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My Theories On Running a Multiplayer Server in SE

Discussion in 'Multiplayer' started by smiffyjoebob, Apr 2, 2014.

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This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. smiffyjoebob

    smiffyjoebob Trainee Engineer

    Hey guys, Smiffy here to dole out some theories and best practices that I have come up with for running/administrating a server space engineers. This is by no means a concrete set of rules, they are just my theories and thoughts on the state of things now and possibly some helpful tips for any of you who are hoping to create that sort of persistent world feel. most of this will not pertain to most servers or multiplayer games held between friends.

    Right so first I am going to touch on the current state of multiplayer, then I am going to touch on the much requested dedicated servers, finally I am going to drop some of my thoughts on how to keep all of the players in your server happy depending on various situations.

    Alrighty, so at this current juncture in space and time multiplayer is relegated to being hosted by a single player. This works by opening up a world or save file that the player has on his/her machine and is currently playing. And that is all well and good however there are certain challenges to this, primarily that of reliability of the server and the transient nature of the player base. At current, multiplayer works best for 2-6 players depending on how much of a toaster the hosting players computer is. This is unfortunate for anybody hoping to create a sort of "persistent" world in their server because there are not many people on at any given time and they are always different (if you are using the public setting). And having the servers purely hosted by a single player who may or may not be online when a server member may want to play, this takes away a great deal of agency or connection that the player may feel with the world. That said this small scale server is rather easy to police and keep the peace, so long as the admin is paying attention (which they damn well should be).

    Due to this lack of agency in a world many players would be rightfully hesitant to create any meaningful structures or make any real investment in the world. This also spawns greifers in far greater numbers then one would think. These problems however can be mitigated by creating a makeshift "whitelist" through the use of steam communities or other useful sites. An admin can set up times and dates for when he/she will have the server open, and make each game private and only invite those who are part of the community. Another issue preventing preventing agency or at the very least willingness to invest is that of a general lack of protection, and a lack of overall ability to enforce any meaningful rules. Bottom line, if a player does not feel that their creations are protected they will likewise not feel the overall urge to spend any meaningful time in your server.

    Now here comes the fun part, Dedicated servers would multiply these issues tenfold, not to mention create many more. As a result of the potential for the world to exist when players may not be around, the risk of greifing and piracy compounds. In the place of any hardcoded factions/ protection systems the admin would need to create a small army of moderators, and create concrete codes of conduct and basically having them be enforced at all times by these moderators. In order for a dedicated server to be remotely feasible, there would need to be a boat load of things already in place in order to make life easier on the admin. Until we get things like ownership and factions it just isnt realistic to think that we need dedicated servers right now.

    And now for the end part. I would like to outline some basic practices that I think would help any would be server admin get there start:

    1. Create a scenario. Personally for my server (Salvage Op) the spawn area is littered with derelict ships waiting to be salvaged. This gives new players something to do.

    2. Create a simple set of guidelines for player behavior. the ones I use are simple, Don't be a dick, and feel free to create what you want.

    3. Always be paying attention. In my server the admin "faction" that polices the sector is actually a "pirate" (seriously I just fly around and shoot the occasional missile to keep peeps in line) faction, this gives me and my moderator ample excuse to go and see what everyone is up to.

    4. Don't be a dick. greifing is a natural part of multiplayer games, its not something to be afraid of. but it is something to keep contained. I don't know how many times I have seen overzealous mods and admins ban players from servers (in other games) for mild greifing or joking about greifing. Be tolerant i guess is my point.

    5. (this is probably more important but) Create some form of community, be it forum thread or steam community. Make sure that you know who is in your server and make sure that they feel involved in the world you are trying to create.

    6. Keep it clean. Every night after I kick people off the server before I go to bed, I switch the world to creative and clean up debris or abandoned ships and return/move them to the "bone yard" (the above mentioned spawn area full of derelict ships). If I know it belongs to some one I leave it alone.

    Anyhow if you have come this far thanks for Giving it a peruse, hopefully it can be helpful to you at some point. I would like to re iterate that this is by no means a concrete set of rules nor is this a suggestion that everyone do these things, everyone's server is different.

  2. Teravisor

    Teravisor Apprentice Engineer

    There will be faction system that allows turret targetting.
    Griefer that just came in won't be able to beat a turret in a face for unauthorized approaching to ship/station.
    You will have to replenish missiles/repair armor hit by debris though.
  3. Zethariel

    Zethariel Trainee Engineer

    Most of your concerns will be diminished if we will be given at least partial reign over dedicated servers - server logs, the ability to persistently store block changes (preferably in SQL format) and restore them if needed, creating snapshots of structures every X minutes (snapshots being a mini-save game, with perhaps only the delta changes from last snapshot to save space).

    All in all, current multiplayer is just a teaser of proper multiplayer.
  4. smiffyjoebob

    smiffyjoebob Trainee Engineer

    I know that there will be, but there isn't at this moment in space and time. I was just trying to say that there is a lot of things that we do need before we get dedicated servers. My suggestions are are more about what we can do now for our servers and players in our servers.

    Also in your example, the greifers ship would still have momentum and would still smash into what ever they were trying to smash into. And on top of that they would be respawned in a new ship to do it all over again. I have seen an interesting way to mod the starting ship in the steam community that would mitigate this, which I am looking into currently. That said, the best way to deal with greifers is to pay attention, greet everyone who comes into your game and if they cause trouble, deal with it. Making large turrets and structures to deter greifers becomes a challenge and those things become targets.

    Many of the people I know who enjoy greifing, enjoy the thrill of overcoming or circumventing the challenges posed to them by server admins and games. Finding loopholes in a games rules, exploiting a weakness in a defense, these things are what keep greifers at it. Its much like being a jewel thief or an assassin, where one has to do research and plan how they are going to get the job done, its a thrill.

    These things I know, and given the track record of previous updates I have full confidence that Keen will give us a great deal of control over how we want our world to work and what features we want to implement. As above I was just raising the point that there is a lot that needs to be in place before we get dedicated servers.
  5. Draygo

    Draygo Senior Engineer

    You can create backup snapshots right now. Just not from within space engineers.
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