DICE staff MikaelKalms release some BF3 server information on the EAUK forum on 23/8
It’s time to talk a bit about BF3 PC game servers.
The game server machines themselves will be run by a number of Ranked Server Provider (RSP) companies. We do not allow other companies to run game servers, or for other people to run game servers from home.
We try to strike a balance where there are game servers available across the globe, while still keeping the number of RSPs at a level where we can offer reasonable support to each individual company. Since we prefer to work with larger hosting companies, and we focus on countries where we have a larger player base, there will not be game servers available in every country on the planet.
The list of RSPs which will run BF3 game servers at launch is not ready yet. Once it is, we will publilalalala widely.
While the RSPs run the physical machines, most if not all will be paid for and administered by the players themselves – individuals, groups of friends, or clans.
A server administrator control some aspects of the play experience – which maps are being played, which people are allowed onto the server, and can also affect the play style through various direct and indirect controls. Generally speaking, servers that are administered by reasonable admins attract players, while servers which have arbitrary rules imposed see less traffic.
Ranked vs Unranked
One of the biggest choices which a server administrator has to make is, whether to run the server in Ranked or Unranked mode.
In Ranked mode, player progression is tracked on EAs master servers. Weapons are unlocked by playing the game. Player progression is also visible on Battlelog. The server administrators will have to abide by the Battlefield Rules of Engagement.
In Unranked mode, player progression is not tracked on the master servers. Server administrators have free reign on such servers – no Battlefield Rules of Engagement to heed. They can control in detail which weapons are available to the players, etc. This mode is suited to playing clan matches, tournaments, or to those players who just like the fairness of everyone having the same range of weapons available to them.
BF3 will use PunkBuster as its anti-cheat system. Game servers that run in ranked mode are required to have PunkBuster active.
There have been problems with the PunkBuster screenshot mechanism under DirectX 10/11 in the past. However, we have collaborated with EvenBalance to make screenshots function reliably with DX10/DX11 in BF3.
Third party anti-cheat organizations
There are several community initiatives against cheating. These initiatives are usually volunteer organizations that maintain their own databases with cheaters. They do both manual work - reviewing screenshots, game recordings, and other cheating evidence – and also implement automated systems.
It is up to each individual server administrator whether to join with one or more of these organizations.
While not officially partnering with these organizations, we try to ensure that BF3 works well with their systems in time for the launch.
The biggest three organizations that support Battlefield games are PBBans (PBBans | Always Quality over Quantity), GGC-Stream (GGC-Stream / News) and PunksBusted (PunksBusted.com Sponsored by Ventrilo). There are also several smaller organizations around.
Server administration interface
BF3 will support a Remote Administration interface similar to that of BFBC2. The basic protocol will be the same, but commands differing a bit.
There is a plethora of tools available that can talk to the remote admin interface. We are in contact with several of the developers who created tools for BFBC2, and will aid them in adding support for BF3. If you have developed a BFBC2 remote admin tool which is popular (used on >100 game servers), send me a PM.
The protocol itself is still under constant revision. Expect the protocol to be published by the time that the retail game is released.
Now I know you have a gazillion other questions. Spectator mode? Battlerecorder? mixed mode rotations? I don’t have solid answers for most questions yet. Hopefully we can cover those once the Open Beta is live.