Don’t Launch a DDOS on Your Own Website!

A month or so ago, I wrote a new ‘games and news HUD’ and loaded it into most of my deployed games. This operates by downloading a small package of news text and game logos from my webserver, and displaying these inside the game. The idea is that I will be able to notify people playing my older games, when a new game is released, without the need for any update of the older games on their appstores. This is particularly important on the iOS appstore, since change approvals are taking more than a week at the moment. The hope is to be able to co-ordinate as many downloads as possible as soon as a game is released.

Now.. Let’s Break Stuff! seems to be going a bit viral (especially on the Android); downloads are going up at a rapidly increasing rate in some countries (most notably, Italy, but also Spain and most recently, France). This is great, of course, but last night I checked in on the processes on the server, and Apache is taking a much bigger chunk of the CPU than it normally would. Nothing too alarming yet, but it’s averaging about 5% of CPU, when normally it wouldn’t even register. This is fine, but not being an expert on viral growth-curves, I can easily imagine this ramping up to what is effectively a DDOS attack within a few days, if the iOS downloads follow the trend I’m seeing on Android.

So I quickly removed the ‘games and news HUD’ from the Let’s Break Stuff! game, and sent the new version for approval on the iOS, BlackBerry and Android appstores. For once, Google’s total disregard for quality, copyright, or common decency (i.e., their lack of any approval process) is a good thing: the Android version was changed almost immediately. There’s a slightly tense wait for the next week while Apple do their thing though! On the one hand, a game going viral is of course the ultimate goal.. but on the other hand…

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