A Million Middlemen: GameRanger Did Good

By Alec Meer on October 11th, 2010 at 8:56 pm.

The Game Ranger himself. Honest

The day on which Gearbox made some… brave (though I suspect simply poorly-explained) comments about the problems with multiplayer PC gaming in 2010 seems entirely appropriate for long-time networking-easinator GamerRanger to announce it’s hit a million users. Huzzah, and stuff! GameRanger does a whole bunch of matchmaking and community stuff, but arguably it’s greatest use is sneaking around the oft-bloated, broken or otherwise unforgiving multiplayer systems that some 600 PC games made the mistake of adopting.

It’s also handy for games no longer fully supported by their creators/publishers (for instance, apparently over a million games of Age of Empires II get played via GameRanger every month), and for titles that plum don’t work at launch – a bunch of people used it to play Demigod online back when official methods were about as much use as a lactating foot. I don’t where that analogy came from. I’m sorry.

The full list of games is here – take a look, see if anything inspires you to a resurrection project, then hop onto the RPS forums and arrange a game with your cheery peers.

Kudos to Mr Scott Kevill for running GameRanger since 1999, even if he did spend nine years of that time only supporting boo-hiss stinky Mac-toys. In an age where we’re all forever hungry for shiny new things, it’s rather pleasing to see such longevity.

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34 Comments »

  1. bleeters says:

    I don’t know, lactating feet sound pretty useful.

  2. DJ Phantoon says:

    I blame KG’s departure.

    Thought I didn’t realize HE was the flood gates to insanity.

  3. subedii says:

    First time I hearing of this. So is it like Hamachi or what?

    Used to use Hamachi to play LAN games of SWAT 4 over the net (and other games that made use of LAN), how does this work?

    • DrazharLn says:

      It’s much easier than Hamachi. It uses dark sorcery to connect your PC to the game host, if I understand correctly.

      On the user side, one needs only to press a few simple buttons to play games online. Works a treat for Borderlands and Alpha Centauri, I couldn’t vouch for the others (though I imagine they’re fine too).

    • subedii says:

      And now I just realised Scott from the other Gearbox thread is the dev behind this one.

      Huh, all the discussions about community systems suddenly fall into a new context.

    • subedii says:

      Aw man, Bionic Commando isn’t listed. If that was there I would’ve signed up right away. Can’t find anyone playing that game online anymore, and it’s shame because it’s such an awesome multiplayer game.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @subedii: You could just use Hamachi, the folks on the official Bionic Commando forums have (had?) a bunch of networks set up for that purpose.

    • subedii says:

      I tried. The first network was full (as in, it had registered members) but was empty, and the second one I got into but nobody was in that one either.

      I managed to play maybe 2 or 3 games of BC total using the official matchmaking, and those were against Russian players who I’m pretty certain were hacking.

      I can’t help but feel that if there was server support then there’d be at least one server somewhere were people could get together to play on. Maybe coordinate events via Steam group or something.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It is much, much better than Hamachi for games because of some networking wizardry which I don’t quite understand – i.e., it’s specifically built to work with specific video games instead of just being a catch-all.

      Also, just about the only way to play BG1/2 multiplayer.

  4. Heynes says:

    I remember GameRanger being quite a crucial supplement to the half-broken multiplayer in Borderlands (at least when it was first released, not sure how it’s like now). Good on them.

  5. Navagon says:

    You mean I might finally be able to play Borderlands coop, as Gawd intended? Yays!

  6. Dinger says:

    “About as useful as a Lactating Foot” is the first purely awesome Meerism ever uttered. It combines a healthy male feminism with performance anxiety to pervert the more common ‘tits on a bull’ into something that’s a quiet commentary on the sexualisation of maternity mixed with something kinda kinky. It’s typical that he’d feel the need to apologise.

    Wait. Could it be? (checks intel logs. Man, you UK boys have a lot of cctvs) Dude, it’s proven: not getting laid was the only thing holding you back from being a great writer! I declare a new golden age!

  7. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    I use this to play HoMM3 with a friend occasionally…

    Reminds me somewhat of Wireplay, if anyone remembers that old dinosaur from when the internet was young. It’s basically a universal lobby and works remarkably well, especially for games that wouldn’t work otherwise.

  8. trooperdx3117 says:

    Oh my god they actually support the original Homeworld!!! Anyone else wanna jump on that wagon and relive the glory days of space rts circa 1999

  9. destroy.all.monsters says:

    I’d really like to see a gound up of the various 3rd party solutions. Apparently no one has done this. There’s Raptr, Play Xpert, Xfire, Kali still exists. It’s a hodgepodge of clients and I’ve neither the time or patience to try them all out. `

    One of the larger reasons that the only time I play online is via MMOs.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      That would be a ROUND up.

      Please bring back edit mode.

    • Aerozol says:

      With Xfire getting bought out, firing all the original staff on the first day, and now having to get to grips with everything before updating again… This is the time to do one, I agree.

  10. bit_crusherrr says:

    I remember Scott promoting this in the Demigod IRC around it’s launch. Good job he did otherwise I doubt I’d of got so much playtime out of the game.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      Yeah Demigod was broken without gameranger at release… beautiful for pirates.

  11. Hodag says:

    Scott is awesome. Gameranger is awesome. Perth is awesome.

  12. JackShandy says:

    Damn. I was hoping it supported System Shock 2- I’ve been trying to get that working for ages.

    Oh well.

  13. SapientWolf says:

    Kind of interesting to see that GameRanger does a better job of supporting Dungeon Keeper 2 than EA does.

  14. Fumarole says:

    When a friend first IMed the URL for this to me, I read it as Gamer Anger. I was mildly disappointed when I found out it wasn’t what my fevered imagination immediately conjured up.

  15. Sufinsil says:

    One and easiest program to get Heroes of Might & Magic 3 games going with the girlfriend.

    Now with the release of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale on GoG.com, I expect to getting more use out of it.

  16. Scott Kevill says:

    Looks like 4am was too soon to go to bed last night!

    Thanks everyone, the feedback is always appreciated. Hopefully we’ll see GameRanger’s tech used officially in more games in the future.

  17. Ravenger says:

    I downloaded this last night. Nice to see some old games which I thought would never again be playable over the internet are supported by this. Nice job!

  18. Urael says:

    Is anyone else picking up on the irony of a service originally built, and catering only to, the Mac – the system stereotypically laughed at for its poor gaming options – coming to the rescue of the supposedly superior PC platform with a solution that, seemingly unlike our myriad own options (including the oft-touted Hamachi), “just works”?

    These are strange times.

  19. Carra says:

    It’s weird but I’ve been wanting to replay Age of Empires 2 for a while now.

    Good to see there are still people playing it.

  20. Matt says:

    Can someone convince me why I should pay 40 bucks a year for this?

  21. sereal says:

    man game ranger is the shit, diablo1 has been pretty broken for along time, and game ranger makes it sooo sooo simple to get a game going. I have used stuff like hamachi but game ranger makes life just way way more simple. Especially if your trying to get a game going with people who are clueless.

  22. Scandalon says:

    Wow, we used to use GR for the original Mac Unreal…This is Classic Mac OS 7-8-9ish days. And for those that don’t know, Mr. Scott Kevill was also responsible for Quiver, the only really viable Quake editor on the Mac. I think I may have met him at a Macworld once…

  23. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Curse you Meer, and your anti-Maccery!

    Also, yay for Gameranger.