Need Help Understanding Player Controllers in C++

I started with the Twin Stick Shooter C++ template. I have my space ship pawn class and have added in a lot of functionality with C++ and want to keep going.

My main goal is to make a multi-player version of a twin stick shooter. I have replicated pawn movement and firing and so forth but I am getting hung up on spawing a new pawn once you are destroyed.

I am using the built in multiplayer testing within the launcher (I just set the number of players to 2+ and test everything)

I have done all the inputs and movement handling inside the pawn class and I do NOT have a custom player controller class, and I’m wondering if that’s the source of some of my problems.

I have no custom spawning code when the game begins, the game just gives me the number of pawns I tell it to from the editor.

When my pawn dies I do this in the pawn class: (This is called when the player get’s killed)

void ATestPawn::Explode()
	GEngine->AddOnScreenDebugMessage(1, 15.0f, FColor::Red, "I'm a dead man.");


	auto gameMode = GetWorld()->GetAuthGameMode();
	auto TestGameMode = Cast<ATestGameMode>(gameMode);


And in my Game Mode I’m doing this:

void ATestGameMode::RegisterPawnDeath(APlayerController* PlayerController)
	//if (!PlayerController) return;
	FActorSpawnParameters params;
	params.bNoCollisionFail = true;
	params.Owner = this;
	params.Instigator = NULL;
	params.bDeferConstruction = false;

	auto PlayerStart = GetWorld()->SpawnActor<APlayerStart>(APlayerStart::StaticClass(), FVector(0, 0, 210.0f), FRotator::ZeroRotator, params);

	PlayerController->Possess(SpawnDefaultPawnFor(PlayerController, PlayerStart));

This code works for the player who is also acting as the host/server but it does not working for any other players.

My problem is that I don’t really understand player controllers. Do I have to manually assign them to the pawns? Do I need to override the default behavior of spawning in a new player when the game starts and then have the server assign a pawn a player controller that the server keeps a record of? If that’s the case How do I do that? I don’t really know where these player controllers are coming from and how to properly manage them.

Any insights would be very helpful thank you.