Directive Games Case Study


Directive Games, a mobile game start-up established in 2014, is headquartered in Hong Kong and has offices at Shanghai and Reykjavík, Iceland. It mainly engages in the development of hardcore mobile games and back-end services for developers of these games, with Hong Kong and Shanghai offices responsible for game R&D and Reykjavic office developing back-end tools.

Directive Games specializes in VR/AR games, and has released several VR/AR titles including Super Kaiju and The Machines. Super Kaiju, which marked its entry into the VR market, was launched on Steam, Oculus, and PSVR shortly after going live, outshining the competition and creating a sensation in China’s VR market.

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As a user-centered start-up, we endeavor to develop VR/AR games delivering powerful features and better experiences to users with a minimum number of IT staff in our cross-regional operation. AWS cloud platform allows easy management and maintenance of multiple tasks by a small IT team. We are lucky to have chosen AWS at the very beginning."

Andreas Axelsson
Technical Director, Directive Games

The Challenge

Gauntlet is the latest VR game from Directive Games based on the science fiction adventure film Ready Player One, which was directed by the renowned Academy Awards winner Steven Spielberg. HTC Vive Studios is the producer, publisher, and owner of Ready Player One: OASIS Beta, a Massively Multiplayer Online Simulation Game based on the same IP, which consists of several game modules developed by a number of AR/VR game companies including Directives Games. As one of the main developers, Directive Games was responsible for creating an add-on titled Gauntlet in addition to building the expandable virtual world “OASIS,” which is envisaged to contain hundreds or even thousands of game scenarios to entertain players – just like the virtual game universe in the movie.

Ready Player One: OASIS Beta imagines the year 2045 as a wasteland where people escape the perils of real life by indulging in a VR (virtual reality) playground called the OASIS. The OASIS creator played by Mark Rylance announces before his death that the first to find his hidden Easter egg will inherit his fortune of billions of dollars, thus begins the largest ever treasure hunt. The protagonist Wade Watts (known in OASIS as Parzival), played by Tye Sheridan, is joined by billions of competitors on this curious yet dangerous journey.

Why Amazon Web Services

Directive Games is a start-up mainly engaged in the development of mobile VR/AR games. Its SaaS game development platform, Kaleo, allows game developers to quickly create multiplayer cross-platform AR/VR games. This platform has solved various cross-platform issues, so that players on different systems such as PS4 and Steam can interact seamlessly with each other. Because of this feature, when selecting a cloud service provider for its games, Direct Games placed top priority on service compatibility, availability, security and stability, while development cost and global business development were also considered.

At present, Directive Games uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) as its game logic server, assisted by Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). ELB improves system availability by automatically distributing traffic according to the changing traffic load, while Amazon VPC can create multiple secure private virtual networks on the AWS cloud which enable different business logics and enhance system security. In addition, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), as the storage medium for game media files, props, logs and other object data, ensures data persistence, availability and security.

Higher Development Efficiency

AWS CloudFormation is a common language used to describe and pre-configure all service resources in the cloud environment. It can rapidly create game development or production environment and has leading modeling and automated deployment capabilities. For instance, Directives Games can use AWS CloudFormation to immediately build an identical and isolated development or production environment under the AWS account of its co-developer, significantly increasing development efficiency by eliminating the need to perform manual operations or write a custom script.

Server-less Management and Flexible Configuration Changes

AWS Lambda makes it possible to run codes without configuring or managing a server and uses a “per-request” pricing structure (no cost will be incurred if no code is running). Directive Games uses Lambda to quickly update its configuration files. Once a developer changes any configuration file, an Amazon S3 storage event will be triggered which in turn triggers Lambda to save this file in Redis, then the Kaleo SaaS system of Directive Games will automatically retrieve the file from Redis for update.

Powerful Data Analysis

Directive Games uses Amazon CloudWatch to store game information in Amazon Elasticsearch Service and Amazon Redshift through Lambda; Amazon ES mainly analyzes operational data, while Amazon Redshift analyzes game data such as player statistics.

AWS’ wide coverage provided by its global infrastructure also appeals to Directive Games. As of April 2018, AWS boasted 54 Availability Zones in 18 geographical regions and 1 local region, providing services in 190 countries.

The infographic below shows Directive Games’ SaaS platform, achieved on AWS using Amazon EC2, Amazon CloudWatch, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon S3, Amazon VPC, AWS Lambda, AWS CloudFormation, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Kinesis, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), AWS CloudTrail, AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), among others.

The Benefits

Andreas Axelsson, Technical Director of Directive Games, says: “The greatest benefit of using AWS service to build PaaS game development platform is that we can rapidly develop, deploy, upgrade, operate, and maintain games with fewer developers to meet our business needs, which was hard to accomplish previously.”

At the same time, Directive Games also enjoys lower cost and guaranteed security.

Directive Games uses Lambda to update configuration files automatically, without having to run Amazon EC2 instances in the background or pay extra service fees. Advanced security features from Amazon VPC such as security groups and network access control permit inbound and outbound traffic filtering at the instance or subnet level, and enable data storage and access control in Amazon S3, only allowing data access from instances hosted on Amazon VPC networks. Moreover, dedicated instances can be started on dedicated devices to achieve increased level of isolation and hence significantly improved security. “Since security has always been our priority in choosing a cloud service provider, we are very satisfied with the security features of AWS,” emphasizes Axelsson.

Directive Games also lauds the stability of AWS services. “We had a large influx of new players in the autumn of 2017, but our system remained stable and handled the additional traffic without issues,” adds Axelsson.

About Directive Games

Directive Games, a mobile game start-up established in 2014, is headquartered in Hong Kong and has offices at Shanghai and Reykjavík, Iceland. It mainly engages in the development of hardcore mobile games and back-end services for developers of these games, with Hong Kong and Shanghai offices responsible for game R&D and Reykjavic office developing back-end tools

SaaS platform on AWS

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.

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Elastic Load Balancing

Amazon EMR is the industry leading cloud-native big data platform, allowing teams to process vast amounts of data quickly, and cost-effectively at scale.

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Amazon VPC

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets you provision a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud where you can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define.

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Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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