Has some of you may have noticed, a few European public rooms are up for quite a while now, since about the beginning of 2017. You can see the HF Room List here. How was this accomplished and why does it matter?
For those who are not contextualised, in the beginning of HF v0.7 and previous versions, there were plenty of public rooms worldwide. So, mostly everyone could play network mode by simply joining a public room and meeting other players online.
The delay, or lag, in game play was dependent on the distance and network stability between the players and the room. So, one of the problems with the public rooms dwells in the lag caused by the players who live far away from the Room Server location, and who will inevitably join it, as there may not be any closer Room Server to their location. For this reason, the more servers worldwide the better. And also for this reason there are rooms with and without latency limit for joining.
As HF v0.7 stopped being profitable due to the cracking of the game and other issues, the sustainability of the public rooms became a burden to the author, and therefore they were taken down. Being initially developed with the Java programming language and including a GUI, these rooms were run on Windows Server OS, which generally comes with an expensive hosting service.
So, no more public rooms since around 2014. The only way that players could play network mode was by using the Room Server program themselves, which was not always a possible or straightforward process, due to port forwarding issues on their routers, as explained on this page.
So, last year while discussing this issue with LFE members on #lfe IRC channel, I came across a possible way of bringing the public rooms back.
The idea, by Lord Silva, was simple, but it required quite some work to get it going. I had to translate the whole Room Server program from Java to C++11. Special thanks to Someone else for helping me with this task, his advice and code review was very much valuable. Having the program efficiently written in C++ and without GUI would allow me to run it on mostly any Linux machine with very little effort.
So, in order to have these public Room Servers rolling, we need you, the hardcore player community. How can you contribute?
If you own any Linux/Windows/Mac server that runs nearly 24/7, you may contact me so that we can set up the program on your server. If you do not own one but are interested in technology and maybe into programming, keep reading.
I myself was able to set up 24/7 rooms in Lisbon by acquiring a Raspberry PI 3. This very cheap computer, the size of a credit card, is more than enough to run the application. It is powered by a mobile charger and uses a Micro SD for storage and running the Linux OS. A Raspberry PI 3 is more than you need though, you can do with a Raspberry PI 0 W, which is only ~10£ without any accessories.
So, if you are interested in doing projects with it, such as having a media center with Kodi, or web server, etc, and are willing to have it powered on and connected to the internet 24/7, you may contact me so that we can use it for the HF Room Server as well!
The more public rooms the better, so that lag can be reduced and more players can enjoy the game. ^^