful.

Instead:

  • Go to the Control Panel, select Network And Internet, then select Network and Sharing Center.
  • Click on “Local Area Connection” if you’re on a wired LAN or Wireless Network Connection if you’re on wireless.
  • Click “Details”. You’re looking for the address next t0 “IPv4 Address” – it should be 4 numbers separated by dots, like 192.168.1.45, for example.

Have the Host Computer start the game, and tell the other players to connect using “Join Game” and that IP address.

There’s a good chance you’ll get the dreaded “Cannot Connect” response. Don’t panic! If you get that problem, it’s probably because your router is doing something more complicated than the aging Infinity Engine can understand.

Try the following steps:

  • Go into your router configuration and turn “UPnP” off. That’s the step that made our network suddenly cooperate! You’ll want to turn it back on when you’re done, as a lot of modern programs use it, but it can confuse older networking setups.
  • Connect the computers using wires rather than wireless connections – I’ve heard several reports of that working.
  • Try installing the IPX Wrapper program and using IPX rather than TCP/IP. We didn’t have much luck with this, but I’ve heard numerous other reports of success with this program.
  • If all else fails, buy a cheap network switch and some cables, disconnect your machines from the existing network, and network them using the switch and cables to form a non-Internet connected LAN. This is a bit of a hassle, but it’s the most reliable way to give the games a simple network they can understand!

Getting Baldur’s Gate 2 and Icewind Dale to work across the Internet

As you may be aware, getting pre-2005 or so games to work across the Internet can be an exercise in black magic. Fortunately, you don’t have to – several programs have been written to solve this problem.

First step – check you’ve got UPnP set up on your router if it supports it. Otherwise, you may need to do some port forwarding craziness.

Next, you’ll want to install the program GameRanger. It looks a bit primitive and dodgy, but it has actually been around forever, and is an excellent solution to the problem of playing older games online. Have everyone who wants to play with you install it too, and “friend” each other on GameRanger.

Now, have your host computer “Host” a game, have everyone else “Join” your game room in Game Ranger (by right-clicking your name on your GameRanger friends list) and start the game. Make sure to run in windowed mode as your game loads up – see above.

From here, joining the game should be fairly seamless.

If that doesn’t work properly:

  • Check your router’s set up correctly for GameRanger. They have an excellent support page to help with this.
  • You can also try setting up a “Virtual LAN” using Hamatchi. We haven’t tried this, I’m afraid, but many people recommend it as a way to play Infinity Engine games online. You can find out more in this excellent forum post. However, I’ve heard Hamatchi is decidedly finicky, so I’d definitely recommend this as a last resort.

Tips for Infinity Engine Multiplayer

And that’s it! You should now be up and running.

All of these games date to well before cooperative multiplayer was common in RPGs, and they’ve got some quirks that can make them a bit irritating to play multiplayer. Here are a few tips:

  • If you’ve got less than 5 players, we recommend one player controls 2 characters – otherwise the game’s likely to be too hard. This is particularly true if no-one wanted to play the cleric, and so you don’t have enough healing. Learn from our ressurrection bills!
  • Only one person can shop at a time, as shopkeepers start a dialogue, which cancels what anyone else is doing. If you’re on a LAN, we found it best to designate one person (the person with the biggest screen or the person with the highest-Charisma character – ideally both) to be the “shopper”, and everyone else to crowd around their screen.
  • Remember, party funds are shared! Don’t spend them all on yourself or you’ll be unpopular…
  • In combat, having multiple people pausing and unpausing can be confusing. It’s best to designate one person as the “pauser”.

Have fun! These games might be old, but they’re still an amazing multiplayer experience.

Do you have any tips for multiplayer on Baldur’s Gate 2 or the Icewind Dale series?

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