Behaviour Interactive introduces cross-platform play using AWS
Behaviour Interactive is one of the largest independent game studios. Based in Montreal, Canada, it has nearly 700 employees worldwide. In 2020, its most successful IP, the award-winning Dead by Daylight, celebrated 30 million players across PC, console, and Stadia, with another 10 million on mobile.
Originally launched in 2016, much of Dead by Daylight’s ongoing success is down to the studio’s commitment to exceed players’ expectations and keep them coming back for more. Its brand-new chapter, Descend Beyond, unlocks a new killer, the Blight, and a new survivor, Felix Richter. Much to players’ delight, Behaviour has also taken steps to overhaul and improve Dead by Daylight graphics. These graphic enhancements are out today on certain maps and will continue to roll out to more maps in the future.
In addition to bringing new expansions to the game, Behaviour’s development team has been working tirelessly to allow players to access the game wherever and however they choose. Today Dead by Daylight is available across all major console, PC, and mobile platforms, and players have quickly asked for the ability for cross-platform play.
We caught up with Dead by Daylight Programming Technical Directors Rémi Veilleux and Vincent Achim to learn just what it takes to break down barriers to give fans the ability to play their way.
“Dead by Daylight began its life as a peer-to-peer game, with one player acting as a server host and others directly connecting to it,” Veilleux began. To allow cross-play between different platforms, Behaviour had to introduce a dedicated server that acted as a neutral service to communicate with each platform. “This was the main challenge as consoles are inherently non-compatible. They can’t talk to each other,” Veilleux shared. Learn more about Dead by Daylight’s transition from peer-to-peer hosting to dedicated servers in this blog post.
Using Amazon GameLift was key to enabling cross-platform play in Dead by Daylight. Its dedicated servers ensure high availability and high performance with locations all over the world. “GameLift helped us minimize ping time, and with FleetIQ, we also optimized costs,” Veilleux continued. “Ultimately our players now benefit from low-latency game sessions.”
By using GameLift to introduce cross-platform play, Behaviour also significantly reduced both wait time and overall quality of matchmaking. “Cross-play means we can provide a much larger pool of players,” shared Veilleux. Expanding the pool of available players is particularly important for an asymmetrical multiplayer game like Dead by Daylight. “You don’t necessarily have the same amount of people playing a killer or survivor. Blending pools of players together helps reduce the challenge of having one pool of players being larger than another,” he shared. “This feature reduced matchmaking time by approximately 70 seconds on platforms that had the longest wait.”
True to form, Behaviour is exceeding expectations with this latest update. In addition to making cross-platform play a reality, it enabled cross-friends in August and now, cross-progression is also available. These two features that are more complicated to implement than players may first imagine.
“For cross-friends, we needed to add a searching system that enables players to search for other player names,” said Achim. Behaviour added a layer on top of its friend management system by combining Amazon DynamoDB streams with AWS Lambda’s home-grown search system, all built on top of Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS). “This enables players to quickly find friends and form parties and lobby chats,” Achim shared, “allowing friends to easily play together even if they’re playing on different platforms.”
For cross-progression, Behaviour wanted to enable players to seamlessly transition between platforms and keep playing with the same account. “We had to implement a unified account that brings all of the platforms together. It was a lot of time to invest,” Achim explained.
DynamoDB played a large part in this feature, being used to save all player data including inventory and profile. “Using DynamoDB combined with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) helps us to smoothly and securely save this data in the cloud. We also use Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) during player logins,” Achim continued. “We have a merge operation that gathers the data. Players will be able to access their account and get their inventory, experience levels, and profile information regardless of the platform they’re playing on.”
“Using AWS allowed us to achieve our objectives with a comprehensive cloud-based ecosystem that ultimately minimized engineering cost and development time. Cross-play resulted in a bigger success than we planned when we started this journey: Knowing that we could rely on the scalability of AWS, we didn’t have compromise to deliver our objectives. It really allowed us to concentrate on the player experience rather than the technicalities involved,” concluded Veilleux and Achim.
Dead by Daylight cross-play and cross-friends are available today. Cross-progression is available on Steam and Stadia, and on other platforms in the near future. Read more about the update in Dead by Daylight’s release announcement.