How Dedicated Servers Are Keeping Games And Their Communities Alive

We have a lot to thank dedicated servers for. The way it usually goes with most online multiplayer games is the following: The person who starts the game becomes the ‘host’ as well as being a ‘client’ like every other player who’s also involved in that particular session. The problem is, if the client-host has an unstable or slow internet connection, it can lead to sluggish load times, lag, lost save files, and dreaded crashes. Obviously, this is no bueno.

The simple solution? Dedicated servers, which take the burden of hosting away from the person who first creates the game, and handballs it to – as the name suggests – a dedicated server tasked solely with handling things like keeping track of every player’s physics in the game, as well as scores and all that boring stuff. This leads to fast, reliable, high performance, and most importantly, enjoyable gaming for those involved.

Dedicated servers offer more memory, processing power, and less downtime with Anti-DDoS than regular home setups, and are ideal for games that require a bit more muscle to handle like Minecraft and Rust. In fact, many a game most likely wouldn’t still be around without them. 

Keeping games alive

Dedicated servers have not only kept certain games alive, but have, in some cases, led to a rebirth of sorts in particular games. Grand Theft Auto V is one such example. First released in 2013, the game has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to a GTA V roleplay that became popular on Twitch in 2019, giving the game a new lease on life seven years after its initial release.

Known as NoPixel, the role-playing mod lets players join a server as a random character — a nurse, a taxi driver, a gang member, or just a random pedestrian on the street. To play, users fill out an application form to be accepted onto the platform. Once accepted, they join one of the only 32 spots NoPixel hosts on the FiveM servers, from which the game is run.

As you can imagine, this leads to quite thicc queues — a testament to NoPixel‘s popularity. Thousands of streamers are continuously vying for one of the 32 spots, while the drama is watched by tens of millions of fans on Twitch. And yet, without the dedicated FiveM servers, the NoPixel phenomenon could never exist. 

Another game experiencing a similar type of renaissance thanks to dedicated servers and Twitch popularity is the 2013 survival-horror game Rust. In the game, players start out naked and alone, with the main goal: survive. Players gather supplies, build shelter, all while trying to not die of hunger, thirst or from the elements. The game encourages some deviancy, as you have the option to just skip all the legwork and take someone else’s stash, thus creating the perfect drama-filled setting for charismatic streamers to thrive on. As with NoPixel, this wouldn’t be possible without the servers on which Rust relies.

Passing the torch

I never understood Minecraft. I’ve tried a few times in my life to ‘get it’ but alas. It’s just not for me. My nine-year-old niece, on the other hand, is a Minecraft wizard. She loves showing me her latest creations, and they’re genuinely impressive, even to a simpleton like me who doesn’t really understand the minutiae of the game, and therefore can’t fully appreciate the time and work that went into some of her achievements.

No one else in my family games, well, not really. My brother in law — her dad — is Call of Duty obsessed. But that’s about it, he devours every COD, always buys it on release, and is content to spend his rare spare time dedicated to gaming exclusively in the COD online universe. To each his own, he is genuinely having a sick time. My point though, is how did my niece learn to be such a skilled Minecraft player? It definitely didn’t come from anyone in the family. Well, when my niece isn’t playing Minecraft, or doing other things nine-year-olds tend to do to pass the days, she’s usually on Youtube or TikTok — and that’s where she learned her skills. 

Minecraft was first released in 2011, a full year before my niece took her first breath on this planet, and yet, thanks to dedicated servers keeping the game alive, and the online community built around the game’s constant evolution thanks to this long lease of life, means that she is now part of a nurturing online community, where people all around the world share ideas, skills, and are genuinely helpful. It’s wild to think a kid in Australia can proudly show her uncle an intricate castle she learned to make from a video posted by a teenager in Argentina, and yet, that’s the world we live in. It’s damn cool.

Thanks to a passionate team of regular players, modding groups, and of course, the dedicated servers based in data centres across the world that make it all possible, a decade-old game is still going strong, allowing kids of today, and the future, to continue to experience the wonder past generations experienced for themselves. 

Project Naruto

Meet Alexander, or ‘ThisIsCrim’ from Brisbane. He’s a 25-year-old Twitch streamer and a massive Naruto fan. About a decade ago, he noticed something while playing Minecraft. He and his friends from around the world would play on a variety of Naruto maps, the problem was, he found they all shared the same inaccuracies due to the way that Masashi Kishimoto — the creator of Naruto — drew certain parts of Naruto. This led to inspiration: Project Naruto.

“The project was inspired by some servers back in the 2010 era of Minecraft,” says Alex. “We were a little disappointed that, by 2017, there still hadn’t been attempts to string the various ways that Kishimoto built the world of Naruto, and make a more accurate representation,” he adds. So Alex and some friends got to work to change that.

“From there we started working on the project,” he says. Over the last four years, Alex has been leading a team of seven builders, all working together with the aim of rebuilding the entire world of Naruto at a scale level — or as close as they can get. They’ve recently finished the Hidden Leaf Village, which joins their completed Hidden Sand Village.

“After a couple of years, the intention shifted from just recreating the entire world of Naruto to offering an experience where people who enjoyed the franchise as much as my friends and I did, in a similar manner to the experiences we had as a group back in 2010 –2012,” he says.

“We’re currently working on plugin development to allow people to gain the abilities of various clans, such as the Sharingan. We also have the intention to build an MMORPG style environment where people can play through a storyline written exclusively by our team of writers that goes against typical Minecraft server models that are Pay2Win, which is an issue in the Minecraft community.”

Alex is hoping to have their first release test around December this year, or January of next, “but it depends on how smoothly development goes on the project.” As with NoPixel and Rust, viewers can follow the action on Twitch, where Alex streams the progression of Project Naruto on his channel, ThisIsCrim.

The post How Dedicated Servers Are Keeping Games And Their Communities Alive appeared first on Kotaku Australia.

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