Oh yes internet, I know you’ve needed this for a while. Time to get your real mahjong play on.
As some of you may know, I’ve pretty fond of Japanese Riichi mahjong. However, Tenhou is really simple and boring. Even though I have an active group of mahjong players in real life to play with, it’s still hard to get 4 people together to sit down and play from anywhere to 1~3 hours. Above all else, I needed a client that could give me the feeling of playing either in real life, or the thrill I get from watching Akagi or Saki. Like most weaboos, I only started playing after watching those animes (though Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is the most fucking amazing mahjong anime out there – but I will save this for another post.) Though you can’t cheat, there’s definitely the feeling of doing more than just clicking tiles on Janryumon. Quite simply, this is the most fucking amazing mahjong client ever made.
AriAri Hanchan – Begin!
However, PlayNC operates it, and has different branches for different regions of it’s business. And quite obviously, your average joe outside of Asia doesn’t know how to play mahjong, so they didn’t port it over to PlayNC America or Europe. Why is this important? It means Janryumon is region-locked. All the major ISPs from America/Europe are banned even from accessing the janryumon website.
Worse off, Janryumon requires ActiveX controls to run. Some of you just gasped, and a couple people just closed the web page. Yes, it means you’ll need to actually open internet explorer to play Janryumon. It goes this way because of how the plaync login is integrated into the game. On top of all of this, it has a long registration page that requires a Japanese certification image (yeah, you know our certification captcha’s? Well they have one in Japanese that uses hiragana and katakana).
And of course, the whole page is in Japanese. Sounds insane for someone without a clue of Japanese to try, right? Wrong. In reality, if you know what you’re doing even a little bit, you can be up and playing in just twenty minutes.
This guide was done around Christmas, so excuse the theme~
You may need to understand just how amazing this client is to begin this endeavour. Trust me, it is completely worth all the hassle. This game is so amazing, it uses it’s own physics engine for the tiles so they have real physics placement when they are discarded and called. Also it has support for NASHI NASHI (なしなし）mahjong in addition to the regular AriAri after it’s update to Janryumon 2. On top of this, it’s completely free. Fucking amazing, isn’t it? Some of you may not know what nashinashi means, but even if you’re relatively new to mahjong I definitely think you will enjoy the user interface and all the little bells and whistles involved in keeping a stable, fast, helpful interface. For those curious, NashiNashi mahjong is that awesome form of mahjong they played in the 60′s that doesn’t use red 5′s, uradora, open tan yao, pinfu stacking with tsumo, or double ron. That’s right, it’s good old fashioned head bump (just like in the ending of Akagi). The way it should be. Of course, you can play the normal modern Ari Ari style as well or set up a custom game with a little of each style. That being said, if you’re looking to learn how to play for the first time I recommend this client (it’s newbie friendly, but a little much if you’re just trying out the game.) Try using Tenhou and check this link or you can hit up the archive on Osamuka’s blog. But that aside, here’s a relatively-step-by-step guide to get this girl setup regardless if you’re region locked or otherwise. If you want that drive, that awesome feeling from winning a huge hand, characters really getting into the game, and want to play in a ranking, than this is definitely for you.
Step #1) Accessing the site.
Janryumon’s region block isn’t perfect. It only blocked major ISP’s like comcast from accessing it’s site in America. Government level IP’s (like school networks) are not blocked, and certain smaller IP’s fly under the radar. The first step is being able to just access the website. If you can get through this, you’ve already saved yourself a huge hassle.
How to test it: Goto http://janryumon.plaync.jp/inside your internet explorer browser. You should see a page that looks something like this:
Can you see it? Awesome, your life just got 50x easier in setting this baby up. You can skip to step 2. Can’t? Well you’re going to need to tunnel through a foreign VPN or proxy. And no, unfortunately it’s not as easy as a simple HTTP proxy add on, you’ll need to tunnel all your data through the proxy so Janryumon can be played through that as well. Luckily, there is a program you can get for this. Osamuko posted a hard way to set it up once but I could never get it to work. If you’re more technically inclined, you can definitely use that method or another you might know of to set this up. If not, there’s an easy way to tunnel to get to play, which you will need active as you play and as you register for an account.
That answer is right here. Packetix Japanese VPN is what you need. You’ll can use the secure VPN setup and follow instructions on that page. There should also be a way to import a config file (secure.vpn) to get it up and running. I’ve not personally had to use this method, but I know two people who use it to access Janryumon successfully. That page should have all the instructions you need. The downside to tunneling all data through your VPN is it’s incredibly slow and it tunnels your entire connection (your bandwidth literally acts 56kish again, with a max download rate of around 30 kbps and an even slower upload). This is about enough bandwidth to run some sort of messenger client (ventrillo, irc, or a messenger), a webpage, and Janryumon at the same time without much hassle. Are you still trusting me? Good. It is still worth it to go through this to play Janryumon – the most fucking baller client for playing mahjong ever conceived.
Step #2) Setting up the account, launcher, and client.
So, once you can access the page, we need to get everything working, right? This is where a little bit of Japanese literacy would be a huge help, but I designed this section so there’s a way around everything. Even if you’re JP illiterate, having Japanese keyboard and fonts installed will be tremendously helpful to you.
I will make this note first. You need ActiveX controls enabled (again, you can google this if you need to enable it; and be aware some virus scanners disable it by default). If you have IE8 or higher (Vista/7) you should get an info bar, in which you will need to right click and *INSTALL FOR ALL WEBSITES*. If you use IE7 or lower (XP) you will need to install their active x controls from this page when you are prompted to. Either way, if you do not have their active x controls enabled you will be bounced to this page somewhere along the lines of the installation:
Just click the blue Active X button and hit run run, yes yes, install install, etc… if you’re using IE7 or lower. If you have IE8 or higher you must absolutely use the info bar which will appear right below your tabs and install it for all webpages. You will probably be prompted with two or three tabs during the course of this setup. One is for Janryumon, another for the launcher, and another for plaync key encrypt – their anti hack guard. It’s a matter of just obvious and mindless clicking so I won’t provide specifics on this. If you try to manual install activex from the blue button and have IE8 or above, you will get an error when trying to install activex. You will need to use the infobar to install and just restart IE if you have IE8 or above.
Anyway, to start (or when you get back on track) you will access the main page (above) and you’ll need to hit the register button. It will bring you to a new window with three steps (but for us it’s more like 17 steps) to getting the Janryumon client working.
Start by clicking step 1. It will then forward you to the next page where you will see a blue “play NC” button. As a general rule during this setup, if you see a blue button, it’s something you probably need to click (except for the captcha and in the actual launcher). I will not post a picture for every page, so please pay attention.
You should then be forwarded (ever so slowly if you’re stuck on the VPN) to your standard registration page. Scroll down and hit the big blue button on the bottom. You’re agreeing to all of PlayNC’s online usage agreements. You will be sent to the next page:
So this is it, the registration form. It gets a little complicated from here. Have your email ready.
Step one is to enter your email in the appropriate box and hit the blue button next to it in order to receive a code to your email. No worries here, the code will be pretty recognizable inside your email – it should be all arabic numeral and english letters. Just copy and paste that sucker into box two and confirm it by the button on the right of it. The second box should grey out (along with other blue confirms after this).
In the news box, just uncheck the box next to “plaync”. That means you won’t be receiving any extra newsletters from plaync.
For your account name, you will use this to log in. You need an account name between 4 and 12 characters, including a number. Hit the blue box next to it to confirm your username is available. If it grays out or you can’t click it, you’re all good. Then enter your password twice, which should be between 6 and 13 characters, and include a number as well.
The next box is your handle (or display/nickname). This is the name other people will see. It must be between 2 and 16 characters (make this easy on yourself and don’t use special characters like underscores) and cannot be the same as your account name. Age and birthdate are fairly self explanatory. Enter whatever information you want here. I put I’m an 88 year old female, the appropriate age and gender for playing mahjong competitively. Keep in mind this will determine the gender of your plaync avatar.
So now we get to the captcha…this is the hard part. In fact you will need to know someone who at least knows hiragana and katakana (the most basic Japanese lettering) and have a keyboard capable of typing Japanese along with East Asian font packs installed on your PC just to get through this part. This can be a bitch, and I won’t go into detail on how, you can easily google up how to set up a Japanese keyboard IME input so you can type the letters. At the very least, if you don’t have that person, you will need to look up a chart and copy yourself (it’s five simple characters), or maybe even find a site with the characters listed and copy and paste them one by one. If you’re weaboo enough to want to play mahjong, chances are you know or at least know someone who is capable of this. You just need to type the characters in the captcha, and reset it if you can’t see it. Protip: If you can’t copy and paste the characters over a messaging client, pastebin works wonders. Worst comes to worst you can leave a comment with the captcha picture, and if I see it I’ll type it out for you, but this means you’re going to have to have that window open until I reply to you (if ever if you’re reading this post long after it’s conception). If there is a number it must be typed in via a japanese keyboard setting (the font codes are different). Good luck on finding a way to get the characters in the captcha typed into the box below it. It is often a mix of hiragana and katakana, and occasionally numbers. In the example the code is ta n tsu ki e – タ ン つ き え (ta and n are in katakana, the rest in hiragana).
Either way once you type that in, you just hit the sign up button on the bottom. If you get bounced back to the same page with some orange letters under a field you missed, you done fucked up. Go through everything again and make sure all the information is correct according to above. If you have to re-enter username or other information requiring a blue box confirm make sure you confirm it again. If you get sent to an error page, you probably took longer than 15 minutes to register and got timed out. Do it faster. Usually I even mess up this registration page once, so just keep your cool and double check everything.
From there it should bring you to a confirm page and you need to hit the big blue button again. You’ll be bounced to a success page and hit the blue button again. You should be redirected to the main Janryumon page again at http://janryumon.plaync.jp/ -> congrats, you’ve made your account, and can access the page. Good shit.
Go to the log in on the left, enter your account name and password, and than hit the red button to the right of your login information, don’t hit the big play button just yet. So with a successful login (you may be bounced to the activex page here that I talked about at the beginning of step 2 above) you will see a page like this.
A lot is going on here on your main page user interface. There should be a difference between you and me. That difference is I have an awesome bro with sunglasses and a chicken dinosaur ready to play mahjong. You have a gender ambiguous individual in pokadot boxers with a bag on his/her head. To change your appearence you can mess around in the avatar page (this is it’s own headache you can mess around after you get the game working). You can ignore most of the options in your gui besides the avatar editing page. Something you should note is that you have zero clam points. Everything cool looking for your avatar costs clam. Clam is the fucking shit. That’s why it costs real money to get clam. Isn’t it sad, sacchin?
What you will be allotted is 50 silver points. You can get one item in the shop (accessible from in game, and from the avatar menu) to change your avatar with those 50 silver points. Again, you can look into this later. I bought a roostersaurus. There are plenty very entertaining things you can buy in order to pimp out your
gaia play nc avatar.
So without further adue, you start the game launcher by hitting the big red button that says game start!
**At some points in this process you will be assaulted with the activex installers, and some download page to either download the client and launcher (they change the process of setup once in a while). Use your wit and realize this is just a bunch of easy install install install click click click options. Follow the activex download instructions from the beginning of the step if you run into the problems.
Step #3) Running the launcher and using the client
So finally, you should be at the launcher, which should resemble something like this:
Finally right? Well, we’re not done yet – but we’re done with all the hard parts. Just start patching from here. You will know it’s working because you will see files being downloaded above the blue bar. You will need to disable your firewall from blocking this launcher and the actual game after you launch it. You will need to allow keycrypt to be on (the anti-hack guard which will be installed via activex somewhere along the line).
*If you are using the VPN to connect, obviously you don’t want to download about 300mbs on 30kb/s. I experimented and found out the launcher has an automatic resume function which is NOT region locked or ISP blocked. So, if you’re on the VPN while it is downloading you can turn off the VPN and it will keep patching. Than, you should need to restart the VPN and launcher to patch the game, then disable the VPN again to get a good download speed. Than again restart the vpn and launcher to play the game (I think you can launch the game if you disabled the VPN and patched, but when you try to play a game you will be bounced out inside the actual client right before entering the game – I’ve tested this – you need the VPN on during the game if you are IP blocked.)
For the first time, it will download the actual game (if you didn’t in some sort of redirect during registration, which you can also disable the VPN to download, or goto step two on the initial registration page above and find a gold download button for the game setup) and eventually you will be prompted to install Janryumon (more clicks yes, install yes). Sorry this is frustrating for the VPN users, but don’t let it stop you if you got this far! Alternatively, if you are outstandingly lazy, you can leave the patcher on with the VPN and hit the bed for the night and should be done with the game by the morning. Than install the game, and start patching and head to class/work/whatever and come back and you should be good to start the game. If you didn’t need a VPN you do the same thing except it’ll take you 20 minutes. Though this part seems to be the most tedious and complicated it is actually the easiest (and if you’re not using a VPN) the fastest.
So, hit the purple button and startup Janryumon after patching is complete! Again, don’t forget to disable/make exceptions in your software firewall for the launcher and game processes (you don’t need to forward any ports, so those of you behind a school network can definitely play! I do all the time.)
When you come into the game for the first time you will need to enter your nickname/handle/display name you registered with into the bar and hit whatever looks like okay. Finally, you will be in Janryumon!
*A common error I hear is that you start it up, get a bar and one button, and can’t do anything but exit – you can’t enter your nickname. If you get a screen with a bar and one button, just restart and come back in, that means your lagging a little much and it didn’t load properly. If your VPN is being 15kb/s slow, try coming back in a couple hours.
Step 4) Understanding the GUI
So everything is translated here by me. Here I’ll just touch on the menus I don’t go into detail about. The left tile is a custom game – it’s unranked and you put in a password to start it. Anyone in the same channel as you can access it. Often you will see players saying in chat something like ありあり1234 @ 2, this means in channel 2 there is a custom ariari game with password 1234. It’s fun if you want to chill off the rankings or play with friends – you can also mix and mesh nashi nashi / ari ari settings and round types. Also be aware in the chat you get global shouts to all channels (3 a day I think, it may go up with your rank) but you can talk in channel and to friends as much as you want. The friend list on the bottom left is pretty self explanatory. You can add your friends and it will alert you when they’re on. The rest of the menu’s I’ll explain in the rest of this step.
Hand and Voice Customization
This is a pretty neat feature in the game. In the game you don’t have a figure or body, only your “hand” and your plaync avatar represent you. Some people are turned off by this at first but it may soon become your favorite part of the game if you start adding cool jewelery to you hand. Your hand can be upgraded after winning enough points. You start at 5000, and you can only go up from there (if you fall below 5000, than you are reset to 5000 points). When you get above 12,000 points (usually takes 3-4 victories in a row) you can hit up the shop and get items that cost 12,000 riichii points (indicated by a red riichii stick). You can see how many points you have in the main menu. From here you can also change your voice options on the top left, and test them by hitting the speaker symbol. There’s some neat ones, so enjoy. You can change freely between male and female, but your play nc avatar is binded to the gender you signed up with. All items are time based (most go away after like 7 hours of play or 30 days) but you can take them on and off as you please. You can wear things like wristbands, watches, rings, and a whole slew of neat stylin’ equip (this will not affect your actual gameplay at all, however). When you start out you really want to hit up this page for the voice customization.
Also accessible from the main menu. This won’t mean a lot to those of you who don’t know the language very well, but it’s nice how it keeps track of your completed hands and a whole bunch of shit I can’t read.
This is the screen you get when you enter the main ladder ranked play. You select the game types you want to play and join the queue to be placed (it usually only takes 5 seconds to be put into a game). A hanchan is of course, the standard east and south round. If you want to play ladder with friends, it is possible. You will need to be of similar rank (the game sorts the quene up by rank within a couple steps of each other, and is more strict with low rank players). When the queue is low (lets say for two people, 0 or 1), you just both need to join at the same time. I’ve been very successful at doing this with friends, with at least a 90% success rate. You can cancel out of the queue if you want after you enter it, but you only have a couple seconds to do so. This is easy to do with a voice chat program like ventrillo or over the phone. I highly recommend playing with the Japanese players…it’s a lot of fun as they are normally quite skilled.
And accessible from the top right is your handy dandy game options screen. I put everything I know in here. That check box definitely is full screen, not sure why I put a question mark there. Honestly if you have a low end computer I would just turn everything off, and if you have a decent computer just turn everything on. I run this on my netbook on the lowest settings, and with ease on my PC at the highest settings. It’s pretty straightforward.
I think I got everything in here. To discard just select a tile by clicking it once, and click again to discard. You can select tiles by clicking them, and if your limited valuable 5 seconds runs out, the currently selected tile will be discarded. Very useful feature, and this style of play makes game play very fast paced, keeps you paying attention, and helps you learn how to read things quickly. No kiddie mahjong here, though it is a little flashy. You can right click to see potential melds with your tiles, and can set an auto call list to those tiles. There’s some auto features which Osamuko translated on the left as well (I reflected those translations in the first picture). I don’t personally use the auto-features, but some fine it useful. If you highlight a tile in the middle of the game, it will show in light blue from people’s discards and calls all tiles that are one away from your selected tile or are that tile in dark blue.
By far the most useful feature of the game. Naturally at the end of a game you will want to save your replay. When you finish a game you can hit one of the buttons (there’s only three) and name and save a replay (don’t be scared to just trial and error if you don’t know any Japanese, this is easy, I think it’s both bottom left blue buttons off the top of my head). You will be able to tag it but it’s not necessary if you don’t know the language. Showing replays to others online is pretty nifty if you want to talk about a game.
You can look up to see the video I used above to see replay mode in real time. In replay mode you can change to look at the camera of any player, and quickly move between turns and rounds. You can also hit the red button and record parts of games and export it for uploading to wherever you please (the menu for this is quite simple – even if you don’t know Japanese you should be able to figure it out).
Step 5) Learning how to play mahjong.
So here’s my Christmas gift to the internet, 4400+ words! With the recent launch of Janryumon 2 I definitely want to see people using this client! Have fun, and post if you have any problems. Please be deligent, patient, and attentive to this guide and the other guides required to get this working. It’s definitely worth your time in the end!