Applicability of group communication for increased scalability in MMOGs
Proceedings of 5th ACM SIGCOMM workshop on Network and system support for games - NetGames '06
Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are today the driving factor for the development of distributed interactive applications, and they are increasing in size and complexity. Even a small MMOG supports thousands of players, the biggest support hundreds of thousands of concurrent players. Since they are typically built as strict client-server systems, they suffer from the inherent scalability problem of the architecture. Computing power and bandwidth limitations close to the server limit the
... he server limit the possible number of players. Also, the latency of communication between players through the server will be higher than using direct communication. In the paper, we address these issues and investigate improvement options. A typical MMOG consists of a virtual world with a concept of time and space that is similar to the real world. In it, players are represented by avatars. Only subsets of these avatars interact with each other at any given time. This allows us to divide them into groups, and communication among group members becomes a multi-party communication problem. Thus, to reduce resource consumption, we compare the performance of several algorithms for group communication with the current central server approach. We use overlay multicast as the means of providing group communication, and research algorithms for creating shortest path trees, spanning trees, delay-bounded spanning trees and, more specific, applying Steiner tree heuristics. Our experimental results indicate that different approaches are useful to reduce resource consumption while achieving a good perceived quality under varying conditions, such as frequent changes in group membership and the demand for low latency.