Issues With Multiplayer Servers - Our Simple Solution
Multiplayer Servers have become an integral part of online gaming, allowing players from all over the world to come together and play their favourite games. However, as with any online system, multiplayer servers can come with their own set of issues. In this post we’ll talk these Servers, how they work, the issues they sometimes cause and how we came up with FBOMB, our very own solution.
Types of Multiplayer Servers
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about how these servers work.
A server is essentially the base of communication. It’s the postal service of the online world. They get messages, information and commands and the server handles all of these accordingly.
Servers as usually broken down to two major types are, Player Hosted Server and Authoritarian.
Player Hosted Servers
For our Player Hosted servers, most of the server authority is given to the player (hence the name). This essentially means all of the communication workload is handled by the user itself so the server requirements are really low.
This ends up cutting our server costs by a lot but there is a hidden price. Since the server is essentially in control of a player, it can be modified with ease making it very susceptible to cheating. On top of that you’re now dependent on the connection of the host. If the person in charge experiences a dip in their connection then anyone playing with them is going to feel it too.
You can see this implemented in our latest project, Life in Willowdale: Farm Adventures. Where a player can essentially host a multiplayer game on their own.
Player Hosted Servers
On the other hand we have Authoritarian servers. Here we take power away from the player and essentially run everything on the server itself. This allows for more regulation, safety and makes it easier to keep checks and balances. All of this comes with a huge price tag though, with these servers usually being used for MMOs and other multiplayer games they need to be able to handle a lot of players at any given time, which isn’t cheap.
This with the add-on cost of customizing the server to your games needs is expensive. It’s impossible to build your own separate server stack for each project so what option does that leave us with?
Most of the games you see these Servers being used for are either turn-based or require complex matchmaking systems. We’ve implemented them in our very own projects like Epic Battles of History.
3rd Party Servers
Now since the costs for creating your own server stack and mantaining it were too high, developers like PlayFab and Unreal started providing us with the option to use their 3rd Party Servers.
These proved to be extremely useful, For a reasonable price you can use these servers to your heart’s content. No maintenance, no responsibility.
Perfect, right? Well, these come with a handful of issues. Firstly these 3rd Party servers are very rigid in the sense that they offer little to no customization due to pre-defined use cases. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing although it does take away some level of creativity from the developers.
Now you have two options, either compromise on some aspects of your game or integrate multiple servers. The latter may sound easy but getting multiple servers to work on the same page is usually never worth the trouble.
Our Solution - FBOMB
Now we at FRAG had our own idea. Our very own Backend-as-a-Service. FBOMB. A flexible BaaS system that would be malleable enough to fit our needs perfectly. Unlike most servers with FBOMB we could add new use cases while still making sure the server retained its original functionality.
As development went ahead we kept brainstorming for more features we could add on. One of the first being the ability to use the same save files on multiple platforms. This would ensure that the user never have to start over if he switched from their mobile to a P.C. Luckily for us integrating this was easier than ever due to the flexible nature of our service, We were able to implement multiple social services including the Play Store, Apple Store and Steam. Something we utilized to its full effect in Epic Battles of History.
With all of the updates we’d made to FBOMB, Boddle was an I.P that took advantage of them all. Making sure all the previous updates we made were not in vain, while also using a brand new Integrated Learning Management System.
Now none of this was easy but that’s not to say the experience wasn’t worth it. The technical issues we faced ended up becoming a learning experience for our team.
That’s all for today, for more details about FBOMB and the services we offer contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!