Supersolid: Leveling up game server management with managed services from Google Cloud

About Supersolid

Supersolid is a leading independent mobile games studio based in London, with more than 80 million installs across its portfolio of games. Founded in 2012, Supersolid’s diverse team has grown to more than 50 people globally and continues in its mission to create the most engaging, genre-leading games for mobile and tablet devices.

Industries: Gaming
Location: United Kingdom

Supersolid uses Agones and Google Kubernetes Engine to create and manage the infrastructure for a world-class, real-time multiplayer game experience with a global audience.

Google Cloud results

  • Manages game, lobby, and messaging servers quickly and easily with Agones and Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Ensures a smooth service for customers across the globe with Cloud Load Balancing
  • Reduces management overhead to allow developers to focus on game features and improvements

Supports 200K+ DAU and 7K concurrent users on Android

Supersolid is a mobile games studio in London on a mission to create the most engaging, genre-leading games for mobile and tablet devices. Combining high production values, innovative design, and a strong focus on community, Supersolid has created global hits Home Street, a home design game with more than 20 million installs, Food Street, a leading restaurant management game, and the hugely popular infinite runner, Super Penguins.

“Snake Rivals is our first real-time multiplayer game, and our existing infrastructure wasn’t well suited to that type of workload. We needed a new kind of infrastructure that would give us greater control over scalability and regional distribution of resources. For us, that was Google Cloud.”

Steven Shipton, Technical Director, Supersolid

In 2018, Supersolid began development on its most creatively and technically ambitious mobile game to date. Snake Rivals takes the gameplay of the mobile classic Snake and adds a modern multiplayer twist, with each arena hosting up to 50 players simultaneously. Players guide their snake around the arena, searching for food and powerups while avoiding obstacles and other players.

“Snake Rivals is our first real-time multiplayer game, and our existing infrastructure wasn’t well suited to that type of workload,” says Steven Shipton, Technical Director at Supersolid. “We needed a new kind of infrastructure that would give us greater control over scalability and regional distribution of resources. For us, that was Google Cloud.”

Inside the engine of a multiplayer game

Supersolid’s previous titles Home Street and Food Street are asynchronous multiplayer games (meaning two player states don't need to be kept in sync) with an easier-to-manage infrastructure. For example, in the lifestyle simulator Home Street, players design their dream home. Their choices are fed to a central server which processes the player’s actions and updates the game environment accordingly.

Snake Rivals presented new challenges for the team. Users play the game in a synchronous multiplayer arena, which means that they interact with each other as well as the environment in real time. This requires the creation of highly scalable, short-lived game servers that players can connect to with low latency, so in August 2018, Steven and Senior Server Developer Kami May got to work looking for the right kind of infrastructure.

They soon decided on Kubernetes, the open source container system developed at Google, as it allows for rapid scaling and makes cluster deployment and maintenance time efficient for Supersolid’s small team of developers.

After trying several cloud providers, the team decided to build the new infrastructure on Google Cloud because of its multi-regional support, flexible pricing, and most of all, its ease of use. “I tried to set up Kubernetes on another cloud, and it was way too complicated,” Kami says. “With Google Cloud, we started with little experience and had an early access launch in less than three months.”

The core of the new infrastructure is Agones, another open source technology developed at Google, specifically designed for managing game infrastructure and released in late 2019. Steven and his team chose to run Agones on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) clusters to take advantage of its rapid scaling and managed infrastructure options.

“Agones provides game-specific tools such as server allocation and labeling right out of the box. Using it on top of the managed services with Google Kubernetes Engine means that we can concentrate on creating the best games we can, without worrying too much about infrastructure.”

Kami May, Senior Server Developer, Supersolid

Snake Rivals runs on a number of different types of real-time servers, which are all made simple to create and manage with Agones, as well as a REST service for managing player progress. Game servers host the game itself, while lobby servers provide a place for players to form their own groups and meet up with their friends, before entering the arena.

A key advantage of Agones is that it provides server allocation. This means that if a game server is in use, it will stay live as long as players are using it. That way, game sessions can continue undisrupted during updates and changes. Agones also offers the ability to set custom labels from within the game server, making key information more visible to Supersolid, such as which servers are in use, how players are doing, and other valuable data.

“Agones provides game-specific tools such as server allocation and labeling right out of the box,” says Kami. “Using it on top of the managed services with Google Kubernetes Engine means that we can concentrate on creating the best games we can, without worrying too much about infrastructure.”

Supersolid also uses Cloud Load Balancing to direct global traffic to one of seven regional clusters, ensuring that players experience a smooth game session wherever they are in the world. Google operations tools help the company to log and monitor the system and debug any problems it finds. "Cloud Logging and Cloud Monitoring are invaluable for maintaining an amazing playing experience. They enable us to quickly determine where server logic deviates from expected behavior so that we can implement and deploy a fix," says Steven.

Diagram: Google stack

Scaling for success with Agones and Google Kubernetes Engine

After a year of early access, Snake Rivals officially launched in October 2019. The launch period was the biggest test of Supersolid’s new infrastructure so far. Especially for a low latency real-time multiplayer game.

Within two months, the game had more than two million downloads. To date, at its peak, Supersolid has hosted 200,000 daily active users (DAU) on Android alone, without any disruption to its service. This was made possible by running it on Google Cloud.

“Agones and Google Cloud have allowed us to develop a very different kind of game and serve players in a new way. With this managed solution, we can have two server developers responsible for both project back end and DevOps, which means we can focus on delivering a great game.”

Edward Chin, CEO, Supersolid

With a global Google Cloud network at its disposal, Supersolid can shift nodes to different regions to achieve the optimal balance of speed and player population. If player latency in one regional cluster is high, a new cluster can be quickly provisioned in a region closer to those players. This way, players can interact with each other without experiencing compromised game performance.

“Agones and Google Cloud have allowed us to develop a very different kind of game and serve players in a new way,” says Edward Chin, Supersolid’s CEO and co-founder. “With this managed solution, we can have two server developers responsible for both project back end and DevOps, which means we can focus on delivering a great game.”

Supersolid continues to work with Google Cloud on projects such as converting logs so they can be fed into analytics tools to gain more insight into server usage, with the goal of making efficiencies. Since launch, Supersolid has also continued to contribute to the open source Agones project.

With Snake Rivals successfully released, Supersolid is now working on its next big hit, a new synchronous multiplayer mobile game, and Google Cloud is already part of the conversation.

“The experience we had over the past year was great,” says Steven. “The invaluable advice we received from our Google Cloud Customer Engineer, as well as the customer support team, helped our launch go smoothly. We’re keen to keep using Google Cloud for future projects and expand our use of the platform.”

About Supersolid

Supersolid is a leading independent mobile games studio based in London, with more than 80 million installs across its portfolio of games. Founded in 2012, Supersolid’s diverse team has grown to more than 50 people globally and continues in its mission to create the most engaging, genre-leading games for mobile and tablet devices.

Industries: Gaming
Location: United Kingdom