Rocket League Insane Servers

Not every game manages to launch picture perfect. A lot of games have plenty of hiccups happening behind the scenes in order to function properly. That couldn't be truer for Psyonix Studios' Rocket League, which required an insane way to keep the servers alive during launch. Somebody had to manually reboot them, every hour, all day and all night.

Speaking with IGN, Psyonix design director Corey Davis explained how the team managed to keep the lights on for Rocket League as the servers were being pelted top to bottom from all the users attempting to connect. Davis explains...

I don't remember all of the technical details, but my boss's wife would have to stay up overnight and press a button every hour to reset the servers. It makes no sense in retrospect, like you can't automate this? But for some reason she had to wake up on an interval like all night. Because the guys would work all day and then they would sleep. So she would take the night shift of like keeping the servers alive somehow.

Okay, so there's kind of a lot to unpack there.

During the launch of the game, Psyonix was hit with a lot more traffic than the team thought it would. The influx of players during the launch of Rocket League caused so much stress on the servers that they kept shutting down. So in order to deal with the server overloads, the boss's wife would have to push the button to reset the server.

Now Davis mentions automating the process, which is what most people are probably thinking. "Why didn't they just automatically restart the server when it's overloaded?"

Well, the thing is... it's not that simple.

When servers get overloaded it's sometimes possible for it to keep functioning during moderate overloads. So setting up a script to monitor server CPU usage and have it to automatically restart during a moderate overload could actually make things worse, especially if the server is fully functional while moderately overloaded. If the server gets bogged down with too many users and is no longer operational, then that's usually the cue to restart the server. For large scale games like Destiny 2 or Call of Duty, the publishers simply open up more servers to handle the load, but that wasn't possible for Rocket League.

During the restart, it basically knocks everyone offline and then gamers would have to rejoin. So having a script automatically reload the server would also be someone inconvenient because it would be the same as the server being completely overwhelmed.

Sadly, the wife of Davis' boss had the unfortunate job of watching the servers, waking up and resetting the Rocket League servers when they would become unresponsive in order to keep the online portion of the game up and running.

Now some people might be questioning "Why didn't Psyonix just purchase more server space?" Well, the reason is because, at the time, Psyonix was still very tiny. Remember, Rocket League was a smash-hit indie title that became a mega-blockbuster. It wasn't a $100 million project with marketing muscle and resources behind it like an Electronic Arts or Activision title. Psyonix didn't have a massive server farm on standby in case the game went large, so the team toughed it out with what little resources it could muster until finances afforded the studio the opportunity to finally expand and grow.

So, in a way, you can say that during the most crucial moments of Rocket League's nascence on the market, the wife of Davis' boss saved the game and established a foundation for which the game's online multiplayer legacy would be built.

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