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Remote Multiplayer Server Setup

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For those of you setting up leased remote servers, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

  1. Most ISPs use stock OEM servers with on-board audio and graphics chips. The problem with this is that the on-board graphics chips are woefully inadequate and do not have pixel and vertex shader 1.1. This is why most games have [dumb] remote servers which do not do any graphics processing. Our games on the hand require this due to the fact that a graphics display is required when not running the server in console mode. There are a variety of these boards and 99% of them feature Intel chips. The most adequate is the 82865G graphics chip found on Intel 865G boards manufactured since late 2004. While inadequate, this chipset features Intel's so-called Intel Extreme Graphics 2 (yeah, I'm laughing too) chipset for video. The most popular boards using this 865G chipset are Intel's D865GBF board and the Asus P4P800-VM, P4P800-MX and similar variants from Intel, Asus and other OEM vendors.
  2. The 82865G graphics drivers will not run on Windows Server 2003. Installing the latest 14.17 (6.14.0010.4396) video driver for that board will prevent it from initializing. Yes, thats odd; considering that the OS is a variant of Windows XP Pro. So, your OS choices are limited to Windows 2000, Windows 2000 Server or Windows XP Pro. You will need to install all service packs, updates, a firewall etc.
  3. When leasing a server, make sure that you get a minimum P4 2.8 Ghz, 1GB RAM and an on-board graphics chip (Intel 865G or better). Naturally if you are getting a server that does not have on-board graphics or if you can opt for an add-in AGP graphics board, then you'd want to get one with pixel & vertex shader 1.1 or higher.
  4. After installing the server OS, service packs & updates, chipset drivers, audio/video drivers etc. You also need to install the latest DirectX 9.0c runtime. If you download the smaller web installer and run it, then it will only download the components required for your current OS.
  5. Since the 82865G graphics chip only has a reference video driver, our [updated] CardTester utility will report that pixel & vertex shader 1.1 was not detected, so the game won't run. Ignore it. That utility does not take the reference (software) drivers into account and only checks for hardware PS/VS shader support which most on-board (e.g. this Intel 82865G chipset) graphics do not have. After installing DirectX 9 (or higher), you can check if your hardware has software or hardware 3D support by running DXDIAG which comes with DirectX 9 runtime. Just go to Start/Run and type dxdiag, then go to the Display tab. The DirectDraw and Direct3D acceleration should say enabled. If they don't, then the detected graphics driver either does not do any hardware 2D/3D acceleration or those components of the driver are not enabled (which is what happens if you install the 82865G drivers on Windows Server 2003).
  6. Ensure that the desktop resolution for your remote server is set to 32-Bit color and at a minimum resolution of 800x600 with 1024x768 being the optimal.
  7. Before running the game, you need to remember that the server does not require any shader or audio processing. So, you should first run the single player game at 800x600 and disable sound, music, chatter as well as setting all graphics options to their lowest values. Then save and exit the game. Now when the mp server is started, it will use the minimal ucconfig.ini file.
  8. If you don't need to monitor your game world when the server is running, then you should run the server in console mode. Doing this on a powerful 3Ghz, 1GB server will also allow you to run two console servers (e.g. for either the same game or two different games i.e. UCAWA and UCSE). If you do this, make sure that each one has a different port number (ucsetupmp.ini).
  9. Naturally you already used the UCServerConfig tool to setup your server options, as well using one of several tools (e.g. ServerDoc) to ensure that your server is restarted if it crashes. If using a server monitoring utility, you might want to have it stop and start the server every 24hrs as this will reset the world and whatnot.

[ 10-10-2006, 07:50 PM: Message edited by: Supreme Cmdr ]

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