I would like to extend an invitation to all forum goers to come join us on IRC and hang out.
Joining IRC is pretty easy and straightforward but there's some confusion over commands or features esp. for those using webchat plugins. They are fine and dandy for a quick bit of chat, but unfortunately are often unstable and lack many convenient features of IRC clients. Hence this guide which will hoepfully make it easier for all to join FTL chatrooms, esp. those interested in the FTLOnline roleplay and Project Overdrive/modding.
This guide explains the Nettalk client in detail but other clients are not very much different. It also covers the process of creating an account on QuakeNet (called auth), which is optional but handy.
So without any further ta-do...
1. What is IRC and why should you care.
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat and it has been around since pretty much forever. It is similar to instant messaging but the main difference is that instead of conferencing taking place among a group of friends, it takes place in channels also known as chatrooms. Channels are typically permanent and can be joined at any time
using either a browser plugin or IRC client app.
FTL related channels are obviously mainly about FTL, but conversations can stray far and wide off topic. Just recently we managed to have a rather long discussion that involved politics, religion, the metric system and even circumcision. Surprisingly noone got hurt and it all ended well. More common topics of conversation involve the tips and tricks of FTL, problems involved in certain scenarios such as unlocking stubborn ships, people actively playing and chatting about what's going on in their game, creation of various tools and utilities, modding, videos, streaming and last but by no means least, roleplaying and the adventures of the FTLOnline players. Pretty much anything inside and out of FTL.
Please note that even though channels are open 24/7, people aren't active all the time. They may be asleep, or at work/school, or simply away from keyboard (afk). If you join a channel and nothing happens for a while, just relax. Nothing will continue happening for a while. Such is IRC, it's perfectly normal.
2. Where to join and chat about FTL.
These are the currently known channels and networks that host them:
#fasterthanlight - http://webchat.quakenet.org/?channels=fasterthanlight
#ftlgame - http://webchat.quakenet.org/?channels=ftlgame
* #FTLOnline - http://webchat.quakenet.org/?channels=ftlonline
#fasterthanlight - https://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=fasterthanlight
*This is a roleplay channel. Inactive players are urged not to interrupt an ongoing roleplaying session if one is in progress. For more details on FTLOnline check it's topic on the forum.
Please note that none of these are official, nor officially supported. They are not places to go and ask for tech-support, however most people hanging out in FTL chatrooms are computer savvy and friendly. If you ask politely, you may get some help with your problem.
If you wish to chat, my advice is to join all the channels and hang out for a while.
3. How to join??
Clicking on the links above will open up webchat. Unfortunately the connections arent the most stable and as i mentioned before, webchat lacks some conveniences that most IRC client apps have. It is not neccesary but it is recommended that you eventually install and use a client app. Miranda IM also supports IRC chat natively, so if you want the best of both IM and IRC, Miranda is probably the way to go.
I personally prefer Nettalk because it is probably the easiest to use and has enough convenient features and automation. Read on for a step by step guide. If you use a different app, the menus and options will look a little different but the basics are the same.
4. Setting up Nettalk
Nettalk is a free IRC client. It can be downloaded here: http://www.ntalk.de/Nettalk/en/
It's recommended you download and install the version With setup (setup in this case means installer), but if you prefer it, a portable version is also available.
Once you start Nettalk you will probably be presented with a network connection wizard. If not, you can start the process yourself by selecting New IRC Connection from the Connections menu.
The New IRC Connection wizard has three steps:
On page 1 you can set the name for your new connection. In this case, i'm setting up QuakeNet.
- IP or server name is where you enter one of the network's servers to join. An IRC network will have servers located in many countries around the world. It is recommended that you choose the one physically closest to you (although quality of infrastructure is as important than distance).
- Here is a list of servers for QuakeNet: http://www.quakenet.org/servers. For FreeNode it is recommended to use: chat.freenode.net
Page 2 deals with personal information. You do not have to use your actual real name. Setting up a password is only meaningfull if you do not wish other people with acces to this pc to use this connection.
- enter a nickname you wish to use. You can change it later when you connect.
- enter a USER-ID. This will be combined with your IP to create a unique ID. Nothing terribly important.
On the final page you can enter commands you wish to be automatically executed after joining the network. You can for example, join all your favourite channels. Since this is for QuakeNet, you can enter:
/auth <nickname> <password> (this only makes sense if you have auth, read below for more information)
Once you complete the wizard and start the connection, you will probably see something like this:
Note the 5 tabs in the main window. Server lists all the connections created. QuakeNet tab features the server i joined, it's message of the day, etc. This tab is not for chat, but commands can be used here. For example you can change your nick, auth manually, or join channels. The remaining tabs are chatrooms that i have joined. As you can see, #FTLOnline is the active channel in the screenshot.
You may wish to check the Options to further configure Nettalk, but the defaults are fine for now. Most of it is self explanatory. If you have any trouble with the setup, send me a PM or ask for help here in the topic. Or use webchat to ask on IRC.
QuakeNet makes it possible to register an account on the network. Your registered nickname will be protected and recognised. You can still use any other nickname availabe or change it at anytime. However, your registered nickname must be unique. Even if you have a registered nick, you don't allways have to be logged in. The process of registering and using an authorised account is called authing and users that are logged in are said to be authed.
Why all this fuss over authorised accounts? Well QuakeNet is a gaming oriented network. This includes multiplayer games, clans and private servers. Unfortunately there are a lot of cheaters and hackers, so by using authorised accounts it is possible to recognise and ban rule breakers. Now, FTL isn't a multiplayer game, but certain features of QuakeNet or it's channels are available only to authed users.
Registering is free and easy. It only requires a valid email address to which the password will be sent. In order to register an account on QuakeNet, join the network and choose the nick you wish to register. You can change your nick by typing in: /nick nickname
After you have chosen your nick, type in the following:
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/msg Q HELLO youremail@address youremail@address
You will get a response from Q, QuakeNet's bot. You may have to try again if the chosen nickname is already in use. When Q replies succes, you will be sent an email with your randomly generated password. You can change this password to something else by using the following command:
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/msg Q@CServe.quakenet.org NEWPASS oldpassword newpassword newpassword
In the future when you join QuakeNet you can use the following command to auth yourself:
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/auth nickname password
If your IRC client supports it, you can automate this process (as shown in step 4).
6. Some IRC basics
There are many commands that can be used on IRC, but only a handfull are needed for chat. These are all you need to get started:
/nick nickname - changes your nickname
/join #channel - joins a channel. all channels have # in front of their name
/part - leaves the current channel. you can also leave by closing the tab
/msg nickname - sends a private message to a user
That's it for the tutorial. I hope you find it usefull and have enjoyable conversations.
A special note to modders:
Since Project Overdrive has moddability as one of it's main goals, it would be of great help to have some modders available for feedback and documentation. So any modders or programmers insterested, please join #ftlgame to participate or discuss the project.