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MMO HELL

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Johnny-Casual, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. Johnny-Casual

    Johnny-Casual

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    MMO's are pretty feared in indie gamedev community, and new users who have a MMO dream are often laughed at. There's also an aura of secrecy about them, maintained by the people who have once dived into MMOs a little, but have failed, and are unwilling to share their knowledge and experience with others, preferring to discourage them instead. Well, I want to know why is that? Did you tried making a MMO and faild, what where the reasons. Was it time, money......, how far did you get. What are the biggest obstacles to overcome?
     
  2. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Are you implying there is an MMO conspiracy going on, that tries to deter aspiring game devs from breaking into that lucrative market, when in fact it actually is rather easy to make your own MMO?
     
  3. zoran404

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    He is actually right. MMOs are where the money is, so no one wants to share their knowledge about it in order to keep as much of the profit for themselves.
    If suddenly new game devs would have access to mmo tools that would split the players over millions of games and it will spell the end for the profitable era of mmos!
    Sarcasm implied.
     
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  4. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    They don't say anything because its embarassing to admit that their brilliant idea was actually as dumb as a pile of rocks and that they should have listened to everyone that warned them.

    It's common sense, the scope is huge, the resources are miniscule. It will not work.
     
  5. zoran404

    zoran404

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    Actually, as Martin already said, it's not that hard to make an mmo. Anyone with sufficient programming skills could make an mmo.
    The problem comes when people who don't have much of a programming background try to make an mmo and have no idea what they are suppose to do, expect their "idea" of a fantastic mmo.
     
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  6. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    For the record: that wasn't the intention behind my ironic question. I consider everything involving online multiplayer to be hard as balls and unsuitable for beginners.
     
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  7. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Egads! He's onto us! Quick, torch the documents and relocate our headquarters! But, be sure to break at least three newbies spirits while you're at it, of course.
     
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  8. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    It's rather easy to make your own space shuttle. It doesn't mean it will work or even leave the ground.
     
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  9. Teila

    Teila

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    This is untrue. There is no aura of secrecy and no "fear" of MMO's. Plenty of us are working on them.

    However, the Unity forums are the place to get help or support for aspects of your game, which are most often similar to the aspects of any game of that type, including single player, rts, rpg, fps, etc.

    If you do a search, you will find some very good discussions about MMO's. Networking for MMO's has been non-existant for Unity until recently and even then, most networking solutions are not going to be perfect but will need to be greatly modified. For that reason, I don't think Unity has been the best choice for people who choose to do an MMO unless you know what you are doing. Therefore, not as much discussion about making one.

    I also doubt there are many that failed and are keeping it secret, because...well, they never had the desire to make one. :) It is a lot of work, you need some degree of experience, and a decent team. MMO makers are a minority in most indie circles for that reason. A lot of work compared to a single player game or a mobile game and a lot of risk and money.

    I worked on a team that was making an MMO and failed, not with Unity though and this was years ago, before the era of inexpensive game engines. Their reason for failure was lack of funds and feature creep.

    Yeah, people here make fun of MMO makers but if you are serious, just ignore them. I think it is just a bandwagon they jump into fit in with the cool kids. :) Some though, are genuinely concerned that a newcomer to Unity should start small first in order to succeed. You have to push past the "cool kids" and the "concern" and find people who are serious.

    Try forums on other engines, such Hero Engine or whatever. Lots of MMO makers there and they are indie gamers as well. :)
     
  10. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    As someone who is both a cool kid*, and has written three games of my own, and is concerned with other people realizing their games, I think @Teila brings up an awesome point here.

    Use the right tool for the right job. Right now, Unity is bad at MMOs; Unity excels at mobile games, or games with simpler graphics styles. I know some more ambitious developers like @ShadowK have done extensive work on getting Unity to support more modern photorealistic visuals, and in certain cases simply opt to use Unreal Engine because it makes those sorts of visuals easier to attain.

    Also, as Teila says - if you're a newcomer, trying to write a MMO is about as realistic as it is for a botanist to build a working tree out of mountain dew, happy thoughts, and random scraps of biomatter. Back in college I was involved in a MMO effort - Visions, a Christian MMORPG set shortly before the Diaspora - using Torque as part of my internship requirements. The developer of this MMO had a vision that she was trying to realize. The problem is that, like some other genres, MMOs serve many masters - it's easy to fail a game when your game serves one. This MMORPG is apparently still in ongoing development, some six years later.**

    I may joke about conspiracies to scare off noobs from MMOs, or whatever, but seriously, I'd wager from my brief experience that 99% of the indie community isn't equipped to deal with the challenges of a MMO game, and that's with experience. MMOs are many things, but 'easy to do' is not one of those things.

    *: For microscopic values of cool
    **: This isn't to bash Visions - the director of the project is a very skilled woman with a great vision, and I still wish the project luck! This is to illustrate that there is nothing easy about making a MMORPG, in any way, shape, or form. If you're trying to realize a MMORPG, and you can't take casual criticism, you don't have the staying power to finish it. Casual criticism on an MMO is the least of your worries.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
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  11. frosted

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    Another problem is that a lot of times, these projects just aren't serious, and the threads started aren't asking any real questions.

    If someone asks for help with a specific networking problem, or a specific code problem, then they're just as likely to find help as anyone else. The silly mmo threads are generally more "what do you think of my idea?" threads or "join my team!" threads, not asking detailed or specific problems.

    As to why most MMO efforts failed, my guess is that there is no specific reason. Most probably fail because eventually people realize how far away their dream game is from whatever state their project currently is, and just sort of stop working on it.

    It's not that any given item on the list is "too hard of a challenge" - the problem is that the list has a million bullet points, and there are a thousand that if gotten wrong will make the other 999,000 way harder.
     
  12. orb

    orb

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    That's a very optimistic number. I'm not sure there are even 99 *people* on these forums who are prepared for it ;)
     
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  13. Teila

    Teila

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    I disagree with this. Unity is not bad at MMO's. It is not set up for MMO's but it is entirely possible to make a very good MMO with Unity if you are realistic in your vision and you take advantage of some of the tools out there, such as Photon or Forge Networking...and in the future UNet, and as long as you have the skills or can find someone who does to work with the networking part of making the game. It is not "bad", just has not focused on MMOs. I think that will change with UNet and we will gradually see more, maybe not massive ones, but smaller more indie-size multiplayer games, which over 32-64 players is called an MMO. :)

    It is absolutely possible to get great realistic results with Unity. Look at the thread on the Gaia, the AAA solution for terrains. :) Beautiful realistic results as well as gorgeous environmental packs and character packs. Besides, not all MMO's are realistic. WoW is far from realism. Not everyone wants a Witcher 3 graphics quality MMO. I am not even sure what photo-realism has to do with MMO's anymore than any other 3d single player game.

    Also....every type of game fails. I read posts here about mobile games failing all the time as well as rts, rpg, and everything else. My guess is if you tally it up, failures on these forums is probably highest for mobile games, because more people are making them and the competition is stiff. However, much easier to recover from a mobile game that might take months than from an MMO that will take years.

    As a newcomer, I suggest folks join an MMO team for a while before going it alone. Learn from their mistakes and from their successes. In a large project, there are many of both before the game is finished.
     
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  14. Deleted User

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    I'm not exactly sure they're a money maker, but anyway I think the whole point is an MMO is something you make when you're very comfortable making games and you've amassed some knowledge of networking / game design.

    It's not a very good idea to start out making something like that, sure as always the core components / replication / accounts etc. isn't THAT difficult to do.

    But MMO's require a LOT of content and tech, a lot of consideration into art budgets, months if not years of research into systems to keep people playing and the ridiculous masses of content so people don't run out of stuff get bored / move on. Because most MMO's fail because they can't retain a user base or even get one in the first place, there's a lot of cheat middleware integrations you have to look into.. It cost's a lot for server hardware.. It's a money pit.!

    Also ultimately, the question is why an MMO? You could earn a lot more money out of much easier avenue's.. You'd have to be really and I mean REALLY sold on the idea of it to even bother. Because in the grand scheme of things it ain't the smartest choice to venture into.

    It's not like were hiding secrets into development, there's plenty of stuff out there for experienced dev's and they'll ask about components (not MMO's) when they need to.
     
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  15. frosted

    frosted

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    The real nightmare is that - imagine you do it. You spend like 10 years of your life building a solid MMO. You succeed in making the whole thing. It's even kind of fun to play!!

    How is random 'dude with a dream' going to even attract the player base to make his game worth playing?! MMOs live and die on their player base. You need to be able to draw in thousands of gamers in order to make the whole thing worth playing in the first place.

    What's the point of making an MMO if you don't have the advertising budget to get more than 1 player in the game in the first place?

    The whole thing is really just kind of absurd.
     
  16. AndrewGrayGames

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    I may have worded my idea incorrectly. In the spirit of the original post, I was referring to ease of access to set up.

    Unity does not quickly and easily provide tools to set up something close to a MMORPG - Hero Engine is the tool that does that. Granted, this is all relative; as someone who has not used Hero Engine ever, I'm not sure of what it would take to get a 'basic' MMO up and running (by basic, I mean having 1...1000 grey featureless cubes concurrently interacting, maybe with chat.) I know for an early Unity project I made, Onslaught of the Laser Cat (it was a FPS), the networking took me about two months to figure out and get working well, and that was with the M2H Networking Tutorial explaining things.

    It may be that UNet, Photon, or others make networking easier to set up in Unity, and of course with anything the result of your effort is directly proportional to the effort you put into it; after all, @Teila, you're working on an MMORPG and it's coming along. You're proof that Unity can do MMOs.

    My point is that Unity is not natively good at MMOs. That's all I was trying to say. For a newcomer who really, really wants to MMO, Unity is not the best tool.

    Back on topic, as a newcomer, you need to ask yourself - because MMOs are hard, do you absolutely need to MMO? There are easier things you can make to equip yourself if the answer turns out to be "yes," that will build your street cred and get people to take you seriously.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
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  17. ironbellystudios

    ironbellystudios

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    A friend of ours made an MMO in Unity - www.TheSpaceGame.com - TONS of amazing technical work which shows you can build a pretty crazy MMO in Unity. In that game you can literally fly a realistic distance at a somewhat realistic speed from one planet to another, LAND on that planet, walk around a city with 300,000 buildings, walk out of the city, walk around the world, come back to the spot you started, and get in your ship. ... of course doing so would probably take you several months - years depending on the planet size :D

    Still, point is, people don't talk much about it because most of them fail before they really start. Those that do finish are too busy trying to keep it functional (maintaining MMOs is hard work). Those that really succeed don't tend to lurk around forums much!
     
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  18. frosted

    frosted

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    It's worth noting that he also says that he invested $70,000 out of pocket, then raised another $35,000 on kickstarter. This is not really representative of the average unity forum MMO thread.

    That said, it's a seriously impressive piece of work on 105k budget. Kind of inspiring and humbling at the same time.

    EDIT: It's crazy reading reviews where the player has 1000 hours logged and he gives a thumbs down. It just blows my mind.
     
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  19. ironbellystudios

    ironbellystudios

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    He didn't get his money's worth Frosted. Only 1,000 hours for 15 dollars? Can't we do better? :D (The lesson being to avoid the race for the bottom because there's no winning it.)

    In the end I think everyone has different ideas of what an "indie" budget is. 105k is really pretty small for some, and 35k was basically free money. Also, and don't quote me on this because I'd actually have to go ask him, but I suspect that 70k was actually his living expense during development and chunk to artwork. So I think the actual expenditure here was actually pretty low. Still well into the 10s of k though. You can spend money or time, in the end that is all life is!

    (Now I am sad!)
     
  20. khanstruct

    khanstruct

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    Experience. The most ridiculed posts are people with zero experience who invariably want to make an MMO (I was one of them). People with a modest amount of experience are aware of the challenges and don't attempt an MMO (I eventually became one of these people too). And then there are the people who have a solid amount of experience who might attempt an MMO (now I'm one of these people!).

    NOTE: Indies will receive ridicule no matter where they're at on that spectrum, which is why they don't often talk about it... which is kinda counterproductive.

    I suppose you could say my MMO initially failed due to a lack of experience and a serious underestimation of what was involved. But I don't think of it as a failure. It was just put on the backburner for a few years while I got some experience under my belt.

    Now we're back! We're a few projects wiser. We're backed by the guy who actually bought HeroEngine. And we have an art director that led projects like Fallout, Final Fantasy and Parasite Eve!

    See? It's all about experience. As long as you can see the road ahead, then you're on the right path. ;)

    EDIT: Just wanted to say that I'm glad to see you here, IronBelly! (Those guys did some artwork for the cover of my novel. They do awesome work.)
     
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  21. ironbellystudios

    ironbellystudios

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    Thanks Khan! :D Experience is crucial, no doubt about it. Estimating project time and complexity takes years, years, of experience. Honestly we still get it wrong sometimes after all doing this stuff since '09, because games are complex, living, things. Estimate till the cows come home, but as soon as one piece of the puzzle says "Oh, you meant THIS? I thought you meant THAT." the whole plan goes out the window :D

    So I'll see your experience and raise you "Planning and Communication" as the important subsets of that experience for estimating how hard an MMO is to make. Most of our time estimate failures come from either a miscommunication on desired result or completely missing a piece before starting work (IE: we didn't plan to have to revamp a recent project from Unity Web Player to Unity WebGL. A great example of when it isn't even OUR fault, it's planning and communication from a third party! Thanks Google/Firefox for screwing that up for everyone!)
     
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  22. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    There are MMOs that can be made by a single dev with little budget. Look at agar.io technically speaking it's an MMO.

    Trouble is most of the beginner MMO threads seem to want to compete with WoW. Think it through, a new developer wanting to go up against the biggest and best in the industry.

    To top it off, network multiplayer is perhaps the most technically challenging task to code in all of game dev. And it's the most important task to get right for an MMO. Starting development with the hardest task just screams insanity.

    The smart move is to make multiple small games first. Most devs that do this end up deciding against an MMO, once they realise the size of the task. Those who do start with an MMO typically never get past their first thread. That's why there is not a lot of experienced MMO makers on these forums. They just don't exist.
     
  23. zoran404

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    Well if you look at it that way any multiplayer game with a massive player base is an mmo, including counter strike, dota...

    But I don't think anyone is going to think about fps or moba games when they say mmo. They think of games with continuous worlds where everyone plays in the same map/world (most commonly mmorpg).
    Agar.io, dota, counter strike, those are all room based games that reset after the match ends.

    I'm not saying one person can't make an mmo, I'm just saying it would be much more complicated to do that agar.io was.
     
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  24. Teila

    Teila

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    Having played and worked on MMO's for years, that is a rather new definition. There are many many MMO's that were successful that had 1200 players per server and multiple servers. Many of those still exist. Huge massive worlds on one map was not always the case. And MMO's used to be better for socializing and they actually became communities at one time.

    The era of HUGE massive worlds all on one server and games that appeal to everyone by throwing in every thing but the kitchen sink are all recent inventions. I have to agree that for an Indie with a small team, those are really going to be difficult to manage. Just the thought of filling such a world with enough interesting stuff is overwhelming to me.

    I think that is why these types of games are becoming more about procedural quests...which, by the way a few of my gamer friends complained about that the other night, and instancing and solo playing. How we think of MMO's is changing but from my discussions with folks, there is a nostalgia for the old games and some disdain for the new ones.

    As Indies, we can do what the pixel folks are doing, bring back some of the feel of an old MMO. There just might be an audience out there.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
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  25. zoran404

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    @Teila That was probably a misunderstanding, I was trying to say the same thing...
     
  26. AlanGreyjoy

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    Artists man... they are the most expensive lol
     
  27. Teila

    Teila

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    Then I was just agreeing with you. :) The quote was simply a reference to what I was about to say.
     
  28. jgnmoose

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    I think it really depends on what exactly your MMO is going to do.

    Just my opinion, but I wouldn't write a single line of code until you have the core game hammered out and know ahead of time what you have to get right.

    - Will you have PVP?
    - Will your game have end game PVE (raiding)?
    - Will you have factions?
    - Will the factions (if you have them) have different classes or the same?
    - How will leveling work?
    - Will you have talent trees? What is the core role of each tree?
    - Will you allow users to make mods for your game to customize the UI?

    Most of the commercial games fail because they have huge flaws. In one example a single class only available to one faction could solo large groups of enemy players without assistance, in a PVP game. In another, one faction was a lot more attractive and the boring faction just stopped playing or re-rolled.

    Pretty general but I would say that is what makes MMOs more challenging than other types of games.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  29. Gigiwoo

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    Troll thread, if ever I saw one. @OP - advice is there to help you avoid mistakes, like, "Look both ways before crossing a street", so you can learn from the mistakes of others before reality SPLATS you.

    Gigi
     
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  30. ostrich160

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    But they do share their knowledge, they say 'dont waste your time like I did'
     
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  31. Not_Sure

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    MMO's are a dead end because players have a very rigid idea of what an "MMO" is and WoW pretty much nailed the formula so there's no point in trying something else (as a player or a dev).

    Also, WoW is rounding out its last few years of relevance. MMO's as we know them now are pretty much dead.
     
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  32. Teila

    Teila

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    True only because everyone is afraid to try a new formula. Also true of any copycat game. Most companies and Indies play it safe. I read many articles and posts from gamers begging for something different.
     
  33. zoran404

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    Well I believe devs of all genres are always trying to make new & different stuff.
    Which makes sense since no one can out do WoW or out do Call of Duty or any other AAA game at it's own play-field.
    You just have to innovate and find new ways to attract people.
     
  34. Not_Sure

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    Well, I think Destiny tried something new (and failed) but I don't know that many people would call that an MMO.

    By the literal definition, yes. But MMO in marketing terms means hard level caps, slow combat, cool down timers, loot based end game, raids, and mandatory guilds in a giant skinner box. You know, WoW.
     
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  35. Gigiwoo

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    I'm with @Not_Sure, Destiny was a new formula. It has it's flaws, it has reasonable success, and it is a pretty new take on the MMO idea - console, FPS, MMO, with mission based, auto-grouping, and lots of content. There's plenty of uniqueness in there. At $500M, it was also the MOST expensive game ever made.

    Gigi
     
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  36. ironbellystudios

    ironbellystudios

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    @Not_Sure I don't think that's really the marketing definition of an MMO. It's certainly a type of MMO, but from A Tale in the Desert to Star Citizen there's a huge range of marketable MMO types. Obviously WoW (which its self was inspired by Everquest, which was inspired by Meridian 59, which was inspired by text MUDs... and so on) style is the most popular so also currently associated strongest with the term. That won't always be true though (I hope). In 20-40 years I can't even predict what people will think of when they think of an MMO, I just suspect it won't be that :)

    I guess I try not to think of it as "this is the definition" - because what the heck IS a marketing definition :)
     
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  37. zoran404

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    I think you guys are looking at a narrower part of what a MMO is.
    I usually look at what draws players to a genre and for MMOs that would be social interaction and ability to affect other players.
    Correct me if I'm wrong...
     
  38. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    According to the developers it was considerably less than that, and the 500 number includes everything peripherally like advertising and going into future development, call it 'earmarked'.

    Industry does tend to bloat numbers *quite a bit* because it looks good on tax, it can be shuffled around and the more things cost, the more breaks you get.
     
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  39. Xenoun

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    I played WoW for 4 years and haven't been able to stick with another MMO for more than 2-3 weeks since then. WoW does its thing very well and most others try to copy it, and even ones that don't (e.g EVE Online, Age of Conan?) just give me the same experience and general feeling.

    Having pretty much played WoW to the exclusion of all other games for that period all of the avenues it offers have been well and truly explored and worn out for me. Someone needs to re-imagine and re-create the MMO experience...I have my own ideas of course (as would most gamers and game devs who are interested in it) but there's no way in hell I'll ever be able to put it into practice.

    I don't know what the next gen of MMOs will be, all I know is that as they currently stand I'll never play another one.
     
  40. Kiwasi

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    Destiny was very meh for me. I honestly think the FPS genre was better off before everything went MMO. Having other players in the game was more of an annoyance then an improvement.
     
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  41. Not_Sure

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    I agree that Destiny was "meh", but I actually really liked the organic drop in and out with random events. Led to some really cool moments where I'm hashing out a mission, then next thing I know I've got a drop ship raining hell on me and a couple of high level players are struggling to save my ass.

    That was pretty cool.

    Then the game did it about a thousand more times and it quickly lost its charm.


    Anyway, everyone want to know where MMO's are heading? Sever side MMO's done on super computers with everything done on the server and sent out as video feed to the players.

    In fact, that's where all games are going.

    No more cheating. No more stealing. No more second hand sales. And they can take it away whenever they want so you have to pay for it all over again.
     
  42. KingLlama

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    I feel what you just asked is the problem with mmos today. If you ask the same questions over and over again then youll end up with the same by product that is clones of wow and that get shut down within a couple years. We need a new idea. Like for instance shards online.
     
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  43. khanstruct

    khanstruct

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    I've played a ton of MMOs, and honestly, I never understood the appeal of WoW. It garnered its playerbase from well known names (Warcraft and Blizzard) as well as cartoon graphics and dumbed down game mechanics, making it accessible to the general public.

    Blizzard marketed to the mass market, meaning they did everything "okay", but nothing "great". (If you do any one thing great, you'll automatically shut out part of your demographic.)

    Also, I don't think MMOs are a "dead end". Just the opposite, in fact, and Destiny is a prime example. Playing with others online is becoming commonplace in more and more games. Eventually, all games will be an MMO in one way or another, whether in the traditional sense (WoW), the casual sense (Facebook games), or something inbetween.
     
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  44. zoran404

    zoran404

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    Good luck with that. I doubt you'll ever get a budget to build that monster, or find players that are willing to play with 500 ping that streaming gameplay will create.
    Pfft, you can already do this with online only games, where some part of the game mechanics is executed on the server instead of locally.
    People keep saying all games will eventually become mmos even though most games have no mechanics that would make sense in a multiplayer world.
    Sure you have casual games that have "some" online functionality like chat and trade, but none of the actual game mechanics involve multiple players.
     
  45. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Me? No, I'll most likely never have that kind of money.

    But 500 ping is a huge exaggeration. PS3 games are already streamed on PS4's.

    Why couldn't a massive game host multiple seats?

    And you can't be serious that you don't think limiting the player's end to video and input controls wouldn't do a number on cheaters...
     
  46. khanstruct

    khanstruct

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    Most MMOs already do that. The client only ever manages input, graphics, animation, etc. All vital game computing is done on the server. However, you do still have to strike a balance.

    For instance, the client does calculate things like movement and walls, etc. The server then just checks for validity every once in a while (rubberbanding happens when there's a conflict). The reason it's done that way though, is that having a constant stream of data up and down is an insane and unnecessary use of bandwidth and computing power.
     
  47. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    My thinking is that if graphics are processed server side on a super computer you could do things like have entire populated cities with countless buildings with individual rooms filled with dynamic objects. The whole world could be persistent and not require any loading what so ever.

    Imagine walking around New York with Millions of players on screen all at once. And every little thing can be interacted with. And every single building is filled with rooms filled with things that can played with.

    I can't see an average computer being able to do that, but even a simple smart phone could stream video for the game.
     
  48. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I don't see how at the bottom line a financially feasible product comes out. The supercomputer might share physics computations etc. among all players but won't the individiual camera views still require something like a Titan gpu per individual player? How do you make such a monster profitable with that much initial investment, power cost, etc.. How do you keep it at close to maximum capacity to make use of the expensive hardware without having annoyingly long waiting queues for players?
     
  49. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    WoW just made over a billion dollars a year for several years in a row. They can afford to make a super computer to rekindle those sales.

    As for the cameras, anyone correct me if I'm wrong here, but they're more or less a collection of rays. It wouldn't cost hardly anything to add one.
     
  50. khanstruct

    khanstruct

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    So in addition to the game mechanics and calculations, you're expecting this super-server to render all of these dynamic objects and players, calculate the physics for each, then assemble a minimum 30fps video stream to send out to millions of players? Who then send input commands back to be processed?

    And all of this is is to avoid the handful of exploits that some MMOs experience? I don't see it happening.