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Playing Four Winds Multiplayer Games on LAN on Windows 10

Latest versions of Windows 10 no longer support Winsock v.1.x based network communication that is used in older Windows games like Four Winds Mah Jong that utilize the DirectPlay interface (part of DirectX deprecated by Microsoft) to support simple peer-to-peer multiplayer games.

We are in the process of examining alternative ways of implementing support for multiplayer games, but for the time being, there is a free workaround available, IPXWrapper by Daniel Collins, that is likely to work well for most users, allowing IPX/SPX emulation over UDP, that makes it possible to run DirectPlay based multiplayer games over LAN on recent Windows 10 updates, both with 32- and 64-bit versions.

To use the wrapper with Four Winds, please do the following:

  1.  Go to http://www.solemnwarning.net/ipxwrapper/and download IPXWrapper (the most recent version is 0.6.1).
  2. Extract the contents of the zip file in a new folder.
  3. Copy the four .dll files included (dpwsockx.dll, ipxwrapper.dll, mswsock.dll and wsock32.dll) under C:\Program Files(x86)\4Winds2 (or wherever you have Four Winds installed).
  4. Double click the .reg file directplay-win64.reg (or directplay-win32.reg if you have a 32-bit Windows) included in the wrapper package to merge the required settings in the system registry.
  5. Run Four Winds, and after having started a multiplayer game, choose “Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay”, or “IPX Connection for DirectPlay”, as the communication channel, when shown a list of choices. (Select the same channel also on the client side when joining a game.) Note: When using the TCP/IP channel,  leave the IP address field empty when playing a game on LAN.
  6. If you cannot get the multiplayer games working on your LAN (practically indicated by not being able to have Four Winds games hosted on the same LAN visible in the list of available games on the client side), or if you experience any side effects because of the emulation, please check Readme.txt included in the wrapper package to see they ways of configuring it and limiting its scope of operation (typically there is no need to make any adjustments). Also, as always, please ensure that your firewall does not block Four Winds (DirectX) multiplayer games.

On older Windows operating systems (up to version 8.1 and also on earlier Windows 10 versions) DirectPlay still works fine so there is no need to use the wrapper with these versions.

IPXWrapper – Copyright (C) 2008-2017 Daniel Collins <solemnwarning@solemnwarning.net>-
Licensed free of charge under GNU General Public License and without a warranty of any kind.

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Running Four Winds on Android with ExaGear

A screenshot of Four Winds running on Samsung Galaxy S7 on Android 8 (Oreo) using ExaGear Strategies Windows emulator.  The game can be run in full screen (and without side controls shown above) by letting ExaGear stretch the graphics (800 x 600 px “Basic Board” is used here as the game board). The larger game boards and integrated layouts are available in the emulator if supported by the device (but may not not be usable in mobile phone context; but e.g. for a 10-inch tablet all layouts would typically be available).

By using Eltechs’ Windows emulators you can now run Four Winds Mah Jong on your Android devices. Two versions are available, ExaGear Strategies (a free three-day trial period, lifetime license EUR 16.99, or monthly subscription at EUR 1.89) or the full Windows version, ExaGear Windows Emulator (lifetime license EUR 32,99). The former is recommended as it requires significantly less disk space, but to install the game you need to have the game installed on Windows and copy your Four Winds program folder (under C:\Program Files(x86)) onto your Android device’s ExaGear folder. On the full emulator you can install the game setup package similarly as on true Windows so basically you do not need to have a Windows computer. Note: The full emulator has currently a problem that leaves non-modal windows behind the main program window (the next version of Four Winds, however, will include a feature that makes this bug irrelevant). Note that you do not need a Windows license when using ExaGear.

Small text is not a problem on ExaGear since you can zoom in easily to make your selections in menus and setup dialog boxes and then zoom back when ready to return to the game. The game play itself is smooth (even on older Android devices like Sony Xperia Z2 running Android 7), and by changing the default control setup (Game Controls button under on the General option page of the User Interface group of the Preferences) so that discarding happens by tapping a raised tile (and is restricted to the tile itself), and checking the “Touch screen friendly” option on the same option page you can achieve surprisingly pleasant mobile playability by emulation.

Note that only ARM-based Android devices are supported so the emulation does not work on x86-based Android devices (like Lenovo Yoga Book) even if the application itself can be installed on such a device.

Most of the features of the game are available (excluding background music, which would require support for DirectX). The next Four Winds update (version 2.19) will include new features that make the game more accessible in mobile environment, e.g. the extra information windows will be available as alternating views similarly as the Discards view in the Basic game boards (but will continue to be available also as separate windows if wished), and the user interface has smart buttons that allow accessing of the most commonly used features more easily.