Network game research introduction and counter strike analysis
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Network Game Research – Introduction and Counter-strike Analysis. Mark Claypool. Outline. Overview of Network Games Net Games Conference Research Issues Analysis Counter-strike Our Results. Why Study Games?. Rapidly increasing in popularity Forrester Research: 18 million on-line in 2001

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Network game research introduction and counter strike analysis l.jpg

Network Game Research –Introduction and Counter-strike Analysis

Mark Claypool

Outline l.jpg

  • Overview of Network Games

  • Net Games Conference

  • Research Issues

  • Analysis Counter-strike

  • Our Results

Why study games l.jpg
Why Study Games?

  • Rapidly increasing in popularity

    • Forrester Research: 18 million on-line in 2001

    • Consoles on-line

      • Playstation 2 on-line (9/2002)

      • Xbox Live (12/2002)

    • Cell phones

      • Doom port (Nokia)

  • Design networks to better accommodate traffic

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Game Types

  • First Person Shooters

    • Doom, Quake, Counter-strike, …

  • Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing

    • Everquest, Earth and Beyond, …

  • Real-Time Strategy

    • Warcraft, Starcraft …

  • Other

    • Misc – not any genre above

      • Example: Diablo2, Racing, …

    • Non-networked

      • Example: Thief

    • Multiplayer, but relaxed real time

      • Example: Chess, Bridge

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Net-Games - Workshop on Network and System Support for Games

  • First was 2002 in Braunschweig, Germany


  • Second is in Redwood City, California


  • Sponsored by:

    • ACM

    • Electronic Arts

    • Microsoft

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Net-Games Program Committee

  • Sugih Jamin, University of Michigan (Chair)

  • Mostafa Ammar, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Grenville Armitage, Swinburne University of Technology

  • John Buchanan, Electronic Arts

  • Jon Crowcroft, University of Cambridge

  • Christophe Diot, Sprintlabs

  • Wu-chang Feng, Oregon Health and Science University

  • Carsten Griwodz, University of Oslo

  • Jim Kurose, UMass at Amherst

  • John Laird, University of Michigan

  • Brian Neil Levine, UMass at Amherst

  • Martin Mauve, University of Mannheim

  • Hiroyuki Morikawa, University of Tokyo

  • Dan Rubenstein, Columbia University

  • Srinivasan Seshan, Carnegie Mellon University

  • Wilson Yuen, City University of Hong Kong

  • Lars Wolf, TU Braunschweig

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Net-Games Topics

  • Multi-player game architectures and platforms

  • Prevention and detection of cheating

  • Games on mobile and resource-scarce devices

  • AI and techniques for latency hiding

  • Modeling, usage studies, and characterization

  • Enabling protocols for networked games

  • Systems support for authentication and accounting

  • Put research issues here

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Wu-chang Feng, Francis Chang, Wu-chi Feng, Jonathan Walpole

Provisioning On-line Games: A Traffic Analysis of a Busy Counter-Strike Server

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  • Understand the resource requirements of a popular on-line FPS (first-person shooter) game

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Why FPS?

  • While there are other game types …

  • Gaming traffic dominated by first-person shooter genre (FPS) [McCreary00]

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Networked FPS lineage



Unreal Tournament

Doom II


+ QuakeWorld variants

+ Team Fortress

+ Capture the Flag

Unreal Tournament 2003

+ America's Army: Operations

Quake II

+ Soldier of Fortune

+ Heretic II

Quake III Arena

+ Medal of Honor Allied Assault

+ Return to Castle Wolfenstein

+ Soldier of Fortune 2

+ Jedi Knight II


+ Counter-Strike

+ Day of Defeat

+ Urban Terror

+ Team Fortress Classic

+ Team Fortress 2

8 of top 10 games derived

from one of two lineages

Doom III

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About the game...

  • Half-Life modification

  • Two squads of players competing in rounds lasting several minutes

  • Rounds played on maps that are rotated over time

  • Each server supports up to 32 players

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About the game...

  • Centralized server implementation

    • Clients update server with actions from players

    • Server maintains global information and determines game state

    • Server broadcasts results to each client

  • Sources of network traffic

    • Real-time action and coordinate information

    • Broadcast in-game text messaging

    • Broadcast in-game voice messaging

    • Customized spray images from players

    • Customized sounds and entire maps from server

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The Trace

  • (

    • Dedicated 1.8GHz Pentium 4 Linux server

    • OC-3

    • 70,000+ unique players (WonIDs) over last 4 months

  • One week in duration 4/11 – 4/18

  • 500 million packets

  • 16,000+ sessions from 5800+ different players

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Variance time plot

Less variance < 50ms

Remains to 30 min

Decreases above 30 min

(Normalized to base interval of 10ms)

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Digging deeper

  • Periodic server bursts every 50ms

    • Game must support high interactivity

    • Game logic requires predictable updates to perform lag compensation

Interval size=10ms

Interval size=50ms

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Digging deeper

  • Low utilization every 30 minutes

    • Server configured to change maps every 30 minutes

    • Traffic evenly pegged otherwise....

Interval size=1sec

Interval size=30min

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Finding the source of predictability

  • Games must be fair across all mediums (i.e. 56kers)

    • Aggregate predictability due to “saturation of the narrowest last-mile link”

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Packet sizes

  • Supporting narrow last-mile links with a high degree of interactivity requires small packets

    • Clients send small single updates

    • Servers aggregate and broadcast larger global updates

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  • Routers, firewalls, etc. must be designed to handle large bursts at millisecond levels

    • Game requirements do not allow for loss or delay (lag)

    • Should not be provisioned assuming a large average packet size [Partridge98]

    • If there are buffers anywhere, they must...

      • Use ECN (no, doesn’t use TCP)

      • Be short (i.e. not have a bandwidth-delay product of buffering)

      • Employ an AQM that works with short queues

        • Rate-based not Queue-based

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  • ISPs, game services

    • Must examine “lookup” utilization in addition to link utilization

    • Concentrated deployments of game servers may be problematic

      • Large server farms in a single co-lo

      • America's Army, UT2K3, Xbox

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On-going work

  • Other pieces in the provisioning puzzle

    • Aggregate player populations

    • Geographic distributions of players over time (IP2Geo)

  • Impact on route and packet classification caching

  • Other FPS games

    • HL-based: Day of Defeat

    • UT-based: Unreal Tournament 2003, America's Army

    • Quake-based: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault

    • Results apply across other FPS games and corroborated by other studies

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Future work

  • Games as passive measurement infrastructure

    • Only widespread application with continuous in-band ping information being delivered (measurement for free)

    • “Ping times” of all clients broadcast to all other clients every 2-3 seconds

    • 20,000+ servers, millions of clients

  • Games as active measurement infrastructure

    • Thriving FPS mod community and tools

    • Server modifications [Armitage01]

  • Other game types

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Some Net-Games Research at WPI

  • Mark Claypool, David LaPoint, and Josh Winslow. “Network Analysis of Counter-strike and Starcraft”, In Proceedings of the 22nd IEEE International Performance, Computing, and Communications Conference (IPCCC), Phoenix, Arizona, USA, April 2003. Online at:

  • Compared FPS (Counter-strike) with RTS (Starcraft)

  • Smaller number of traces

  • Controlled set of users

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Our Results

  • Confirms packet sizes for Counter-strike

  • Starcraft results:

    • Packets smaller

    • Linear increase with number of players

  • Starcraft traffic much smoother (bandwidth usage) than Counter-strike

    • Counter-strike bursty during ‘fire-fights’

  • (PEDS talk later)

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Network Game Research –Introduction and Counter-strike Analaysis

Mark Claypool