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GSP Starting Guide: Introduction
Hi all,

I have been surfing this forum for a while and I've found lots of usefull information as well as some unusefull stuff, comments and complaints but I think there lacks a clear, concrete and centralized threads where people willing to setup a GSP must, want or should know so I decided to create a series of threads intended to help professionals with their long path in creating a GSP company or service. Maybe admins will move those posts to another side or topic if it grows to much or if it goes to far technically for the business lounge. Please feel free to add your own post if you think that something is missing.

The aim here is to have serious people providing "real" information about their own experience so we can all share some part of our work and try to make all of our services better for our customers or future customers. Please refrain from posting comments and replies among these posts if you just want to criticize and throw warflames on these forums. I am not here to respond silly people about how stupid or how smart I am, but rather to create a comprehnsive set of post to help and share with professionals willing to setup a GSP. Posting your own experience and felling here is appreciated as long as it is done in a constructive way. Many thanx.

Now that I've described the idea, I will start this introduction by explaining, OMHO, what should be your aims and goals as a GSP to ensure yourself a successfull career as a gaming server provider. This opinion is based on my further experience as en employee and as an employer in various IT fields as I have been working into, for and against dozens of company for the past decade. I do not pretend to be right nor to be "the best advisor" but rather to explain my opinions and feelings about setting up a strong company that will last long :

  1. Originality
    I think the most important point in running any business is to be original, creative and innovative. If you thought you could get in the business just by taking a server and simply selling slots, you might break your theets on the idea. If you want to get into the business, you have to be special, provide something that no other does or doing-it differently so as your customers have an interest in sticking with you when competitors approches them. As Einstein said, Imagination is more important than Intelligence so get a notepad and start writting down your ideas to become an Unique GSP rather than yet another one. For example, developping your own tools could be a good point to start, as many of the available tools may not satisfy you and your customers and may not help in differentiating you from other providers.

  2. Quality
    Most providers (and that is not only true with GSP) are trying to flood the market with volume and low-pricing. That may not be an option when you start up a business unless you have a solid amount to invest (that is hundred of grands). Otherwise that approach often leads to poor quality of service and laggy gaming experience if you do not cope with the necessary skills, ressources and people. If you plan to start as a "small" GSP, you may want to consider quality as the spearhead of your company. This involves good skills in networking and hardware, strong knowledge with the software and OS you plan to use and load of time to continually maintain, upgrade, watch and enhance your servers. Also, quality is operated on the long run. Being able to provide a strong service does not only implies to have a good infrastructure but also to be able to enhance, maintain and make it evolve according to the market standards.

  3. Infrastructure & Expansion
    You may have a strong connection but, as explained in many other post in this forum, running you servers outside a datacenter potentially leads to poor quality of service, or huge expenses otherwise. You do not need to rent a whole rack or an armada of xeon computers to get started but you have to make sure that both the computers and the banwith can afford the expected or targeted volume. You can start with a few servers untill you get use to it and you master it perfectly and then you may expand. Of course bandwith, CPU, RAM and uptime are essential to your infrastructure but don't forget to be there, as it is not going to manage itself alone. Finally, do not think that you will be the leader in your area in a few months because you have dozens of very high-level computers. Long term expansion is a benefit in the end as it allows you to take full control and advantage on your computers, cutomers and services so dont grow your infrastructure in a hurry to raise profit if you just have it running for two months. Start small, offering only a few games on a few server and exoand as the demand and skills inscreases because a fast grow could lead to a fast failure.

  4. Usability
    Some providers offer very poor control panel or no control panel at all. That might suit the geeks and the pros but if you plan to make mister everyone your target, you must not forgot he may not even know what an FTP account is or how to upload a map into his maps directory. It is very important that you offer simple yet usable controls, not only to manage the game servers but also to manage all of the side-services you may provide such as voice and speak servers, website, emails, and so on. As usual, there are tons of control panels but "customising" or "re-interfacing" them could be a good option (when possible) altrought it may require some serious coding and programming skills. Please remember that most of the regular users or players are not that technical and may be a bit "scarred" by technical terms, servers and complex control panels. And don't forget to apply this rule to your own website by providing simple and accesible contents to you visitors and future clients.

  5. Support
    Some may think that a good service may require few user support, as it is simple and well done, but that is without considering ignorance. Believe me, you are getting into serious trouble if you think a simple wiki will provide you users with a good support. Again it requires time, software and people to handle a "proper" support service that provides live or at least fast feedback to your customers, assiting them to solve some of the most basic task or helping them solving the most uncommon problems. There you will require experience, as a wiki may not help when a specific map does not load because of a model error or when a custom change does crash a server. You may not require to setup multiple level support and to have dozens of people working on the support side but consider at least a few persons to handle the requests nicely and politely and make sure the "3rd Level" support is well experienced and efficient.

  6. Marketing
    Marketing is important but should not be your primary concern. A very good marketing can help a very poor product to be the most widely spread but again, I don't think that should be your aim if you want to get a decent reputation among your customers, that philosophy should be avoided. Still, a good corporate identity a brillinat and easy-to-remember name and a nice desing that reflects your philosophy is clearly a good way to attract customers. On another hand, ranking and search engine referencing is definitely a good way to get customers to your side but again, you need more than average if you want to stay among the top of the GSP offers around your region. Setting up a strong image may help you in getting that done. Remember the first impression rule or the five first minutes proverb when designing your site and your tools.

The company we are plannig to setup will not be created untill the next year and I dont plan to provide the gaming services publically before that because I need to consider every point required to get things done correctly. I am thinking about setting up a GSP for months (almost a year now) and I have evaluated, tested and investigated many aspects of it already but that does not make me ready. Patience is a virtue, and my advice to each and every one who wants to setup a GSP service is to take your time, the more the better your service should be.

Please feel free to post what you think is the most important for setting up a nice and last-longing business in the GSP field. Philosophy and concept may be the half of the job done and will definitely lead you and help you stay on the road of success.
Hey, you are in the same boat as me. I would love to start a GSP, but I am definitly not read yet as you are. Your plans are very nice but I only disagree with one thing (it might just be my misinterpitation.) You said to start of with multiple servers, you should only start off with one imo. Well one gaming one and one web server. You should also definitly own your servers and not just rent them.
realchamp Wrote:
Hazz Wrote:Has someone helped you on these forums? If so, help someone else
Mooga Wrote:OrangeBox is a WHORE.
Spartanfrog Wrote:Hey, you are in the same boat as me. I would love to start a GSP, but I am definitly not read yet as you are. Your plans are very nice but I only disagree with one thing (it might just be my misinterpitation.) You said to start of with multiple servers, you should only start off with one imo. Well one gaming one and one web server. You should also definitly own your servers and not just rent them.

Hey again,
Yes actually we are all in the same boat i think, it's just we may be navigating on different waters, and we might learn all from each other, that is why I may be re-posting things that could already be here.

Well I said a few because, on my opinion you should have at least 3:
SRCDS Live Server: The one you will rent (probably the most powerfull)
Research Server: For research, testing, benchmarks (could be home)
Web Server: To host the websites / mails (may be lass powerfull)

I was actually thinking in posting that in a new thread later today, as well as another post related to hosting providers, rentals, colocation, housing and so on, but thanks for the replies anyway.
I'm not yet sure what to do with these Guide parts yet but I'm sure I will find a nice place to put them in eventually, thanks for writing, very nicely done.
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Oh I thought you were talking about having three servers being used for hosting straight away. Gotcha, just slight misinterpitation Wink.
realchamp Wrote:
Hazz Wrote:Has someone helped you on these forums? If so, help someone else
Mooga Wrote:OrangeBox is a WHORE.

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