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    2023.04.18 R&D

    TECH Standard | EP02. Efforts to Provide Seamless Games and Stable Service

    To provide MMORPG services, it is crucial to effectively manage the intricate actions of many players accessing the game simultaneously from various locations worldwide, while also guaranteeing a high level of responsiveness to each individual action. Therefore, the ‘continuity’ that allows players to play smoothly without the game being interrupted is a keywork that cannot be left out when talking about NC’s technological capabilities.

    At NC, the Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) Center is one of the departments responsible for ensuring seamless gameplay. The I&O Center has established the fundamental infrastructure that comprises the gaming environment and developed a platform to support stable service operations. This marks the beginning of NC’s unwavering efforts and sincerity in maintaining the stability of game services.

    What is High Availability

    The primary objective of game servicing is to provide players with an optimized gaming environment that is free of disconnections or delays. Therefore, the I&O Center always ensures high availability by preparing for potential failures. For instance, relying solely on a single system can result in delays or even bring the entire service to a halt in case of obstacles or disasters. To avoid such issues, the I&O Center has dispersed multiple systems and infrastructures. This approach ensures that any errors or problems are not noticeable to the players, thereby maintaining the continuity of the game. Hence, high availability lies at the core of game servicing.

    Duplication involves setting up two identical systems to counter system errors. The objective is to create a system by combining pairs or multiple pieces of equipment, such as servers, networks, or power sources, to ensure that the game service remains operational even if certain components encounter errors. NC has implemented duplication in various areas, ranging from small components to equipment, LAN cables, and even submarine cables, to prepare for unforeseen risks and respond quickly.

    Dualization and diversification refer to the practice of creating multiple independent locations for foundational services used in infrastructure and operational settings. These services may include data centers and internet facilities. NC has also diversified its line carriers by operating them in pairs. This decision was based on verified results obtained from extensive testing of internet lines for global game services in various countries. By proactively securing alternative routes, NC can bypass any potential disruptions caused by a specific service provider’s outage. This approach minimizes the impact of external factors and enables prompt responses in case of errors.

    The Multi Data Center is a typical example that demonstrates the implementation of high availability. NC duplicates several system components, such as servers and network databases, in pairs within a single data center, allowing for backups in case of system failures. Moreover, the data center itself is dualized by being dispersed across two locations, which ensures immediate replacement of operations in case of a problem in one center. NC operates these dualized data centers in a way that allows them to act as a single data center and provide mutual backup. To further minimize damages caused by external service providers, each data center utilizes different network or server providers from one another as part of diversification efforts, minimizing damages caused by external service providers. The Multi Data Center can be described as an aggregation of duplication, dualization, and diversification strategies to prepare for all possible scenarios.

    NC has improved the stability of its core game service and acquired expertise in service migration technology through its approach. The company has secured technology for applying server virtualization to game services with maximum user traffic and for reducing delays in domestic services in the Asia region. Additionally, NC has gained expertise in operating and migrating high-availability services, as well as executing DR, while minimizing downtime during service migration.

    Currently, NC has two data centers and is preparing to establish additional ones while actively investing in the large-scale duplication and dualization of multi-data centers. NC plans to expand duplication, dualization, and diversification to create a more robust and comprehensive operational environment that can better respond to errors in the future.

    NC CLOUD, the Ultimate Solution for Global Service and Stability

    Along with other strategies, NC has also implemented an operating strategy called the “NC Cloud” to expand its game platform stage overseas and implement a global one-build that offers a unified service. The NC Cloud combines NC’s private cloud service with the public cloud offerings of multiple overseas carriers, as well as the multi-data center mentioned earlier.

    When only a domestic single cloud was used, it was practically difficult to provide overseas players with a seamless playing environment without delays, as there were no physical locations abroad. Moreover, NC suffered from the inconvenience of time and resource-consuming processes such as contracting with local publishers and recruiting data centers to support overseas services.

    However, with the increasing availability of public cloud services that can be utilized overseas, NC was able to establish an integrated infrastructure environment that links its data centers with overseas public clouds. This integration allows NC to offer services from a single data center, providing a seamless gaming experience for players from both domestic and overseas locations.

    Before its launch, Lineage W had to undergo several trials and errors until NC established the most desirable NC Cloud to provide the same gaming environment to players without any latency issues in all 12 countries.

    The I&O Center had to prepare an infrastructure environment that was more than twice the size of the existing mobile games to make this possible. The center selected a game server location that was optimized for the 12 countries and could accommodate over 2 million concurrent users. Additionally, the system had to be able to operate across multiple IDCs at an equal level. To enable a proactive response through automated operations, the I&O Center expanded its use of public cloud and strategically deployed multiple clouds.

    To meet NC’s standards, a suitable overseas cloud had to be selected, taking into account numerous factors such as infrastructure performance, latency, and unique characteristics of submarine cables. However, even after selecting an overseas location, unexpected challenges such as increased noise levels or larger fluctuations in server delays had to be overcome. Extensive testing and verification were required to achieve the desired results, which ultimately led to the successful establishment of the NC Cloud. As a result, players from around the world can now enjoy Lineage W simultaneously without experiencing any delays.

    The Essential Keyword for Efficient and Stable Operation: Automation

    As NC’s game services expanded globally and the platform providing the services diversified, the scale and complexity of the infrastructure naturally grew. To cope with the limited resources in this vast infrastructure, automation technology was essential.

    Initially, automation services were primarily used for monitoring, deployment, and issue resolution. However, NC is currently expanding the scope of application with the aim of improving stability and productivity. Simple issues that occurred in cables and network interfaces (NIC) are being addressed by automation systems that are faster than human operation.

    In the past, constructing servers required a team of individuals to handle multiple responsibilities, such as allocating server front-ends, assigning IP addresses, and installing the operating system. However, with the introduction of automation systems, these tasks can now be supported without human intervention. Consequesntly, this has allowed for the reallocation of human resources previously responsible for such tasks to other areas, resulting in a significant reduction in the time required to build large-scale servers. Furthermore, NC has implemented live-migration to enable servers to automatically migrate to stable zones, providing the company with the ability to offer  reliable global services. As a result, NC is now capable of providing stable gameplay to players across the world.

    NC has developed a featured called ‘Auto Recovery’ that monitors and automastically handles any issues that arise in the network interface among the tens of thousands of cables within the data center. NC has also created an automated environment for transferring services between data centers, enabling game world servers to be moved to the desired data center within minutes. Furthermore, NC is currently developing a system that can automatically call up the identical system from the dualized base in the event of a failure with a single button.

    The I&O Center’s goal is to minimize human involvement by establishing automated environments in as many areas as possible. The aim is to use automation technology to provide a stable and reliable game service to players worldwide.

    The NC Standard Built with Perseverance

    NC is dedicated to ensuring players worldwide have a consistent and uninterrupted gaming experience. To achieve this goal, the company is continually building a robust infrastructure capable of withstanding potential disruptions. The I&O Center is crucial in achieving this, as it addresses even the smallest issues, allowing NC to offer game services more reliably than ever before.

    Moving forward, NC plans to discover and implementing a wide range of technologies that can be used in various operational environments. These include developing high-quality environments for AR and VR, as well as game service emulation and other related technologies to provide an optimal gaming experience for players.

    NC is committed to ensuring the continuity of its technology through constant contemplation and improvement. In addition, the company will continue to take action towards creating a more promising future.