MMORPGs on the Cloud
How Cloud Computing can help Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
Oct. 21, 2009 08:30 AM
MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) are a sub-set of computer games where a large number of virtual players interact with each other online in the virtual world provided by the game. Games like World of Warcraft (WoW) and EverQuest fall in this category.
These games are distinguished by their sheer scale, both in terms of network bandwidth consumption and server resources required for supporting the millions of users who play against each other. This is the reason why most of them follow a “sharded” server structure. This approach reduces the computing and network resources needed to support a massive user base by sub-dividing the gaming environment into worlds. This enables the set of shards to collectively support a larger number of users than what can be supported by a single server.
Some problems faced by MMORPGs:
- · Geographic Location: Shards present in a particular geo-location will service gamers logging in from that locale only. The maximum gaming speed is decided by the slowest band-width connection. So a person logging in from a different geometric location can reduce the speed of gameplay massively.
- · On-Demand Gameplay: The pay-as-you-play model that most MMORPG’s run on enables the user to request resources at time of his/her choice. This coupled with a non-on-demand scalable architecture at the back end will cause a huge maintenance overhead. Systems will have to be maintained to support the peak load, resulting in huge quantities of unused computing power.
- · Maintenance issues: Maintaining huge datacenters spread all over the world is a huge burden in terms of the effort required to support such complicated hardware, lack of skilled manpower, and the difficulties of managing such an operation to service complicated and unpredictable user behavior.
How Cloud Computing can help:
- Cloud vendor takes care of SLA Management
- Shifting to the cloud will lift the burden of support and maintenance of Datacenters from the shoulders of the game provider. SLA’s provided by the Cloud Vendors (Amazon EC2's service-level agreement promises 99.5% service uptime.) will enable Game Development companies to focus on actual game development and R&D.
- Deployment of new DataCenters
- Shifting onto the cloud will drastically reduce the CAPEX expenditure and the logistics involved in setting up a new DataCenter. This burden now moves onto the cloud vendor.
On-Demand Scalability and dynamic resource allocation
On-Demand Scalability brought forth by the cloud will enable spawning of new server instances based on the actual demand, rather than keeping unused resources ready to service the peak load.
OPEX and pay-as-you-play
Seamless integration between the OPEX models set forth by cloud computing vendors and the pay-as-you-play will enable users to request more resources directly from the cloud vendor.