On 15/08/2012 16:55, Fletcher Dunn wrote:
A note regarding 32-player servers and MvM:

An MvM server will require about as much CPU usage as a 32-player PvP server.  However, the network 
utilization is significantly lower for obvious reasons.  Whether the max number of internal player 
"slots" is 6, 24 or 32, I think you'll agree is really an internal technical detail that 
would not be this much of a focal point in the discussion, in a perfect world.  It is 
understandable but unfortunate that currently pricing models are based on this, because this number 
is equivalent to "players" in PvP.

Well I don't know about the rest of the world but bandwidth requirements for TF2 is pretty immaterial here in the UK in terms of the cost.

I ran TF2 (and L4D and minecraft occasionally) on a VPS server for a while.

If you look at 99.999% of VPS sold they don't even mention what CPU you get (they tend to say what CPU their servers have instead)

They are sold by stating the bandwidth / disk space / ram you get.

My VPS had 1TB a month bandwidth limit on something like a 5mbps throttled connection. I never once got close to using that bandwidth running a TF2 server. I think I used about 6% max. That's 1TB a month included in the £8 I was paying for the server. Which doesn't immediately suggest that "it uses less bandwidth" is going to matter much in terms of cost, does it?

Similarly, the 30gb disk space I got was mostly empty too. I had 3 or 4 games installed and still had plenty. The ram I had, around 1gb, was more than enough to run a 24 slot TF2 server (Although it struggled to get more than a handful of minecraft players - and you gave him a TF2 hat and offered him a job? :-) )

That leaves the one thing that a VPS struggles a bit with when running a TF2 server - CPU allocation and CPU usage.

Your move to fixed tic, 66 fps and so on helped a lot, but I could still tell my server was on a VPS, compared with other UK servers that I played on that were on dedicated servers. Once the server filled and the var: figure on the net_graph started rising it felt a bit flaky. But it was reasonably playable. I think the way the cpu was allocated via the XenPV meant it worked out as a 1.2ghz processor.

However, there was no real option to pay more cash to get more CPU power and keep everything else the same. I couldn't pay for, say, a 2ghz processor. You'd have to pay 2 or 3x the monthly cost and have a ton more bandwidth / disk space and ram that you didn't use or need (and that I couldn't even use to run more game server instances, because you'd still only have enough CPU oomph to run one game instance) and the costs rose significantly.

Similarly for dedicated servers, firstly they all start OTT price wise, but if you want a decent CPU you pay for it. Bandwidth? Is not really a concern even at the cheapest options. if you're paying a lot in the USA for bandwidth, look in the car park at the hosting centre, if it's full of Mercedes, Porches and Ferraris, that's what you're actually paying for :)

Similarly, other options cost a lot more. Often for something that was overkill, except for getting a bit more CPU oomph.

Valve's French TF2 servers suffer from exactly the same issue - they don't have enough cpu power to run the game properly - in fact they are often worse than my VPS was at peak times.

So I think, whatever the perfect world is, the real world, at least part of it, isn't going to care that the network usage for MvM is less. If the CPU usage is as high or higher, and if server providers currently rely on being able to run n server instances on a particular server CPU, then that'll still be the sticking point as far as how much money they want to charge for a TF2 instance, whether you play 6 slot MvM or 32 player PvP with it.

I won't really know, I bought a bike for the summer instead and stopped renting the server. As I've written at length here before, there are, the vast majority of the time, more than enough TF2 servers anyway and there's very little point having too many TF2 servers. So I'll play MvM on Valve's servers, happily knowing if I couldn't find a 12v12 pvp server, I can always rent a VPS and run my own. It's affordable and workable.

That doesn't seem to be the case yet with MvM, and it's not immediately obvious to me that "uses less bandwidth" is going to make much difference price-wise. Unless 3rd parties that sell TF2 servers have plenty of spare cpu power they've kept idle. If so, perhaps they'll offer a reasonably priced option for MvM. I guess we'll see (although that would obviously beg the question as to why they've charged so much extra for 24 or 32 slot pvp in the past? "Bandwidth" isn't a good answer)

At the moment my son's clan rents a 12 slot TF2 server for around £5/month, each of them throwing into the pot to share the costs (although I'd have said the VPS we had would have done 6v6 with no issues at all, the provider route is cheaper) I doubt they'll be paying several times that to play MvM on their own 32-slot server.

There is one potential advantage to it using less bandwidth though, it might mean running a server on your home network connection will work. In the UK most upstream bandwidth is severely limited and this makes running a game server more or less unworkable because you saturate your upstream once you get beyond a small number of players, even though many home users have the CPU grunt to run the server. So it could be that 6 slot MvM will work well if it's hosted on some home PCs.


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