Learn about how choosing WebSockets can optimize system performance for low latency and enhanced player interactions in realtime gaming.
In this blog post, we cover the benefits of choosing WebSockets for realtime gaming infrastructure. WebSocket-based infrastructure contributes to lowered latency and can help to eliminate the interruptions to gameplay, mitigating issues of uncoordinated player communication and frustrated users.
WebSockets provide a bi-directional communication channel over a single, long-lived connection. This means data can flow in both directions (from client to server and vice versa) simultaneously. This isn’t natively possible with traditional HTTP.
Traditional HTTP needs to repeatedly establish and terminate connections, while WebSockets establish a connection once and keep it open. This approach is significantly more efficient. That single, persistent connection contributes to a critical reduction in overall latency, improving user experience.
Instantaneous player interactions and synchronized game state across clients are key components of satisfactory game play. This is exactly where WebSockets are at their best.
When developing realtime gaming apps, here's what WebSockets offer:
Efficient live play implementation significantly reduces drop out rates and increases playtime, as gamers experience responsive, realtime interactions free of noticeable delays.
Pusher Channels provides a realtime communication layer based on the WebSocket protocol. It allows you to broadcast game state updates to all connected players using the pub/sub model.
When a player performs an action (like moving or jumping), this action is sent to the game server. The server processes this action, updates the game state, and then broadcasts this updated state to all players using Pusher Channels.
On the client side (player's device), the game listens for updates from Pusher Channels. When an update is received, the game renders the new state, ensuring the player sees the latest game environment.
Latency refers to the delay between a player's action and the game's response. In multiplayer games, it's also the delay between one player's action and another player seeing that action. Low latency is crucial for a smooth gaming experience, especially in fast-paced games where split-second reactions matter.
Factors contributing to latency include physical distance (the further the data has to travel, the longer it takes, network congestion (data can get "stuck" if there's too much of it trying to pass through the same network path), and server processing time (time the game server takes to process an action and send a response).
Low latency and consistent game state are high priority concerns for realtime multiplayer gaming. Channels offers a robust solution to achieve both. Here’s why.
There are a number of additional, strategical moves you can make to further reduce latency.
Implement client-side prediction. Even with minimal latency, there might be a tiny delay. To counteract this, games can predict a player's movement locally and display it before the server confirms the action. This makes the game feel more responsive.
Optimize data. Use compact data formats and only send essential data. For instance, if a player's position changes, send just the new coordinates instead of the entire player's data.
Think about rate limiting. For non-critical updates, consider sending them at a lower frequency. For example, a player's exact health might be updated in realtime, but their score or other secondary attributes might be updated every few seconds. This can help with latency and reducing the number of messages you are consuming.
A significant challenge with developing multiplayer games is that multiple players interact in a shared environment and shared experience. You need to ensure all players see the same game state (e.g., player positions, scores, game environment changes) at the same time is tricky. Inconsistency can lead to a poor gaming experience.
Pusher Channels offers numerous built-in features, several of which can support harmonious game state sync.
By focusing on low latency techniques, you can ensure a smooth and responsive gaming experience for your players. WebSockets are a pivotal tool in achieving that goal.
To see all the Pusher features in action, create a free Pusher account.
The Pusher sandbox plan is free and fully featured. It comes with 200,000 messages per day and 100 concurrent connections. This plan is more than sufficient for getting started and following all of our how-to tutorials.