Guide to Running a Games Server: Overview of running a server and how to maintain the server once its up and running.

The Care and Feeding of Gamers

Running a successful FPS server is a labor of love. Once you have a game chosen and have put it online, you may find that you spend more time managing the players who show up there than you actually do enjoying the game yourself. The rewards for running a community only accrue after it has become well established, but rest assured that they are worthwhile. A proliferation of well run servers helps to ensure that a game remains lively for a long period of time. A multiplayer FPS lives and dies on the quality of the public servers available. If new players don’t see enough populated servers, they’re not going to play very much or encourage their friends to pick up the game. By starting your own server and ensuring high standards, you actively contribute to the popularity and longevity of one of your favorite games.

It’s not too hard to stand out from the crop of public servers. Most are well known to be rife with racists, trash talkers, cheaters, team killers and jerks. Administrators are either not present or partial towards their jerk friends. The map rotation is boring, or routinely switches to amateurishly constructed custom levels. They often have you download massive sound packs of irritating Beavis and Butthead and Simpsons clips. How many times do we need to hear "HEEEEADSHOT?" I was bored with it by age 12. The experience of playing in most public servers is similar to that of taking a leak in a filthy dive bar; bathroom that stinks of a medley of rotting rat organs and bleach while someone screeches at you about your racial identity.

You don’t want that to be your server. Players pick up on quality quickly. If you’re going to be paying for the bandwidth and hardware to run a server, you might as well do it right. If your server were a bathroom, it would be one of those with an attendant wearing a nice suit that gives you a warm towel to dry off your hands with.

Rules: State them clearly in the welcome message. Enforce standards of verbal and game conduct fairly, impartially and consistently.

Angle: Have your server stand out from the rest. Offer maps or game modes that aren’t in common rotation. Actively encourage team play. Use an altered rule set. Be creative!

Culture: Encourage the regulars to head to your website and post on your forums. Allow people to be silly once in a while: shared laughter builds fast friendships.

Technical: Keep your server up as constantly and as smoothly as you can. Respond to technical complaints by your users promptly and politely.

Administration: If your administrators keep things moving smoothly, eventually your regular users will learn to behave in a certain way that encourages a high quality of play. Mold the environment, and your players will slip into it nicely.

Guide Index

Running A Games Server: 1 – Rules

Running A Games Server: 2 – Overview

Running A Games Server: 3 – Player Culture

Running A Games Server: 4 – Playing Angle

Running A Games Server: 5 – Technical

Running A Games Server: 6 – Administration