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Five Things You Need To Know About Hosting A Game Server

“It’s a sad fact of life that on the Internet, each game is a self-contained dictatorship,” writes CVG’s Phil Wand.

“If you’re not contributing to its upkeep, you have no right to be there. Instead of having your butt kicked between servers by short-tempered 14-year-olds, why not set up your own server for you and your friends and make your own set of rules?”

It’s not an uncommon idea, really, nor is it an unattractive one.

The idea that you could run your own server – be your own administrator and set your own rules – is one that appeals to pretty much anyone who’s ever played an online game.

Believe it or not, setting up your own server is actually a lot less daunting than you’d think.

Of course, there are certain things you’ll need to understand if you’re to succeed – certain guidelines you’ll need to follow. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

You Need To Know What You Want To Accomplish

Before you do anything else, you need to nail down exactly what you’re setting out to do. Are you setting up a server exclusively for your TF2 clan to play on? Are you running a Minecraft server for a select group of friends? Or maybe you’ve a bigger goal in mind; maybe you want to run a server that you can actually monetize – a massive, premium gameplay environment that everyone clamors to be a part of.

Whatever your intent, you need to know what you plan to do before you start making plans for your server – otherwise, everything’s going to fall apart before it even gets out the door.

Understand That It Can Get Extremely Resource-Intensive

Once you’ve nailed down exactly what you plan to use your server for, your next step is to carry out a bit of research – namely, into the resource requirements of your theoretical game server. How resource-intensive are the games you’ll be running? How will the number of users impact the server load created by these games? More importantly, how many users will your server support?

Check To See If The Developer Already Offers Server Software

Plenty of game developers understand full well that their players like bumbling about their own sandboxes, and as such equip their users with the necessary administrative tools to set up and run a server – in such cases, all the user generally has to provide is a host. As such, you should always double check with the developer (or developers) of whatever games you’re looking to host before you start trying to get your own controls put into place.

You Probably Shouldn’t Build Your Own Server

Now, this next bit is less a step towards getting a server up and running than it is a kindly word of advice – unless you’re only hosting infrequently for a small group of friends, do not under any circumstances try to run your server out of your own home. The reason for this is simple: the bandwidth requirements of online gaming are actually incredibly high, and most residential Internet connections aren’t equipped to manage that level of traffic. What that means is that if you try to host your clan’s server out of your bedroom, you’re probably not going to be playing for very long before you hit bandwidth caps.

Anti-Cheating Mechanisms Are A Must – As Is Access Control

It’s an unfortunate reality that there are plenty of people online who are an absolute chore to game with – toxic players who care little for anything but their own entertainment, cheaters who’ll stop at nothing to win, and unapologetic sociopaths who’ll go out of their way to bring down a server out of sheer amusement. For this reason, it’s important that you look into software designed to prevent cheating, in addition to implementing some form of access control for your server.

Time To Get Gaming

Hosting your own game server can be an incredibly rewarding experience – but it can also be an absolute nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. You need to take a number of different factors into account, in addition to understanding the basics of server operation. Otherwise, it’ll end up being a whole lot more trouble than it’s worth.

Image credit: CCP Games

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Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard is the CMO of ServerMania.