Noble Master Games
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April 6, 2010

The Business of Running a Game Server

Filed under: Development — noblemaster @ 09:39

Business should be replaced by “woes”; the woes of running a game server. Given my estimates, it takes about 4x as much time to implement and run an online game compared to a single player game. Costs (=time investments)  include implementing a server, implementing client-server communication, setting up a server and database. An online game needs social networking tools to facilitate player-to-player communication including chat system, rankings and ratings, private messaging, clan system and game creating/management amongst others. An online server requires constant monitoring and maintenance. It needs to be backup’ed every so often. There is also a huge income difference between single player sales and multiplayer subscriptions (on Android) which make me wonder if running an online game is really worth the time? I could probably make about 10x more money in ¼ of the time implementing a new single player game as compared to running and maintaining a game server.

Generally, if the server is up & running, no one will notice. The opposite is true when the server goes down. There were some problems with the new server (Age of Conquest V3) where the game server would not startup after a computer restart. It appears, the database connection pool would be locked. Everything that wasn’t database related would still work (e.g. server socket).  It would only occur every tenth time or so, which made it difficult to track. I believe the problem was related to the Bitronix transaction manager which would not properly startup but go into a deadlock situation. Multiple threads would try to access the transaction manager at startup preventing it from fully initializing. The transaction manager is now force-initialized before everything else preventing it from going into a deadlock. Things worked fine so far; keeping my fingers crossed!

The latest is a “Too many open files” error that happened yesterday. It appears the server was running out of file handles preventing it to respond to anyone connecting. A file handle under Linux can be an actual file handle but also includes socket connections as well. From the looks of things, it appears the file handle limit was set too low at 1024. I upped the limit to 65535 handles which should hopefully do the trick?

1 Comment

  1. I think once all those people buying the single player version realize there’s a multiplayer version out there, your cash will flow in! From the beginning of gaming people want to play with their friends or other random people on the net. I’m actually surprised the multiplayer part hasn’t made more than the single player yet.

    Comment by TravisII — April 6, 2010 @ 10:33

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