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Master Game Server Cost?

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If I wanted to run a master server for my own game in the company I'm setting up, what training would I and/or my staff need to get? What equipment would I need to purchase and what deals would I have to arrange with my ISP? Also, just for comparison, anyone have any idea what it would cost to rent a master server for a game I produce? Is it even possible to get a company to do this for me? Is there anything else I'm missing here? I intend to go into business in networked games (not MMO) and I need realistic prices/resources. Thanks for your help! :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The cheapest/easiest option is to run it yourself on your own internet connection.

Get a decent 'allways on' connection (like DSL). Make sure it has a good upload rate as well as a good download rate. You will be uploading a lot more than you will be downloading.
Oh, also you will need an internet connection with a static IP address!

Get a cheap computer, it needs a decent processor probably, but thats about it.

Run you master server on your computer, plug the computer into your router.



You might be able to arrange a deal with an ISP to give you a good 'hosting' package (static IP, lots of upload bandwidth) but it depends on the ISP really..

If you want to know how much it's gonna cost, you need to have estimates of
- The size of a clients "give me a server list" packets
- the size of the masters "here is the server list" packets
- The size of a servers "i am a server" packets
- How often the master is going to recieve/send these packets.

If you can estimate those 4 things, then you can estimate how much it will cost to host it.

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You should be able to get an ISP to host your website, cgi/perl/php/asp for dynamic webpages, space for your game downloads, email, etc. for well under $500/year (cost will depend on bandwidth and disk space needed).

I currently use a simple custom perl-based serverlist system (along with a Win32 service that handles UDP chores) on an ISP. So far it's fast enough and works OK for beta testing. If the number of clients goes way up, will probably have to move to a real database system (probably move to a self-hosted server as well: anything reasonably complicated, you'll want to have total control over the hardware, OS, database, webserver, etc. Waiting for an ISP to address issues might drive you nuts (or out of business). As the AP noted, a fast dedicated network connection such as DSL/Cable will run $50-100+ month (depends on bandwidth up/down; should be no total limit); a fixed IP would be best, but I would recommend lookup via DNS to your game's server name (so you can move it around and not break all of your clients). There are services on the web to work around dynamic IP's so that your hostname can be found, regardless of the current IP (search google with: "dynamic IP forwarding", lots of hits, some services free)).

I would not recommend investing in anything fancy/expensive to start (plan for it after the first game is nearly complete: the game itself will be a big enough challenge that you won't want to spend time on anything not absolutely necessary).

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You'll also need to take into account electricity and cooling for the server, as it will get very hot, an you dont want it to over heat :-)

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Wow @ the AP. Find out a bit about the game first. A Counter-Strike 1.6 server has huge requirements (mostly for the VAC stuff). The server we had for CS has over a gig of RAM, dual processor (think the other, as its a linux box is doing map downloads).

You need to figure out what type of hardware you need. Renting a server can be cheap for a nice backbone and 1000GB of transfer a month (about $99 for a 1GB, P4 2.4Ghz on E10+ connection). If you use too much bandwidth, you'll get shut down on a DSL/cable connection. Just try downloading a few dozen legal torrents a month (bloody Comcast).

Without more, detailed, info we cannot really give you better answers. A P2 might be all you need, or a set of several servers with roll over abilities, etc.

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I managed to get a dedicated server for $60/mo (1200Gb/mo bandwidth), but this was cheaper than normal since the spec is lower than normal: 1.8Ghz 512Mb, 80Gb.
If your game can make do with something like that, it would be good enough to start with.

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Quote:
Original post by zppz
I managed to get a dedicated server for $60/mo (1200Gb/mo bandwidth), but this was cheaper than normal since the spec is lower than normal: 1.8Ghz 512Mb, 80Gb.
If your game can make do with something like that, it would be good enough to start with.


It would also be more then likely enough to start testing on too. $60 a month is cheap even for a business with no income like most startups are. Where do you host it? I cannot remember the URL to the site my friend uses for the setup I described. If I remember tomorrow I'll ask and update if the OP wants it.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Mike2343
Wow @ the AP. Find out a bit about the game first. A Counter-Strike 1.6 server has huge requirements (mostly for the VAC stuff). The server we had for CS has over a gig of RAM, dual processor (think the other, as its a linux box is doing map downloads).


He said he needed to run a master-server. Usually the master just collects the IP of other servers and sends them to clients, so CPU load is probably going to be a lot less than a CS server ;)
If there are going to be thousands of clients requesting a server list every hour you'l still need a good processor tho, and perhaps a decent ammount of RAM to hold the request queue.. Dual core would help in a situation like this too.


John's idea about using DNS instead of a static IP is probably a good idea.
Uf you're just running the server for testing it wont hurt that much for all your testers to get an new master IP, but if you try doing that with a real game you'l get 1000 complaint emails ;)

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The Forum FAQ points at multiple solutions for how to host your game.

By "master server" I assume you mean a matchmaker and game list server -- those don't need to be terribly fast, as opposed to, say, a CounterStrike game server.

If you rent a server online, with included bandwidth, but you manage it yourself using root SSH access, then it'll cost between $60 and $120 per month for the basic offering ("self-managed servers"). If you want the company to have trained administrators that can monitor and fix the servers for you, it becomes a lot more expensive (but then, you offload your own people, at least theoretically).

Hosting the server in your closet -- even your company's closet -- is usually the wrong thing to do. A datacenter has a lot better connectivity than your business Internet connection, not to mention cooling, power, hurricane resistance etc.

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Quote:
Original post by Mike2343
It would also be more then likely enough to start testing on too. $60 a month is cheap even for a business with no income like most startups are. Where do you host it? I cannot remember the URL to the site my friend uses for the setup I described. If I remember tomorrow I'll ask and update if the OP wants it.

Starting testing is exactly what it is for :)
www.ezzi.net
However at the time I registered, that machine was the only one with such low spec - the next cheapest was around $90 iirc. Still, even then as long as you make sure you don't need any manual restarts it is a pretty reasonable deal. At least it is compared to here, where monthly rates start at four times that much and typically there is a $200-$300 setup fee.

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