Pattern: Seamless World Game Server

Problem

How do we create a game server that permits unlimited freedom of movement and game play on an expansive map with no apparent boundaries?

Context

We are developing the server for a massively multiplayer online game with a client-server architecture. The game design seeks to create an immersive play experience by enabling thousands of players to interact with each other in a single huge virtual world. Continue reading

Pattern: Responsibility-Oriented Game Server

Problem

How do we distribute core game play load across multiple processes in a way that supports flexible scaling and efficient allocation of computing resources?

Context

We are developing the server for a massively multiplayer online game with a distributed architecture. The game design seeks to create an immersive play experience by enabling thousands of players to interact with each other in a shared virtual world. Continue reading

Invest in your Development Environment

Software architecture is about the big picture of development. It’s also about identifying and managing engineering risk. The development team is at the nexus of these two concepts. The team is your greatest asset, and the greatest contributor to the success of any software architecture. The big picture revolves around the development team and its ability to create the software for your game.

The team’s development environment is a cornerstone of its ability to deliver. A team with inadequate tools or support to do the work required is at least inefficient, if not ineffective. A team with an inferior development environment is a likely source of engineering risk. Continue reading

Pattern: Map-Centric Game Server

Problem

How do we distribute the load of running core game play functionality across multiple processes to support thousands of concurrent players?

Context

We are developing the server for a massively multiplayer online game with a client-server architecture. The game design seeks to create an immersive play experience by enabling thousands of players to interact with each other in a shared virtual world. Continue reading

Know what to Build: The Server Loop

The Know what to Build articles discuss how to identify our multiplayer game’s server architecture early in the project. This reveals technical risks and key engineering questions before we’ve invested much development time.

In a recent post I described how to assess the impacts of our game’s key design features on the server architecture. In this post I’ll describe a way to develop a high level estimate of the amount of work our server will have to do, to help us know what to build.

The Server Loop as a Model

Developing the architecture for our game server requires making trade-offs. Knowing how to do this requires a general understanding of the operations the server will perform, and the amount of work required.

We’ll use the server loop as a conceptual model for this. The server loop is a variant of the classic game loop pattern, applied to server-side functionality. Because this is just a model, we’ll ignore implementation details such as fixed or variable step sizes. Also, for now we’ll assume our server is single-threaded and runs on a single core machine. Continue reading