Darkened Software

Archive for November, 2010

Game industry, there are server farms for hire!

by on Nov.22, 2010, under Industry, Programming

Seems in ~30 years we have come full circle on the transition from big university run servers to the desktop computer and back again.  With very accessible systems like Windows Azure and Amazon Elastic as soon as your personal computer or meager company network is not enough for the task you can submitting jobs to the big server farms and go on to other work while you wait for the results.  It is just like the 70’s except much faster, easier and not done on punch cards.

An interesting time in development when you think about it, anyone with a credit card and a little programmer time can now get server farm scale work done almost instantly without the lead time and overhead issues.  Since your renting time from a massive server farms even the size of your problem is really no longer an issue in so as much as your task is able to be subdivided and distributed.

In the game industry we are all tired of completely wasting  > 12 hours on a lighting builds that ends up failing right before a milestone because they are run on hobbled together network of users computers that run so slow because they are also being used to generate content.  Every company wishes they could run a 128 unit server farm like Bungie were artists just submit the job and then go back to doing other stuff.  But not a lot of publishers will cover the overhead for a little developer to build out a server farm for their game.

Well the playing field has just been leveled, get one slightly parallel threading aware programmer to port your lighting and other slow pre-processing systems to Azure and the whole export level process can get done in minutes for just a few dollars.

Think about it the possibilities are endless.  There are so many things I have in the past resisted from putting into the level pipeline because I did not want to make the already insane 12 hour build time even bigger.  But now those concerns effectively go away and one should put the collision optimization, lighting, audio pre-processing, texture optimization, pathfinding generation and everything else we currently know about today in there.   Offload it from your content generators computers and give them their time back to be creating pixels and levels for the game.

I can not wait to see what we will have in games when companies start throwing some real calculations at their levels as part of the iteration process.

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