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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Technology and Huge Seamless Open Worlds

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74 posts found
  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

1/15/13 2:10:15 PM#21
Amar
But you can have instance free all open world themeparks
EQ at launch, daoc, both planetsides.
  Ice-Queen

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/02/08
Posts: 2445

"Always borrow money from a pessimist. They won't expect it back."

1/15/13 2:11:50 PM#22
Originally posted by ShakyMo
Huge non instanced worlds were the norm

Vanilla EQ, uo, daoc, ac, eve etc..

Wow changed all that (although Ao, coh and eq2 had instancing before it)

It's mostly due to laziness imo.

^^This^^

Devs are lazy these days, with doing WoW clones, they don't have to make seamless worlds. They're stuck in a rut and don't even have to compete with older games in content/seamless worlds because too many people are accepting mediocrity in their mmorpgs and not demanding better.

What happens when you log off your characters????.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFQhfhnjYMk
Dark Age of Camelot

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:12:14 PM#23
Originally posted by Volkon
The problem with the "huge open seamless world" is that it nearly demands static content (mobs, quests, etc.) in order to be feasible. When, for example, you have static quest givers standing there with a "!" over their heads you can load them as a part of the terrain. However, as games shift to a more dynamic content, where the world can be in varying states and NPCs can be on the move, dead, etc. then you have the situation where when a player enters an area he needs the data for everything dynamic happening  around him. You may not see something happening over that hill, but it's there and ongoing so you need to load that information just in case you go over that hill. This is why GW2, for example, had to zone their world... the dynamic event system sends huge amounts of data when compared to static quest dudes.

That doesn't make much of a difference.  The textures for a character are the same whether he moves or not.  The vertex data might be different if he moves, but you could just pack it all together in a single file and load it about as fast either way.  If it's a question of whether characters will have to be loaded, you check to see if you have to load data before you load it.

  Effin_Rabbit

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 728

This Rabbit stinks!

1/15/13 2:12:15 PM#24
What about phasing, could devs do something like using phases instead of zones to avoid loading screens?
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:16:39 PM#25
Originally posted by greenreen

You talk a lot about network speed but I think that if your game world is static and you can find a good way to obfuscate the code from being plain text, you could store zones as part of the game files and not have to load them from the server at all. Of course, that goes back to what the second poster pointed out, a more static game where everything has a place and does not get changed by players.

Terrain and so forth is stored in the hard drive.  The general rule is that anything that doesn't change and can't be used to cheat will be stored on the hard drive and never checked by the server apart from checking for the latest version when you launch the game.  That uses no bandwidth at all apart from the initial download.  You only need to download stuff from the server in the middle of the game if it's data that can change (e.g., which mobs are alive at the moment and where are they?) or stuff that could be used to cheat (e.g., how much HP do you have?).

  greenreen

Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 1515

1/15/13 2:17:34 PM#26
Something just came to me reading other replies. What if loading screens are hand holding and not about tech or skill at all. What if some use them to remind someone of where they are and grind in the names of places in their memory. Maybe you don't "need" them but you "want" them for other purposes. It could be to show off a cool concept art piece made in oil paint that cost a lot of man hours or to offer hints and tips reminding the player that the game is always interested in them doing well. Someone could probably come up with other reasons but when I think back on the ones I've seen, they weren't all just a spinning wheel saying "loading".
  Matticus75

Novice Member

Joined: 10/18/05
Posts: 393

1/15/13 2:18:42 PM#27

I am the same way as what the OP is stating, I myself look at games like planetside 1, or battlezone 1 and 2 that did some really cool things back in the day, and wonder why with all the new tech we dont see seemless open worlds.

I have seen vids on where a space ship moves from space to a planet surface and no instancing at all. But we dont see it at all in any kind of AAA MMOs

Some comments about how more information needs to be processed and transmitted is a major hurtle, but WoW had that problem back when it came out, so did planetside 1, and we still have the same problems with better processors, servers, higher speed internet, ect, and im still confused myself why they are still "major" issues. (If it because the NPC are more dynamic is the reason, then boy I dont see it much, its not like we see our NPCs moving around in MMOs doing things like the NPCs do in Starcraft 2 Campaign mode, or that MMO NPCs are going about building things in the enviroment, really they dont seem to be all that more scripted compared to NPCs almost 10 years ago)

I think the real reason why is:

1) We see alot of startup companies with tight budgets (which is ok)

2) New tech is being used to do the same with less to save money

3) With more people in the market that have PCs then the cost/profit ratio makes more sense to create a low budget game, then rinse and repeat

Also to add their is alot of "business pollution" or bad practices that IMO are harmful to innovation. Example, WoW spammers sell gold, because people in games want to be "better than you" people buy the gold to get items, and then the Blizzard wanted to get a cut of that, so they made the "my little pony mount" and it sells like hotcakes. Add the popularity of low budget Farmville like games; and bam!! we got the F2P plague all of the place. I myself wouldnt have a problem with it if some of the profits from F2P helped to support new innovations and massive Open Worlds, but rules 1,2,3 above are not helping with that......

In conclusion, I think its possible to make an outstanding/innovative/ground breaking game at a reasonable cost. It just wont make as much profit as the status quo. So as for now and the near future might as well forget anything that is going to be "out of this world MMORPG WTFOMG wet my pants amazing!!"

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:28:56 PM#28
Originally posted by Grixxitt

Different games handle things differently. 

In Darkfall for instance, mobs only spawned when players got into a set distance from them, thus reducing server lag from having every mob spawn active at the same time.

Old UOs only answer to the same was to institute a policy of rewarding people for throwing their trash away, thus getting rid of unwanted pixels and lessening server load.

In Planetside 2 there is a mechanic for limiting the visibility of PCs when a certain amount of players crowd a tight area, thus ensuring that people with super computers aren't the only ones that can move around in large battles. (I bring up PS2 because EQ next will use the same engine and I am curious to know how they will handle the same issues)

 

Also, most "open, seamless worlds" still have server lines, they just make it so you can go across them without staring at a load screen.

On the client side, any respectable game engine will have some code to check whether an object might possibly appear on the screen if drawn.  If you can tell that it's behind the camera or too far off to the side or blocked by another object, then you skip it that frame.

The question isn't whether there's a massive amount of fakery going on behind the scenes in a game engine.  Or rather, there isn't a question of it unless the game runs so horribly that you wonder what obvious optimizations they somehow completely missed.  The trick is to have massive amounts of fakery that reduce the work you need to do, while still giving a final result close enough to what it would be without the fakery that your players can't tell the difference.

  NaughtyP

Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/11
Posts: 795

1/15/13 2:29:35 PM#29

I honestly have no idea how some games are built, but I will say this. A lot of people are posting that it isn't a technology issue. In many ways this is true as long as money isn't an issue (which it always is) so that does make it a technology issue.

I would imagine an open, persistent seamless world that doesn't use any instancing/ will always cost more to maintain than an instanced because in the seamless solution it is (probably) impossible to recoup any server resources that are dedicated to the game world while instancedsolutions would give you the opportunity to recoup resources in certain scenarios (ie. instance destroyed due to being empty).

If we are talking non-instanced zones vs non-instanced open world, it's probably a little closer, but I would again imagine the open world solution is a little more costly because you have to maintain connectivity with the user at all times across server boundaries. So the networking solution would probably be a lot more costly.

However, with everything being virtualized these days maybe a lot of these problems can be solved that way.

Anyways, like I said, I have no clue how some of these games are built, but I know juuuuust enough to make dangerous guesses!

Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure.

  Goatgod76

Novice Member

Joined: 6/24/06
Posts: 1226

1/15/13 2:31:20 PM#30

It is possible. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has a pretty big open seamless world. You can travel from one end to the other (Of a given continent...it has 3). Even the dungeons you can simply walk into without a loading screen. It does have portals and a need to load between continental travel...but that is it. And not to mention VG's graphics are not too shabby at all. I'd say maybe just under AoC/Rift in looks.

 

I see no reason it can't be done now.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:31:36 PM#31
Originally posted by Terranah

It has to be possible.  Some of the old games had this ability.  Take SWG for example, you had planets which were essentially very, very large maps and people were building houses on them without instancing and decorating them and such.  If you could take that level of art, but use a better engine, it seems like it would have to be possible.

It depends on what you mean by "that level of art, but use a better engine".  There are trade-offs, and if you give up some graphical quality to make a world seamless, you can't just get back that graphical quality for free.  In fact, it's likely that the price of getting back the graphical quality that you just gave up will be to use some loading screens.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:39:32 PM#32
Originally posted by ShakyMo
Huge non instanced worlds were the norm 

Don't confused instancing with zoning.  You can have a heavily-instanced world that is still seamless or a single enormous world with tons of loading screens.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:43:04 PM#33
Originally posted by ShakyMo
The skyrim level graphics thing.

That was daoc in its day, it uses the same engine as Morrowind.

Still managed to have a fully persistent world with zero instancing.

All MMORPGs have instancing.  It's only a question of how they instance things.

If you're asked to pick the server you want to play on from a list the first time you log in, that's a list of instances of the game world.

  Amaranthar

Novice Member

Joined: 1/18/06
Posts: 2171

1/15/13 2:44:41 PM#34
Originally posted by ShakyMo
Amar
But you can have instance free all open world themeparks
EQ at launch, daoc, both planetsides.

Funny you should mention that. Just yesterday my son made the comment that the ideal game would be DAoC and UO combined, with UO's skills system. He's 21 and used to be a hardcore Themepark gamer, by the way. I'm a Roleplayer hardcore Sandbox gamer. Neither of us has played an MMO in well over a year, nor are either of us looking forwards to anything at the moment.

But yes, of course you're right on the listed Themeparks with open worlds. And as I said, even a Themepark can be a better game with it. But remember the waiting lines in EQ. It doesn't have to be that way, of course. But the point that a huge open world works better in Sandbox, in my mind, is right. Go anywhere, do anything, is just made for a huge open world.

In either case, the game world needs to be designed "right" for the game for the best possible effect.

Once upon a time....

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:47:35 PM#35
Originally posted by Amaranthar

Yes it's possible. The problems have been mentioned except for one, server capacity. You'd simply need more of that, which means a larger cost on an onrunning basis.

As far as player load, it seems to me that in an overall, normal fashion, you'd have less. Because the game world can be spread out more. Meaning that you don't need as much loaded up.

Two exceptions to that last.

  1. Players massing up, for whatever reason. Including events. Personally, I'd give up a lot of the gawdy armors and weapons and stick to a more limited number of arts for this huge world. Also, as already mentioned, characters in heavy masses can be limited on what you see per distance. Think of the mountain ranges that change as you draw nearer, only this would be for mobiles and at closer ranges, but only when the stress picks up. A game could also add dust or steam to simulate what a large crowd might do and also clue the players in to the fact or excessively large numbers.
  2. Players dropping items on the ground. In UO players would actually drop thousands of items so that when another player ran by they'd lag up and could be killed easily. Several answers to this. The two primary are limiting the viewing per distance and replacing individual art with a variety of single art that works like a containor or sorts.
 
I dream of someone having the wherewithall, both financially and ballsy, to do this. But you say that this isn't a Sandbox vs Themepark issue. It is. You don't need a huge open world in a Themepark game where zoning is the rule. It works much better in a Sandbox, go anywhere do anything, sort of world. Although, I think it would also enhance any Themepark game as well, but it's just not the same experience.

Server capacity?  What does that have to do with anything?  It's certainly not an issue of storage capacity.  CPU throughput and network bandwidth could be an issue if most of your players bunch up as you describe.  But if only a small fraction of the playerbase is in a very crowded area at any given time, that doesn't amount to much.

The problems you're talking about are client-side issues.  The solution is to only draw so many things per frame.  If there are 500 players in an area that "should" appear on your screen, then pick the 20 or 50 or whatever nearest to you (this can be adjustable by the player) and only draw those.

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

1/15/13 2:48:00 PM#36
Quiz
No they don't.

Instancing is multiple private copies of a single area of a game, whether that be instanced raids and dungeons, mini game pvp, or multiple copies of world zones.

Several games don't have this.

Eve, daoc, ac, uo, both planetsides, darkfall, EQ before it introduced instanced dungeons etc..

You most certainly don't need instancing in a mmo
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:49:22 PM#37
Originally posted by Darth-Batman
What about phasing, could devs do something like using phases instead of zones to avoid loading screens?

That's a different form of instancing.  It has nothing to do with loading screens.  The way that instancing is used is a game design choice.  Some players like to have the mobs they're trying to kill be there for them rather than having someone else run in and steal the kills.  As with so many other game design choices, there are pros and cons to various forms of instancing.

  botrytis

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 2565

1/15/13 2:53:20 PM#38
Originally posted by eldaris

Rift managed to have invasions and an open world too,the DE in gw2 are not so dynamic anyway,more like a choice of developers to avoid writing any decent quests beside the personal story.Why no more huge and seamless open worlds ?Maybe because a lot of players are not interested in worlds,they just want instant travel to a dungeon to farm the last tier of gear and even flying on a gryphon for 5m is too much for them.

Problem is Rift was very small, compared to WoW, GW1, GW2, etc. See here - http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/306052

 

Rift is tiny in comparison to other MMO's - so it is easy to have a seamless world with it.

"In 50 years, when I talk to my grandchildren about these days, I'll make sure to mention what an accomplished MMO player I was. They are going to be so proud ..."
by Naqaj - 7/17/2013 MMORPG.com forum

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

1/15/13 2:53:49 PM#39
Yeah phasing is instancing plus.

Instancing took mmos in the wrong direction
Phasing will make it even worse, just a bunch of people playing a single player rpg who occasionally bump into someone once an hour or team up with 3 guildmates to spend 45 minutes in a coop dungeon.
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13813

1/15/13 2:54:52 PM#40
Originally posted by greenreen
Something just came to me reading other replies. What if loading screens are hand holding and not about tech or skill at all. What if some use them to remind someone of where they are and grind in the names of places in their memory. Maybe you don't "need" them but you "want" them for other purposes. It could be to show off a cool concept art piece made in oil paint that cost a lot of man hours or to offer hints and tips reminding the player that the game is always interested in them doing well. Someone could probably come up with other reasons but when I think back on the ones I've seen, they weren't all just a spinning wheel saying "loading".

But why would you make them sit at a loading screen for a long time if that's the purpose?  Why not just make it a quick text over the top of the screen?  Or let people end the loading screen and return to the game whenever they feel like it?

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