Authoritative Dedicated Server questions

I am producing a Space Carrier battles game that is multiplayer RTS (1 vs 1). The gameplay heavily revolves around fog of war so the incentive to hack the client and and cheat would be immense. The only way to protect against this is authoritative server with syncing states (so no fully deterministic lockstep simulation on clients). Normally this would be too networking expensive for an RTS, however, my game uses flight plans for the fighters and currently only simulates them on the formation level (so only 50 units max per side).

My current planned solution is to do a hybrid lockstep model where clients simulate their own forces using client side prediction. The clients send the server flight plans for the fighters instead of constant updates. The Air formations usually travel in straight paths with little deviation most of the time and so I can get away with sending very infrequent updates. I would have to send constant updates of enemy positions, but during the game, the player usually doesn't see a lot of enemy units most of the time due to the fog of war nature of the game. During battles, the networking could spike, but the battles would be generally short and I could get away with not everything being perfectly in sync since they are just air formations engaging and not individual fighters so as long as the damage and fighter losses are communicated correctly, the players wouldn't notice deviations as much.

Due to non-deterministic simulation, the client and server will go out of sync, but I can also do a state sync very infrequently and get away with it due to the networked flight waypoint paths so units that go out of sync don't deviate that much. I have done some napkin math and the networking bandwidth looks like it can be made to work under the 500 msg/sec limit and stay close to the 3 GB per CCU that photon offers without paying extra for bandwidth. If the 500 msg/sec is too low, I believe I can bundle messages together and keep it under 500.

My main problem is I have no idea how to estimate the costs of dedicated servers. I have also tried to research PUN vs Bolt, and the different photon packages and I am not sure what to go with. I need to be able to use a authoritative server to minimize cheating since cheating would absolutely break the game (to the same level that playing multiplayer poker would be broken if you could hack the client and see the opponent's cards). Ideally, I would like to have the possibility of dedicated servers but I have no idea how to estimate the expense that would be. I don't need to do any physics simulations or path-finding, but I do need to run AI on the dedicated host.

So my questions are:
1) What is the ballpark range of cost to have a dedicated server where 100 units being simulated with AI without path-finding or physics simulations. Just to know any kind of ballpark range would be very helpful.

2) Which photon packages would be best for a dedicated authoritative server model where I can control how frequently I send updates.
Sign In or Register to comment.