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Programming  » BigWorlds Indie engine good for MMO with GW2-WoW level graphics?

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32 posts found
  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6227

 
OP  6/04/14 2:29:56 AM#21
Originally posted by Ket_Viliano

Check out UE4. $19 a month, you can keep using it even if you can't pay, just no updates. Only 5% royalty, thou I think console will cost more. UE4 has lots of documentation, and an enthusiastic userbase on the forums.

 

And keep in mind, unless you have thousands of users, you don't need complex netcode. You can always just run instances, then use the money and experience to add custom netcode later. Fyi, UE4 comes with auto-instancing, auto server generation, and good enough netcode to run Unreal Tournament.

 

Clearly, if you are asking about engines, you need to build skills. Check out JMonkey engine, it has great tutorials, just don't expect it to work all that well. It has a few bugs, you will find them quick, but the experience is worth it.

 

Further advice, apply use case analysis to all your needs, ignore fanbois. Ask what do you need to do, and which tool does it best.

 

Good luck!

That sounds like a plan.  Thanks, I will look into that investment.

  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6227

 
OP  6/04/14 2:33:10 AM#22
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Quizzical

A game engine is really just a collection of libraries that do stuff that they think a lot of games might like to do.  Which game engine makes sense for a particular game depends very, very strongly on what that game wants to do.

One big danger of licensing a game engine is that it might well tempt you to compromise your vision of the game by doing things the way the engine is set up to do them rather than what you actually wanted to do.  It's not a coincidence that most of the best MMORPGs built their own game engine for their particular game--including the top three as rated on the front page of this site.

I was thinking about doing what ESO did, and use a engine to prototype my project until my own engine could be made. But first baby steps. I have to learn how to do all that.

That may make sense if you're willing to spend some extra millions to bring a game to market a year earlier, as it lets you experiment with game mechanics before the engine you're building is far enough along to do that.  But for an amateur or low-budget project, don't go there, as it means that a lot of effort to configure things exactly how the game engine you license wants them will be wasted.

so what you suggest for an amateur starting off? I need a engine to experiment with.

What's your background--both in programming and in mathematics?

I have basic C++ skills and learning the basics of C# at the moment.

no Maya or Blender skills at all. But searching for some learning tools on that as well. What other advice you have on learning how to get started?

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13789

6/04/14 7:39:07 AM#23
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Quizzical

A game engine is really just a collection of libraries that do stuff that they think a lot of games might like to do.  Which game engine makes sense for a particular game depends very, very strongly on what that game wants to do.

One big danger of licensing a game engine is that it might well tempt you to compromise your vision of the game by doing things the way the engine is set up to do them rather than what you actually wanted to do.  It's not a coincidence that most of the best MMORPGs built their own game engine for their particular game--including the top three as rated on the front page of this site.

I was thinking about doing what ESO did, and use a engine to prototype my project until my own engine could be made. But first baby steps. I have to learn how to do all that.

That may make sense if you're willing to spend some extra millions to bring a game to market a year earlier, as it lets you experiment with game mechanics before the engine you're building is far enough along to do that.  But for an amateur or low-budget project, don't go there, as it means that a lot of effort to configure things exactly how the game engine you license wants them will be wasted.

so what you suggest for an amateur starting off? I need a engine to experiment with.

What's your background--both in programming and in mathematics?

I have basic C++ skills and learning the basics of C# at the moment.

no Maya or Blender skills at all. But searching for some learning tools on that as well. What other advice you have on learning how to get started?

Getting the math background is harder than learning a programming language.  If you want to do 3D graphics, being very good at linear algebra and multivariable calculus is basically the entry level "you can't do anything without this".  If you want to do modern 3D graphics the right way, you need some knowledge of manifolds, especially triangulations and vector bundles.  That's wandering into graduate level stuff, though, which is why games usually don't do modern 3D graphics the right way, but instead, mostly rely on 2006-era methods.  If you're content to do purely 2D graphics, then it makes things a lot simpler, as you can do that on a solid high school background, as you just need to be good with coordinate systems.

Regardless of what you want to do graphically, if you want to design sensible game mechanics, you'll need to be good at probability.  Designing game mechanics is largely an exercise in picking interesting probability distributions.  You don't need the modern, rigorous "probability as a branch of mathematics" stuff that uses measure theory to handle pathological cases, but you do need to be very good at the older, more intuitive stuff along the lines of the probability of a fair coin coming up heads is 1/2.

For programming skills, you need to be good at whatever language you're going to use--and it needs to be a compiled programming language as opposed to an interpreted scripting language.  You also need access to whatever you're going to use for graphics and sound APIs.  C++ certainly has access to plenty of stuff, and I'd be very surprised if C# doesn't have everything you need, too.  You need to not just be able to kind of hack something together; you need to be good at it--and practice is one way to get good at it.  It's okay to start coding a game and make some mistakes so long as, once you realize they're mistakes, you're willing to redo a ton of code to fix them.

  Azrile

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/29/08
Posts: 2615

6/05/14 1:21:16 AM#24

We use Hero Engine.  The graphic assets pipeline is inferior to Unity ( no Blender), but Hero engine absolutely simplifies the entire backend as well as having built in payment systems, hosting and basically everything you need to handle the architecture part of an MMO.  You just deal with art, worldbuilding, and scripting your game.    The other huge thing, especially for our game is that updates are instantaneous so multiple people working all over the world can be working on the game at the same time without ´builds´.    I can be in a zone adding a tree, and someone else half the world away can be adding an NPC to the same area and the players will see both assets the next time they draw the scene.

If they would just implement full pipeline support of Blender it would make life much easier. 

 

  joshuahalls

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/11/10
Posts: 72

6/05/14 1:54:05 AM#25

First off you want to pick an engine. Building an engine and building a game is a luxury when you have an 8 or 9 digit budget. Unless you have a giant pile of money I would skip even the build route and look at what solutions (including affordable 3rd party solutions wrapped around the engine) that are available.

Currently, if you want to build an MMO there are a few options out there. Heroengine, BigWorld, Unity (with some 3rd party tools), Esenthel, and a few other options. If you have source access to the big engines (Unreal, CryEngine) you might be able to cobble something together, but I am not aware of any 3rd party package that isn't just a network platform for a simple multiplayer game. Just about any MMO using Unreal or CryEngine has rolled their own solution to the best of my knowledge.

In all honesty, start with Unity/Unreal/CryEngine and build a single player or multiplayer game first. Building an MMO is a massive task that is going to require a ton of technical skill in many areas as well as recruiting other technical members that understand MMO design philosophies. There is a decent single player RPG demo out there for Unity showing you how to do everything from start to finish that would be a great start. Building an MMO without some kind of experience isn't going to end well.

My 2 cents as we have been developing one for years. I guess the last part is the years as the typical development cycle for an MMO is 5-7 years. A smaller scope MMO or lobby style game might be quicker to turn around (hence all the MOBAs popping up).

 

Joshua Halls
Co Owner-Lead Programmer The Repopulation

  prowess

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/07
Posts: 170

6/05/14 2:49:15 AM#26
Originally posted by Quesa
Originally posted by prowess
HeroEngine.  Hands down.  Or unity..  you can buy a bunch of premade webcode and SQL backend infrastructure for unity..  HeroEngine is cheap, easy, complete...  ESO uses HeroEngine, to give you an idea of the flexibility and capabilities.

IIRC, ESO used Hero for prototyping until their own engine was completed.

They said something to that effect as a damage control effort..  But when you install ESO, it uses the HeroEngine installer, which only happens when you create your client package with HeroEngine...


I chose the Xfinity speed test because it does not reveal my ISP.

  Cleffy

Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/04
Posts: 5540

6/05/14 10:56:26 PM#27

I've used Hero Engine, Unreal, Unity, and Big World. Each has their own strengths. Hero Engine definitely has the best tools I have ever used in an engine. Unity makes importing things easy. Unreal 4 makes it easy to mock something up for non-programmers. Big World is a great engine for an open world MMORPG.

You actually don't have to worry about the majority of coding if you go the middle-ware route. If you are making an mmo, doing the network coding will be a difficult task on engines aside from Hero and Big World. Gameplay programming is hardly anything that is difficult, all you need to know are the basic concepts of programming and the libraries reference. However, making an mmo is more than just the millions of lines of source code. Its also creating the art assets, sounds, skill effects, animations, billing, content, and the base gameplay design which is also a multi-year time investment. If you don't have a background in this than you shouldn't try it.

I suggest a simple 2D mobile RPG to build up in these areas and depending on where that takes you build up to a 3D mmorpg. There are a few engines out there for building 2D mobile games like Unity, and YoYo's engine on Steam.

For someone on a limited budget, small team, and is not a pariah the Hero Engine is marvelous for creating an mmorpg. I would also not be concerned about it not supporting Blender natively. For most engines you have to export your models to another format anyway. What Hero Engine offers is what everyone said before, it pretty much sets itself up to be played and sold once you fill it with content. Its tools in my opinion are also the best there is, so developing content is monumentally faster on the Hero Engine.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13789

6/06/14 12:53:14 PM#28
Originally posted by joshuahalls

First off you want to pick an engine. Building an engine and building a game is a luxury when you have an 8 or 9 digit budget. Unless you have a giant pile of money I would skip even the build route and look at what solutions (including affordable 3rd party solutions wrapped around the engine) that are available.

Building a game engine isn't an enormous expense.  There's an enormous difference between building a game engine for a particular game as opposed to building a game engine to sell it for use by many games.  The former is much easier than the latter, and let's you build things around the precise requirements of your game and completely skip common things if your particular game doesn't need them.

But building your own game engine does take quite a bit of time in the sense of number of calendar days from start to finish as opposed to man-hours--and it's time during which a lot of other people won't have anything to do.  If you're going to build your own engine for a game, you get people started on the engine very, very early with a very small team, and only expand the team later once the engine is far enough along for others to be able to work with it.

One other point about building your own game engine is that the competence threshold is much higher than for a lot of other sorts of programming.  A team of several good but not great programmers might well be able to launch a decent indie game that licenses a game engine but not have anyone good enough to actually build a decent game engine.  And "good but not great" is very much as opposed to the mediocre programmers who will mostly just make a mess of things and ought to be laid off or reassigned as soon as you figure out that they're mediocre.

But there are two other advantages of building your own game engine that are worth mentioning.  First is that if you use libraries without understanding exactly what they do, you're liable to use them wrongly.  This can lead to anything from mysterious glitches that you simply can't track down and fix to the recent Heartbleed bug.  In order to understand exactly what libraries are doing and why, it isn't enough to just read the documentation, even if the documentation is very good.  You're going to have to look at source code and put in a considerable fraction of the effort that it would have taken to create your own engine.  And that's impossible if you don't actually have the source code.

Another consideration is that things that are basically trivial to implement if you have them in mind before you write any code can be just shy of impossible if you try to tack them on later after a lot of other code is written.  If you're licensing a game engine, you never get the blank slate period where you can do whatever you want.  How big of a problem that is depends very strongly on what you want to do; for my own project, it was enough to dismiss licensing a game engine as completely unworkable out of hand, as what I wanted to do is so radically different from anything on the market.  (e.g., all artwork procedurally generated from source code, a seamless round world, very extensive use of tessellation as a performance optimization, and a far more versatile character creator than is possible with commercially available tools)

In short, building your own game engine lets you do whatever you want, but comes with the caveat that you have to actually do everything that you want--which is impossible if you don't have the capabilities to do so.

  drakolas

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/24/08
Posts: 32

6/06/14 12:55:22 PM#29
Originally posted by MMOExposed
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal
MMORPG's engines would benefit being more module and able to update separately graphics, physics, network code and etc for years vs. being tied to a typical engine.  Not that I am sure that's even possible. 

So what would you suggest for a indie?

For an indie I would suggest not trying to make a MMO.

  Cleffy

Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/04
Posts: 5540

6/06/14 3:21:24 PM#30

I think for an indie, going the middleware route is much better than building your own game engine. You make a valid point that if you encounter some bug from using a method incorrectly, it may be difficult to track down. But you intrinsically take this risk all the time in programming because you are building upon what has already been done. The rest just comes down to trust that Epic, or Unity, or Wargaming have competent programmers just like if I was to use the DirectX or Windows API I am putting trust in Microsoft.

What the middle-ware route allows you to do is get tools without building your own. I find that good tools that allows you to quickly and easily add content to an mmo is the key difference between a good MMO and a bad MMO. If you develop your own engine, you will have to mock something up in order to develop content like using Blender as a level editor which exports to the desired format. Something like the Hero Engine has really marvelous tools that would probably take me months if not years to develop.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13789

6/06/14 3:58:11 PM#31
Originally posted by Cleffy

I think for an indie, going the middleware route is much better than building your own game engine. You make a valid point that if you encounter some bug from using a method incorrectly, it may be difficult to track down. But you intrinsically take this risk all the time in programming because you are building upon what has already been done. The rest just comes down to trust that Epic, or Unity, or Wargaming have competent programmers just like if I was to use the DirectX or Windows API I am putting trust in Microsoft.

What the middle-ware route allows you to do is get tools without building your own. I find that good tools that allows you to quickly and easily add content to an mmo is the key difference between a good MMO and a bad MMO. If you develop your own engine, you will have to mock something up in order to develop content like using Blender as a level editor which exports to the desired format. Something like the Hero Engine has really marvelous tools that would probably take me months if not years to develop.

There's an enormous difference between using a library for which you have the source code and can track down the exact problem if you have a weird problem versus using one for which you don't have the source code and have to either try to reverse engineer what it does or scrap it and write your own if you have a weird problem.  If you buy a license for the full source code, you can be in the former situation, but that's very expensive.

There's also a big difference between licensing a game engine and using DirectX or OpenGL.  The former is something you could write yourself if you wanted to.  The latter is not, unless you're going to write video drivers for every single GPU that will run your game.

Using libraries that do exactly what you want is great.  But game development is supposed to be creative, so game engine designers can't anticipate everything that you would want to do.  You mention Hero Engine's content creation tools, and that's fine if what you want content to look like matches what the Hero Engine designers anticipated that content would look like.  But if you need something that the library doesn't provide, you're stuck with a choice of abandoning your cool ideas or scrapping their content designer to make your own.  Doing the former too often is a recipe for mediocrity; doing the latter too often for defeating the purpose of licensing a game engine.

Now, "too often" is a very important qualifier there.  There's no reason why you can't license a game engine, use it to do the things that match what you want, and write your own code to replace the portions that can't do what you want.  Plenty of games have done exactly that.

  ArChWind

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/19/11
Posts: 533

7/15/14 7:20:09 PM#32

Thought I would update this for anyone looking to use the indie.

BWT has removed the indie from the market. They no longer support any of the indie developers. I am locked out of their forums because I made a email change and can no longer access what was under the EULA my support network.

Keep in mind any of the users of this engine can fully develop under it BUT if you ever want to make a commercial product. Forget this engine.

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