AWS for Games Blog

Omeda Studios swaps out ‘Predecessor’ backend in less than five months using Amazon GameLift and Pragma

It’s hard to overstate the dedication of Omeda Studios developers working on the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game “Predecessor.” Its core team has developed the game since 2018, even though the studio was officially formed in 2020. Made by fans, for fans, “Predecessor” was born out of the ashes of “Paragon,” a MOBA game developed by Epic Games from 2016-2018. Following the shuttering of “Paragon,” Epic Games released all “Paragon’s” assets for free use in Unreal Engine. Omeda released the first build of “Predecessor” for PC as Paid Early Access at the end of 2021, then as a free online test in April 2022. After running the live game for 16 months, Omeda Studios migrated its backend to Pragma using Amazon GameLift, the dedicated game server management service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). The change was implemented ahead of its latest release, which made the game free-to-play across platforms.

Predecessor KeyArt

“AWS is a games industry gold standard, so going with GameLift was an easy decision. We’re confident it will give us exactly the server types we need, in the regions we need, and with the capacity to make sure that we’re serving our players’ best interests,” said Jon Sredl, Senior Manager of Live Production and Game Operations at Omeda Studios. “The biggest thing for players has been an improvement in the quality of our matchmaking experience, thanks to our ability to connect the Pragma-derived matchmaker that we built in house with GameLift. The flexibility to bring our own matchmaker to the table with GameLift’s server orchestration has given us the control we need to provide a first-class experience for our players.”

Shifting from a black box to a clear box

Omeda Studios has used AWS instances to host “Predecessor” matches since day one but initially layered them with a fully managed backend server provider. The team tailored early development efforts to maintain a small but engaged audience as they prepared the game for cross-platform deployment, and in late 2023, adopted GameLift and Pragma to gain more control over the game’s backend. Unlike its previous game server hosting service, this approach enabled Omeda Studios to accelerate the game’s latest release and provide clearer observability for developers, even with a relatively small team.

“Observability became a big challenge for us because our previous game server hosting solution was more of a black box, but GameLift gives us a clear box with more granular control; we’re able to see how well it’s working,” explained Sredl. “We also knew we could trust GameLift with such a tight timeline.”

Bridging GameLift and Pragma

Prior to the biggest “Predecessor” launch to date, Omeda Studios enlisted solutions integrator and AWS Partner Code Wizards to create a connection between GameLift and Pragma. Working alongside the Omeda team, Code Wizards designed and implemented the framework that allows the studio’s systems to communicate. Helping to accelerate the process and meet a tight timeline, the Amazon GameLift engineering team provided white-glove support, participating in real-time Slack exchanges and collaborating with both teams to identify timely solutions to challenges.

While the implementation was custom to “Predecessor,” developers looking to migrate live games to a new backend and game server orchestration in just a few months could similarly leverage GameLift and Pragma with the expertise of the GameLift engineering and CodeWizards development teams to achieve a similar outcome.

“Code Wizards was effectively part of our core development team, and the AWS team was hugely instrumental in our success; it was a great collaboration,” noted Sredl. “Completing this piece in such a short time was crucial for us to be able to work on other parts of the Pragma transition.”

Today, Pragma manages the backend of “Predecessor” up to matchmaking, which is handled through custom code. Once players have are matched into a group, GameLift is notified and spins up a server in the specified region. This ensures players in a matched group each enjoy the same high-quality experience. “Predecessor” is only available online, meaning all gameplay—practice or otherwise—is routed through GameLift.

Mapping “Predecessor” milestones

Following the success of the free online test in April 2022, released on the Epic Games Store and online game platform Steam, the studio launched a free “Predecessor” PC Early Access in December 2022. At the end of 2023, the game became available for PlayStation 4 (PS4) and PlayStation 5 (PS5) as a closed beta. The game’s new backend debuted on March 5, 2024.

Predecessor action shot

On March 28, 2024, “Predecessor” released as free-to-play (F2P) with global cross-platform play support for Epic Games Store, Steam, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S, enabled by Amazon GameLift and Pragma. Players can still purchase early access bundles, which contain unique in-game items and currency, but the game itself is available at no cost. The latest release makes the game more accessible to players, so the team needed to be certain it could maintain a high-quality experience for players even as traffic surged.

“The first thing we want to ensure is that everyone is having a good time, and we absolutely leaped over that bar. It was an unprecedented effort across our internal development team to make this live transition of services in a matter of months, and the GameLift and Pragma components have all worked seamlessly,” Sredl shared. “This is the largest that our population has ever been, and it’s still growing, which is incredibly exciting. We’re aiming to continue this momentum and have a bunch of big new features and game modes in the works.”

The importance of load testing

Because of its connection to “Paragon,” “Predecessor” has attracted strong attention from a dedicated audience since its inception. To this end, the game has always needed to support a sizable player base. Its initial online test in 2021 saw 11 million minutes of play by 68,000 players in one weekend, and demand has only grown with each new release. Ahead of the game’s F2P release, the team conducted extensive stress testing to ensure players would enjoy an optimal experience, even in demand peaks. The studio has load tested up to 200,000 concurrent players on Pragma and up to 500,000 players with GameLift.

“We’ve run relatively continuous load testing for most of the last two months—running tests, pulling the results, making adjustments and changes to our services as needed, and then prepping for the next test. But, we had a compressed timeline between swapping our entire backend and server management system and going free-to-play with our biggest player base. It was vital that we not only build the highest quality systems but also test them thoroughly,” said Sredl. “Thankfully, the launch went smoothly, and the backend has been incredibly stable. Load testing was critical and helped us catch and address issues ahead of time.”

With a global player base, “Predecessor” runs on four major AWS regions—two in North America, one in Europe, and one in Asia-Pacific. The Omeda team can now easily expand the game to more regions to ensure players receive a great quality experience with healthy matchmaking and localization. At the same time, GameLift’s auto-scaling has made it easier to scale with an increased player base as the game’s free-to-play mode continues to grow in popularity.

Preparing for future releases

Now that Omeda Studios owns both the backend and systems code base for “Predecessor,” it can develop and implement new features for fans more quickly. The team can test out ideas right away without worrying about how to stitch code into a pre-existing product that ultimately might not accommodate the feature. As a community-driven company, this newfound agility is crucial to accomplishing its ultimate vision for “Predecessor.”

Predecessor action shot

“In the long term, we just want to create the best, most exciting, engaging, and fun experience we can, so being able to quickly prototype has been huge. ‘Predecessor’ is a game built on the dreams and ideals of ‘Paragon,’ and now, our goal is to find out how much farther we can raise the player experience and quality bar,” noted Sredl. “We’re also looking at how we can further work with partners, like AWS, to build a world-class AAA game as independent developers. I couldn’t be happier with where we’re sitting now and the opportunities to build for the future.”

Parting advice

For developers on their own backend journey, Sredl recommends they consider the player experience first, then work backward to determine infrastructure. He concluded, “Players care about whether they’re able to focus on playing the game, and that requires the appropriate latency and server performance from a development perspective. Scalability is important at every stage, as is always setting a high bar for quality. For us, that meant using GameLift. We know the quality of AWS and have been running on AWS machines for a very long time, so it really made sense for us to expand our partnership.”

Visit the Amazon GameLift page to learn more about the technology and how its predictive server scaling, enterprise-grade security, and matchmaking empower developers to build and scale the world’s most demanding games while taking the uncertainty out of launch day.

Emily McKinzie

Emily McKinzie

Emily McKinzie is an Industry Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services.