IBM Systems Journal

Running Quake II on a grid

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As a genre of computer games, the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) has the promise of enabling up to tens - or even hundreds - of thousands of simultaneous players. This paper describes how we began with an existing single-server online game engine and enhanced it to become a multiserver MMOG engine running on a grid. Other approaches require that a game be specifically designed to scale to MMOG player levels. Our approach, using IBM OptimalGrid middleware (which provides an abstracted underlying grid infrastructure to an application) allowed us to reuse an existing game engine without the need to make any significant changes to it. In this paper we examine the design elements needed by an MMOG and provide a practical implementation example - the extension of the id Software Quake II® game engine using OptimalGrid middleware. A key feature of this work is the ability to programmatically partition a game world onto a dynamically chosen and sized set of servers, each serving one or more regions of the map, followed by the reintegration of the distributed game world into a seamless presentation for game clients. We explore novel features developed in this work and present results of our initial performance validation experiments with the resulting system. © Copyright 2005 by International Business Machines Corporation.