I recently put together a multiscreen setup of Forza 3 motorsports for Xbox 360. Forza 3 is the first driving game I’ve played that made spending the time and money worth it. However, I had a few annoying problems along the way so I’m writing this article to potentially help anyone with problems like I had. This isn’t about how to use multiscreen to increase the field of view on one monitor (which is about all you can find on the web). It’s about using three screens together for one wide display with Forza 3. At the end I share how I did all this for cheap.
First off, you need three of the SAME copies of Forza 3. Mixing in an ultimate collection with the regular versions won’t work, they won’t connect. It took me a while to figure this out. Either use three ultimate collection versions or three regular versions. If you have three regular copies and you bought the ultimate to get more cars, you don’t need to go out and buy two more UC copies. Just put the UC disc in each machine and install disc 2. Then put the regular copies back in.
Second, you need a switch. I read somewhere on forzamotorsport.net that the data sent between the three Xboxes is a large amount of minimum frame size packets so a hub will work but you run the risk of dropping packets which will cause lag. Remember a hub and a switch do the same thing but a switch can learn where packets need to go based on their address, and a hub always just broadcasts to all stations. That is, a switch is more efficient. Use the uplink port of the switch that connects the three Xboxes to connect to your wireless router or gateway (internet).
Then you will need to verify the connection between the three Xboxes. There are a lot of people on the web saying that you need to be connected to Xbox Live, you need a Gold subscription to Xbox Live for each console, etc. None of this is true. You don’t need Xbox live for this to work. I know because I tested the multiscreen capabilities before I signed any of my consoles on to Xbox live. In fact I probably wouldn’t have bothered with Xbox live but I wanted the LFA from Stig’s Garage car pack.
Anyway, sign in on the Xbox that will be your center station, it will be the host and have your profile. It is easiest to test your connection by connecting to Xbox live through the test network utility in the console settings. If you go to: my Xbox / console settings / network / test settings it will test the connection from the console all the way through the local network to Xbox live. If you feel like it you can log on to your router and assign a static address to the three Xboxes to keep it tidy. You can see what IP each of your consoles was assigned by the router in the network settings on the console. All that matters is that they are different and in a range accessible to your router. None of that is really necessary though, if you only have a switch connecting the three consoles. The Xboxes will each assign themselves an address if they can’t find a DHCP server like your router. Your router is typically what assigns local IP addresses.
If you connect to Xbox live, then you will probably get a message about needing an update to play the game. You will probably also have to do two updates. I didn’t try to run it with a mix of consoles with and without the update, so I’m not sure if that works or not. All you have to do to get the side screen consoles to update is select “Join Xbox Live” from the dashboard. It will tell you it needs to install an update. Do that, restart, and then you’re good; you don’t need three Xbox live subscriptions.
Once all that is done, if you have the ultimate collection, you can install the second disc. If you don’t install the same content on all three consoles, you will see a black VW Jetta on the screen without the installed content. So install the second disc on all three consoles. If you did the update, you can now use a USB stick to install it on; but you will need something like a 4G stick for each. It’s a lot of data. Note that the console update will unceromoniously disable any non-Microsoft memory cards installed on your system, and the Xbox formats memory cards so that they can’t be read on your PC. If you have your game data on a non-Microsoft memory card (e.g. Max Memory or ones that use MicroSD cards) BACK IT UP first!
Annoyingly the game makes you complete the first race at Camino Viejo de Montserrat with the R8 before you can set up the multiscreen. You have to actually finish the race and then pick a car. You have to do that for every console. Once you have done that, you can go to your profile in Forza to multiscreen and set up the rest. The center screen is the host, and the channel doesn’t matter as long as all three consoles are on the same channel and a different channel from any other forza setups that might be on the same network. The side screens are clients, and you have to tell them which one is left and right. Then you set the “degrees between screens”. This is the degrees you WANT for each screen, not what they actually are. I have mine set to 55 degrees which seems like a good compromise between the interior of the car and the track. I am sitting pretty close to my screens so if you are farther away you might want less of a field of view so the track is bigger.
Then set up the “degrees hidden”. This is sort of a trial and error proccess. You are essentially allowing for the edges of each monitor. If you don’t get this pretty close the transition between screens looks a little wierd. Start with something like 2 or 3 degrees and try it. If objects jump too fast from screen to screen, increase the number. If objects take too long to appear on the next screen, decrease the number.
Once you set up evrything for the three consoles, you will be prompted to restart. When the games restart, the host will start into Forza and the two clients will show a “multiscreen client” screen that shows channel, view, and connection status. If you are anywhere in the menus (not actually starting or in a race) they will briefly show “connecting” and then they should say “connected” and stay connected until you quit the game. There isn’t any special startup sequence, just start all three at the same time and wait for them to connect. Don’t start anything; if you did, press ‘B’ on the host until you get back to the Forza 3 main screen. They should connect by that point. Once you start loading a race the three screens will switch and become duplicates of each other, and when you actually start the race they will turn into one wide display.
Now enjoy it! Here is a video so you can see it in action. There’s more on my YouTube channel.
As for the build: It’s all made from pine 2x4s you can buy at Lowes, along with a little MDF. The seat is out of a Honda, I scored it at the junkyard for something like twenty bucks. The Xbox wheel is pretty good, it has paddle shifters and comes with the brake and gas pedals (no clutch, but who cares when you have paddle shifters. You’re racing after all.). It’s also cheap. It has force feedback that’s pretty believable. I bought the hardware for everything (what I didn’t already have) from techforless.com. You can buy open box monitors and refurbed consoles and save a lot of cash. I already had a 22″ monitor, so I got two Philips open box monitors for the sides. It’s not as pretty as the Fanatec stuff, but it’s way cheaper and it works just as good.
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