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Virtual dedicated servers for consoles


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#1 et1337   Members   -  Reputation: 1384

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:14 PM

Match-making is one of the things that bothers me most about console gaming, and dedicated servers is one of my favorite things about PC gaming. With that in mind, I had an idea to bring dedicated servers (in a way) to consoles, and I was wondering if this had been done before.

The idea is to have a master server where players could create "virtual dedicated servers". Each "server" is a set of configurations like map rotation, weapons, health, etc. The server would have a name that would show up in the global server list. When the first player "connects" to this server, his console is actually loading those configurations and setting itself up as the host. If he disconnected, the game would perform the "migrating host" dance that Call of Duty does.

You could have elevated privileges for admins as well. Because it's on a console, there's very little chance of hacking. Although you wouldn't get the low ping and other technical benefits of dedicated servers, you would still get clan servers, admins and similar "social" benefits.

So my question is, has this been done before? Is it feasible? I think it would be too complex for an indie game, but I'd like to see an AAA title use this system.

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#2 Puciek   Members   -  Reputation: 96

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:30 PM

Many games allow you to host your own game (as settings and so on) on their machines. This is becoming popular even among pc games (starcraft 2, HoN) because it prevents map-hacks from working (and couple other things).

#3 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 826

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:11 PM

Many games allow you to host your own game (as settings and so on) on their machines. This is becoming popular even among pc games (starcraft 2, HoN) because it prevents map-hacks from working (and couple other things).


It doesn't prevent map-hacks at all. In lockstepping games, clients usually have the full state, and that includes state of units that are in the fog.
SC2 is lockstepped, HoN isn't.

#4 Puciek   Members   -  Reputation: 96

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:32 PM


Many games allow you to host your own game (as settings and so on) on their machines. This is becoming popular even among pc games (starcraft 2, HoN) because it prevents map-hacks from working (and couple other things).


It doesn't prevent map-hacks at all. In lockstepping games, clients usually have the full state, and that includes state of units that are in the fog.
SC2 is lockstepped, HoN isn't.

I didn't make myself clear, it can be used to prevent map hacking (on top of other benefits), shame that blizz didn't bother to deliver on this part.

#5 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19040

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:05 PM

Match-making is one of the things that bothers me most about console gaming, and dedicated servers is one of my favorite things about PC gaming. With that in mind, I had an idea to bring dedicated servers (in a way) to consoles, and I was wondering if this had been done before.

...

So my question is, has this been done before? Is it feasible? I think it would be too complex for an indie game, but I'd like to see an AAA title use this system.



You are unlikely to see this for the consoles.

Sony and Microsoft (and if you support them, Nintendo) have very strict requirements about game servers and about how matchmaking works. In order to develop on their consoles you need to follow their rules, including their rules for matchmaking services. They have fairly strict rules about private games and public games, the views of all games, and the rules to filter games.

Technically what you describe is certainly possible.

The effort of developing it within the console's requirements and the difficulties getting the necessary waivers to pass through certification would be different issues entirely.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#6 et1337   Members   -  Reputation: 1384

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:51 PM

Sony and Microsoft (and if you support them, Nintendo) have very strict requirements about game servers and about how matchmaking works. In order to develop on their consoles you need to follow their rules, including their rules for matchmaking services. They have fairly strict rules about private games and public games, the views of all games, and the rules to filter games.

That's a bummer. Makes me wonder what other creative ideas have been squashed by certification requirements.

#7 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2393

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:57 PM

Sony and Microsoft (and if you support them, Nintendo) have very strict requirements about game servers and about how matchmaking works.


These certifications sound like a great idea.

Someone should try to do similar for web applications and SQL.

#8 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4984

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 06:02 PM

The idea is to have a master server where players could create "virtual dedicated servers". Each "server" is a set of configurations like map rotation, weapons, health, etc. The server would have a name that would show up in the global server list. When the first player "connects" to this server, his console is actually loading those configurations and setting itself up as the host. If he disconnected, the game would perform the "migrating host" dance that Call of Duty does.


The main problem is the naming of those servers. Specifically, if you allow users to type "anything" into a text field that can be read by other users, it might slam your rating.


Basically, what you're describing already exists, except for the one part where you can't give it a "name." Most FPS games allow you to configure map rotation, alternate rules, capacity, etc.
enum Bool { True, False, FileNotFound };

#9 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14353

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 04:52 PM

Like hplus mentioned, this is pretty much right out of the box in Halo: Reach for example; aside, of course, from being able to name your own stuff.

#10 et1337   Members   -  Reputation: 1384

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:38 PM

The main problem is the naming of those servers. Specifically, if you allow users to type "anything" into a text field that can be read by other users, it might slam your rating.

I feel like this is a minor issue for a large multiplayer game... there could be other ways of identifying servers. You could even enforce a limit of one virtual server per player, and then have them identified by gamertags.

Like hplus mentioned, this is pretty much right out of the box in Halo: Reach for example; aside, of course, from being able to name your own stuff.

Basically, what you're describing already exists, except for the one part where you can't give it a "name."


Does it though? I know you can configure game settings and save them to your Xbox. But there's no persistence, right? Once the party's over, the "server" is down. You have to send out a bunch of invites to start a new game with the same people, right? It's not like a PC server where clan members are popping in and out all the time. I might be wrong, I don't play console games that often, but every time I do it's always match-making.

#11 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19040

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:06 PM

Sony and Microsoft (and if you support them, Nintendo) have very strict requirements about game servers and about how matchmaking works.ld be different issues entirely.

I know you can configure game settings and save them to your Xbox. But there's no persistence, right? Once the party's over, the "server" is down. You have to send out a bunch of invites to start a new game with the same people, right? It's not like a PC server where clan members are popping in and out all the time. I might be wrong, I don't play console games that often, but every time I do it's always match-making.



If you are getting a disc game published there are some pretty strict requirements. They are covered under NDA, but a few articles and postmortems discuss a few of their requirements, such as http://www.gamasutra...php?story=20384 and http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2008/09/. Google can find more.

If you go the XNA route, which you can do for an XBox Live Arcade game on your own, the requirements are a bit more relaxed:

http://blogs.msdn.co...quirements.aspx
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#12 et1337   Members   -  Reputation: 1384

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:16 AM

...

Thanks for the links! I read them all, fascinating stuff. I think I already came to terms with the fact that cert requirements would make this idea nigh impossible (although it sounds like XBLIG might allow it). In my last post I was just challenging the idea that this functionality already exists in games like Halo: Reach. I think I just didn't communicate the concept clearly enough.

#13 hplus0603   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4984

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 06:37 PM

...

Thanks for the links! I read them all, fascinating stuff. I think I already came to terms with the fact that cert requirements would make this idea nigh impossible (although it sounds like XBLIG might allow it). In my last post I was just challenging the idea that this functionality already exists in games like Halo: Reach. I think I just didn't communicate the concept clearly enough.


Specifically, you're saying "favorite servers" or "favorite game hosts" isn't a feature in current games?
That might be true -- can't say that I recall seeing it in any game I've played on XBL.
enum Bool { True, False, FileNotFound };

#14 lask1   Members   -  Reputation: 630

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:10 AM

You can host your own server similar to that in games like quake 3 or fear 2 two of these games are Team Fortress 2 and Unreal tournament. Personally unless there are a large amount of mods I prefer matchmaking systems.




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