you Want To Run A server? Part I
here at the techtips we get requests on how to run a server, what
makes it fast, what mod should run, etc. In this three part series
we're going to pass along information on what you need to set
up a server, setting up a couple of mods, how to setup a sample
stats program, and tips on making your server popular. One of
the things that has helped make Quake and Quake 2 so popular has
been the abundance of free places to play. The plethora of servers
combined with programs like Gamespy have made it simple for even
the newest player to get speedy online game play. But where do
all these servers come from? Well, people like you! If you own
Quake 2, have a good connection to the internet and are willing
to donate your blood, sweat, tears and PC, it can be a very rewarding
experience. And no, your 33.6k modem will not make a good quake
server. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what do
you need? This depends on how many people you want on at once
and what kind of system you're going to be running the server
- You're looking at 2 modem players at a time at most. Really
not suited well to be a server, but great if you have a couple
of friends that you want to play a lot.
Modem - This is a little tricky. Due to the nature of the
cable network, you can host anywhere from 8-16 lag-free clients
(if you've got the hardware, more on that in a moment). Why such
a disparity between the number of clients? If you're wanting other
cable modem customers to play on your server, and they're on the
same "cable network" as your server, 16 will be able to play no
sweat. If they're on another cable modem provider, or coming in
from outside your net you'll do good to get 8. Several cable modem
providers have also recently added a 128kbps cap on the uplink
side of the cable connection. This further complicates things
such that you may be in the same boat as the ISDN servers. To
make matters worse, several "unnamed"* cable providers have also
oversold their bandwidth, resulting in packet loss for everybody
that's not on your service.
cable modem provider is Intermedia@home. They're rat bastards.
For more information on why they're evil, incompetent jerks, check
rant on them (issue #4).
- This newer technology shares some of the disparities of cable
servers, but not exactly on the same scale. Since the "same network"
problem generally doesn't come into play, it's more like an ISDN
or regular modem in that the paths to the Internet are generally
shorter. So far we haven't seen the bandwidth saturation problems
with xDSL that we have with cable modems, but time will tell if
the xDSL providers have learned from cable modem providers mistakes.
In general you can run 8-16 clients if you have the hardware.
- Now you're getting serious. If you want a truly successful server,
you're going to need this kind of dedicated bandwidth. We know,
xDSL and cable modems are also high bandwidth, but that's not
the whole story. When you're paying for xDSL or cable, you're
not guaranteed a set bandwidth rate. The provider may put on their
glossy brochures 2.5Mb download rates, but try and get them to
guarantee that bandwidth rate 24 / 7. There is a reason T1's cost
anywhere from $800-$3000 a month - it's that guarantee. You'll
be able to host anywhere from 16-40 players before anybody begins
- You're talking "da bomb" connections here. These connections
are generally really close to the backbone, and have real low
latency. If you have this kind of access at your disposal, well
you shouldn't have to read this document. (:
got the pipe to the 'net. Now you've got to have something to
connect to it. That Pentium 100 you've had laying around? You
can leave it as a doorstop, it won't do; you're going to need
some muscle. In fact, you're going to need a generous amount of
muscle. You can get by on as little as a P150 if you have a boatload
of RAM, just don't expect to be able to host any 32 player LMCTF
games without everybody seeing big red lines. We'll provide a
simple guide to give you some idea of what you can do with the
hardware you have. We're providing broad outlines here, so don't
email the techtips team saying: "I'm running a 32 player WOD server
on my 150 Mhz 95 box!" We're more interested in conservative estimates
for people, not seeing how many people we can overflow.
If you have
a P3 or quad processor system with incredible amounts of RAM,
well, you can put as many players as you damn well please. You
may have noticed we capped Windows 98 at 16 players. It has been
our experience that Windows 98 just can't handle the network traffic
involved in a good dedicated server beyond that point. You may
also have noticed RAM makes more of a difference than CPU. This
is because each client task connected to Quake 2 eats a little
more and more RAM. This combined with the fact the server's going
to be up all the time, ensures you're going to need alot of RAM.
So how much
of the processor is dedicated to each player? Here's what Bongstalk
from Kannibas.com had to
of thumb' that id once stated was 8Mhz per player, but I've
found that on my NT servers it's closer to 10-12Mhz per player.
This may be due to NT, or the background apps (Nuke Nabber and
Net Medic). Memory isn't as critical since I unpak all the pak
files. The problem on NT is that it will cache the entire pak
file even though you only need the maps. Unpacking the files
allows the server to cache only the files it's using. I once
had a P233 w/64MB that was able to support 30 clients with ease
(Lithium and CTF) and there was no server side lag. Windows
98 for a server? No way. I tried a 98 box once and anytime I
moved the mouse, the util would shoot to 100%. I guess you could
run one on a dedicated 98 box, but any maintenance or UI interaction
would cause lag. I'd say a good average number to use would
be 10Mhz per player plus any additional usage. I've also found
that keeping it below 80% keeps server-side lag to a minimum.
Also, SCSI helps the load times of maps and when running multiple
servers on one box, the loading can slow down the other servers."
So in conclusion,
you're going to need a good PC for your server, and enough bandwidth
to handle the clients. As the old saying goes, experience is the
guideline is just that, a basic guide to give you an idea of the
horsepower you're going to need. However, not all mods were created
equal; some are more prone to eat up CPU and RAM resources, and
others get laggy after 14 players (it shoots a red hook and has
diamond shaped powerups). So what do you do if you want to have
lots of people on the "laggy mods"? Run multiple copies of the
same mod, but on different ports (think of a port as a doorway
to enter a given service - you can have more than one door in
a house, just not more than one door per place in the wall).
how to start the server with various mods, multiple copies of
a mod, or different mods next week.
Questions? Comments? Submit
them all here!