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QUESTIONS Expanding the virtual world Dave Poole CCP Games, Web Technical Director.

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Presentation on theme: "QUESTIONS Expanding the virtual world Dave Poole CCP Games, Web Technical Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 QUESTIONS Expanding the virtual world Dave Poole CCP Games, Web Technical Director

2 Intro to EVE Online EVE Gate What is it? Why it is important How it came to be Lessons learned EVE Gate – the Technology Behind it The software architecture The hardware powering it Performance CCP and IBM Schooner Caching Solutions Q & A AGENDA

3 A vast persistent virtual universe Over 330,000 players inhabit a single game world competing for military, economic & political power Players in over 230 countries Steady growth since 2003 Hardcore, dark and ruthless Playground, sandbox and emergence Introduction to EVE Online

4 Key design tenet: MMOGs are social networks The key factor that makes MMOs succeed or fail is the strength of their social network. People will quit games, but are less likely to quit friends. Maximize human interaction! Reynir Hardarson FOUNDER and CREATIVE DIRECTOR of CCP EVE Online: Design

5 EVE Gate: Overview What is it?

6 EVE Gate: Overview INITIAL RELEASE Website with: Real time access to EVE mail system A commenting system similar to Facebook A calendar system in game and on website fully synched A reworked contact system combined with a personal settings system to give player control of privacy and access to their info



9 FUTURE FORM We have a full time development team continually adding to it Proposed features: Expanded tagging system Web access to the skill queue New forums possibly including Corporation level forums (Groups) Real time access to the market systems, read only to start Fitting windows, saving / trading popular ship loadouts Killboards Public profiles and info to push to external apps like Facebook (player controlled) Sovereignty results, controls, etc Corporation Management Basically anything that does not involved flying, shooting, etc in game EVE Gate: Overview


11 – EVE Gate will be utilized for the whole EVE universe – It will be used to connect EVE players and DUST players – Facilitates corporation to corporation communication and coordination – DUST specific features will be added, more applicable to its product type (game results, statistics, heatmaps, screenshots,etc) – Important bridge between 2 different games, in 2 different genres within the same persistent universe EVE Gate: Overview

12 BEYOND THE WEB The importance of APIs Mobile possibilities SOA: Flexibility for the future EVE Gate: Overview

13 Important for CCP Purpose and goals: Breaking down barriers and exposing the EVE universe for all to experience and interact with A gateway for interaction from anywhere, at anytime with anyone A tool to operate and organize player entities A pathway to syndicate information, propaganda and events A mechanic for current customer retention A vehicle for new customer acquisition A connection between the EVE and Dust communities A platform to respond swiftly and capitalize on opportunities and disruptions This is a critical service provided to the players, for a business driven by a service model EVE Gate: Why is it important

14 Important for the industry More and more developers are expanding beyond the game client Turbine with My LOTRO Blizzard with Battle.NET Bungie with Bungie.Net This is a social network designed specifically for the specific customer base, not forced upon them from an external solution like Facebook Nature of EVE demands extreme privacy and information controls Nature of alts (spies, etc) drives the need for this to be character focused, not player focused – thus linking to external individual focused solutions is detrimental Not intended as an advertising / revenue source but as a service EVE Gate: Why is it important

15 Observations and studies of player behavior and trends The importance of social interaction Product stickiness and what drives it The importance of player driven events and the syndication of information Full time Research & Statistics analyzing needs, plus CSM input Project requirements fleshed out Developed over 2+ years by the EVE producers Need to find the right time to implement Player needs, market conditions, talent available, plus other company initiatives The need for a project champion EVE Gate: How it came to be

16 Step 1 (done): what do we want to build? Step 2: how do we build it? Architectual design o build on proven high scalability designs from other industries o work with company strengths (python,.Net, SQL Server) Staffing and resource allocation Hardware Infrastructure Design o the importance of working closely with Operations o use of phased stress testing and product evals to nail down requirements o Scheduling development and testing to coincide with and support infrastructure needs EVE Gate: How it came to be

17 Step 3: development 2 sprint teams working for a full year Teams consisted of: Web developers EVE Software developers Graphic designers DBAs Dedicated QA Included talent from Atlanta and Reykjavik so we faced challenges with doing SCRUM development across the pond EVE Gate: How it came to be

18 Game design Dont force a solution upon your player base, look for what services fit their need and give them control o Example: privacy settings and access controls, external integration? The importance of information security Project Management The importance of a champion to drive the project The importance of operations involvement from the start Development Process Learned how to do SCRUM over distance o Less effective but sometimes necessary o Mitigate through extra communication effort (vid conferencing) and as much face-to-face time as possible through travel o Team building HUGELY important The importance of scripted and public stress testing (HUGE) The importance of close liaison with operations and your vendor partners EVE Gate: Lessons learned

19 EVE Gate: The Technical Solution

20 The software architecture Key points Design needs to minimize impact on game systems Cannot have in game lag caused by out of game systems Design needs to have scalability and reliability built into each layer Needs to be easy to maintain and upgrade Needs to consider security without impacting performance Driven by a Service Oriented Architecture design approach Proven approach used by high volume web applications and web services View layer built with modern web techniques (.Net MVC C#) Connect to data providers including existing systems with a communication layer (WCF) Added a service agent to the game cluster (SOL nodes) to coordinate data flow Backend databases and game services retained (Python, SQL Server) with some enhancements for new services Each layer can be independently scaled, refactored or replaced Each layer separately secured and monitored

21 EVE Gate: The Technical Solution Front End Latest.Net (C#) framework MVC Strong MS support, high industry uptake Designed after well proven web MVC frameworks like STRUTS Lots of tools, techniques, components available Works well with AJAX based techniques, we use heavily Use our built-up expertise in web development where it makes most sense Communications Tier.Net Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) application Coordinates all data access requests Encapsulates all cache management, hides implementation Re-usable service layer can be used for other external apps (APIs, Mobile, etc) Can later be refactored into a common data layer for ALL CCP applications

22 EVE Gate: The Technical Solution Caching Tier -Caching is critical to minimize load on backend services -Greatly improves web application performance -Replaces stock.Net caching implementation -Use Schooner Caching Appliances which implements memcached -Able to use standard Memcached APIs minimizing code effort -Transparent implementation, in vendor trials we were able to swap in hardware without changing a SINGLE line of code -Memcached – open source, high use, developed for LiveJournal, heavily used by Facebook and other high scale sites

23 The Hardware Infrastructure Introducing James Wyld, CCP Virtual Worlds Administrator EVE Gate: The Technical Solution

24 Breaking down the software EVE Gate: Under the hood

25 Alpha Test – Getting the Alpha test up and running was paramount. – The focus was on the architecture elements and not features. – Vertical slice. Needed solid data before building the final system. EVE Gate: Performance testing

26 Key performance metrics – CPU per user -> users per core – Network bandwidth per user Bottlenecks – Service Layer CPU – Caching Network Bandwidth – Firewall placement EVE Gate: Under the hood

27 Infrastructure plan was changed accordingly – Additional CPU power required across the board. – Physically separated network for cache layer. – Prompted a look at the core network switching capabilities. EVE Gate: Under the hood

28 Frontend / Backend server farm – Built on (in?) IBM Bladecenter, the same platform as EVE Online. – Blades allow for a large amount of CPU power in a small amount of rack space. – For CCP, IBM is simply a solid, reliable partner. Caching layer – Original plan was to build out the cluster manually – Black Box approach means we do not have to spend time managing a linux/memcached farm. – More focus on running EVEGate and EVE Online! Database – MS SQL – Most data resides in the existing game DB EVE Gate: The final system

29 EVE Gate: Putting it all together Fine-tuning the system – We created a scripted, scalable, repetitive load test. – The focus was on overloading each area of the infrastructure separately. – We found many new and interesting ways to break the application. – From an operational standpoint, we learned as much from this phase as the rest of the dev cycle. – It took quite some time to stabilize it.


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