Over the past few decades, the global online community has exploded. People around the globe can now connect with one another almost instantaneously to embark on online competitive or cooperative play. It’s a great pass-time for many, but on a broader scale, it’s a remarkable achievement for human culture.
Gaming is a major driver in the technology sector and depending on the game that users are uniting to play varying levels of hardware and software are required. Some of these games require dedicated game servers in order to support their demand, and if set up correctly they can take your gaming experience to the next level.
Why Use a Dedicated Server?
First off, a dedicated server is not always the best solution. They can be costly to maintain if they’re not being put to proper use, so unless your game environment requires it, other avenues are certainly worth exploring. That being said, a dedicated server can drastically improve your overall gameplay.
A gaming server acts as a middleman for communication between players in their respective locations. It coordinates all the pieces of a game’s logic and user inputs so that things flow logically. For example, let’s talk about a first-person shooter game. If Player 1 taps a key to shoot a bullet, Player 2 needs to somehow be notified that the bullet was fired. When Player 1 taps their key, their client (computer) shares information multiple times in a second to the shared server. It tells the server about what should be happening logically from the player’s inputs, and the server then processes this and returns logic to both that client and Player 2’s client. The result being both Player 1 and Player 2 witness the same interaction occur in their virtual world.
Without a game server players’ games would be out of sync and they wouldn’t be able to properly interact with one another. For this reason, at times a dedicated gaming server is necessary to support a large number of users interacting at high speeds. It ranges from game to game, but the more complicated game logic gets the more likely you’ll need to support it with a dedicated server.
Perhaps the most well-known game of all time,Minecraft is an open-world game that puts almost 100% of the creativity in your hands as the player. Players use blocks to piece together their world however they see fit (think virtual Legos) while also exploring and experiencing what other users have created. There are different modes of the game for more creative gameplay vs survival strategies, but overall, the game is one people of all ages can enjoy.
Dedicated game servers for Minecraft can help ensure smooth gameplay in huge worlds where hundreds of users can craft and explore together. It’s an interesting experiment to see what creations humans come up with given the proper tools and capabilities.
ARK: Survival Evolved
While not quite as popular as Minecraft,ARK: Survival Evolved still has a strong user base and takes the basics of Minecraft to the next level with Dinosaurs. Yes, you read that correctly. This open-world game builds off the gathering and crafting mechanics of Minecraft but takes place in a strange period of time where both Dinosaurs and guns coexist. When a player begins the game by joining a server, they are dropped onto an island with nothing but their bare hands and must begin chopping down trees and crafting tools for their survival. Fast forward a bit in the game and you’ll find yourself in shootouts with other players and dinosaurs.
ARK is another game where larger worlds can be hosted by individual players, but as these become crowded, they require dedicated servers to function properly. Without a dedicated server, players can begin to experience issues like player tethering where they are forced to stay close to the host player. This is hardly ideal in an open-world game, so hosting a server for ARK can be well worth the deposit.
Rust is another survival game where players band together to attempt to survive in a worn-down society. You work to overcome things like hunger, thirst, cold, and a lot of bullets flying your way. As both a survival game and a shooter, Rust requires a high-speed connection for optimal gameplay, so hosting a dedicated game server can really improve just how seamless your fights become. It’s a game where you build your base over time, so it would certainly be a shame to lose everything you’ve built due to weak gaming performance.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a perfect example from our above definition of a gaming server. Users compete with both war tactics and reaction speeds, and every time Player 2 gets shot at, they want to know exactly when they should be returning fire. Using a dedicated game server, you can host private tournaments among your friends and see whose reaction speeds are up to date and who needs to practice a bit more.
Summarizing Game Servers
There are plenty of other games whose performance can be improved by using a dedicated gaming server, these are just a few examples. In general, they are beneficial when games need high-speed reactions or have a large user base/world. Whatever game you are interested in diving into, you should at least evaluate what a dedicated server can bring to the table and whether it may be the right course of action for you.
If it is, the next step becomes determining which plan is the right one for you. There are several things to consider here (enough to fill another article on), but some of the basic things you should be on the lookout for are DDoS protection networks, 99.9% uptime, and technical support. If you’re paying for it then you want your server to be safe and to work exactly when you need it to.