Multiple connections vs multiple players

I’m looking for some advice on the best practise setup with UE4s multiplayer architecture patterns.

We have a game where 8 computers are always connected on a LAN (backpack computers in a VR game). While we need all of those computers to be connected to the central game server so that the game master/dedicated game server can control various things … and most relevant to this question the ability to select only some of the computers to be brought into the game as players.

For example:

  • 8 back packs are on the wall and connected to the game server (presumably by player controller client travel)
  • only 3 people show up to play a session so… game master only wants to select backpack 1,2,3 to be brought into the playable game.
  • game master hits a button (3 player game), and only the 3 backpack computers load into the first level.

What is the preferred way to do this? All 8 backpack clients are connected to the game server, Only 3 backpacks play the session.