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How game studios can avoid common network and infrastructure issues

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How game studios can avoid common network and infrastructure issues
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Mathieu Duperré, CEO and Founder of Edgegap

It’s common for video game developers to launch a day-one patch for new releases after their games have gone gold. The growing size of video games means it’s inevitable that some bugs will be missed during the QA period and go unnoticed until the game is in players’ hands.

Some of the most common issues experienced by game developers at launch are related to network and infrastructure, such as the connection issues causing chaos in Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, as some players experience issues connecting to matches. And while there’s no way of eliminating lag, latency and disconnects from multiplayer games, developers can minimize the chances of them occurring and the disruption they cause by following a few simple steps.

 

Plan for the worst, expect the best

For many video game developers, the best-case scenario for the launch of their game – that it’s a huge hit and far more people end up playing it than they expected – can also be the worst-case scenario for infrastructure-related issues. An influx of too many players can lead to severe bottlenecking, resulting in lag and connectivity issues. In a worst-case scenario, servers become overloaded and stop responding to requests, usually leaving players unable to connect to online matchmaking.

Another worst-case scenario is planning for big numbers at launch and building the necessary infrastructure to support this, only for your game to launch and have nowhere near the traffic you were expecting. Not only is this a big problem for your bottom line, but things can get worse if you rush your search for an infrastructure provider and forget to read through the T&Cs properly.

Some infrastructure suppliers will onboard new studios on a fixed contract, not letting them scale back if they’ve overprovisioned their servers. Some infrastructure providers offer a lot of free credits, to begin with, only for those credits to expire after the first few months. Game studios then discover they’re responsible for fronting the cost of network traffic, load balancers, clusters, API calls, and many more products they had yet to consider.

With that in mind, try not to sign up for long-term agreements that don’t offer flexibility for scaling up or down. Your server setup has a lot to gain by being flexible, and your server requirements will likely change in the weeks following launch as you get a better idea of your player base; under-utilized servers are a waste of money and resources.

 

Test, test, and test again

You haven’t tested your online matchmaking properly if you’ve tested your servers under the strain of 1000 players, but you’re expecting 10,000 or 100,000 at launch. Your load tests are an essential part of planning for the worst-case scenario, and you should test your network under the same strain as if you suddenly experienced a burst in players.

Load testing is important because you’ll inevitably encounter infrastructure issues as your network comes under strain. Still, it’s only by facing those issues that you can identify them and plan for them accordingly once your game launches.

Similarly, you want to test your game in as many different locations as possible because there’s no way of telling where your traffic will be coming from. We’ve had cases where studios released a very popular game overnight in Chile but needed data centers. Thankfully, you can mitigate issues such as these by leveraging edge computing providers to reduce the distance between your players and the point of connection.

Consider the specific infrastructure needs of your game’s genre

Casual games with an optional multiplayer component will have a completely different network requirement to MMORPGs, with thousands of players connected to a centralized world. Similarly, a first-person-shooter with 64-player matchmaking will have a different network requirement than a side-scrolling beat ’em up or fighting game, which often requires custom netcodes due to the fast-paced nature of the combat.

People outside the video game industry assume all video games have similar payloads, but different game genres are as technically different in terms of infrastructure requirements as specific applications.

With that in mind, it’s essential for game studios, especially smaller ones, to regularly communicate with infrastructure partners and ensure they’ve got a thorough understanding of how the multiplayer components of your game will work. A decent infrastructure provider will be able to work with you to not only ensure load testing is carried out correctly but also help diagnose any broader issues.

Too many tools and not enough resources to use them

One thing that large network providers are very good at providing is tools, but these are often complex and require specific knowledge and understanding. It’s worth noting that large game studios have dedicated teams of engineers to manage these tools for AAA games with millions of players.

Smaller studios need to be realistic about the number of players they expect for new game releases and their internal resources to manage network and infrastructure-related issues and queries. You should partner with a provider that can handle all of this, so your studio can focus on making the best game possible. The more automation you can plan into your DevOps methodology, the better!

 

Takeaways for small game studios

While game studios likely encounter many issues as part of their game development journey, working these three pieces of advice into your DevOps pipeline is a sure way of minimizing infrastructure-related headaches.

Don’t reinvent the wheel – We’ve seen many studios trying to build bespoke systems rather than automate and use what’s already out there. If you can develop your netcode, engine and manage your Kubernetes, that’s great! But is it necessary, or is building these things from scratch just going to create trouble further down the line?

Understand your workflows – Plan for everything, use tech-agnostic vendors to remain flexible, get real-time visibility and logs for your matchmaking traffic, and have a 24/7 support plan for when your game is live. The more potential problems you’re aware of, the better.

Load testing your game – Build tiny tools and scripts to generate as much traffic as you can, breaking your system as often as possible.

 

Baltics

In gaming culture, phones are replacing computers: “Charge your dopamine for the whole day in 5 minutes”

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It is common to think that gaming culture and its best experiences are only associated with computers and consoles. However, the gaming environment has changed significantly over the past few years. Once considered quite niche, mobile devices have now become the dominant force in gaming. Games on smartphones now account for more than half (according to Statista, 51%) of the global gaming market revenue.

According to one of Lithuania’s most famous gaming community members and the country’s most popular streamer, Karolis Jankauskas (“LTU Republic”), whose broadcasts are followed by more than 130,000 followers on the “Twitch” channel, we are living in a time of transformation.

User engagement and the number of game downloads illustrate that gaming culture is rapidly migrating to phones. Do you think it is starting to catch up with traditional gaming among true enthusiasts?

In the Baltics, events for games with mobile devices are just beginning to be organized, but the number of interested participants and their level of engagement is rapidly growing. Observing this activity, we can assume that gaming culture on phones can not only match but in some cases even surpass the traditional one.

We used to have many various popular consoles and other devices — from “GameBoy” to “PSP.” Now, the experiences they created are also available on phones. Does gaming on a smartphone match the quality of gaming on consoles? How is the gaming community reacting to these technological changes?

Comparing mobile games and gaming on consoles or computers is quite difficult. I would say it’s like comparing a car to a motorcycle. Both move, but one offers more entertainment, excitement, and emotional experiences, while the other offers more practicality.

A similar situation exists with gaming devices. You could say that smartphones have worse graphics or a more superficial gameplay experience, but their simplicity and pace open up a completely different gaming experience. Additionally, they are accessible anywhere and anytime. You don’t have to play only at home.

Currently, true gamers who play on consoles or computers don’t yet consider themselves in the same category as mobile device players. However, I think this attitude will change over time.

At the end of May, you invite your community to meet at the “Brawl Stars” mobile game tournament “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.” Is it true that this is a gaming phenomenon? It is already estimated that “Brawl Stars”

downloads have exceeded 500 million. What is the secret of its popularity? How does this mobile game already have its own e-sports team today?

“Brawl Stars” stands out with its brilliantly designed combination. The game is extremely simple, and its concept is very straightforward. Defeat your opponent, and you will be the best. And the matches are super fast. You can play 3-5 matches in 5 minutes and charge your dopamine for the whole day. This is probably the main secret of the game’s success. Plus, there are various game accessories and special events that are very engaging.

Additionally, these are the reasons why this mobile game has its own e-sports team. It is competitive and easily understandable to a wide audience.

What will make the upcoming tournament of this game different from others?

For the gaming community, this “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra” is relevant because it gives us an impression of how many people are engaged in gaming with smart devices. “Brawl Stars” players have a unique opportunity to test themselves against the best players. Participants are also motivated by the impressive prize—a “Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra”.

In the qualifications and selections, players will play in teams of two, and in the finals, the teams will be changed—the players who make it will be assigned one of the Lithuania’s famous content creators participating in the event. This should add a lot of intrigue and excitement, as it will show how well the best players can communicate with content creators who may not be as good in the game as they are.

More and more gaming-oriented phones are being introduced to the market. For example, the new “Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra”. How do they help the culture of gaming on phones grow? Can a phone even influence game results?

Just like athletes or racers need the best equipment or gear, a powerful phone gives a player an advantage. The fewer technical issues you have in the game, the faster you can progress.

Meet the most famous gamers

All gaming enthusiasts and professionals will have the opportunity to experience the best gaming moments on May 24-26 in Vilnius at the largest popular culture event in the Baltic States, “Comic Con Baltics powered by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.”

The “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra” will take place at the impressive “Galaxy AI” booth. Here, visitors will also meet K. Jankauskas (“LTU Republic”), Simas Anužis (“Svarbeuse dariti”), Edvisss, and other famous players in the Baltics. There will be an opportunity to get up close with the most advanced “Samsung” smart devices, discover new opportunities that innovative “Galaxy AI” artificial intelligence features open up for gaming.

At the beginning of this year, “Samsung” was the first to offer its users a smartphone with artificial intelligence features. These change many ways of using and controlling the phone, as well as the habits users have adopted until now. At the event, you will have the opportunity to get acquainted with and try out AI features such as “Search by highlighting,” “Photo editing,” “Notes assistance,” “Live translation,” “Chat assistance,” and others.

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Gaming

Dr. Shocker set to prove an ‘electrifying game’ from Galaxsy

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Galaxsys continues to light-up the game’s vertical with the release of its electrifying game, Dr. Shocker, a thrilling action-packed game.

Main Release

Galaxsys, a games studio that creates high-energy games preferred by players who enjoy quick wins and something unique, is gearing up for its next major game release, Dr. Shocker, which will be available on the web and mobile.

”Dr. Shocker’ offers a thrilling, fast-paced experience where players connect electric cables to win. The ”doctor” in question is the game’s central character, who busily tries to connect electrical cables without being ”shocked”. The aim of the game is to win with the highest possible odds, and the electricity running towards the cables is electrifying!

Vigen Safaryan, Chief Product Officer of Galaxsys, commented, “We are always looking to make our games fun, engaging, relevant, and authentic around a central relatable character such as Dr. Shocker. It won’t come as a shock that this game includes all our key player engagement features, such as the Bonus Game, Auto Bet, Buy Bonus and 3 Bonus modes enjoyed by casino players.

This new turbo game not only expands our reach but also enriches the gaming experience for players. It has the potential to become a star in our portfolio, much like Ninja Crash, which recently won the ‘Most Played Game’ award in Latin America. Galaxsys is focused on our commitment to expanding our games, ensuring players always have access to the most exciting gaming experiences.”

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Baltics

The best European gamers will meet in Vilnius: global tournaments and the latest technology presentations

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As Lithuania increasingly finds itself in the spotlight of the global gaming community, country’s gamers can once again rejoice at significant news. Lithuania will host “Trackmania World Tour” stage. With this news, it is planned that 24th to 26th of May, in Vilnius the “Baltics Gaming Expo” will bring together the best gamers from across Europe and the world.

International tournaments and showcase battles

“We love to play, and we’re really good at it at the highest level. This is the second year that the “Baltics Gaming Expo” will gather video game enthusiasts and professionals from all around Europe. If last year, 29,000 participants and visitors came to participate or watch tournaments, explore the latest technologies, and try out newly released games, this year, we expect even bigger growth. After all, we have some special news – the “Trackmania” game tournament at the event is included in the global rankings. In other words, all the best players are coming to Vilnius”, says Šarūnas Tamulis, one of the organizers of the “Baltics Gaming Expo”.

Players from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, and other countries will participate in the global ranking tournament. Among the participants will be representatives from Lithuania.

The largest gaming and technology event in the Baltic States will also feature “Counter Strike”, “Valorant”, “Rocket League”, “League of Legends”, and other international tournaments.

“There will also be special showcase battles. The best players and streamers in the country will meet on the main stage and compete playing “Counter Strike” and “Valorant”, the organizer says.

From famous streamers’ to retro games

In the gaming community, it’s popular to watch other players remotely broadcast their matches via social networks (game-streaming). Streamers are like opinion leaders, whose popularity and influence grow every day.

“To the delight of our community, the very popular streamer AnnieFuchsia will also attend the event. She has gathered half a million followers on her Twitch channel alone. For those interested, we will create an opportunity to participate in a discussion with the gamer, get answers to significant questions, or even get a photo together”, says Š. Tamulis.

Attendees of the event will also be able to enjoy a space dedicated to exceptional retro games. It will feature dozens of classic arcade games from the 80s and 90s.

“The technology giant “Samsung”, has prepared special activations for the visitors. At the largest “Galaxy AI” stand, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the latest artificial intelligence news and try them out on smart devices. There will also be a special “Brawlstars” tournament at the stand, where well-known content creators and enthusiasts of this game from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will meet. The winner will receive the latest “Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra” phone”, the organizer presents.

A weekend for popular culture

The “Baltic Gaming Expo” will take place during “Comic Con Baltics 2024 powered by Samsung,” the largest popular culture event in the Baltic States. From May 24th to 26th, “LITEXPO” will turn into a universe of popular culture.

Fans will have the chance to meet stars from iconic Hollywood projects. Among them are actors from the “Harry Potter” films Natalia Tena and Devon Murray, “Marvel” film actor Sean Gunn, “Highlander” actor Adrian Paul, actress Natasha Halevi, internet comic stars Rob DenBleyker of “Cyanide&Happiness,” “Natural Habitat Shorts,” “Nobody Sausage,” and Nathan W. Pyle, creator of “Strange Planet” comics.

The event will also feature the largest cosplay competition in the Baltic States, premieres of the latest films, presentations, and discussions, an interactive family space, the “Artists’ Alley,” which annually unites around a hundred popular culture artists, a space for vendors offering many curiosities, impressive decorations from the most famous films and series worldwide, and many other attractions.

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