A game server is a computer that runs the logic of a multiplayer video game. It is responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the various players and clients. Game servers also typically save the game state (including player input) every few seconds and synchronize this saved state to all clients.
A game server can run any type of multiplayer video game. Popular games, such as Counter-Strike, Minecraft, Team Fortress 2 are all played on dedicated servers run by the companies that make those games.
These are examples of closed servers since they only allow connections from players who have purchased the game.
A large number of players can play at once – typically up to 100, although different games may limit this in different ways (such as requiring the player to be on a specific team).
When someone says “I’m hosting” it means that their computer has become the host for other players. If they leave the game or shut down their computer then everyone else will also be kicked from the server and no longer allowed to play.
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What are the different types of game servers?
There are many types of game servers. Some have certain special abilities that are not available on other servers, such as being able to run scripts in order to give the appearance of changing the map or having NPCs wander around within the game world.
It’s possible to run a server in their own home. The services created via this approach are sometimes called listen servers since the host may join in the game with his customers.
This is generally done on a local area network (LAN) basis, which implies that the connection to the server may easily be sent offline. There are many cases that the host stops playing then all of his clients are forced to stop as well. Under these circumstances, the server is also put under a great deal of stress since both the host and users are participating in the game. This type of server is generally smaller, with fewer users.
This is a dedicated machine that runs only one game server at a time. These machines have low latency and high bandwidth internet connectivity. The servers are often rented from ISPs or hosting companies with big hard drives, lots of RAM, and lots of processing power.
Clients connect directly to these machines via LAN or WAN port. There isn’t much difference between setting up a dedicated server compared to running your own private server locally except there’s no requirement to use port forwarding.
Dedicated servers are generally more expensive, and they’re typically hosted remotely by the game developer.
Cloud servers also referred to as Game Hosting Servers (GHS) are basically dedicated game servers but they’re hosted in the cloud.
They differ from dedicated game servers primarily in that while a dedicated server requires you purchase of hardware, GHS customers pay only for what is used – there are no minimum or setup fees.
Proprietary Game Server Providers
There are several companies that host their own proprietary game servers including Microsoft’s Xbox 360, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch consoles.
These consoles can’t be modified, so developers must purchase licenses to update the games running on these consoles. These updates can sometimes cost tens of thousands of dollars with strict requirements for how they’re applied, which may limit the flexibility that most gamers are accustomed to.
Steam servers are dedicated servers that run on a client’s local network through Valve Corporation’s Steam platform.
Often, a client will host a server from their own computer for others to play, saving them the cost of renting out a machine elsewhere.
In effect, this is simply adding another player slot to your list of available slots which can be an advantage if you have friends over and everyone wants to play multiplayer but only one person has the game.
It can be considered rude or unsportsmanlike however to use this as a way of avoiding buying another copy of a game just so you can host a server.
For example, it doesn’t help your relationship with Minecraft developer Mojang very much if you’re the owner of a server that has 20 slots and you’re only using one of them yourself.
Steam servers are among the most cost-effective types of game servers since there is no minimum fee even for low-traffic games.
Public Game Servers
This is where anyone can play on any number of different game servers, so it includes both dedicated and virtual private server providers. It’s also referred to as “public matchmaking” in many games or mods such as Counter Strike, Left4Dead2, Minecraft, etc. This means they must allow access to everyone – not just your friends.
There may be significant lag time depending on how many people are playing at the same moment which makes team-based multiplayer games nearly impossible to play.
It’s usually best to avoid these kinds of servers if you’re trying to compete or support a team-based multiplayer game unless absolutely necessary, although some multiplayer games are actually suited for this more chaotic type of server.