There are quite a few games out there that offer multiplayer servers that you can actually host yourself. Sure there are a couple of really good ones like Battlefield 3 that require you go with an EA approved rent-a-server vendor, but there are also several good ones that you can enjoy playing with friends on a LAN or opening up to your friends in other parts of the world. When you set up these servers to play with other friends you’ll need to ensure that you’ve gone into your router and forwarded the correct ports to your machine and make sure to give them the correct IP address to connect to. You’ll find help with forwarding ports at PortForward.com and can find your IP address at WhatIsMyIP.com.
Setting up and hosting your own Minecraft server is a breeze. Simply head to Minecraft.net and click on the downloads link on the right. For the simplest setup you’ll want to grab the Minecraft_Server.exe. Once you double-click it you’re up and running. If you’re running the server on the same PC that you’ll be playing on you can simply point the Multiplayer menu in Minecraft to 127.0.0.1 and enjoy! If you want friends to be able to connect to you, head to the PortForward.com guides and make sure you forward port 25565 to the PC hosting the server. You can set various settings in the configuration file such as turning monsters on and off, limiting the number of players, and even whitelist the server so only friends of yours can play.
Are you a big fan of Terraria but have only played on other people’s servers or in single-player? Why not try to set up your own and invite some friends to play with you? Setting it up is probably even easier than setting up a Minecraft server. Go to Terraria.org and scroll to the very bottom and download the Dedicated Server Software. If you’re playing on the same machine as the server, simply connect to “127.0.0.1” as the server’s address. If you’re inviting friends to play with you, head to PortForward’s guides and find out how to forward the default Terraria port 7777 to your server. There’s also a configuration file that allows you to set a password for the server and a message displayed to people when they log in as well as a bunch of other options.
Setting up a TF2 server is a tad more difficult than setting up a Minecraft or Terraria server – but it’s not “hard” by any means – especially after reading how to set up the next one in our list. First off you’ll want to download the HLDSTOOLUPDATE from Steam and put it in a folder. Once you have downloaded the tool, run the installer and install to a permanent location, like C:\HLServer. Create a new file in Notepad and call it something like “Update.bat” and put this in the file:
C:\HLServer\hldsupdatetool -command update -game tf -dir C:\HLServer
That’s of course assuming you installed it to C:\HLServer. If you installed it somewhere else, modify that line accordingly. It might take a while to download because it’s well over a gig in size so don’t worry if this takes 30 minutes or more. Open Notepad and create a file called server.cfg and put it in the C:\HLServer\orangebox\tf\cfg folder. Make sure to name it .cfg and not .txt! Here’s an example of a Config file, so copy/paste and change what you want. Here’s a complete list of all the possible commands (and another).
To start the server, create a new .bat file like you did with the Update.bat and call it something like “StartServer.bat” and put this in the file:
C:\HLserver\orangebox\srcds.exe -console -game tf -hostport 27015 +maxplayers 24 +map ctf_2fort
This will start the server on port 27015 with a maximum on 24 players. There are some more in depth guides out there and this is a simplified version that should get you going quickly.
This one is much more complicated as you have to download the files and compile them yourself. It’s also in the very early stages of development so expect there to be plenty of bugs and plenty of missing (not yet implemented) features. Here’s a very detailed guide on setting it up and getting it running. I’m not going to try and water it down and simplify it because, you really need to follow the guide step-by-step to ensure everything’s working properly. You’re basically pulling the source from SWGANH’s Github and setting up the database. You’ll need to grab yourself a copy of the game as well and since it’s no longer being sold there is only one option if you don’t still have your original disks. For more info on the SWGANH project or if you’re having difficulty setting up your server, head over to their website.
This one’s a bit easier than the SWGANH emulator but can be really complicated if you want. Luckily there are some stand-alone precompiled versions out there for you to choose from. There are also several versions out there to choose from and if you want one that’s just like what Blizzard has out right now working just like Blizzard’s you’re going to be disappointed and I suggest you simply pay your $15 a month to play on their servers.
Disclaimer: I will also note that Blizzard doesn’t take too kindly to these servers and if you expect to have hundreds of people playing on yours and taking paypal donations etc then expect a cease & desist letter from them or even possibly a lawsuit. So if you’re going to do this, don’t publicize it and keep it to yourself and your friends. It’s a little different than the Star Wars Galaxies emulator because that game is no longer available and you can’t pay to play the game no matter how much money you have.
Probably one of the most complete and up to date servers would be Jeutie’s Blizzlike Repack. It has most of the features you might remember from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack and is fairly easy to set up. To set it up you’ll want to download the repack, download the DBC, download the maps and grab the vmaps. You’ll put the dbc files into the “DBC” folder, map files into the “maps” folder and the vmaps into the “vmaps” folder.
Almost done! Double click the MySQL.bat file in the _Server folder, double click the Apache.bat file in the _Server folder and double click the Authserver.exe and Worldserver.exe and you’ll be ready to play. After that you’ll open your WoW folder and go to the Data\enUS\ folder and edit the “realmlist.wtf” file to say this:
set realmlist 127.0.0.1
If you want others to join you you’ll have to open the database with something like HeidiSQL or Navicat and open the Auth database and edit the Realmlist table to reflect your external IP address. After you save and close it you’ll have to forward the proper ports to your server: 80, 3724, and 8085. Leave the Auth config and Worldserver config pointing to 127.0.0.1. Your friends will simply visit your external IP address to create an account and they’ll change their realmlist.wtf folder to be your server’s IP address and they’ll be able to play with you. Here’s another guide by Jeutie on making it visible to your friends.
I can’t stress this enough: this is a very gray area… Blizzard really isn’t a fan of having alternate options other than their servers to play their game on – so use this guide at your own risk. I didn’t make the server and I’m not savvy enough to be able to troubleshoot your issues – you’ll have to use the faithful Google for that.