AlterIWnet – A Short History
It always surprises me when I see people are still waiting for alterIWnet to come back. Just the other day when someone posted on Facebook that Redacted was releasing the React Modern Warface 2 client, someone immediately asked if NTA was coming back.
I don’t speak for him or anyone that was staff at alterIWnet, but you can be sure NTA will not be setting up http://alteriw.net ever again. Why, you ask? Well, one reason is the domain is controlled by Activision and will never be allowed to be active again. I checked it today. The domain is owned by Mark Monitor a brand protection company hired by Activision. Besides that, the game is old and I don’t believe he or most of the more talented coders and reverse engineers are interested in revisiting the past when there are so many new games to explore. The Russian only Halo Online is one of the more interesting mods happening at the moment as well as some of the work being done on the Battlefield series. And don’t forget that NTA isn’t dead, he just isn’t working on Call of Duty. Check out his latest project at FiveM (It’s dead now too). Finally, it would just be a legal headache. But if you are interested, here is a short history of alterIWnet. I was not a part of the AIW staff and some of the information below may be incorrect. If you notice anything that is wrong, please let me know and I will edit it
The history of the Call of Duty MOD community starts with the dedicated server, or lack thereof in this case. It evolves into a story of the dedication of a few people and the genius of one in particular that started a community that continues today. It is a story that has turned into myth. And, like most myths, the truth is sometimes lost. Below is an accurate account of the creation of our community.
THE RELEASES OF MODERN WARFARE 2
On November 10, 2009, Activision released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the sequel to the much acclaimed first-person-shooter Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In a single day, the game broke all the records selling 4.7 million copies with an estimated value of $310 million dollars. (“The New York Daily News“) Despite the success, there were several missteps made by Activision and Infinity Ward. Two of these blunders were social mistakes while the third was the decision to remove dedicated servers.
In the most controversial missions of the Call of Duty series, the player is allowed to take part in the massacre of unarmed civilians and police at an airport terminal. A leaked video of the “No Russian” mission sparked a national debate, but most likely resulted in the record sales.
One of the most popular multiplayer maps, Favela, was suddenly removed from the rotation in October 2010. When asked, Activision acknowledged that they had received complaints from Muslim gamers. On the frame of a painting hung in the bathroom was an inscription reading, “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty”. To have sacred writing hung above a toilet was insulting. The map was edited and returned.
THE RISE OF ALTERIWNET AND NTAUTHORITY
MODDERS BEGIN SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Some of the earliest attempts at solving the problem of the missing dedicated servers involved simply cracking the game to allowed players using pirated versions of the game to connect to the Steam servers and play on IWNet. The first crack for this method was released by RZKing called “Zero Gear”. It was updated several times due to Steams anti-piracy prevention procedures, but this method would not solve the real problem of the lack of dedicated servers. Another modder, jerbob92, had already begun attempting to emulate IWNet. In what may be the earliest serious discussion about the system that developers all use today, jerbob92 posted on November 18, 2009:
I’m trying to pull something cool off here. I want to emulate IW.Net…
This is how I’m going to do it:
Redirect all traffic to my dedicated server via windows host file. Because IW.Net is nothing more then matchmaking my server only should be possible to link the people. Is there some good programmer that can make a server for this? I tried something in Perl but didn’t had any success. Somebody here with some Linux programming skills?”(cs.rin.ru)credit jerbob92 cs.rin.ru
The discussion that followed is an interesting read on an initial effort to “fix” the game. This effort, including work by jerbob92 and others, was able to gain some session management, but never worked out issues with matchmaking. There were many other developers and coders who are not listed here that began experimenting and working on ideas in an attempt to help the die-hard PC players and clans return to the dedicated server system. Most came up short for one reason or another. But, one person who eventually figure out all the pieces of the puzzle, developed a project that was better then the original.
One of the first posts about the alterIWnet project reads:
The Open Beta test is finally here. This is a short guide on how to play on our server. Please note that the client is not fully ready. You will not have access to registration or Friends list management at this time.credit NTAuthority cs.rin.ru post
The popularity of the project skyrocketed. At any given time, there were thousands of players using the dedicated servers that clans and individuals were able to set up and control just like cod4 (the original Modern Warfare). Tournaments were held, highlight montages were all over YouTube, and the players absolutely loved the improved Call of Duty experience. Had it been left alone, it could have been more popular than the official Steam version. Before long, rumors began to spread that Activision had taken notice.
THE HEAVY HAND OF ACTIVISION
CEASE & DESIST
The original post from MaxDamage on Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:43 confirming that alterIWnet was being forced to end services related to all Activision games
Hello dearest Community,
As you’ve definitely heard, alterIWNet received a Cease and Desist notification from Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP on behalf of Activision Publishing Inc, demanding that we stop our operations due to infringing US and International laws. At this time, only initial negotiations have been made, but it is certain that alterIWNet will cease all operations by the end of next week, indefinitely. During that time, you can still play the supported games, as usual. Please refrain from taking any actions on our behalf, such as harassing letters, posts, “denial of service” attacks, telling your grandmother or anything else that you may deem wise. There is nothing more we can do here, unless Activision recognizes us as a legitimate modding community.
Additionally, do not trust rumors. Everything official will be posted in this announcement. Anything you’ve heard that contradicts this announcement or is not mentioned here is likely false.
Thank you all for your continued dedication and contributions to alterIWNet and to PC gaming as a whole.
alterIWNet Administratorcredit MaxDamage Internet Archive
The ability to play the alterIWnet client continued for a time which gave players hope, but it wouldn’t last. The forums closed and the master-server was switched off.
The community was devastated. The center of the Modern Warfare 2 clan universe was alterIWnet and that was no more. Again, the players lined up to sign on online petition; but, just as before, Activision paid no heed to the outcry. Tributes to the now defunct project filled YouTube and posts about the events covered every gaming site around the globe.
THE PHOENIX EFFECT
From the ashes of alterIWnet several similar or “copy and paste” projects have come and gone.. While many of these projects are using leaked code directly from alterIW, none have ever been as successful as NTA and the original Modern Warfare to Mod project. A new project called IW4x has recently been release that is similar to aIW with a mostly rewritten code base and new maps never seen before on a modded client. It is the sole IW4 client remaining and is still playable to this day.