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xJOKERx

MMORPG - How many servers should I buy ?

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From a business stand point if I was funding a MMORPG out of my own pocket and needed to purchase "x" number of servers to keep the game running smoothly for approx 500,000 people, how many servers should I purchase , what types , and how much ? I am trying to think ahead in the event of any "incidents" that my pop up . For the above question lets say you had 3 scenerios. 1) You have $10,000 dollars to purchase the servers, what would you buy and how many ? 2) You have $50,000 dollars to purchase the servers, what would you buy and how many ? 3)You have unlimited amount of money to purchase the servers, what would you buy and how many ? Please be realistic and detailed , I am trying to get a good ball park average on what I should get. Thanks Gang ! : )

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Here's a question that's equivalent to yours:

Which car should I buy to get to my target by 11 am, if I start at 9 am?

The problem: You didn't specify where you want to start, or where the target is. There's no way of knowing whether a car for $10,000 will do it at all or not -- in fact, there's no way of knowing whether ANY car will do it. (Say, starting in London and wanting to go to Milan in 2 hours)


First, you have to have a target for number of players per physical server machine. Once you have that, you have to have a target for load distribution -- how homogenous will your load be? Then, you have to have an inkling of how your world instance maps to server machines, to create a shard. Once you have that, you can plan what kind of hardware you need to buy -- and then the price point will make itself known to you by just looking at Dell.com, Rackable.com, Alliance.com or any other reputable hardware source.

However, at that point you'll probably be looking at leasing, rather than buying. That way, you pay the hardware bills as the subscription revenue comes in, which is vastly preferrable to a large up-front outlay. Just make sure you have good connections (and long history) with your financing company.

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Yeah, it REALLY depends on how much information each server will be processing. If the game is mostly client based, the actual load on the server will be minimal and you can get away with fewer servers (with a very good internet connection), while if the game is run mostly server side (normally done to help aleviate cheating!), then your requirements will be a lot higher. Also, the type of MMORPG is important... for example, a text based game with few options won't need as much power as a huge 3d environment with tons of options (aka, a huge database and tons of processing).

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I had a reply typed out.. but rethought posting it and deleted it.

See.. I'm learning better posting etiquette hplus :)

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Quote:
Original post by Saruman
See.. I'm learning better posting etiquette hplus :)


I'm blessed to be moderating Networking and Multiplayer rather than, say, "Help Wanted" or (shudder) "Lounge". As far as I'm concerned, y'all are just peachy. Love and hugs for everyone.

Oh, and my 3 weeks of vaccation start today, although I'll still keep an eye on the forum.

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Quote:
Original post by Saruman
I had a reply typed out.. but rethought posting it and deleted it.

See.. I'm learning better posting etiquette hplus :)


Heh, I find myself doing this more and more lately.

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The answer:

number of servers = estimated number of users / number of users each server can handle.

Basically you need the server software up and running first then do some load testing to see how many users that server can handle. Then it's just simple math to figure out how many servers you need. It's silly to think about buying servers before you have the software running.

If you're doing business projections you'll need to do some research on existing MMOs and see what their user/server ratio is. I don't know where you'd find such information outside of having access to an engineer that has worked on a previously released MMO. At any rate this will provide you with an estimation number for your business forecasts. Under no circumstances should you actually purchase servers before you have software up and running.

-me

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I subscribe what was said above, you need to know what you want before getting it.

You need to know how many players will be using the servers by the first month, and divide by the maximum amount of players your engine currently supports(either CPU or bandwidth wise), the result will be the amount of servers you need. When the next month comes buy more if needed.

Where ever you're planning to host your servers, make sure to take a look at HOSTIK first. I looked long and hard a while back for hosting and couldn't find better then this for limitid bandwidth plans. Compare it with the biggest dedicated server supplier in the world, EV1Servers, and you'll see what i mean.

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Quote:
Original post by Palidine
The answer:

number of servers = estimated number of users / number of users each server can handle.
That's assuming perfect server balancing. In practice that can be hard to do. It's very easy to end up with (say) 50% of your users on 25% of your machines and the other 75% under-utilized.

You might also want to keep some backup hardware around to hot-swap in case of hardware failure.

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Thanks guys for the fast replies ,

I appreciate the candid honesty, I guess it will be difficult to figure out exactly how many without testing the software first and doing stress tests.

On a second note ,XOR yeah thanks for the info on HOSTIK , the prices are very reasonable compared to the other link you gave me. My question is , do you think HOSTIK could run a entire MMORPG like ( Starwars Galaxies , or World of Warcraft ) on one of their dedicated servers and we as the company only have to pay a montly rate of $179.00 a month ?

specs for the server I am inquring about ?

• Intel P4, 3.2GHz, HT, 800MHz Bus, 1MB Cache
• 160GB RAID rated Server-Class Hard Drive
• 1,024MB Dual-Channel DDR400 SDRAM
• 3,000GB Monthly Transfer
• 100Mbps Non-Capped Network Connection
• 5 IP Addresses

Lets say you have 500,000 players..

or is it still to difficult to tell ?

[Edited by - xJOKERx on July 8, 2005 9:42:54 PM]

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