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Homefront dev explains the importance of dedicated servers


Following the wildly negative reaction to Modern Warfare 2's lack of dedicated servers on PC, one of the marketing bullet points for THQ's FPS Homefront has been its promise of such dedicated servers -- not only on PC, but on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, as well. But how important are they?

"You have to think about your constraints when you're making a game," Homefront senior designer Brian Holinka, of developer Kaos Studios, explained to us at a recent press event for the game. "If we host a server on a console, all of a sudden, that console is both server and it's playing the game. That really lowers everything: player count, the number of vehicles, everything. Dedicated servers allow us to offload all that work and basically all the client has to worry about is running the game."

Through dedicated servers, Homefront will support a chaotic 16-versus-16 online mode, where every player can summon a vehicle at will. "It means everything is bigger -- there's more players, more vehicles, more targets, more airstrikes," Holinka hyped.

"It really helps us offload a lot of work," he reiterated about the servers, "and now our scope is a lot bigger." But can you really call a 32-player match "a lot," when a game like MAG has littered the virtual battlefield with 256 players? We asked Holinka why Kaos wasn't using the dedicated servers to expand the number of players per match even further, and he reminded us that "we had more in Frontlines," the studio's previous game. Apparently, the team tested out larger battles for Homefront, but "it just didn't work," Holinka said. "We just found it wasn't fun. It just plays better at 32."

"If you played a level with 50 or 60 people in there," the developer found, "every time you turn around, you'd get shot."

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