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Has There Been a Round World MMO?

jalexbrownjalexbrown Indianapolis, INPosts: 120Member
This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?
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Comments

  • giftkastaregiftkastare LouisianaPosts: 6Member Uncommon

    My first thought is that putting in an expansion where you have a new continent or island or even a new zone would be difficult if you had lands connected in a sphere. 

     

    edit- Though, the cure for this would be a multiple worlds approach. I just read Ready Player One and now I really would like to see a more immersive MMO with multiple worlds that represent different styles of gaming.

  • Four0SixFour0Six Missoula, MTPosts: 1,181Member Uncommon

    There should be, round and open, no zones.

    At launch you could have more open space on your globe than land, expansions could be from teraforming activity.....Or better?..Expansions are new planets.

  • vulkanxxvulkanxx streetsboro, OHPosts: 13Member
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

    Go to bed!

  • XthosXthos Columbus, OHPosts: 2,628Member
    It's been a while, but I am pretty sure UO was a tilted axis round world, that you could sail around the world and come back to your starting point. 
  • bugmenobugmeno Iowa, IAPosts: 85Member
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

    thats what I hoped for in STWOR, too bad we only got rectangular maps with lots of exhaustion zones and just a tiny fraction of a planet.

     

    image
  • LogicLesterLogicLester Claremont, CAPosts: 68Member
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

     

    I seem to remember UO and SWG both having round worlds in the sense that if you just kept going in a straight line you would eventually get back to the point you started.

  • OnomasOnomas Rock Hill, SCPosts: 1,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by LogicLester
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

     

    I seem to remember UO and SWG both having round worlds in the sense that if you just kept going in a straight line you would eventually get back to the point you started.

    Correct, exploration at its finest. But it wasnt dull, in SWG you could stop and actually see the animals interact with each other. Each animal had its own behavior patterns ( hostile animals would attack prey, etc...),

  • jalexbrownjalexbrown Indianapolis, INPosts: 120Member
    Originally posted by giftkastare

    My first thought is that putting in an expansion where you have a new continent or island or even a new zone would be difficult if you had lands connected in a sphere. 

     

    edit- Though, the cure for this would be a multiple worlds approach. I just read Ready Player One and now I really would like to see a more immersive MMO with multiple worlds that represent different styles of gaming.

    Putting aside the possibility of expansions creating new worlds for a second, the world could still be expanded while creating the illusion of a round world; it would be as simple as making the left edge wrap you around to the right edge, and vice versa for all four directions.  You could expand on the world, but there would always be edges that could be connected.  That way you could have the effect of a rounded world without being stuck with a certain size of world.

  • bugmenobugmeno Iowa, IAPosts: 85Member
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

     

    I seem to remember UO and SWG both having round worlds in the sense that if you just kept going in a straight line you would eventually get back to the point you started.

    SWG had killer planets

     

    http://youtu.be/Zdqxid-oCGU

    image
  • RossbossRossboss Runes of Magic, TXPosts: 240Member

    On a small scale, like the perception of human beings from the ground, the earth does seem flat. Adding the round world would literally do nothing for the player aside from make the edges of his screen curl down a bit if they flew into the sky. It's also quite difficult to plan an entire planet, although it would be cool to have static factors depending on the longitude like vegitation and inhabitants.

     

    On a side note, maps were all 2-D until they had the technology to make globes. Maybe it's the technology that is holding this innovation back.

    I played WoW up until WotLK, played RoM for 2 years and now Rift.
    I am F2P player. I support games when I feel they deserve my money and I want the items enough.
    I don't troll, and I don't take kindly to trolls.

  • OnomasOnomas Rock Hill, SCPosts: 1,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rossboss

    On a small scale, like the perception of human beings from the ground, the earth does seem flat. Adding the round world would literally do nothing for the player aside from make the edges of his screen curl down a bit if they flew into the screen. It's also quite difficult to plan an entire planet, although it would be cool to have static factors depending on the longitude like vegitation and inhabitants.

     

    On a side note, maps were all 2-D until they had the technology to make globes. Maybe it's the technology that is holding this innovation back.

    Adds exploration value, immersion, and much more than you think. A game with multiple planets or a "world" that is flat....didnt Columbus proove this wrong ;)

    Running from a bounty hunter in a wide open world is fun, and being one brings a lot of realism to your plate.

    And not very difficult, several games have done this. Just new developers and games are too busy worrying about hanging onto WOW's coat tails, become lazy, and spend too much time on crap we dont need like story, voice acting, etc.....

    After all its a MMORPG, many people forget what those letters mean.

  • BenediktBenedikt PraguePosts: 1,406Member Uncommon
    i dont think you really can make a representation of a spherical world in computer - meaning storing informations about it in any meaningful way
  • RossbossRossboss Runes of Magic, TXPosts: 240Member
    Originally posted by Onomas
    Originally posted by Rossboss

    On a small scale, like the perception of human beings from the ground, the earth does seem flat. Adding the round world would literally do nothing for the player aside from make the edges of his screen curl down a bit if they flew into the screen. It's also quite difficult to plan an entire planet, although it would be cool to have static factors depending on the longitude like vegitation and inhabitants.

     

    On a side note, maps were all 2-D until they had the technology to make globes. Maybe it's the technology that is holding this innovation back.

    Adds exploration value, immersion, and much more than you think. A game with multiple planets or a "world" that is flat....didnt Columbus proove this wrong ;)

    Running from a bounty hunter in a wide open world is fun, and being one brings a lot of realism to your plate.

    And not very difficult, several games have done this. Just new developers and games are too busy worrying about hanging onto WOW's coat tails, become lazy, and spend too much time on crap we dont need like story, voice acting, etc.....

    After all its a MMORPG, many people forget what those letters mean.

    True, it does add some of those elements which I think are great. My point was that making the world round, from a developer standpoint, isn't all that amazing. It just means they can still design on a flat plane and have it connect over a place where the player is not allowed to go, like the ocean or an instanced zone. Having connected zones is little more than making multiple flat designs that are linked together in a circular format. I think what you're looking for is more of a seamless world, where there aren't any instanced zones/planets/areas.

    I played WoW up until WotLK, played RoM for 2 years and now Rift.
    I am F2P player. I support games when I feel they deserve my money and I want the items enough.
    I don't troll, and I don't take kindly to trolls.

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,274Member Uncommon

    SWG did, not sure about any other MMOs.

  • BenediktBenedikt PraguePosts: 1,406Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMOman101

    SWG did, not sure about any other MMOs.

    i am pretty sure it didnt - it was flat warped around edges afaik

  • TofkeTofke GeelPosts: 216Member

    [mod edit]

    I could remember wrong, but even as SWG had planets they also had borders that just stopped you. I can't recall me hitting the border and ending up the other end again. Just too lazy to test that out atm :P

  • RocketeerRocketeer NachrodtPosts: 1,304Member
    Hmm considering the speeds with which we travel in most MMOs makes wether the world is flat or round really pointless. Unless you would have really really tiny worlds, which would imho kinda beat the whole immersion purpose. Anyway back to the speeds, even with a popular flying mount creature it would take probably weeks just crossing a single continent. if we ever get landmasses of that size, wether or not they wrap around somewhere would imho be a minor concern :D.
  • SinsaiSinsai Reno, NVPosts: 236Member Uncommon

    Citadel of Sorcery has a world generator called Planetforge that creates whole(round) actual worlds.

    http://www.citadelofsorcery.com/faq/new-technology

    It's something that I'm looking forward to with this game.

     

     

    image

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    I'm not aware of any game that has had a spherical world large enough to appear flat locally.  Spheres are actually rather hard.  People mentioned Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, but Google wasn't able to turn up any evidence that either of those had spherical worlds.  Quite to the contrary, either the maps that Google found are flatly wrong or else the worlds weren't round.

    A cylinder, on the other hand, is much easier to do.  You make a square map, don't allow players to go off the top or bottom edges, but do make it so that going off the right edge brings you back on the left edge or vice versa.  Uncharted Waters Online does this, for example.  If in addition, going off the top edge brings you back onto the bottom and vice versa, then that's a torus (donut shape), not a sphere.  Civilization IV gives an option to do this, and while I'm not aware of any MMORPGs that do it, it wouldn't be hard to do.

    But there aren't any nice ways to map a rectangular map onto a sphere, which is why there are so many different map projections for people who want a map of the entire Earth.  The Mercator projection is likely the most common, but it ignores the polar areas and treats the Earth like a cylinder.  It also distorts things badly, sometimes leaving schoolkids with the impression that Greenland is as big as South America.

    Topologists may favor stereographic projection, which does map a sphere minus a single point onto a plane.  But anything near the missing point is very badly stretched, as the point is essentially mapped to infinity.  You can do two stereographic projections based on two antipodal points, and then take a hemisphere from each to get a map of the world.  But that still offers considerable distortion, in addition to being awkward to read when you move from one hemisphere to the other.

    One simple way to map a sphere onto a cylinder that preserves areas (while wildly distorting shapes) is to multiply the x and y components by the same positive scalar so as to push the sphere out onto a cylinder.  Proving that this really does preserve areas is simple first-year calculus, though proving anything non-trivial at all is likely beyond the competence of many calculus students.  Going the other direction gives a simple way to pick a point uniformly at random on a sphere (assuming that you know how to pick a point uniformly at random from a line segment), but as a map of the world, the severely distorted shapes are likely to be problematic.

    If you want a spherical map that isn't severely distorted, then using a polytope instead is probably the right way to go.  For a simple case, imagine a cube-shaped world, where you can move across edges.  You can actually "fold up" the facets so that it's not at all obvious when you're crossing an edge and the world looks flat locally.

    The problem with this is what to do at vertices.  Three squares meet at a vertex, which gives you 270 degrees of world and a 90 degree gap.  Probably the simplest approach is, don't let players get anywhere near vertices so that you never have to draw that gap.  You can make the gap smaller by having more facets, but this comes at the expense of needing more vertices that you need to keep people away from.  There is a theorem that the sum of the "gaps" at all vertices of the boundary of a three-dimensional polytope will always sum to 720 degrees.

    And that's basically what I'm doing for a project that I'm working on.  I use a truncated icosahedron, which is the iconic soccer ball shape, though I made the pentagons smaller.  Each pentagon has a city, and the vertices where two hexagons and a pentagon meet are covered up by huge walls around the city.  Players are never allowed to see all sides of a wall at once, so the "gap" moves around to always be opposite the wall from the player, so that you can never see it.  If you run around along a wall, you only have to turn by 348 degrees to go in a complete circle and end up back where you started, but that's close enough to 360 to make for a convincing sphere.

  • IkifalesIkifales tucson, AZPosts: 265Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Onomas
    Originally posted by LogicLester
    Originally posted by jalexbrown
    This is something I've been pondering for a while: While don't any MMO developers try to create spherical worlds?  The idea of a flat world seems archaic; we've known for thousands of years that our world is round, so why are MMOs stuck in this flat plane?  Imagine an MMO world that didn't need any sort of invisible walls, because going in any one direction long enough just meant you ended up where you started.  Wouldn't that be ideal?

     

    I seem to remember UO and SWG both having round worlds in the sense that if you just kept going in a straight line you would eventually get back to the point you started.

    Correct, exploration at its finest. But it wasnt dull, in SWG you could stop and actually see the animals interact with each other. Each animal had its own behavior patterns ( hostile animals would attack prey, etc...),

    SWG had invisible walls on all fours sides, the maps were square. You could see beyond the wall but could not go past it unless it glitched, which was one of the exploits used to stack pearls in a light saber.

  • HjamnrHjamnr Madison, WIPosts: 163Member
    A big part of the probelm with most recent MMO's is the engine their using to build their "worlds".  Cryengine and UnrealEngine are FPS engines which are designed around "levels".  This severely hampers the construction of huge seamless worlds.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Myths about the Earth being flat were mentioned earlier in this thread, but people knew that the world was round in ancient times.  The most direct way to see it is during a partial lunar eclipse.  People could figure out that the Earth was between the Sun and the Moon, and the suddenly "dark" part of the moon was the Earth's shadow--and it was visibly curved.

    Another proof that was easier to observe than having to wait for a lunar eclipse is watching a large ship sail off into the distance.  Eventually you could still see the sails but the hull seemed to disappear below the surface of the ocean.  That should be impossible if Earth were flat, but makes perfect sense for a round world.

    It took considerably more sophistication to do this, but you could also measure the height of the sun in the sky and see how it varied throughout a year at various points.  Do that for a number of points that aren't terribly close to each other and you could determine not merely that the earth was round, but what your latitude was and which way was north, south, east, and west.  And yes, people were able to do that in ancient times, at least in the relatively advanced civilizations.  Directions like "north" don't have any meaning if you aren't aware that the world is round.

    I'm not sure if this is true, but I've read that the myths about people in Medieval or Renaissance times thinking that the world was flat had their origins in anti-Catholic propaganda, or more specifically, attacking the Roman Catholic Church for imprisoning Galileo.  But that's just a stupid myth.  At the time, everyone who was educated believed that the world was round.

    Rather, the dispute with Galileo was over whether the Earth revolved about the Sun or the other way around.  Galileo said the former and the Catholic Church said the latter--and imprisoned Galileo for saying the former.  Today we know that Galileo was right, but back then, they didn't, as neither side could prove that it was correct.  Solid scientific evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun wouldn't come until about a century later with Newton's laws.  Isaac Newton's key insight was that the force that makes an apple fall to the ground is the same force that makes planets revolve about the sun.  With that, it wasn't too hard to demonstrate that the Earth does revolve about the sun.

    Before Galileo, the model that assumed that the Earth was the center of the universe worked for nearly everything.  The only known exceptions were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, which revolve about the sun.  But a model that assumed that all other celestial objects revolved about the Earth fit all available evidence.  Galileo's new evidence was adding four more objects that did not revolve about the Earth:  Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa all revolve about Jupiter.  Io in particular goes pretty fast (orbital period of less than two days), so if you were to sit up and watch it in a telescope all night, its angular position relative to Jupiter would visibly move a lot over the course of a single night.

    But that proved nothing about whether the Sun revolves about the Earth or vice versa.  Nearly all other celestial objects seemed to revolve about the Earth with an orbital period of about 23 hours and 56 minutes, with only two exceptions:  the Sun and the Moon.  For the Sun, the orbital period was 24 hours.  For the Moon, it was off by about an hour.  And today, we know that the Moon does orbit the Earth, so being an outlier here hardly proved that it was the Earth that was moving.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hjamnr
    A big part of the probelm with most recent MMO's is the engine their using to build their "worlds".  Cryengine and UnrealEngine are FPS engines which are designed around "levels".  This severely hampers the construction of huge seamless worlds.

    If the tools that you're considering licensing can't do what you want, then maybe you shouldn't license them.  Making the world flat is a choice--and for some games, a perfectly sensible choice.  If your entire game takes place in a small area of the world (e.g., City of Heroes in a single city), then making the world flat makes sense.  Just don't give me flat planets and claim that they're entire planets.

    But a video card has no clue about the topology of your game world.  A video card just draws what the CPU tells it to.  Making the world round is a question of doing CPU-side code, and more to the point, how coordinates get converted from one zone to the next.

    In a flat world, every zone can have "north" pointing in the same direction, so converting coordinates across zones is a simple matter of adding some constants.  In a round world, different zones will have to have "north" pointing in different directions, so you sometimes have to rotate the coordinate system also.  That's just linear algebra, so someone who absolutely cannot do it at all shouldn't be making a game.  But it does add a fair bit of extra work to work out exactly how to convert from each zone to each other.

  • jalexbrownjalexbrown Indianapolis, INPosts: 120Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    I'm not aware of any game that has had a spherical world large enough to appear flat locally.  Spheres are actually rather hard.  People mentioned Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, but Google wasn't able to turn up any evidence that either of those had spherical worlds.  Quite to the contrary, either the maps that Google found are flatly wrong or else the worlds weren't round.

    A cylinder, on the other hand, is much easier to do.  You make a square map, don't allow players to go off the top or bottom edges, but do make it so that going off the right edge brings you back on the left edge or vice versa.  Uncharted Waters Online does this, for example.  If in addition, going off the top edge brings you back onto the bottom and vice versa, then that's a torus (donut shape), not a sphere.  Civilization IV gives an option to do this, and while I'm not aware of any MMORPGs that do it, it wouldn't be hard to do.

    But there aren't any nice ways to map a rectangular map onto a sphere, which is why there are so many different map projections for people who want a map of the entire Earth.  The Mercator projection is likely the most common, but it ignores the polar areas and treats the Earth like a cylinder.  It also distorts things badly, sometimes leaving schoolkids with the impression that Greenland is as big as South America.

    Topologists may favor stereographic projection, which does map a sphere minus a single point onto a plane.  But anything near the missing point is very badly stretched, as the point is essentially mapped to infinity.  You can do two stereographic projections based on two antipodal points, and then take a hemisphere from each to get a map of the world.  But that still offers considerable distortion, in addition to being awkward to read when you move from one hemisphere to the other.

    One simple way to map a sphere onto a cylinder that preserves areas (while wildly distorting shapes) is to multiply the x and y components by the same positive scalar so as to push the sphere out onto a cylinder.  Proving that this really does preserve areas is simple first-year calculus, though proving anything non-trivial at all is likely beyond the competence of many calculus students.  Going the other direction gives a simple way to pick a point uniformly at random on a sphere (assuming that you know how to pick a point uniformly at random from a line segment), but as a map of the world, the severely distorted shapes are likely to be problematic.

    If you want a spherical map that isn't severely distorted, then using a polytope instead is probably the right way to go.  For a simple case, imagine a cube-shaped world, where you can move across edges.  You can actually "fold up" the facets so that it's not at all obvious when you're crossing an edge and the world looks flat locally.

    The problem with this is what to do at vertices.  Three squares meet at a vertex, which gives you 270 degrees of world and a 90 degree gap.  Probably the simplest approach is, don't let players get anywhere near vertices so that you never have to draw that gap.  You can make the gap smaller by having more facets, but this comes at the expense of needing more vertices that you need to keep people away from.  There is a theorem that the sum of the "gaps" at all vertices of the boundary of a three-dimensional polytope will always sum to 720 degrees.

    And that's basically what I'm doing for a project that I'm working on.  I use a truncated icosahedron, which is the iconic soccer ball shape, though I made the pentagons smaller.  Each pentagon has a city, and the vertices where two hexagons and a pentagon meet are covered up by huge walls around the city.  Players are never allowed to see all sides of a wall at once, so the "gap" moves around to always be opposite the wall from the player, so that you can never see it.  If you run around along a wall, you only have to turn by 348 degrees to go in a complete circle and end up back where you started, but that's close enough to 360 to make for a convincing sphere.

    This dude is on his $*^# when it comes to this stuff, and while I'm not sure I can 100% understand it all (the only subjects where I excelled in school were English and computer classes), I can definitely say this is a very well-thought and well-spoken (well-typed, if you prefer) response.

  • OmaliOmali MMO Business Correspondent Orchard Park, NYPosts: 1,114Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Onomas

    After all its a MMORPG, many people forget what those letters mean.

    Nostalgia for a feature that never existed?

    Check out my monthly column on MMORPG.com.

    image

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