I'm sad that it's gone and would like to see it back, but I can't volunteer to organise or coordinate this or put any significant time into it, I'm afraid. I think cazfi cannot either (although I don't speak for them), and I don't know of any freeciv.org maintainer that can. Any group that volunteers to do this will have to be basically self-organising.
Revival discussions / offers that I have heard about so far:
- The Discord group currently discussing this topic (already posted in announcement thread). People behind that include Caedo from here and @schwartztronica on Twitter
- There is also an offer from Máximo Castañeda (lonemadmax, an active code contributor) on freeciv-dev.
play.freeciv.org is/was a separate VM on the same host as freeciv.org (this forum etc) and wz2100.net. I and other freeciv.org maintainers have access to the VM host, so we have effective control of the VM. Currently I can't log in via the front door, so I can't assess the state of things, but we will be able to take control if necessary.
So, if there are savegame files on disc, then it should be possible to rescue them. Similarly if the user database is still there. If I get in, I will try to take a backup onto my personal backups as a backstop against loss (I'm not aware of any previous backups of play.freeciv.org), although I don't commit to sorting through what is there.
However, the running of the processes on that VM was entirely up to freeciv-web people; certainly I was not actively involved and don't know about how it is set up. I don't know for sure but I think it was only Andreas that logged in day-to-day and knew the setup; I don't know that any other freeciv.org maintainer ever logged in. In practice, play.freeciv.org was run almost entirely separately from the rest of freeciv.org (which I am more active in).
The source code of freeciv-web is public (on Github); there is some documentation there which looks like you would be able to set up another instance, although it's not something I've tried. I don't know whether there is any ancillary stuff about the play.freeciv.org installation (website, authentication, forum etc) which is not covered by that, that a replacement would need.
Resource requirements if you want to host this yourself: in terms of network bandwidth, in February play.freeciv.org consumed 10-15Gbyte/day (mostly outbound) and this was fairly typical. I don't know offhand what it needs in terms of CPU/RAM/disc, but I think it is the most demanding of our VMs (more than wz2100.net); let's say you won't be running an Internet-facing instance on a Raspberry Pi. The host is currently a PX90 from this list.
We (remaining freeciv.org admins) haven't discussed yet what it would take to convince us to give a set of new maintainer(s) keys to the official play.freeciv.org instance. I've started that discussion. I expect the deal would be, you get a Linux VM, you have to do everything else including installing and maintaining freeciv-web and its dependencies.
I haven't got a good picture of what running play.freeciv.org involved, but I think a single person doing all of it is not likely to be sustainable, and an instance would be best run by a small group. Off the top of my head, I think a credible group would have to cover at least:
- development, including release management, bug triage, and deploying new versions
- sysadmin (keeping on top of updates, particularly of vendored components; security response; keeping it reproducible and documented, so it comes back after unplanned reboot; ideally backups; etc, etc)
- community (including abuse management)
(By the way, I don't mean for this forum thread to usurp discussion on Discord if that is where the community wants to coordinate this -- it is better for discussion to happen in a single place, and currently that seems to be Discord -- but I wanted this written down somewhere permanent.)