In CCP's DUST 514 for the PlayStation 3, battles are initiated by corporations in the PC-based space MMO EVE Online. In a post on the PlayStation Blog, CCP server architect Lin Luo talks about how much fun making that work is.
First we need to understand the basic flow of a DUST 514 battle. First, a corporation in EVE for the PC decides they want a territory owned by another corporation, and issues a battle contract. The order is communicated to DUST on the PlayStation 3. Two groups of DUST mercenaries are assembled to do battle. When the numbers on each side are satisfactory, EVE tells DUST to start up a battle. Everybody fights, and when the dust clears (pun semi-intended) the victors get the spoils and EVE terminates the battle process.
It's up to Lin Luo and friends to figure out how to facilitate this level of interaction between the two platforms while keeping the first-person shooter action of DUST fast, furious, and lag-free. I do not envy him this task.
So the EVE universe needs to manage the lifetime of DUST battle servers as well as communicating with them when needed, while we also need to make sure that the latency sensitive FPS multiplayer gameplay goes fairly for the participating DUST players. I won't go into a deep technical discussion about how we solve the challenges involved here, as we are still exploring all the possibilities to find out the best balance point to map physical DUST battles nicely into the EVE universe!
Unlike traditional FPS multiplayer servers, we will host DUST battle servers around the globe. Since the centralized server hardware resources are pretty limited in number, we have to find ways to utilize existing server resources as much as possible. Instead of having a dedicated server machine to host one battle, we aim to have a dedicated multi-core server machine to host as many DUST battle servers as possible!
Sou8nds like an awful lot of work to make PlayStation 3 owners the willing pawns of a bunch of EVE players. Sometimes the battles we fight are not our own. Hopefully they'll be a way in DUST to align yourself with a corporation, getting choice placement in their battles so it really feels like you're contributing to a cause.
Scaling the Universe of DUST 514 [PlayStation Blog]