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    PlanetQuake | Features | Tech Tips | 7-29-99
   

So you Want To Run A server? Part III

So now you've setup the server and are ready to take in people. What next? How do you get them to come? How do you get them to stay? Part III of this series winds it all up.

Getting People to Come to the Server

If you remember last week's bit on the server .cfg files, you may have noticed these command lines:

setmaster q2master.planetquake.com
set public 1

Just what the heck are those? The "setmaster" command tells your server where to make itself known to. It's possible to link a single server to as many as seven masters. By linking the server to a master, this allows the master to add the server to a general list of all servers. Masters are then queried by server browser programs such as Gamespy to retrieve a list of game servers. The server will also send a heartbeat to the master once in a while to inform the master that the server is still alive and to prevent the master from removing the server from the list. The "public" setting is a toggle (default of 0) that tells if you want to be listed  in id's master server list or not. If you're going to run a private server, say for clan matches or the like, then this should be left at 0. These are the first two steps in making your site known. They're also the easiest, but don't expect hundreds of people to come pounding at your server's address by doing this alone. There's more work to be done...

The next thing you need to do is put up a website about your server. You don't have to be fancy, but you do need content. We're not talking PQ level content (you probably should have less "ass" jokes on your site), but stuff like rules, stats, a message board, and perhaps a section for the regular visitors. People love to see their name up in lights, and your goal is to build a community of people that play on your server. People frag where they feel welcome; I've seen people play with horrible pings, just so they could frag their buddies online. Unfortunately we don't have the space to tell how to setup a website or tech you HTML, but both are relatively easy things to do. Submit your site's URL to the search engines. Many newbies simply go to a search engine and type "quake server". Make sure your server shows up in that list.

Setting Up A Stats Program

First, let's make sure our mod is logging. Open up your server.cfg from last week. There are a couple of things we need to make sure are defined.

set use_gslog 1
set gslog "gslog.log"

Now your server is gathering stats, and outputting them to the gslog.log in your c:\quake2\lithium directory (or your default directory).

Ok, we're gathering up all the stats. Now  you're going to need something to process that data and spit it out into something easy to read. For our example we're going to use Fragstats. It's pretty easy to setup, and it's free. Once you've downloaded Fragstats, unarchive it somewhere. I used c:\fragstats. Browse over to the c:\fragstats directory with Windows Explorer.  If you remember last week we associated .cfg files with notepad. If you look in the fragstats directory there is a fragstats.cfg file. Double click on it. We're not going to go over step-by step what you have to modify here, but we'll highlight some things (If you want a working .cfg file click here). The important parts are:

htmldir "c:\inetpub\wwwroot"
cgidir "c:\inetpub\wwwroot\cgi-bin"
logdir "c:\quake2\lithium"
server "Fragmasters Tiny Package"
Logtype GS
GSlogname "gslog.log"

** Change all references of c:\quake\qw to c:\fragstats\ **

These settings are used when you have a default configuration on Windows NT 4 with Internet Information Server version 4. Now Click on Start -> Run and type "notepad". Paste this into your new notepad file:

cd c:\fragstats
fragstats

Now click on file, then save as. In the file name box type "fragstats.bat". Close notepad, we're done with it. You may want to move fragstats.bat to the c:\fragstats directory. Obviously you don't want to stay up 24/7 and manually execute the fragstats batch file, so we need to automate this a bit. If you're using Windows 95/98 you'll need to use some sort of 3rd party scheduling program or the build-in Task Scheduler program for Windows 98, or the program called "AT" for Windows NT. In either case, you will want to execute these about once an hour minimum (more often if you can spare the CPU cycles). Windows 98's built-in scheduler isn't great, but it will allow you to update your stats once a day. Here's how:

Double click on the task scheduler on your icon tray. That will bring up the scheduled tasks. Double click on "Add Scheduled Task". When the next window comes up click on Next. You will be presented with a screen that looks like the one below. Click on Browse.

tt1.jpg (22896 bytes)

Now browse with the over to the "fragstats" directory, and select fragstats.bat. When the next screen comes up, select "Daily", and then click "Next" When asked for the time, you should select a time when the PCs most likely idle (for this example we used 12:00am). Also make sure you have selected "Every Day".

tt3.jpg (18402 bytes)

Although not as real-time as most players would like, it's at least a start. If you're using Windows NT you gain more flexibility by using the "AT" command (which is a little too complex to go over in this article). The stats are important! Try and keep them as accurate as you can, people take these things very serious.




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