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Technology and Huge Seamless Open Worlds

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  • Matticus75Matticus75 Posts: 396Member Uncommon

    I am the same way as what the OP is stating, I myself look at games like planetside 1, or battlezone 1 and 2 that did some really cool things back in the day, and wonder why with all the new tech we dont see seemless open worlds.

    I have seen vids on where a space ship moves from space to a planet surface and no instancing at all. But we dont see it at all in any kind of AAA MMOs

    Some comments about how more information needs to be processed and transmitted is a major hurtle, but WoW had that problem back when it came out, so did planetside 1, and we still have the same problems with better processors, servers, higher speed internet, ect, and im still confused myself why they are still "major" issues. (If it because the NPC are more dynamic is the reason, then boy I dont see it much, its not like we see our NPCs moving around in MMOs doing things like the NPCs do in Starcraft 2 Campaign mode, or that MMO NPCs are going about building things in the enviroment, really they dont seem to be all that more scripted compared to NPCs almost 10 years ago)

    I think the real reason why is:

    1) We see alot of startup companies with tight budgets (which is ok)

    2) New tech is being used to do the same with less to save money

    3) With more people in the market that have PCs then the cost/profit ratio makes more sense to create a low budget game, then rinse and repeat

    Also to add their is alot of "business pollution" or bad practices that IMO are harmful to innovation. Example, WoW spammers sell gold, because people in games want to be "better than you" people buy the gold to get items, and then the Blizzard wanted to get a cut of that, so they made the "my little pony mount" and it sells like hotcakes. Add the popularity of low budget Farmville like games; and bam!! we got the F2P plague all of the place. I myself wouldnt have a problem with it if some of the profits from F2P helped to support new innovations and massive Open Worlds, but rules 1,2,3 above are not helping with that......

    In conclusion, I think its possible to make an outstanding/innovative/ground breaking game at a reasonable cost. It just wont make as much profit as the status quo. So as for now and the near future might as well forget anything that is going to be "out of this world MMORPG WTFOMG wet my pants amazing!!"

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Grixxitt

    Different games handle things differently. 

    In Darkfall for instance, mobs only spawned when players got into a set distance from them, thus reducing server lag from having every mob spawn active at the same time.

    Old UOs only answer to the same was to institute a policy of rewarding people for throwing their trash away, thus getting rid of unwanted pixels and lessening server load.

    In Planetside 2 there is a mechanic for limiting the visibility of PCs when a certain amount of players crowd a tight area, thus ensuring that people with super computers aren't the only ones that can move around in large battles. (I bring up PS2 because EQ next will use the same engine and I am curious to know how they will handle the same issues)

     

    Also, most "open, seamless worlds" still have server lines, they just make it so you can go across them without staring at a load screen.

    On the client side, any respectable game engine will have some code to check whether an object might possibly appear on the screen if drawn.  If you can tell that it's behind the camera or too far off to the side or blocked by another object, then you skip it that frame.

    The question isn't whether there's a massive amount of fakery going on behind the scenes in a game engine.  Or rather, there isn't a question of it unless the game runs so horribly that you wonder what obvious optimizations they somehow completely missed.  The trick is to have massive amounts of fakery that reduce the work you need to do, while still giving a final result close enough to what it would be without the fakery that your players can't tell the difference.

  • NaughtyPNaughtyP Edmonton, ABPosts: 793Member

    I honestly have no idea how some games are built, but I will say this. A lot of people are posting that it isn't a technology issue. In many ways this is true as long as money isn't an issue (which it always is) so that does make it a technology issue.

    I would imagine an open, persistent seamless world that doesn't use any instancing/ will always cost more to maintain than an instanced because in the seamless solution it is (probably) impossible to recoup any server resources that are dedicated to the game world while instancedsolutions would give you the opportunity to recoup resources in certain scenarios (ie. instance destroyed due to being empty).

    If we are talking non-instanced zones vs non-instanced open world, it's probably a little closer, but I would again imagine the open world solution is a little more costly because you have to maintain connectivity with the user at all times across server boundaries. So the networking solution would probably be a lot more costly.

    However, with everything being virtualized these days maybe a lot of these problems can be solved that way.

    Anyways, like I said, I have no clue how some of these games are built, but I know juuuuust enough to make dangerous guesses!

    Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure.

  • Goatgod76Goatgod76 Stow, OHPosts: 1,214Member

    It is possible. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has a pretty big open seamless world. You can travel from one end to the other (Of a given continent...it has 3). Even the dungeons you can simply walk into without a loading screen. It does have portals and a need to load between continental travel...but that is it. And not to mention VG's graphics are not too shabby at all. I'd say maybe just under AoC/Rift in looks.

     

    I see no reason it can't be done now.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Terranah

    It has to be possible.  Some of the old games had this ability.  Take SWG for example, you had planets which were essentially very, very large maps and people were building houses on them without instancing and decorating them and such.  If you could take that level of art, but use a better engine, it seems like it would have to be possible.

    It depends on what you mean by "that level of art, but use a better engine".  There are trade-offs, and if you give up some graphical quality to make a world seamless, you can't just get back that graphical quality for free.  In fact, it's likely that the price of getting back the graphical quality that you just gave up will be to use some loading screens.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Huge non instanced worlds were the norm 

    Don't confused instancing with zoning.  You can have a heavily-instanced world that is still seamless or a single enormous world with tons of loading screens.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    The skyrim level graphics thing.

    That was daoc in its day, it uses the same engine as Morrowind.

    Still managed to have a fully persistent world with zero instancing.

    All MMORPGs have instancing.  It's only a question of how they instance things.

    If you're asked to pick the server you want to play on from a list the first time you log in, that's a list of instances of the game world.

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,430Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Amar
    But you can have instance free all open world themeparks
    EQ at launch, daoc, both planetsides.

    Funny you should mention that. Just yesterday my son made the comment that the ideal game would be DAoC and UO combined, with UO's skills system. He's 21 and used to be a hardcore Themepark gamer, by the way. I'm a Roleplayer hardcore Sandbox gamer. Neither of us has played an MMO in well over a year, nor are either of us looking forwards to anything at the moment.

    But yes, of course you're right on the listed Themeparks with open worlds. And as I said, even a Themepark can be a better game with it. But remember the waiting lines in EQ. It doesn't have to be that way, of course. But the point that a huge open world works better in Sandbox, in my mind, is right. Go anywhere, do anything, is just made for a huge open world.

    In either case, the game world needs to be designed "right" for the game for the best possible effect.

    Once upon a time....

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Amaranthar

    Yes it's possible. The problems have been mentioned except for one, server capacity. You'd simply need more of that, which means a larger cost on an onrunning basis.

    As far as player load, it seems to me that in an overall, normal fashion, you'd have less. Because the game world can be spread out more. Meaning that you don't need as much loaded up.

    Two exceptions to that last.

    1. Players massing up, for whatever reason. Including events. Personally, I'd give up a lot of the gawdy armors and weapons and stick to a more limited number of arts for this huge world. Also, as already mentioned, characters in heavy masses can be limited on what you see per distance. Think of the mountain ranges that change as you draw nearer, only this would be for mobiles and at closer ranges, but only when the stress picks up. A game could also add dust or steam to simulate what a large crowd might do and also clue the players in to the fact or excessively large numbers.
    2. Players dropping items on the ground. In UO players would actually drop thousands of items so that when another player ran by they'd lag up and could be killed easily. Several answers to this. The two primary are limiting the viewing per distance and replacing individual art with a variety of single art that works like a containor or sorts.
     
    I dream of someone having the wherewithall, both financially and ballsy, to do this. But you say that this isn't a Sandbox vs Themepark issue. It is. You don't need a huge open world in a Themepark game where zoning is the rule. It works much better in a Sandbox, go anywhere do anything, sort of world. Although, I think it would also enhance any Themepark game as well, but it's just not the same experience.

    Server capacity?  What does that have to do with anything?  It's certainly not an issue of storage capacity.  CPU throughput and network bandwidth could be an issue if most of your players bunch up as you describe.  But if only a small fraction of the playerbase is in a very crowded area at any given time, that doesn't amount to much.

    The problems you're talking about are client-side issues.  The solution is to only draw so many things per frame.  If there are 500 players in an area that "should" appear on your screen, then pick the 20 or 50 or whatever nearest to you (this can be adjustable by the player) and only draw those.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Quiz
    No they don't.

    Instancing is multiple private copies of a single area of a game, whether that be instanced raids and dungeons, mini game pvp, or multiple copies of world zones.

    Several games don't have this.

    Eve, daoc, ac, uo, both planetsides, darkfall, EQ before it introduced instanced dungeons etc..

    You most certainly don't need instancing in a mmo
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Darth-Batman
    What about phasing, could devs do something like using phases instead of zones to avoid loading screens?

    That's a different form of instancing.  It has nothing to do with loading screens.  The way that instancing is used is a game design choice.  Some players like to have the mobs they're trying to kill be there for them rather than having someone else run in and steal the kills.  As with so many other game design choices, there are pros and cons to various forms of instancing.

  • botrytisbotrytis In Flux, MIPosts: 2,567Member
    Originally posted by eldaris

    Rift managed to have invasions and an open world too,the DE in gw2 are not so dynamic anyway,more like a choice of developers to avoid writing any decent quests beside the personal story.Why no more huge and seamless open worlds ?Maybe because a lot of players are not interested in worlds,they just want instant travel to a dungeon to farm the last tier of gear and even flying on a gryphon for 5m is too much for them.

    Problem is Rift was very small, compared to WoW, GW1, GW2, etc. See here - http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/306052

     

    Rift is tiny in comparison to other MMO's - so it is easy to have a seamless world with it.

    image

    "In 50 years, when I talk to my grandchildren about these days, I'll make sure to mention what an accomplished MMO player I was. They are going to be so proud ..."
    by Naqaj - 7/17/2013 MMORPG.com forum

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Yeah phasing is instancing plus.

    Instancing took mmos in the wrong direction
    Phasing will make it even worse, just a bunch of people playing a single player rpg who occasionally bump into someone once an hour or team up with 3 guildmates to spend 45 minutes in a coop dungeon.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by greenreen
    Something just came to me reading other replies. What if loading screens are hand holding and not about tech or skill at all. What if some use them to remind someone of where they are and grind in the names of places in their memory. Maybe you don't "need" them but you "want" them for other purposes. It could be to show off a cool concept art piece made in oil paint that cost a lot of man hours or to offer hints and tips reminding the player that the game is always interested in them doing well. Someone could probably come up with other reasons but when I think back on the ones I've seen, they weren't all just a spinning wheel saying "loading".

    But why would you make them sit at a loading screen for a long time if that's the purpose?  Why not just make it a quick text over the top of the screen?  Or let people end the loading screen and return to the game whenever they feel like it?

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    I'm surprised we haven't touched on gameplay features vs. player numbers yet. For example, GW2 had to give up body blocking in order to accomodate higher player numbers in zones. It is a very resource-intensive feature, so I hear, so the server-side calculations would become insurmountable with many players in the same area.

    A game such as Eve Online, is simplified to accomodate large player numbers. Therefore it doesn't have collision detection, directional combat, newtonian flight, physics or even direct controls for your ship. The lack of some of these also make it less vulnerable to high latency, meaning you'll be relatively unaffected no matter where around the globe you play. As a comparison, a player playing a fast-paced FPS game in Australia when the server is in Europe is crippled by the high latency.

    I don't know about Planetside 2, but Battlefield 3 had to really work to get those player numbers they have on their servers. For instance, from what I hear, they've moved hit detection from the common server-side to client-side calculation. That is why deaths and hits sometimes have a certain lag. You should know what I'm talking about if you're familiar with various FPS games. One other downside to this is that it could be exploited.

    Point is: you always have to give something to improve performance.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Matticus75

    we still have the same problems with better processors, servers, higher speed internet, ect, and im still confused myself why they are still "major" issues.

    Conspicuously missing from your list is the problem:  7200 RPM hard drives still spin at 7200 RPM, just like they did a decade ago.

  • VolkonVolkon Sterling, VAPosts: 3,788Member
    Originally posted by GrayGhost79
    Originally posted by Volkon
    The problem with the "huge open seamless world" is that it nearly demands static content (mobs, quests, etc.) in order to be feasible. When, for example, you have static quest givers standing there with a "!" over their heads you can load them as a part of the terrain. However, as games shift to a more dynamic content, where the world can be in varying states and NPCs can be on the move, dead, etc. then you have the situation where when a player enters an area he needs the data for everything dynamic happening  around him. You may not see something happening over that hill, but it's there and ongoing so you need to load that information just in case you go over that hill. This is why GW2, for example, had to zone their world... the dynamic event system sends huge amounts of data when compared to static quest dudes.

    Ultima Online exists to prove you wrong :) which is still to this day one of the largest game worlds on top of being open and seamless. 

    UO also had huge live events where hundreds of players would be in the same area defending towns against wave after wave of attacking mobs. 

     

    It always makes me sad when posts like this are made because they were proven wrong back in 1997, with a dialup connection, on a 486 ... 

     

    Not exactly. Those UO style events are still pretty static. You're in an area, mobs spawn there and attack... nothing dramatic or gamebreaking there. Pretty much nothing more than "this is happening or it isn't". You're also talking about a lot less data transmitted as well compared to modern tech. Yes, it was impressive, but it's nothing more than "what's happening right around me, who's right around me". In GW2, it's "what's happening in the zone". 

    Oderint, dum metuant.
    image

  • VolkonVolkon Sterling, VAPosts: 3,788Member

    Why are people mentioning Eve? Every system in a zone. Yes, they're all on one server, but heavily zoned. How many times have people been parked outside the Jita gates waiting to get in because Jita was full...

     

     

    Oderint, dum metuant.
    image

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    nvm

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,867Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Quirhid

    A game such as Eve Online, is simplified to accomodate large player numbers.

    Deep and complex combat system is considered "simple"...?

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by NaughtyP

    I would imagine an open, persistent seamless world that doesn't use any instancing/ will always cost more to maintain than an instanced because in the seamless solution it is (probably) impossible to recoup any server resources that are dedicated to the game world while instancedsolutions would give you the opportunity to recoup resources in certain scenarios (ie. instance destroyed due to being empty).

    Having different instances for each player means you have a lot more instances than if it's just one instance shared by a bunch of players.  The latter might put a little more load on network bandwidth because you have to tell players what other players are doing.  But the former will mean a much higher server load on CPU and system memory because you have far more mobs running around.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Goatgod76

    It is possible. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has a pretty big open seamless world. You can travel from one end to the other (Of a given continent...it has 3). Even the dungeons you can simply walk into without a loading screen. It does have portals and a need to load between continental travel...but that is it. And not to mention VG's graphics are not too shabby at all. I'd say maybe just under AoC/Rift in looks.

     

    I see no reason it can't be done now.

    Vanguard doesn't have loading screens, but when the game completely locks up to make you wait for it to load the next zone, is that really so much better than putting up a loading screen?

    Vanguard also has some very severe hitching problems caused by the game trying to load things faster than hardware can handle as you move around.  You might have fast enough hardware to not see either of those problems; a good SSD would probably fix both.  But putting a good SSD in the minimum system requirements is not a good idea.  Yet.  Though I hope it will be someday.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Goatgod76
     

    Vanguard doesn't have loading screens, but when the game completely locks up to make you wait for it to load the next zone, is that really so much better than putting up a loading screen?

    Vanguard also has some very severe hitching problems caused by the game trying to load things faster than hardware can handle as you move around.  You might have fast enough hardware to not see either of those problems; a good SSD would probably fix both.  But putting a good SSD in the minimum system requirements is not a good idea.  Yet.  Though I hope it will be someday.

    I agree. The freeze between zones is essentially the same as a loading screen.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • VolkonVolkon Sterling, VAPosts: 3,788Member
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    nvm

    You weren't about to pop me for using "instanced" instead of "zoned" when I first posted, are you? Yeah... I caught that and was momentarily embarassed. 

    Oderint, dum metuant.
    image

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Gdemami

    Originally posted by Quirhid

    A game such as Eve Online, is simplified to accomodate large player numbers.

    Deep and complex combat system is considered "simple"...?

    I know better than to reply to that.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

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