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MMORPG Game Concepts  » I'd like to co-design a game...

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134 posts found
  monochrome19

Novice Member

Joined: 1/09/13
Posts: 309

12/15/13 3:57:00 AM#61
Originally posted by sunandshadow

 


Originally posted by monochrome19 If your looking for a writer I'd be glad to help if your interested. I've never written for a game though. Most of my work is various/random short stories that I think up.
Writing for a game is a bit different than writing a story.  Well, some games have little books inside which are basically short stories.  And item flavor texts are standard prose.  But other than that it is more like writing a play or screenplay - almost all dialogue, plus some stage directions.

 

More importantly, what genres do you write?  Chances are high (though not 100%) that this would be a fantasy or science fantasy game.

 

Here's an example of an assignment to write a piece of a game script that I made up recently for someone who wanted to add game-specific pieces to his writing portfolio.  I deliberately made it hard, but, the writer would have a month and the ability to ask all the questions they wanted in order to get it written.

 


 

Science Fiction Game Writing Assignment:

The game is an adventuring party RPG set in space.  The main character is the captain of a spaceship which he/she has earned control of from a mercenaries' guild in the beginning of the game.  The ship is crewed by NPCs that have been recruited by the player in the previous part of the game.  What you are to write is a plot event that takes place in the middle of the RPG.

The event: The player is informed of an upcoming conference between the three largest space forces (One the military of a monarchy with a parliament and the royal family as popular figureheads; one the military of their semi-friendly neighbor an empire with a dictatorial oligarchy, and the smallest of the three is the player's own faction, the mercenaries' guild.)  This conference is an annual event which usually means nothing aside from some polite politicking.  But this year people within the dictatorial oligarchy have been pressing to start a war with the monarchy.  They can't get majority support to just start a war out of nowhere, so instead this faction wants to cause an incident at this conference that will make the kingdom take a warlike action.  The NPC captain of the oligarchy's ship is actually a friend and/or romantic interest the player has met previously.  He/she is not part of the faction that wants war, but his/her superior officer is, and the oligarchy's captain will lose his/her job or face court-martial if he/she disobeys the orders from his/her superior officer, even if the captain realizes these orders will start a war.  What the oligarchy's captain doesn't know is the other half of the plan: to sacrifice him/her as a scapegoat to keep the war-mongers' reputation clean after the incident occurs.  The player is supposed to prevent war at all costs, but can personally choose to deliver this warning and help the oligarchy captain escape this trap if possible.

What to write: outline plus full script following that outline for the sequence from the player's ship arriving at the space station where the conference is being held, through some plot branches, to the point where the oligarchy's captain either has to return home to face punishment, has to abandon their ship and flee with the player, or other ending(s) of the writer's choice.  Of particular importance is inventing the details of the war-starting incident planned by the war-mongering faction.  Please note any dialogue exchanges which should affect the player's relationship score with an NPC or faction.

 


 

I write fantasy primarily. Though I try to stray from the Tolkien style occasionally. Writing of elves and dwarfs get a bit drab after a while, especially since everyone seems to do it. If you like, I can give you my dA which has a few dated pieces. And if game writing is similar to writing a play I should have no problem, I've written one before. However, I despise Sci-Fi. Well, that might be too strong of a word but I was never able to get into it. If this is a Sci-Fi game I fear I wont be able to write anything remotely intriguing. If your willing to offer an assignment of a different genre I'd be more than willing to try.

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 4:43:59 AM#62

@ZombieKen Ooo I really want to play with that suit! *grabby hands*

@monochrome19 Ok, fantasy example assignment tomorrow evening. *falls over asleep*  (Personally I don't see a big difference between fantasy and science fiction; a dragonrider in one and a mecha pilot in the other are pretty much interchangable, and mercenary soldiers are the same whether one is a mage or one is a starship pilot, but they do have some difference in flavor.  I have a minor preference for fantasy over science fiction myself, though I do like both.)

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 12773

12/15/13 7:50:59 AM#63

If you do actually try to create a game, then I wish you luck.  But I'd like to offer some advice:

1)  Clarify the broad strokes of what the game is going to be about very early on.  Don't let everyone think he's working on his dream game with a bunch of people thinking it's going to be a bunch of mutually exclusive things.  You're not a politician just trying to get past the next election without regard to whether disaster comes later.  If one person working on the game think it's going to be purely PVE, and another thinks it's going to be full loot PVP, you're setting yourself up for massive infighting and people quitting the project later.

2)  Make sure that you have people who can do the hard parts on board before people put a ton of work into easy stuff that lots of people can do.  No game ever failed to launch solely for lack of people who could write quest text.  Lots of games have failed far into the project when people realized that they didn't have anyone who could do passable animations, or that they needed to modify the game engine and didn't have anyone who could do it.  If you're making an MMORPG, you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things.

Don't get the idea that you're license some engine that will do all of the hard stuff for you.  If you want to do something and the game engine you're using already has the capability to do it the way you want it, then go ahead and use it.  But regardless of the engine you use, unless you're trying to make a mediocre, generic clone--which ought to be grounds for canceling the project immediately--you're going to run into something that you need but the engine isn't built for.  When you do, don't just ignore it and work on other stuff instead.

  User Deleted
12/15/13 10:22:29 AM#64
Originally posted by Quizzical

If you do actually try to create a game, then I wish you luck.  But I'd like to offer some advice:

[...]

Don't get the idea that you're license some engine that will do all of the hard stuff for you.

[...]

But regardless of the engine you use, unless you're trying to make a mediocre, generic clone--which ought to be grounds for canceling the project immediately--you're going to run into something that you need but the engine isn't built for.  When you do, don't just ignore it and work on other stuff instead.

 

RE: Hard stuff for you

I agree.  And from personal experience I would add that using a game engine* that does have some of the hard work already done, the more restrictive the development environment becomes.  In adopting a game engine, the developer also adopts  the design decisions of the people who designed the game engine.

In some cases, tweaks to moderately complex changes can be done without breaking things.  Major changes can be disasterously slow or impossible to complete.

 

RE: mediocre generic clone

At this point I'd like to offer a comment.  An ad-hoc team that's very likely understaffed and underfunded, would be doing exceptionally well to pull off a 'mediocre generic clone'.  I've seen dozens of solo and/or small team startups fail miserably by being overly ambitious with project target.

I'd summarize with:  "Don't plan on doing anything that you don't clearly have the capability of doing, unless you are okay with the possibility that the project will never get done."

Oh, and ditto on not ignoring stumbling blocks.  If it can't be fixed now, it probably won't be fixed ever.

 

...

 

* Definitions since these aren't always obvious:

Rendering Engine - Provides 3D rendering functions.  Can range from a wrapper around OpenGL or Direct 3D, to a more inclusive system handling rendering, lighting, and user interface.

Game Engine - Provides a framework for creating a specific type of game.  It includes 3D rendering PLUS game specific functionality.

 

  User Deleted
12/15/13 12:43:30 PM#65

I'm bored, stuck waiting to leave to go paint a house we're selling, so let me touch on a topic as quick note onto why TMMOKit wouldn't be a good platform for a sandboxy game.  Consider this FYI and feel free to ignore if it's not of interest.

 

All the world is a stage.  Well actually, it's a database, or more likely a collection of databases.

 

In conventional MMORPG configuration, the unit of logical division of databases is what's called a Realm (or what people think of as a 'server').  Even if sharding (subdivision of a world into multiple copies of zones) is used, a realm is still a realm and all shards share the same database.

 

Realm databases are dynamic, meaning that the information in the database changes.  This way on server reboots the character information is stored and retrieved as needed.

 

There can be a master database shared by all realms, but this database is static, sort of a master information reference that the realm uses in order to know things like what the stats are on a piece of armor.

 

Changing information in a realms dynamic database only affects a single realm.  If you roll a character on 'Apple', the same character is not created on 'Banana'.

 

Why all this second grade stuff on databases?  Because there's one point in sandbox games that is critical.

 

In order for player characters to change the world (build, destroy, grow crops, etc) the changes they make have to be stored in the dynamic database, plus the changes they make must persist even if the player character is not logged into the game.

 

There are two major conflicts in doing so with TMMOKit.  There is no dynamic database for a realm that persists between reboots.  The whole world resets back to baseline.

 

Characters can login to any realm, they don't live and die on one.  Their database is stored on a special server, extracted from the character server and installed on a realm when logging in, and then extracted from the realm and stashed back on the character server on logout.

 

The result is a problem.  If you build a house and then logoff, the house will be gone on next server reboot since there is no realm specific dynamic database, and because your character won't exist on the world until next login.

 

I mention this because I don't want any misunderstandings.  I'm more than willing to contribute, but most of my existing work is based on TMMOKit.  Even if I could donate an engine and framework, what I have won't work properly, nor would changing it to work be a trivial process.

 

Ugh, time to go painting.

 

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 2:16:56 PM#66

@ZombieKen I actually would design a game where players/characters are not tied to a server, though the player's account would contain data about whether they were approved to log into an 18+ server (assuming there were enough players for more than one server, which is a big assumption).  I always thought that the ability to easily migrate individual character to different servers and the ability to merge the populations of two older low-population servers were important things to design into an MMO.  Any houses built would be specific to a character's 'Estate', which is portable, not tied to a specific location in the game world.  So the house data would be part of that character's data, not a server's data.  The world would in fact not be dynamic as far as the server is concerned, only as far as how it is displayed to the individual player based on what quests they have accomplished.  So oddly enough, neither of those properties you describe should be a problem.  Edit: Well, the marketplace would have to be server-specific.  But the marketplace for each server could be like a super-character on the character server, or something like that.  Guilds, I'm not sure I want player-created guilds at all, but if they existed they also could be stored on the character server, either attached to the guild owner or as a pseudo-character.

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 2:31:39 PM#67
Originally posted by Quizzical

If you do actually try to create a game, then I wish you luck.  But I'd like to offer some advice:

1)  Clarify the broad strokes of what the game is going to be about very early on.  Don't let everyone think he's working on his dream game with a bunch of people thinking it's going to be a bunch of mutually exclusive things.  You're not a politician just trying to get past the next election without regard to whether disaster comes later.  If one person working on the game think it's going to be purely PVE, and another thinks it's going to be full loot PVP, you're setting yourself up for massive infighting and people quitting the project later.

2)  Make sure that you have people who can do the hard parts on board before people put a ton of work into easy stuff that lots of people can do.  No game ever failed to launch solely for lack of people who could write quest text.  Lots of games have failed far into the project when people realized that they didn't have anyone who could do passable animations, or that they needed to modify the game engine and didn't have anyone who could do it.  If you're making an MMORPG, you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things.

1) I agree with the importance of being honest, open, and prompt about establishing the core design.  But the question is "How early on?"  I feel that it would be inappropriate to determine too many details of the game design without giving team members a chance to submit suggestions and requests.  I _could_ start writing a design document right now based purely on my own ideas, but I don't want to exclude everyone else like that; I _like_ having a supply of ideas an opinions from others to weave into my design process.  And I've tried being the lone designer before - it just ends with me talking to no one but myself because the others wander away when they aren't invested in the concept because they haven't contributed to it.  But on the other hand I can say for sure that a full-loot PvP game isn't even on the table as an option, and won't ever be.  This is intended to be a solo-friendly, casual-friendly MMO hybrid between an interactive story RPG and a sandbox sim.  That part's firm.  If anyone hates it, get out of here and go make your own thread, lol.

2) MMO projects usually end up doing recruitment in multiple waves, and in an emergency it's possible to hire a freelancer or consultant to fill a 'last remaining hole' in the implementation.

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11358

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

12/15/13 2:55:53 PM#68
Originally posted by sunandshadow
Originally posted by Quizzical

If you do actually try to create a game, then I wish you luck.  But I'd like to offer some advice:

1)  Clarify the broad strokes of what the game is going to be about very early on.  Don't let everyone think he's working on his dream game with a bunch of people thinking it's going to be a bunch of mutually exclusive things.  You're not a politician just trying to get past the next election without regard to whether disaster comes later.  If one person working on the game think it's going to be purely PVE, and another thinks it's going to be full loot PVP, you're setting yourself up for massive infighting and people quitting the project later.

2)  Make sure that you have people who can do the hard parts on board before people put a ton of work into easy stuff that lots of people can do.  No game ever failed to launch solely for lack of people who could write quest text.  Lots of games have failed far into the project when people realized that they didn't have anyone who could do passable animations, or that they needed to modify the game engine and didn't have anyone who could do it.  If you're making an MMORPG, you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things.

1) I agree with the importance of being honest, open, and prompt about establishing the core design.  But the question is "How early on?"  I feel that it would be inappropriate to determine too many details of the game design without giving team members a chance to submit suggestions and requests.  I _could_ start writing a design document right now based purely on my own ideas, but I don't want to exclude everyone else like that; I _like_ having a supply of ideas an opinions from others to weave into my design process.  And I've tried being the lone designer before - it just ends with me talking to no one but myself because the others wander away when they aren't invested in the concept because they haven't contributed to it.  But on the other hand I can say for sure that a full-loot PvP game isn't even on the table as an option, and won't ever be.  This is intended to be a solo-friendly, casual-friendly MMO hybrid between an interactive story RPG and a sandbox sim.  That part's firm.  If anyone hates it, get out of here and go make your own thread, lol.

2) MMO projects usually end up doing recruitment in multiple waves, and in an emergency it's possible to hire a freelancer or consultant to fill a 'last remaining hole' in the implementation.

 

The key point of #2 is that your animations, storyline, and quest text are not the hard part; They are the time consuming part.
"///you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things" which also includes the art pipeline, game mechanics, world physics and every other aspect of your simulation engine.

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 3:01:56 PM#69
Originally posted by Loktofeit

The key point of #2 is that your animations, storyline, and quest text are not the hard part; They are the time consuming part.
"///you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things" which also includes the art pipeline, game mechanics, world physics and every other aspect of your simulation engine.

This is true.  Key infrastructure needs to get working at the beginning, and tasks that are going to take a lot of time can't be left until the end because they will delay everything else.  Different parts of the design are going to be more or less urgent, including some which will get postponed as expansion content only to be worked on after the game is successfully released and starts generating income.

  gobla

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1405

C'est la vie.

12/15/13 3:42:46 PM#70
Originally posted by Loktofeit

The key point of #2 is that your animations, storyline, and quest text are not the hard part; They are the time consuming part.
"///you need to add network code, server code, and databases to the list of hard things" which also includes the art pipeline, game mechanics, world physics and every other aspect of your simulation engine.

Really depends on your background though.

I feel confident that given enough time ( several years most like ) I could do the network code, server code, databases and a simulation engine. Certainly not AAA level or anywhere near that, but nonetheless working.

But making textures for everything? Worse, 3D models? Even worse, animations? Fuck that shit.

We are the bunny.
Resistance is futile.
''/\/\'''''/\/\''''''/\/\
( o.o) ( o.o) ( o.o)
(")("),,(")("),(")(")

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 3:47:50 PM#71

Fantasy Game Writing Assignment (for monochrome19 or anyone else interested)

 

The Game: A fantasy MMO where players can join NPC factions and then earn their way up the ranks within these factions.  Factions are not interchangable red-vs-blue teams; each needs to have a distinct philosophy and attitude.  Each factions should function to bring together players with similar personalities and interests.  Factions play an important part of the roleplaying and interactive story parts of the game; they are the closest thing the game has to classes, and each is tied to a village within the game, providing motivation for players who belong to that faction to think of that village as their avatar's hometown (not where they were born, but the one they will settle down to as an adult and live between adventures).  Faction also provides motivation and story context for PvP (plus visual symbols of belonging).

The World: The world of the game is composed of many 'fragmilands', most of which have only one village where NPCs live.  A fragmiland is an island much like a mini "flat earth" floating in "the airsea", an air-filled space where airfish swim and there are asteroid reefs, etc.  Players can travel between fragmilands by riding flying mounts like dragons and pegasi, or by riding on an NPC-run flying wooden sailing ship.

The People: The playable race in this setting is called WildWrights (at least, the largest civilization of them calls themselves that).  They are a nature-elemental magical race.  Young ones are mortal, but as they gain mastery of their magic they have the potential to become immortal and almost godlike.  Their natural abilities include taming and breeding monsters, growing plants, and magical body modification (e.g. many who have mastered the basics of their magic choose to have animalistic tails).  They consider themselves to have a racial obligation/vocation of "increasing life", especially in terms of diversity of individual ecosystems and the number of species in the whole world.  So that's the default "good" alignment for the race, and some factions should be about different styles of increasing life; most NPCs enourage the player to join one of these alignments.  There are two "bad" alignments, stasis (which is related to concepts like dogma and fascism/dictatorship, tradition and ritual, extreme restrictive order with no change allowed) and entropy (which is related to chaos, parasitism/vampirism, natural disasters, and insanity).  Instead of the usual heroic path, players can choose to follow a path to becoming like a "supervillain" by joining a faction associated with one of these two negative alignments.

What To Write: Create a faction. Describe the faction's philosophy, at least two of the faction's major NPCs, the faction's home village, the type of player who would love this faction, and the colorscheme and symbolism of this faction's emblem and tabard/uniform (which players earn the right to wear).  Also propose at least 5 possible quests the player could do to build reputation with this faction and demonstrate with their character the attitude and philosophy associated with this faction.

  sacredfool

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/04/07
Posts: 672

12/15/13 4:00:33 PM#72

(not a game designer at all,  feel free to ignore this post as it'll be very mean but i'll just using common sense here)

Your title is misleading. You are looking for someone to create your game for you. The only way to get that done is to pay someone, so rather then convincing us, go convince a bank and enough people on kickstarter that your idea deserves to be created. 

 

Generally, I love how you totally ignored everything Quizzical said by posting that last post. Why look for someone who can write quests if you don't have people who can write and draw the game those quests will exist in? 

 


Originally posted by nethaniah

Seriously Farmville? Yeah I think it's great. In a World where half our population is dying of hunger the more fortunate half is spending their time harvesting food that doesn't exist.


  User Deleted
12/15/13 4:10:55 PM#73

Super-server architecture has a few advantages. They eliminate the need for server mergers, character transfers, and cross-server grouping. I have mixed feelings on community impact.

edit: Come to think about this, cross-realm characters and super-servers aren't equivalent. Super-servers sound more like single re alm with sharded zones. Same advantages, different architecture.

Bah tablet typos.. pardon

  User Deleted
12/15/13 4:37:40 PM#74
Originally posted by gobla
... but nonetheless working.

But making textures for everything? Worse, 3D models? Even worse, animations? Fuck that shit.

 LOL  Programmer art.  :-)

  User Deleted
12/15/13 4:38:26 PM#75

dupe ignore

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 4:56:46 PM#76

@sacredfool Actually, I think that if you had more of a background in game design my response to Quizzical and the order in which I'm approaching things would seem a lot more "common sense" to you.  I don't feel that I ignored what Quizzical had to say at all; I agreed with the majority of it.  The simple fact is that we don't yet know what people we have, with what skills, nor do we know for sure that there's any significant task that we will be unable to recruit someone to do.  As far as Kickstarter goes, it is an awesome site but you can't kickstart a vague concept with no staff.  Kickstarter is for posting designs that are a lot more finalized than what we have here, to be developed by a staff which is also more finalized than what we have here.  We aren't remotely ready for kickstarter, though we might possibly be in 3 or 4 months.

The thread title, yes, I agree that it has become inaccurate; when I wrote the original post I had no intention of starting a game project, specifically because I don't want people to make my game.  What I originally wanted was to collaborate with 2 or 3 other designers to playfully create only the writing and concept art portion of an MMO design.  The rest of this happened pretty much without any pushing from me, I'm just going along with it because it seems fun.

The quests, that is not an assignment for this game project, it is an example assignment that any writer can choose to respond to if they want to provide an example of their game-specific writing.  Theoretically it could be used in this game project, but it's not confirmed yet that we're going to go with my WildWright story and world; we might come up with something totally different.  However I would say that yes, it's definitely appropriate to develop the story portion of a game concept first, because it costs the least to do and is the easiest to change around later to fit the actual game that emerges.  (That's the common sense part.)  Story, concept art, and design document are the first three things to start working on in any game development process because they help communicate the vision to the whole team, getting everyone on the same page mentally so they can create together.  Story, concept art, and documentation also provide inspiration for things like level design, combat design, modeling and texturing, and even the internal structure of the data file associated with each avatar character.  Documentation in particular creates an organized record of design decisions which is vital for a programmer trying to figure out what pieces of code the game is going to need and how they are going to interact with each other.  Being able to look at a blueprint for the game on paper allows all team members to identify potential problems and suggest solutions or improvements before time is wasted making things that don't work.

(TLDR: Yay planning!  It's cheap, useful in multiple ways, and common sense to do first :) )

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 5:06:20 PM#77
Originally posted by ZombieKen

Super-server architecture has a few advantages. They eliminate the need for server mergers, character transfers, and cross-server grouping. I have mixed feelings on community impact.

edit: Come to think about this, cross-realm characters and super-servers aren't equivalent. Super-servers sound more like single re alm with sharded zones. Same advantages, different architecture.

Bah tablet typos.. pardon

I suppose an 18+ 'server' with no chat filtering and a 13+ 'server' with heavy moderation could be considered shards or channels rather than separate servers.  I'm not sure I've ever seen shards with separate auction houses, but that's not a necessary design element, it could be all one global marketplace.

Honestly, I find it difficult to imagine having so many players that it would be necessary to have multiple game servers, or having the resources to run multiple copies of an MMO.  It seems like the kind of thing where one would have to design it to be extensible later but might never actually need to implement that extensibility.

Actually I read back over your earlier post, I'm a bit puzzled by the idea of a player data file being installed on a game server when a player logs in.  Isn't that really inefficient?  Why is it done that way?

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 12773

12/15/13 6:41:19 PM#78
Originally posted by sunandshadow

2) MMO projects usually end up doing recruitment in multiple waves, and in an emergency it's possible to hire a freelancer or consultant to fill a 'last remaining hole' in the implementation.

Remember that the usual inducement to get additional people to join a project is a paycheck.  Will amateurs be eager to join a project in which the major design decisions are already in place and can't be changed?

Also, you can hire more artists or more writers or more people that do such bulk work late in a project.  But if you bring in a new person to work on the game engine late in the project, it's going to take him a long time to understand how things are already done, what you're trying to do, and why before he can really be productive.  Worse, making changes to the game engine late in the project can create massive amounts of work in restructuring everything else.

Let me give you an example from a project that I'm working on.  (If this makes your eyes glaze over, just skip to the last paragraph for the punch line.)  The natural coordinate system for a game world has the x- and y- axes parallel to the ground and the z-axis going up into the sky.  When using OpenGL, you're forced to have window coordinates in which the x-axis is left/right, the y-axis is up/down, and the z-axis is into/out of the screen.  So at some point, you're going to have to do something mildly awkward to convert.

There are three options, really, of which change of basis matrix has to make the conversion.  You can do it in going from an objects internal coordinate system to world coordinates, in going from world coordinates to camera coordinates, or in going from camera coordinates to clip coordinates (which get converted automatically to window coordinates, so you can't do it there).

When I started, I saw no compelling reason to pick one over the other, so I did the awkward conversion from object coordinates to world coordinates.  It let things get up and running and seemed to work.  Then when I started trying to animate characters, it was getting messy to the point that it was incomprehensible.  At that point, I stopped and realized that computing a matrix to go from object coordinates to world coordinates had to be done an enormous number of times--once for every single surface in the world that I wanted to draw.  Computing the matrix to go from world coordinates to camera coordinates is only done in one place.  While that one place is tricky, it could be handled by copious comments, done correctly once, and just work after that.  This was a far better option, but I hadn't realized it until I was well into the project.

If you didn't follow that, that's kind of the point.  Well into a project, you're going to come up with situations where you realize that something is structured the wrong way and absolutely has to be changed or else you're not going to be able to finish.  I had to redo hundreds of orientation matrices to fix the problem in my game.  But that sure beats creating massive amounts of artwork first, and then having to change the way that tens of thousands of things are structured later--and introducing more bugs than you can keep track of in the process.

  User Deleted
12/15/13 7:11:59 PM#79
Originally posted by sunandshadow
Originally posted by ZombieKen

Super-server architecture has a few advantages. They eliminate the need for server mergers, character transfers, and cross-server grouping. I have mixed feelings on community impact.

edit: Come to think about this, cross-realm characters and super-servers aren't equivalent. Super-servers sound more like single re alm with sharded zones. Same advantages, different architecture.

Bah tablet typos.. pardon

I suppose an 18+ 'server' with no chat filtering and a 13+ 'server' with heavy moderation could be considered shards or channels rather than separate servers.  I'm not sure I've ever seen shards with separate auction houses, but that's not a necessary design element, it could be all one global marketplace.

Honestly, I find it difficult to imagine having so many players that it would be necessary to have multiple game servers, or having the resources to run multiple copies of an MMO.  It seems like the kind of thing where one would have to design it to be extensible later but might never actually need to implement that extensibility.

Actually I read back over your earlier post, I'm a bit puzzled by the idea of a player data file being installed on a game server when a player logs in.  Isn't that really inefficient?  Why is it done that way?

 

Sorry, I guess I'm thinking out loud.  I'm trying to get a handle on if a flexible realm system (either cross-realm characters or super-servers with shards/channels) could be implemented in a way that meets objectives (which I don't really understand, but that's to be expected since they aren't formally defined yet that I know of).

 

On the next topic.  In conventional design a realm has a maximum simultaneous connection capacity.  This is normally forced by hardware / software bottlenecks (typically CPU and RAM) of the server cluster that the realm runs on.  Depending on design and hardware, single realms can have capacities ranging from five hundred to five thousand or more (a huge range).  At the low end of the range, it's very easy for demand to overshoot capacity.

 

Flexible realm systems (cross-realm characters or super-servers) work past the bottleneck allowing manual load balancing (people can't get on 'Apple' because it's full so they go to 'Banana') or automatic load balancing (a user wants to travel to 'Zone-X' and the super-server puts them in one that is occupied but not full).

 

See why I was looking at this?  Just working out problems that haven't happened yet.

 

On the last topic.  If a flexible realm system is used with cross-realm characters, pulling the character data off an archive server and installing it on the chosen realm is the norm (at least to my knowledge).  If your character was rolled on 'Apple' but the next time you want to load it on 'Banana' then the data for the character has to be somewhere that 'Banana' can get to it, not on 'Apple'.

 

You might not notice it as a player, but some systems even do this on changing zones.  You portal to 'Zone-X' on the same realm, but you've actually jumped from one box to another in the server cluster.  It all happens very fast.

 

Pardon that I'm jumping the gun.  It's helping me work out some of my own problems with my game.  Also, now that brain-fog is clearing it feels good to be thinking again.

 

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 423

 
OP  12/15/13 8:08:58 PM#80

@zombieken I have no problem with you thinking out loud about whatever you want to think about. :)  I was just thinking, a player's data is a database entry or linked set of database entries, right?  Wouldn't it be more efficient to have all that data live in a database-server and just have the game server query the database for the data it needs for the zone the player is in, or when the player unfolds their estate onto the ground for the data about the estate?  Most of the time the game doesn't need most of the player's data.  On the other hand if there was no reason to conserve how much data was on the game server, you'd just put all of it there to start with.

 

@Quizzical Yes, I was definitely considering using paychecks to fill any holes in development if we can't recruit a volunteer capable of filling them.  This would be an ideal use of kickstarter funding (aside from hardware and bandwidth and stuff for when beta players are allowed in, and other costs associated with the period before the game is generating enough income to pay for its ongoing expenses and start paying back team members for their contributions).  Also, we don't know who all we will get as volunteers, there may be a person or two who volunteers some money.

Re: your example, I think I followed it, although I was wondering why not change the game's up-down axis to be Y once you know you're using open gl - but maybe some of the other third-party software had the up-down axis as z, making consistency impossible.  I agree that it's inevitable that choices which seem ok will end up causing big headaches and need to be reworked.  And it's good to have a plan in place for dealing with this kind of problem.  I think I was just saying something about how writing and concept art are ideal places to start because they are the easiest to rework.  Finished in-game art is more challenging, but there are two advantageous things about it.  One is that you tend to end up with a lot of similar files, and if you need to make one sweeping change sometimes this can be automated.  For example, one of my largest game-art-related accomplishments was the creation of a vector paper doll system.  I established a consistent color palette at the beginning, and this ended up saving me a ton of work.  Each color in a file is saved as a number in an svg file, and if there are 5 shades in an image, 5 search-and-replaces will get you an automatically "color-rotated" version of the image, without the problems caused by color rotation in a non-vector program like Photoshop.  When there are 20 colors of every body part in the system, only needing to make each body part in the base color is incredibly efficient.  This applies to 3D texturing too - if one establishes a standard set of body parts to build all monsters out of, and a standard color range of textures for each body part, it becomes amazingly fast to build new monsters complete with texture in a whole rainbow of colors.  You can even then take monster parts and incorporate them into player clothing and building decorations and anything else.  Still not quite as awesome as a Spore-type monster creation system, but much conceptually simpler.

But yeah, it is impossible to avoid all bad decisions and wastes of time, and also nonfunctional to get paralyzed with fear of making mistakes, so I think the best thing is to keep calm, be systematic and stay organized because it helps make problems easy to fix later, and do what you can at the current moment, after evaluating what is least likely to make a mess if you do it too soon.  It's a giant exercise in prioritizing and contingency planning, but not horribly difficult.

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