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1. Choosing a multiplayer server Mar 25, 2010, 14:06  Xymph 
 
Why did we choose TrackMania Nations Forever for our experiment to host a multiplayer game server? It's not because I have been a very active member of the TM community for the past several years, although that certainly helps in setting up the server.

The server that hosts the Blue's News website has spare capacity and bandwidth, and Blue and I thought this could be a fun way to utilize it.

We figured that a team-based game isn't very suited, as those aren't much fun when there are too few players to fill most roles. So it has to be a free-for-all game, like a deathmatch FPS or a racing game. This rules out titles like TeamFortress 2, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and golden oldie Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. A four-player game like Left 4 Dead (2) is also not very useful as a website's game server.

Secondly, it should be a game with a low entry barrier, so preferably a free game or a demo with sufficient content, though demos rarely get dedicated servers. A retail game with a large active player base could work too, but otherwise the game server is likely to remain fairly empty most of the time.

Thirdly, it needs to be a game for which a dedicated Linux server is available, which drastically reduces the number of options, especially in contemporary games. For titles from the past few years, we're aware the following meet this requirement:

America's Army (free)
Battlefield 2
Battlefield 2142
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: World at War
Counter-Strike: Source
Crysis Wars
Doom 3
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Far Cry 2
F.E.A.R.
Half-Life 2 DM
Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead 2
Medal of Honor: Airborne
Quake 4
Prey
TeamFortress 2
Unreal Tournament III
and...
TrackMania Forever (Nations free)

Did I miss any?

It's hard to tell without current stats, but most of these titles don't appear to have the large player bases that they once had.

Lastly, while not a server requirement as such, setting up and testing the server typically requires the client, so a retail game that we don't own is less likely to get its multiplayer server here. And to be honest, I own only seven of the above titles (not counting AArmy).

For a gaming news site that originated in the first-person shooter scene, a racing game is not an obvious choice, so we have no idea what the uptake of this TMNF server will be. But in view of the above considerations, and the relative lack of modern titles that meet the requirements, TMNF seems as good a choice as any.

So what do you think, do you appreciate this initiative, or do you have a suggestion for another game we could try later down the road? Let us know.
 
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-- Frans
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