Skip to content
Switch branches/tags


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time

Maestro: Kubernetes Game Room Scheduler

Build Status Coverage Status Go Report Card Docs


Have an unified system that automatically scales game rooms regardless of the protocol (TCP, UDP). This system is related to a matchmaker but does not handle the specificities of a match such as how many players fit in a room. It only deals with high level room occupation, i.e. is the room occupied or available. The rooms communicate directly with the matchmaker in order to register and unregister themselves from the matchmaking.

Let us define a Game Room Unity (GRU) as a Kubernetes service (type nodePort) associated with a single pod. This restriction is made because in AWS we cannot load balance UDP. We're using containerized applications and Kubernetes in order to simplify the management and scaling of the game rooms.


Maestro is a game room scheduler that is composed by a controller, a watcher, a worker, an API and a CLI. In the future we may have an UI for displaying metrics such as:

  • % of rooms usage
  • rate of room occupation increase/decrease
  • rooms cpu and memory usage
  • etc.


The controller is responsible for managing the Game Room Unities (GRUs). It creates and gracefully terminates GRUs according to auto scaling policies defined by the user. It makes use of the Kubernetes cluster's API endpoints in order to have updated information about the GRUs managed by Maestro. It is also responsible for persisting relevant information in the database and managing rooms statuses.


The watcher ensures that at any time the Game Room Unities (GRUs) state is as expected. If the scaling policies say that one should have 10 GRUs of a given type, the watcher will ask the controller to create or terminate GRUs as needed. The desired state is kept in a database that is consulted by the watcher (via controller) each time it runs. It has a lock so Maestro can be scaled horizontally. Each scheduler (i.e. maestro scalable entity) has its own watcher.


The worker ensures that all valid schedulers (i.e. schedulers that exist in the database) have running watchers.


The API is the connection of Maestro to the external world and with the game room itself. It is responsible for:

  • Managing GRUs status and healthcheck (status are: creating, ready, occupied, terminating and terminated);
  • Saving the scheduler config in a database that will be consulted by the watcher;
  • Managing the pool of GRUs with each GRU host ip and port;


The CLI is a wrapper for the maestro-api endpoints.


A client lib for Unity and cocos2dx responsible for calling maestro HTTP routes defined in the room protocol. It also must catch sigterm/sigkill and handle the room graceful shutdown.

Configuring Maestro Schedulers

Maestro receives a config file (yaml or json) for each scheduler.

The config file must have the following information:

  • Docker image
  • Autoscaling policies
  • Manifest yaml template
    1. Default configuration (ENV VARS)
    2. Ports and protocols (UDP, TCP)
    3. Resources requests (cpu and memory)

Example yaml config:

name: pong-free-for-all     # this will be the name of the kubernetes namespace (it must be unique)
game: pong                  # several configs can refer to the same game
image: pong/pong:v123
affinity: node-affinity     # optional field: if set, rooms will be allocated preferentially to nodes with label "node-affinity": "true"
toleration: node-toleration # optional field: if set, rooms will also be allocated in nodes with this taint
occupiedTimeout: match-time # how much time a match has. If room stays with occupied status for longer than occupiedTimeout seconds, the room is deleted
  - containerPort: 5050     # port exposed in the container
    protocol: UDP           # supported protocols are TCP and UDP
    name: gamebinary        # name identifying the port (must be unique for a config)
  - containerPort: 8888
    protocol: TCP
    name: websocket
requests:                   # these will be the resources requests applied to the pods created in kubernetes
  memory: 1Gi               # they are used to calculate resource(cpu and memory) usage and trigger autoscaling when metrics triggers are defined
  cpu: 1000m                
limits:                     # these will be the resources limits applied to the pods created in kubernetes
  memory: "128Mi"           # they are used to decide how many rooms can run in each node
  cpu: "1"                  # more info:
shutdownTimeout: 180        # duration in seconds the pod needs to terminate gracefully
  min: 100                  # minimum amount of GRUs
  max: 1000                 # maximum amount of GRUs
    metricsTrigger:         # list of triggers that define the autoscaling behaviour
      - type: room          # the triggers can be of type room, cpu or memory
        threshold: 80       # percentage of the points that are above 'usage' needed to trigger scale up
        usage: 70           # minimum usage (percentage) that can trigger the scaling policy
        time: 600           # duration in seconds to wait before scaling policy takes place 
        limit: 90           # usage percentage limit that triggers urgent scaling even if in cooldown period
    cooldown: 300           # duration in seconds to wait before consecutive scaling
      - type: cpu
        threshold: 80       # percentage of the points that are above 'usage' needed to trigger scale down
        usage: 50           # maximum usage (percentage) the can trigger the scaling policy
        time: 900           # duration in seconds to wait before scaling policy takes place       
    cooldown: 300           # duration in seconds to wait before consecutive scaling
env:                        # environment variable to be passed on to the container
    value: examplevalue
    value: anothervalue
cmd:                        # if the image can run with different arguments you can specify a cmd
  - "./room-binary"
  - "-serverType"
  - "6a8e136b-2dc1-417e-bbe8-0f0a2d2df431"
forwarders:                # optional field: if set events will be forwarded for the grpc matchmaking plugin
      enabled: true
      metadata:            # the forwarder metadata is forwarded in scheduler events (create and update)
        matchmakingScript: default
          authTimeout: 10000
        minimumNumberOfPlayers: 1
        numberOfTeams: 1
        playersPerTeam: 6
        roomType: "10"
          score: score

A JSON file equivalent to the yaml above can also be used.


To run on dev:

  1. Start Minikube with hyperkit vm driver as it will create a bridge for minikube to access services on your host machine. You can do that with --driver flag, such as: minikube start --driver=hyperkit.

  2. Make sure that Minikube metrics-server and heapster addons are enabled otherwise metrics autoscaler won't work:

minikube addons enable metrics-server
minikube addons enable heapster
  1. Build dev-room docker image on Minikube env. (optional)
eval $(minikube docker-env)
make build-dev-room
eval $(minikube docker-env -u)

This image contain a simple Python API to simulate room behaviour. Its code can be found here.

  1. Run setup
make setup
  1. Start dependencies
make deps
make drop
make migrate
  1. Start worker with make work-dev and api with make run-dev

  2. With maestro-cli, access maestro with context local. For example:

maestro -c local create manifests/scheduler-config-1.yaml
maestro -c local get scheduler


  • Define Architecture
    • Validate Kubernetes performance with a large amount of services
  • Formalize room protocol
  • Release map
  • Define config template

Release Map:

  • Milestone 1:


    • Create scheduler that scales up with the given policy.
    • Delete scheduler.


    • maestro-controller
      • scheduler
        • create new scheduler with given config
          • generate Kubernetes manifest template from the config
          • create config in database
          • create namespace in kubernetes
          • create initial GRUs
            • create service
            • create pod with service nodePort as an argument
          • delete scheduler
            • remove config from database
            • gracefully terminate running scheduler GRUs
            • remove namespace from kubernetes
      • scheduler state
        • get rooms statuses
        • update rooms status
        • get autoscaling policy (from config persisted in db)
      • scaling
        • create GRUs
      • docs
    • maestro-watcher
      • validate rooms status vs autoscaling policy
      • scale cluster
        • up
      • docs
    • maestro-api
      • scheduler
        • create new scheduler with given config
        • delete scheduler
      • room protocol routes
        • ping
        • room ready
        • match started
        • match ended
        • address polling
      • docs
    • maestro-client
  • Milestone 2:


    • Create scheduler that scales down with the given policy.
    • Update running scheduler.
    • Monitor scheduler rooms metrics.


    • maestro-controller
      • scheduler
        • update running scheduler config
          • update config in database
          • update GRUs
            • launch new GRUs with the updates config
            • gracefully terminate GRUs running with old config
      • scheduler state
        • report room occupation metrics
      • scaling
        • remove GRUs
    • maestro-watcher
      • scale cluster
        • down
    • maestro-api
      • scheduler
        • update running scheduler config
      • get rooms metrics
    • maestro-cli
      • scheduler
        • create new scheduler with given config
        • update running scheduler config
        • delete scheduler
        • scheduler status
      • docs
    • maestro-client
      • cocos2dx support
    • UI
      • display rooms metrics
      • scheduler
        • create new scheduler with given config
        • update running scheduler config
        • delete scheduler


  • Can Kubernetes handle thousands of services?
  • How to manage different versions running at the same time? Will the matchmaker be responsible for it?
  • How to properly tune autoscaling policies?

Architecture Validation and Tests

Validating Kubernetes performance

Testing with 30 nodes m4.large and 900 GRUs (pod + service) using a simple image for UDP listener: mendhak/udp-listener:latest.

To be checked:

  • Nodes CPU usage
  • Master CPU usage
  • Kube-System resources usage
  • Kube-Proxy logs
  • Load test
    • What happens when a new service is created


Initial setup: Kubernetes 1.5

  • While running the 900 pods + services

    • kube-system used 30 cores (CPU) and 9Gi (memory usage). Each kube-proxy pod consumes about 1 core.
    • syncProxyRules took 16.810688ms
  • Without any test pods

    • kube-system used 1 core (CPU) and 7Gi (memory usage). Each kube-proxy pod consumes about 0.02 core.
    • syncProxyRules took 966.091651ms (note: it runs by default every 1000ms)

Changing --iptables-min-sync-period to 10s seems to have improved the CPU usage performance, but the cost is that anytime a new service is created it can take up to 10s until they are available.

This Kubernetes PR might be related to the services scaling problem and it is available in Kubernetes 1.6 and greater.

After changing to Kubernetes 1.6 and running the 900 pods + services:

  • kube-system used 2 cores (CPU) and 2Gi (memory usage). Each kube-proxy pod consumes about 0.04 core.
  • syncProxyRules took 1.25s

kube-proxy relevant config options (to be tunned):

  • --iptables-min-sync-period
  • --udp-timeout (actually this flag is not used with iptables, in this case kube-proxy is using iptables default timeout: 30s)
  • -proxy-port-range

Load Test

Integration Tests

The integration tests run on local minikube. The script can download kubectl and minikube if the machine doesn't have them.

The tests won't interfere on running clusters because it creates namespaces with uuid v4 as prefix. All created namespaces are deleted after the tests.

Redis and Postgres run on containers defined on a docker-compose.yaml.

Important: If you have kubectl installed, make sure it has the latest Kubernetes version. If it isn't, probably the tests won't work.

Room Protocol:

Game rooms have four different statuses:

  • Creating

    From the time maestro starts creating the GRU in Kubernetes until a room ready is received.

  • Ready

    From the time room ready is called until a match started is received. It means the room is available for matches.

  • Occupied

    From the time match started is called until a match ended is received. It means the room is not available for matches.

  • Terminating

    From the time a sigkill/sigterm signal is received by the room until the GRU is no longer available in Kubernetes.

Maestro's auto scaling policies are based on the number of rooms that are in ready state.

In order to properly set their statuses, game rooms must call the maestro-api HTTP routes described in the Maestro API docs.

Event Forwarders

Event forwarders are pluggable components that forwards events like: RoomReady, RoomTerminated, RoomTerminating, etc... to other services.

More information about it can e found here.