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Network Game Design:

        Hints and Implications of
           Player Interaction

                     Kuan-Ta Chen, ...
Observation

   User behavior is a key factor of how well a network system
     performs (and how should a system be desig...
Motivation


                      Drawing Design Implications

                           from Players’ Interaction

    ...
What We’ve Done

   1.     Collecting game traces (packet-level)


   2.     Inferring user interaction from game traces
 ...
Talk Outline

               The question
               Trace collection
               Deriving user interaction
       ...
Game Studied -- ShenZhou Online




Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction   6
Game Trace Collection
                                                                                         Game Traffi...
Why We Use Packet-Level Traces?

   Packet-level traces are much easier to obtain
        no modification to game servers ...
Extraction of Player Interaction
   We would like to know …
    whether any two players are at the same place
    whether ...
Example: Four Neighbors




                                                 Time (minutes)
        Server packet rates im...
Example: Four Teammates




                                               Time (minutes)
        Client packet rates impl...
Talk Progress

               The question
               Trace collection
               Deriving user interaction
      ...
Dispersion of Players

   The dispersion of players in the game world:
         well modeled by Zipf distributions
       ...
Peer-to-Peer Games

        Reducing server load                            more scalable
        Faster response time
   ...
Overlay Construction
              Game World View                                             Network Topology View

    ...
Overlay Construction Alternatives

   Design 1:                                                                           ...
Similarity between The Two Approaches?
                                                Network Topology View

            ...
Correspondence between
         Network Distance and Virtual World Distance
   Observation                    irrelevant p...
Implications of Network Proximity
   For client-server architecture
        improves the fairness of game playing, as inte...
Effect of Network/Physical Distance

   Observation (for a group of players):
        network distance                    ...
Effect of Social Interaction
   Observation:
        degree of social interaction                               game play ...
Conclusion

   Packet-level traces
        easier to obtain
        feasible to extract user interaction
   Findings summa...
Thank You!


                           Kuan-Ta Chen

                http://www.iis.sinica.edu.tw/~ktchen



NetGames 2006
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Network Game Design: Hints and Implications of Player Interaction

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While psychologists analyze network game-playing behavior in terms of players’ social interaction and experience, understanding user behavior is equally important to network researchers, because how users act determines how well network systems, such as online games, perform. To gain a better understanding of patterns of player interaction and their implications for game design, we analyze a 1, 356-millionpacket trace of ShenZhou Online, a mid-sized commercial MMORPG. This work is dedicated to draw out hints and implications of player interaction patterns, which is inferred from network-level traces, for online games.
We find that the dispersion of players in a virtual world is heavy-tailed, which implies that static and fixed-size partitioning of game worlds is inadequate. Neighbors and teammates tend to be closer to each other in network topology. This property is an advantage, because message delivery between the hosts of interacting players can be faster than between those of unrelated players. In addition, the property can make game playing fairer, since interacting players tend to have similar latencies to their servers. We also find that participants who have a higher degree of social interaction tend to play much longer, and players who are closer in network topology tend to team up for longer periods. This suggests that game designers could increase the “stickiness” of games by encouraging, or even forcing, team playing.

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Network Game Design: Hints and Implications of Player Interaction

  1. 1. Network Game Design: Hints and Implications of Player Interaction Kuan-Ta Chen, Academia Sinica Chin-Laung Lei, National Taiwan University NetGames 2006
  2. 2. Observation User behavior is a key factor of how well a network system performs (and how should a system be designed) Example: Virtual World Partitioning Problem Uniform distributed Server 1 Clustered Server 2 Server 1 Server 2 Server 3 Server 3 If game players tend to be uniformlyin the gameover the game world clustered distributed world dynamic and adaptive partitioning of the game world sufficient. required. static and fixed-size partitioning of the game world is would be Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 2
  3. 3. Motivation Drawing Design Implications from Players’ Interaction for Designing More Responsive & Scalable Online Games Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 3
  4. 4. What We’ve Done 1. Collecting game traces (packet-level) 2. Inferring user interaction from game traces Who are interacting? Where are the players? How do they interact? (stay together or team up) 3. Studying the implications of user interaction on game design Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 4
  5. 5. Talk Outline The question Trace collection Deriving user interaction Analysis of user interaction (and its implications) Conclusion Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 5
  6. 6. Game Studied -- ShenZhou Online Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 6
  7. 7. Game Trace Collection Game Traffic Internet Ethernet Gigabit Management interface L3 switch Game & Database servers Monitoring interface Port forwarding Traffic Monitor L4 switch L2 switch trace conn. # packets (in/out/both) bytes (in/out/both) N1 57,945 342M / 353M / 695M 4.7TB / 27.3TB / 32.0TB N2 54,424 325M / 336M / 661M 4.7TB / 21.7TB / 26.5TB Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 7
  8. 8. Why We Use Packet-Level Traces? Packet-level traces are much easier to obtain no modification to game servers is required recording packet traces does not increase the workload of game servers Player behavior inferred naturally connects to network- level factors, e.g., IP addresses and network latency Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 8
  9. 9. Extraction of Player Interaction We would like to know … whether any two players are at the same place whether any two players are teammates For each player (game session), we have … a client packet arrival process a server packet arrival process We’ve proposed an algorithm based on the correlations between the packet arrival processes Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 9
  10. 10. Example: Four Neighbors Time (minutes) Server packet rates imply the degree of PC/NPC activities around the avatar Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 10
  11. 11. Example: Four Teammates Time (minutes) Client packet rates imply the degree of game play activities of the avatar Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 11
  12. 12. Talk Progress The question Trace collection Deriving user interaction Analysis of user interaction (and its implications) player dispersion network proximity social interaction Conclusion Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 12
  13. 13. Dispersion of Players The dispersion of players in the game world: well modeled by Zipf distributions 30% of players gather in the top 1% of places Implications: static and fixed-size partitioning of the game world might be insufficient dynamic and adaptive partitioning algorithms should be used Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 13
  14. 14. Peer-to-Peer Games Reducing server load more scalable Faster response time Audio/video communications Client-server architecture Peer-to-peer architecture Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 14
  15. 15. Overlay Construction Game World View Network Topology View the character played using the host 2 1 1 2 ? 2 ? 1 ? 2 2 ? 1 ? 2 1 2 How to construct overlay networks? Goal: to optimize the overall transmission latency i.e., how to pass information between the peer nodes? Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 15
  16. 16. Overlay Construction Alternatives Design 1: 2 1 1 2 by network distance 1 2 2 2 (optimize network latency) 1 2 1 2 Which design leads to more efficient Network Topology View Design 2: overlays for online games? by virtual world distance 1 2 1 2 (connect frequently 1 2 2 2 contact nodes) 1 2 1 2 Network Topology View Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 16
  17. 17. Similarity between The Two Approaches? Network Topology View 1 2 2 1 two approaches Game World View 1 2 2 lead to different 2 overlays 1 2 1 2 Network Topology View 1 2 1 2 two approaches 2 lead to similar 1 2 1 overlays 1 either approach 1 2 2 is OK Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 17
  18. 18. Correspondence between Network Distance and Virtual World Distance Observation irrelevant players neighbors Players who are neighbors or teammates tend to be teammates closer to each other in network topology Evidence 1: Players who have interaction tend to have closer IP addresses Evidence 2: Players who have interaction tend to have shorter network latencies (between them) Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 18
  19. 19. Implications of Network Proximity For client-server architecture improves the fairness of game playing, as interacting players tend to have similar latencies to their servers For peer-to-peer architecture message delivery between the hosts of interacting players is faster opportunities for optimizing network latency between interacting players Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 19
  20. 20. Effect of Network/Physical Distance Observation (for a group of players): network distance team play time Explanations and implications: real-life relationship carries over into the game; real-life interaction plays a key role in game play enriching in-game communication encourages players to be more involved in team play. diff/8 same/16 same/24 same/32 Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 20
  21. 21. Effect of Social Interaction Observation: degree of social interaction game play time team size team play time Explanations and implications: due to the enjoyment derived from interaction and social bonds a game could be made stickier by encouraging the formation of large groups Team size Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 21
  22. 22. Conclusion Packet-level traces easier to obtain feasible to extract user interaction Findings summarized partitioning of the virtual world should be dynamic network proximity of interacting game players games could be made more sticky by supporting in- game communication and encouraging team playing Kuan-Ta Chen / Hints and Implications of Player Interaction 22
  23. 23. Thank You! Kuan-Ta Chen http://www.iis.sinica.edu.tw/~ktchen NetGames 2006

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