Berlin-based startup deepstreamHub has launched its eponymous platform in order to help developers working on realtime apps. The platform provides app developers with the functions they need to build reliable and scalable apps that work near-instantaneously and can accommodate unpredictable surges in mass user demand. In addition to providing tools able to handle collaboration, chat, and messaging, the platform also provides VR, IoT, and location tracking ability.
An example of a realtime mobile game would be Pokémon Go. When the app launched in the summer of 2016, the servers quickly overloaded and crashed. With 9.5 million daily active users playing the game, who were determined to catch Dratinis and disinterested in hordes of Zubats, the game was unable to keep up, with regular server outages, tracking system bugs, and more, resulting in a maelstrom of upset gamers. Even two weeks after launch, Niantic’s servers were still a mess. Their infrastructure was simply not reactive enough or scalable enough to meet the massive demand.
While the market for augmented reality mobile games and the resulting need for realtime synchronicity is growing, Pokémon Go demonstrates how current technology is not completely ready to accommodate it. What deepstreamHub does is slip into that niche with its cloud-based platform. The synchronization of data from the client (i.e. the game app) and the technical backend is done via the cloud, so that changes are instantaneously transferred to all connected devices. The platform can replace the entire data distribution/handling layer, potentially allowing for a single server to handle the game logic and let deepstreamHub receive and distribute updates to hundreds or thousands of clients.
Continuing with the Pokémon Go example, had the game incorporated deepstreamHub’s software development kit, the company claims it would have been possible for Niantic to get in touch with deepstreamHub and have the platform deploy in North America in approximately eight minutes, have new instances started up in less than thirty seconds, and have users failover between endpoints in less than a second. That likely would have saved Niantic months of server migraines.
That is not to say that deepstreamHub is the solution to all current mobile infrastructure woes. While the platform offers generic data objects called records that can easily be used maintain data in the app architecture or as the properties object for game items, idiosyncrasies in the implementation and coding of existing games mean that for them to take advantage of the software, more than a bit of thought – and effort – would be involved.
In essence, deepstreamHub lowers the barrier of entry into the gaming development world, particularly for mobile app developers. The company says its platform makes it possible for any two-man indie-game studio to roll out multiplayer backends that can rival those of mobile game behemoth Supercell, creator of the notorious Clash of Clans.
“Apps without realtime features are rare nowadays. Whether that be push notifications, news feeds or shared documents. Users expect their data to be transferred from screen to screen in realtime,” said Wolfram Hempel, CEO and co-founder of deepstreamHub. “This gives rise to large volumes of data which can quickly lead to overloading in the backend. Current solutions are hard to scale and not fast or reliable enough to transfer data instantaneously. Realtime features are going to be a norm in tomorrow’s apps. Because of this, we have developed a fundamentally different infrastructure and software development kit that enable developers to create realtime apps that transfer information in less than 16.6 milliseconds. This is faster than the screen reacts.”
For more technical-minded readers, deepstreamHub utilizes a new, fully scripted deployment model with automated scaling groups. It is based on a proprietary self-healing minimal protocol called distributed realtime protocol (DRP) meant to handle network environments and conditions best described as challenging. The company has made the software open-core, allowing any developer to access and develop the source code alongside them.