Is there such a thing as free multiplayer video games ?

Multiplayer LAN games for cheapskates

aka “I prefer free or cheap games”

First of all, a small disclaimer is required. This list is mainly based on my personal experience when roaming LAN parties in combination with the games I like to play myself.

Not all these games require a platform account, but adding friends to your game is way easier like that.

For the biggest part of this list, you’ll be needing  a PC (obviously) and if you haven’t already done so, you need to first create an account on the following platforms through their respective websites :

  • Steam (the mothership of gaming platforms)
  • GOG (for lovers of retro games)
  • HumbleBundle (very cheap games, where your money’s donated to a charity)
  • Origin (that other mothership of gaming platforms)
  • Battle.net (limited amount of games, but huge player base. Does World of Warcraft ring a bell ?)

Steam :

  • War Thunder
    War Thunder
    War Thunder. pew pew vroom vroom

    Lots of fun and easy to learn.
    Flying planes and bombing tanks.
    Cross platform for Linux, Windows, Mac and Playstation 4

  • World of Warships
    A bit more hard core. You get to pilot actual replica of ships in a huge naval battle.
    Starts easy, but gets really intense on higher ranks.
    If you need a slow-paced but action-intensive game, this is for you
  • Warframe
    Yet another Steam game not obliged to run specifically on Steam.
    Sci-fi Spacey third person shooter with a simple and balanced class system.
  • Star Trek Online
    Star Trek Online screenshot

    Command your own crew in your personal NCC-ship.
    Multiplayer Trekkie heaven.

  • Star Conflict
    Massive multiplayer space ship pew-pew.
    Not really a beginner kinda game to start playing, but tons of fun with an experienced group of players. If you’ve played EVE Online and like that game, this is probably for you !
  • Winning Putt
    Sexy golf ?

    Sounds stupid, but it’s stupidly addictive as well.
    Multiplayer golf. What more do you want ? :p

  • Team Fortress 2
    The very first free-to-play game on Steam and still totally worth mentioning.
    This game stood the test of time and still kicks ass in the current-gen list of competitive shooters.
    It’s a team-based shooter where with many game typs such as “capture the flag”, ‘plant the bomb”, “king of the hill”, …
  • OGAT
    Of Guards and Thieves

    The title stands for “Of Guards And Thieves”, in case you’re wondering 🙂
    This little hidden gem has you play as either a member of the thieves or a guard (oooh, unexpected), where you have to infiltrate a mansion ans steal items or prevent the thieves from doing so.
    Sounds simple, but it’s a real blast.

  • DOTA 2
    Defending the Ancients like a bawz

    Spice is the variety of life. Or is it the other way around ? DOTA started as a simple mod for Warcraft 3, but quickly grew towards a thing of its own.
    DOTA 2 (Defense of The Ancients) is one of those games, where you defend your base and conquer your oponent’s. Computer-controlled units are your grunts, where you manually control a leader. As classic as it gets.

Origin :

While Origin occasionally used to have an “On the house” action every now and then, there’s not a lot of actual free games on their platform.
They stopped giving away freebies mid 2018 and don’t have plans to do so again (yet).
Nevertheless, Origin is EA’s gaming platform and it can never hurt to create an account here.

If you’re a fan of specific EA games (list on this Wiki page), have a go at Origin.

Also : PLAY ULTIMA ONLINE !!!

Humble Bundle :

Also, an other website that’s not known for instant-freebies.
HOWEVER….
Humble Bundle’s profit is poured mainly into general healthcare, Red Cross, humanitary help, … projects.
Every month or so, you’ll see a little announcement on their site where you get to buy an “Humble Bundle”,  which usually consists of around 10 to 12 games. Depending on the amount of money you donate, you’ll receive a small, medium o full package of games, usually Steam keys or DRM-free downloads.

It’s a bit of a gamble to get into their “Humble Montly” program, but definitely worth to create an account and stay on the lookout for a good bundle of games.
They even release e-books or specific software such as video editors every now and then !

GOG :

The GOG.COM platform has come a long way over the years.
It started out more like a fan-service to old-school gamers, but quickly grew into a legal distribution platform for the older games.
Now, GOG also provides the newer games on the market but is still known for its classic and historical games.
An easy search (https://www.gog.com/games?sort=popularity&page=1&price=free) will get you into their list  of free games (and demo’s).

  • As a lover of old games, I suggest the Ultima series, but they’re all mostly single-player RPG’s.
  • Gwent is quite likeable though. If you ever played “The Witcher 3”, you’ll love this. It’s the card minigame that has gotten a seperate game of its own. Very addicitve, although most card game players will either stick to Magic The Gathering Online, Pokémon The Trading Card Game Online (basically Magic for beginners) or HeartStone (on Battle.net)

Non-platform :

A couple of game have already been mentioned that are not necesarily platform-bound, but there’s a few ones that are not bound to any software distribution platform.

  • OpenTTD
    Choo Choo mother f*cker

    This beauty is a serious blast from the past, but remains an awesome game over all the years it had to fight to stay in the top game charts.
    As a free game OpenTTD (which is unoficially short for ‘Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe’).
    OpenTTD consists of a very simple concept to create the most optimal and lucrative transport system to get your products from A to B (and even to C and D in the process). The challenge for most people in this game, is getting the awesome train system to work.
    It’s a blast in multiplayer as you’ll soon be fighting over who gets the best coal prices in order to move them to your energy plant and whatnot.
    Fantasic game that gave me a good time in the past and I’m getting the urge to play it again by just writing about it.
    There’s even an Android port for the game, if you’re into that.

  • Pokémon TCGO
    Addictive Pokémon-themed card game from the creators of the all-popular card game series ‘Magic The Gathering’. It’s basically a gateway game to get you to play Magic AND there’s also a physical copy where you receive goodies for the online game per card pack.
    The online game is completely free though.
    You CAN invest real money in card decks, but it’s more of a time investment than an actual cash cow. Very fun to play with your kids, as most of the common languages are translated into it.

Actual non-video games ??? On a LAN party ???

And here we go again with the LAN party thing…
I’ve mentioned it before, but LAN parties are not all about sitting behind a computer screen for as long as you can.
They’re social events.
Part of the main audience happens to love real life party games and/or board games as well, so why not combine both ? As (almost) per definition, the default LAN party will last a complete weekend starting on a friday evening, going on ’till sunday evening. Depending on extended weekends, or going to events such as LANcamp (R.I.P.) this time might get extended to even a whole week.
When you’re my age (old) you lose interest in this mundane task of sitting behind a screen for over 48 hours and need a diversion.

  • SINGSTAR !!
    Hey I just met you and this is crazy, but be my singing buddy and get drunk, maybe ?

    The classic karaoke game that everybody (that sings) loves.
    Get everybody either really drunk and laugh your asses off, or battle in a competition of actual good singing voices.
    Either way, Singstar gets the job done.
    Protip : don’t karaoke near concentrated Counter Strike players (screw you sour-pissing CS player at Frag-o-Matic)

  • Any fricking board game you like to play with friends.
    I mean it, just get together with a couple of mates and pick something (preferably short in game time) as a diversion from your computer screen.
  • Dance Dance Revolution
    Arrows everywhere

    Or In the Groove or Stepmania, whatever floats your boat.
    Just make sure you play it on the controller it’s created for : THE DANCE MAT.
    Oh, and provide a shower opportunity on your LAN party, cause you’ll sweat your ass off…

 

Epilogue

This list of games is never done and you know it.
Let me know in the comments below if you have anything to add to this list of awesome freebies to get your (LAN) party started or throw me a PM on Facebook if you will.

Thanks, Microsoft – CredSSP error when connecting to a terminal server

Halp ! My RDP connection can no longer connect.

Imagine doing your Windows updates, like a good boy, when suddenly you get this nice little error.

An authentication error has occurred.
The function requested is not supported.
Remote computer : <insert remote desktop server name>

This could be due to CredSSP encryption oracle remediation.
For more information, see https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=866660

What happened ?

Microsoft has patched a security thingie, recently on all recent server OS’es.
Every good citizen, using the default Remote Desktop software, has a big chance to be screwed.

Quick fix –>

Create a DWORD registry entry as follows :

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\CredSSP\Parameters] “AllowEncryptionOracle”=dword:00000002

Even more “lazy mode” –>

Download and unzip credssp file.

Doubleclick the REG file after unzipping.

No matter which solution you’ve chosen, reboot the client PC.

Self-signed server certificate has expired (usually in SBS environment)

If you’re born before 1990 (and if you’re in IT), you probably grew up with self-signed certificates.
They give you a lovely fake feeling of security, but more than that, they will give users and the IT department horrible stress to configure.
In “days of olde” (early 2000’s), an Exchange server was able to run over http traffic and a certificate was absolutely not required.

Times have changed and so have security protocols. It’s ill-advised to use a self-signed certificate nowadays, as it is equally ill-advised to use a .local domain anymore on your domain controller.

That being said, there’s a couple of ways to fix an expired self-signed certificate on a Windows SBS server. (read first, perform later, you’ll see why)

Lazy mode

aka ‘fix my network’

Open the SBS console, go to the ‘network’ menu and select the ‘Connectivity’ tab.

Click ‘Fix my network’ and deselect everything except the certificate error, after this wizard stops scanning.

The usual Next-Next-Next will follow and according to Microsoft, you’re good to go.

HOWEVER…

There’s a couple of things that can go wrong here :

  • Your certificate contains a custom entry referring to a domain name or subdomain name that wasn’t originally added in the SBS wizard.

    You’ll need to perform the manual method for renewing a certificate. See below.

  • Your Exchange webmail (https://your_mail_server_ip/owa/) still gives a certificate error, stating your certificate’s still expired.

    In this case, your IIS needs to be reminded of the fact that he should use the newly created certificate.

Somewhat easy mode

  1. Start the ExMngmtnShell (Exchange Management Shell) as Administrator
  2. type Get-ExchangeCertificate to list the installed certificates
  3. Match the certificate to the expired certificate (using subject the name and services) from the Console then copy the associated thumbprint
  4. Type Get-ExchangeCertificate –Thumbprint INSERTTHUMBPRINTHERE | New-ExchangeCertificate | Enble-ExchangeCertificate -services pop,imap,smtp,iis
  5. Type Y to renew the certificate
  6. Restart SBS2008/2011 Console or restart server.
  7. Profit.

Like-a-bawz-mode

Beautifully explained on http://www.petenetlive.com/KB/Article/0000535, so no need to repeat what Pete already wrote.
The main idea here is to use the IIS built-in Certification Authority (certsrv), while manually defining all entries needed in the certificate.

It’s still relatively easy, but requires a lot of steps.

Of all three mentioned methods, this last one is most likely to succeed.

 

 

Sources :

  • http://www.petenetlive.com/KB/Article/0000535
  • https://serverfault.com/questions/526221/renewing-sbs2011-exchange-self-signed-certificate-w-o-changing-home-page-in-ie
  • My own meandering experience

Office 365 Migration (1) – food for thought before you start

Obligatory blah blah

Office 365 logo

Having to give daily support on this (I can say ‘amazing’) product, I’ve decided to write a couple of mini-guides on migrating you current mail environment to an Office 365 as well as related topics.

Some screenshots are taken from http://www.itpromentor.com/ , a website by Alex Fields, who is a great technical blogger, so I gladly link back to his site.

 

Seeing as teaching new techniques to human beings is always about helping people remember the ‘why’ in order to better understand the ‘how’, I’ll try to get into a bit more detail in every piece of the explanation and guides.

Before starting out, I’m going to give a tiny commercial heads-up on Office 365 products (no, I’m not sponsored by Microsoft in any kind).
If you’re a business user and you use Outlook ‘like a bawz‘, but hate all the fuss and the inability to easily interact with all your colleagues and customers, this is the thing for you.
O365, as I’ll be calling the product from now on (it types faster), starts low-cost at just ‘mail in the cloud’, but can go as far as cloud authentication and co-authoring documents, following up on workflows depending on the content of a file etc. etc.

I’m not going to play the devil’s advocate and give you a full lowdown on why you shouldn’t use Google For Business, as this product has its own amazing features as well. Heck, I even use it myself, for my own domain name. Aaaaannnd just to prove my point : co-authoring a document is still easier in Google Suite (which is the other/newer name for Google For Business).

 

The concept

YESIf you’ve been living under a rock or you’re not into IT fashion words, I’d love to give you a small recap on the entire concept of O365.

Financially, there are two sides to this idea :

  •  as a reseller, you’re guaranteed a small recurring fee per month/year for all your customers that you deliver onto the platform. Preferably using a Microsoft CSP to help you out. Do not expect to get rich overnight. O365 as a business model requires you to sell the product as your own, adding extra value to the product, which brings us to the second financial side…
  • as an end-user or business-owner, what stops you from taking out your credit card and just paying Microsoft directly the same amount you would probably pay your IT partner, were he to just sell you the product, is the extra value and direct support you can get from him.
    I think we can all agree that in Microsoft’s eyes you are a small fry. Yes, even you, business-owner with 50 E3 accounts. This relates especially to the first-line support calls you will receive from a call-centre in Casablanca or Islamabad.
    O365 requires less but still sufficient support as if you’d be running your own data- or Exchange-server. Keep this in mind when making the purchase.
    – Will you install your own Active Directory from scratch ?
    – Are you up to configuring your own send and receive connectors ?
    – Do you have a plan in mind to perfectly set up your file structure in the cloud ?If all three questions can be answered with a ‘YES’, then hesitate no more and get your credit card out, surf https://portal.microsoftonline.com and figure it out yourself.
    Google will be your friend in this journey.
    The basic setup can be a bit overwhelming, but Microsoft has made managing your O365 environment relatively easy when you use only the web-interface.

 

Now that we’ve passed the money barrier, let’s talk practical specifics.

A general misconception (and I can totally understand the confusion here) is that O365 is a box you can buy in the local IT-minded supermarket.
It’s probably a misconception, BECAUSE THERE IS AN ACTUAL BOX YOU CAN BUY.

A wild bunch of Office 365 boxes in their natural state : unopened

We have to thank the lovely product managers at Microsoft for this confusing product naming here.
No, the actual products I’ll be talking about, are subscription-based products with names such as Business Premium (confused already ?), Exchange Plan 1, Office 365 E3, ProPlus etc.
The product name ‘Azure’ will be thrown around a lot too.

As a user, you’ll be paying Microsoft either directly or indirectly for a cloud-based solution that hosts your files, mail, calendar, without the hassle of maintaining your own physical server.
Other advantages include an always up-to-date version of Microsoft Office, an online collaboration platform (yes I’m talking about Sharepoint), a communication tool (Microsoft Teams, which used to be Lync/Skype for Business) and tons more.

The aforementioned Azure will also net you a true cloud server, if you’re in the running for something more than the default solution. As short-sighted as this very brief summary of Azure is, this post doesn’t really shed much light on Microsoft Azure.
Let’s say that calling it a ‘cloud server’ is an insult 🙂

 

DON’T PANIC

If you’re still reading this and haven’t run away in total disgust of either having to resell or having to use a Microsoft cloud product please keep an eye open for the next post on Office 365.
Also, that other fashion word, ‘Powershell’ : you’ll be hearing it a lot in advanced trainings.
Embrace it, don’t fear it.
If what you read in the above lines gives you the same feeling as watching a TV test signal, also don’t worry too much. Powershell is just a way of typing commands, just like good old DOS.
Plus you don’t HAVE to use it. It just helps with advanced management tasks.

There’s tons of online help available. Microsoft also allows you to play around in a 30-day trial environment.

Last but not least : ‘no stress’.
Happy reading.

Also : read onward here 

Creating a catch-all address on an Exchange 2013/2016/O365 mail environment

*incoming wall of text*

Seeing as Office 365 is such a hype right now, I decided to create a catch-all address for a customer of ours on his personal Exchange Server 2013.

=== Still to do, because lazy –> add pictures for more attractiveness 🙂 ===

According the t3h intarwebz, this is supposed to be easy.
Unfortunately one only gets half the info when having to configure this.
A couple of trial-and-error moments later, the following checklist lead to the result needed (also applicable in an Office 365 environment btw)

  1. Go to https://your_server/ecp/ (or https://outlook.office365.com/ecp/) and choose ‘mail flow’ in the left column.
  2. Go to the ‘accepted domains’ menu on top and make sure the domain to which the catch-all address is to be assigned, is set as domain type ‘internal relay’.
    I will explain why.
    In a next step we will create a server-side mail rule for the catch-all mailbox. In order for a NDR to not appear when we send a mail, we need to make sure the domain is set to ‘internal relay’. This causes mail rules to be executed before the server actually checks if the mailbox exists, thus enabling a filter possibility.
  3. Next, we want to create a mailbox in which we’ll drop all the catch-all mails (unless you already have a user or shared mailbox set up to receive this, of course)
    I’m not going to go in a lot of detail on this, as this is rather basic stuff on an Exchange Server (left menu ‘recipients’, top menu ‘mailboxes’, blah blah…)
  4. Not always optional (especially not literally doable in O365) –> restart your Microsoft Exchange Transport service on your Windows server. (if you have the classic white-paper setup with a front- and backend server, restart the service on both servers)