The advent of utility computing has revolutionized almost every sector of traditional software development. Especially commercial cloud computing services, pioneered by the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft, have provided an unprecedented opportunity for the fast and sustainable development of complex distributed systems. Nevertheless, existing models and tools aim primarily for systems where resource usage—by humans and bots alike—is logically and physically quite disperse resulting in a low likelihood of conflicting resource access. However, a number of resource-intensive applications, such as Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and large-scale simulations introduce a requirement for a very large common state with many actors accessing it simultaneously and thus a high likelihood of conflicting resource access. This paper presents a systematic mapping study of the state-of-the-art in software technology aiming explicitly to support the development of MMOGs, a class of large-scale, resource-intensive software systems. By examining the main focus of a diverse set of related publications, we identify a list of criteria that are important for MMOG development. Then, we categorize the selected studies based on the inferred criteria in order to compare their approach, unveil the challenges faced in each of them and reveal research trends that might be present. Finally we attempt to identify research directions which appear promising for enabling the use of standardized technology for this class of systems.
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