Gamers take on our 7D2D hosting approach
The other day I had a plesure to talk to one of our customers - Jonathan Robertson // Kanaverum and this captures his view on it
What you like and what would you change in our hosting?
I don't have a lot of experience with ... maybe the right word is 7DTD-Specific hosts (?) and am more used to spinning up a fresh linux server I have total control over to run 7DTD or other games on.
So signing up for this kind of service is a first for me, but the intense draw here was the extreme affordability. Hosting this through my traditional pure-linux node provider would easily exceed $80 a month due to the Darkness Falls RAM overhead alone.
While I think that some admins prefer to manage their instance via the official control panel and Alloc's map view, I personally prefer SSH. I don't get access to the CP here, but I do have full access to the admin control panel either through the game, or via your website in a pinch and think this is a worthwhile compromise for the price. You even provide me with Telnet Port exposure if I want it, which is great.
I can also see the logic in preventing the CP ports since I never enable the CP either lol
Not sure I trust it to remain secure, tbh, but maybe that's totally unrelated to your decision.
Preventing access to serverconfig.xml makes sense to me because you're providing management of it through your site, which is quite nice, actually. And while there are a few very minor fields that don't work exactly the same (server description length, for example), I suspect it's slightly more restrictive to avoid server crashes due to character/config-related issues and to err on the side of caution.
Lower Cost of Support (I suspect)
I've noticed that less experienced admins have a tendency to try and manipulate the data files in-place (which often leads to broken server configs, EAC violations, frustrations) instead of taking (or having) the time to learn how to make a modlet , so I would suspect that preventing direct file access actually saves you a ton of time in support and saves your customers a ton of time in frustration.
Less support = Less cost, so I suspect this is a decision that ultimately supports a lower cost for all admins - which is awesome
So your service provides an incredibly low price-point from my perspective, with the trade-off being I have less control over how it runs.
I think you all handled the 19.6 upgrade very well and very quickly, which reinforces the idea that the low price-point is less about providing reduced/inferior support and more about providing thoughtful, targeted reduction of access/customization in support of eliminating common problem areas.
How I currently (and plan to) recommend this service to what I view as different kinds of admins
Someone trying to play with friends: an awesome, affordable alternative to hosting a P2P game from your house. Support for Darkness Falls is a breeze, but even vanilla is great, too. Around $10 a month allows your buddies to get on without you having to be logged in and this provides a surprising amount of value for friends.
Somewhat experienced admin: While this host might not support the kind of management you're used to, but most of that functionality can be accessed via the Admin Console and with API mods that add to the Admin Commands you can use. You can connect remotely with Telenet to manage from local. Take time to learn the admin commands and you may be surprised. But if you can't live without LiveMap or the Control Panel, this might not be what you're looking for.
Experienced admins and/or heavy modders: if you're sticking with XML and/or API mods and aren't trying to receive network traffic outside of the game and Telnet, this service should have you covered. But if you need OS access, want to swap out your serverconfig.xml file on a scheduled basis for events or whatnot, or are doing next-level things like dynamically swapping out region files between multiple servers for bracketing, etc., this service likely won't handle your production needs... But it can still be used as a testing platform for most of what you probably need at an incredible price.
For improvements, specifically, I think supporting Control Panel hosting and some mild port management would attract more customers. But I also suspect that doing so could be like opening Pandora's box.
Right now, this service seems simple enough for a newbie to use and not so restrictive that an experienced modder can't get it to do things "the right way" (so long as that doesn't involve hosting a website, etc.).
But for that admin in the middle who knows enough to make something happen on a traditional host, but not enough to avoid mistakes that could hurt his own instance and possibly the performance of other instances on a shared host... that could be tricky to support.
If I had to make a recommendation, it would be to continue doing whatever you're doing that allows you to remain profitable (longevity, survivability of the service) and so affordable.
Do you think we are known in the community?
That's a good question and I'm honestly not sure.
I've heard of some hosts here and there, but can't recall a time where someone was super passionate about one host in particular.
So that's why we just started looking on our own and ran a simple search for 7 days to die hosting.
The result for your site had a summary that really worked for me:
Hosting a 7 Days to Die with us gives you more than just a custom control panel, backups of your config files, game files management, settings editor, mod/modlets and modpack loader, top-tier DDoS Protection, friendly support, and much more.
When I jumped in, the prices made my jaw drop and it actually made me a little suspicious at first lol
But you guys offered a 30 day satisfaction refund (I believe) and that was good enough for me to sign up.
Plus it was only $10.
The experience from discovery to purchase was a really good one. And (this might make you laugh) seeing Stripe as the payment provider made me feel even more excited :)
We opted to start a fresh map, so everything was running within maybe 10 or 15 minutes?
So if you aren't well known enough, I think that will be changing in the future.
It's just so easy to set up an instance and start playing :)
Thanks a lot Jonathan!