Mac Client Communications notes

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The Mac Client Communication Notes

General Communications issues

Many problems seen with both the Mac and PC Clients are truly caused by "Communications issues."
The nature of the Internet and the encrypted UDP (see next section) used by LOTRO and DDO cause untold "non-obvious" problems.
  • The first step to fixing most of these communications issues is to get "new addresses and routes" (ARP and DHCP).
  1. Quit LOTRO
  2. Power OFF your system i.e. Shut Down your system (not reboot or sleep)!
    un-check the box to "Reopen windows when logging back in"
    (With a MacBook Air or PowerBook DO NOT just close the lid, shut it down completely and do not leave any programs running!)
  3. Power OFF as appropriate (unplug the power cord if you can't find a switch):
    (these three devices are frequently one box, especially from a Cable TV or FIOS provider)
    • your WiFi Access Point
    • your Router
    • your Modem
  4. Wait at least two (2) full minutes! on the wall clock.
  5. Power up the item(s) in step 3 in reverse order -- Modem ,Routher, Access Point -- waiting until each device is completely rebooted and back "in the green." (typically between one and two minutes per device)
  6. Power up your Mac
  7. Launch LOTRO and try again.
This process "forces" your Router to clear its ARP cache and usually, acquire a new address from your ISP; and then your Mac or PC to obtain a new DHCP address from your router.
The few of you who have "Static Addresses" already know what I'm talking about and this article won't try to elaborate as it doesn't know your specifics.

The Mac Client and Firewalls (Port Forwarding)

Note especially: Depending upon your home networking setup you may simply want to disable the Firewall option in OSX -- System Preferences / Security & Privacy / "Firewall tab" and allow your Router to be your firewall. (Configuring two firewall devices can lead to significant confusion. This is especially true when your ISP provides you with a "Router.")
  • LOTRO and DDO both use the same two sets of Firewall ports.
Normally, you don't need port forwarding because the client always sends to the server before the server tries to respond. In most NAT firewalls, this implicitly triggers a port forward from that server to your client.
A "NAT" (Network address Translation) router or firewall device will typically be your home Internet connection offered by your ISP. This is frequently a WI-FI device.
  • Port 80 - TCP
  • Ports 9000-9010UDP - Server Port This changed with the datacenter move on 11 January 2016.
  • Ports 9000-9100UDP - Server Port
  • Ports 2900-2910UDP - Server Port
These ports need to be opened out-bound
Note that the following is rarely necessary:
  • With the Windows Client, when configuring port forwarding explicitly, you need to specify the CLIENT's port. By default, the client lets the operating system choose its port. If you edit your UserPreferences.ini (My Documents\Lord of the Rings Online\UserPreferences.ini), you'll see a section titled [Net]. There's an entry there for "UserSpecifiedPort", which defaults to 0. Set that value to something else (like 9000), and then forward that port to your computer (either by port forwarding or by a trigger).
Two files may also need to be added to your firewall exceptions list. These two files are "launcher.exe" and "lotroclient.exe". Both of the files need to have full permission in the firewall to access the servers.
See: Turbine's Knowledge Base http://support.turbine.com/link/portal/24001/24001/Article/347/Port-forwarding-and-LOTRO
  • For the Mac Client, the preferences file is "~/Library/Preferences/com.turbine.lotroclient.plist", which is a binary file that must be edited with Xcode or TextWrangler. TextEdit CANNOT be used to edit the file. "Net.UserSpecifiedPort" is assumed to be the equivalent variable. (This has not been verified.)
The two file names are: "LotroLauncher.app" and "lotroclient.app"

Encrypted UDP

  • Both DDO and LOTRO connect using encrypted UDP (User Datagram Protocol) packets over Ports 9000-9010UDP (This changed with the datacenter move on 11 January 2016.) Ports 9000-9100UDP (for the general data communication) and 2900 to 2910 (for the chat and voice chat connections) and they use "loose" routing methods, usually referred to as "asymmetrical packet routing". What this means is that while the game client sends data outbound (upstream) on port 'x', the response packets coming back from the server inbound (downstream) are using port 'y'.
  • Whenever there is an issue with these ports being accessible, the two-way data method being supported, or the inbound/outbound data being mis-routed then connection issues at these stages can and do occur.

The Mac Client and anti-malware (anti-virus) software

  • It has been determined that if you use any of the various anti-virus software packages which ALSO check for "malware" from websites, the Mac Client will encounter problems in the initial phases of loading resulting in the error: "An Update Error Occurred."
  • If you use the avast! for Mac product, it is known that this will prevent the Mac Client from contacting patch.lotro.com and updating. The end result is the "classic" error: "An Update Error Occurred."
In the System Preferences control panel for avast!, [B]"Web Shield"[/B] is the culprit.
If you have it enabled, the Mac Client will not get started!
  • You can either disable "Web Shield" completely, or select "Advanced" and add "patch.lotro.com" (HTTP) to the list of exclusions.
(For the Bullroarer client also add "moria.patch.lotro.com" (HTTP) )

Communication related Knowledge Base articles

The Turbine Support Knowledge base at support.turbine.com has information related to communications issues in many articles. While much of the information is technical, and generally written from a Windows point of view, an understanding of many different things is necessary to troubleshoot your problems.
NOTE: It is not possible to "check for the latest drivers" or "update your graphics drives" with OSX. No third-party drivers exist. Apple purchases the technology from the Graphics vendors and integrates it directly into OSX and then releases it along with any other OSX Updates.

Communication with the server has been lost.

After playing for some random amount of time I get a black screen with the message "Connection with the server has been lost."
The error message: "Connection with the server has been lost." -- is specifically a communications problem.
99+% of the time that problem is with YOUR ISP, not Turbine.
If Turbine's servers are having trouble, then you may get that error, but not likely. You will normally simply get no connection.
However keep in mind, that error message is generated by the game-client on your system, it does not come from Turbine's servers, so you will only ever get it if you WERE logged in to the game.
So, what is the fix? Sadly, the accurate answer is -- "It depends."
All communications problems can have multiple causes and therefore multiple fixes.
That said, most communications problems are extremely transient.... here one minute and gone the next. That is because of the "Connectionless" nature of the Internet.

* Frequently if you wait three to five wall-clock minutes and then try again you will discover the problem has resolved itself!

In reality, the "Net's Topology" is extremely redundant, except for the "Last Mile."
The "Last Mile" is that piece of wire between your ISP and your home. (Very few folks have "fibre to the home," but rather have either twisted-pair from the phone company or coax from the cable company.) Unless you physically move, that "last mile" never changes.
The "Next mile" is between your ISP and the thing known as the Internet Exchange point (IXP) -- the location where your ISP connects to the Internet.
Depending upon your ISP (i.e. how big they are and how much capital they have invested), that "next mile" may only be a single link or it may have multiple redundancies.

The ARP Cache

What happens?
A typical scenario is a problem with that "Next mile" -- today, many ISPs have multiple connections to the "Internet backbone," that "Internet Exchange point."
If a problem develops in the primary link, it is like a wound -- it will "fester" for some time, until it gets "bad-enough" that various detection software determines that a significant failure has occurred or is about occur. At that point, the software will switch the ISP's connection to its alternate "ROUTE." Bingo, everything is restored to full functionality... almost. (If you really care, "festering" typically means Packet Loss.)
Why almost? Because of things known as "Routing Tables" and the infamous "ARP Cache" (Address Resolution Protocol).
Because you had a working connection the ARP cache on your system KNOWS that it has to send packets addressed to Turbine via that failed link.... Oops. That won't work.
The ability of the IXP to switch and recover is fairly instantaneous -- maybe only taking 30-90 seconds.
However, the ARP software on your Mac or PC "takes time" to realize that the old route is broken, and to ask for a new one.
How long? Hard to say. There are many issues revolving around such timers, not the least of them being -- maybe this is only a very brief outage and things will return to normal faster than we can figure out how to get a new Route.

Flush the ARP Cache

There are multiple ways to flush the ARP cache on OSX -- however they all involve being familiar with the Terminal Window and the command line.
Consequently, I simply recommend the "power-cycle" route, as part of the flushing involves access to your modem/router.
  1. Quit LOTRO
  2. Power OFF your system i.e. Shut Down your system (not reboot or sleep)!
    un-check the box to "Reopen windows when logging back in"
    (With a MacBook Air or PowerBook DO NOT just close the lid, shut it down completely and do not leave any programs running!)
  3. Power OFF as appropriate (unplug the power cord if you can't find a switch):
    (these three devices are frequently one box, especially from a Cable TV or FIOS provider)
    • your WiFi Access Point
    • your Router
    • your Modem
  4. Wait at least two (2) full minutes! on the wall clock.
  5. Power up the item(s) in step 3 in reverse order -- Modem ,Routher, Access Point -- waiting until each device is completely rebooted and back "in the green." (typically between one and two minutes per device)
  6. Power up your Mac
  7. Launch LOTRO and try again.
All of this takes time, and frequently during that time, the original problem as been healed by the ISP, etc. and you will be up and running again.
Again, depending upon your ISP, that may simply not happen -- a storm might have knocked out power, a back-hoe could have cut the Fibre, etc.
Obviously, if the "wire" to your home is cut -- you are simply SOL until it is repaired.