This is a small guide, not much technical on how to make a successful server. You may read some things that won’t be nice, but as I administrate servers and I am paid for it or I have 1 very successful low rate server and a promising mid rate, I guess that on a big part of it, I am right.
First of all you need to finalize your idea. What kind of server do you like? This is what you will make. Forget what is famous right now or what most players do want. Do what you like as long as it doesn’t conflict with other guidelines. When you make what you really love, will last more the enjoyment of doing it. When you do it because this is what players want, sometime you will hate it or worse, players will turn to something else and you will be left with a server that is not what public wants anymore and you don’t like it too. It is better to be 10 players online and enjoy the style/type of the server than be 1000 online and don’t.
After you finalize your idea you need to make a plan on how to make it true. Usual plan is:
1. Learn the software:
I guess you will use L2J or some fork. Personally I don’t use L2J anymore but a private fork. My alternative would be L2J or L2JOfficial. Learn the software as much as you can. How to set the JVM Heap Sizes, how Java works, do some Googling, read carefully the config files and waste some months to L2J Forums testing patches etc. It is a must to setup and use Eclipse SDK, there is a guide about it on L2J Wiki.
2. Avoid stupid customizations: Custom Armors, Weapons, Tattoos and things like that are supposed to be something like a curse. It is a direct mean that your server is boring as is so you need to farm for something. Lineage II is an amazing game, try to take advantage of it. Best moves I have seen on PvP servers are the Soul Crystals not to be sold but leveled by Raid Bosses and S weapons without SA or Enchant Scrolls not being sold on GM Shop and need to obtain them the normal way. Also a NPC Buffer where is needed, would be nice to have only Buffs like those in Clan Halls. Farming zones are sometimes nice depending on their purpose. If your are planning on making a PvP server and you want to add farming zones consider that it is a PvP server so Farming Area/s shouls include PvP. So make multiple teleports to the same area to avoid spawnkill, don’t set it as Peace zone and put a PvP/PK announcement mod. Best PvPs are done on Castle Sieges and Raid Bosses, take advantage of it.
3. Learn the OS:
I would use Linux and I suggest you do the same. Command line only! If you don’t know ho to setup Linux, use Google! A good alternative is to get a Ubuntu Server installation on your PC and experiment with commands. I suggest Ubuntu as a testing enviroment because there is a lot of documentation. Do not use Ubuntu on your server. Prefer Debian as it has better package management system (a system that installs and updates your server software through an online repository) than other distributions. My second alternative is CentOS. Linux is easy to use as long as you are chill and do’t panic. You can use VMWare for your experiments also.
If you don’t use Linux, use Windows Server 2003 RC2, not WinXP. But still I don’t know of Windows much so I can’t help.
4. Learn to secure:
Learn to setup a proper firewall and permissions. A good tactic is to use different database for loginserver with different use which will be able to access only loginserver database. Also if you use account manager on your website, make another user for it, which will be able to access the server only from webhost IP address and only the loginserver database. So in case someone «hacks» your website, won’t do damage far from accounts and their usernames. So you need to learn MySQL, file permissions depending on your filesystem and OS and to setup a firewall.
5. Choose hoster:
As I mention before I will refer only to Linux server hosting. You can use Google to look for Dedicated Servers. Dedicated Servers are machines that are located on special rooms, cooled with static IPs (usually more than one) and good connections. A minimum is 10Mbit unmetered (without limitations to the outbound bandwidth) or 100Mbit with 1000Gb monthly bandwidth. We are always talking about upload not download and about Dedicated Servers, not home connections (aka ADSL). I will not talk about ADSL or home connections. If you plan to host your server at home, stop here and get a life.
1Mbit upload is about 90 players, depending on how many players are in one area (the more players near each other, the more bandwidth) and what they are doing (PvP and Raid Boss exchange more packets than farming).
Hardware should be at least a Single Core CPU @ 2.4Ghz (not Celeron!) and 2Gb RAM. Recommended is any Dual Core CPU (not HyperThreating Single Core) with 4Gb RAM. Companies like Hetzner.de that offer only Linux OS machines, have very good offers like this:http://www.hetzner.de/de/hosting/produkte_rootserver/eq4/ which with good configuration can hold 2000 players at least. After Hetzner.de you may also check Exportal.pl
Better avoid hosting your machine in USA even if you live there as USA is very strict against Emulators and Copyright violations. Germany and Italy are very good options for their laws against EULAs and Germany has very good and cheap companies.
6. How to cover costs:
First of all I belive that no server does need donations. If you have just one server, you can easily afford it. You can have a server with 1000 players online and cost bellow 100 euro per month, depending on your OS and hoster. But it is possible. If you really need to reward donations, do it so you are not restricted by them. Always make sure you can afford the cost even if you get no donations and don’t rely on donations to pay the server. If you expect to cover the costs only by donations, you server will close in 3 months maximum. A good point is to put some rewards that don’t really damage gameplay, like Masks, Blessed Scrolls, Recipes etc. A good point is to avoid any rewards of S grade or above. Note that even if you have limited donations, your server can be called «donator» server and loose players because of that. So don’t expect limited donations can be innocent. Players may think that you give «unofficial» rewards etc, as this had heppened to many servers in the past. So in any way avoid donation rewards or at least discuss them before server opening with the players.
7. Game Masters:
L2J has a very good access level system. Look into L2J forums about it. Give your Game Masters limited access. No enchants, Item summon, GM Shop, Give skills, Level up. Even /kill can be harmful as some GM may use it to powerlevel players. If your GMs refuse to become GMs with that much limited access, kick them! You don’t need people that can be corrupted or that don’t understand this is about server’s good. Also YOUR admin GM char should have limited access too.
8. Forum Moderators:
Before you open server make sure you get at least on Forum Modarator and set Modarator access level to your Game Masters. Forum members should be able to tell them from simple members so they trust their word too. Also an organized forum is a beautiful forum that may transmit respect to new players.
First and most important tip: Do NOT host your website on your gameserver! Do not forget that. There can be stability and security flaws. Make something nice and simple. Not much crap on it. Use proper english and make sure you use some Top Level Domain (.com .net) and avoid free web hosting. You can have webhosting for 2 euro per month and a TLD (Top Level Domain) for 7 euro per year. This will make your server look far more professional. A good platform to base your server is Wordpress. For forum engine you may use PhpBB or SMF but make sure you have anti-spam protection.
An open, wiped Beta is the best advertisement. Must be wiped so players treat server as more serious. Should be at least 1 month long. This will give you the freedom to make any needed changes. Note that players don’t like any changes in gameplay. On every change you may use 1/10 player population which means that in 10 changes you have lost all your players if incoming players is less than outgoing. Also don’t forget to «spam» some forums before server opens to announce the future opening. This will give you time to prepare the ground and community to know what is coming so they are prepared if they choose to come to your server.
Other useful tips:
* Learn Java or at least learn to apply patches on Eclipse SDK or any other SDK you prefer.
* Get a Java coder on your project. Avoid «develpers» that know nothing more than some skill and HTML editing. These are not developers. Developers are those that are able to implement a feature from scratch not doing some modifications. Anyone can do modifications but very little can give birth to something new.
* Never help players with items or whatever. Not even if they tell you that will bring you 1000 players (even if its true). NEVER do that. If you girlfriend is a Lineage II players and threatens you that if you don’t make her character top level with top gear, she won’t have anal sex with you again, just divorse her or… make her (limited) GM (so you can do anal whenever you want, what is better excuse than GM access?!). Generally giving items is like a curse. Once done, your server is doomed.
* Never do GMs players who say that if you do so, they will bring a branch of people with them. Generally don’t make any trades with players.
* Learn how to configure MySQL configuration. Never use default one and set MySQL on its own hard drive. This can make your server perform far better and save you from some «lag» exploits.
Credits to Nekys Linkback: https://l2topzone.com/forum/l2-java-projects/16/-guide-how-to-make-a-successful-l2j-server/1163/