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Game Server Hosting: feedback and questions

Discussion in 'Connected Games' started by BHouse, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2018
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    47
    In a September ‘18 blog post, we shared more details about the long-term vision for Hosted Dedicated Servers at Unity, as well as some details about our first steps forward that will be available in alpha soon.

    This sticky post will stay up-to-date with blog posts and talks that are relevant specifically to the the future of server hosting and orchestration at Unity. Here’s the list that exists today:

    Talks
    Blog posts
    If you have feedback and questions specifically about our new dedicated server hosting and orchestration solutions, please post here to ensure the support team and developers dedicated to this topic see and respond.
     
    optimise and Joe-Censored like this.
  2. Tiny-Tree

    Tiny-Tree

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    Dec 26, 2012
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    1,235
    in this video :

    its explained that there will be solutions for turn based (level 2) mobile games server aka not realtime, . is it possible to know any plan about this ? what solution will be used? server within unity ? open source or baas ?
     
  3. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    Hi Tiny-Tree; we're focused initially on solving challenges for the "L3" space, and we haven't decided exactly which method is best to implement L2 games.

    The typical set-up is a fast / real-time database to pass game-state back and forth, with potentially some on-demand cloud functions that run to provide server authority for commonly-hacked logic. That said, we are open to other possibilities.

    I'll turn the question back to you - what are you hoping we do?
     
  4. Tiny-Tree

    Tiny-Tree

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    i would hope for an open source level 2 server, that is made by industry specialists as a boiler plate for any kind of social games. same as the matchmaker developed with google and unity.
    for api something like having a basic rest api with db connectors that we would call from client through sockets/websockets to make it fast and full duplex and allow to receive notification from server to client.

    having an administration panel would be out of scope and restrict its development for user by fear of breaking things

    it could be run on unity and ecs but i guess it is better in the end to have that project written in go or for node js.

    No need for extra features like: clans, daily reward, achievements, because its really specific per game and out of scope and it would be better to focus on modularity, plugin implementation to help user made ecosystem of server plugins that would be sold on asset store for example
    • simple example/boilerplate of how a successful game would have made its social backend that we could build upon
    • something that could scale vertically or horizontally without too much effort for at least 10 k concurrent users on a single instance which is easy to do with a single node server
    • an unity sdk that is ready for ios/android/webgl ( extremely important)
    • can be run on our own cheap vps

    here is few example of what is available as open source:

    Parse Server:
    its a good solution, cheap to host but overly complicated, too much features, not good for small indies.

    Nakama :
    ready for prime time, its cleaner and more easy to work with it than parse but to get the multiple instance feature require to buy it at an undisclosed price, simple to maintain and expend upon
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    orb and BHouse like this.
  5. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Jan 23, 2009
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    Hi, I'm really dying to know what the new network library will look like. We should have something on our hand by now as it was promised during United Berlin but there is hardly any information.
    I'm really concerned if it's developing so that it can scale up to ~100s of players. The followings will not matter much if we are making network game for ~10 players also. Any brute-force method will work.

    Joachim said that Unity wants to make the best networking library and I was really excited to hear it.

    Anyway, before we can give our feedback, we need something to review first.
    I hope you guys can share it before it's too late, once it's out the door, it will be much harder to change.

    Without more information, I can only ask what I expect from the best network library. The followings are what I expect from what the best dedicated network libary should do when sending packets.

    • Whom to send: Everyone, Owner(client can own the object), Team members and etc.
    • What to send: Various Filtering Setup depends on distance, priority, visibility and etc. (delta bit compressed)
    • How often to send: Depends on the importance and moving speed, the frequency of sending the packet should be configurable.
    • Reliability: Both reliable and unreliable. Basically, movements are unreliable and everything else needs to be reliable.
    • When to send: Once at the initialization?, or whenever it becomes dirty?

    If it supports the feature above, it can be used not only for FPS games but probably all games. Many games will not need such sophisticated filterings but they can all benefit reducing the size of network packets.
    Yeah, there is deterministic stuff but I heard that you guys having little problem supporting now and I fully understand. It's much harder to do with the heterogeneous network environment. And of course, people want MMORPG but with exception of the persistency, the fundamental network layers are the same. And the persistency has nothing to do with the network itself.

    ECS has lots of potentials and I think it can get us the most performant network library, period. I just hope it also flexible enough so that it sends the optimized data that are absolutely necessary at the each sends instead of sending duplicated data blindly because reducing the size of network data will play a very crucial role in scaling up.

    Thanks for taking my opinion into consideration in advance I'll wait for the good news.

    Cheers!
     
    BHouse and moco2k like this.
  6. optimise

    optimise

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    1) Will free Personal license Unity user able to use free tier to try and test before shipping game? And what's price for each plan?
    2) Is there currently any server available now that able to store and load persistent player data meaning that super fast storing and retrieving player data?
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
    nsmith1024 likes this.
  7. zhuchun

    zhuchun

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    Aug 11, 2012
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    IMHO, two things are important to almost every project.

    1. BuildPipeline for the dedicated server. Editor should be able to generate a slim build, excluding unnecessary textures and shaders safely.

    2. Clear roadmap about when new features are coming and when it's production ready.
     
    orb likes this.
  8. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    Thanks for the feedback - this all sounds great. We're gearing up for the preview/alpha release of all real-time multiplayer tech very soon (weeks not months), and we completely agree that we need to release early and often to make sure we meet the needs of real games. The initial releases will not have all the features you list above, but we do hope that many will follow in frequent ongoing updates through next year.

    You also note that ECS / Job System integration is critical, and we also agree - to reach the scale of 100's of players, performance is key (on both client and server code). More concrete details about this integration will be discussed in some upcoming Unite LA talks.
     
    optimise likes this.
  9. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    1. We haven't announced any pricing plans just yet, and we know cost is important to all devs (especially the indie community). We'll announce something soon once we've explored all options to keep costs down for developers.
    2. This is a great question; persistent player data is important for many different types of games (real-time or async), and we don't have concrete plans in place. However, your feedback is helpful as we're prioritizing 2019 plans.
     
    optimise likes this.
  10. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    1. Agreed completely - in the short-term, we've been redoubling efforts to optimize and fully support the headless version of Unity runtime for server. In 2018.3, we will also introduce workflow improvements that include a managed server #define, so the code separation can be respected at compile time. Longer-term packages and a very minimal player will provide more and more modularity to ensure the server is only running exactly what your game needs.

    2. It's a good point that clarity is important, AND we also believe that adapting to user feedback is equally critical. We don't have a long-term roadmap that is completely locked-in and shared because we know that there is so much we just won't know until we begin working with devs directly on the new tech. We also won't call anything production-ready until we've seen sufficient evidence that real games can succeed using the tech, so again, no set dates - just a goal of frequent updates and iteration.
     
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  11. zhuchun

    zhuchun

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    Thanks for replying, I really like your definition of "Production ready", my respect!

    I understand how hard it is to make a roadmap for the unknown. As a developer, I plan technical solutions for my team ahead of time. A whole game may need a ridiculously long time and the worst thing could happen is that a close sourced core solution has been obsoleted or delayed, totally a nightmare. I think every part of the upcoming network system are fundamental to networking games(especially L3 and L4), therefore something like a roadmap could provide stronger confidence to developers and help the iteration. Just my personal suggestion ;)
     
  12. ppmpyae7

    ppmpyae7

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    Sep 13, 2018
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    Hi,I want to know if unet change to game server hosting,will the prices go up?Currently,it is just massively expensive for level 2 (turn based)games compared to phonton and smartfoxserver.So,you should lower the price.Thanks
     
  13. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    When this goes live Unet will be removed, not changed. If you want to use Unet on a rented server, you can already do that through any number of 3rd party server providers.
     
  14. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Jan 23, 2009
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    Unreal 4.21 is released today with huge updates as always. Notably, it includes the Replication Graph and here is the brief description why it's necessary for performant network libary. I really hope Unity study it and has something to offer... soon, not in 2 years.

     
  15. DrIndie

    DrIndie

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    Jun 4, 2017
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    1


    Hello,

    For L2 tier. Since you're pairing with GCP, how about GAE (google app engine)? The product is very reliable and scalable. It comes with many out of the box features such as Authentication and others.


    I'd prefer to have an App Engine logic written from experts, to manage most of the common issues with games, and adding some features such as matchmaking. Also it should be controlled from Unity Editor.


    For example developers can write all serverside logic in #if_server and only libraries used will be compiled and uploaded to a GAE version to scale on demands.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
    BHouse likes this.
  16. Gorkadread

    Gorkadread

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    Mar 27, 2013
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    Hi!

    I'm curious as to how you're planning on leveraging a solution where you can utilize the navmesh and colliders crafter in the editor on both the client and the server to make sure users don't cheat. Because that's something that would be really nice to have, not having to export navmesh and then through black magic use it on the serverside like some do now. Any thoughts on that? And how close are you now to showing off some serverstuff? Couple of weeks has passed :) *eager*
     
  17. orb

    orb

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    Anyone who integrates with Steam gets access to a whole bunch of other features there. The game gets a distribution platform, beta builds with separate download alternatives (several can be juggled at once), and chat (lobbies and DM) + direct game joining. So any of that should be roll your own or just use Steam like sane people do.

    Ranked matchmaking is something that can be specific to each game, so it's probably not always straight-forward. A first-/third-person shooter may simply rank you on win:loss ratios, while other games rely on progress and acquisition of powerful upgrades.

    I think all a system provided by UT needs for Steam games is unranked matchmaking (random player matchup), ranked matchup (developers assign ranks to players based on their criteria, UT's system only finds players in the pool at that rank) and maybe toxic player segregation (scum and villainy get their own ranked and unranked pools).

    For mobile games you kinda need some sort of account and lobby system. It's very convenient to just let the client use a soft account registration by device IDs of some sort, then optionally register the account to an e-mail address later. If not part of a service provided by UT it would be useful to give people examples. Indie game developers are NOT generally well-versed in backend server programming ;)

    If using UT's server hosting, some control over it in a management panel is necessary. If you're going to run instances as needed based on capacity, all of that has to be made stupidly simple. But if a game is in testing you don't want it to run too many instances because of costs.

    We don't know what sort of prices are intended, but if I were to run a small beta I'd like to limit the number of players so it doesn't get too costly. A turn-based strategy game would presumably also be less of a stress on servers than a 60 ticks per second FPS, so equal prices there wouldn't be fair. I foresee a whole mess there :)

    A lot of this has already been mentioned, but they're things I consider necessary, so I repeat:
    - The server should be able to build from version control.
    - Slim headless server builds - drop textures and sound for small uploads (you should only need scripts, mesh and scene data at most).
    - The replacement high-level networking API needs to be finished :)

    A lot of the things typically ask for can be done by running a VPS or dedicated server with some backend services, but the two things which could make it less ideal are ability and proximity. As mentioned above, knowing how to make games doesn't necessarily prepare you to write server-side software, and a random VPS out there might have connection issues both to the game server and to some or all players in a match. Many indies just want to concentrate on the game, and as few stops as possible to get all the services working together is best.

    Personally I'd write (and have written) matchmaking/account systems myself. There isn't much to it for a dumb matchmaker that just finds open games - you just need either a web API that returns JSON or a gRPC API with compact binary data, then the only slight effort is if you want to make a live-updating webpage to go with it.

    UT could probably provide something like that fairly easily, with an SDK to quickly connect clients to it. With gRPC you run a CLI command to export the client code automatically, and all you need to do is write actual server code.
     
  18. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    Jan 10, 2018
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    I'll leave it to Tim and others to chime in about navmesh/colliders.
    On the server front, do you mean access to the alpha for server hosting? The roll-out has begun *very gradually*, and especially with the holidays coming up, there likely won't be another significant round of projects added until after that (since we know most devs will be OOO and not on-hand to investigate challenges). Thanks for the patience!
     
  19. BHouse

    BHouse

    Unity Technologies

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    Jan 10, 2018
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    Thanks for all the feedback. The good news is that much of this we are actively discussing today, and while I can't promise anything, I can say that we are at least aware as we plan for 2019.
     
    orb likes this.