Structuring the Backend Service Architecture of a Mobile Card Game

Abstract: 2014 saw the rise of intense action mobile card games, and 2015 ushered in the age of real-time battles. Meanwhile, card games will face a strong challenge from intense mobile games. Confronted with the surging popularity of RPG games, mobile card games will require innovative gameplay and more powerful backend service architecture. So how can mobile card games survive in this tumultuous environment? Let us take a closer look.

Mobile Card Game Core Needs

As China’s mobile gaming industry has burgeoned in 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. 2014 saw the rise of intense action mobile card games while 2015 ushered in the age of real-time battles. The rise of other immersive mobile games poses a strong challenge to card games. Confronted with the surging popularity of RPG games, mobile card games will require innovative gameplay, which is only possible with a more powerful back-end service architecture.

High disk IO

Because mobile card game servers produce and accumulate large volumes of player logs, these servers are required to provide a higher disk IO capacity. Persistent storage is mostly achieved by using NoSQL and non-relational persistence products such as MongoDB and LevelDB.

Rapid deployment and gray release

Card games have a shorter development cycle than RPGs and other immersive mobile games, making cost control easier. Fast server activation, combination, and rollout 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 O&M. The games must support gray releases as well as rapid deployment.

Flexible bandwidth-based payment options

Because most mobile card games are hosted on a single server for a single or multiple zones, it is hard to predict the Internet traffic costs and peak value for a single server. Thus, operators wish to bill the traffic of individual servers on a pay-as-you-go basis.

SPOF risks

This is a typical problem for vertical deployment architecture. If a single sever goes down in a region, service will become unavailable in that particular region. The time needed to restore the service 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 deployment model.

Elastic scalability

The uncertain number of online gamers makes it difficult to predict the resources necessary for allocation, especially during the promotion period just after a game has been released or during online events. 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 Mobile Gaming Solutions

Alibaba Cloud provides a platform to address the needs and challenges faced by card games. This solution provides the following advantages:

High-speed SSD Cloud Disk

With Alibaba Cloud ECS, you can configure a high-IO SSD cloud disk with high-speed, stable random read/write capacity to fully meet 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

Alibaba Cloud servers provide completely automated activation and release, convenient image copying, and batch operation features. This allows you to set up the environment in a short time and release excessive resources after switching. The API operation method is more suitable for fully automated O&M deployment.

Flexible bandwidth-based payment options

ECS fees can be charged based on a fixed bandwidth or hourly by actual traffic. You have the flexibility to choose a suitable payment option based on your games’ traffic characteristics. Generally, when less than 30% of the bandwidth is used, the Pay-As-You-Go option is more economical.

Servers with zero SPOF risks

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 failover. When a fault occurs, service is rapidly restored through migration, protecting gaming servers from SPOF risks.

Elastic resource scalability

Alibaba Cloud’s multiple services, including ECS and RDS, all support vertical configuration upgrade and horizontal extension. Combined with Auto Scaling, which enables automatic horizontal scaling based on service load conditions, this solution meets the needs of dynamic resource adjustment at all business stages.

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