Find a dedicated server isn’t difficult, since a good Googling can give you dozens of servers to choose from right from the bat. That’s also why deciding which server to use can be difficult for a first time server hoster. With games moving increasingly into online and mobile spaces, servers play a critical roles in the business models of the industry, and in the experience of game play. So here’s a short list of what to look for in your quest for great multiplayer gameplay.
Good, reliable hosting means max uptime. Corrupted data means losing important items and ranks, and can tank attraction to the game. Downtime therefore means loss of revenues, so it’s in everyone’s interest for the hosts to be as reliable as possible. Dedicated servers have guaranteed performance with multi-CPU and multi-thread capabilities. Good host providers will also have some stunning hardware to keep from physical breakdowns, as well as a good stock of spare parts at the ready. Online play also means activity at all hours of the day, so your provider should have 24/7 support and monitoring to make sure that your server works smoothly even when all of your group members are asleep. Even if you’ve covered all your bases, always have a backup if the worst comes to worst, so you can keep playing while you solve things with your provider.
Latency is the average delay when an internet packet foes from source to destination and back again. Latency scores are estimated depending on the amount of jitter, or fluctuation, that a network’s latency score experiences. High jitter means you’ll have choppy gameplay, so latency is critical to the gaming experience. It’s therefore critical to find a host provider in a geographically advantageous location, namely one that minimizes the distance between the provider and the players in your group. This usually means spreading servers across several datacenters, which you can do by working with multiple small host providers, or working with a large one that’s fairly active in key datacenters. The network itself should also have quality internet exchanges, access to quality transit providers that ensure speed and coverage, and numerous uplink for better stability.
For some quick number crunching: every km of fiber adds .02 ms of latency. Multiply the distance between locations by .02 for average latency, and then compare to the results from network test to determine network quality. Keep in mind that submarine cables add 0.015 ms latency per km, that technology used by home ISP can add up to 50ms, and that not all continents will be directly connected.
3) Fast scaling
If an MMO has to go through some rapid upscaling, this can mean unstable connection, lag, and waiting lines for quests. While the effects of scaling aren’t completely avoidable, you can mitigate them in several ways. Check how much available space your hosting provider has, as well as their projected plans for growth, to see if they match with yours. Server stock can also be a guarantee of fast provisioning, and the datacenters’ power capacity should be enough to meet future demands.