Lucille Games: Playing to win with Google Cloud Platform

About Lucille Games

The brainchild of technology company Aumentia and popular YouTuber and gamer Daniel Matias, Lucille Games makes exciting, innovative games for customers all over the world.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Spain

About Equinix

Equinix connects the world's leading businesses to their customers, employees, and partners inside the world's most connected data centers in 52 markets across five continents.

Lucille Games uses Google Compute Engine, Cloud Functions, and Cloud Spanner to build apps, run servers, and create original games that can scale to millions of users on demand.

Google Cloud Results

  • Handles huge spikes in traffic with ease, while reducing server costs by an estimated 30% with pay-as-you-go pricing
  • Creates new instances for game servers in just 20 seconds, minimizing delays for gamers
  • Frees developers to work on creating newer and better products instead of worrying about infrastructure management

Aids growth of 15M users in 2 weeks with Google Cloud

Experts in computer vision and 3D, Aumentia was founded in Spain in 2011 to build and design augmented reality (AR) experiences, mobile applications, social games, and more. Not content with what was available through third parties, the company began making its own tools and distributing them to other developers with software development kits. These efforts and Aumentia's growing expertise soon led to exciting projects with world-famous companies.

In 2016 the company was working in the United States when it met popular YouTuber and gamer Daniel Matias. After some discussion they decided to together form game development group Lucille Games. The collaboration would enable Aumentia to grab the opportunity to expand into the lucrative gaming market.

"YouTubers give us a big boost of publicity by streaming our app to their audiences, so we need the capacity to handle potentially millions of new users. With Google Cloud Platform, we can do that quickly and easily even with the limited resources of a startup."

Pablo Garcia-Morato, CTO and Co-founder, Lucille Games

Their first big idea was to create a companion app for that summer's hugely popular mobile exploration game Pokémon GO, where players walk around their real world environment to catch imaginary creatures visible on an in-game map and via AR. Lucille Games' app would tell players where nearby Pokémon were located so they could catch them faster. Called PokéFind, this companion app would be a much bigger project than anything parent company Aumentia had ever handled. The new adventure needed a new kind of infrastructure, and Lucille Games found its answer in Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

"YouTubers give us a big boost of publicity by streaming our app to their audiences, so we need the capacity to handle potentially millions of new users," says Pablo Garcia-Morato, CTO and Co-founder at Lucille Games. "With Google Cloud Platform, we can do that quickly and easily even with the limited resources of a startup."

Lucille Games worked with Google Cloud partner Equinix to help them manage their invoicing and consumption in relation to GCP. Fernando Negro, Head of Cloud Strategy EMEA at Equinix says of the partnership: "Lucille Games wanted a solution to manage their cloud consumption and simplify their invoicing in GCP services. We were able to apply our knowledge and experience to help develop solutions that fit the company's unique needs."

Scaling at speed with Google Compute Engine

Thanks to its connections with the YouTube gaming community and the overall popularity of Pokémon GO, Lucille Games knew early on that the PokéFind app would be a hit. But to launch a mobile app for an audience of millions of passionate gamers, it would need to be able to scale to demand and maintain stability under heavy loads. Adding to the challenge, Lucille Games knew it had to work quickly to capitalize on the novelty and popularity of Pokémon GO.

After testing other leading cloud solutions, Lucille Games chose GCP for its new infrastructure due to its flexible pricing and ease of use. The clear documentation and simplicity of the platform allowed Lucille Games to get PokéFind up and running with just two developers and a designer. Meanwhile, the flexibility of pay-as-you-go pricing offered by GCP helped the company handle elastic app usage behavior, scaling up to huge demand in the evenings and weekends, and back down for quieter weekday mornings. This has enabled the company to avoid sinking costs into hardware that might sit idle for large stretches of time.

"Everything has been much easier with GCP than on any other platform. We're able to bypass the complicated and time-consuming implementation process of traditional server and IT setup, thanks to documentation that's easy for any developer to follow and achieve great results. We're also leveraging a huge ecosystem of prefab tools and options provided on the GCP Console to make our lives easier. As it's our first big experience with cloud infrastructure, simplicity has been key for us," says Pablo.

Lucille Games designed and built PokéFind on GCP as a mobile app for iOS and Android in just two months, launching in August, 2016. Within two weeks, it went from zero to 15 million unique users. At its peak, the load balancers were handling 450,000 requests per second, but Lucille Games handled it without breaking a sweat. Thanks to virtual machines in Compute Engine, the company can define server groups for different situations, allowing it to add or reduce resources quickly and easily. In front of the server groups sits Cloud Load Balancing, which helps to handle heavy traffic and deliver a smooth service at peak times.

"It could have been absolutely brutal on the servers, but the system kept running smoothly," explains Pablo. "We couldn't believe that we'd pulled something like this off in just two months."

"With Google Cloud Functions, almost everything becomes code whether it's the web services, or the database interactions or something else. We write the code, we push it, and the platform takes care of the rest. It's super easy and super fast. I've never seen anything like it."

Pablo Garcia-Morato, CTO and Co-founder, Lucille Games

Customized solutions, universal gains

Buoyed by the success of PokéFind, Lucille Games moved to take on a bigger challenge. This time the company wanted to build and run a customized server for Minecraft, one of the biggest selling games in the world. This server would allow players to bring Pokémon into the world of Minecraft without having to reconfigure the game with complicated modifications.

Scaling game servers, however, is much more complicated than scaling a mobile app. Minecraft is a game that is played in sessions, so it's vital servers can keep track of each player's activities, achievements, and the latest status of their in-game world. With Cloud SQL and Cloud Datastore, Lucille Games can stay on top of data management, and Cloud SDK helps the company further simplify the provisioning of new instances.

"Google Cloud SDK lets us control all the resources and servers from code, and that's been great for us," says Pablo. "It helps us create our own software, specifically designed to scale our game server to traffic, which can be very complicated."

After just five months of development and with the same team of just two developers and a designer, Lucille Games launched its unique Minecraft server to immediate success, with prominent YouTubers streaming it to their legions of fans. At its peak, Lucille Games' server was the third largest Minecraft server in the world, with 2 million monthly active users and around 5,000 unique players connected at any one time. If demand on the game server ever exceeded the available resources, Lucille Games could provision new servers in just 20 seconds on GCP compared to 90 seconds with another leading cloud provider.

"For gamers waiting for a session to start, the difference between 20 seconds and 90 seconds is huge and creates frustration amongst players," explains Pablo. "The last thing we want to do is make our users wait for no good reason."

In 2018, after successfully launching a second Minecraft server, the company began work on its biggest project to date. Due to launch in summer 2019, War of Crypta is a multiplayer mobile game completely developed and delivered by Lucille Games. The company has taken on new staff to help create original intellectual property, write storylines, and design brand new visual assets.

And there's plenty that GCP can help with on this new project. A major challenge of the new game is the amount of data that has to be handled. For the scale of data that War of Crypta would need, Lucille Games found an ideal solution in Cloud Spanner.

"Google Cloud Spanner has the feel of a relational database, where you can easily create relationships between tables and quickly extract the information you need. At the same time, it scales horizontally like Google Cloud Datastore, so we can add huge amounts of data without overcomplicating things," says Pablo.

Meanwhile, Pablo worked with the Google Cloud team in Spain to simplify and automate infrastructure management even further with Cloud Functions.

"With Google Cloud Functions, almost everything becomes code whether it's the web services, or the database interactions or something else. We write the code, we push it, and the platform takes care of the rest," says Pablo. "It's super easy and super fast. I've never seen anything like it."

"Speed of development has been critical for us to grow this much and this quickly. With Google Cloud Platform, we believe we can develop about three times faster than on any other infrastructure. More importantly, we're creating durable products that are built to last."

Pablo Garcia-Morato, CTO and Co-founder, Lucille Games

Unwavering stability, unstoppable growth

As Lucille Games puts the final touches to War of Crypta before its launch later in 2019, the company knows it can expect smooth service, network stability, and platform simplicity from GCP. "We don't have to do much maintenance at all, and when we do, the console makes everything easy to understand and work from," says Pablo. "I don't have to worry about infrastructure. Now I can focus on making the best possible products for our customers."

The flexibility of GCP to ramp up servers and resources during peaks and shut them down in idle periods has not only kept gamers satisfied, it saved around 30 percent in server costs thanks to pay-as-you-go pricing. The company uses these savings to develop new features and products.

Besides concentrating on perfecting War of Crypta in the final months before launch, Lucille Games is also planning a new PokéFind server for the mobile edition of Minecraft, in the second half of 2019.

Google Cloud Platform has proved itself a solid bedrock for Lucille Games so far and the company continues to look for new ways to use its tools, such as Cloud Pub/Sub and BigQuery to expand data handling capabilities. In just three years, Lucille Games has reinvented itself three times, going from creating a companion app, to running a game server, to publishing its own game. And Pablo says that GCP has been crucial for that expansion.

"Speed of development has been critical for us to grow this much and this quickly," he says. "With Google Cloud Platform, we believe we can develop about three times faster than on any other infrastructure. More importantly, we're creating durable products that are built to last."

About Lucille Games

The brainchild of technology company Aumentia and popular YouTuber and gamer Daniel Matias, Lucille Games makes exciting, innovative games for customers all over the world.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Spain

About Equinix

Equinix connects the world's leading businesses to their customers, employees, and partners inside the world's most connected data centers in 52 markets across five continents.