Enjoying multiplayer games on LAN in DOSBox - IPX

Updated: April 12, 2008

By now, you have already discovered that I'm a bit of an old games fan. Using DOSBox is probably the simplest, most sensible way of enjoying your old favorites. But so far, I have only shown you the single player mode. DOSBox also allows you to setup multiplayer games.

If you have more than one computer and would like to enjoy a session of Doom, Warcraft or any other 90s classic, then read on. This article will show you how to setup multiplayer games using IPX protocol. A follow-up article will demonstrate how to play even older games using direct serial connection.

DOSBox configuration

First, we must enable IPX networking emulation. Find and open the dosbox.conf file (the configuration file for DOSBox); it should be located in the DOSBox directory. Inside the file, search for an entry labeled [ipx]. Below the explanation comment (marked with #), change the configuration line from ipx=false to ipx=true as shown in the screenshot below. You might find it hard to believe, but this is ALL of the tampering with the configuration files you will need.

DOSBox multiplayer enable ipx

Start IPX server

Power on DOSBox on all the computers that you want to participate in the LAN games. One of these computers will have to act as a server. The rest will be clients. On the server machine, execute the following command:

ipxnet startserver

See screenshot below:

DOSBox multiplayer start server

Start client(s) On each one of the clients, run the following command to connect to the server:

ipxnet connect IP

Specifically, in my case:

ipxnet connect

See screenshot below:

DOSBox multiplayer client connect

You now have the network running.

Start your games

Yes, that's it! I have tested this setup on a network where both clients sit behind a router and run a personal firewall. Everything worked (and works) flawlessly. The one thing you may have to do is allow DOSBox network access in your firewall rules. So now, let's see some cool games.

Doom 2

The best FPS for dueling. For those not familiar with Doom 2 multiplayer, it needs to be setup outside the games, using the setup.exe utility.

DOSBox multiplayer Doom 2 setup

After the relevant parameters are set, the game will launch in the multiplayer mode.

DOSBox multiplayer Doom 2 screenshot 1


Another classic. Again, the setup is simple and straightforward.

DOSBox multiplayer Warcraft setup 1

DOSBox mutliplayer Warcraft setup 2

After the connection is established, the server has the first move. Then, the other player has to confirm the choice.

DOSBox mutliplayer Warcraft setup 3

DOSBox mutliplayer Warcraft setup 4

After both players have agreed on the game rules, the match begins. And here, we have a social meeting between some humans and orcs. This is how it looks on the Orcs side:

DOSBox mutliplayer Warcraft game 1

And this is what the human player sees:

DOSBox mutliplayer Warcraft game 2

And the same applies for dozens of other games, Warcraft 2, Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem 3D, and others.

The future

That's about it. Configuring games using IPX network is extremely easy and works well. Configuring direct serial connection games will be a little harder. To make you better understand the importance of this task, here's a picture. What you see is the original, dust- and mold-eaten manual for the best simulator ever made: F-16 Combat Pilot, the original CGA version. The manual is 19 years old. This game will only run using direct serial connection, something I have not yet successfully accomplished. But I will.

DOSBox multiplayer F-16 manual


There you go. Awesomeness achieved. Now start playing your DOS multiplayers titles and enjoying yourselves. DOSBox is a really amazing tool, and it can help you rekindle those moments of glory and fun you had back in your childhood. Probably even more than ever, because who could afford several computers back then. Enjoy.


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