Flight Simulator Multiplayer Tutorial

This tutorial is designed to help you get started flying in multiplayer games.  It focuses primarily on Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2002 (FS2002), Flight Simulator 2004 (FS2004), Flight Simulator X (FSX), and Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D, and explains how to connect to a multiplayer session on an FSHost server.

Connecting to an FSHost server

FSHost is a free server program for hosting multiplayer sessions with FS2002, FS2004, FSX, and  Prepar3D. Any user can run the program on their PC to host a session, and players from all four simulator versions can connect to the same session and see each other inside the game. Some of the features include unlimited players, a web interface, flight plans for ATC sessions, pilot logs, the ability to kick and ban players, Chat Commands, Hop Lists, custom weather, multiple language support, and lots more.  If you want to host your own session, you can download it for free from the FSHost web site.

If you just want to join someone else's session, the easiest way to find a game is to use my FSHostSpy program, which you can download for free from the FSHostSpy web site.  It'll show you all the sessions currently running (there are usually more than 150 at any given time), as well as which players are already connected, what they're flying, where they are, etc.  Once you find a game to join, double-click the session name, and the host's IP address will be copied to your clipboard.  (An IP address is the unique address of the host's computer on the internet -- something like 11.22.33.44)

If you're using FSX or Prepar3D, skip the rest of this section and jump down to A note about FSX and Prepar3D.

To connect to the game in FS2002 or FS2004, start FS yourself and click "Multiplayer" on the left side of the start screen (or if you're already in the plane, click the Flights menu, then Multiplayer, and then Connect -- press the Alt key if you don't see the Flights menu at the top left). Enter your player name, select TCP/IP (if you're using FS2002), and enter the IP address listed for that game, by clicking in the IP address box and typing Ctrl-v to paste it in (or you can just type it in manually). Click Search and wait a couple seconds, then you should see a session name listed. Click Join to connect to the session. 

After connecting, you'll be back at the same Multiplayer start page again. Click the "Chat" button to open the Chat window (or if you're already in the plane, press the Enter key to open the chat window). Ask the other players for a starting airport "ID". This is usually a 3- or 4-letter code, such as KLAX for Los Angeles.

Then click "Create A Flight" on the left side of the Multiplayer start page, and setup your flight. You'll probably want to change the airport to whatever airport ID the other players told you. To do that, click the "Change" button under "Current Location", and then enter the ID in the "Airport ID" box. Note that the ID box is the second box, not the first. If you know the name, you can use the first box instead, but many people find it easier to refer to airports by ID. After you type in the airport ID, it should show the name of the airport at the top of the "Search Results" list -- this is how you know you've typed it in correctly. If it doesn't find it, make sure you don't have a particular region or country specified (you want it to use all regions and all countries as you type in the airport ID). If the airport is a large one, it may have gates you can start at. This is always a good idea to check, because it means you don't have to start on the runway, where someone might be in the middle of taking off! :-) In the bottom left of the window, there's a box called "Runway / Starting Position". Click the arrow next to that box, and see if there are any gates or ramps you can start at. You may need to scroll down a bit to get past the runways, which usually look like "25" or "18R", etc.

After you've set the airport ID, and possibly a gate or ramp to start on, click OK, and you'll be back at the Multiplayer start page. You can also change your aircraft, weather, and date/time. You may want to be sure that the time is during the day, unless you specifically want to fly at night. When everything's setup, click "Fly Now" to go to the plane. Once there, if there are other planes nearby, you should see them, with the pilot's name over the top of the plane. If the airport wasn't big enough to have gates or ramps, then you'll now be sitting on the runway, and you should attempt to clear it as soon as possible, in case someone's waiting to take off or land. Once you see who's in the area, you can taxi back onto the runway and take off.

It's very bad form to just jump onto a runway and sit there while other people are waiting to take off -- and even worse if they're about to land. If you're not sure, use the chat window to ask if it's ok to join on the runway. To open the chat window from inside the plane, just press the Enter key.

A note about FSX and Prepar3D...

If you're using FSX or Prepar3D, you'll need my FSHostClient program to be able to connect to an FSHost server. FS2002 and FS2004 are able to connect to FSHost with their built-in multiplayer systems, so users of those programs don't need FSHostClient.

Firewalls, Routers, and Port Forwarding...

If you're using a router on your network, or you have a firewall enabled (including the one built into Windows), you'll need to configure your PC to allow incoming data from the internet. Otherwise you'll have problems with people getting disconnected from the session or not being able to connect. See the FSHost Help topic Firewalls, Routers, and Port Forwarding for more info. Also note that anyone connecting to your session will need to configure their router and firewall the same way.

Other notes...

  • To find your own IP address, go to: www.whatismyip.com
     
  • There's a bug in the FS2002 chat window that causes it to not automatically scroll to the bottom when new text is displayed.  Also, the window keeps disappearing unless you turn off "Full Screen" from the View menu in FS2002.  I made a little program called FSChatScroll that fixes both problems.
     
  • You can use a voice program to talk to the ATC controllers, although some ATC sessions do allow you to just use the chat window.  Many ATC sessions use the voice program TeamSpeak.  You'll want to set it up for "push to talk" mode, which means you press a key on the keyboard to talk to the controller.  Check the session's rules for details of what program they use and how to connect to their voice server.  A headset with a built-in microphone works best, because you don't get the echo that's generally a problem with a microphone and separate speakers.

Happy multiplayer flying...

Feedback welcome