How to play Age of Empires II on Windows Vista and Windows 7

I love Age of Empires II. I love all real-time strategy games, but Age of Empires II must be among the finest I’ve ever played, especially as a multiplayer game.

Unfortunately, getting Age of Empires to work in this modern day is a bit of a pain. The game was built on network technology known as IPX that has since gone the way of the dinosaurs. So far gone, in fact, that Microsoft decided not to include it in Vista and Windows 7. All of my computers are using Windows 7 now, so getting the game to play over LAN proved to be difficult.

I didn’t want to deal with trying to hodge-podge together an IPX installation, so I decided to look for ways for the TCP/IP method of gameplay to work. This method rarely worked for me, and when it did it only worked on some computers and not others.

Apparently, all I needed to do was assign all the computers that were playing in the game to have static IP addresses. If you don’t know what that is, there’s a link to a guide at the bottom of this article. Set static IPs on every computer that will be playing, not just the host.

Then, on the computer hosting, select Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay and NOT the LAN option. For some reason, selecting the LAN option caused issues. However, all the computers that will be joining can just select the LAN option.

Assuming there are no firewall issues, you should be good to go. I tested this with Windows 7 only machines, and only over LAN. If anyone has tried this as described and couldn’t get it to work, I’d like to hear from you.

Have fun playing!

Here’s a wonderful guide from PortForward.com on setting up a static IP.