Oct. 10, 2012, midnight

How (not) to create a network game

One of the most important thing that you should keep in mind while developing a real time network game is that latency is a bitch.


Overall architecture

The architecture of our game is really really simple, in a raw way it will emulate one of the most common conception of how a network communication in a game can occur:

1) there is a server; 2) each client connect to this server and send his current position; 3) as response, the server send back a dictionary that holds the position of all objects; 4) with this data the client draw all the objects at their respective positions.





Client explanation

function forward()

returns a communication channel with the server, using this socket the client will send the spaceship position, and retrieve the global position map.

function create_ship()

returns a spaceship object (a pyglet sprite); set the initial position, if that is not your ship define a _id and put a little of opacity;

class MainWindow() init()

Start the pyglet screen; bind the keyboard as input; create your ship; start the communication channel

class MainWindow() on_draw()

(1) Clear screen and draw your spaceship. (2) Stores your spaceship position/orientation, them send this data encoded as json to the server. (3) Receive and decode the global position data. (4) Iterate over the returned data to create a list of ships id and ships objects. (5) Iterate over the list of objects; define their new position and draw them all. (6) Check for keyboard input and move your ship.

What happens when you run the code?

If you use 3 similar computers on a local network, one as server and two as clients, you will have a close to smooth experience. But if you run this over Internet things will go wrong. Do you realize why?

The bitch latency! Over a LAN you will have less than 1ms of latency, in one second close to 500 interchanges between the server and client can occur. (Since we need a response from server, each action will take twice the latency time: 1000ms / (1ms + 1ms) ) But between my home broadband and my vps only 4 happens.

Let's imagine a scenario where 3 people from different parts of the world connect to my game server running at this VPS(in Germany). How the spaceship speed will be seen from the watcher perspective?

That's what will be seen:

Spaceship speed

Each spaceship will have a different speed, and each client will see a different pattern of lag which will warp all the others spaceships. At this point you probably realize that writing a network game is not so simple.

That's all folks!

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