Visibility-based microcells for dynamic load balancing in MMO games
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Massively multiplayer games allow hundreds of players to play and interact with each other simultaneously. Due to the increasing need to provide a greater degree of interaction to more players, load balancing is critical on the servers that host the game. A common approach is to divide the world into microcells (small regions of the game terrain) and to allocate the microcells dynamically across multiple servers. We describe a visibility--based technique that guides the creation of microcells and their dynamic allocation. This technique is designed to reduce the amount of cross--server communication, in the hope of providing better load balancing than other load--balancing strategies. We hypothesize that reduction in expensive cross-server traffic will reduce the overall load on the system. We employ horizon counts map to create visibility based microcells, in order to emphasize primary occluders in the terrain. In our testing we consider traffic over a given quality of service threshold as the primary metric for minimization. As result of our testing we find that dynamic load balancing produces significant improvement in the frequency of quality of service failures. We find that our visibility-based micro cells do not outperform basic rectangular microcells discussed in earlier research. We also find that cross-server traffic makes up a much smaller portion of overall message load than we had anticipated, reducing the potential overall benefit from cross server message optimisation.