Iron Realms Entertainment
TELNET is the protocol used to connect to Rapture, however it is often not expressive enough for some of the functionality that a server may want to provide. For this reason, a separate protocol was designed that will piggy-back on top of normal TELNET (negotiated on and off like any other option) and allow a channel of communication between client and server that the user doesn’t necessarily have to see. This is commonly used to provide supplemental information or hints to the client by the server (and for the server to query capabilities and information from the client).
For instance, if a custom client was written to display vital character information in a separate window (or subwindow), then the server could send messages to the client encoding this character information. This could be done both invisible to the user and in a very efficient manner (to ease parsing, etc).
ATCP as defined in Rapture refers only to this transport mechanism. The content passed (as well as its format) is completely up to a system implementor. (With the one caveat that is explained below.)
This protocol needed to be compliant and invisible to existing TELNET standards because the primary client of choice is still simply a TELNET-compatible one (such as ZMud). So, the following format was designed:
Enabling the Protocol
The transport layer must be enabled. This involves using standard TELNET sub-option negotiation to determine if the server (and/or client) is capable of ATCP communication. RFC 855 http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc855.html describes the process of sub-option negotiation. A summary is as follows. The server asks the client whether it is capable of supporting ATCP (a 3 byte sequence):
IAC DO ATCP (255 253 200)
Note, that the byte 200 is an arbitrary value chosen by Iron Realms, it is not endorsed by any TELNET standards. It was chosen because it did not interfere with any other registered TELNET options. The client then responds with another 3 byte code:
IAC WILL ATCP (255 251 200)
From this point on, the server knows that the client is ATCP capable (and is expecting to receive ATCP messages). This will be reflected in the node.atcp property which will now be set to true.
Once the ATCP option has been been enabled, a message may be sent to the client or server using standard TELNET sub-option markers. For example, IAC SB ATCP <atcp message text> IAC SE. The start and stop marker byte sequences are defined as follows.
*Char Sequence* *Numeric Version* *Description*
The text between the two markers includes the entire ATCP message body, and can be any text you desire (except, of course, the end marker sequence). You don’t have to worry about this when sending messages from server to client, however, because Rapture provides a very easy way to do it (see below).
Sending Server -> Client Messages (the EASY way)
Rapture makes sending messages over ATCP from server to client extremely easy. Simply call <atcp_msg>() with the message contents when you’re ready. It’ll even detect whether ATCP is enabled for a given node and only send the message if it is. The specific specification is mentioned here to assist custom client implementors.