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What should I pay attention to when I put a server online?


I have here a general question to all and think that many are interested in this topic.

There are guides everywhere how to install a server and get it online, but no one says anything about how to proceed.
What do you have to protect yourself against?
How can you protect yourself properly?

And then comes the question about donations.
Which payment methods should or can be offered?
Do I have to register a business?
What about taxes?

Especially for those who plan a project for a longer period of time, these are important topics that should be discussed or explained.
Many out there have gained their experience and maybe share it with us here.

How do I get to this topic?
Well, I put my project online a few years ago and everything went well for a while.
Then at some point PayPal came and blocked my account for a certain time until the misunderstanding was cleared up.
It was about PayPal accusing me of money laundering because of many small amounts of money that came in.
In addition to this, there was the problem that a player who was banned was on an official server (in this case fRO) and advertised our server to cause us problems.
I had a long conversation with them.
Actually they couldn't touch me, because the grey area is with the client.
But that's exactly what leads me to start this topic to avoid certain problems and to know beforehand what I can and cannot do.

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Running a private server for RO isn't illegal in the sense that you wont get in trouble unless you go public with it (IE advertising or you allowing connections to it  outside of your home network). How you handle donations is completely up to you. You can either go through the right channels and try to make everything legal or you can do what 98% of server owners do and just keep all the money hidden under the table and not even worry about taxes. That all depends on your country of origin. 

Things to protect yourself against are cheaters and DDOSers. Both of these can cause a disruption to your server and it's players. Most digital hosts provide free or paid DDOS protection so that you don't have to worry too much about. Protecting against cheaters is a different story all together. There are many different cheats from macros(autopot programs or keys), custom job sprites that reduce frames for animations, bot programs to autolevel, and in my general opinion GRFs that remove textures and replace them with modified textures to give players an unfair advantage in PVP/WOE. 

If you want to avoid legal issues all together with Gravity, Don't use anything official by gravity in your server. Maps, Classes, Skills, Headgears, monsters, etc the whole nine yards. This includes their UI. So overall you'd need a custom client as well. While it is possible to do this, it would take extremely large amounts of time, money, and effort. You'd basically be paying to make a new game entirely because rAthena's emulator is not the illegal part of running a private server. It's using Gravity's files in your server.

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> Look for a good host.

> Put proxy server for players all over the world.

> Have a GM team who isn't a playing GM.

> Make sure to balance your custom items if you are putting customs. 

> Have an anti cheat system (Gepard Shield).

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