A few weeks ago, the Serious Sam 2 demo was release, and my clan, the Avatars, and I were dying to try out the co-op, since we had played the previous game though together (although some shocking networking code made it near impossible), and were rather looking forward to SS2.
Unfortunately however, the demo’s internet play functionality was rather broken. After some digging on various forums looking for a solution, someone found a rather useful little utility - Hamachi.
Hamachi is basically a very simple VPN system, which behaves pretty much like an instant messaging client. When you install it, you’re run through a very informative little tutorial to get you started. During the process, you’re assigned an IP in the 5.5.x.x range - though I’m not entirely sure where the range starts or ends, we all got IPs like that - and a new Hamachi network connection is created under Windows. You may then join or create as many private or public networks as you like.
Members on the network can ping each other on their “Hamachi IPs”, they can browse shares, and copy files backwards and forwards (shares even end up showing up in your “My Network Places” eventually), send messages back and forth, etc. And of course in our case, it registers in games as a LAN connection, so you can easily play any multiplayer game with LAN support, without the need for the person hosting the game to mess with their firewalls, routers, port forwarding, etc.
There is a Linux binary available, however I couldn’t get this to work on my Debian Sid server, there were various tunneling problems, which are a bit beyond my networking skills to resolve.
In general though, the possibilities are pretty endless. Anything you can do an a LAN, you can securely and easily do with Hamachi, on a network spanning the world if you really wanted.
“Oops, I just printed my bank statement to Joe in Australia’s printer!”