Networking nightmares

Our latest technology field overview tackles the thorny online space
Author:
Publish date:

These days it's pretty inconcievable that a developer would ship a game with an online component - but do they understand quite what they're letting themselves into?

That's the question we asked online middleware providers as we scope out the online field - and discover that, these days, lag isn't the main thing you should be worried about.

The biggest change, especially as games begin to integrate more social networking features directly within the front-end, is the necessity for a strong back-end infrastructure to track scores, performance and user-generated content - which, according to GameSpy director Todd Northcutt, "complicates the picture, both financially and operationally, for most developers and publishers."

It's this necessity not only for network code but also infrastructure support that's seen middleware providers in this field to morph into service providers as well, working with developers to build and host the server back-ends that power things like 24/7/365 in-game content stores such as in Rock Band or SingStar.

And it's in that area that developers need help, because the potential problems are orders of magnitude bigger than in offline code.

”Imagine this scenario: a single, difficult to replicate bug in a game that happens once in a while may lead to ten crashes a day across all the gamers that bought your game,” says Quazal's Henry Ryan.

“However, if a similar bug on the back-end would make it crash ten times a day – effectively disconnecting all players – the affected number of players would be considerably higher than a client-side problem."

For more of our overview on the online space, check out the full article here.

Related

2_MGS_online.jpg

Networking opportunities

It may be the marvel of the modern age, but the internet can be a hairy place when dealing with time-critical applications like games. We take a look at the sector and what middleware companies are doing to helpâ?¦

2_FrankPuranik.jpg

Succesful networking

With the amazing growth in online games, ensuring playability can no longer be an afterthought, says Itheonâ??s Frank Puranik. Here he explains how to get networking rightâ?¦

2_fracture.jpg

Networking round-up

When it comes to networking middleware, efficient multiplayer is just expected, but community and commerce tools are highly prized, reckons Jon Jordan