Card-based Mobile Gaming Solution

Card-based mobile games are graphic intensive and require powerful, scalable and robust back-end service architecture. This mobile gaming solution provides high-quality Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes, exclusive game cluster resources, global network layouts and advanced mobile application security.

Recommended Architecture

Solution description

  1. 1. Game server portals use Alibaba Cloud Server Load Balancer. As a game's traffic volume increases, the carrying capacity of a single server will be reached and the number of game servers can be increased as necessary. Server Load Balancer supports layer 4 TCP/UDP and layer 7 http/https load balancing. Alibaba Cloud ECS supports vertical configuration upgrades and elastic scaling. Combined with Server Load Balancer, this allows users to construct an ECS-based architecture for automatic horizontal scaling. This gives the service a variety of flexible scaling capabilities.
  2. 2. Game data and platform data both use ApsaraDB for RDS. The primary/secondary ApsaraDB for RDS architecture allows games to protect core data from SPOF risks. Additionally, as the game's traffic increases, users can hot upgrade their databases when necessary. ApsaraDB for RDS provides professional advice on database optimization, including intuitive slow SQL diagnostics and complete SQL operation reports, as well as primary key checks, index checks, and other types of optimization advice. This ensures the stable operation of customers' game data and core platform systems (such as their recharge payment and login systems).
  3. 3. A single ECS game server supports the parallel deployment of two runtime containers, A and B (for JAVA development platforms, the container is Tomcat). A reverse proxy (such as Nginx) is deployed in the game server, which is directed to container A. Gray releases are coded to B (a WAR package for JAVA development platforms) and the reverse proxy is directed to B. This allows for a successful gray release, where users will experience no interruptions and will not even be aware of the event. If the new release fails, the reverse proxy is directed to container A. This allows for a successful rollback and game users won't even be aware of the event.
  4. 4. Users can also load self-built MongoDB and other database services on Alibaba Cloud high-I/O SSD ECS. With a fast and stable random read/write capacity and a storage throughput of over 100 Mb/s, the ECS SSD provides the I/O capacity required for NoSQL databases. Moreover, the distributed, triplicate mechanism delivers robust data reliability.
  5. 5. For ECS with installed application software packages, users can quickly activate servers by using user-defined images and data disk snapshots to create new servers in batches.


Solution Driven

As China's mobile gaming industry has evolved into the 4G era, mobile card games have played a dominant role in the domestic mobile gaming market, accounting for nearly half of mobile gaming revenue in 2013. In 2014 we saw the rise of intense action-type mobile card games and in 2015 mobile card games entered the real-time combat era. Meanwhile, card games will face a strong challenge from graphic intensive mobile games. Confronted with the surging popularity of RPG games, mobile card games require cloud engines which can power innovative gameplay and a more powerful back-end service architecture.
Alibaba Cloud has a cloud computing platform to address the unique needs and challenges faced by card games. This solution provides the following advantages:
High Disk I/O
SSD High-Speed Cloud Disk
Mobile card games server's produce and accumulate large volumes of player logs and persistent storage which is mostly achieved by using NoSQL, non-relational persistence products such as MongoDB and LevelDB. These servers are required to provide a higher disk I/O capacity.
With Alibaba Cloud ECS, users can configure a high-I/O SSD cloud disk with high speed, stable random read/write capacity to fully match game developers' requirements, such as the write performance needs of storing a massive volume of player logs. Using a distributed, triplicate mechanism, this solution delivers robust data reliability.
Rapid Deployment and Gray Release
Rapid Deployment and Gray Release
Card games have a shorter development cycle than RPGs and other intense mobile games, making cost control easier. Fast server activation, combination and rolling as well as fast value adjustment have become the norm for card games. Frequent deployment and upgrades on multiple servers present new challenges for the game experience and operation and maintenance. The games must support grey releases as well as rapid deployment.
Alibaba Cloud servers provide completely automated activation and release, convenient image copying and batch operation functions. This allows users to set up the environment in a short period of time and release excess resources after switching. The API operation method is more suitable for fully automated operation and maintenance deployment.
Flexible Bandwidth Billing
Flexible Bandwidth Billing
Most mobile card games are hosted on a single server for single or multiple zones. It is hard to predict the internet traffic costs and peak value for a single server therefore operators wish to bill the traffic of individual servers on a costly Pay-As-You-Go basis.
ECS fees can be charged based on fixed bandwidth or hourly by actual traffic. Users have the flexibility to choose a suitable billing method based on their games' traffic characteristics. Generally, when less than 30% of the bandwidth is used, billing by traffic will save more on fees.
Risk of single-point-of-failure
Servers with No SPOF Risk
This is a typical problem for vertical deployment architectures. In the case that a single sever goes down, service may become unavailable in at least one region. The time needed to restore the server has a direct effect on user experience, financial flow, and even user retention. Restricted by development conditions, code inheritance, costs and other factors, the vast majority of games still follow this outdated deployment model.
The cloud platform is built on a distributed file system that operates under a highly reliable triplicate data redundancy storage mechanism. This ensures data security at all times. Moreover, the ECS servers support automatic downtime migration. Therefore, when a fault occurs, service is rapidly restored through migration, protecting gaming servers from single-point-of-failture risk.
Elastic Scalability
Elastic Resource Scalability
The uncertain number of online gamers makes it difficult to predict resource allocation, especially during the online events and peak periods after game releases. Momentary access pressure may easily exceed the system's maximum load capacity, while constantly maintaining a high resource configuration will certainly lead to a massive waste of resources. Therefore, flexible and automatic elastic scalability is extremely important.
Alibaba Cloud's multiple services, including ECS and ApsaraDB for RDS, all support vertical configuration upgrade and horizontal extension. Combined with the ESS to enable automatic horizontal scaling based on service load conditions, this solution meets the needs of dynamic resource adjustment at different business stages.