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I'm an independent game developer and I don't yet have a lot of money to buy myself a very cool high-speed and low-latency internet connection along with a powerful server machine to place somewhere in the world to host my very own game's server application for my fans to play on.

I know it's possible to rent a server for an existing popular game (for example, Team Fortress 2), but how about renting a server for my own game that I'm developing? Are there services specifically for that, or should I just rent some general purpose something and go from there?

Such a server should be:

  • Easy to update
  • With a low-latency for a specific region (I'm planning on renting EU and US servers)
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marked as duplicate by bobobobo, Byte56, Josh Petrie, Sean Middleditch, msell May 31 '13 at 19:56

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Check amazon web services. –  petervaz May 23 '13 at 3:10
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also cloudfoundry, EY, and azure, all very different but since I dont know what you are doing... –  Miau May 23 '13 at 17:18

4 Answers 4

What about VPS servers? They can be pretty cheap and easily upgradeable because of their flexibility.

VPS ( Virtual private server ) servers differ from real servers in the fact that they are actually just one of many virtual machines running on a real server, which makes it pretty customizable and flexible.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a very popular option for your kind of scenario.

For as low as six cents per hour, you can have your own Linux virtual machine (typically running Ubuntu or CentOS).

Here's why AWS might be a good fit for you:

  • You can spin up a VM on an as-needed basis and spin it down when you don't need it, to save money
  • You can create VMs in several regions, including US (Virginia, Oregon, N. Cal), Europe (Ireland), Asia (Singapore, Tokyo), Australia, South America (Brazil)

The biggest pain point you're likely to encounter is that AWS can be very confusing for beginners. There are many services - EC2 for controlling VMs, S3 for storing individual files, EBS for persistent disks, RDS for external databases, etc. When you think of AWS as "just a Linux VM" it doesn't make sense why you'd want any of those extra services; but when you need to start scaling up the number of servers you're running or when you need to store a virtually unbounded amount of data, having those components available external to your VM is exactly what allows you to scale.

If you don't foresee needing anything scalable to the extent that AWS is scalable, Digital Ocean is another currently popular hosting provider that is closer to the "renting a box" paradigm. For $5 per month, you can rent a VM that has 512MB RAM, 1 core CPU, 20GB SSD Disk, and 1TB of bandwidth; they also have more expensive options with more resources.

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2  
Yes, yes, use Amazon. They are free for the 1st year you sign up (but the clock starts ticking the moment you sign up for the AWS account, not the moment you kick on your first server (which is what I had thought)). –  bobobobo May 31 '13 at 14:56
    
Also consider Google App Engine if you can write all your back-end systems as web services. You can use it for free, and only start paying if your usage goes over certain limits. That means you can develop at no cost, do testing at no cost, and really only need to start paying if your game is successful enough to start generating more traffic. –  Tim Holt May 31 '13 at 17:10
    
You can do a lot better than 6 cents per hour with AWS! –  stephelton May 31 '13 at 19:52
    
@TimHolt Please read Migrating off GAE. The key points are: 1) It is very high latency 2) Those "free" usage per day bars fill up very fast (and cost gets astronomical very fast) when you have any number of users –  bobobobo Jun 3 '13 at 1:03
    
@stephelton Absolutely! You can do 2.7 cents per hour with a 3-year reserved small instance. –  Mark Rushakoff Jun 3 '13 at 2:07

wingleader is correct, if you're up for creating your own Linux-based server program. One option is to use one of several cloud-computing options, which often are a bit more sandboxed using particular coding environments. I haven't ever used their services myself, but if I have the correct idea,

  • Amazon Web Services will let you program in Java
  • Windows Azure will let you use Microsoft languages like C#
  • Google App Engine: No personal knowledge

It may partially depend on the type of game you're creating. If the response for a particular action doesn't depend on per-second responsiveness (ie, a space trading game where players travel between worlds buying/selling goods) then those web services may be fine. For a fast-paced shooting game with precise hit detection, you'll almost certainly be going the route of some sort of native-code Linux server (as wingleader suggested).

What early companies did was only make one server to keep track of other servers (each hosted by players with a spare Linux machine) and have their game connect directly to that to provide players places to go.

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Just a comment from personal experience, GAE is awful. It has extremely high latency, gets extremely expensive very fast, and due to its unique framework, it's hard to migrate away from. –  bobobobo May 31 '13 at 14:59

Yes you can, not many people can spend half milion dollars + on server building.

OVH.com servers are considered to be one of the cheapest, I use them. 10Gbit/s download speed, 18gb RAM, 6TB disk for about $350.

You can use pre installed server software, many versions of Debian, Freebsd, Windows, Ubuntu. 32/64 bit.

I assume that you either know how to or you have someone who can configure a server.

Search google for "Dedicated server", that is the best option when hosting your game, you got access to the machine, but you must know how to move around it.

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