You've been served . Setting up a community game server

On October 9 , 2007 , Valve Software released a long awaited collection of games under an umbrella nameOrangeBox called The Orange Box . Titles included in the package are: Half-Life 2, an expansion standalone release named Half-Life 2: Episode One, a continuation of the series titled Half-Life 2: Episode Two, a single-player first-person action/puzzle gem of a game called Portal and Team Fortress 2 .

As the article name suggests, there is a variety of ways to enjoy the sheer goodness that these games have to offer. A frequent course of action is to set-up an online community. An organized , group centric approach offers many rewards to the players as well as to game publishers alike . It cultivates fan created content, fosters online discussions, allows for inter-clan or casual leagues to form and most of all keeps the players connected and organized in an otherwise distant field of online gaming.

The Orange Box exploded into a present form of an online juggernaut . Fueled by constant improvements to the underlying Steam platform, players gain ability to form groups , connect with their friends and merge into distinct groups. Outside of Steam platform, a separate world exists and caters to extend the experience. The dedicated online server communities are the main attraction to more serious gamers . The following paragraphs explain the experience and steps taken to build one of them : The Last Gunslingers , tagged by [TLGS] .

Server Types

An administrator can choose a pre-installed or a self managed solution . The self managed solution is more flexible, usually more expensive and often more hardware specific to its use. Important things to look for are:

  • Bandwidth
  • RAM
  • CPU
  • Operating System
  • Network Throughput

There could be other factors that can affect the overall performance of the servers , but these are a good start. Let’s look at a general overview of the above.

Bandwidth

A game server needs to be able send and receive packets with the least amount of latency. A data center provided 10 Mbit connection can handle one or multiple server instances running on the same physical machine. A Team Fortress 2 server handling 32 connected players will require similar numbers to the ones below . Server variables that dictate how the server operates may change these dramatically , but overall it is about hitting that performance to price sweet spot .

Rate of data flowing to clients from the server:

2.7 – 3.0 Mbps

This translates to roughly 2.0 – 2.5 Gigabytes of data being sent by the server per hour .

Rate of data flowing to the server from clients:

0.6 – 0.9 Mbps

This translates to roughly 250 Megabytes of data received by the server per hour . These are minimum requirements for a quality sustained connection. A safe practice is to not over saturate the line and leave at least 20% of connection cap free. This will help to eliminate network choke , otherwise known as a network lag .

Summing up possible requirements can be attained by calculating per player / slot network liability .

One player will require on average : 100 Kbps download and 18 Kbps upload .

A common limiting factor is monthly bandwidth allowance . One full server operating 24 hours a day will push about 900 Gigabytes of traffic per month. Most common server carriers will be able to sustain these transfer speeds as well as data transfers.

Above network usage is based on these server variables:

sv_minrate 13000
sv_maxrate 25000
sv_minupdaterate 10
sv_maxupdaterate 33
sv_mincmdrate 10
sv_maxcmdrate 33

Next we’ll look at the other requirements in the equation such as the CPU and RAM , etc.

Main website located at http://orange.half-life2.com contains more information on the Orange Box compilation.

Wikipedia page is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Orange_Box.

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