In 1996, Berlin, Germany-based Silver Style Entertainment began developing computer and console games. In 2010, after emerging as Silver Style Studios GmbH, the company expanded into massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) that are powered by the company’s in-house game engine technology, LightStream. The LightStream engine enables players from around the world to play console-quality online games directly from a browser without installing software or downloading plugins other than Adobe Flash Player 11. Today, the company employs a staff of 42.

Silver Style wanted to develop an online game, and they wanted to base it on the popular pen-and-paper role-playing game The Dark Eye, which has attracted more than 6 million players worldwide. The new, browser-based game would be called The Dark Eye—Herokon Online.

To be successful, the Silver Style team needed two things: a cloud infrastructure that would both support global demand and work with LightStream. Scalability and reliability were key considerations, especially given the scope of the user base.

“From the first sketches on the drawing board, we were always looking at the bigger picture,” Silver Style Managing Director Ronny Knauth says. “We needed a partner who would provide us with a global infrastructure and dependable security. AWS was the right choice for us.”

Once Silver Style decided to move to the cloud with AWS, the team acted quickly. "Our AWS system was so easy to handle right out of the box that we did not need any extra training,” Knauth says. “We had the first servers up and running within a few days."

The AWS Cloud helped enable the Silver Style team to provide the kind of worldwide availability that online game players required. In June 2011, Silver Style launched its first Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance and started using Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) for reverse proxy caching as well as web and application processing.

Silver Style then began storing customized objects in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which also houses the static assets delivered by Amazon CloudFront. Amazon S3 is used for in-game videos, web site assets, and storing Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) maintains persistent data such as game worlds and player characters, in addition to supporting content management systems, forums, customer support, and online payment interface. Silver Style also uses Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), Amazon Route 53, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). A simplified view of the company’s architecture is shown below.

Silver Style Studios Architecture Diagram

Figure 1: Silver Style Studio Architecture Diagram on AWS

Silver Style is now focusing on fine-tuning its own technology. "We found some room for optimization in our code while the load has grown,” Knauth says, “and we have literally disassembled and reassembled everything multiple times. With AWS, we have the flexibility to do a lot of testing without worrying about the costs."

And if the company does encounter a technical problem, it has easy access to its Developer-level AWS Support.

In the last 12 months, Silver Style has achieved 99 percent availability, eliminated new hardware expenses and lowered operational costs with the consumption-based pricing that AWS offers.

“One thing that is especially important for us is the ability to scale to the exact amount of infrastructure necessary,” Knauth says.

When it comes to protecting sensitive customer data, using AWS also gives the company peace of mind. "Our customers' private data is always a sensitive topic,” Knauth says. “But the AWS good name and high security standards are very reassuring.”

AWS makes it possible for Silver Style to scale to the exact amount of infrastructure it needs to rapidly expand on user demand at a global scale. Silver Style can take advantage of identical environments in multiple locations, so that they can deploy seamlessly, worldwide.

“Our LightStream technology works great with AWS,” Knauth says. The company plans to use AWS with LightStream on future projects.

"We wanted to have one partner with a global data center to help make our games accessible worldwide,” Knauth concludes. “There was no better choice than AWS.”

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