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Is MMO? Why MMO?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by CarterG81, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    I wanted to throw in my two cents on a topic, and found that this comment would be more appropriate on the Game Design section than the networking section.

    This post is about questioning the legitimacy of making a MMO. It isn't designed to discourage you or stifle your dream. Instead, it is designed to encourage innovation and open the doors of creativity by approaching a pragmatic view of core game design.

    TLDR: Be Lazy, but not lazy enough to read this thread you jerk! Question WHY your game needs to be MMO. Maybe it can be better than MMO, by NOT being a MMO!

    Is MMO? Why MMO?

    Anytime I take on a project, I try to work on my greatest strength and what I think is the greatest power of any intellectual: LAZINESS.

    I immediately try to innovate ways to reduce as much of the work as possible. Whether it's chopping code or dicing features, expanding scope or stringing it by the neck- "How can I save time, effort, and energy?"

    With that said (and not expounding on it at all) the first thing I would do when designing a MMORPG, is seeing if you can cut all the weaknesses of developing a MMO or strip the design down to its most basic elements and ask "Why MMO?"

    This is what this post is about.
    To start this process, it is best to look at other games and ask two questions: "Is MMO?" and "Why MMO?"

    Is MMO?
    There is a common complaint among the MMORPG playerbase:
    "This isn't an MMO... ...because of [reason]."
    A common example would be Dungeons & Dragons Online, criticized by many for its heavy instancing.

    Sometimes the complaining parties are idiots, other times they have a good point and are arguably correct!
    So once more, we go backwards to answer our two questions above...by asking: "What is MMO?"

    The entire purpose of the MMO term is a design concept. The idea that you do not play alone. The idea that the world you inhabit continues on after you leave. The idea of permanent progress and permanent mistakes. The idea of public Trade, bar room chats, and private messages. The idea of simultaneously playing with others and playing alone- the FEELING of social interaction and social involvement. The CHOICE of who to interact with and when/if.

    There are at least two extremes to the social mechanic. On one end are the solo-ists. Those few who want to play alone, around others. On the other end are the groupies. Those few who absolutely MUST be grouped or they will log. Everyone else lies somewhere between this spectrum, or possibly outside it, transcending it, or omnipresent all over it. (I wanted to cover my bases and show that there is more to it than this vague generalization of complex players.)

    What YOU want to do, is to dissect your design, prioritize your features, and take a fresh look outside the box.

    Why MMO?
    What does MMO mean to you? How does that meaning relate to your game? How does taking away that feature effect your features?

    Most importantly: What happens to those features when you transform the MMO into Multiplayer? Singleplayer?

    What games inspired you? What games made you FEEL MMO? What (mmo) games made you think "Not really a MMO..."? Investigate those reasons and put them to the test if you can. There are many games, you may be able to isolate features based on specific games, or find a common theme which explains what you think kills the MMO.

    So let's take yet another step backwards, and investigate those inspirations, that competition, the games which came before yours and the common criticisms attached.


    Is MMO? - In Your Opinion.
    Having defined what YOU want from a MMO, do your diligent research. Not just playing the games and thinking of its design, not just targeting MMO's (but also targeting multiplayer games in general), but by digging into forums and listening to criteria for what makes or breaks the MMO.

    So what makes an MMO, in general?

    An authoritative server? Certainly not. Planetside 2 has many of the most important components on the client. What a trusting server! Besides, for cheaters to ruin a MMORPG, there has to BE a MMORPG first.

    No Save Scumming? If you sell that gear, die by that mob, lose that PvP match- it's forever recorded in history. There is no loading your old save. There is no reset button. Yet there are games, often roguelikes, who have the same components. That certainly doesn't make them MMO...or does it? I have played a roguelike or two that gave me that "MMO" feel because of certain features. (I say this, because no one can tell you that you are wrong for something to feel "MMO". YOU define what this means. What YOU like about the experience.)

    Likewise, I have heard people comment about MMORPG's which they argued would be better as singleplayer or cooperative multiplayer experiences. One prime example is SWTOR. This game plays like a singleplayer game. Almost like Bioware created another mass effect and then added in the MMO. I hear very often from fans of the game, especially at release, that the game wasn't much of a MMO and should have just been a different game. It going F2P so quickly after release speaks to this idea.

    What about that persistent world? Once you leave, that world will still be there. Come back later, and it probably hasn't changed much. However, very often you hear of a MMO user "return to their MMO" and find their friends list empty. Everyone they knew moved on, and it just "Isn't the same anymore". Does this mean the people are the MMO? In other words: the social features? Chats, Guilds, Dense Social Areas? It is extremely common to hear an Ultima Online veteran emit nostalgia for their time hanging out in front of the Britain bank all day.

    What about the massively multiplayer experience?
    In a very large amount of MMORPG's, the gameplay is instanced- in normal gameplay you will never see more than 4-8 party members at any one time. Even in PvP instances, this number only multiplies by 2x-3x, which is still often LESS than some of the larger FPS games (ex. the common 32v32 FPS server).

    Is MMO? - Is that MMO really all that massive?

    When you are having (literal) massive battles with HUNDREDS of users at once, like a daily encounter in Dark Age of Camelot- it is hard to argue the game isn't a true MMO. However, these games are few and far between.

    Nearly all MMO's, including those large ones, split their playerbase into multiple servers. Why is this important? When creating a MMO, you aren't looking at supporting millions of players. Not really, anyway. You are looking at supporting thousands. WoW doesn't have a bajillion servers for no reason.

    Ask yourself this question: Does WoW change if there is one server, instead of a hundred? Absolutely not. Nothing really changes. I have seen games with a single, packed server. You often saw this in 2007 when MMORPG's would have a huge rush of players packing in 30+ servers, and a month later those same servers being destroyed-- combined into 5+ servers. Then 2-3 servers. Finally just one, with a second PvP server with a dead population. However that ONE was usually enough to make the game feel still alive, and depending on the age of the game and design decisions in updates, potentially THRIVING!

    Why is this? Well, think about it. Think about the player's proximity. Count how many people you actually interact with on a daily basis. As hard as it is to believe, it is entirely possible to encounter significantly MORE unique players when playing a day of League of Legends, than a day of World of Warcraft. How is this possible though? LoL isn't a MMO. It's a match-making game with only 10 total players at a time, no persistent world, no open world, no trade, no major chatting in the capital city.

    Is MMO? - Wow, how small is massive?

    Yet how many players are in that dungeon with you in WoW? How many users are grinding XP with you in Everquest or looting newbs in Darkfall? Typically, it's around 4-6 users. Those same users stick around, with an occasional leaver. So does this mean that a unique user sticking around makes MMO? In LoL, unless you friend them, they are gone and replaced with 9 other new users.

    Even during chat in large capital cities, how many people are actually participating? The criteria being a single line of text spoken. Start a lively conversation and count. It won't be in the thousands. In fact, let's take a step backwards and just analyze our proximity.

    /Zone. "There are 66 players in this capital zone." Only 66? But this is a MMO, with millions of players! Hmm, let's go to a combat area! /Zone. "There are 32 players in this combat area." Less? Maybe they are all in the tougher dungeons! /Zone. "There are 13 players in this zone."

    Unbelievable. That is what I thought the first time I discovered this and truly thought about it. How can this be? I read reviews and articles talking about tens of thousands, sometimes millions of players. You quickly realized the obvious: Most are not logged in simultaneously. Alright, but I read an article about tens of thousands of simultaneous users! More discovery: Server cap is at 2000, or Instance Cap is at 200.

    I remember when Champions Online released, each zone would have 4+ instances of itself. Wait a minute... but this is MMO! Time for more discovery... Running around, you see about 0-4 people fighting wolves in the forest as you travel from one zone to another.

    So what gives? At any moment in time, a single server has only thousands of players at most. Among those thousands, at any given moment each zone has only hundreds of players at most- and with the exception of player hubs like capital cities, each zone has only double digits (and often the LOWER digits). Within that large zone, those scores of players are scattered about. So if you are in a full group, you are looking at 4-6 players and a few passer-biers.

    Why MMO? - The Social Hubs? The illusion of massive?
    Obviously the idea that you aren't actually playing with all that many people doesn't just kill the MMO. These games are still MMO, still feel MMO.

    Hopefully thinking about all of this and comparing it to multiplayer games, where you often have a very similar proximity towards players, you have a better idea of what design components and features make MMO.

    So now that you may have a better idea as to what MMO is, perhaps it is time to point the finger at your game and declare, "Why MMO?"

    Let's pretend you isolated your feeling and it led to...oh let's say three things: Trade, Chat, and easy PUG (Pick-Up Groups). Pretending this is 'your' reason, how does it differ from, oh...say a match-making system like LoL or a player-hosted server like most FPS games?

    This is the time for innovation. Whatever your opinion is, whatever your thoughts on the matter- can you think of ways to implement those features WITHOUT spending all that time working on the MMO component of programming?

    Take for example, instancing. Let's say that kills the MMO for you. Can you innovate a way to pull in the strengths of instancing with the illusion it is NOT instancing? Perhaps bringing in those strengths to a new system or game concept? Let's say that instancing isn't a problem for you. Well, then you figure out this and then that- and you discover an idea you're satisfied with. "Let's have a central player hub, but have it be separate from the rest of the game. It's basically one big chat client which centralizes players, allows them to socialize, and then they link together in multiplayer (not MMO). It's a hybrid MMO/Multiplayer game that is easier to create!"

    Obviously you may hate that idea. The example may be an awful one and totally fail. The point I am making is to think outside the box. Grab what you want from MMO, and think of ways to implement it.

    Wait...what about raiding, you NEWB?!
    This is probably the one feature most MMORPG's have that actually make their proximity grow enough to justify the MMO. Raids can be incredibly large, and fun experiences for many. Although I myself do not care for them- you might. Or maybe you want to remake DAoC and those 300v300v300 battles are important to you. In that case, this entire thread is probably worthless to you. Although you should still question the need for an authoritative server. Many here will scream, "YOU CANT TRUST THE CLIENT!" but major games have in the past and have worked well despite it. Can you identify why that might be? (ex. Planetside 2 & I believe it was...?Battlefield4?, both of which allow client-side hit prediction and still worked fine- arguably even better for most users because of it).

    Still, ask yourself- "How important is raiding to my MMO?" as well as innovative thoughts, "Is there a way to allow raiding, but still not have to make it MMO? Battlefield has up to 64 players on a server...can I do that instead or should I just go full MMO server instead?"

    Very often chopping even one major feature may be what you need to justify changing your scope. None of the gameplay has to suffer if you can find a way to innovate.


    I will now just abandon you with one brief statement:

    Game Design is about creating a user experience for the player to make them feel/think a certain way.
    If you can create that 'MMO' feeling without the complex MMO architecture, you not only give the player what they want- but you save yourself a ton of work in the process.
     
  2. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    I apologize if this post is messy or crappy.

    I did not put in a lot of effort into making sure it was quality, so forgive me if it sucks, rants needlessly, or is in general unfinished. I started typing this as a post in another thread, and then I transformed it into whatever this is now- in hope of broadening the minds of others by encouraging them to question "Why MMO?"

    Mainly because when I play MMO's these days, (and this is coming from a hardened MMO veteran for most of his life) I realized how crappy they are compared to singleplayer and multiplayer experiences. The same cloned, unimproved designs I played over ten to fifteen years ago with little actual innovation that didn't dumb down the genre. So much so, it has almost killed the genre for me. (Hell, it wasn't until the last 2 years that I even began playing singleplayer game. For MUCH of my hardcore gaming life, I was a "Multiplayer or no play." gamer.)

    I just wonder sometimes- "Why MMO"? Why not Better-Than-MMO, MMO? Why not some new genre which blends MMO with a better experience or more social interaction or community inspiration? Why not double MMO? Double-down on those naysayers!

    Prime Examples: Life is Feudal & Shrouds of the Avatar. Both of these games are Singleplayer, as well as Multiplayer, as well as (upon full release) MMO. Three in one. (Actually, more than that, as SotA has a Singleplayer-Offline AND a Singleplayer-Online experience. Both different.)

    The above two examples aren't very good, especially since SotA (so far) seems to play like a traditional MMO (rather than innovate). However, they're all I know of right now- since I don't really play games like I used to, ever since becoming a game dev :p
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
  3. jonkuze

    jonkuze

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    Well @CarterG81 we didn't get off to a good start... but that's all in the past now lol. I really like your post! esppecially this part:
    I feel that this is something I am aiming to do with my upcoming game "Heroes of Rune" and possibly another smaller unannounced browser game using a custom MOBA Framework, PUN and Photon Cloud.

    I absolutely love MMORPGs, but like you mentioned we need to ask ourselves what are the exact features about MMOs that we really enjoy that gives us the feeling of MMO.

    For me I always found it annoying trying to make friends in an MMORPG, I'd much rather not try to make a commitment to a Guild or Group of friends where I feel pressured to play because others are online at a given time. I always wanted to jump into an open world at my leisure where I can easily find others to play with just for that play session without any commitments. The only MMORPGs that did gave me a sense of belonging to a group without a commitment was "RF Online (due to the Faction Wars), Guild Wars (with Town HUBs to meet and Group for Instanced Quests), and FireFall (with a persistent world war between Players (Humans) vs AI (Chosen)).

    With all that in mind, I realized that the most important aspect of an MMO for me was "players joining forces quickly for a common goal or objective in a single play session". So it made sense for me to focus on creating a MOBA style game as I could always get this feature and satisfaction every-time...

    I also liked the feeling of roaming around an open world discovering new monsters, or raid bosses to fight, or interesting quests to complete. So with that, I decided to add something a little different to my MOBA game which is a Sandbox Mode, where Players join or create their own instance of a small open world to explore, hunt, raid, PvP, Socialize etc... giving players what I'd like to call a Micro-MMO experience...

    Nothing in my game world is persistent except for players achievements such as PvP Win / Lose, PvE Kills, (MOBA) Match Wins, and Battle Points (which ranks players by increasing Account Lvl based on BP earned).

    I think with all of this I should have a game that gives players a sense of satisfaction through persistent achievements earned in either gameplay mode, a sense of belonging with instant socializing, and a casual MMO feeling / experience.

    Sorry if the above sounded like a Plug for my game, but it really was the only way I knew how to relate through what I'm currently working towards. So thanks for the Post it's really good, and I think any Indie with a desire to make an MMO should stop and read this first, because it does make you think and ask yourself "do I really need 1000 players in one instance?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
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  4. Teila

    Teila

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    I agree, Carter. The term MMO has such a specific meaning these days and it doesn't fit every game out there that combines over 64 players and game mechanics. I scoured the internet to find a new label for our game, since we really don't fit the typical MMORPG genre but could find nothing. I use Small MMO, but that makes no sense. MO is locked into under 64 players...or less. Massive to me means 100's of thousands to millions of people playing the game at the same time. Not all multiplayer games are limited to 64 people or aim for thousands of players.

    We are also combining genres in our game, so we are not just a MMORTS or a MMORPG. We have a niche of players we want to attract but they are not even part of the name. ;) Well they could be but RPG no longer means role play, it means "hack and slash with some background story that manifests itself in a lot of hacking quests".

    We are also focusing on social interaction and building communities along with a strong storyline that the players can influence. Where does this fit into the genre or the name? Are we really a Virtual World with some role playing (as in playing a role) thrown in?

    I really need to invent a name that suits our particular genre. :)
     
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  5. Teila

    Teila

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    I tell developers that all the time. Same with huge worlds. Unless you have thousands upon thousands of players in one open world, which is unlikely for an indie MMO, you will find yourself with a world full of vast empty spaces. A player will wander for hours to find another player. Since at least a significant portion of MO players want to interact with others, this sort of defeats the purpose. Like you, I enjoy making friends and I am not fond of guilds or other goal oriented in-game organizations. I like just meeting people, having a casual friendship and moving on to meet more people. Yeah, sometimes this expands into a small group of friends, but guilds are just too much drama for me. :)

    Smaller number of players equates to a smaller world if socialization is a part of your game goal. Otherwise, why not just make an huge vast single player game?
     
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  6. jonkuze

    jonkuze

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    My primary goal is to offer a new, unique casual-competitive MOBA/RPG style game to a market of former MOBA / MMORPG Players who don't have the time to play these kinds of games. With no persistent levels players don't have to worry about anyone being better than them because they spent more time grinding levels, instead we use the MOBA reset leveling system in both Gameplay modes. With a Leaderboard, and focus on competitive gameplay, players can use the Sandbox mode to rank on the Leaderboard if they are unable to play the MOBA mode. They can also use the Sandbox to Socialize and make friends for the MOBA Battles. So the Sandbox serves as a HUB to connect with others and pass-time. If you made some friends you can go Battle together in the Arena, otherwise you can just casually hangout for as long as you like doing quests, hunting, raiding, collecting gold, purchasing new in-game items, buffs, and engage with other players in PvP combat if you want to (by invite only), all the while earning Battles Points for everything you do which increases your Account Level and Rank. So overall, yes Socializing is important, but I wouldn't say it's 100% necessary since this is a competitive but yet casual game that can be enjoyed with or without friends.
     
  7. Teila

    Teila

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    Sounds good, Kuroato. You have chosen a niche audience and are creating your game for them. That is wise, in my humble opinion. :) Good luck to you!
     
  8. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    MMO is simple, it's not up for debate: It means Massively Multiplayer Online game, and this means thousands of people (far beyond the basic ability of a single computer), doing complex interactions not just moving from A to B via a straight line.

    I think what most people envision from an MMO is actually just multiplayer - ie up to 256 players per server instance or such, which is doable without much expense.

    Personally I believe it means http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_mammal_observer
     
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  9. Teila

    Teila

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  10. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    This was a huge problem with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes upon release. It had packed servers, but the world STILL felt VERY empty- except in specific hubs (towns, major dungeons). This was because the world was freakin huge. Even NPC's could not fill the gaps between areas.

    A great example of making a world feel alive, IMO, was Kwaynos Hills in the original Everquest. There were roaming bears, rabid bears, rabid wolves, roaming wolves, roaming guards which dropped collectable cards, roaming merchants & preachers, roaming skeletons to collect for bones (to be sold to necromancers), and so much more. There were entrances to two friendly cities, a little inn with a blacksmith, a secret merchant, a dungeon (with an area to fight gnolls just outside it- slowing leveling your way into the dungeon and tackling its depths on level at a time), a connection to a zone which just beyond was another race's capital city, and a zone line towards an even BIGGER zone filled with wildlife and guard towers (The Karanas).

    Kwaynos Hills is probably a pretty small zone compared to anything in Vanguard. However, since it was small, it always felt alive.

    Really, "Is MMO? Why MMO?" and this discussion can benefit from the thread about making RPG worlds feel alive and inhabited.
     
  11. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    I disagree. You never see thousands of players, never interact with this many. Even in the largest of battles, such as DAoC's 300v300v300 battles, that is still less than 1000.

    So really, MMO has to mean hundreds, because no MMO in existence (at least that I know of) actually hosts thousands of players in a single instance/zone.

    I like Teila's definition. Since FPS games are never >64 players, and that is the typical cap for most multiplayer games (if even that) then anything >64 should be classified as MMO.

    Then again, like my OP states: rarely do you even get 64 players in a single area. The only exception are capital cities and possibly Raids (I know very little about raiding, so correct me if I'm wrong to think more/less 60 players participate).

    IMO, we should do away entirely with the term MMO. It means anything and everything, but also nothing at the same time. It has no real definition. Hell, we can't even agree what it means in this thread and I don't think anyone really cares what the answer is :p

    Planetside 2 has some pretty large battles. I wonder how many players are in some of the major battles during primetime, and how their server architecture is setup to handle them. It may be that Planetside 2 is more of a MMO than WoW- a game with a party size cap of...5? The same server architecture which interests me is DAoC's and some of the older games (UO, EQ).

    If this is doable without much expense, then MMO's are even more doable than I thought (and I encourage people to do them already). Most MMO's I have played rarely have more than 60 players even in capital cities.

    Honestly, I am beginning to believe there is no such thing as a MMO. It's a term equivalent to the Snipe. Mockery of newbies who want to make it (want to hunt snipe) included...
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
  12. Teila

    Teila

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    Okay, so let us think of a new game! We an be trailblazers and coin a new term. What should we call a multiplayer game that has more than 64 players and less than 1000? I realize that zones are often smaller than 1000 but MMO's do not define their numbers based on how many per zone but how many players they playing at one time, either per server or on all servers.
     
  13. jonkuze

    jonkuze

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    It's funny I think the first time I learned about MMO games using different channels / instances was in Firefall about 2 years ago when I was playing the Beta and wondering why the hell I saw soo much Global Chat going on but the number of people I saw didn't add up lol. I was abit furious about it lol... then I got over it and realized that there really isn't such a thing as so called MMO games hosting 1,000's of players in a single instance, they sure have some nice tricks to create the illusion for those who don't know any better.
     
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  14. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    MiloA game developer sets out to make a game. His abilities are... questionable. Which is to say, he probably couldn't pull off a nice Space Invaders clone. So, lacking the ability that comes with experience, the honed instincts of a true devotee to his craft... he looks for a gimmick.

    MMO is the ultimate gimmick.

    First Person Shooter? Fun.
    Massive Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter? Same level of fun, but IT'S ONLINE ZOMG EVERYBODY IS PLAYING THIZ.

    Etc.

    To be fair, there's probably a game that can't be played with AI controlled entities that has to be massively online... probably.

    Quick edit: Most successful games aren't online. Once you include non-computer games, this is a no brainer. I'd like to see some people of sufficient intellectual heft discuss why aspiring game devs are so fixated on MMO games. What is at the root of this obsession with what amounts to a small subset of gaming?
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  15. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Most successful games aren't roguelike either. Doesn't stop every indie and his mom from releasing roguelike platformers. As if adding the roguelike aspect means ZOMG EVERYBODY IS PLAYING THIZ.

    Some things are just more hip. Plus MMO's are popular, social, and often addictive. Having that illusion of a massive social experience in your game is alluring.

    I disagree that newbs look for gimmicks. More likely they look for their 'dream game' and lots of ppl play MMO's so their dream is what they love to play. Other newbs with different dreams arent as vocal because they ask questions related to common mechanics: AI, Physics, Scrolling, Gui. Only MMO's require MMO network architecture. So maybe it just SEEMS like there are alot of MMO newbs when really there are just lots of game dev newbs period. All the rest are lumped in another stereotype and just seem more practical, but only bc they arent mentioning their scope or genre.

    Even non-mmo game devs often say their scope was too large post mortem. Even for simple games.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
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  16. CarterG81

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    Exactly. There is no spoon. I mean MMO.

    Except games like DAoC or Planetside2.





    I counted 96 players just in this screenshot. Meaning there are more in the zone. Over 100 definitely. And I've seen bigger battles myself.

    Planetside 2, here is a common battle.



    These two games have their 'hubs' with gameplay. Players hub in battles.

    WoW, and similar MMORPG's which are just illusion MMO's, have their hub in capital cities. No gameplay involved. Just banks, trade, chatroom, and group forming. This is no more than a social client displaying a game avatar. Easy stuff compared to real MMO performance and server reqs. Could allow for less cheat prevention and more lag in social hubs. In gameplay hubs, lag is inexcusable. In harsh death penalty pvp or trade economy, cheating is inexcusable. In a social hub, so what if they cheat?



    It begs the question why you even need a server once they leave a social hub, if you have no need for a gameplay hub. The trade hub, I imagine is just a database with authoritative server alterations of said database.

    Maybe I just helped to invent a new term by classifying hubs. This is interesting to me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
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  17. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    Why would most aspiring devs dream game be MMO? Lots of people play lots of games, but MMO is the biggest draw for noobs.
     
  18. Ibzy

    Ibzy

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    May be seen as the ultimate challenge? But I dont think it is so much a big draw for "noobs" - who could ask a question about MMO networking without sounding like a newbie if they've never dealt with it before? You could have made an abundance of single and multiplayer games, but none of these need an authoritative server.

    In line with Kuroato's post, and Carter's opening post, I am wanting to pinpoint what it is about certain MMOs that grip us and give us that "MMO" feeling Carter mentions.

    I found myself wanting to create a true multiplayer online game wiht a feeling of an offline game. I know this sounds odd, but the idea of playing your favouring single player, open world game (Skyrim, Farcry, Arma and the like) with the addition of everyone else playing it being in the same world. Adding the social chat aspect, as well as teaming up for battles.

    My mind goes to early Rift - when a World Event would start, and literally hundreds of players would flock from across the game world to battle the colossus that no single player (no matter the level) could conquer alone. That is what MMO means to me.
     
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  19. jonkuze

    jonkuze

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    If single player feeling with ability to join others in quests or events is what gives you that mmo feeling, maybe you can still develop something like this without an Authoritative Server. What if you say allowed all players to Play the game Single Player starting out, but Players can meet up in HUBs that are hosted by other players with a max number of players to join that HUB be between 16 - 32 players. You can have a Master Server broadcast a Player Hosted HUB for others to Join, from the HUB people can chat decide if they want to move forward with a Quest or Join an Event with that Host, then a Multiplayer Session begins from there Hosted by a Master Client. Something like this could probably be done totally using PUN and Photon Cloud. No need to write any Server-Side Logic at all..
     
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  20. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    You guys are in the wrong business.

    You're talking about "that mmo feeling"... you should be writing love songs.
     
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  21. jonkuze

    jonkuze

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    Most people think MMO = 1000's of Players... while that may be true, it's probably not true for most if not all so called MMO's to host 1000's of players in a single instance... so MMO is really an illusion, with very smart Network Architecture making one feel their in a world with thousands of players... Sure maybe 1000s Online, but only 32-64 in your Zone or Instance.
     
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  22. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    I remember feeling like I was in a massive world when playing Legend of Zelda, because I just imagined it. And even playing an MMO you're still just imagining things.

    And even still, the online multiplayer component isn't "the game".

    I wonder if mmo-fan/devs could even explain the game they're playing in their mmo. What is it? How does it work? Or is it just "that mmo feeling" and there's nothin' else going on.

    I could take any game and you could make it online. Question is... why make it online? Shouldn't you have a really good reason from a design perspective?
     
  23. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Who said it is most? Also, why would you question people's personal opinion and taste?

    If MMO's are popular, then it would make sense some/many devs would want to make one. Why even question this or have an opinion on the matter?

    Great game design is nothing more than capturing a feeling and then delivering it to the player. That is the entire point of great game design.

    If any of my games turn out to be a gamer's love song, then I win at life.

    This reminds me of someone on the SotA forums. I created a thread about how I hated the melee sound effect- to the point of making the game playable. Someone told me in reply, "You can turn off sound effects and imagine them to be whatever you want them to be :)"

    I facepalmed so hard. You might as well tell someone to uninstall the game because they can just use their imagination to create a better game and play it in their head.

    I will reply to you the same way I replied to them: "If i wanted to use my imagination, I'd read a book."

    The online multiplayer component can certainly be "The game" because it gives the player that experience, that feeling, that they do not have if the component is removed. There is a big reason why World of Warcraft is successful, among hundreds of other successful MMO's. And it is not because of its amazing singleplayer gameplay.

    If capturing that feeling were so easy, if understanding what you experience is so rational- don't you think people would be better at delivering that experience in a clone? Very often a game is a huge success, a high quality project, because all of its components create this feeling. When people try to clone that game, they fail to gather the same success. You know why? It's because they failed to capture that feeling. It's because you can't just figure it out and go "Ohhh, THIS is why I feel that way. THIS feature is the key." Only an extremely talented game designer could identify why a game is what it expresses- and even then it might not be an easy task for even them.


    Exactly. You however can't take any game and make it "MMO".

    Many AAA developers have tried, much to the chagrin of many a MMO fan who laments "This is not MMO..."
     
  24. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    That is fantastic. I am really on to something with this "hub" concept.

    Rift hubs its players in its...Rifts (World Events). That is a unique experience all to itself.

    I think I am coming closer to figuring out a near universal definition for MMO. It's all about the hub. Does the game hub players somewhere?

    Obviously this theory is open to criticism and very well may be flawed. Immediately I can think, "LoL hubs its players into matchmaking matches." but then I remember, "Oh wait, that isn't a hub. The players never interact, socialize, or are even aware of the other people's presence. It's all behind the scenes matchmaking."

    So maybe for a game to "Hub" players, it needs to meet the criteria of allowing multiplayer interaction en mass.

    This would mean that while most MMORPG's and MMOFPS's would indeed meet the criteria for being a "MMO", it also means that even a game which has only a large social chat (even as a separate client) which helps people form PUG's, and then goes off on a P2P network (players host, players join host) for actual gameplay.

    It begs the question, is Neverwinter Night a MMORPG? It certainly allows for many players, and many people have already called it MMO. It indeed hubs players into their own servers, which can be entire worlds (which can even have gamemasters- or not). Huge mod support for those worlds, and communities which spawn on particular servers.

    Yet that is when the term gets dangerous. If NWN is a MMO, does that also mean all games (ex. FPS) which have persistent servers (which form communities) are MMO too- but only sometimes? (ex. Some player-hosted servers will have consistent users who play exclusively on a single server. Other servers will not.)

    I need to contemplate this some more. Especially since a lot of MMO websites include Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2 as MMO.


    edit: Nevermind, I seem to be in err. I was unaware of a MMO called "Neverwinter NIghts" (1991) which preceded the game "Neverwinter Nights" (2002)
     
  25. Ibzy

    Ibzy

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    An example of "not true MMO" I think is most obvious (and I think has been mentioned) is the original Guild Wars. The game gives you that sense of MMO (the HUB in the city) but once you leave, only you and your party are in that instance of the world. This removed the MMO feeling for me, and I think this replies to Kuroato comment when I say: only having other players around in the HUB does not make it feel like an MMO - the chance of some higher level swooping in and helping me out when I've picked up too many mobs, the race to the chest, the battle for Boss loot etc. All of this being the effect other players have on "my" game, and what I think makes it for me.
     
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  26. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    If you want to tackle one at a time:

    1) There's a little more to game design than capturing a feeling and delivering it to the player.

    2) Not everybody gets the same feelings as you. So, how would you go about this, anyway?

    3) This "hub" you describe does not really exist, people gather in many different locations for many different reasons, at many different levels. You can't choose where your players will congregate, some will hang out even in battlefields away from towns. It's up to them.
     
  27. Teila

    Teila

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    You guys do realize we are making games right? Games require a certain suspension of belief. We all use our imagination when we play a game, especially if we want to be truly immersed in the game. Well, maybe some folks don't, but I guarantee you that those that do get more out of the game. This is true of many board games, a tabletop games, and video games, regardless of whether they are multiplayer or not.

    As for newbs and MMOs and whatever, that is just a silly comment. All sorts of people make and play games, Experienced teams make MMO's and "newbs" make platform games. The reason so many kids come here wanting to make MMO's is more likely the fact that they have an "immersing" experience while playing their MMO, love playing with their friends, and thing they can make one that is better. I doubt it goes much beyond that. Why one finds the need to turn this into a negative is beyond me. My teen daughter is writing a novel, cliche plot that never ends, lots of typing away at the keyboard and creating tons of notes. She will learn in the process even if a book is never published, which is doubtful. :) Her motivation comes from reading good books.

    As for feelings, Misterselmo (I am happy you have those!), you can't design for other people's feelings because as you said, you don't know what they are. You can, however, talk to people, do some market research, and design for what people think they want in a game.

    And no, you can't choose where players congregate but you can create locations that draw people for various reasons. The cantinas in SWG were FULL of people for a reason, they could heal there and socialize.

    As for "what is a true MMO"....a true MMO is whatever people think it is. Again, the name is based on the number of players a game has total, not per server, at least in the eyes of the public. You have over 64 people and you have the right to call it an MMO, whether you think it is or not. Your players may believe that your game is not successful if you have only 500 players or they may like that it only has 500 players. That is their choice.

    I have played plenty of games that had more than 64 players in a room. It wasn't always pleasant. Of course, I haven't played the new ones that try to jam 100's of thousands of players on one server and then instance them into tiny group. Well, I did play City of Heroes for a short time....it was okay. Not my cup of tea though.
     
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  28. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    This has been a really interesting thread. I've been pondering it for a couple of days, and now maybe my thoughts have jelled enough to share. (Or maybe not, but I'm a-sharin' anyway...)

    First, I agree with the basic point that games are much harder to classify than "MMO" or "not MMO." Yes, as @Teila points out, we can use a marketing definition ("more than 64 players online at once") and call it good enough, but except for marketing purposes, I don't think that's very helpful. As game designers, our real goal should be to understand what experience we're trying to create for the players, and how various features of the game design (in this case, with a focus on networking features) support that.

    Then, as @CarterG81 suggests, it's worth looking for alternative designs that produce the same sort of experience, but are cheaper/easier to build (or maybe have other benefits over the standard designs).

    So. For my $0.02, the "experience" of playing an MMO revolves around having a single persistent world with other players (for me, these are ideally role-players) that I can get to know. In other words, it's about the social interaction, but in the context of the game. If I play a mage based in Thalos, and I keep seeing some fighter named Thern around town, at some point I'm going to bow and introduce myself (especially if we're about the same level, and Thern doesn't behave like a jackass). Pretty soon it'll be "Hey Thern, I'm going hunting in the Dark Forest, want to come?" or Thern saying "Hey Jothar, a few of us are going after the Blob, and could sure use some magic support."

    Now, the last time I spent much time on MMOs was back in the days of MUDs, when one "game" was one server (some open-source games had many servers run by many different people, but they were all customized to some extent, and amounted to different games). A popular server could have hundreds of players online at once, though those were usually large worlds, and while the towns would generally be quite busy, it wasn't hard to get out into the wilds and find yourself fighting alone (unless you assembled a party first). But the key point here is that there was only one instance; if a friend from high school says "hey, try this game, I'll meet you at the Prancing Pony in Bree," I don't have to worry about which Bree — there's only one.

    When I tried modern MMOs and learned about instancing, it was quite a let-down for me. Now, even if a friend has been pestering me to play for quite some time, I may not be able to join him. One "game" is actually a bunch of identical games running in parallel. Instead of one world, there are a bunch of parallel dimensions, which (in most cases) you can never cross. Each world is smaller (at least in population), and feels diminished.

    On the other hand, this effect is more emotional than rational. Except in the case where you know somebody IRL and want to join them in the game, it doesn't really matter. I get randomly thrown in with a bunch of other people, and can find friends among that group as easily (perhaps more easily) than I could if everybody were in one world.

    But on the gripping hand, what I really like from an online game — as opposed to a single-player game — is the idea that this world exists, and I can have an impact on it. If I set up shop in Bree selling hand-woven baskets, I'd like to think that anybody who visits Bree will see my basket shop. The value of this idea is greatly diminished when there are dozens or hundreds of Brees, and I've only affected one of them.
     
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  29. JoeStrout

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    Cool, here's an actual design problem we can sink our teeth into (and hopefully this won't be considered off-topic for the thread). Certainly in any MMO, there is a risk of your game becoming very popular. What do you do about the cacophony of 50 or 100 people all trying to talk at once?

    In real life, you focus your attention on the people nearest you, and tune everyone else out. How to implement this in a game depends greatly on how the talking is done. If it's audio, you can probably just simulate reality: play the audio streams from nearby characters loud and clear, turn down the volume on further-away characters, and let our amazing brains pick out what we care about.

    Unfortunately, I don't know of any MMOs that support a full audio stream for each character (are there any yet?). Usually chat is text-based.

    If the chat messages appear in speech balloons over the speakers in the 3D view, then I think the problem is mostly solved; you draw the speech balloons of the characters near you at full size (including characters that are out of view, with the speech balloons simply pointing to whichever side of the screen is the shortest distance to where they are). But further-away characters get a smaller (and maybe more transparent?) speech balloon, and a narrower angle at which you'll draw it at all if they're off screen.

    So, if you're at a table with your chums, you can easily focus on what your chums are saying and ignore the babble in the rest of the room. But if you want to sit broodingly in a dark corner and eavesdrop on nearby conversations, you can do that too (though unless they're very near, you may have to actually look in your target's direction).

    However, I think that it's more common for speech to appear line-by-line at the bottom of the screen or some such. This gives you more time to read each message, and better preserves the order in which things were said. But it makes dealing with the cacophony much harder. You can certainly draw further-away speech in a smaller font, but if there's a lot of it, it's still going to cause even nearby speech to scroll out of sight too quickly. Moreover, it doesn't offer any easy indication of where the speaker is relative to where you're looking. So I'm not a fan of this design.

    Finally, I've assumed here that @Teila was referring to the babble of a crowded room... but there may be other issues, like trying to navigate (if the game allows players to block each other). What other problems (and solutions) relate to having lots of players in one area?
     
  30. Teila

    Teila

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    I have never had a serious problem with the "babble" of the crowd. The games I played usually had a way to filter out what you didn't want or to make your friend's chatter a different color. Some use distance and if you are close enough, you see the chat for that person. Another idea is to have certain places, such as a booth in a pub where you can chat with each other in private.

    As for eavesdropping, while it can be fun in a role play situation, it can also be unrealistic. Seeing everyone's chat from across the room without anyone noticing is as unrealistic to me as not hearing their chat because of filters or a private place (such as house). I remember being able to hear people talking inside their house in SWG and that always bugged me.

    What I meant by "not pleasant" was the lag we would get sometimes when there were 100 people and their pets in one room, such as a cantina or tavern. This can be easily remedied without instancing by just having two cantinas or more in town. :)

    A busy market place which might draw 100 players to shop for special items, especially on a special market day put on by the GMs could be fixed, without instancing, by having areas separated by walls or plazas in separate parts of town selling specific items.

    Of course, if you have thousands of people on one server, that doesn't solve the problem. Then you have to get more creative and fine a way for instances to fit into your game, which is probably very possible. I think LoR's did this very creatively with their housing communities.

    Thanks for turning this back to something interesting. I am really getting tired of people posting over and over again the same things about MMO's, how much they hate them and how no one should do them. Can't we accept that and move on? I could go on every FPS game thread and state my opinion on them, but it is a waste of my time. ;)
     
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  31. BFGames

    BFGames

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    One thing that has not been mentioned that people should take into consideration is cost.

    "But BFGames, i just want to test out my ideas, don't need large scale to begin with!?"

    Sure. But if you design a game for large instances/high population servers, then you won't be able to test some of your crucial parts in the end anyways, and why go towards something you will never reach then? The basic approach is flawed then. Thats why i agree @CarterG81 (WHAT?!?!!) that you should really think outside the box in these cases or reconsider your design. If you know you will never be able to afford a server good enough to test your ideas dont go in that direction.
     
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  32. Teila

    Teila

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    You are absolutely right. And if you design for a large/huge population, you will have wasted so much time and effort if your population is only 200 players.

    We are starting with small, under 64 and then will scale up with the population. If our small test game gains a bigger following, we will continue with on that is slightly larger and see how it goes. Cost is a big consideration, especially in these days of everyone wanting free games.
     
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  33. BFGames

    BFGames

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    Starting small is fine as long as your design revolves around that idea. Then you change design and actual scale later on as you mention.
     
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  34. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    It's funny you've written this post, and one of the things I got for Christmas this year was a copy of an English translation of Sword Art Online: Alucard. We seem to get newcomers who want to create a SAO MMORPG every once in a blue moon, so naturally I was curious to find out what's so good about this.

    One of the bits I found interesting, is that the fictional game was designed without magic, period. It makes sense from a 'be lazy' perspective to me - often times, magic has its own set of calculations completely separate from physical calculations in games. It's not that there's a particular need for this to be the case; it's just something that has happened, as such a dichotomy has been advanced by numerous games to this point.

    The premise threw me at first, but is kind of interesting - the world of Alucard is inside a giant tower, but has 100 floors, each one with towns, wilderness, caves, etc. In other words, Alucard is a cake world. This isn't really all that different from the established MMO standard of having 'zones' with certain level ranges (the noob starting zone is Lv.1-5; the next zone is Lv.5-10; the zone after that is Lv.10-16; rinse and repeat onward as necessary.) In some ways, it's a little more straightforward than remembering that Stranglethorn Vale is a Lv.30-40 zone.

    I'm still reading through it, but between that and this post, I think there's lots of untapped MMO potential out there. Am I going to make one? Not for the forseeable future.
     
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  35. JoeStrout

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    Oh, that. :) Yeah, lag is addressed by zoning, which I much prefer to instancing, because if it's done well, there is no way for the player to tell. It's an implementation detail.

    And if your game becomes popular, then rather than start instancing, I'd prefer to just add more zones (i.e. more regions of the world). If I happen to start in Alphatown and my BFF happens to start in Zedville, and we want to get together, well, then one or both of us gets to go on a journey. IMHO, that's how it should be.

    Teila, the more I hear about your game, the more I want to play it. When are we going to get a peek?
     
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  36. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    The idea isn't that players gather in just any location. The criteria would be that the game developers "hub" TONS of players in particular locations. At the very least, a "hub" requires the massively part of MMO.

    A handful of people in a dungeon does not constitute a hub. Hundreds of people in a marketplace or hundreds in a large gameplay battle, would.
     
  37. JoeStrout

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    @CarterG81, I'm still not entirely clear on what you mean by "hub" (apologies if this is because I skimmed part of the thread too quickly). Is this a zone? Or an instance? Or something else?

    And, how do you control where your players gather? And why should you?

    Thanks,
    - Joe
     
  38. CarterG81

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    I'd be very interested in seamless instancing or seamless integration into a singleplayer/multiplayer architecture (player-hosted) from a MMO architecture (developer-hosted).

    Basically, the same concept of taking EQ's "zones" and making them seamless ala "Typical MMO". But instead of "zones", do it with the physical server (Thus aleviating cost, concentrating players in hubs, providing a cheaper form of instancing, and transitioning players to-and-from seamlessly).

    Perhaps even connecting players with one another via some kind of automatic matchmaking system which determines their physical location and then tries to connect them (and if successful) places them together into their world world (still player-hosted). In game, this means stumbling upon another player who is mining, with only networking queries to the dev-hosted master server to gather very simple information (Check if any players are in the immediate vicinity).

    It's a bit too complex of an idea to write down without wall of texting- but hopefully I communicated the general concept. It may sound complex, but it very well could be significantly less complex than hosting thousands of players on a single authoritative server- cheat prevention and all. It theoretically (at least without delving into the idea seriously) may reduce bandwidth costs SIGNIFICANTLY, making for some incredibly interesting gameplay.

    Even if it's a bad idea or I'm missing some major obvious flaw- this just goes to show there is indeed ways to innovate not only the game design, but even the network engineering behind the scenes.
     
  39. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    Wait, isn't that how it's usually done? We divide the world into zones, and when you cross from one zone to another, you're actually handed off to another (physical) server?

    Otherwise, what's the point of zones at all?

    It seems pretty straightforward to me, except for two possibly thorny details:
    1. To really make it seamless, the servers should speak to each other, sending frequent summaries of who's where and what they're doing to the neighboring servers. This way, you can still see people in the neighboring server.
    2. Dynamic rebalancing, i.e. changing the zone boundaries to keep the server load even.
    I think most games dodge issue 1 by dividing the zones with always-closed doors or portals or whatever, so you never can see from one to another. It's a bit weak, but works well enough. (Oblivion does this even though it's a single-player game.)

    And as for issue 2, I suspect most games don't bother with that either. But you could do it by making your zones small enough (which is helped by a good solution for issue 1) and then running multiple zones on each server. You balance the server loads just by shifting the zones from host to host as needed.
     
  40. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    My apologies if I did not elaborate on this. I am trying to lessen my time posting, especially given the holidays. A lot of this is in my head, and I might have missed stating some obvious things (which I often do).

    Right now, my working definition for "Hub" in relation to what I am talking about is:

    An undefined in-game area where players naturally tend to gather for social or gameplay interaction. Any interaction.

    The criteria includes

    • A minimum of "A Lot" of players in the immediate vicinity (Enough to feel like a city is busy, trade is thriving, large battles are roaring)

    I will show some examples.

    Dark Age of Camelot- Players "hub" or gather together in three locations:
    1. Battlegrounds (one PvP zone per bracket), the 'new frontier' zone (a massive PvP zone for end game). For Gameplay Interaction (PvP- with 30v30v30 to >100v100v100 battles).
    2. 'Darkness Falls' a massive PvE dungeon zone which is only accessible by one of the three factions at a time, with mobs for all level brackets. For Gameplay Interaction
    3. Capital cities for Social/Trade interaction (You will always find tons of people in the capital cities)
    The rest of the world is not "massive". At most you will have 10-30 players in a single area/zone. Instances/Dungeons, you would have even less (Usually 2-3 groups in a single dungeon at most). You will rarely ever have more than 10 players in local proximity. Each of these zones have fewer users and less proximity for each user than the 64 player FPS games which are not MMO.

    Planetside 2- Players "Hub" in two locations:
    1. Bases, which factions capture for control. The entire game design specifically hubs players into specific areas. It even encourages players to only join active battles, by informing them which bases have lots of people in them. All other bases are usually completely empty with no one in them.
    2. Starter points. When you log in, you start here, and it's the uncapture-able base with all the vehicles and equipment to ready yourself for battle.
    The design also encourages people to only spawn at these major battles, by allowing them to despawn when out of combat for about a minute- and then spawn at any faction-owned location or "drop in" from the sky via a falling pod (immediately taking them to where the players have "hubbed").

    WoW- Players "Hub" in at least two locations
    1. Capital Cities- this is where everyone is. All other zones will be sparsely populated and undeserving of being called a "MMO" as they are not massive. (See Dark Age of Camelot above).
    2. Raids- I know very little about these, but the game encourages players to "hub" together to tackle dungeons which require a "massive" amount of users.
    3. 2 of 11 battlegrounds. There are only two battlegruonds which have >64 players. All others are either 10v10 or 15v15 (20-30 players total). The two battlegrounds I speak of, are 40v40 instances, so 80 people total. That is quite a lot and deserving of "Massive" if the criteria is >64 players.
    All the rest of the game, especially PvP and Dungeon Finder, is through instanced zones. Dungeons allow one party only, which is only 5 players. If you only play using the Dungeon Finder and don't interact in the capital cities, you are literally playing a game smaller than nearly ALL FPS games. PvP, ranges in size, with the earliest battlegrounds having 10v10 and

    Obviously there are exceptions, such as PvP servers where battles happen similar to DAoC's New Frontier, or massive special events like zombie mini-games in the capital cities.




    No matter what, in a MMO, players will "hub". They will always gather in specific areas, and not deviate from the typical hubs. In games like DAoC, the design WANTS and ENCOURAGES players to "hub" in PvP zones. In planetside 2, even more so.

    If you don't design players to hub in a certain area, they will still form a natural hub.

    The hub, does NOT have to meet the following criteria
    1. It does NOT have to be a static location. In Planetside 2, the hub can be anywhere in the entire game world. However, there are always only about Hubs * Players Online. (1 major battle when server pop is low, 9+ major battles during primetime.)
    2. You do NOT have to control or design, but the players will hub in predictable locations. It only makes sense for players to "hub" in capital cities, even if you don't design it this way. Whever there are AUction Houses, Merchants, Banks- players will hub. They hubbed in Banks in Ultima Online. They hubbed in banks in WoW.


    This is a working definition, so obviously it can be flawed, confusing, or even non-sensicle. THe idea is to create a terminology that we can understand, especially in relation to game design, so developers can think of how to control the funnel in the way they want. You'd want to do this if you don't want to put in the work for MMO networking architecture, or you wanted to have instancing except in capital cities, or you wanted a social client separate from gameplay client, etc.

    I find it interesting just because I like to contemplate where players naturally tend to gather, why they gather there, and if the developer intended them to or not.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
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  41. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    All those servers are owned by the developer, who pays for bandwidth cost.

    My idea was for players to host their own servers, but seamlessly disconnecting form the developer server (hub, capital city) and connecting to their own server (local client). Then query the master server (developer's server) to give their coordinates every so often (very little bandwidth) and ask for other players in proximity (in which it then tries to connect them to one another.) A way to significantly reduce bandwidth costs, basically.

    So you're always connected to a master server, but the data being uploaded/downloaded is very little- and the players host themselves.

    Bandwidth costs would be almost non-existent unless the player is connected to a hub. (I was thinking uploading player locations once, every so often.)

    The idea could include a cloud on-demand structure where whenever players begin to expand their party to beyond their local client's capabilities, it instantly creates a developer-hosted instance which seamlessly connects them to it. Maybe some way to judge performance and transition from local client to developer-server once performance begins to slow (or after a set number of users).

    I don't know how "seamless" it would actually appear though, given how you'd be disconnecting/connecting as you walked out of "zones"/cities, formed parties, etc. In theory it could be incredibly laggy, an awful experience. I was just trying to think outside the box.

    SotA kindof does this in their singleplayer online mode. They do something anyway. It's a Singleplayer game, but connected to their master server to gather information (Player Housing?). And in Singleplayer Online, you can invite friends which then join your instance. There's a particular command to use to do so. I would be surprised if their singleplayer online was hosted by them, with tons of bandwidth consumption just for a singleplayer experience.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  42. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    you might disagree but normal multiplayer games like quake2 managed hundreds on 56k. I hardly think it qualifies, but if everyone wants to ignore the massively part, that's fine, if they want to shrink it down, that's fine.

    If being able to manage 300 players in a multiplayer game and call it massively multiplayer than do it. Just don't expect your customers to agree.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
  43. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    Ah, now I see what you're saying. Yeah, that could work, and it's an interesting idea. Sort of like a peer-to-peer MMO (but not quite, since you'd still need a central server to coordinate things, and probably to relay packets as well since most people are behind a firewall that prevents incoming connections).

    I agree that you probably couldn't make this seamless, but maybe that's not so important. And of course you could design your whole game around hiding the seams. For example, if your game is a multi-planet universe, and you have to hyperspace jump between planets, then it's obvious and expected that you can't see from one zone (planet) to another. And the jump gives you plenty of time to connect to a new server; nobody would even notice.

    The biggest problem I see here is: what to do when the person hosting a zone (with, let's say, a couple dozen other players in it) shuts their computer off? Of course company servers can go down too, but it's much less likely than user machines, which will go down for all sorts of reasons.

    On the flipside, you could expose some sort of in-game reward for the quality and quantity of serving that you do. In other words, just by leaving my computer on and hosting all night, and assuming I have good bandwidth and players are making use of it, I accrue some wealth/reputation/other benefit in-game that makes life easier or more fun when I play.
     
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  44. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Sort of MMO-bit torrent ish?
     
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  45. BFGames

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    A peer-to-peer MMO is an interesting idea. However i do not think it would work in practice as cheating would be a too big a problem if there was just a slightest amount of competitive gameplay, and here we are even talking scenarios such as fighting the same mob for some kind of resource or whatever.
     
  46. RJ-MacReady

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    PSO featured lobbies where you could join rooms, then you would be directly connected to another player's machine. That's what I believe, anyway. Point is it had lots and lots of cheating...
     
  47. Teila

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    Considering the "friendliness" of people here toward people like us, I doubt it will be anytime soon. It will be tested and vetted elsewhere first. ;) Unity developers are not all that forgiving to those of us who step outside our bounds, are they?

    I will be happy to let you know privately though when we are ready for some constructive criticism. :)
     
  48. Teila

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    Who wants to call it massively? You have another name for it? If so, share please. Because I would love to call our game something other than massively. MO doesn't work either because then the players will believe it is a game with no more than 64 players on at a time in the entire game. The 64 per zone works for us developers, but not for players. They are looking at it as one game, not multiple pieces of the puzzle.

    Your implication above is that by calling a game with 500 players an MMO means that we are lying to our players. Do we need to do that? I am 100% sure that I can find at least 200 players that will play our game and not give a flying leap whether it has 100's of thousands or 200 as long as the world is scaled to that number and they can interact. Most game servers have only 1000 to 1500 anyway so it is not like those 100's of thousands are interacting with you on your server at the same time.

    So, Hippo, if you think we would be deceiving our customers by calling it an MMO, then please, by all means, give a solution. We have been totally honest with our game fans. When we took over the work and dumped the massive game, we made sure everyone knew. We lost a lot of fans who wanted that massive world but the ones we kept are loyal and dedicated. Believe it or not, there are people who want to play games with friends and have a connection to the people in the community, not just new fodder for kills. ;)
     
  49. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Go right ahead, if you get 200-300 players it will probably be successful enough to expand from.
     
  50. Teila

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    That is the plan. Of course, it doesn't help me figure out how to label our game. :) I was honestly asking for help with that.