LAN Center Maintenance, ggCircuit Season 7 & Zehn Masters Season 2

 In gg Twitchcast, ggLeap, Video

This week on our ggCircuit show we talk about LAN center maintenance, focusing on the gaming experience, ggLeap updates, ggCircuit Season 7 & Zehn Masters Season 2.

10 Minute Transcript (LAN Center Maintenance Topic)

Our big partnership in China that we’re working on with a huge location, it’s 305 stations, luckily, they’re three to six months ahead of the curve, and they’ve got us involved in the beginning. What we’ll do for them is we’ll go in and do a full service offering, where we come in and consult on the network side. We come in and consult on how to lay the thing out so that we’ve got the right amount of PCs in different areas for tournaments and different activities they want to engage in. Then we also come in and provide them, beyond ggLeap and ggCircuit, we provide them solutions for updating and maintaining the games, and setting up the licenses, and those sort of things.

A lot of these companies are getting into this, and I don’t know that they spend enough time and effort thinking about those pieces, and then I think we’ve made the mistake, somehow, because we’re so full service on a lot of pieces that ggLeap provides, I think we give off the idea that some of these other things are included with ggLeap. I think a lot of people just assume you install ggLeap on a gaming PC, and then it does everything for you, which is our goal.

To be frank, that is our goal is to make that as seamless and integrated as possible for a year or two down the road, but right now, what we’re focusing on is the pieces that are a dire necessity of the software, so security, user management, safety, making sure that it tracks time, making sure that it does game licenses, and then obviously, our integration with the games and our unique point and stat system is where we’re focused on right now.

Now, when we go back, and who knows if it’s in three months or six months or nine months, but I think before the end of the year, we’ll start working on some of these other pieces for personal user files and game saves locally, so the users can play more and more games, but right now, people just don’t think about those pieces. They assume we’re going to set all this up, and somebody’s going to walk in and they’re going to say, “Hey, there’s a new game out. Vermintide’s out. I want to play it. Do you guys have it yet?” “Okay, no, let me go install it.”

Well, depending on how your system’s set up, do you want to install it 150 times on 150 computers, and then have to maintain that image one computer at a time with updates, as there’s updates for that one game, just for five or six or 10 people that may want to play that? So, most centers just skip it. They just move off into setting up all these other games that 80% of their players will play, and that’s how they kind of manage their game installation.

So, I just want to talk a little bit today about the difference between what it really means to start and operate a game center. This is the piece that I think a lot of people miss. Some people, and you know this, J. Mac, they’ll call us and they’ll say, “Do you have the game licenses? We’ve dug around everywhere. How do we get licensed to be able to run this?”

Right, right. And again, we work with the publishers in our software. There is no official commercial license program for a lot of these games. What they care about is don’t break the fact that you have to have one license per operating title of the game, one operating instance of the game, so if you have 50 players playing CS:GO in your center, you need 50 copies of CS:GO for them to be able to play it.

Now, if a player shows up and they own CS:GO, absolutely, they can just launch Steam and then they can play their own copy of CS:GO that they already own. Do you have to then go get a license to be able to offer that game in your center? No, there’s not a license for that. I mean, there were programs in the past that have been canceled. It was too difficult to maintain those, and again, a lot of these games now have gone free to play.

So, it doesn’t really matter to the publisher if there’s a commercial license to play League of Legends at your center. What they care about is that player has their own account, which is free, and then they hopefully get involved in the game enough that they buy little things in the game, and that’s how the publisher makes money.

When you start up, and you think about starting up a center, the piece that I don’t want people to miss is that I feel like that there are two big differences in setting up your games on your PCs that are separate, okay? One of them is the controlling of the PC, managing the user, managing the launching of games and all that, that is what we provide. ggCircuit, ggLeap, that is what we provide.

The piece that we don’t provide, but will offer consulting services and we’ll come out to your location and help you set this up, and this is applicable for these bigger clients, is how do you get the games all installed and then maintain those on a reasonable amount, so you don’t have to have a staff of 10 IT professionals running around and updating games, because Fortnite has a 3 gig update every week, and then all of a sudden, two days later, there’s Invidia drivers updates that need to be put on there, because there was a bug in the ones that ran Fortnite before? Then PUBG has an update to fix a couple things, and then the Epic Launcher has an update, and how do we get that better, because you’re playing Fortnite and Unreal with it, you know?

There’s so much maintenance of those game images that people skip over worrying about it, setting it up correctly the first time. Again, we’re not affiliated with any of these other companies, but there’s products out there, if you’re super smart. PXE boot is what a lot of stuff’s built on, is, I believe it’s freeware on maybe Linux. I don’t want to say what it’s on because I just know that a lot of these other companies have used that core concept to built their other products that are built for the gaming industry.

So, you might think about it in a VMware atmosphere. If you’re in a hospital and you launch up a thin client, the concept’s kind of like that. There’s no actual hard drive or anything locally there running. You can log in to your quote unquote “desktop” from home, on any other PC, from your thin client in the office, and those are all ran from images on servers that is part of this massive VMware network, and there’s a lot of companies that offer that.

However, all of the processing is done at the server level, so you cannot do video games in that atmosphere, and it just really pushes the graphical content, because you use graphic cards that are on the servers to render the graphics, and then that has to be passed through the internet connection to wherever you’re at, with a LAN connection to wherever you’re at, so playing high end PC games is just not possible.

We’ve even tested it with Minecraft and things with our VMware partners that do this. It’s just not ready for that yet, and if it is, because some of the cutting edge VMware stuff will do that, super expensive. Because then you’re talking about people that need to do massive AutoCAD work or things in an office, so you can buy that, but you only want to pay that for that one special person. You don’t want 80 people in your office trying to run that high end version because it’s crazy expensive to run that per month for that license.

What we use is a company that we’ve gotten to know pretty well, called CCBoot, and what it does is that it allows you to build a PC, a pretty beefy PC. It would be easier to build your own than it would be to order one of these from a manufacturer, because there’s certain little quirky things that you would want to get put in a certain way building your own, and by a server, we don’t really need to even be a rack-mounted server if you don’t want to. It could just be built in a decent, a larger size PC case, but what this does is this provides you the ability to run about 100 gaming PCs, is what they say.

Now, it’ll go a little bit above that, but we usually try to keep under that number per server, and then you do not have to have any kind of operating system or anything running on the PCs. Each one of those will then boot off the network, off from that server, on the local network. You have to have gigabit network running out to the PC. Then you don’t have to worry about constantly updating all of those different things, and you don’t have to worry about re-imaging anything, like you would in another network where an imaging server pushes out a new image.

What I mean by that is there’s a hard drive, then, in the computer, and the imaging server says, “Oh, there’s been some updates. I’ve got to push out a whole new image to this PC.” Anytime that there’s changes, you don’t really want to do that. No matter how fast you can make that process, that means on Tuesday morning, if there’s a League of Legends update, you’ve got to update the image, and then you’ve got to push that image out to all 100 or 200 or 300 PCs in the network. That’s still going to take time. You don’t want to have to mess with that on a Tuesday morning as you’re getting ready to open.

This will allow you to go to the server, update the main image on the server, and then all the 150 PCs just boot up and turn on for the day using that brand new image. There’s no transfer of data over the network to a hard drive on the local PC. However, for gaming, it still uses the PC gaming components locally, so that after it loads all the game data into the local memory, then it’s able to use the graphics card and the RAM and the processor and everything there on that local machine, so gaming performance is still optimal on that local machine. You’re not running off of the graphics card or the RAM or anything on the server. All that’s doing is using all of its power to transfer those data files down into the local memory of the client PC so that it’s running League of Legends locally on all of its components, not off of the server…

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