A few days ago, Stern asked me to 'write a paragraph about how I saved the game in the summer of 2016'. Here is what I first sent him before I shortened it:
From approximately July 2014 until June 2016 we have been connecting to GameMaster's master server list. However, in June of this year Kalle, the owner of GameMaster, said that he no longer had enough time to keep GameMaster up and running and that we would need to find someone else to host the server list. I specifically asked him if this was related to the cost of keeping the server list up and he told me that money was not the issue. He said he didn't have enough time to keep the serve list up. I believe this is because he was supporting a lot of different games that used GameSpy and he wasn't just hosting the Battlefront server lists. He put a put a lot of effort into getting every GameSpy game running that he could.
Thankfully once he decided to shut down GameMaster, he helped some of the people over at www.swbfgamers.com to set up a new server to host the master server list, which would be called SWBFSpy. He helped them to the point that the PC servers for SWBF1 and SWBF2 were up and running, but PS2 wasn't fully setup and Kalle couldn't help any more. At this point it was Led, myself, oldsnake, and Drunken_Master trying to figure things out. Drunken_Master analyzed the packet captures that myself and oldsnake were getting from our PS2s, and Led was trying many different DNS entries in his server table to make SWBFSpy work on PS2. We hit a roadblock for a few days and I decided to try some other numbers in my PS2. I knew that there were other workarounds for GameSpy because of my work in 2014 looking at other potential solutions before I found GameMaster. I knew of things called OpenSpy and ChristiansDNS. I was at the PS2OnlineGaming website when I found a post by JamesCableCar, which stated that the DNS number for ChristiansDNS had changed to a new one. Out of pure chance I decided to try this number he had in his post, and somehow I was able to connect to the server list and see one server. Without the owner of this DNS, Christian, at least speaking to or reading something about SWBFSpy this should not have been possible. I think that in order for this number to have worked, he must have heard about SWBFSpy somewhere and pointed his DNS server to it. There is also an outside possibility that his DNS points to OpenSpy rather than SWBFSpy and that Led's server was somehow showing up on OpenSpy, but I believe the first scenario is slightly more likely. Now we could compare packet captures from Christian's DNS to Led's in order to see what the differences were. Led and the others were also able to track down xCrISTiAhNx himself, and he helped Led get everything set up. Recently I found out that Led pays about $90 a year to keep the server list up. This includes all regions on SWBF1 and SWBF2 on both PS2 and PC.
Fast forward to October, most players did not notice any change in connecting to the game but Sony's DNAS servers fully went down around this time. Before October, people and articles said Sony's DNAS server were down, but this was not the case, or at least not fully, as we were still able to connect to them by going through a DNS server, such as Christian's and Led's. Once this change happened in October, DNAS stopped authenticating. The reason most players did not run into an issue is because of how quickly a replacement DNAS server was put in place on Christian's DNS server.
A user on PS2OnlineGaming named no23 was able to develop a third party DNAS server to use. I believe he comes from a site that was focused on keeping Resident Evil Outbreak up and running online. At this time I cannot find the information on how it works, but I know he did not fully break Sony's Encryption. He still had to have people collect packets for him from the time period when DNAS was still up. I want to thank him for testing the PAL version SWBF2 himself and Hunk91 for testing the NTSC-U version. Christian basically changed his DNAS to point to no23's server right away, so many people did not notice any problems at all. I told Led to make the changes to his DNS server and he did that within 2 days.
Now no23's DNAS server is very important. He said on October 9th that, "The server will be up for a few months for testing and debugging. I'd like to hand the project over at that date. So if there are any volunteers to take over, be my guest". This means that at some point soon, there may be another period of time when the game is down. I want to point out that his is out of our hands in terms of numbers to change on our PS2's. This is something that the operators of the DNS servers must account for because our PS2s point to them and in turn they point us to DNAS. So whenever no23 changes the address of his server, we will need to contact xCrISTiAhNx and Led and get them to adjust their settings to make sure the game still works just fine on PS2.
Very recently I have gotten a response about getting a third backup workaround up and running and I will be working on that this week. If we have 3 options for numbers to put into our PS2s to connect it would be great. I think the more options and backups we have, the better.
Shoutouts to: Led, Kalle, Jedikiller, Phobos, oldsnake, xCrISTiAhNx, Drunken_Master, Anyder, Dracula, no23, Hunk91, and JamesCableCar