The DirectPlay application programming interface (API) provides developers with the tools to develop multiplayer applications such as games or chat clients. For simplicity, this documentation will refer to all such applications as "games." A multiplayer application has two basic characteristics:
- Two or more individual users, each with a game client on their computer.
- Network links that enable the users' computers to communicate with each other, perhaps through a centralized server.
DirectPlay provides a layer that largely isolates your application from the underlying network. For most purposes, your application can just use the DirectPlay API, and enable DirectPlay to handle the details of network communication. DirectPlay provides many features that simplify the process of implementing many aspects of a multiplayer application, including:
- Creating and managing both peer-to-peer and client/server sessions
- Managing users and groups within a session
- Managing messaging between the members of a session over different network links and varying network conditions
- Enabling applications to interact with lobbies
- Enabling users to communicate with each other by voice
This documentation provides a high-level overview of the capabilities of DirectPlay. Subsequent sections will take you into the details of how to use DirectPlay in your multiplayer game.
For more information, see the Microsoft.DirectX.DirectPlay managed code reference documentation.