Network Characteristics for Server Selection in Online Games

Network Characteristics for Server Selection in Online Games

Mark Claypool

In Proceedings of ACM/SPIE Multimedia Computing and Networking (MMCN)
San Jose, California, USA
January 30-31, 2008

Online gameplay is impacted by the network characteristics of players connected to the same server. Unfortunately, the network characteristics of online game servers are not well-understood, particularly for groups that wish to play together on the same server. As a step towards a remedy, this paper presents analysis of an extensive set of measurements of game servers on the Internet. Over the course of many months, actual Internet game servers were queried simultaneously by twenty-five emulated game clients, with both servers and clients spread out on the Internet. The data provides statistics on the uptime and populations of game servers over a month long period an an in-depth look at the suitability for game servers for multi-player server selection, concentrating on characteristics critical to playability - latency and fairness. Analysis finds most game servers have latencies suitable for third-person and omnipresent games, such as real-time strategy, sports and role-playing games, providing numerous server choices for game players. However, far fewer game servers have the low latencies required for first-person games, such as shooters or race games. In all cases, groups that wish to play together have a greatly reduced set of servers from which to choose because of inherent unfairness in server latencies and server selection is particularly limited as the group size increases. These results hold across different game types and even across different generations of games. The data should be useful for game developers and network researchers that seek to improve game server selection, whether for single or multiple players.

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