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Implimenting a Networked Game

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I am in the middle of developing a networked liero/soldat/gunbound style deathmatch game, and i had a few questions about actually implimenting the game. (i havnt started the network coding yet, but will be in a week or so) Do i need to buy a dedicated server (and then run a 'dedicated server' version of the game on it) to host games? what if i make it so the players ARE the servers, ie 'start game/join game', even then do i need a server to run a lobby? and what about user accounts, with logins and stored stats, what do i need to do that? The game will be free so i need the networking to be as cheap for me as possible. Thanks

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If you want accounts with logins and stats, you need a central server. You could always buy a dedicated server, but simply running it on your own machine would probably be a better idea to begin (as long as you have high speed internet and are always connected).

For a liero/soldat/gunbound, you should let the people host the games themselves. If your game gets a little bit popular, it would soon become extremly hard to manage many games on the same computer.
Also, you need to let the players be able to host the games themselves for LAN play anyway.

Providing a lobby accessible from your central server would be a good idea, but it is not necessary, people could still play with each other by communicating the IP adress of the one hosting the game without a lobby.

So, the best way (and the way it's done for most games), would be to set up a central server for the lobby, to which people would connect via an account if you want to keep their statistics. Then people would be redirected to many different servers hosted by differents players through the lobby.
You could keep the stats of the player on a SQL database, from which you would write/read to from the central server. That would allow you to easily create a website where user would be able to see their statistics in real-time.

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