Moderating Game Servers

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Hosting game servers can be challenging and sometimes enjoyable, but the ultimate goal is to create a game server that attract more players and to make sure that the environment is steady. If the game servers are not running smoothly and there is consistent issues, the odds are - users will not play within the game server or the entire cluster. Hopefully this article guide will help the administrators a bit when it comes to managing the game servers. As this article is mainly focused for dedicated game servers, personal game servers are not exempt from this article.


System Management

Resources

Hosting game servers requires several elements: CPU, RAM, a decent size BUS, and Networking. Generally, a bottleneck within any of these elements could leave some limitation barriers with the game servers. Thus, it is best to think about 'what' is going to be hosted and the total amount of players. With this in mind, we are thinking in regards to the demand that the PWAD's need and with the traffic flow of players, but we are merely thinking in regards to the specifics. The game server's traffic also consists of Discovery packets to and from the Master Server and consistent responding to game server browser query requests, as a result, the game server's network traffic will be consistently busy. However, specifically, the demands can vary for each game. For example, All Out War 2 is very intensive and especially with with a larger total of players, it is primitive that the server can handle the demands along side with the network bandwidth. On a different scale, however, if one was to host Doom the Way iD Did, the demand is not as intensive and very suitable on most lower end server boxes. It is best to know what the server can handle and what the resources can also handle, otherwise - bottlenecks can easily destroy any of the games momentum as the players leave the game server.

Game Server Jobs
Networking Discovery Packets to Master Server Respond to Game Server Browser query requests Managing incoming connecting players Manage the overall in-game traffic in\out flow
Work Load Calculation ZDoom's THINKER Managing the Virtual World's Scripts and conditions Enforce rules and settings

Hogging Resources

Zandronum does have a huge impact on features, but some features can be ultimately take an abundance of memory. At the time of writing this article, there currently exists one known feature that can really hog a lot allocated memory, and that is the 'bots'. From SkullTag, the engine would place bot markers within the entire map at every 32 units apart. With very large levels, this can easily cause the game server to take much more memory than expected. If the game server is not utilizing or intending to utilize bots, this command variable can completely disable bots: SV_DisallowBots True.

Oversee

Software is never perfect and can crash or contain problematic issues, Zandronum is no exemption. As dedicated game servers can usually be left unattended for some time, it is still best to check the game servers activity and make sure that the game servers are still running properly. Some issues to look out for can be: Memory leaks, users being automatically kicked from the server for server errors, complete crashes, and suspicious activity. Most issues can sometimes be resolved by restarting the game server(s), but sometimes if it continues - the problem could be either a bug or a general issue and could be sometimes problematic to pin-point. If problems ever arise, try to seek for assistance.

Security

Generally, security must also be kept in mind. Security over the game servers and even security within the server box itself is highly important. The internet, in a broad sense, has innumerable users with different minds, ideas, and opinions. With that said, there exists users that want to take hijack servers with or without a reason. Thus, when hosting any game server or a sever in general, that security must be maintained.

  • History: One of the highly populated and official game servers within SkullTag, VP1 (or Virginia Peer 1) servers were completely taken over and took some time before the servers were hosting game servers.

Controlling the Game Server

Commands

The game server only responds to specific commands within the console. These commands offer a broad range of tasks, including the ability to kick, ban, customize the packet size, and much more. As the console commands and variables usually updates frequently, it is best to refer to these dedicated pages: Console Configuration

Tools

Below is a list of tools that can help to log into the game server and manipulate the settings or do as desired.

Management

It is possible to manage the users access to the server or cluster of servers. Zandronum gives the ability to easily ban users, bypass a user that is caught within a range ban from another player, and even to grant administrator privileges to the user. Server User Management is a dedicated article that houses: blacklist, whitelist, and adminlist, thus refer to that article more in depth information.

Tips on Moderating

Every dedicated game server cluster and some personal game servers have their own set of rules and policies. However, this is merely just tips and suggestions for those that either never hosted a game server or for those that are looking to change their protocols. The term of "I paid for these servers, I'll do what I PLEASE" is most common and to some extent - - it is true, but just the fact that someone is paying for them. Keep in mind, that yes - someone is paying the servers, but try to also be fair. Random bans\kick or banning users for obscure reasons can help to dwindle the over all users connecting back to the game server. A general rule of thumb is to keep the game servers environment peaceful, but yet fun depending on the game mode. For example, if ever hosting a game server that has 'Player v. Player' such as Deathmatch, it should be expected that users are going to boost their e-egos and talk trash to each other. However, in cooperative environment, such occurrences should not be so frequent.


Hosting

When it comes to hosting what would catch the users attention, the opinions soon become mixed. However, staying neutral - it is best to host both generic and the commonly highly populated hosted games. Despite this is rather vague, but over time of analyzing the more highly populated game servers will demonstrate what is highly popular and what is not populated. And, as time shows change, so does 'what is popular'. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to also host generic and even newly introduced projects. Even though a majority may not play in those game servers, others can and most likely will. Generally, it is always best to host a variety instead of just the commonly played servers. Reason for this, everyone is different and with different moods and tastes for games. Thus, never be afraid to host with different and interesting configurations.

Listed below is some links that could help to find some newly introduced wad files

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