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There are currently 48 users playing Freelancer on 59 servers.
September. 22, 2014

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Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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Anyone have any ideas on running a 2nd instance of Freelancer on one machine?

Someone suggested flhack, whose description offers some nice features. Unfortunately, when I run it, I get:

"A device attached to the system is not functioning."
"The FLHACK.EXE file is linked to missing export SHELL32.DLLHGetFolderPathW."

Apparently it requires version 6.0 of shell32.dll. I assume flhack was compiled for WinXP and beyond. I'm running Win98SE. I'm not going to upgrade my OS (at least not anytime soon). I don't have the tools to re-compile the source code included in the flhack.zip

Years ago, I got a second instance of Simcity2000 to run by renaming a copy of the executable and hex editing all instances of the name to the renamed version. Is that my only option here, or does anyone have another idea, or ideas?

Posted on: 2009/5/5 6:52
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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There's a special "FreelancerClient" string in freelancer.exe at offset 0x1e6dcc that controls whether multiple instances can be launched or not. Change the first character to a null character (0x00) and you'll be able to launch more than one instance of FL.

See the Limit Breaking thread for more information.

Posted on: 2009/5/5 9:34
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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Quote:

There's a special "FreelancerClient" string in freelancer.exe at offset 0x1e6dcc that controls whether multiple instances can be launched or not. Change the first character to a null character (0x00) and you'll be able to launch more than one instance of FL.

See the Limit Breaking thread for more information.


EDIT:
Thanks, M0tah. [s]Is "offset 0x1e6dcc" applicable to v1.0, or v1.1?[/s] Sorry, found in the above link.



1E6DC0 75 72 63 65 73 2E 64 6C 6C 00 00 00 46 72 65 65 urces.dll  Free
1E6DD0 6C 61 6E 63 65 72 43 6C 69 65 6E 74 00 00 00 00  lancerClient
1E6DE0 FF FF FF FF A9 33 5B 00 C7 33 5B 00 20 09 00 00 <--- Is 0xA9 @ 0x1e6de4 what I need to change?
1E6DF0 6F 12 83 3A 9A 99 19 BF 9A 99 19 3F 00 00 A0 40 OR, the character "F" in "FreelancerClient?
1E6E00 77 BE 7F 3F 45 3A 5C 46 4C 5C 53 63 72 61 74 63 ?E:\FL\Scratc

EDIT: I asked the above, because I am always wary of hex-editing executables, but in this case, I took a chance. For other n00b's, to clarify: the "F" in "FreelacerClient" needs to be nulled out.


BTW, as a n00b, I am browsing every thread about everything. Nice to see a "VIP" (aka, "celebrity" respond. Much appreciated.

Re: FLHACK. Seems to have some nice options. I am aware that some have been incorporated into some mods, (88FlaK, I think), but am not ready to install any mods just yet. Any thoughts from someone knowledgeable, (that is, you), on tinkering it to work?

EDIT: I know you are not the author of FLHACK. Just curious, if you as a programmer, and developer, are aware of a way to tinker around this, as I have seen similar problems with other add-ons and tools with other games and apps. In one instance I was able to find a newer version of an OS dll, and put it in the apps directory. Allowed the app to work, without affecting the OS's installed dll. Not sure that would work here, that was a much simpler app, and have no idea where to find a v6.0 shell32.dll.


Posted on: 2009/5/5 10:00
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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If the second instance is FLServer Then you should have no problems, but that I doubt is what you want as you asked "Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?"

However, wanting to run a second instance for what reason is a another good question, because connecting both game instances to the same server at the same time can cause major lag both to your machine and the server. I know server operators that do more than frown on such actions.

Posted on: 2009/5/5 13:57
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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Why not just create a second user account and run a second copy of FL on that, only delay is switching user accounts.

Posted on: 2009/5/5 15:09
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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'Cos, like me, he wants to know it can be done, and that he can do it! - then he won't use it ever!

Heheheheheheh

Melwoc: GO TO LINUX!!

Posted on: 2009/5/5 15:45
"C" for "Caterpillar"... "Cool"... "Cheesey"!
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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Actually, guys, I'm simply trying to experiment with SP mods for my own use. But in order to avoid having the storyline interfere, I want to test the mods in a LAN MP environment. I'm also curious about how 2 different players (not characters) interact in MP. Since only online players can interact, and since I only have 1 machine in my network that has a graphics card capable of running Freelancer, I can run the server on a different machine and 2 (windowed) instances of Freelancer on the main machine. It's strictly a testbed setup.

And, thank you again, M0tah, it works.

Ah, StarTrader, why do you insist on trying to make an old dog learn new tricks?

Posted on: 2009/5/5 16:42
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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Aye, running multiple instances is great for testing things which require multiple players present (for example, running tests of mobile docking code, trade restriction code, etc.)

Posted on: 2009/5/5 16:56
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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So, now that I've attracted some interest.... Anyone have any thoughts on my FLHACK problem?

Posted on: 2009/5/5 17:01
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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Quote:

...
Ah, StarTrader, why do you insist on trying to make an old dog learn new tricks?


'Cos I'm an old'un too and if I still have the appetite to learn Linux, you should too - listen, when I get put into an old folks home (but I hope it won't happen) all I'll ask for is a PC with internet and some game or else a compiler, a comfy office chair, bathroom facilities, a comfy bed, 8 cups of tea per day, and regular meals!

Right - there's one fundamental problem with the setup you outline here...

2 windows ok - but only 1 mouse & 1 keyboard! You need another PC, and another chair, and some bum to sit in it, my man! ;D

Alternatively get out in the sunshine now and then! :

Posted on: 2009/5/6 2:31
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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It looks like the specific function that's causing you difficulty is used for saving the settings to a desktop shortcut. It would be easy to just remove that functionality, but I'm not sure if I have all the tools needed to build FL Hack.

Posted on: 2009/5/6 3:31
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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Quote:

It looks like the specific function that's causing you difficulty is used for saving the settings to a desktop shortcut. It would be easy to just remove that functionality, but I'm not sure if I have all the tools needed to build FL Hack.


Therein lies my problem. The last time I compiled something, it was, like, MASM v1.1 for DOS v3.3. At this point, it would probably take me weeks just to find out everything I don't know, and don't have, (and probably couldn't afford), just to re-compile a simple game add-on. If I knew how to reach Jason Hood, author of FLHACK, http://adoxa.110mb.com/index.html, I'd inquire if he would offer a version for us poor backward types. Anyone have any contact info? Also, if he was thoughtful enough to include the source code, he might (!) not mind someone (anyone?) sharing a recompiled version.

As an alternative, M0tah, since you seem to understand the API far better than I, would it be possible to hack the existing executable, say rename the string "shell32.dll" to something like "blank32.dll" (and supply an empty dll), or no-op the call without opening myself up to major problems? Don't mind a CTD, just don't want to re-format my drive, or re-construct my registry. Not looking to make any work for you here, just some guidance. I could live without the program, I know it's pretty much just a front-end for all those useful offsets in "Dev's Limit Breaking". I just hate re-inventing the wheel.

On the topic of "Dev's Limit...", do you think you guys might find it useful, if I put all that info into an Excel spreadsheet, and made it available? You know, sort by description, function, offset, etc.
I'd at least like to give back in some small way. I've only been a member here a week or so, and some people already think I'm a "pain in the tookis".

Now, on to the "Merry Prankster":

Quote:


'Cos I'm an old'un too and if I still have the appetite to learn Linux, you should too - listen, when I get put into an old folks home (but I hope it won't happen) all I'll ask for is a PC with internet and some game or else a compiler, a comfy office chair, bathroom facilities, a comfy bed, 8 cups of tea per day, and regular meals!

Right - there's one fundamental problem with the setup you outline here...

2 windows ok - but only 1 mouse & 1 keyboard! You need another PC, and another chair, and some bum to sit in it, my man!  ;D

Alternatively get out in the sunshine now and then! :


Ah, StarTrader, fellow fogie, my intellectual curiosity, and willingness to learn, has not been dampened by my steady progress towards that long good night. But, entropy increases. Time seems much more precious, nowadays, so I'm picky about were I point my energies. Linux is, I'm sure, the wave of the future, until Micro$ux figures out how to co-opt it. I just don't see a big personal return on investing the time to get up to speed. But that's me. For you, if it floats your boat, I say, "get jiggy wit' it!"

You left 1 thing out of your "old folks home" scenario.... Nurses! (Gotta have eyecandy!)

Technically, not a fundamental problem, not planning to fly and fight 2 ships at once. Just for experimenting. Running windowed instances, each loses focus, when you switch to the other. Fatal if you're in a firefight, but I wouldn't take them both into an NPC hangout, unless, I was experimenting with AI wingmen, and that wouldn't apply to a player character, and has already been and is being explored. It does work. On my rather limited machine, I was able to get an Explorer window, MP Acct. Mgr, a text window with alternative MP accts for copying and pasting, Flserver, resource meter, and 2 instances of Freelancer (with all graphics and detail settings at max, but no music) , all to run concurrently, in addition to the normal Win background tasks, firewall, etc. and still have about 20% resources left. (Mouse flight is a little sluggish, and tricky to control, but once I move the server and minor apps to another machine, I think that will be less of a problem.) The Ioncross server app, unfortunetly, ate about 40% of my resources, before I even fired up the Acct. Mgr., so that was out.

Though, if your suggesting I let someone into my Fortress of Solitude... NO! We hermits only allow the spiders to intrude. (Though, occasionally, my better half can be enticed to bring food.) Sunshine? Eww, yucky stuff, never touch it. Skin starts to turn black and smoke. Very disconcerting.

And now, since you (gently) rapped my knuckles for hijacking another thread, for your blatant attempts to convert we heathen MSWin people to Linux, I decree the following punishment. Google "Ultimate Universe" (computer game). Follow the Wikipedia link. Check the external resources. Download the game files, read some of the included history, check the current abysmal state of the fansites, then find your way to the personal site of Garth Bigelow (the author), and shed a tear for the fate of a brilliant programmer/game developer/human being.

On a side note to all you modders out there. This is a brilliantly executed BBS, ANSI door game from the days before Al Gore invented the internet. Though it's central design would probably not be compatible with the Freelancer engine, it could offer a whole new perspective on what you might want to try and put into a mod.



Posted on: 2009/5/7 6:58
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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Well, his email is at the bottom of the main page (look at the Jason Hood link).

As for recompiling/reassembling the sources, all the software needed to do it is free. I have a working MinGW installation - the only issue is MASM, which I've never used before.

I could probably make a simple dummy user32.dll that just exports ShellExecuteA and SHGetFolderPathW (the two functions FL Hack uses from user32) so you can actually run the program. Getting it to work by modifying the exe would probably be harder - since FL Hack uses compile-time linking to call the functions, I'd have to edit the imports table of the exe for it to not attempt to find those functions on startup, which is something I don't have experience doing.

Posted on: 2009/5/7 10:48
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?
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Not a super fan of politicians no matter the party, but no matter how loud I laugh at it, I just overlook Al Gore for that greatly remembered claim. After all, compare him to the others and as former Vice Presidents have gone. Not only can Al Gore spell "Potato" but seems to be determined to show us we are cooking ours without trying to get a contract to clean it up.

But the best news,, I don't feel nearly as old now,, Someone else remembers dial-up BBS's with the "cutting edge" colored ANSI Door games!!

However good the memories, sorry to muddy the topic.
As a piece offering how about a obvious and simple solution.  

If you need two connected Freelancer Clients to test your LAN Server using a second windows box.
It is only as far away as the "Start Menu" / "Log Off" / "Switch User"

EDIT: But,, Ahh.. Geez... Lancer Solurus already posted that and I somehow missed it...

Quote:

On a side note to all you modders out there. This is a brilliantly executed BBS, ANSI door game from the days before Al Gore invented the internet.

Posted on: 2009/5/7 13:58
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Re: Run a 2nd Freelancer instance?

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Quote:

Well, his email is at the bottom of the main page (look at the Jason Hood link).

As for recompiling/reassembling the sources, all the software needed to do it is free....

I could probably make a simple dummy user32.dll....


Hm, I did miss that contact info. It only shows as a link if I hover the mouse over it.

Well, it's been, probably 12, 15 yrs., maybe more, since I used MASM, but as I recall, assembling & compiling were fairly straight forward, IF you understood the options you needed to set. (Trust me, I was often confused.) The other problem was deciphering the errors, but that was much less of a problem if you were dealing with tested source code, as opposed to writing new code. I think I understand the problem with hacking the exe. Using the dummy dll approach, would it be safer to give the dll a unique name, put it in the flhack folder, and change the dll name string in the exe? I'd hate to try to keep track of a user32.dll mod in the Windows directory.

Unless you want to try this as an exercise, let me try to contact Mr. Hood first. He might even have some earlier version that would work just fine. (At least for my purposes.)

BTW, M0tah, I really do appreciate the help. I do try to do things myself. You say all the necessary tools are free. Can you point me to some resources where I can find the tools? I'm not sure what I'd be looking for nowadays. I was under the impression that Windows programming required a proprietary (and pricey) Windows SDK.

Quote:

I just overlook Al Gore for that greatly remembered claim.

But the best news,, I don't feel nearly as old now,, Someone else remembers dial-up BBS's with the "cutting edge" colored ANSI Door games!!

However good the memories, sorry to muddy the topic.
As a piece offering how about a obvious and simple solution.  

If you need two connected Freelancer Clients to test your LAN Server using a second windows box.
It is only as far away as the "Start Menu" / "Log Off" / "Switch User"



Actually, Grey Wolf, I wasn't trying to make fun of Al, I was carbon-dating myself. There actually is some merit to his claim. He was a member of a congressional sub-committee that authorized the creation of the DARPAnet/ARPAnet backbones.

But I'm glad I could give you a lift. I remember, back in my salad days, seeing triple-digit monthly Compuserve bills, matched by comparable triple-digit long-distance bills. Printing on-line sessions off on a 3" wide, 40-character thermal printer. Ah, the good ol' days. These yungin's don't know how good they got it.

I don't mind muddy topics. Since I started the tread, you have my permission to splash in the mud puddles.

As for your suggestion, though, I think you miss the point. I'm running Win98SE. If I log off, it closes any non-OS related running processes. I want to alt-tab between the 2 instances. And it works just fine that way. I'm not testing the server, I want to test game mods, and multiplayer interaction.

Posted on: 2009/5/7 16:17
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