Semi-public dedicated server best practices

Walheim: how to make delicious mead and what it is for

Looking for some best practices from the voice of experience with public or semi-public servers, or a resource or post where people have addressed these topics from a variety of viewpoints.

First, some definitions for the discussion – it's fine to debate the right labels, but let's try to use these definitions for clarity unless otherwise defined in your post:

  1. Single user: Not run as server (out of scope)
  2. Private: Multi-user, run as server, but private (e.g. Steam friends you share pw to – may be dedicated or run on single user's PC "as needed" by host)
  3. Semi-public: Run as dedicated server – public but with limits that might vary: friends allowed to share to other friends, or open members of an existing online community like a guild from another game, etc. – You expect someone in your group to know or be friends with an invitee, but maybe not IRL.
  4. Public: No password or relatively open invite expectations about password sharing (just join a public discord, pw available to pretty much anyone on request, etc.

I'm mostly interested in #3 – Semi-public server experience, to hear recommendations based on experiences on any/all of these topics:

  1. Guidelines for where to draw the line once you allow people to open it up beyond some otherwise clear boundary (e.g. moving from "You must be a member of this existing group in another game" changing to "… or friends with someone who is.")
  2. Given non-respawning resources, best practices/advice for capping total # of players? Do it or don't? Where to draw the line, if drawing one?
  3. Server backup/restore policies that spell out how frequently a backup happens and what it takes to trigger? (e.g. player 1 gets griefed and items stolen, player 3 worked hard at mining that night, so a reset helps 1 player and hurts another — thinking about a predetermined policy so that a server owner isn't stuck deciding who gets helped and who gets shafted.)
  4. Conduct codes, identifying violators, & managing enforcement of server rules
  5. General guidelines for building locations — allowing people to claim a section of territory or a "build-no-closer-to-existing-than-X" policy, or laying out some community grid or township or anything interesting in this vein.
  6. Policies for playthrough limitations – e.g. no imported materials, from scratch characters, no cheese-leveling stats, or maybe limits like no unattended surtling farming or no gravity-breeders, emphasis on realism/roleplay, no use of map/seed viewers, etc.
  7. Strip-mining/logging/resource-hogging – encouraging forest visual conservation, etc. (Mining metal can't be helped much, but the visuals of a forest can be maintained so as not to leave behind a wasteland for others.)
  8. Rules around jokes/pranks of various kinds, including both harmless (mount troll head right outside door to cabin) and not harmless (portals that drop player off cliff).
  9. Shared resources — communal carts, boats, cultivators, or anything else you might reasonably share. (Any server have a food bank or thrift shop for old food donations to newer entrants?)
  10. Is it better if the server has a dedicated lifespan, so nobody gets too attached, or things don't get too stale, or too hard for a new player to start?
  11. What am I not asking about that I should be considering?

There's probably lots of other things to consider… Every time I think about doing this the practical stuff becomes daunting – hoping to get some perspective here from people who have joined or run servers like this. Looking forward to the community responses here.


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