I help run a non-profit gaming group and we have been contemplating
renting a server to host some games on. We also run LAN Parties in
the area every six months, and we have had some attendees show up with
some pretty interesting game server configurations. Our idea was that
we would create a CentOS image in VMWare or Zen and distribute it to
attendees so that they can setup their game servers and we could run
them all on a beefy server (or servers).
After the event we could then take some of the VMs we liked (IE: the
ones with the most interesting mods, maps, etc) and set them up on our
racked server. This would also allow the attendee to have full access
to the VM on our system, so that they could admin it, change
configurations, update maps, give friends access, etc.
Does this sound like something that would be a reasonable (if a bit
unorthodox) setup, or are we just massively over complicating this problem?
wayyyy over-complicating it. Why not just get a physical server and run seperate game servers on it? why do you need a seperate OS image for each game server? I would also not recommend running game servers at all on a virtual machine.
I've run a few game servers on VPS' before and they were fine, but it seems to me you just want to clone attendees servers and then use them on a dedicated machine. Why don't you just grab the configuration files off of them and install a server and apply the configs and mods? You could give each user a user on the machine (if you're to run Linux) and it would be easy! You're definately over-complicating it though by doing it the way you suggested in your original post
Just spring some extra cash, and buy a dedicated server $135 for a Quad Core 4GB ram. Host whatever gameservers you want on it!
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I run my UO server on a VM fine. I've had over 50 players at some times with large raids etc. Though it's still a dedicated server in a way. It's a Quad xeon box running CentOS then Windows in a VM. I have 2GB split off 50/50 so 1GB for the VM. You want a fast CPU for this though. Like, a celeron wont do, and a P4 is tight (but can be ok)
If you have no choice but to use Windows for the game server It's more secure this way as you can leave out RDP from being wide open to the internet and just use a SSH tunnel to get to it (set VM to NAT then forward the port internally). RDP is very susceptible to brute force as there is no logs or any indication that someone is trying to get in.