Multiplayer is by far one of the richest aspects of the Falcon BMS universe. The radios are alive, the planning is dynamic, and nothing quite compares to bringing back a story about a successful sortie, complete with the ACMI replay file for everyone to see.
Technical issues, learning brevity, and the possibility of making a mistake in front of a whole crowd of experienced pilots often seem to scare new pilots away from getting into MP flights. This article will explain how to get started with Falcon BMS Multiplayer and deal with the first technical steps. It assumes that you already have installed Falcon BMS, configured your controls, and have some capability to fly in Singleplayer.
Unfortunately, you still have some preparation to go through before you can fly online.
Join a Community
Usually, you’ll want to start off with joining a community like the Falcon Lounge. Many Falcon BMS communities use Discord. Prior to flying with any group, ensure you are familiar with their rules and procedures. Every group is different, so find out what is and isn’t acceptable for that particular group, and if you and the group will be a good fit.
The Falcon Lounge, for example, has its rules located in the Falcon Lounge Discord Server under a rules channel. New pilots can follow the instructions provided to them on the Falcon Lounge Discord server in order to join in on Multiplayer flights on the Falcon Lounge Multiplayer Server.
BMS Version and Controls
The server and all clients must be running the same version of Falcon BMS. This is usually the latest version, including all of the updates. Consult the Benchmark Sims forums for the latest version of Falcon BMS, including all of the updates.
Do NOT alter anything in the Avionics Configurator, or else the servers that do proper ACDATA checks will detect that your installation has been modded and refuse to let you connect. If you want to change colors of your MFDs (which seems to be the most common reason people use the Avionics Configurator), consult the BMS manuals on how to integrate these settings to your data cartidge instead of the Avionics Configurator. If you made changes through the Avionics Configurator, you will be unable to connect and fly on these servers until you reset all changes. Most new pilots who change these settings don’t remember what they changed by the time they are ready for Multiplayer, leaving them with the prospect of having to reinstall to wipe out their changes.
Lastly, you are required to have your controls bound correctly. In addition to everything you’d need in Singleplayer, ensure that the Comms Switch is bound. Of note, Comms Switch Up and Comms Switch Down are your push-to-talk buttons for your radios in Multiplayer. This enables you to talk to other players while in the cockpit. Comms Switch Left and Comms Switch Right are for the data link, which is very useful in Multiplayer.
Connecting to a Server
Before you hurry off to connect to a server, there are some technical things that you must consider first.
Falcon BMS uses a peer-to-peer model. Although Multiplayer sessions use a server, Falcon BMS does not use a fully traditional client-server model. To have Falcon BMS work as intended, every client should forward the UDP ports of 2934 and 2935 on their router to the computer that will be used to fly online. If these ports are not forwarded, you may still be able to fly, but you will be requiring the Falcon BMS server to which you’re connected to route from you to others and from others to you. This may not always provide the best experience, and it does provide an extra burden on the server in the form of the extra bandwidth needed. Some communities may not wish to allow you to fly under those conditions.
If able, forward the ports in question. Ignorance on how to port-forward is not an excuse. Since the method of port forwarding is router specific, detailed instructions cannot be offered here. Consult your router’s documentation, or ask some knowledgeable people for assistance. If you do ask others for help, have your router’s make and model handy for easy reference, and be ready to login to your router to make the required changes.
The short method of calculating your bandwidth is to use approximately 70%-80% of your upload and download. To use 70% of your download bandwidth for BMS, multiply your download speed in mb/s by 0.7. Then take that and multiply it by 1024. For example, if you have 100mb/s download, then the formula is 100*0.7*1024 = 70*1024=71680. This is the final number you’d enter into Falcon BMS as your Download Bandwidth. Do the same calculations separately for your upload.
Do NOT use the defaults, which in Falcon 4.35 are 2048 download and 1024 upload. Few Multiplayer servers, if any, will accept the default bandwidth settings. Those servers that will accept the defaults will probably see erratic behavior online. Most servers require a bare minimum of 2mb/s both up and down, and even this is far less than you should set for an active campaign flight.
IVC is the voice comms program that comes with BMS. It emulates the radios in the F-16 and allows you to communicate during missions. Most settings of IVC are automatically set and workable by default, however some require you to make some changes manually.
If you have multiple audio devices, IVC will select the defaults for both your speakers/headphones and your microphone. If this is not correct, you will have to configure IVC to select the correct devices. Please consult the BMS manuals for information on how to configure IVC.
If you intend to fly with pilots that will use a human GCI taking over the role usually filled by the AI AWACS, they may tell you to “set outsiders to all.” Usually they will readily explain how to do this if you ask, or if you wish to take the initiative, you can consult the manuals and discover how to edit the IVC Client.ini yourself.
Navigating the UI
Make sure you run BMS in a either Window or Borderless mode. You can do this by running with the
-window command line switch (or by selecting Window in the Alt Launcher instead, if you use that). This greatly increases the stability of BMS, particularly with regard to crashes while alt tabbing. In 4.35, you can now select Windowed or Borderless (the preferred option) in the Graphics menu of BMS.
Lastly, when you join a server, you’ll need to go to the Online tab of usually either Tactical Engagement or else Campaign to find the online Multiplayer session. Do NOT open a New or Saved campaign after you have connected to the server. You’re essentially borrowing the server as a relay at this point, and this may get you kicked/banned from some Falcon communities.
Finding the Assigned Squadron
Usually, the squadron you’re supposed to use for human flights will be provided for you in a site post or a Discord pinned message, depending on where the community puts their information. Use the squadron assigned to you. If you can’t find it after spending some time looking, the usual response by newbie pilots is to ask for help finding the squadron on the map, but there are easier ways of joining the correct squadron.
- If people are already loaded into the correct squadron, and they are waiting on you to join, just begin by join any squadron on the same side as the one to which you’re assigned. You can then open the Comms Window, right-click a player’s name, and click Join.
- Alternatively, if you know the flight you want to join, but can’t find the squadron, open the ATO. Expand the list with the checkbox at the bottom. Find the flight based on the type of tasking assigned to the package (ie. OCA STRIKE). When you’ve found the flight, right-click on it, and click Join.
Now that you solved some issues, joined a community, and know how to join a squadron, you’re ready to get started interacting. Ask someone there for help testing your ability to connect and to make sure IVC is working. It’s better to get any issues sorted out first before an actual flight!
The next article will explain how to get through your first Multiplayer briefing.