Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Amazon Cloudfront

In a recent discussion amongst indies, someone had stats showing that by switching to a cloud-based file host for their demo, they got a lot more demo downloads than before. I was naturally intrigued.

As a result, I set up an account with Amazon cloudfront, which requires an account with Amazon S3, and a lot of complex nonsense. Eventually, I worked out how to do something simple, like let them host a file, and link to it. grrrr… I lvoe the way you can’t actually see how many times a file was downloaded, or at what speed. That’s awesome reporting they have there….

Anyway, it’s cost be $9 so far, and I’m only doing it for the GSB demo link. Basically, if you download the GSB demo from here, it’s from my server, but the GSB demo from here, is from cloudfront, and theoretically much faster. If anyone is bored/curious enough to test, could you say if there is an appreciable difference?

Also, would it make a difference to you? I have 7MB broadband, and I have very very often cancelled demo downloads if they look like they will take > 30 minutes. I don’t really know why, it just bugs me. I’ve also likely downloaded demos on a whim then forgotten about them. I’m trying to quantify the extent to which a fast download of a demo matters to people.

In other news, I’m coding like mad on LB. Can’t talk about it yet, until it looks anything worth looking at, and thats likely 2 months off. I’m also arranging those extra GSB maps, and dreaming about getting planning permission for something, anything, one day.

28 thoughts on Amazon Cloudfront

  1. The Amazon link was able to max out my connection (roughly 1.7-2 MB/s, while your link topped out at around 1 MB/s. They were both under a minute to download, though, so unless the download were bigger I don’t think I would notice much either way.

  2. From here, the cloudfront link is faster – about 3 minutes vs. about 4. I’m guessing the mac version is on a 3rd host – it took nearly 5 minutes.

  3. You know, when I see a big download, it does give me pause. One thing I’ve noticed though is that if the company gives me a small piece of software that runs and goes out and downloads the full update and installs it, for some reason I’m okay with that. (Adobe does this a lot, as does Blizzard.) I know what’s happening. I know that I just downloaded a small program that is going out and doing the REAL download, but for some reason, it’s easier to stomach the longer download time when another application is doing it. Perhaps something like that would be of benefit to you, Cliff?

  4. here in canada, i had about 520 kb/s on your site and 540 kb/s on s3. we dont have a super duper internet connection here though (at my job).

  5. Cloudfront maxes out the leased line I’m using 10Mb/s, your site is currently gives me (and I’m still waiting) 31kb/s.

    If I was going to try the demo I would probably stop when I realise it’s going to take me over 20 minutes to download a small demo file.

  6. If I’m downloading a demo, it means I want to play it. I leave my computer on 24/7, and will wait days for the download if I need to.

  7. I got ~1800MB/s on the cloud and ~900MB/s from your server. I am in Canada on a 7MB connection.

    @lance: I hate when software does that. It typically takes longer to download that way as well. I want the whole chunk up front so I know how long it is going to take.

  8. Your download admittedly only took a minute but the cloudfront download maxed out my connection and I think that’s the difference.

    If someone doesn’t see their full download speed I suspect they’re probably more likely to pull the plug. Certainly I’ve done that in the past although on much larger downloads, I think I could probably survive waiting slightly longer for a 50MB file but if it gets you those few extra impatient downloaders it’s probably worth it.

  9. In Western Canada:

    Positech: 60 seconds at 829 kB/s
    CloudFront: 18 seconds at 2676 kB/s 46 seconds at 1240 kB/s

    As someone whose first modem was a 150bps acoustic coupler (yes, 150 bits per second) today’s speeds always spoil me, but there is still something to be said for the instant gratification of downloading a demo in under 20 seconds.

    Here’s another thing that has to be said about the benefits of using services like CloudFront: I have a connection that generally caps out at 14 megabit in general usage, and is quoted as being approx. 15 megabit, but notice that the CloudFront download came through at over 20 megabits per second! This could be due to ISP-level caching of your CloudFront download, or it could be due to an agreement between Amazon and my ISP, but either way the speed improvement is noteworthy.

  10. Both were around 100KB/sec, the cloud based service a bit faster, but my connection is seriously shared throughout the building, so I wouldn’t care about those numbers if I were you.

    But I often stop demos (especially demos) because the download is to slow. I would say go for it (if it’s not to expensive). Especially for your new game, which might see really high peaks at launch.

  11. 380 KB/s from your server, 3200KB/s from Cloudfront. (Portugal). So yeah, it certainly makes a difference to download speed. Personally, though, once I’ve decided to actually try a demo, it would have to be a *very* slow download before I’d cancel it.

  12. From up north in UK I got:

    430 KB/s – positech.
    360 KB/s – cloud.

    Could depend on time of day / other cloud users. Anyway, both are fast :)
    I dont cancel a download unless it appears to stall or be at some crazy ass slow speed.

  13. Amazon server took 40 seconds, your server took 1 minute and 12 seconds.

    Both are pretty damn fast, doesn’t seem like something you need to worry about.

  14. Across 12Gb cable, to MN, USA, I got:

    Positech: 750KB/s
    Coutfront: 1.3MB/s

    As for making a difference, yes, it often does. I don’t have a lot of game play time (day job, 7 year old son, wife, home, and personal projects all need time, you know), so when I want to try something new, I want to play *now*.

    More importantly than my (lack of) patience is the fact that, at any moment, one of the aforementioned other things might take precedence. If the download hasn’t completed or isn’t *very* close to completion, I may cancel it.

    It’s twice as bad with me, as I spend most of my non-gaming time (and as much gaming time as feasible) in Linux, and must reboot to play.

    If the download completes, even if I have to task switch, I’ll at least *eventually* stumble across the installer when doing file cleanup.

    And now I have *two* copies of the GSB installer on my HD, just waiting for me to reboot into Windows and (finally!) give it a go. Tricky, Cliffski! Very tricky! ;)

  15. 15Mb

    Positech: 790KB/s
    Cloudfront: 1.2MB/s

    That’s definitely a difference… Don’t know how useful it is though when a users connection is above 2Mb. Since it’s only a 50Mb file, I think the best results would be to get download speeds from people who have 2Mb connections or under. Then they could actually tell you how slow one is compared to the other. The real test would be getting someone with ADSL up to a 1Mb connection and seeing what sort of results you get with them. Obviously people want things fast, they want them now, they don’t want to wait… in many cases though it’s not a big deal if the file size isn’t very large (your demo isn’t very large). I would think that anyone with a 1Mb connection could go, make themselves a coffee or tea, check their email, and the file would be done.

    The other question is, if more people are downloading from your server at the same time does it slow the download much more and depending on whether or not a lot of people were downloading the same file at the same time would they have to be put into a queue… that’s the other thing you’d need to take into consideration.

    Aside from that, there’s not much to complain about when using either server… I would go the obvious route and also factor in stability.

    Anyway, hope the numbers help, if only a little.

  16. 25Mb/s
    Positech: 350 kB/s
    Cloudfront: 1.5 MB/s
    (I’m in Poland, but I suspect what really matters is whether you live in a large city or in the country)

    I tend to try and find a better connection when the download is unusually slow, but these days, “unusually slow” means less than 50kB/s. It could lead to using this program rather than that one just because the download was faster, but that only applies to utility software. It’s not like I don’t care if I’m playing Bejewelled or Puzzle Quest.

    I don’t mind huge files, but there’s a difference in how I use them. With very small downloads, I usually start up the demo as soon as it’s on my drive. With large ones, I start the download and don’t think about it until I’m reminded. Occasionally, a big file just sits there for a few days or weeks because I forgot about it. In most cases, I remember to get back to it in the evening.

    Medium-sized demos that take between 10 and 30 minutes to get are the unwieldy ones. It’s often hard to find something to keep you busy for ten minutes. As soon as I’ve managed to focus on a larger task, the finished download distracts me again.

  17. Wow! Your server took 38 seconds, at about 28kbps..and amazon was done in about 2 seconds (I didn’t have time to look at the kbps). I’m at work and we have big pipes and all…but hot damn!! That was pretty quick from Cloudfront!! Tried it again from Cloudfront to be sure, and yup! 3 seconds for the whole kit and kaboodle!

    Location: San Diego, California USA

  18. Cloudfront: 11,6 MBytes/s
    Positech: 0,4 MBytes/s
    (from Germany)

    Cliff, 7 MBit upstream is probably a bit too lightweight for hosting 50+MB files as that is saturated with one concurrent download already these days.

  19. As I was the one that suggested it I was really curious to look at those numbers. I am using MaxCDN but as soon as I use all the bandwidth I’m going to switch to Cloudfront, since just yesterday had serious troubles with it (downloads slower than from my own mirror sites).

  20. Cloudfront: 1.2 MB/s
    Positech: 0.02 MB/s (about 20 KB/s)

    Timed a few moments ago, from Poland. The download from Positech was suspiciously slow and the difference between them HUGE.

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