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Multiplayer Networking Solutions Review: Photon, uLink, DarkRift, Forge, and PlayFab

Discussion in 'Connected Games' started by jpthek9, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. coldfire 1993

    coldfire 1993

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    Hello I am new in unity . I find interesting your benchmark about multiplayer app. Please can you make another for gamemachine. It is open source.. I want to know about performance.
     
  2. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    From what I'm seeing, it turns out Forge is the right one for everyone.

    Thanks for this writeup. I was unaware Photon was so ridiculously expensive.

    I'd love to see an updated version of what you think of Forge, jpthek9.

    Especially since they're soon to add or have already added features (like NAT punchthrough) that they didn't have in february (and didn't seem to be on the list, but are now in or almost in).

    It's a really impressive asset. Probably the most I've seen so far, and that's saying something as there are some wonderful and really well supported/documented assets on the asset store (like, for AI, Dialogue, etc.)
     
  3. pKallv

    pKallv

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    Just a question in regards to pricing

    • 20 Connections
    • ˜8k Monthly Actives
    • 500 Msg/s per Room
    • CCU Burst not included

    What is the definition on "Connection"? ...I am looking at a card game with a maximum of four players or/and a chess game with two players so does it mean that I can only launch for a maximum of twenty players totally?
     
  4. BFGames

    BFGames

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    Yes it means 20 CCU, which is a maximum of 20 online players at one time. For 95$ you can get 100 CCU for a lifetime i think it is.
     
  5. pKallv

    pKallv

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    Thanks for a very quick answer :)

    Just to be clear, is that 20 concurrent player totally or in one game session? In my situation i am developing a card game with 2 - 4 players. Does that mean that there can be a total of 5 games, with 4 players, active at the same time.

    ...the maximum overall players that can play my game at the same time would be twenty?
     
  6. BFGames

    BFGames

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    Yes.
     
  7. StealThePixels

    StealThePixels

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    Hi,
    what are the recommended multiplayer assets for games which are

    - real-time action
    - organized in rooms with max 4 players per room
    - multi-platform (my game will run on Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Standalone PC/Mac)

    Examples of that may be a multiplayer FPS or a co-operative platform

    Additionally, my game does not require the user to "log in", just choose a nickname and play.
    The user will have the option to play against bots, but maybe i need to write my own AI logic for bots.
    And last... i don't care about anti-cheating systems.

    What's a right solution for this?
    (Looks like Photon does not support Windows Store/Phone)
     
  8. tobiass

    tobiass

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    Photon currently doesn't properly support Windows Store/Phone. That's a temporary issue.
    Which Windows Phone platforms are relevant for you? Which is the lowest one?
     
  9. Nasgarth

    Nasgarth

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    Hey JP,

    So I am at the moment conducting a feasibility analysis of a massive MMORPG that my colleagues and I plan on developing soon and one thing I am curious about is what is the best one to go for?

    I read your thread and am now stuck between ULink, DarkRift, and Forge Networking.

    I am intrigued by ULink because Gloria Victis is using it and they are working on a platform that utilizes twitch based combat like Mount & Blade Warband; so will we. They stated that they spend about 30% of their time working on problems with ULink which made me wonder if there is an issue with ULink for the type of game they are making? Then after reading your post and learning more about ULink my intrigue stayed because of the instances and physics, etc.

    DarkRift

    I looked into DarkRift personally and on their page it says supports '200' people? Does that mean staff members or players? If players, I don't think that will be enough for massive sieges.

    Perhaps ForgeNetworking? But to go back to ULink I also saw another video where a guy had over 999 players on screen with the PikkoServer technology:


    Please can you help us mate?
     
  10. snacktime

    snacktime

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    That Ulink video is marketing hype. I don't know what shortcuts they took to make that work but I guarantee you won't get those numbers in a real large scale pvp mmo.

    I'm not actually here to promote my own platform but just using it as an example as I have done a lot of work in this area. With Game Machine, which is highly space optimized, probably more then any other solution out there, I hit a realistic limit of around 250 in visual range once you take into account everything that's going on in a large pvp battle. And large scale pvp is exactly what I designed Game Machine for. The bottleneck should never be the server, it's not really difficult to handle thousands of entities on the server. The client is the bottleneck. Some of it being bandwidth, some of it just being the animations and effects and physics and everything else going on in a large scale pvp battle.

    I could fairly easily do a demo like the Ulink one, but it wouldn't really prove anything because it wouldn't represent how a real large scale mmo with pvp actually works. I could do a number of tricks to make it work that I could never use in a real game.

    Just look at games like GW2 which have been optimizing and tuning for this kind of game for years. Guess what the max they can handle is somewhere around 200 before things start to go south.

    If I was going to create a large mmo using .NET I'd probably use Orleans or Akka, and then look at what best integrated into that. Networking is just one part of your architecture, and it should fit your architecture not the other way around. Usually any limitations in concurrent users comes from the core architecture and how it handles concurrency, not from the networking stack itself. And having good concurrency and good abstractions for it are key to making your life simpler when creating something like an mmo.
     
    tatoforever and elias_t like this.
  11. elias_t

    elias_t

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    snacktime. I jut noticed your solution on multiplayer. Wow!

    Very interested. Will give feedback when I find the time.
    Good job.
     
  12. Jamster

    Jamster

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    Sorry about the late reply, I've been away all weekend!

    The DarkRift licenses are tiered, The free version supports up to 20 concurrent users, the Pro 200 and the Extreme is as many as you can dream of (unlimited). By 'concurrent users' it means people connected to it at once, so for your game it would be 'players'.

    But that 200 limit is only for the Pro version which is sort of aimed at very small games/small betas/large prototypes etc., most production servers will use the Extreme license.

    I agree with @snacktime on the video comments; usually in battles like that it is simply down to what your client can handle as the servers are very unlikely to be the bottleneck (I'm sure there's a few exceptions!). If I tried to record that on my laptop I suspect the youtube video would be incredibly laggy, but that's not telling me very much about the server...

    Jamie
     
  13. arnesso

    arnesso

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    hello guys !

    I would ask you opinions about which network build would be best for a CO-OP survival game ?
    Does anyone know The Forest which one used ?
    Thank you
    Cheers :)
     
  14. pKallv

    pKallv

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    Just to be sure i understand the CCU thing. The free version supports up to 20 concurrent users! Is that up to 20 ccu in a given game session. If i have a card game with max 4 users per session and i have five different matches with 4 ccu's does that count as 20?
     
  15. BFGames

    BFGames

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    https://www.photonengine.com/en-US/Bolt

    States that it was made with that one.
     
    arnesso likes this.
  16. Jamster

    Jamster

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    Yes that would count as 20 :) Basically the total number of people you want playing at a time :)
     
  17. illuminatigaming

    illuminatigaming

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    I want to create a fps.
    For having some fun with my friends and for educating myself with networking and the unity engine.
    So no super professional dev here, just someone who has coding as hobby.
    Can you recommend me a networking solution for the fps?
    Ive started using Photon, but it doesnt satisfy me, the servers are not authoritative so the game is open to cheating.
    This is NOT how i want to learn networking.
    Which of the solutions is the most cheap and simple?
    And where can i host a Server? My home Internet is not usable for hosting, i need an external gameserver.
    Should i use a vps or is there a networking solution with Servers included? (Like photon?)
    I dont want some master client hosting, no peer to peer....
    Just a dumb client App that connects to a Server that handels game rules and physics.
    I hope someone can give me an advise :)
     
  18. Jamster

    Jamster

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    For authoritative there's still a few solutions, Photon Server uses the same client API as Photon cloud but allows you to run code on the server if you host it yourself :)

    Bolt is authoritative I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) and has received quite a bit of praise from it's community, similarly Forge seems to be the go to 3rd party networking solution at the moment and is a very good option.

    DarkRift (the one I write) is also authoritative but is not always suitable for beginners to learn using, it's a very small learning curve but it does require some knowledge of .NET.
    (ADDED: DarkRift 2 is going to have some neat features for things like FPS games when it comes out!)

    If you truly want to learn, download the free versions of them and try them all until you find the one you like best! :p

    Jamie
     
  19. illuminatigaming

    illuminatigaming

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    Some network solutions like bolt seem to want to use 1 client asthe Server.
    I want a central Server. Can i use forge is it similar to bolt?
     
  20. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    With Forge, you decide what you want. So if you want there to be a central Server, that's simple. (They even have a "Bare Metal" product which is a Unity-less server that can connect with Unity clients. If you don't need Unity's physics and that stuff.) If you want a player to be the "Host" (Client + Server) you can do that too. It's all up to you. The biggest benefit, and IMO what sets it above all the rest, is that Forge has no CCU limit, no charge for messages, and none of that crap. You buy it, and it's yours to do whatever you need. No limitation. For hosting, you do it yourself (which is a lot cheaper) or I think they are in beta for the Forge Cloud? I haven't kept up recent improvements, so idk.
     
  21. illuminatigaming

    illuminatigaming

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    Forge Cloud?
    Sounds interesting.
    Dies the forge cloud support custom Server logic?
    And as long as the cloud is not usable and in closed beta, can you recommend a good hoster/plan? It is a small Project and it must be payable with paysafe and it should be a prepaid hoster. I am just thinking about "fair data usage" or something like that. I dont want to get any strike because the hoster doesnt like game hosting on the Server.
     
  22. Mr.Tura

    Mr.Tura

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    Could you review Atom Networking, I'd like to hear what things are liked and disliked. Thanks.
     
  23. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Sorry, I haven't looked up hosts yet, so I have no clue. (All I will need is a master server to connect players together, but right now I don't even have that in the game.)

    Here is the thread on Forge Cloud Hosting

    and a post Why no CCU limit is fantastic.
     
  24. bigSadFace

    bigSadFace

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    You can host a non-client server with Bolt. It's quite trivial to do and is covered in the documentation.
     
  25. Mr.Tura

    Mr.Tura

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    Atom Networking, unlimited servers setup, unlimited things per one server!
     
  26. andysctu

    andysctu

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    Sorry if I sound clueless here, but could someone summarize why the regular unity Networking HLAPI isn't enough?
     
  27. Tiny-Tree

    Tiny-Tree

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    actually things are pretty different, forge networking is following the same path as bolt, unity networking is becoming pretty mature have a team of dev working full-time on it.
     
  28. Tiny-Tree

    Tiny-Tree

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    i don't want to start an argument war, but for someone to start a new project there is some plugin i would not advise, like NGUI or bolt and recently forge. when there is very few update, no more activity from the devs on unity forum and only one game released with forge, you can consider free option like UNET which have a real team of dev behind more features, its simply not possible to compete for small teams or solo devs ( bolt & forge).
    you have actually update almost every weeks for unet.

    the update speed of forge recently seems more like one part time dev.
     
  29. elias_t

    elias_t

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    Actually from slack, the main developer announced that he will be working on another project/job he got and another developer is taking over from the previous team. He is now studying the code base before new updates appear.
    Brett, the old main developer still makes some tutorials and will be around slack, as he stated.

    Why they don't announce it here is beyond me.
     
    CarterG81 likes this.
  30. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Great news! Thx.
     
  31. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Just to correct you, Forge has a full time employee working on it. It is just that employee has changed from one person to another, due to a good (profitable) expansion of their business.

    It was all announced on slack. I reposted it HERE, to calm down all the needless worrying.
     
  32. Bennett-Lynch

    Bennett-Lynch

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    The worrying isn't needless, IMO. As well-intentioned as the new lead developer may be, I fear that he's not as capable as the previous one. We've yet to see any updates for the past several months. At the very least, the development team (and amount of time spent working on the project) was cut in half. At the worst, it was left in the hands of someone who is in way over his head.

    I hope to be proven wrong, since I'm still using Forge for some of my works-in-progress, but it's worth a word of caution to anyone considering picking it up.
     
  33. Brent_Farris

    Brent_Farris

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    I can understand your fear in this situation. I can say that @Cranick has worked with me on Forge Networking since its beta days. Though I did most of the heavy lifting on the system, especially early on, he has worked directly with me over the last year in debugging, testing, and bug fixing. I can assure you that @Cranick is a capable engineer and defiantly has skillsets in not only working on this system but in working on networked games in his day-to-day. Also, I am not absent of the project and still am the president of the company, it's not like I am handing it off to a random person on the street. I still am quite invested in the continued success and growth of Forge Networking :). I will remain a direct contact to @Cranick for the lifetime of not only Forge, but Bearded Man Studios, Inc. as well.

    Though I am responding to a post, this is not the best place to discuss these issues. If you or anyone would like to discuss these matters further, please chat with us on Slack or in our main forum thread as this one is dedicated to reviews of networking systems :)

    Thanks! :D
     
    CarterG81 likes this.
  34. The-Trope

    The-Trope

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    Hi,
    Lets say i want to make à 1v1 game with autoritative server. An arena game and players can use skillshot as League of legends for example. Forge and Bolt seems to fit but one unity instance for only 2 players is expensive on a server. I dont need to use physics, only colliders ( for aoe damages or skillshot) maybe the use of navmesh can be nice, but i can implément my own.
    Wich one of the networking solution do you recommand for this kind of project ?
    Thanks :)
     
  35. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    @The Trope - If you have no intention of hosting your server inside a unity instance, are comfortable exporting ground mesh and colliders, and don't mind handling most of the stuff on your own, Photon is a good choice, especially with the 100CCU free option for a self hosted server.
     
  36. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    @farrisarts - I seriously considered forge for a portion of a new project I'm working on. It's not "enterprisey" enough for me, but that's just cause you guys aren't there yet. You'll get there.

    I can tell you, that as a new person to the forums, I don't know anything about absences or lack of updates. My moment of opinion is based on "right now" ya know? What would be helpful more than anything for me when selecting your product verse something else is a feature list, a road-map, and a version history. Maybe these exist, but I couldnt' find them.
     
  37. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    IMO, Forge is by far the best.

    These features alone make it hands down the ONLY choice in my opinion.

    I emphasize this again & again, because it is just that big of a deal. Two main features.

    • The only Full (Opened) Source networking package. You get FULL SOURCE. Source is also very clean & easy to understand. I spent about 10 minutes adding a feature & fixing a bug. That's what I mean by clean & easy: I looked at the source and said, "Oh, I just need to do this and this."- do it twice & bam: 1 feature & 1 bug fix.
    • No CCU limitation. No message costs. Nothing. Buy once, it's yours for life.
    • Company is already working on BareMetal & ForgeCloud. The former if you don't need Unity (as you suggested- I believe it's in...Beta?) and the latter if you don't want to host your own server (Also in Beta, I believe.)
    From my understanding of CCU limitations, that is incredibly costly if your game has any level of success. You almost immediately get past 100 CCU instantly, especially if you're using it to host a server masterlist. (I had a very hard time understanding this, but after asking hundreds of questions over the years this seems to be my understanding of CCU's. They're VERY expensive with Photon. It's how they make all their money, through costly subscriptions & upgrades.)

    Forge is buy once, the end. Free for the rest of your life.

    Full Open source is such a huge freaking deal, ESPECIALLY in a world where every network is either slow to update & full of bugs (UNET- or anything Unity does) or goes out of business & shuts down of course there's the very costly Photon- the only older networking package that never became vaporware). When something goes abandoned and it's closed source? You're screwed. Time to find an entirely new package & do hundreds of hours of work revamping netcode.

    But when you HAVE the full source? You get to add to it and build on it. Even if it gets abandoned, you still have an incredibly awesome product that is more than worth the money. Instant bug fixes. You can contribute to the Github to add features / fix bugs like some of us do.

    Plus Forge just changed up a lot in their company. They switched the main employee (which is why there was a gap in development), their main employee / CEO is now doing a more lucrative job (Which means Forge is safer. LESS LIKELY to go under. They have more money as a whole.) The replacement for main dev is also experienced in networking / programming. And finally, they just added ANOTHER employee to Forge. One who is already working to update the documentation.

    Forge is already very stable already. I have never had any problems with it that were not my own. The times I had problems, I fixed them in 10 minutes and now they are part of the latest update.

    Idk what BareMetal is like, but I'm sure it's just as awesome as Forge. It does sound like something you should check out.

    edit: Some people will try to claim/pretend that UNET is also open source. It isn't. I checked into it and it's misinformation. The HLAPI is open source, but the LLAPI is closed source. So the part you want open sourced is closed, and the part you don't really need is open. So if you find a bug, you are at the mercy of Unity & its slow development process. That is, if they even acknowledge the bug and promise to fix it. (Some bugs in Unity went 4+ years without being fixed. So ridiculous sometimes.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
    elias_t likes this.
  38. Arsinx

    Arsinx

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    What about Ulink when compared to Forge?
    I thought ULink was more stable and had more titles released with it?
     
  39. snacktime

    snacktime

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    Forge is not open source, and there are several actual open source solutions. Not knocking it by any means, but please post accurate information.
     
  40. The-Trope

    The-Trope

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    @ Freakyuno

    Thanks, Photon server looks good but none of the solutions fits me : Even 100 msg/room is more that i need, i dont want to pay for something i dont use :/

    @ CarterG81


    Thanks for your answer, i think i'll go on it ! I was afraid of Forge since there was not so much signs of life on it, but it looks that it restarted seriously now.

    So, do you suggest me to start my game with the current forge system and change later or wait the BareMetal ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  41. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    This is simply false. If you want to talk about posting accurate information, then please submit accurate information yourself.

    Forge is 100% full available source. You get all of it once you purchase it. It's opened to those who own it.

    As for there being other full available source solutions, which are they? Saying they exist but not naming any is quite silly. What kind of person steps in the room, makes accusations of misinformation, then runs away without explaining themselves? Especially when what they say about Forge being closed source is 100% a lie.

    If you are going to rant about UNET being open source, then link to the HLAPI, I have already explained that. UNET is close source. The most important part you'd want open is the LLAPI, so calling it open source is a mighty stretch of the imagination.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
  42. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    I'd take a look at BareMetal first. I do not know much about it, so I can't tell you anything legitimately helpful. I can just vouch for the developers being a serious, competent team. I would be surprised if BareMetal was not quality. When Forge first released, everything about them said "Competent." The temporary disappearance did scare me for a bit, but everyone is allowed their imperfections & that kind of stuff is common when you have major changes in a company. Besides, that is more of a PR thing and business image thing, IMO, which is less important than their competence as network programmers & software developers. That's all I care about: it works with a minimal number of bugs, and those bugs being squashed quickly.

    I believe they have a free version, so I strongly suggest checking that out first before spending any money.

    http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/download-now-forge-networking-free.365528/

    I'd post any questions you have on their slack channel, or PM one of the developers to get access to slack.

    https://forgenetworking.slack.com/messages/nonowners/

    http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/forge-networking-superpowered-fully-cross-platform.286900/
     
  43. The-Trope

    The-Trope

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    I already have Forge (since their start) :)
    Thanks, I dont found anything on the Forge Website related to BareMetal, only 2 or 3 occurences in changelog, do you have a link to get more informations about that?
     
  44. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Sorry, I got confused with the masterserver they have. Idk why I thought that was BareMetal related. Derp. My bad, I didn't realize it wasn't released yet. I thought I had heard it was in beta, but I was probably thinking of ForgeCloud.
     
  45. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    100 CCU is free with Photon, zero cost for that license. You must host your own server though
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  46. snacktime

    snacktime

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    Open source licenses are a specific thing. Access to source is something completely different.
     
  47. Freakyuno

    Freakyuno

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    Correct. Open source, and Source Code Available are Polar Opposite. :)

    @farrisarts
    Do you have a roadmap for your Forge Server that doesn't need Unity? I've seen hints of that. Also, have you done any load / message testing on upper limits?
     
  48. CarterG81

    CarterG81

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    Whatever dude, semantics. This is the Unity forum. I'll correct that though in the future, but everyone already knew exactly what I meant. It's a loosely defined term to describe Asset Store Assets that you get the source code for. "Full Source", "Full Open Source", "Open Source", "Opened Source", etc. It wouldn't make any sense for a paid asset to be technically open source, so everyone knows what we're talking about. No one is mislead here.

    Sounds like Asset Store Assets to me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software#Open-source_vs._source-available
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
  49. snacktime

    snacktime

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    It's not semantics and it matters. If more people in this industry understood that, we would have more open source. More people would push for stuff like LLAPI to be open source, because in most other industries something like that would be. The general ignorance on this subject in the game community is why we have so little open source. Most game developers don't see the difference.

    The game industry is basically years behind still in this area, and I think that matters a lot. It's one of the main reasons I started my own project in this area. At the time I started Game Machine, this industry was anywhere from 5-10 years behind when it came to server and networking architectures. Why? In a word open source. You can blame the MS culture for some of it, but the game community as a whole is one of the worst offenders.

    Not understanding open source and why it's not just semantic is why you still don't have solutions on par with a number of other industries in areas like this. In other industries no one pays for this stuff, as it's been available for years now as open source.

    If you want a core networking library that actually has an architecture that you can plug into other frameworks with a mind for running in a highly concurrent environment, take a look at these.

    https://github.com/helios-io/helios. This is used in Akka.net and is used to run some very large operations.

    https://github.com/Azure/DotNetty. Port of the popular java netty framework.


    Take Orleans or Akka.net and slap on either Helios or DotNetty for the networking side, and you have something that nothing on the asset store can even touch when it comes to performance and scalability. Why someone hasn't taken these and written a game specific platform around them is beyond me. I'd do it myself, but I've already done it once in java (as at the time the tools simply didn't exist in .net) and it's just too much work to do over again. But really, there is no excuse for the game industry to not put out a good solid open source server framework now that you have all the tools.

    There are several good solutions on the asset store, but good within a certain context. Basically most of them are toys compared to what we could and should have. And it goes directly back to the game community not caring about open source.
     
    tatoforever likes this.
  50. tatoforever

    tatoforever

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Posts:
    3,915
    I was on of the very early adopter of Forge Networking. I stopped using it when performance and networking jittering/lag was an issue. It's quite easy to integrate and get a project running but back in the time i tried it was riddled with bugs (nothing really showstopper but i just can't handle the lag so i stopped using it). Developers are nice and responsible so I may give it a new go in the future, who knows.
    As for now I'm looking for some solid network framework that I can start working on my prototypes. It must come with sources must also be server-client authoritative. Doesn't matter if the server must be coded in Java or something else.
    I heard about SpacialOS, though I'm waiting for their beta invitation.