Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Sanjeev Sharma, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Anarchy Online: Linux-Powered Science Fiction

An interview with Funcom's Christian Berentsen

It turns out that, indeed, many MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) are running Linux on their back ends. Christian Berentsen, the operations director of Funcom (www.funcom.com) kindly agreed to a virtual talk with Dee-Ann LeBlanc, LinuxWorld Magazine's gaming industry editor, about how Anarchy Online (www.anarchyonline.com) uses Linux to bring the world of Rubi-Ka to life for their user base.

LWM: Please tell us briefly about Anarchy Online. I know it's a science fiction MMORPG since I used to play it, but tell us a bit about the game world and the game.
Christian Berentsen:
Anarchy Online takes place on the planet Rubi-Ka, almost 30,000 years from now. Rubi Ka is important to the corporation Omni-Tek due to the presence of a rich notum ore. Notum is a mineral that enables "hard" nano-technology (a step forward from the soft, biologically based nano-technology). The planet has been terraformed to some degree, and several cities and natural expanses have been developed by Omni-Tek. Omni-Tek treats its employees in a manner that leaves a lot to be desired.

After a few generations, the revolt emerges. The player takes part in this world by choosing a breed, gender, looks, and a profession, then evolves the character from there. The player can choose sides in the conflict or stay neutral. The game world is large and beautiful 3D scenery, where the players can explore, team up, party, do missions, fight, form large organizations, and do many other things left up to their imaginations. Central to the game is the character development that's based on gaining experience from fighting, doing missions, assembling items, and other things. The characters can gain levels up to 220, and in that process they have a lot of fun. Every character will have a different experience and become a unique citizen of Rubi-Ka.

LWM: Where is Linux involved in AO's back end?
Berentsen:
All our servers run Linux. Our game servers, database servers, login servers...the chat server is running FreeBSD.

LWM: Why was Linux selected to handle the back-end tasks that it handles?
Berentsen:
We started by having a few different Unixes in our development phase, and gained some experience with the different products (Irix, AIX, Digital Unix, some Solaris). In this heterogeneous development environment it was more of an evolutionary process that made Linux survive. The other OSes had some strengths and weaknesses (for example tools, good or bad debuggers). In the end we realized that the platform we had most control on was Linux, and we believed it to be suitable for deployment on our live sites.

LWM: Why were the other back-end platforms selected to handle what they handle?
Berentsen:
We have one FreeBSD machine running the chat server. Back then it was the only OS that could realistically handle the number of connections we required.

LWM: What type of setup is this back end? Clustered? COWed?
Berentsen:
We have several "dimensions" that are disconnected from each other. Each has its own database server and set of game servers that run parts of the world (playfields) on them. We have automatic load balancing of playfields onto servers, and some static load balancing.

LWM: I know that this was a long time ago for you, but what were some of the challenges involved in building your MMORPG? Were any of them Linux specific?
Berentsen:
The main technical challenge was to be able to support a large number of players and objects in a large world. Profiling was a challenge on all the operating systems, and we developed our own profile viewer (for gprof) and later also a LiveProfiler (not using gprof) for server performance profiling on the fly.

LWM: What technical lessons have you learned along the way?
Berentsen:
There are many things we have learned from making AO, on many levels. Choosing open source middleware has proven very valuable, and has supported our portable development strategy well. Think about scalability early on, even in the game design.... Make tools for operating the game early as well. We think we have done many things right, and been able to select out the bad directions early.

LWM: What business lessons have you learned along the way?
Berentsen:
Do not launch prematurely. Have a longer beta and fix all showstopper bugs before launch. We have released many content and bugfix patches since release, and the game is very stable now; the first week was kind of rocky in that area.

LWM: Is there a Linux client? I know there wasn't when I changed from a Windows to a Linux desktop, that's one of the reasons I ended up having to leave the game, but things do change.
Berentsen:
There is no Linux client; we started porting the client renderer to OpenGL at one point, as the start of the porting process, but it was abandoned.

LWM: Do you plan to provide one?
Berentsen:
There are no current plans to provide a Linux client.

LWM: What would have to change in order for you to consider such a move?
Berentsen:
We might consider this if Linux becomes a desktop OS of choice for gamers. We know there are games being ported to Linux, and that a lot of the Linux community plays games, but currently we do not think the market for AO is big enough in this segment.

LWM: Do you plan to stick with Linux in your infrastructure at this same level when you begin your next game project?
Berentsen:
We will probably stick to Linux on the server side. Our server code is platform independent, and we embrace open source. We will probably use Linux at the same level as now, with a hybrid development of server on Linux and client on Windows. Probably a lot of the tools we will be using in the future will be platform independent, so if people in house have Linux desktops, we will support that for our developers and content providers.

More Stories By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Dee-Ann LeBlanc has been involved with Linux since 1994. She is the author of 12 books, 130 articles, and has more of both coming. She is a trainer, a course developer - including the official Red Hat online courseware at DigitalThink - a founding member of the AnswerSquad, and a consultant.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
The basic integration architecture, as defined by ESBs, hasn’t changed for more than a decade. Most cloud integration providers still rely on an ESB architecture and their proprietary connectors. As a result, enterprise integration projects suffer from constraints of availability and reliability of these connectors that are not re-usable across other integration vendors. However, the rapid adoption of APIs and almost ubiquitous availability of APIs amongst most SaaS and Cloud applications are rapidly redefining traditional integration approaches and their reliance on proprietary connectors. ...
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and high availability solutions, leveraging the cloud and the benefits of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS...
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.