I am working on improving the backend design for a video game. The game is live and working fine, but we want to improve various things. As a video game studio, we often do events which sometimes need tinkering with whilst the event is live – we would love to be able to do these changes seamlessly without having to force an update on players.
Our current backend uses various hardcoded values that our endpoints use. This means if we ever want to change an endpoint’s behaviour we have to re-deploy. For instance, if we decide that a certain online-store item needs to point to something else we would need to change the id that is referenced on the endpoint. This is cumbersome and not ideal; we want a more dynamic way of changing configs.
The general idea we had is that we store these properties in a file on S3 / a CDN and the client and the backend fetch these periodically. There are issues with this approach when it comes to ensuring that both the backend and the client use the same configuration.
- what happens if the backend is out of date?
- what happens if the client is out of date?
- optimal way to synchronise
- Create a tool that uploads new file to S3 and stores its hash into a database.
- The tool talks to the backend to alert it of new change.
- As soon as the client talks to backend, or vice versa, we check the hash of the file used by the client. If it does not match, we force the client to fetch the newest file.
How do we handle outgoing requests in the moment we receive an update?
- Backend fetches file from S3 but client fetches from a CDN
- We have a leeway for versions, allowing the client to run a version slightly older than the latest one.
There are problems with both S3 and a CDN. S3 isn’t always honest – it can sometimes return older data – it is not a single source of truth. A CDN is useful as clients will have download this data for their specific language, but redistributing each new version can take time, which is why we may need a leeway.
This is a brief overview of the ideas we had. There are caveats that may or may not have been outlined but we are looking to find how this kind of thing is typically handled.
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