Gaming as Microservices


We’ve been hearing for a while now about how enterprises are moving to microservices.

What are they, exactly? It’s basically the concept of taking a large, monolithic applications and turning them into lots of small pieces that are presented as APIs.

So, rather than having a massive app that does authentication, access control, user sign-up, front end display, database connectivity, etc.—you’d have instead a service for each of those. Then the “app” is actually the collection of those services being used in a certain way.

That’s the concept.

Microservices for gaming

So I was talking with my friend Andrew Ringlein last night about microservices and gaming, and I asked what it would look like if we did the same thing for gaming. And we looked at the various pieces involved in a game.

  • The engine

  • Graphics

  • Story

  • Content

The engine would be the model of the world, e.g. physics, etc. The graphics are obvious. Story would be separate and could be added by lots of writers/GMs. And finally there would be content coming in from multiple places—user generated, auto-generated, or created in a curated way like someone like Blizzard does now.

The idea, though, is that in the future, these pieces would be broken up.

You could have an awesome engine provided by whoever, a graphics option from another company (among dozens of competitors), the story could come from wherever, including your own, and the content could be from any number of places.

Modular gaming.

Adjustable settings

The other fascinating thing we were talking about was how games will be tuned to people and groups using these various modules.

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A few knobs we thought of were:

  • Puzzles

  • Romance

  • Gore/Violence

  • Sex

  • Grit/Nerf

  • Heroic/Tragic

  • Long/Short

  • World building

  • Etc…

The idea is that players would have likes and dislikes, as usual, but those preferences would be captured in their profiles, and when they went to enter a new campaign, the gaming system (with all its modules) would custom-build a campaign that would best suit them.

How much world building are they going to do? How much of the stuff is based on solving puzzles? How much is romance part of the plot? How violent is it?

The story, the engine, the graphics—they can all be customized based on these preferences.

Company specialization

What’s also interesting about this concept is that you can have gaming companies that just do a piece of this. Just graphics, or just story, or just the matching of preferences to settings.

I think this concept of microservices and extreme customization of…everything…is what we should expect to see across nearly everything.

Gaming will be one of the places where it makes the most sense.

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