Case Studies - GamesNet

System For Distributing New Software To A Network of Game Machines

Software Developers

2 developers, 1 managers, 20 man-months

Software Technologies

Borland C++, MS SQL Server 2000

This client designed a single, standardised game machine for public houses that could run any number of different software games by sending the data via phone line. Blueberry designed and implemented the software to manage the network and supported its integration within the overall system.

The Requirements

Most fruit machines, quiz games, etc., in public houses are managed by a small number of large leasing companies. These companies rotate the game machines between sites every few months to maximise their takings, but in doing so they incur millions of pounds of transport costs. Our client had a radical alternative solution. They designed a single, standardised game machine that could run any number of different games. The physical machines would remain in place but the games software would be rotated, preferably by sending it over telephone lines.

They asked Blueberry to help them design and implement the distribution system software and the system management software.

What We Did

Blueberry first conducted a risk analysis, which produced five core recommendations. For example, there would be a central database connected to several thousand distributed games machines. Blueberry knew that the system would be unmanageable unless the database was authoritative and the games machines held no configuration information independently. System reliability would be paramount, so the communications architecture had to be designed with the support engineers in mind from the start. They would need to monitor its performance when it was live, and trace the root cause of failure if it suddenly wasn't!

The Results

Blueberry successfully delivered and deployed the required software, and supported its testing and integration with the overall system. As the number of machines connected to the system has increased, Blueberry has made several major enhancements, such as upgrading the central database from Access to SQL Server. The network reached 4000 game machines, saving the client millions of pounds in transport costs.