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Case Study

GoldFire Studios Ups Its Game with mLab’s Database-as-a-Service

To create a persistent world and deliver a high performance experience for a new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, GoldFire Studios needed a trustworthy hosted MongoDB provider. mLab equipped the small team with a fully managed solution and expert support.

Highlights
  • The database performance that GoldFire achieves with mLab has outperformed other MongoDB providers and self-hosting options.
  • Initially hosted on Joyent, mLab helped GoldFire migrate their database smoothly from Joyent to AWS without any interruption to service.
  • The GoldFire team has been able to focus its attention and resources on game development by trusting mLab to manage its database infrastructure.
Customer Profile

GoldFire Studios is a game development and publishing business that focuses on massive multiplayer games playable via the web. GoldFire Studios also provides gamers with the GoldFire Network, an internally developed social platform featuring private chat, leaderboards, payment systems, forums, and other features that serve its community.

The Challenge

Following the success of GoldFire’s first two games, it created CasinoRPG, a complex open-world game requiring a sophisticated, high-performance database delivered by a managed service

GoldFire Studios was launched in 2008. It has steadily grown its audience – all organically and without advertising – from a modest initial following into a thriving community. GoldFire’s first two games used MySQL databases; these were simpler, more text-intensive games, and had fewer data requirements. For its third project, CasinoRPG, the company planned to create an open-world game where its community could play casino games, and explore (or even create) persistent casino locations. To accomplish this, GoldFire knew it needed a database capable of easily tracking all players and objects as they moved within the game – and it would need to do so while also keeping the world fully persistent and delivering gamers a high performance experience.

In tandem with creating CasinoRPG, the GoldFire Network was being developed. This platform would provide a social layer around GoldFire’s games that could unite the community with social features and seed new game products within the company’s established player base. As with CasinoRPG, building the GoldFire Network necessitated a more robust and capable database.

To make the development process as efficient as possible, GoldFire needed a fully managed and hosted database solution that would leave its internal team free to concentrate on building and improving games. GoldFire would also need a database provider that supported Joyent, its cloud computing services platform at the time.

Solution

After exploring its options, GoldFire concluded that mLab’s hosted MongoDB solution delivered the performance, responsive support, and trustworthiness the company was looking for

In its search for a MongoDB database provider, GoldFire Studios initially enlisted the services of another MongoDB hosting solution. However, repeat problems with that platform and a lack of satisfactory support led GoldFire to give mLab a trial and see what it could offer. With mLab, GoldFire immediately found better database performance and quality support interactions – leading GoldFire to confidently make the switch. While mLab was selected in part because it also supported Joyent, GoldFire has since migrated to AWS, a transition that mLab ensured was completed smoothly and without any interruption to service.

GoldFire found its mLab-managed MongoDB database simple to get up and running, and just as easy to scale and execute all required operations. Because GoldFire uses Node.js, mLab’s MongoDB solution has fit well into the company’s technology stack and workflow. mLab’s DBaaS platform is also an ideal fit for the CasinoRPG open world game; the geo-indexes in MongoDB are able to track players and the virtual locations they visit and construct.

Given the importance of performance in real-time massively multiplayer gaming, GoldFire turns to specialized features provided by mLab for database monitoring and optimization. For example, GoldFire makes regular use of mLab’s Telemetry monitoring tool – especially when they suspect slow downs – to look for spikes in certain query response times or similar issues. The team also takes advantage of mLab’s Slow Query Analyzer, which suggests how database queries can be optimized, and how any game performance issues can be alleviated. When questions arise, mLab’s support has proven valuable in responding quickly and presenting actionable solutions.

Creating the persistent, open world of CasinoRPG called for a highly capable database, and meant that we needed a provider that was just as capable. As soon as we began working with mLab, we experienced a big improvement in database performance. mLab’s support has also been very responsive. We’re a growing company, and mLab’s hosted solution has given us the full benefits of a powerful piece of infrastructure without requiring us to manage it ourselves. Most of all, mLab makes us comfortable – being able to put our full trust in a provider is a big part of what we look for, and that’s what we have with mLab.

James Simpson Founder, GoldFire Studios

Benefits

With mLab’s expert database management and support, GoldFire Studios successfully launched CasinoRPG and the GoldFire Network to ongoing growth and popularity

mLab’s DBaaS handles data for CasinoRPG and the GoldFire Network. Both products experienced successful launches, and have contributed significantly to growing the GoldFire user base (a community approaching 400,000). While GoldFire initially suspected that relying on a hosted solution would mean a sacrifice in performance versus hosting the database internally, mLab has proved this notion wrong. GoldFire has found that the performance with mLab is superior than what self-hosting could achieve at the same price point.

GoldFire is now in the process of setting up a system-wide live dashboard in its office, which will utilize mLab tooling to display database and server metrics, as well as stats from within its games. Overall, mLab has enabled GoldFire to deliver a great game experience that wins over players while keeping costs in check and reducing the workload placed on its internal team.

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