This is part of an IRC conversation that happened yesterday on irc.exoduscommunity.com:[01:07] <TNaismith> http://www.exoduscom...em/page__st__20
[01:08] <TNaismith> "... It took us a few weeks to conclude that we wanted it back. But not as an Exodus server. The situation may look complicated at this moment (we rent it from arny, we host on exodus IRC and we forward ppl to exodus IRC, TS and Forum, Exodus admins help out with the tech stuff, scripting etc, yet Reaver and I are in charge). In actuality it is to prevent just what cunin said. We want to have the freedom to kill it the first sign we get that it's dying or we go inactive. ..." ~ Reckneya
[01:08] <TNaismith> "... Another option would be to get a third box. Not the most favorable solution you might think but hear me out; If we could get another box just for ..." ~ Reckneya
[01:09] <TNaismith> Interesting quotes I wanted to share... combine those together (You'll want to read the rest of the second quote), and I was thinking perhaps this is how we should go for the Co-op server.
[01:10] <TNaismith> I'm also throwing in the factor which many of them haven't been made fully aware of yet, but people like you, Chaos, Zorid know: The current Exodus server will not be able to handle new co-op maps to the levels you and ReKoil are producing. And from my own experience, I think Zorid definitely has a higher demand in his co-op maps than standard CoopBeta3.0 co-op maps Zunnie made.
[01:11] <TNaismith> Combining all three things together... we would have a pure co-op dedicated server (in some fashion), and the onus would be fully and more on the co-op folks/community to run it, or to quickly learn how to handle and manage it.
[01:12] <TNaismith> While in the meantime, we would continue direct and introduce people to Exodus as our location for meeting outside of the co-op server, discussing new co-op map ideas, mission concepts, modding designs, etc.
[01:12] <TNaismith> And Exodus would in some way continue being the community hub for the co-op community to grow, expand, and flourish.
[01:13] <TNaismith> The server parts of it however, would be more strictly expected to be maintained by the co-op crew rather than putting Exodus staff the spotlight
[01:14] <TNaismith> However... from what Reckneya has written... the combined proposal I have outlined above would still require payments of some kind from the co-op community to maintain a /better/ server/box.
[01:15] <TNaismith> Unless of course, we are willing to really take a risk of being indebted to Arnyswart for paying and keeping the server/box financially stable.
[01:16] <TNaismith> That would put a lot more pressure from an Exodus Community standpoint to do well -- because instead of just having the pressure to continue sending newcomers towards Exodus to keep the community growing and not stagnent in member population -- we would have to succeed to an extent that the money arnyswart is paying is properly returned through results, results, and positive results.
[01:16] <TNaismith> Hmm... I may copy+paste a large chunk of what I just wrote as a reply to the topic.
In the conversation, I'm referring to a post Reckneya made yesterday (it's 2-3 posts back from Reckneya's most recent post today). Truth is that becoming a slightly more independent co-op server has been a possibility I've considered for the last few years -- this is because I've seen the work on new co-op maps that Zorid, ReKoil, and SarahDX have done, and through the map-testing they have graciously allowed me to participate in over the years, I've come to feel there has been a growing understanding for how to run Ren servers and also to setup new scripts/triggers/map events to make co-op maps run smoothly together with the server.
Now, I've been trying to follow the posts by Cunin and Chaoslegionnaire on how the PC specs/Server box work, along with related posts by SarahDX, Reckneya, and arnyswart on the matter. It sadly just isn't my forte, or in other words, it's a really complicated bunch of words to me -- so forgive me for not being able to communicate on technical terms.
However, I want to emphasize what SarahDX said about the box/machine (if we do choose to upgrade) NEEDING to be able to have good enough specs/strength if we want to host newer co-op maps/missions for the long-term future of the Co-op Server. I have personally been privy to seeing and playing first-hand on the new co-op maps that SarahDX, Zorid, and ReKoil have all worked on over the last 3+ years. In addition, I've also played a large number of zunnie's new co-op maps that range from his A Path Beyond co-op maps, to Tiberium Crystal War maps, as well as his TT 4.0 Co-op maps. Altogether, my observations are that all these maps have great potential to be much more deep in co-op gameplay, storyline, and game mechanics than Zunnie's original Co-opBeta3.0 package -- but at the same time, starting from Scripts 3.4.4 to Scripts 4.0, any new co-op maps made in this day and age, and for the future, WILL run high chances of becoming much more dependent on really needing a STRONG server/machine/box.
It is true Reck that if co-op maps were re-done so that the gameplay has more loading-efficient scripting setups -- for example like only spawning bots/objects that are near the player -- this would reduce the workload for the server. However. As SarahDX has mentioned, there are still core issues with the server such as being able to handle 6+ or 20+ players at a time playing co-op together, as well as the future possibility that if we should invest in a better server, it should be good enough to run much more resource-heavy co-op maps than the co-op maps we currently have running now on the server.
And at this point, I want to say that what Reckneya said about 4.0 TT scripts is very true -- with the amount of new scripts, bugfixes, and the creativity, imagination, and modding knowledge the co-op community has gathered over the last years, the chances of creating much-improved co-op maps that use more advanced bot-spawning and storyline/objectives is very possible. I've done research myself around different solutions to have bots spawn in co-op missions more realistically, instead of the constant 'Magical-Behind-Your-Back-Or-In-Front-Of-Your-Eyes-Infinite-Lives' setup that the past co-op maps were restricted to. (This is not Zunnie's fault, but more a fact that scripts back in Zunnie's day just weren't good enough to really create those kind of co-op maps with more logical bot-spawning/enemy difficulty.) SarahDX has far surpassed me in this field of research, and the work SarahDX has shown, discussed, and shared with me indicate that she has developed far more advanced and in-game working concepts/techniques for setting up bots on co-op maps as well as to create more fun, and teamwork-encouraging storylines, mission objectives, and such. Zorid and ReKoil I have full confidence have created their own unique solutions to bot-spawning in co-op maps that just haven't been shared with me yet.
Advanced, better-running, more-fun, dynamic, interactive, action-oriented, and newbie-friendly co-op maps are all slated for a strong future in Renegade with the release of TT Scripts 4.0, and combined with the currently active base of co-op mappers/players/modders that I know so far here in the Co-op/Exodus community -- we must assume that the future of co-op maps WILL be heading towards 'Needing higher-level PC/ServerBox/Machine performance'. SarahDX has already mentioned this several times, as have ChaosLegionnaire and Reckneya, but I wanted to emphasize this myself as a dedicated co-operative videogaming (Human vs AI only) fan, player, enthusiast, and passionate advocate. Co-op (Human vs AI) in Ren is strong here, and we do have the resources, knowledge, and people to definitely pursue a good future in creating new, dynamic, and constantly-improving co-op maps/missions for Renegade.
But what about the actual management of a new server box, or even just upgrading the current one? Is the co-op community ready, or even have the knowledgable/willing people to promise Exodus a stable return-investment on paying for a new/upgraded server machine?
I'll be honest with you, I don't think we do. But I wouldn't say it's out of reach either.
The co-op community has stayed quite strong here in Exodus, and we've acquired quite a regular flow of in-game players visiting and playing on the co-op server at least on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. That's really great, and I've been really proud and full of joy at being able to log onto the server almost at least once every few days and being able to play with a good number of people together through co-op maps. However... I don't think we have enough people-power (with spare time on their hands) or trained/experienced folks (also with spare time on their hands) from the co-op community to really promise Exodus a 100% stable running if arnyswart ends up paying for a new server/upgraded box from his own pocket. This is mostly in response to what Reckneya wrote here:
If arny is ok with upgrading, that is one big fucking gesture! If we proceed however, there are a few things I wish to emphasize;
1. We want everyone that ever played coop to know if we were to upgrade to better hardware, so can we count on you as a freelance PR person to reach those people?
2. Are you comfortable to have him pay for it all by himself or can you spare something to help out, even if it be very little?
And for the admins and senior mods who will need to move everything and set it all up again:
3. Are you up for the job?
As far as I am concerned those are the three most important issues here that all need to be answered with a YES.
If we want to upgrade, we need people that are willing to spent their free time in setting everything up, we want to be assured people will play on the coop server
I mean, personally, I don't feel confident enough about it that I would want to promise that we can keep the co-op server active in players over many months and to even promise that we can bring new players to the community on a regular basis (Weekly? Monthly?) I would feel awful if we just ended up having a dead server (for whatever reasons) anytime within a year or two after someone outside the co-op community paid out of their pocket for a server specifically (or mostly because) of the co-op server. It'd be a really nice gesture on your part for sure, but not worth risking disappointing that kindness/generosity... in my opinion at least.
Something more along the lines of what Reckneya and Reaver have done for their DM server, taking responsibility for it on their own (being able to pull the plug soon as things aren't paying for themselves or player activity is really poor) -- and only having themselves to answer to. A similar path for the co-op server might be less pressuring on the wallets of the Exodus Staff. Ideally, we would also make strong references for people to visit the Exodus Community and to join the forums/community after becoming regulars on the co-op server. From there, we would use the Exodus Community as a hub for expanding new co-op maps, co-op mission concepts/storylines, Renegade modding help, and to generally expand out-of-game Co-op Community social interaction and general community-building.
But the problem still is: If we would prefer to take more responsibility and control for the co-op server (Financially-wise, and I guess server management-wise) -- who is going to pay, and where will the trained staff come from? Unfortunately, the co-op community (I think at least) just doesn't have the proper people with the full know-how for keeping IRC, the server FDS, the bot programs, and the machine box running in tip-top shape, let alone when big problems come up. That's one benefit about Exodus that I do agree with Cudaker about (he mentioned Arny only in his post, but it spurred me to think a little bigger); And that benefit I'm referring to is that Exodus has a really wide-range of talented folks that have been able to keep Exodus going as a community because of their administration and technical expertise. Some of you guys have got loads of experience keeping IRC going, lots are cross-experienced with maintaining Teamspeak and all the permissions, a good number of you know how the server/machine works and how to manage it fully as an administrator similar to a hired professional from a tech company. Others of you (Reaver and Reck) have got closer experience with getting maps, scripts, and fds bots connected with a game server and running smoothly together, as well as providing new content. Together... that's a really good community resource Exodus has here, and I think that's been a really great benefit to the co-op server all these years ever since the merge.
Unfortunately though, I guess I can't make up my mind. There's lots of great things that Exodus has provided, but it's also true like Cunin said that we can't be sure how much behind-the-scenes support we will have in the future for the servers/machines Exodus will host... I've kept up with forum topics and IRC conversations about different staff members picking up the pace with their university studies, or career jobs. Wouldn't it be a hoot if everyone could be in Arny's shoes right now? Money coming in successfully, and a home that isn't in danger of being evicted or forced out. For me the important things I'm thinking about are whether the co-op server does have enough motivated people to place a healthy return-investment for buying a new box/machine to continue hosting/managing a co-op server under the Exodus name, or... are there better reasons to take the risks of managing and paying for a co-op server into the co-op community's hands and not burden the Exodus staff with extra management and money payments for something that might run high-risks of not succeeding the money sunk into purchasing a high-quality server (A server capable of the long-term running much more advanced and resource-heavy co-op maps for Renegade).
I wish I could have come to a clear decision at the end of this post, but I think made myself even more unsure. These are all my opinions, and don't take them as speaking for everyone else in the co-op scene... I am sure lots of them could have some differing opinions, or perhaps even better, some alternative solutions that haven't been mentioned yet (and that will work quite nicely).