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Legendre

Cost of Hosting a Simple Web Game?

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How much does it cost to host a largely textbased webgame like utopia ([url="http://utopia-game.com/shared/"]http://utopia-game.com/shared/[/url]) or urban dead ([url="http://www.urbandead.com/"]http://www.urbandead.com/[/url])?

Currently it is a private game targeted at my social circle and their friends, which I guess-timate to result in maybe around 50 players online at the same time.

Is this going to be cost prohibitive?

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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310417218' post='4833981']
How much does it cost to host a largely textbased webgame like utopia ([url="http://utopia-game.com/shared/"]http://utopia-game.com/shared/[/url]) or urban dead ([url="http://www.urbandead.com/"]http://www.urbandead.com/[/url])?

Currently it is a private game targeted at my social circle and their friends, which I guess-timate to result in maybe around 50 players online at the same time.

Is this going to be cost prohibitive?
[/quote]
By asking the way you did, then your answer is: yes, it will be cost prohibitive.


If you cannot invest the time to figure out your system's general requirements, nor can you afford to invest the time to compare the various hosting plans out there, then it naturally follows you won't be able to afford the investment in actually doing it.

(...the hosting requirements may be something you can run on one of the many free LAMP hosting providers out there. Or you can also write it so it requires a dedicated host costing a few hundred bucks per month. Nobody knows those details better than you. We cannot guess them. ...)

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i don't have any details yet because i just started planning the game. i have some experience writing flash games and want to add multiplayer to it and host it on a website for my friends.

just want to know if this is a realistic goal before actually starting to code the thing lol. quite pointless to finish the game only to find that hosting is too expensive.

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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310421244' post='4834011']
just want to know if this is a realistic goal before actually starting to code the thing lol. quite pointless to finish the game only to find that hosting is too expensive.
[/quote]
Pointless, yes -- depending on the point for doing the game in the first place.
As Stephen Covey says in his book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People": "2. Begin with the end in mind."

You and your collaborators must sit down together and reach agreement on:
a. What you are making. (Write a GDD.)
b. Why you are making it. (If it's to make money, write a business plan and determine if it'll make money.)*
c. Who owns what? Write a collaboration agreement (see The Business/Law forum's FAQ).
d. Once those 3 things are agreed upon, the tech people can write a TDD and then you will all know where to begin.

*In writing the business plan, you need to research hosts, hosting costs, server costs (if any), support costs, domain prices, marketing costs (unless you're not bothering and only serving the game to 50 or so friends), etc. "Research" doesn't mean just asking on a forum -- you gotta do real research yourself.

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1310426673' post='4834050']
[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310421244' post='4834011']
just want to know if this is a realistic goal before actually starting to code the thing lol. quite pointless to finish the game only to find that hosting is too expensive.
[/quote]
Pointless, yes -- depending on the point for doing the game in the first place.
As Stephen Covey says in his book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People": "2. Begin with the end in mind."

You and your collaborators must sit down together and reach agreement on:
a. What you are making. (Write a GDD.)
b. Why you are making it. (If it's to make money, write a business plan and determine if it'll make money.)*
c. Who owns what? Write a collaboration agreement (see The Business/Law forum's FAQ).
d. Once those 3 things are agreed upon, the tech people can write a TDD and then you will all know where to begin.

*In writing the business plan, you need to research hosts, hosting costs, server costs (if any), support costs, domain prices, marketing costs (unless you're not bothering and only serving the game to 50 or so friends), etc. "Research" doesn't mean just asking on a forum -- you gotta do real research yourself.
[/quote]

Erm...we're doing this just for fun, as a hobby. Its not going to be a business. Just a private game for less than 50 people. I have no intention of selling the game or opening it up to public. So I guess there is no need for all these.

"Begin with the end in mind" - which is why I am asking around about the hosting costs even before I start coding the game. :D

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Just do some basic research -- have a look around at the various hosting packages available from different companies, and at what features they have available. If there are packages you can afford, and those packages have the features you need for your game, then you can afford to undertake this project. If there are not packages you can afford that have the features you'll need then either you simply can't afford to proceed, or you need to consider a different approach that might reduce the features required or otherwise allow you to cut cost.

It's[i] likely[/i] based on the [i]very[/i] brief description you've given that you could do this for only a few dollars per month -- but unless you can be more specific about exactly what your requirements are likely to be then we can't really recommend specific hosting packages that might be suitable.

To get you started off, take a look at the features provided by and costs associated with:
[list][*][url="https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/"]NearlyFreeSpeech[/url][*][url="http://www.webfaction.com/"]Web Faction[/url][*][url="http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?1125280"]Dream Host[/url][*][url="http://mediatemple.net/"]Media Temple[/url][/list]
NearlyFreeSpeech has a pricing system based on actual usage rather than offering packages -- they're potentially VERY cheap, but depending on your usage may or may not work out as better value than the various package deals available around -- their hosting is also a little more bare-bones "do it yourself" style than other providers.
Web Faction and Dream Host are both reasonably popular hosts that offer very affordable package deals on hosting.
Media Template are (in my opinion) probably the best out there, but you'll notice they have a higher price to reflect that.

There are of course many other options, but those should give you an idea of the range of different options available -- depending on your needs it's entirely possible you might even be able to find a way of hosting it [i]for free[/i].


Hope that helps give you a starting point. [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/cool.gif[/img]

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[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1310462587' post='4834195']
Just do some basic research -- have a look around at the various hosting packages available from different companies, and at what features they have available. If there are packages you can afford, and those packages have the features you need for your game, then you can afford to undertake this project. If there are not packages you can afford that have the features you'll need then either you simply can't afford to proceed, or you need to consider a different approach that might reduce the features required or otherwise allow you to cut cost.

It's[i] likely[/i] based on the [i]very[/i] brief description you've given that you could do this for only a few dollars per month -- but unless you can be more specific about exactly what your requirements are likely to be then we can't really recommend specific hosting packages that might be suitable.

To get you started off, take a look at the features provided by and costs associated with:
[list][*][url="https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/"]NearlyFreeSpeech[/url][*][url="http://www.webfaction.com/"]Web Faction[/url][*][url="http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?1125280"]Dream Host[/url][*][url="http://mediatemple.net/"]Media Temple[/url][/list]
NearlyFreeSpeech has a pricing system based on actual usage rather than offering packages -- they're potentially VERY cheap, but depending on your usage may or may not work out as better value than the various package deals available around -- their hosting is also a little more bare-bones "do it yourself" style than other providers.
Web Faction and Dream Host are both reasonably popular hosts that offer very affordable package deals on hosting.
Media Template are (in my opinion) probably the best out there, but you'll notice they have a higher price to reflect that.

There are of course many other options, but those should give you an idea of the range of different options available -- depending on your needs it's entirely possible you might even be able to find a way of hosting it [i]for free[/i].


Hope that helps give you a starting point. [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/cool.gif[/img]
[/quote]

Thanks! Very helpful starting point! :)

I have a question: This page says "unlimited bandwidth" - [url="http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html"]http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html[/url]

I don't suppose they will really allow unlimited bandwidth? I know about web hosting but are the usual web hosting packages suitable for web games? I keep hearing people talk about how expensive bandwidth is...but most web hosting packages comes with unlimited bandwidth?

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The system requirement of the physical box are easy enough to figure out. What will kill you is bandwidth. Even if you optimize every bit sent back and forth from client to server, if you have a "small" user base playing regularly of, say, 5,000 people, your monthly transfer amount is going to be huge unless it's a text only game.

[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310464095' post='4834204']
Thanks! Very helpful starting point! :)

I have a question: This page says "unlimited bandwidth" - [url="http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html"]http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html[/url]

I don't suppose they will really allow unlimited bandwidth? I know about web hosting but are the usual web hosting packages suitable for web games? I keep hearing people talk about how expensive bandwidth is...but most web hosting packages comes with unlimited bandwidth?
[/quote]
Any host offering you unlimited anything is lying to you. If a host can't give you hard limits then don't deal with them because everyone has limits and as soon as the host gets hit with huge transfer bills I can guarantee they'll try to come after you or they'll just disconnect your service.

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[quote name='landlocked' timestamp='1310479313' post='4834297']
The system requirement of the physical box are easy enough to figure out. What will kill you is bandwidth. Even if you optimize every bit sent back and forth from client to server, if you have a "small" user base playing regularly of, say, 5,000 people, your monthly transfer amount is going to be huge unless it's a text only game.

[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310464095' post='4834204']
Thanks! Very helpful starting point! :)

I have a question: This page says "unlimited bandwidth" - [url="http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html"]http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html[/url]

I don't suppose they will really allow unlimited bandwidth? I know about web hosting but are the usual web hosting packages suitable for web games? I keep hearing people talk about how expensive bandwidth is...but most web hosting packages comes with unlimited bandwidth?
[/quote]
Any host offering you unlimited anything is lying to you. If a host can't give you hard limits then don't deal with them because everyone has limits and as soon as the host gets hit with huge transfer bills I can guarantee they'll try to come after you or they'll just disconnect your service.
[/quote]


Thanks for the information!

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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1310464095' post='4834204']I have a question: This page says "unlimited bandwidth" - [url="http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html"]http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html[/url]
I don't suppose they will really allow unlimited bandwidth? I know about web hosting but are the usual web hosting packages suitable for web games? I keep hearing people talk about how expensive bandwidth is...but most web hosting packages comes with unlimited bandwidth?[/quote]

Most providers have soft limits. They will generally exclude the top few percent of your usage patterns since they want you to be popular and survive a slashdotting or other major spike, but also pay more if your long-term usage is high.


Dream Host does have limits, and they are soft limits that are basically always expanding; just like space on sites like gmail is always expanding. Also remember that they are a web site host, not a game matchmaking and processing service.


Scroll down their page, follow the link where it says "Unlimited Policy". It starts out explaining what they mean by numbers like "Unlimited TB + 50GB".
They're trying to say that as an individual or even a small business you are extremely unlikely to become a burden on their ever-increasing resources. They still want you to keep your numbers down, but they don't want to pin you to a specific number. If you do start to consume significant resources they will contact you and discuss it. Often they'll just ask (and help you) to reduce your usage through simple usage pattern changes.


To get a good feel for the ballpark numbers of "unlimited", look at the minimum numbers they offer at the next tier up. The basic plan is "unlimited". The next tier is the $15/month plan, which is a dedicated 300MB of continuously-available memory, plus unlimited. So being an intelligent person, you can deduce that as long as you stay far below the continuous 300MB memory limit in the general case they won't ask you to move to the next tier. If you do require a few hundred megabytes of memory or long-term memory needs, you should probably be on the higher tier.


Similarly for each virtual host (basically one CPU). The first one is "unlimited". if you start to have continuous CPU usage that would consume a regular processor for extended time, they will want you to pay for that processor, so you would need the next tier. If your usage is a tiny periodic blip on a single CPU (which is the way the vast majority of all servers operate) then you can do that an "unlimited" amount on one virtual host. As your usage consumes an increasing amount of CPU time the need to pay for an additional virtual host also increases. Consider that of the nearly 50 billion web sites out there, only a few tens of thousands have serious load. That's about 0.0002% of sites.
If your game has minimal requirements and can be implemented with the same interfaces as a fancy interactive AJAX-powered web site, you're probably good to go. Chances are really good that you are part of the 99.9998% who would qualify for "unlimited".


But if you are not part of that number, meaning you need a data processing center rather than a web site host, then obviously that would cost more. You only know that as you start to firm up your design. We have no clue what you are designing, nor do we know any of your implementation choices.

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Get a unmetered dedicated server. You want to judge the connection speed, and you also want to determine the hardware. You may want to weight this option if you want something other than just a upload script and some private space.

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make sure you can get a host that accepts executables as a normal data transaction because most do not and consider them hacking tools under their terms of use agreement contract.

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