My son wants me to set up a game server and host games for half-life and other games with Steam and all that stuff and I don't know what the heck he's talking about.  He's not very good at exlaining how all this works and going to some of those forums leaves me more confused than anything else. 

I don't play games so searching forums doesn't help because I don't know their terminology.  I even tried to sign up on the Steam forum but, even though I'm logged in, it won't let me post!

Some of these games seem to have their own software to run as hosts but I can't figure out if this software IS the server or if it runs on Apache or other server software. 

I also can't figure out if these people run their servers on their own machines or if they get space on a host but I'm not sure that all/most hosts will allow you to install game server software.

Can someone give me the lay of the land?
Posted on 2005-08-24 09:09:18 by drhowarddrfine
I'm not specifically familiar with half-life because I've never played it online. But most games do include all the software to allow them to run as a dedicated server.

Someone here will surely have experience specifically with half-life and be able to help, I would just like to warn not to be over ambitious as even a fast internet connection can have too slow an upload to handle a lot of clients. My 2 megabit ADSL only has an upload of 128kilobits, which is only about double that of dial up and hence two such dialup users would max it out.

Your internet may be a lot better though, good luck getting it setup.
Posted on 2005-08-24 11:02:28 by Eóin
The "Steam" launcher (that auto-starts on boot and takes 50MB RAM) has shortcuts to downloading "Dedicated Server" and "Source Dedicated Server". I'm not sure which is necessary (I think they're the same thing), but anyway I think it'll be easy to set up. Now I'm downloading the former, will try to create a Counter-Strike:Source (CSS)  and a HalfLife2:Deathmatch (HL2DM) server, to give directions.

On both games, server rates (how many packets per second to send and receive) can be forced, the normal value is 75. Tick-rate of 30 is minimum for smooth play.
At tick-rate 30, a client downloads @ 2.5kB/s, and meanwhile uploads at 2kB/s. Most servers are set to support up to 24 players.
=> the server will need max 480kbit/s dl and 384kbit/s ul. On such a server, only 2-4 hours/day there are no users.
Posted on 2005-08-24 14:20:02 by Ultrano
On top of the internet bandwidth, you'll probably need to dedicate a full machine to gameserving. I don't really know what the hardware requirements are, but I know that I wouldn't want to run a dedicated gameserver on my main computer, and I also know that I would want to isolate the gameserver entirely from my LAN.
Posted on 2005-08-24 14:50:07 by f0dder
So, you download "Source Dedicated Server", it's maybe 3-4MB. Just run it through the provided shortcut in Source, choose:
- which game: CSS or HL2DM to host
- server name (how it identifies itself)
- RCON password (I'm not sure how you use it later)

On the next dialog you can also set some basic rules of the server, and the provided console gives complete power over the game.
But just after pressing the "start server", it's all enough - just leave the app running. You can play on this server from the same PC, btw.
Posted on 2005-08-24 14:58:08 by Ultrano
I'm over 200mb on that download.  We'll see how it works IF it finishes.
Posted on 2005-08-24 16:19:08 by drhowarddrfine

I'm over 200mb on that download.  We'll see how it works IF it finishes.


I have an example running on this server running at (dynatos.org:27015), it is usually better to have a dedicated host server (or colocated on a major network) than to try to do it from your house. You will easily kill your internet connection with 8 people or more on anything less than a T1 line.
Posted on 2005-08-24 20:26:15 by SpooK
Will a host let you run game servers?  Like pair.com?  I know some of them will throttle you back or turn you off if you overload their servers, unless it's dedicated, I guess.

I got it to work but I also forgot my cable company doesn't allow hosting.  I could set up a computer at my business where we have dsl for credit card processing and nothing else but then I'd have to control it remotely.  That's OK assuming it can be done but I don't know if I want to bother.
Posted on 2005-08-25 07:58:34 by drhowarddrfine

Will a host let you run game servers?  Like pair.com?  I know some of them will throttle you back or turn you off if you overload their servers, unless it's dedicated, I guess.

I got it to work but I also forgot my cable company doesn't allow hosting.  I could set up a computer at my business where we have dsl for credit card processing and nothing else but then I'd have to control it remotely.  That's OK assuming it can be done but I don't know if I want to bother.


There are dedicated game servers for rent. If you shop around, you can get a 14-16 slot (how many players that can play in that server at one time) public server for about $30-$50.
Posted on 2005-08-25 20:16:48 by SpooK
Dr Howard, I don't mean to sound rude, but what exactly does your son want to do? Is it that he wants to play some online games with his pals or is his heart really set on hosting a dedicated half-life server?

I ask because this discussion seems to be going down the route of the latter option which sounds like being expensive without being terribly rewarding to.
Posted on 2005-08-25 21:34:01 by Eóin

Dr Howard, I don't mean to sound rude, but what exactly does your son want to do? Is it that he wants to play some online games with his pals or is his heart really set on hosting a dedicated half-life server?

I ask because this discussion seems to be going down the route of the latter option which sounds like being expensive without being terribly rewarding to.


Half-life based games seem to be a conduit to turn younger kids into even rude, obnoxious, and ungrateful drones. The attitudes of some players tend influence the younger generation poorly. Moreover, younger people have a tendency to be abusive with admin control (ban someone at will for being too good). Make sure your son is not falling into the typical behavior of some, it will be noticeable by his attitude when he is playing. If he seems very impatient with the game, it is probably a good time to kick him off and let him cool down.

On the other hand, I have played Half-Life based games over the last 5-6 years, Counter-Strike specifically over about the last 4. It can be really fun, but the online gaming environment is one place you need to keep attitudes in check. This is where your own server can come in, that way you can enforce things by kicking/banning people who tend to be vulgar and disrespectful, giving your son a chance to become a positive admin and leader (it's only a game, but it does give people who play it some pride).
Posted on 2005-08-26 00:07:44 by SpooK
Offtopic: I have played a little CSS this days... and I play mostly like DM (have much played q3a, UT and variants like that), that mean I dont do group travels in the map, I dont have the strategy for be in a equip with covers and times... yea I like a lot DM :P, also I dont understand the weapons hehe.
Posted on 2005-08-26 10:03:52 by rea
I don't really understand any of this stuff because I don't follow games at all.  I recognize the names and that's about it.  He came to me months ago about this because he was frustrated at not being able to find a game to play because all the slots were full, I think.  Plus, he was helping a group of guys put together a mod.  For no reason other than the fact that I'm creating two e-commerce sites, I started looking at server hosts and the thought came up.

My son, apparently, is pretty popular admin.  He was the lead tester for those guys who were creating a mod (for sale?  Or maybe it was a game they were designing?).  He rises quickly in the ranks when he plays.  Right now he's online training some new players.  He used to go by "Commando" but is now known as "mwnf" (Man with No Fear).

He's a real good kid.  Just started college on Monday one year ahead of his classmates.  He was homeschooled by me.
Posted on 2005-08-26 15:27:58 by drhowarddrfine
If need specific server guidance, I can help you out, I don't think I am doing too bad of a job with this one.
Posted on 2005-08-26 21:54:06 by SpooK