Building a large scale gaming server is no small feat. It needs to be able to handle large capacity that fluctuates and changes daily. It needs to be scalable so that resources committed match demand coming in. And it needs to be upgradeable so that as software continues to keep changing, the hardware will keep up with the pace of design.
Break the Read Demand
The average gaming software program is extremely read-heavy. This is due to all the graphics involved and map referencing if nothing else. The players themselves are just small bits of data to manage, even if by the thousands, because they all share the same stage.
However, as each node calls upon the game for reference information at a given point in time, the transactions can mount up quickly. The throughput level can skyrocket very quickly as a game becomes popular, and nothing kills a game and its advertising revenues faster than slow delay or constant crashing of data feeding to a client.
One way to get around all the read delay and hardship is to have a sizable server that can already handle heavy load capacity. Regardless of the number of connections, the server just keeps punching out data requests as fast as they come in. However, at a certain capacity point even these kinds of resources start to slow down. Then one ends up having to prioritize requests, which means some move faster than others, and some players linger while others are kept in the fast lane.
Segment the Tasks
The better way is to actually have the data read on one machine and the data requests on another machine. This causes the server architecture to become more dedicated to specific functions. As a result, instead of a server processing the demands of two masters, it focuses on processing just one and does so far better and more efficiently. Ergo, two servers dedicated to specific game data traffic demands produces a smoother system.
Additionally, each server should have a slave built in as a safety net. As soon as the main driver starts to slow down critically or have failure issues, the slave can kick in and be instantly promoted to the master drive status and take over demand. It’s a bit tricky, but the alternating approach speeds up the data traffic management far more than riding everything into one server alone.
Efficient Updating Cuts Demand
The next step is to tailor the software so that data demands and calls are not updating all the data on a client. There’s no need for it and doing so produces an awful amount of bandwidth that is just duplication. All a client needs is the specific data pieces that say what has changed in the gameplay at that given moment, not the entire world map or where all the other players and non-player characters might be at a given moment in the game universe. By tuning game software to just exchange exactly what is needed, the demand on the system is streamlined.
Server choices are varied and a number of different setups can meet the above needs. The big thing to remember is to be both scalable and redundant, which can be a bit of an oxymoron in theory. However, in practice the two marry together quite nicely as discussed above.