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Connection for Server Load and Database Choice

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Hi All, I am new to the forums, to game developing as well but I have been programming for a small number of years. I am thinking about writing my own web based game which will work along the lines of Tribal Wars (www.tribalwars.net) and Utopia (http://games.swirve.com/utopia/). I am interested to know what sort of connections are required for hosting these sorts of online web based games? say with about 20k active users logging on various times of the day downloading a chunk of text and half a dozen pictures for their game. Another question for this thread is what sort of database system should be used? In the case of Utopia, they update their stats whenever an action is taken and everyone's stats is also updated once per hour. Whereas in Tribal Wars, they are updated, seemingly realtime... I have ideas of how to make Utopia style databases but not Tribal War style where numbers for everyone's account is constantly changing. Also the database will have to be able to handle such large numbers of data and be updated relatively frequently. What is a good choice to start looking into? So to summarise - What connection? - What database? + - any other important aspects of a webbased game that requires my attention. Thanks in advance!

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