SA Media Group Case Study

SA Media Group is a full-service digital design company specializing in computer-generated architectural renderings and animations, as well as professional Internet solutions. SA Media Group chose WebORB for .NET to build and power its Magic: The Gathering Deck Builder application www.mtgdeckbuilder.net.

Business Situation

Magic: The Gathering is the first and most widely played trading card game. Players take on the role of Planeswalkers powerful mages who battle others for glory, knowledge and conquest. Their weapons include spells, creatures, and artifacts gathered from a vast multiverse of unique fantasy worlds. With over 10,000 different cards available, Magic offers an unrivaled depth of game play with many levels of choice and customization for its players. The cards feature unique illustrations by top fantasy artists inspired by familiar elements of myth and legend. These elements weave together to provide a strategically rich and satisfying game play experience.

Today, Magic: The Gathering is not only fun, but highly competitive. In fact, Wizards of the Coast developed a Pro Tour, awarding millions of dollars in cash and prizes to top players every year. SA Media is a player in this competition, in that its MTG Deck Builder and Play Tester software enables gamers to build and test their own custom MTG decks online. 

 

Application Description

MTG Deck Builder is a new and one-of-a-kind online service that is highly responsive and intelligent, giving Magic The Gathering players the ability to improve their gaming odds. Using this free service, players can tap their creative juices to build, test and statistically analyze new MTG decks in a fully graphical environment. Even though the software service is in beta, thousands of players have already created MTG decks using MTG Deck Builder.

Problem Definition

When SA Media set out to build this new application, the development team had minimal skills in Flex 3 and MVC development. The team's skills were primarily C# and ASP.NET. While the development timeframe was relaxed, the team didn't want to get bogged down in trying to figure out how to integrate their .NET services with a Flex client. Instead, they went looking for a very fast client-to-server communication service/protocol other than HTTPService and Web Services calls for communicating card and deck information asynchronously. ASP.NET WebServices and Flash HTTPService were discounted early because the team didn't like the clunkiness of either of those approaches. They needed a solution that would be very easy to setup and maintain with a minimal amount of code and overhead. 

Solution

According to SA Media president David Corona, we needed something speedy and simple that was written specifically for Flex and ASP.NET, but there weren't many options. Of course we were delighted to stumble across WebORB and could not be any happier with the results. In fact, I can't imagine, nor would I want to, go back to the old way of doing things for any of our server-side communication.

Corona's team uses both WebORB's developer productivity tools and remoting functionality to deliver high performance results to his customers. To date their MTG Deck Builder membership has grown to over 8500 members, with over 3000 visitors to the site each day. Corona states, "We are very pleased that our Flex application has scaled very nicely and keeps the main focus of our website running smoothly, even when other non-Flex parts of our website are experiencing slow downs.

Solution Stack

  • Windows Server 2008
  • IIS 7
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 RC2
  • Intel Xeon X3434 2.4 GHz
  • 8GB RAM
  • WebORB for .NET v.4.x