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  • (Re-)publication of Preserved, Interactive Content – Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs: Visionary Videogames for Girls

    The technical setup for this project consists of three core components, the Rhizome web site, an EaaS gateway and a dynamic number of emulator compute nodes running in the cloud.
    Rhizome's web site provides the front-end for users to select a game for emulation. It further implements a user queue and issues bulk requests to the EaaS gateway (e.g. three sessions for Chop Suey, five sessions Zero Zero). The EaaS gateway processes these requests by assigning free CPUs, ie. pre-allocated CPUs, to requested emulated environments and responds with one {\it iframe}-URL for every newly created emulation session.
    In case of insufficient CPU resources, the EaaS gateway allocates a new cloud machine and returns less emulation sessions than requested. It is then up to the front-end to manage the waiting queue. If the user has to wait for a compute node to become ready, the front-end displays a waiting animation.
    If a single user's request was successful, the front-end embeds the iframe-URL, enabling interaction with the emulated environment, ie. playing one of the CD-ROM games. Once an emulation session is active, the EaaS gateway is in charge of session management. The session ends when the user leaves the specific emulator page (or closes the browser window or tab). The EaaS backend recognizes an expired session and releases all resources used, especially paid on-demand computing resources.
    In coordination with the online publication of The Verge, the games were disseminated online and embedded into several online magazines, personal blogs and gaming sites, just like a regular youtube video. For each user one virtual CPU was assigned at the Google Compute Cloud's (US-central). During the peak phase, when the project was just disseminated and discussed on social media, 16 CPU machines were used, always preallocating 16 spare CPUs on top of the current demand to reduce potential waiting time. After the first big rush, smaller machines were allocated.

    From launch of the project April 17 to June 23, 4644 emulation sessions were served, from that 976 sessions during release day. During the launch phase, users mostly tried the games out very briefly. For the plateau phase, the usage pattern changed to less users that were more "devoted" and played the games for up to two hours. The median session time was 99\,seconds, with a wide variance between users. Top-20 users' session time was at least 109 minutes.
    The online versions of the CD-ROMs have been discussed and embedded on The Verge , Artforum and the Huffington Post, along with a few personal alt.game blogs. Complete, hour-long emulation play-throughs created by enthusiasts of all three titles appeared on YouTube.
    A github snippet of a simple iframe code was circulated on social media, enabling the games to be embedded into any website.
    Interestingly, none of the publications or fan productions were paying much attention to the technical form of delivery of the games, but rather indulged in cultural analysis and interpretation. This can be seen as sign of EaaS functioning reliably and transparently.