Matchmaking for Online Games and Other Latency-Sensitive P2P Systems

By: 
Sharad Agarwal and Jacob R. Lorch
Appears in: 
CCR October 2009

The latency between machines on the Internet can dramatically affect users’ experience for many distributed applications. Particularly, in multiplayer online games, players seek to cluster themselves so that those in the same session have low latency to each other. A system that predicts latencies between machine pairs allows such matchmaking to consider many more machine pairs than can be probed in a scalable fashion while users are waiting. Using a far-reaching trace of latencies between players on over 3.5 million game consoles, we designed Htrae, a latency prediction system for game matchmaking scenarios. One novel feature of Htrae is its synthesis of geolocation with a network coordinate system. It uses geolocation to select reasonable initial network coordinates for new machines joining the system, allowing it to converge more quickly than standard network coordinate systems and produce substantially lower prediction error than state-of-the-art latency prediction systems. For instance, it produces 90th percentile errors less than half those of iPlane and Pyxida. Our design is general enough to make it a good fit for other latency-sensitive peer-topeer applications besides game matchmaking