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Community Spotlight: Seamless Building Interiors?

Posted by MikeB Thursday January 20 2011 at 10:31AM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why no seamless building interiors?" by jusomdude. In the thread, jusomdude wonders, well, why aren't there seamless building interiors in MMOs these days!?

After playing the superhero games or any game with large cities I've noticed that you can't seamlessly go into every building.

I think it would be a ton of work to make every building with an interior but why has no game done this?

GTwander feels object loading is the main barrier to accomplishing such a feat:

Object loading.

SWG had it to where you can enter basically any structure in towns, and every time you went into one there was a major hiccup where the game tried to load all the deco objects in the place. If you go to player towns you could enter any house that allowed you to, then exit, and enter others. Eventually you'd lag yourself out with the thousands of objects taken into consideration, even while outside of them.

To do something like this in modern games there would have to be a distinct lack of clutter, almost sterile environments. People would bitch about that in and of itself. "Sure you can enter any room in the game, but there is nothing there!". There would be hell to pay if there was that many objects + physics as well.

Even single-player games like Oblivion went the load in/out route for this very reason. It optimizes performance.

Axehilt feels it is an issue of efficiency:

Strikes me more as an efficiency issue.  I'm sure a game programmer would say, "It's possible, but it'll take x hours of my team's time.  And that's x less hours we can spend on other features."

General development technology increases won't really change that, unless it was technology which specifically applies to seamless interiors.  (which might happen if some game company gets it in their head to stubbornly implement it no matter what, and then shares their learnings.  It happens.)

Explorium asserts that this wasn't even an issue back in the day, that it is really contemporary MMOs that are deficient in this area:

Because older MMOs were more advanced than new MMOs. In UO and Asheron's Call and Istaria (Horizons), I could enter any building I wanted without a loading screen. Think oldschool SWG did too.

New MMOs are greatly devolved from the oldschool MMOs. Technology for MMOs went backwards.

Servers are much lower quality too, cause in UO/SWG/AC/Istaria I can/could meet anyone from all over the world, but new MMOs can't do that because technology is too bad today to support that. EVE is only exception to that.

We aren't actually in 2011, we are going back in time. At least as far as MMOs are concerned.

I too feel it has more to do with efficiency than anything else. Creating a mass of interiors especially in a modern era MMO with tons of buildings would be a lot of work and more specifically, art time, something that is at a premium during MMO development.

As another user noted, The Matrix Online tried this using technology they developedf or the game that allowed for randomly generated interiors to be built within the game's many many buildings. It was really cool being able to run into any building, but it was pretty obvious that they were lifeless and not created by hand, so I am not sure it was really worth doing it that way.

What are your thoughts on the lack of seamless building interiors? Share 'em in the comments below!