Anet: A Network Game Programming Library
Last updated: 22 August 1998
A Rose by Any Other Name...
The public name for Activision's online game service was ActiveLink.
It is referred to by Anet in this doc, and by ActiveNet in some places
in the code.
Anet was designed to help multiplayer games reach the widest possible
audience, lets users play against the widest possible choice of opponents
It supports many kinds of connections: LAN, Internet, modem, direct serial
connection, and even proprietary gaming networks
such as Heat, MPlayer,
Microsoft Game Zone and Dwango.
(All of these are gone as of 2001 except the Zone.)
What is Anet?
Anet has three main parts:
- An Internet game server where people playing over
the Net can find opponents. The game server is a program which we can distribute
free of charge, and will be run by major Internet Service Providers and
hobbyists; a tracker program will maintain an up to date list of all servers.
- An API (like Microsoft's DirectPlay or
Apple's NetSprocket) which takes care of the
dirty part of networking (like dialing the modem or connecting over the 'Net),
and lets the game programmer concentrate on the game.
- A client program, or shell, which lists all of the games currently being
played on the server (MercNet, Dark Reign, etc.), lets players chat with
each other before choosing a game, and then launches the appropriate game.
(This part is optional; each game can be played without the client program.
It is the only part that has not yet been shipped with a product.)
What platforms are supported?
- Windows 95
About eight products have been shipped using Win95 Anet.
Special effort was taken to make sure that porting games between
Microsoft's game networking library and Anet is reasonably easy.
Linux is used for our game servers, and as a result, a Linux version
of the Anet library is available. Only the Internet transport
is supported on Linux.
One shipping product, Mac Netmech, uses an older version of the SDK.
Support for this platform could be revived if desired.
The Java support is experimental.
It's implemented as a wrapper around the native library.
Right now, it's only implemented for Windows 95.
One product (DOS MercNet) is shipping with Anet support built in,
but it is unlikely anyone will want this version of the SDK, so we no longer
Will Anet games work with online services like TEN and Mpath?
Yes - it's pretty easy! All it takes is for the game to be able to use our commandline
What does Anet look like to the Programmer?
To get started using Anet, the programmer needs
the Anet SDK, usually distributed as ANETSDK.ZIP.
Refer to the top-level documentation index for
programmer information. includes pointers to the Anet API
Overview and Function Reference, which explains how to use Anet in a game,
and the demo applications.
The program gtest is provided with the SDK as a
tool for the programmer to play with the API interactively and learn how it
behaves without having to compile any C programs.
Developers should contact
Dan Kegel for support and additional example code if needed.
Often just a couple minutes talking over questions can save a great deal
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