Overview

Overcast is our new, dedicated cloud-based hosting service for SmartFoxServer 2X that provides a complete stack to build and run rich multiplayer experiences at any scale.

With Overcast developers can deploy any number of SFS2X instances in the cloud, world-wide, with a simple web-based interface. Each instance runs in its dedicated server with unlimited CCU and provides 100% of the SmartFoxServer 2X features. This means that customers can deploy and run their server-side Extensions, tweak the server settings to their needs, integrate other services and libraries, etc.

Overcast also allows to spawn any number of MySQL servers with a few clicks, offering high capacity storage for your games that integrates directly with SmartFoxServer.

By running on top of the Amazon's AWS infrastructure, Overcast ultimately provides a flexible and reliable one-stop shop for running multiplayer games with all the necessary tools, from storage to web services to security and server code. All within reach of your web browser.

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Features

The following are the most prominent characteristics of Overcast.

Automated installation

From the Overcast admin you can launch new servers and get going within minutes. The OS, support software and all the necessary setup is done automatically behind the scenes. Servers can be monitored in real time from your dashboard and with the respective dedicated admin tools.

All SFS2X features in the cloud

You get 100% of the SmartFoxServer 2X features which means a fully authoritative game server, local and remote storage, advanced match making, invitation systems, persistent buddy lists, security and performance tools and tons more.

No CCU or DAU limits

Every SmartFoxServer 2X instance runs with no CCU or DAU limits. We offer a wide range of server tiers with different quotas of CPU, RAM and network bandwidth. Based on your game type and requirements we will guide you to choose the most appropriate hardware type.

Private network

All the servers launched in the same region share the same private sub-network. This means that multiple SFS2X instances can communicate with each other and with the database(s) at ultra-low latency (e.g. <1ms.)

Secure environment

All servers are launched with a predefined set of security measures like firewall, administration access control, etc.

You can also fine tune extra security settings in both SFS2X and MySQL via their respective admin tools.

Dedicated MySQL instances

With Overcast you can launch any number of database servers and easily integrate them with SmartFoxServer 2X. You can also manage, customize and monitor your server via PHPMyAdmin through a secure connection.

Live monitoring

From the main Overcast interface you can monitor the state of every server in terms of CPU, RAM, network traffic and CCU count. Additionally you can access each server via their dedicated admin tool to dig deeper.

Snapshots for backups and cloning

Snapshots are a useful tool to store the entire hard drive of a server in the cloud and re-use it as a backup or as a template to spawn new instances.

World wide availability

In Overcast, servers can be launched in your geographical region of choice to minimize the client-server communication latency to grant the best gaming experience to your users. Is the region you need missing? Contact us to request its activation.

Based on Amazon's AWS infrastructure

Overcast runs on top of the Amazon's AWS infrastructure, one of the largest and most reliable cloud systems in the world. Thanks to its flexibility, we can provide multiple tiers with varying resource quotas (CPU, storage, bandwidth) to best fit your need while keeping the costs under control. And if our predefined tiers are not enough, we can offer customized services built around your requirements.

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How it works

This is a quick&easy guide to create your account, launch a server and administer it. Information about server snapshots and billing is also provided here.

How to setup an account

In order to create an Overcast account, please follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Overcast homepage and click on the Create your account link.
  2. Enter your contact name, email address (also acting as login name) and password of choice, confirming you are not a robot.
  3. You will receive an email address confirmation email: click the Activate account button in it.

After a successful login you can manage you account by visiting the Account page: at any time you can change your email address / login name (requires a new confirmation), your password or your contact name.

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How to setup a server

The following procedure will guide you in launching a server in Overcast.

Please note that before launching your first server you will need to enter your invoicing details and payment method on the billing page.

First of all you need to create at least one Application:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on the Create button.
  3. Enter the application name and an optional description.

You can now go though the server launch process by clicking the Create server button, then:

    1. Select the geographical region where the server will be located.
    2. Select the server type; currently SmartFoxServer and MySQL Database are available.
    1. Enter the server name and an optional description.
    2. Select the billing tier. A tier sets the available resources (CPU, memory, volume size, included data transfer) and the base monthly server price. For detailed information please visit this section.
    3. Select an existing snapshot if needed. A snapshot is a full image of a server, stored previously as described below (see How to store a server snapshot).
    4. If you didn't select an existing snapshot, enter the configuration parameters if requested. These are specific to the selected server type: for example, SmartFoxServer requires you to set a password for its AdminTool and select the version number you want to install.
    1. Select the prepaid billing plan, which determines the discount on the base server price shown during the previous step.
    1. Review the server configuration.
    2. Click the Confirm button to proceed with the payment: the credit card entered as payment method on the billing page is now charged.

The server is now started and the base software for the selected type (SmartFoxServer, MySQL) is installed and launched automatically. Please note that the installation process can take several minutes, during which the server state is "running-setup". When the state changed to "running", the server is ready.

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How to manage a server

Managing a server on the Overcast website is very simple:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on an existing application.
  3. Select one of the regions of your application (if you have servers in a single region, this is pre-selected).
  4. Click on one of the servers in the region.

The opened page shows some information about the server, such as its description and launch date. The page can be then split into a number of tabs, depending on the server type.

The main view (or General tab, in case of multiple views), common to all server types, shows the status of the server, its configuration and the network details to reach the server. In particular, for servers running SFS2X, the Status section also shows the CPU, network and concurrent users of the last 5 minutes.

And still speaking of servers running SFS2X, the Statistics tab shows detailed CPU, network and concurrent users diagrams of the last 7 days.

If a new version of the installed software (for example SmartFoxServer) is available, a notification is displayed near the version number in the Configuration section of the main view. A button is then available to schedule the automatic update of the server at an hour of your choice of the next day.

Click on the cog icon near the server name to display the server management menu. The available actions are:

  • Edit. You can rename your server or enter its description; both helpful to better identify a server in case of large applications made of multiple servers.
  • Take snapshot. You can store an image of the server, for backup or cloning purpose (read How to store a server snapshot below).
  • Reboot. You can restart the server's operating system; the hosted application (SmartFoxServer, MySQL) is launched again on reboot completion.
  • Terminate. You can stop a running server and delete it permanently.

The Actions menu is also available near each server on the servers' list.

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How to administer a server

If the application running on the server has its own administration web interface (i.e. SmartFoxServer's AdminTool), you can launch it from the server management page:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on an existing application.
  3. Select one of the regions of your application (if you have servers in a single region, this is pre-selected).
  4. Click on the toolbox icon near a server in the list.

As an additional security layer, a separate login must be performed before accessing the application's administration interface. The requested password is the one entered during the server configuration before its launch. As this password is not saved internally by Overcast, in case you forget it, the only option will be to terminate the server and launch a new one. Beware!

The toolbox button is also available on the server management page described above.

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How to store a server snapshot

Taking a snapshot of a server on the Overcast website is straightforward:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on an existing application.
  3. Select one of the regions of your application (if you have servers in a single region, this is pre-selected).
  4. Click on the cog icon near a server of choice.
  5. Click on the Take snapshot option.

The modal window that pops up requires you to enter a name for the snapshot and choose if the server should be restarted before taking it. This prevents possible file system integrity issues in the image, but of course it interrupts the service for a few minutes.

A snapshot is a full image of a server, therefore it contains all your data (for example the database tables and records, or the SmartFoxServer configuration and custom Extensions, etc).
The snapshot is stored in the same region of the parent server, but it is an independent entity: in case you later terminate the server, its stored image will be unaffected and it can be used to launch a pre-configured server. A snapshot can also be copied to another region, to be able to launch a clone of the original server in a different region.

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How to manage a server snapshot

You can execute a number of actions on the existing snapshots. In order to access them:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on the Snapshots menu item to go to the snapshots management page.
  3. Select one of the regions containing your snapshots (if you have images stored in a single region, this is pre-selected).

For each listed snapshot, the available actions are:

  • Edit. You can rename the snapshot, to better identify it when launching a new server from an existing image.
  • Copy. You can duplicate a snapshot in the same region or a different region. If an image is copied to a different region, it is treated as a new, independent snapshot, and billed accordingly. The Copy feature is useful to clone an existing server to a new region.
  • Delete. You can delete a snapshot permanently. All servers based on that image won't be affected and will keep running.

The Copy and Delete actions are active if the state of the snapshot is available only, which means that the creation of the image was completed successfully. Only available snapshots can be used to launch a server.

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How the billing works

In Overcast, billing mainly revolves around prepaid plans.

When launching a server, you have to select its tier, which sets the base server price, and the prepaid billing plan, which determines the discount based on the number of months you pay in advance for. Upon confirmation, the calculated amount is then charged on the credit card you have on file as payment method.

At the end of the prepaid period, the server is automatically renewed for the same number of months and its cost charged on the credit card again.

Other costs are charged on a monthly basis based on the actual resources consumption: this includes the over-quota data transfer and stored server snapshots.

All tier prices include the cost of data transfer of a maximum amount of gigabytes per month. In case this amount is exceeded, the additional data transfer is billed.
The cost of stored server snapshots is instead based on the volume size (in GBytes) and actual hours of storage.

All billing transactions are listed on the billing page:

  1. Go to the Overcast homepage and login if needed.
  2. Click on the Billing menu item to go to the billing page.

From there you can:

  • Review all billing transactions. For each one you can access:
    • a detailed report of the items that were billed (click on the magnifying glass icon);
    • a copy of the invoice you received by email, which provides an aggregated view of the billed items (click on the ticket icon).
    Pending billing transactions (due to a payment issue — also notified by email) are highlighted at the top of the tab. A Pay button is displayed to attempt the payment again.
  • Access a list of pending charges. Sometimes the billing of some services can be postponed due to a minimum amount not being reached yet. All pending charges will be automatically collected in a single billing transaction at a later date.
  • Enter or update your invoicing details. In particular, European companies should enter their Value Added Tax identification number, otherwise an additional 22% tax will be included in all your invoices.
  • Enter your credit card card details. Please note that your credit card number and verification code are never transmitted to us, and we will never have direct access to them, not even temporarily. As you enter them, they are immediately and securely transferred from your device to Stripe, the leading platform we rely on to manage online financial transactions.
    This tab also lists your previous payment methods, which you can remove by clicking on the recycle bin icon.
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Roadmap

Overcast was launched at the end of September 2020 in beta, with a base set of features that allows users to get started with all our services. In the mean time we keep working by expanding existing features and adding new ones.

While our beta release is already stable and reliable for production, we have lots of other ideas in store to extend the service.

Here is a quick list of what will be coming in the next months:

  • New server tiers: we're planning to extend the list of standard tiers available for SmartFoxServer 2X to add further flexibility and to support a wider range of applications. While we work on this we remind you that we already provide customized tiers so, if you don't find what you need, you can get in touch with us and describe your requirements.
  • SFS2X Clustering: this is a new feature for SFS2X that will add the ability to create clusters of game servers working together. Integrating this feature with cloud services allows for (almost) unlimited scalability.
  • Dynamic load balancing: with SFS2X Clustering we're planning to introduce automated load balancing. This will support building clusters that auto-scale under variable load, based on a number of parameters and with a high level of customization.
  • New server regions: we are planning to add support for more regions (e.g. northern and southern Europe etc.) to provide low latency servers from all around the world.
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Pricing

The price of a server running in the Overcast cloud depends on the region in which it is deployed and the tier and billing plan you select during the launch process.

A tier sets the AWS Elastic Cloud instance type (which determines the assigned CPU and memory), the included data transfer quota and the internal storage volume size. In case of servers running SmartFoxServer, it also includes the license fee.

The billing plan indicates the number of months you pay the server in advance. It can be 1, 3, 6 or 12 months and determines the discount applied to the base server price. The service is automatically renewed with the same billing plan at the end of the period.

Click here to visit the Service Pricing page on the Overcast website

Alongside the standard server tiers listed at the link above, we can also provide custom tiers for larger servers with different vCPU/RAM/storage and included data transfer configurations. For more information and/or a quote and tell us about your project and requirements.

In order to celebrate the launch of Overcast we're offering a 30% discount on all server plans until the end of 2020. The discount will be automatically applied to all new Overcast accounts created until the end of the year.
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FAQ

Please send us your questions. Most relevant and frequent ones will be listed here.

General

Billing

Server


General

Is Overcast similar to the likes of Unity Multiplayer or Photon Cloud?

Not really.
Photon Cloud is more of a match-making and message relaying system with no server authority, while Overcast offers cloud-based SmartFoxServer hosting, which is a fully server-authoritative solution. Each SmartFoxServer can be customized, extended with server side code and connected to local or remote storage, web services and more.

As regards Unity, until new information is provided, we know they are going to provide a cloud-based orchestration service, meaning that they manage the instantiation and scaling of multiple Unity engines acting as game servers. This however does not include lots of features such as lobbies, match making, user profiles, buddy lists and chatting, user privileges, kicking/banning, etc.

For a quick overview of the features offered by Overcast, check this page.

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What kind of multiplayer games can be run in Overcast?

SmartFoxServer 2X is able to tackle the vast majority of multiplayer game types with success as evidenced by our long time presence in the market and vast showcase of games made with it.

From turn-based to real-time strategy, from large MMOs to fast action shooters, SmartFoxServer 2X has all the necessary tools to handle your multiplayer requirements efficiently.

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How reliable is the Overcast service?

Overcast is built upon the Amazon AWS cloud services, therefore it provides similar guarantees of uptime and reliability. You can visit https://aws.amazon.com/it/compute/sla/ for additional information.

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Which regions are supported in Overcast?

During the beta phase we are supporting: United States (North Virginia), Europe (Frankfurt), Asia (Singapore). If you have special needs, you can contact us to activate new regions.

We plan to have more regions available for the final release.

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Do you offer advanced tier options beyond the standard ones?

Yes, if your game/application has specific hardware requirements (e.g. large memory usage, or high core count CPUs) we can offer a customized solution.

For inquiries you can contact us at .

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Is the current Overcast beta reliable enough as a production environment?

Yes, the Overcast environment is already stable and usable for production. The beta state indicates that we’re still working on adding secondary features and enriching existing ones according to our road map and customers’ feedback.

Billing

What are the costs of the Overcast service?

In Overcast you pay for the servers you are running. The price of a server depends on the tier and billing plan you select during the launch process. The tier price is based on the assigned vCPU, memory, internal storage and included data transfer; in case of servers executing SmartFoxServer, it also includes the license fee. The tier price also varies from region to region. The billing plan determines how many months you pay in advance and the applied discount on the base tier price.

A few additional costs may include the storage of server snapshots for backup and cloning purpose, or data transfer exceeding the quota included in tiers.

All the prices can be found on this page.

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How do you charge the cost of the service?

Before launching the first server in Overcast, you will need to enter a credit card as payment method. Whenever you launch a server, your credit card is charged according to the tier and billing plan selected for the server.

At the end of the period associated with the selected billing plan (1/3/6/12 months), the same billing plan is renewed and the tier cost is charged again. In case the monthly data transfer quota included in the selected tier is exceeded, the cost of the exceeding data transfer amount is billed on a monthly basis.

If server snapshots are stored for backup or cloning purpose, their cost is billed on a monthly basis according to their size and storage hours.

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What if I terminate a server before the end of the prepaid billing period? Do I receive a refund?

We are sorry, but we do not provide refunds. Prepaid billing plans offer a large discount (between 10% and 40%) on the base server price, but you committed to the entire billing period duration. It is your choice to terminate the server earlier.

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Are my credit card details stored securely?

Yes, your credit card details are stored securely by Stripe, the leading platform for online financial transactions. In no case we have direct access to your credit card number and verification code.

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How do I update my credit card?

You always have to enter all your credit card details, whether it's a new card or you just need to update the expiration date of a previously entered card.
Visit the billing page by clicking the icon in the main menu. Then go to the Payment Method tab and click the button on the page. Enter your credit card details and confirm with the Save card button.

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What if a payment doesn't succeed, for example due to additional authentication being required?

Sometimes, some credit card issuers require an additional "on session" authentication to be performed by the card owner. In such case or in case of other payment issues, the reason of the error and instruction will be provided on screen and by email.
You will usually just need to visit the billing page, which clearly shows the pending transaction and a Pay button. Click it and follow the provided instruction. In case the error persists, please contact us at .

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Server

Do I need a SmartFoxServer license to run it in Overcast?

No, everything is included in the price of the server tier you’ve chosen.

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Is SmartFoxServer limited to a certain amount of CCU when running in Overcast?

No, there are no CCU limits in SmartFoxServer. The only limits are the hardware resources available to the cloud server itself (vCPUs, RAM) which may restrict the maximum number of CCU. If you find yourself running short on resources, or you just need to extend the data transfer quota included in the tier price, consider moving your server to a higher tier or even a custom one. Check the pricing page form more information.

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Can I customize SmartFoxServer’s listening ports?

No, port values are fixed and they cannot be changed. Because every server is behind a firewall it would make it very complex to manage hundreds of servers each with different firewall settings. The ports allowed for SmartFoxServer are:

  • TCP/UDP 9933 (SFS2X native protocol)
  • TCP 8080 (HTTP and WS)
  • TCP 8443 (HTTPS and WSS)
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One of my server has become unresponsive, what do I do?

If you cannot log in the server instance via its administration tool, you should restart the machine. See the next entry to learn how.

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How do I restart one of my servers?

Once logged in the Overcast website, choose your application and from the server list click the icon next to the server you want to restart. Next click Restart.

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How do I associate a custom DNS name to one of my server(s)?

You should register a domain for your server(s) with your preferred registrar and use their DNS management to point to the server’s IP address.

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Are my servers allowed to talk to each others?

Yes. All the servers created in the same application and belonging to the same geographical region are also connected to the same local network, and therefore they can talk to each others. You can find each server’s private IP address by selecting the instance from the server’s list and checking the details.

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How do I migrate an existing server to a higher tier?

You can create a snapshot of the current server. This will take all the content stored in the local drive and store it in the cloud. Then you can create a new server instance with a higher tier and specify the previously created snapshot as the source for the new server.

To create a snapshot, log in the Overcast website, choose your application and from the server list click the icon next to the server you want to migrate. Click on Take snapshot, then follow the steps on screen.

To create a new server from the snapshot, log in the Overcast website, choose your application and click on the icon. Follow the steps on screen and when in the 2nd screen, choose the snapshot from the related drop down.

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Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be created in one account?

Each account is allowed to create 5 applications. If you need more you can contact us directly at explaining the scope of your project.

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Is there a limit to the number of servers per application?

Yes, every application instantiates a private subnet with 250 addresses, which is also the limit of servers that can be created in one application.

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Are applications limited to one region?

No, servers can be created in any of the available regions.

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What OS is used to run servers in Overcast?

All servers run under a Linux Ubuntu distribution.

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Is TLS/SSL encryption enabled out of the box for SmartFoxServer instances?

By default, no. TLS/SSL requires a valid certificate which can only be obtained for a web domain that you own.

If you decide to associate a custom domain name to your server(s) you can then obtain an SSL certificate for it and deploy it to SmartFoxServer via it’s AdminTool.

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