A Technology Update from Dave King:
Four years ago we launched Outland, the world's first Internet gaming service. Since then TEN has been improving and expanding its technology to create the premier consumer network for game players.
For those of you who are interested, I'd like to summarize a few of TEN's major technical achievements to date.
Consistently Low Latencies Across the Internet
TEN has taken many measures to minimize latencies across the Internet: we distribute game servers across the Internet to avoid congestion, we work with major Internet Service Providers to prioritize TEN's game traffic, and we've developed our APIs and servers to reduce the delay and variability of data delivery.
National and Regional Support
Players can connect to TEN through their own Internet Service provider or through one of TEN's nationwide access numbers which are currently local to 90% of people in the U.S. (70% in Canada). Once on TEN, people can interact and play with anyone else on the system, coast-to-coast. That means there will always be enough people online for a fun experience -- a vital factor for a successful launch.
Once we have achieved a critical mass of subscribers, we will make our regional ATM network available which will deliver consistent latencies under 150 ms.
A Plug-and-Play Solution
TEN provides game players with a simple multiplayer gaming solution by building the whole package right into the game. Selecting TEN automatically installs the TEN software and configures the user's machine for an Internet connection. So to connect, one simply runs the software and picks an access number. Or if the user already has their own Internet connection or ISP, they can just use that.
Upon connecting to TEN, players are assisted by our online persona, Mr. Bandwidth, who informs the user about the quality of their Internet connection and how they should proceed for best game performance. In addition, Mr. Bandwidth will ensure that the system requirements are met and that other running applications are not interfering with the game play.
TEN supports Win95, Win 3.1, and DOS games across the standard Win95 TCP/IP stack. This allows users to enjoy their favorite games without having to leave the Win95 network environment.
A Scalable Architecture
TEN avoids scalability problems by using a distributed architecture. TEN's multi-threaded servers operate on SPARC and UltraSPARC stations running UNIX (Solaris 2.5). With this modular approach, we can dynamically increase our capacity by simply adding more servers. Likewise, TEN's distributed game servers, co-located with Internet Service Providers across the Internet, scale easily.
Nor is bandwidth a problem. Our central computing facilities are connected to the major Internet backbones through our OC3 fiber optic lines (the equivalent of 84 T1s). As a result we can handle a phenomenal number of simultaneous users. Our game servers are typically co-located on the Internet backbones.
A Full Maintenance Infrastructure
TEN's software handles authentication, security, tracking, billing and other maintenance issues. We use RSA public key technology and 1024 bit keys to authenticate our service and ensure privacy. We have no export restrictions because TEN has been granted a license from the Commerce Department.
Just as TEN's network is designed for seamless scaling, it is also designed for seamless operation, with no possible single point of failure. Every piece of hardware, communications link, and process is redundant so the system can instantly compensate for any failure.
In the event of a power failure, the TEN operations room is backed up by a large uninterruptable power supply. Should power be down for an extended period, TEN is equipped with its own natural gas powered generator which can provide all the power necessary to run the network for an indefinite period of time. TEN has a 24 hour support staff to maintain and monitor the network, assuring continued operation at maximum performance levels.
The TEN software will have the Netscape Navigator® embedded right into it. Because we've fully integrated Netscape into our interface, users can seamlessly take advantage of the World Wide Web.
First-Rate Developer Support
TEN publishes and supports APIs which have been tested over the last three years, going through multiple generations of improvements. And TEN's experienced Game Integration Engineers work closely with our content partners to address tricky networking issues. Together, this all means that bringing games to TEN is simple -- consider that it took only 5 days for Spectrum Holobyte to make Top Gun playable on TEN.
The list of game companies now working with TEN include: Apogee/3D Realms, Accolade, Maxis, MicroProse, SimTex, Spectrum Holobyte, and SSI. These companies have chosen TEN's Internet platform because it provides a complete multiplayer gaming solution built on innovative, well-tested technology.
We have come a long way in the last few years. With the start of TEN's open beta, it is rewarding to see our labor finally come to fruition.
Chief Technology Officer, TEN