Databases for Online Gaming (MMOG

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gklein@versant.com
Manager Engineering, CARE Group

Copyright © Versant 2007 All products are trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies . The information contained in this document is property of Versant.

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Agenda
§ Introduction § Persistent World § Strategies
§ Scalability § Distribution § High Availability

Copyright © Versant 2007 - 2

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CA § 1996 NASDAQ: VSNT § Leading provider of 7th generation enterpriselevel object database § Installed base is Global 500 “who’s-who” § Focus is on performance and scalability improvement of complex large scale enterprise systems § Offices: U. 3 . Japan Copyright © Versant 2007 . India.S.Versant Corporate Profile § Established 1988.3 The main takeaway: Versant has delivered enterprise level solutions to the Global 500 for 14 years.. Germany. HQ in Fremont.

MMOG § Massively Multiplayer Online Game § is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously on the Internet § is played in a giant persistent (fantasy) world § § § § § Role Games (MMORG) Tycoon Games (MMOTG) and First Person Shooter (MMOFPS) Real Time Strategy (MMORTS) Sport Games (MMOSG) and Racing (MMOR) Social Games (MMOSG) § Business Model § Most MMOGs require a monthly subscription fee § Some can be played for free Copyright © Versant 2007 .4 4 .

Unlike with other games. The persistency comes from maintaining and developing the state of the gaming world around the clock. a player's character can also influence and change a persistent world. a character's actions will have consequences that the player must deal with. The degree to which a character can affect a world varies from game to game.Persistent World § Is a virtual world § is always available § world events happen continually § events continue to develop even while some of the players are not playing their character § a player's character can also influence and change a persistent world § The state of the gaming world has to be maintained around the clock Copyright © Versant 2007 . The comparison is to the real world where events occur that are not directly connected to a person. Likewise. or continue to happen while a person sleeps. etc.5 Definition en.org: A persistent world is a virtual world (often in a fantasy setting) that is used as a setting for a role-playing game.wiki. a persistent world game's plots and events continue to develop even while some of the players are not playing their character.) 5 . often Online. (Since the game does not pause nor create player-accessible back-up files. The world is always available and world events happen continually.

Will Wright § Players are the central focus § + artificial intelligence used in the older-technology games § Fulltime availability § „unlimited content“ § Performance. Performance. Performance § Market is highly competitive § MMOG need to adopt strategies to provide tremendous amounts of content to the users Copyright © Versant 2007 .6 6 . players have an uncanny ability to discover the size of the possible space“.Characteristics of MMOG § „Within minutes.

large scale applications in the world. large scale applications in the world § Evolutionary game models using OO languages § Early models were quite simple and complexity is increasing § > 95% written in C++ § Scalability § High concurrency and transaction throughput § Real Time response § High Load at peak times § § § § Large data set Distributed State management Parallel Processing Data Clustering Copyright © Versant 2007 . does scale well under those MMOG requirements. for reasons to be discussed here in. It is also well documented in that the right Object Oriented Database (ODB). high concurrency and large data. This point is evidenced by the public pain of successful games like Ultima Online. It is well documented that the effectiveness of the data tier will drive game scalability and system operating footprint and therefore operational expense.Storing Persistent Worlds § MMOG is one of the most demanding. high concurrency and large data sets can bring traditional technologies and architectures to their knees. 7 .7 § High availability A SUCCESSFUL Massive Multi-Player Online Game (MMOG) falls squarely into the category of one of the most demanding. EverQuest. Traditional technology in the data tier consists of a combination of File System for static content and Relational Databases (RDB) for dynamic content. and World of WarCraft™. It is well documented that under the requirements of real-time response. The MMOG's combined requirements of realtime response. relational database technology does not scale well.

queries Flexibility. flexibility Weakness Flexibility.8 8 .Brief History of the Database Model Hierarchical Network Relational ODBMS Strength Performance Performance Flexibility. queries Performance Random. queries Performance. ad hoc queries Data Simple Simple Simple Complex Very important for MMOG problem domains Copyright © Versant 2007 .

Versant provides 2 access patterns: navigation and selection. The developer can use the OO language constructs like Inheritance associations. so that he can develop own strategies. Often many operations are natural navigations like getting associated objects. The persistent world and game logic uses the objects and the database provides a transparent access to virtually all objects. The caching mechanism is very sophisticated and provides the developer with additional controls. collections and polymorphism to model the problem domains and implement it seamlessly. The objects will be stored as objects and no mapping is required.Storing Objects Transient Objects Persistent World Cache Persistent Objects Transparently writes changes back to the Database(s) Transparently fetches objects from the database(s) Direct object persistence Vs. leveraging OO concepts. With Versant the persistent objects are loaded either as result of a query or most of the time as part of a navigation.9 MMOGS and so the persistent world are mainly developed with C++. With RDBMS these navigations have to be translated into query/join statements. 9 . Mapping Versant Navigational versus query-based access Copyright © Versant 2007 . Once an object is modified it will be automatically be written to the database with the next commit.

.. BackPack bPack = new BackPack() for(i=0.... INSERT INTO table1 ..Using the RDBMS RDBMS SELECT FROM table1 . UPDATE table2 . convert_tables_to_memory().. … bPack.addItem(p) } convert_memory_to_tables().. In-Memory Tables § § § § § Different in-memory and storage models Significantly degraded performance when (de)composing data Even more conversion code Separate programming and data manipulation languages Only suitable for simple models § Difficult if schema evolution is required Copyright © Versant 2007 ... i++) { BackPackItemp = new BackPackItem(). SELECT FROM table2 .. i<100..10 10 .

This flexibility is achieved through support of both easier design and model extensibility. i++) { BackPackItemp = new BackPackItem().ODBMS Solution In-Memory BackPack bPack = new BackPack() for(i=0. One obvious design when properly using OO would be to model the Backpack as an Item that contains other Items. Game object attributes can be easily managed through objectified relationships without introducing complicated coding semantics. The Versant Object Database will incorporate the new schema and evolve the database automatically. The design uses both inheritance and self referencibility. The original game logic incorporates new game object use with minimal code modification. This means that you can write game logic to deal with interfaces or abstract classes that are then further derived to create the specialized classes for your game without introducing needlessly complex application and mapping code. 11 .addItem(p) } VERSANT § § § § § In-memory and storage models are the same Orders of magnitude faster No additional conversion code Improved programmer productivity Host programming language is also DML and DDL Copyright © Versant 2007 . and existing game logic will continue to operate uninterrupted bringing the new character into the game with minimal effort. This design is handled seamlessly using Versant and retrieval of a Backpack's contained Items requires nothing more than a message send in the game logic code. Versant deals with object oriented models in the proper polymorphic forms of the language and treats references to related objects orthogonal to the state of the objects involved. A more complex extensibility example could be the creation of an entirely new game character by subclassing an existing class that describes general character behavior. even if flattening of the Backpack into a single Item table. … b.11 Versant also provides advantages in the area of flexibility in evolving the existing database schema and in creating dynamic game object characteristics. forces performance draining JOIN operations due to the self referencibility. Performance optimizations created at the abstract level allow you to add new game classes while keeping your performance optimizations intact. The addition of the new character class can be deployed to the database server on the fly. A simple design example could be the modeling of a character Backpack. This same design in a relational form. i<100.

12 . all game resources like money. weapons. Further. The design provides for cost effective horizontal scalability enabled via a highly concurrent. land. The architecture is designed to support the addition of new users ( via Game FE machines ) who can play seamlessly across the entire world with all other users within a Game Server Layer. additional game server layers can be clustered and although direct game play across server layers is not possible.Example Architecture § § § NPC (non-playable character) FE Front End BE Back End Copyright © Versant 2007 . etc are common across servers. This is in direct contrast to traditional MMOG architectures which scale by replicating the entire world ( hardware infrastructure ) and isolating new users to their given world.12 The example MMOG Architecture is divided into three main layers: Game Server Layer ( clusterable game engine and the communications layers ) and the Database Layer. This approach enables in game events composed of 100's of thousands of users. super scalable database tier. The game server is designed over a proxy data tier composing direct and clustered data access services. without replicating the entire system hardware.

13 . Additionally. Ensuring horizontal scalability over vertical scalability means that unlimited expansion is possible with predictable margins. § Goal: § Maximize vertically scalability § Ensure Horizontal scalability to provide unlimited expansion and Copyright © Versant 2007 . you can support 5000 concurrent user on a single Xeon CPU server with 2G RAM § Horizontal § When reaching a tolerable threshold of vertical scalability continued capacity of operations expansion can be achieved by adding additional hardware nodes.Scalability § Vertically § Single hardware node can maintain a set capacity of operations und required performance criteria by adding resources to the node § Direct correlation to costs . one should consider the ability to scale both vertically and horizontally. Versant enables developers of MMOG applications to implement both vertical and horizontal scalability through an advanced multi-threaded architecture integrated with a number of specific features described below. maximizing vertical scalability reduces the complexity and overhead of maintainability and further improves margins. Vertical scalability means that a single hardware node in the software system can maintain a set capacity of operations under required performance criteria by adding resources to the hardware node.13 When designing an MMOG software system for scalability.e. continued capacity of operations expansion can be achieved by adding additional hardware nodes. f. Maximizing Vertical scalability is important as this generally has a direct correlation to profit margins as a given configuration of hardware and software infrastructure supports a fixed number of users which translates into revenue. Horizontal scalability means that when reaching the tolerable threshold of vertical scalability.

14 14 . migrate them to an archive db § Reduce number of conflicting operations (Query vs. Updates) § Data Caching § Caching and In Memory DBs Copyright © Versant 2007 .Distribute data and workload § Strategies § Reduce the number of active data and users per database § Distributed data and load § Offload „Obsolete“ information that will be deleted after a while.

e. For example. if the wallet did not exist in the shard memory space. up and down) and if a character moves to another square. either by id or query. There are also capabilities in Versant so when a game object is retrieved from the server memory space. Versant will transparently retrieve that wallet from the database server memory space without the application executing any special query code for the wallet retrieval. This shard caching is critical for meeting the minimized latency requirements of an MMOG and significantly improves vertical scalability by off-loading activity from the database server processes relieving contention for shared resources. each resource is responsible for an square area in the persistent world § It knows it‘s direct 4 neighbors (right. left. then in the game logic a message is sent to the charter to retrieve a wallet for money.Shards or Grids § Shards § Split game into a number of parallel worlds through clustered servers § Distribute data on different databases § Users can „only“ see subset § need distributed access or propagation of new data § Grids § F. if a character game object is loaded into the shard. Game objects are implicitly assigned system global id's so that they can be retrieved without impacting application logic. 15 . thereby avoiding unnecessary network calls. the responsibility also moves. Copyright © Versant 2007 .15 A significant advantage of Versant is the ability to cache all or portions of the database in the game shard memory space and/or proxy data server for real-time read response. a configurable number of related game objects will automatically be retrieved into the shard to guarantee a subsequent call to the database server memory is not required. The "native" persistence capabilities also provide transparency of access.

A Transparently Distributed Database Game Shard Cache B D TCP/IP C A Relationships maintained across persistent stores B D Object Object ObjectObject Object A ObjectObject C Object Object Versant Versant Versant Copyright © Versant 2007 . The distribution is essentially transparent to the developer. 16 . Versant will then find it for you. Taking advantage of such transparent distribution allows for seem less implementation of data aging strategies and active data sets. Objects can reside in multiple persistent stores and be used transparently by a single or multiple clients. Objects in one persistent store may refer to objects in another persistent store and the bean developer can directly access the referenced objects without any additional coding.16 Versant is a fully distributed architecture. The only requirement is that your session have a connection to the persistent store where the object resides. This also allows for advanced partitioning strategies for disk bound systems where expensive options like EMC arrays are not feasible.

There is no required code in the game logic to deal with determining where objects are physically located. For example. A query can be performed across many in-memory databases in parallel to find a particular player. returning objects of that class without any intermediate application mapping. returning records that need to be mapped into your language objects. allowing any type of partitioning scheme deemed appropriate for your game design. the game logic can guarantee response times by controlling concurrent access and internal structure traversal times. the game logic sends a message to the player to get the related backpack. Operations performed on the nodes are optimized using threading and asynchronous communications to provide parallel operations for optimal performance. An example is shown in the following figure. Despite t he fact that the backpack and its items are not in the same physical database as the player. there will be no impact to gaming logic. the Game logic can define many logical groupings of physical databases and treat them each as a virtual datastore. they are still transparently returned on message send to the shard cache. Even if external processes are put in place to move objects from one physical database to another. By controlling the size of any physical database node within the cluster. Unlike in traditional relational databases where queries target a table and its columns. The message getBackpack is sent to the player and the Versant database will ensure that the related backpack and it's contained items are retrieved into the shard cache. Once the player object is returned by the query. Versant guarantees uniqueness of object identity across the entire cluster and maintains the physical locality orthogonal to the logical identity. SQL92 type indexed queries can be targeted at a logical database and are executed in parallel within the physical in-memory databases representing the virtual datastore. access to related objects occurs through the normal message send process of the language. The Versant database handles all of the issues dealing with locality of the related objects in the physical cluster. 17 . Once the queried objects are retrieved into the game logic.17 Parallel Processing: Versant provides the ability to incrementally add physical databases to a cluster which are treated as parallel processing nodes in a distributed system. the Versant database queries target a class and its attributes. There can be specialized messages defined so that whenever a backpack is retrieved it's contained items are also automatically retrieved. There is no limit to the type of architectural flexibility gained with this design.Parallel Processing with distributed databases (One Shard) Copyright © Versant 2007 . Versant even handles the logical and physical consistency of backups across the distributed cluster.

network communications routing can use load balancing to take advantage of this clustering by reassigning incoming requests for better response or failover without incurring significant performance penalties. This allows unprecedented horizontal scalability for large numbers of users with controlled cost structure by allowing incremental addition of shards as the player demand and concurrency builds. In addition.18 Versant has another feature working in concert with the real-time shard cache that facilitates distributed state management across multiple shards. 18 . Further. Shared game objects in the shard memory space can be identified so that changes made to the shared game objects cause cache invalidation notifications to be broadcast to all shards.Distributed State Management (Multiple Shards) § § Multiple shards may use same data that can be changed on one side Cache Coherence needs to be ensured Copyright © Versant 2007 . All shards in the cluster who have those shared objects will then automatically refresh the shared objects from the database server memory to ensure a consistent and up to date game state across the shard cluster. this allows the design of a game where players and related game objects can effectively "walk" shard boundaries for uninhibited game play.

read. facilitates unprecedented vertical scalability by minimizing contention for internal structures in the server processes and eliminating waiting due to I/O operations. Versant uses asynchronous socket communications to provide highly efficient 2-phase commit protocol across distributed in-memory databases. When the game logic calls commit. Once the server threads have written into the piggy back buffers. The rapid database server response. update. so that realtime processing can continue. Isolation. control is immediately returned to the shard. The result is a database node that can support thousands of concurrent update transactions. Versant uses asynchronous socket calls to get the changes ( results of the transactional CRUD operations ) to flow towards both in memory databases. delete ) operations in the game logic. Consistency. The game shard manager tracks all CRUD ( create. Versant recovers on the fly as described in the section below on high availability. Piggy backed double buffers work in a way that a buffer is always available for writing even when one side of the buffer is being flushed to disk. When the configured buffer flush threshold is reached. Further. new transactions are written into the opposite side and an asynchronous thread flushes changes to disk. 19 .Optimizing TX throughput § § § In Memory database caches data read from disk Typically the logging of tx is the bottleneck (ACID) With RDBMS also the query execution and caching becomes a bottleneck Copyright © Versant 2007 . Versant maintains durability for transactions by ensuring that transactional content resides synchronously in multiple buffer spaces in a shared nothing architecture.19 Transaction throughput: Versant has the unique ability to provide in-memory performance characteristics while maintaining the ACID (Atomicity. commit calls to all databases are non-blocking allowing for immediate return to application control with only the overhead of a network call. Durability ) properties of an enterprise level database management system. due to this architecture. the piggy back buffers reverse. If any failure should occur. The transactional changes are written into piggy backed double buffers . Versant makes this possible by leveraging synchronous in memory databases coupled with the ability to recover in-flight transaction failures. This process continues during normal operations. Contents of commit operations are stored in memory based transaction log buffers which are asynchronously flushed to the disk based logging subsystem by background threads every N ( configurable ) number of commits.

Fault Tolerant Database Configuration Copyright © Versant 2007 . unless of course something catastrophic at the hardware level has occurred like complete disk failure. During failover operation. if a failure occurs in a database server process due to network. hardware.22 High Availability: Using Versant. the polling process sets to server to notify the shard to begin synchronous operations. If desired. during the failover operation period. software process failure. 22 . the shard sends additional transaction information to the live server to be used for automatic background restoration of the failed site. the polling process uses the change set records to automatically resynchronize the failed site with the live site production database server. When the failed site is reachable. Versant handles in-flight failures from either primary or secondary site transparently. Once synchronized. The live site forks a polling process that seeks to start the failed database server. the live server can be configured to automatically change modes to provide synchronous buffer flush on commit. the shard will transparently receive the failure notification and change it's mode of operation to continue the failed transaction only to the remaining live server. The Recovery of the failed site requires no DBA intervention.

The Versant database provides a combination of features specifically designed for the real-time. enterprise class database solution. These combined requirements do not fit well with traditional relational technology. high scalability requirements of the MMOG application space.23 The MMOG application space demands a real-time. large scale.Summary Copyright © Versant 2007 . 23 . high concurrency.

versant.com Copyright © Versant 2007 .com § Jobs § jobs@versant.For More Information § Visit Versant on the Web at: § http://www.com § Technical Questions § gklein@versant.24 24 .

htm Powering next generation gaming with on-demand computing http://www-1.25 25 .com/resource_guide/20030916/rosedale_pfv.cmu.doc SecondLife Design .org/digra2005/papers/68879030073efafba26fb47d37bb81b9.PDF Copyright © Versant 2007 .pdf Comparing the performance of object databases and ORM tools http://www.odbms.01%20Zyl%20Comparing%20the%20Performance%20of%20O bject%20Databases%20and%20ORM%20Tools%20September%202006.tw/~statphys/publications/2006_full_text/S_Y_ Hu_IEEE_JulyAugust_22(2006).Enabling Player-Created Online Worlds with Grid Computing and Streaming http://www.ibm.Object-Relational databases http://ce.com/software/success/cssdb.pdf Adaptive middleware for multi-player games http://www.phys.edu/~rajesh/papers/middleware05.gamesconference.edu/courses/84-85/1/ce384/resources/root/Object%20Database%20vs_%20ObjectRelational%20Databases.pdf A scalable peer-to-peer network for virtual environments http://www.org/download/027.pdf Object database -vs.sharif.com/grid/pdf/butterfly.Even more information § § § § § § § § Pushing the technological barriers of game design with IBM technology http://www-306.gamasutra. cs.ibm.edu.sinica.nsf/CS/MCAG6FXRPV?OpenDocument&Site=default Architecting Scalability for Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming Experiences http://www.

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