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Game Server

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Rabid Snail

Sep 20, 2002
New York
I got a few questions about a game server that I might eventualy make.
My connection is .95 megatbit upload, and 1.5 download, and I was wondering how many people I could fit on a server for a game like Natural Selection, or any other Half-Life mod, and would it be worth it to even try to host Unreal 2k3? Would it be worth it to go SMP if I ever plan to host Unreal 2k3, or is a 1600 plus or something like that good for a small server. Is one gig of ram needed? Can it wait if I only plan on Half-Life for a while? Would running some drives in a Level one RAID help my server enough to be worth the added expense of two drives and the dificulty of setting it up?

Well .96 MBit up is not all that much bandwidth. You may be able to get about 12-16 people. The easiest way to tell if your connection will be good for a game server is try it out. Use a decent PC: PIII 1 GHz, 512 DDR etc. and get some friends to play on it for a while. You will know right off the bat whether your connection is good or not. Once you reach your max, pings will go through the roof.

Also, there is the matter of packets. While ISP will promise a certain bandwidth, they don't actually promise that all your packets will get there. I would recommend using VisualRoute to test for packetloss before building your server.

And about the SMP thing... if you make the two rigs about equal in terms of price, you will have much better components for the single proc setup. SMP are not needed to run a game server. Decent CPU, fast RAM, and a great connection are what makes a great game server.

I run a 32 player TacOps (Unreal Game Engine Game) with MaxTickRate=30 and MaxClientRate=20000. My game server components:

AthlonXP 1400
1.5 GB PC2100 CAS2.5
University Netwrok Connection @ 3.5 up/ 2.8 down.
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Rabid Snail--

I have been delving into this server administration thing ever since UT2K3 was released. I have been doing research on the ina-community forums (and elsewhere) just to make sure that my server is running smoothly. Epic/Digital Extrems have indicated that one needs about 35kbps per player. They also set the minimum system for 16 players at 600 MHz with 256 MB RAM. I find that very minimal, though I run my server with a 1 GHz Duron with 384 MB SDRAM. It has had NO problem keeping up. I can actually do a little e-mail and surfing while running the server. I've actually done this form time to time to see if/how much performance suffers (not at all, really). Keep in mind that these figures are for a dedicated server. The only thing a dedicated server is doing is performing a bunch of calculations and reading/sending results out over a network connection. One only needs a really powerful rig when it must be concerned with performing all the GRAPHICS duties required at the client side. So, if you plan on playing from the same machine, then YES, you will need one boss computer.

For 16 players to have enough bandwidth multiply your 35kbps X 16 = 560kbps (or .560Mbps). That would be for both up and down stream. Myself, I'm running with SDSL 768kbps (768 up AND down) and again, I have had good performance even when the server is at a full 16 players. I wouldn't increase the player limit above that as to give myself a little extra overhead to IM or play on another server myself. I do make it a point, however, to avoid downloading Windows updates and such while people are playing.

Epic is saying that the game is playable with anything under 300. I say ideally, your ping should be less than 200 to be useable-- <150 to really be enjoyable. Pings, however, are mostly out of your control. Pings are not based on your connection speed as much as it is your ISP's connection to a trunk and how many hops packets must make to their destination. So, it just depends upon how good both the host and client ISP's are and number of hops between them.

As far as RAID is concerned, it might make games load quicker, but keep in mind, the games don't really start until everyone ELSE's games are loaded, so there isn't much of a requirement there unless all of the players have RAID and are tired of waiting on the server to load up.

So, Rabid Snail, the short answer to your question is YES. You should have no problem hosting 16 players (at least in UT2K3) with your rig and your bandwidth.

I will add this though: Cable connections are NOT ideal for hosting game SERVERS. Because of the shared nature of those lines, bandwidth can take a dump at any time. And a drop off in bandwidth, even for a moment, can make everything screw up and necessitate a resync or even a reconnect. With xDSL, you get all the bandwidth you pay for and there is extremely little chance that you will lose netspeed because that chunk of bandwidth has been allocated to that ONE line.
I've got 1mbit down and only 110k up (per dlsreports.com).

Is there any way I could talk to my ISP to get more up? I've found I can host 12 playing mw4 with acceptable pings.

I also have 256mb pc2700 ddr ram. Should I have more? For servers is it better to have faster RAM or more RAM?