How not to query a Quake, Halflife, RtCW, FarCry game server status via PHP…

This is the story of a man who simply want to create a nice page describing the users of a few games servers for a Return to Castle Wolfenstein mod called The WildWest.

He was over joyed when he stumbled across a PEAR module called GameServerQuery. He’d spent hours and hours trying to get QStat to work on his 1and1.com server, but it never did work and no one could tell him why. He spent additional hours trying to find a PHP module that did the same thing, but everything he found was a wrapper for QStat. He’d given up on the search a full year before he stumbled across PEAR’s GameServerQuery. So, you can just imagine his joy.

Well, that joy was short lived…as the pain soon began. If you don’t want to know the whole sad story, feel free to jump ahead to the summary section where you can see the final results and decide what will best work for you.

The Painful Process

Now, if you are on a shared server, chances are you cannot install cusotm modules until you gotten your own instance of PEAR up and running. Read about how to do that here. After you have done this you are ready to install the GameServerQuery module.

Here’s how an average user would install the GameServerQuery module:
pear install –alldeps Net_GameServerQuery

Except that for 1and1, it won’t work. That command asks PEAR to install the latest officially released version. Right now that’s version 0.2.0. An Alpha release. And by default, 1and1.com only allows stable versions to be installed in a generic request.

So you have to request a specific version. Here’s how you do that:
pear install –alldeps “channel://pear.php.net/Net_GameServerQuery-0.2.0”

BUUUUUT for 1and1.com, that won’t work. It gives you an error that Net_GameServerQuery requires PHP version 5 but the default version installed on 1and1.com is version 4.4.2. But as loyal readers of TheCodeCave.com know, all 1and1.com users can run php 5 with a 1 line change to .htaccess. However, even with that change, PEAR has no way of determining that, at runtime, php5 will be used instead of php4. So, you have to tell the module to install no matter what… To do this you override that option by adding the –force option. Just like this:
pear install –alldeps –force “channel://pear.php.net/Net_GameServerQuery-0.2.0”

AND THAT installs GameServerQuery!

Hooray!!!

Except…. that this version doesn’t work. It is all full of alpha version issues. For example, it was obviously written on a Windows Machine for all of the slashes are back slashes instead of forward slashes. That simply won’t work on a Linux server. It’s a novice PHP programmer mistake. Another problem is that as the code is written on 1and1.com, you would have to put a php.ini file in every PEAR GameServerQuery subdirectory. And that’s just not the way to do things!

Fortunately the newest version of GameServerQuery is available through CVS to install:
http://cvs.php.net/viewvc.cgi/pear/Net_GameServerQuery/?pathrev=RELEASE_1_0_4

However, my CVS program is royally messed up right now and I haven’t needed it for ages. So I wasn’t about to mess with it again. So I decided to build an htm file from the contents of the XML file
(http://cvs.php.net/viewvc.cgi/pear/Net_GameServerQuery/package.xml?revision=1.4&content-type=text%2Fplain&pathrev=1.4) that describes the source files in the repository.

I REALLY think that should have been the hard way to do it. But I could not figure out the url for the zip or tarball for that release. If you know of an easier way to download a zip of a specific version of a viewvc processed cvs archive, I’d REALLY like to hear from you!

But anyway, I did the old right-click-save-as dance for all of the files and put them in the appropriate directories. I’ll save you that work. Here’s a zip: GameServerQuery_1_0_4.zip

You can extract it to the PEAR/PHP directory or to your web directory…

I have zipped up the examples too:
GameServerQuery_1_0_4_examples.zip

They’ve been somewhat mutilated by me in my testing. You can get the real ones here:
http://cvs.php.net/viewvc.cgi/pear/Net_GameServerQuery/docs/examples/?pathrev=RELEASE_1_0_4
if those don’t work.

Version 1.0.4 is a working version (with one minor change) of GameServerQuery and produces very nice report of the server properties and reports.

BUUUUUT it won’t run 1and1.com. This one is not their fault. It won’t ANY shared server to the best of my knowledge. I have seen at least one reference saying that access to socket level communication is restricted to root level access on (all?) shared server environments. It makes some sense that it would be. There is only 1 machine and that one machine might have to try and leverage a common socket across many different virtual servers. 1and1 just won’t/can’t let a single server lock up a socket.

What will happen when you try to connect out on a port, is that you will set off all sorts of internal alarms and you’ll get an email from the Customer Compliance Operatives (I’m serious – that’s how they sign their emails: “Customer Compliance Operative – 1&1 Internet Inc.”), but that’s a tale for another time.

So, what do you do? Well, it is simple. You use XAmPP to create a server on your local windows machine. Don’t bother with the whole PEAR install thing, just extract the zip (with directories in tact) to the folder that contains your example files and all will work beautifully. Then you just need to modify the scripts to produce static files and upload the results to your 1and1.com account on a regular basis – say every 15 minutes or so. Easy Peasy!

Summary

While manually downloading the 1.0.4 version of GameServerQuery produces a functional report on dedicated webservers, for it will not work on vitual hosts, you get a basic array in return and must do all the needed formatting yourself. The example files show some simple ways to do that. As shown here:
Game Server Query Pear Module output

Now that I knew the terms to search for, I was able to find another package on SourceForge that does this exact same thing in a much more professionally refined fashion. The package is called PHGStats. It includes an installation script that guides you through creating a configuration file for the servers you will monitor. It produces will formatted pages with special functions for each game, such as color code support in server and player names.
With very little configuration, you get nice server lists that look like this:

PHGStats server list.

and player lists that look like this:
PHGStats player list.

I think both tools have their place. I will probably use the QueryGameServer to create a program that monitors the servers and emails people when there is somene waiting around for a game. I’ll probably have it check the servers every 3 minutes or something like that. The second heavy weight tool will be used to generate pages every 15 minutes or so…