Netgames 2010

 

The full programme for Netgames 2010 (Taipei, Taiwan, 16-17th November 2010) is online. Netgames is the main conferences that covers issues related to Networked Graphics. Some papers that looking intriguing are:

 

The Near-Term Feasibility of P2P MMOG's

John L. Miller (Microsoft Research & University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Jon Crowcroft (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)

 

A Protocol for Distributed Collision Detection

Tom Ching Ling Chen (McGill University, Canada)

Clark Verbrugge (McGill University, Canada)

 

Scaling Online Games with Adaptive Interest Management in the Cloud

Mahdi Tayarani Najaran (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Charles Krasic (University of British Columbia, Canada

 

A Measurement Study regarding Quality of Service and its Impact on Multiplayer Online Games

Michael Bredel (Leibniz Universitat Hannover, Germany)

Markus Fidler (Leibniz Universitat Hannover, Germany)

 

Interactivity Improvement of Group Synchronization Control in Collaborative Haptic Play with Building Blocks

Pingguo Huang (Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan)

Yutaka Ishibashi (Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan)

Norishige Fukushima (Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan)

Shinji Sugawara (Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan)

Bandwidth Aid

 

 

An article by Vinod Tandon in last month's Develop magazine (September 2010), discusses bandwidth issues from the perspective of someone working within SCEA's Online Technology Group. Unfortunately the online version of the article only shows the first two out of three pages. This is a very basic discussion of some techniques to reduce bandwidth, including network topology and message aggregation. The third page has some interesting statistics about the upstream bandwidth profiles of PSNet users. This informs the situation where one of the players hosts the server, rather than using a centralized server. In North America there is a smooth spread of upstream rates, with two peaks at 513-768kbps (17% of connections) and 2049-8192kbps (24%). The European one has two peak also, with 513-768 (19%)  769-1024 (21%) being one peak, and then 49153+ (19%). To compare in North America only 4% had  49153+. Japan and Korea have much better upstream bandwidth. 50% of Japanese users have 49153+ whilst 38% have 8193-49152kbps. In Korea 94% have 49153+kbps.

The implications for peer to peer games are quite significant. In North America a peer-hosted service could suffer on outbound bandwidth, thus limiting the number of players. Relatively few people can host large games. In Europe there is a large group who could host such games, but there may not be such a person within any social group. However, people who select to host games are likely to be able to get the bandwidth to attract players. In Japan and Korea it is much easier as most players have the upstream bandwidth to host large games.

 

 

EVE Online Architecture

 

CCP Games have a very interesting set of articles on their developer blog about how they tackle lag in EVE Online. EVE Online is interesting in that they claim that the world isn't sharded, but its not the case that any player can interact instantaneously with any other player with the full game mechanics (i.e. ship to ship space combat in this case). In the book we called this primary awareness. The world is effectively partitioned in to individual solar systems, and there is primary awareness within a solar system, but only secondary awareness amongst the rest of the cohort. Its obviously not "sharded" in the same way as other games, but calling it "shardless" is a little bit of a stretch in our opinion.

Anyway, the articles are an interesting overview of where the lag comes from, the server/cluster architecture, how they test failure conditions under congestion events and how the architecture interacts with game play and bug fixes.

The EVE Online website is full of interesting articles, it is well worth poking around. For example, you can read about their cluster network and their three-layer server architecture.

 

 

Packet Flight

 

Packet Flight is a fun system for visualizing network traffic. There are some example videos here, and the source code is available on github.

This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities

I discovered Jim Rossignol's book This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities, via Massively, an MMO news which I browse through occasionally, though the volume of posts is somewhat daunting! The book discusses Jim's own experiences as a Quake player based in London,  discusses gaming in Korea and has a long piece about gaming in EVE Online. Its a very good read and best of all, its free to read online.

Jim Rossignol also runs the Rock Paper Shotgun website which is an excellent source of news about PC gaming that avoids typical fanboyishness.