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Are we going back to "Zones"?

BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 224Member Uncommon

I remember a lot of people complaining about the "zoning" in EQ. I believe DAoC (I may be thinking of a different game) alleviated zoning to a large degree, but you could still tell when you crossed a zone line. They were definitely successful at eliminating the loading screen if not the need for "zones".

World of Warcraft did a great job at being zone free. You could run from one end of a continent to the other with no zoning or loading screens. Sure, they had instances and zoning from one continent to the next, but it was the largest "unzoned" land mass I had seen in an MMO.

Are MMO games getting back to "zoning" or are the new games and upcoming games contiguous, for the most part?

Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

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Comments

  • birdycephonbirdycephon Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 1,314Member
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    I remember a lot of people complaining about the "zoning" in EQ. I believe DAoC (I may be thinking of a different game) alleviated zoning to a large degree, but you could still tell when you crossed a zone line. They were definitely successful at eliminating the loading screen if not the need for "zones".World of Warcraft did a great job at being zone free. You could run from one end of a continent to the other with no zoning or loading screens. Sure, they had instances and zoning from one continent to the next, but it was the largest "unzoned" land mass I had seen in an MMO.Are MMO games getting back to "zoning" or are the new games and upcoming games contiguous, for the most part?

    For the most part, zoned. The contiguous games are far and few. 

  • GruntyGrunty Fort Worth, TXPosts: 7,034Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    I remember a lot of people complaining about the "zoning" in EQ. I believe DAoC (I may be thinking of a different game) alleviated zoning to a large degree, but you could still tell when you crossed a zone line. They were definitely successful at eliminating the loading screen if not the need for "zones".

    World of Warcraft did a great job at being zone free. You could run from one end of a continent to the other with no zoning or loading screens. Sure, they had instances and zoning from one continent to the next, but it was the largest "unzoned" land mass I had seen in an MMO.

    Are MMO games getting back to "zoning" or are the new games and upcoming games contiguous, for the most part?

    You never played Asheron's Call. It can take hours to travel from one side to the next Not 30-40 minutes like WoW. And most of that travel time in WoW is because of it's maze like layout.

  • RaxeonRaxeon cedar falls, IAPosts: 2,088Member Uncommon
    i think with the better gfx you need the zones or you end up with copy pasta like ffxiv 1.0 had
  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 943Member Uncommon

    I definitely prefer zones in one way or another.  With zones you can have completely different graphics for various areas in the game and do not have to worry about ice areas in a desert allowing you to have a far greater variety of textures with the same level of video card. 

  • sanshi44sanshi44 BrisbanePosts: 1,088Member Uncommon
    Personaly i prefer zones because with zones you can acualy put more into each area with less lag than having no zone lines, I have no problem what so every having a zoneline give you a little time to take your eyes of the screen for a few second which is acualy good for you to do aslong as it doesnt take 5minute to zone hahaha. I would also like to add that i hate seeing instances in the game there the biggist immersion breaking thing in a game, atleast for me that is. I rather see open world raids and dunguens.
  • snapfusionsnapfusion San, CAPosts: 954Member
    Originally posted by centkin

    I definitely prefer zones in one way or another.  With zones you can have completely different graphics for various areas in the game and do not have to worry about ice areas in a desert allowing you to have a far greater variety of textures with the same level of video card. 

    This is a very strange argument, somehow we need zones to be able to have a climate change in a seamless world?  Im not sure how to decode your message.

  • DancingQueenDancingQueen LA, CAPosts: 201Member

    People complained about zoning because with the computers of that era with 64MB to 256MB of RAM it took a long time to load a new area in the game but today with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of RAM I don't see that problem.

     

  • jimdandy26jimdandy26 salem, ORPosts: 527Member
    Originally posted by DancingQueen

    People complained about zoning because with the computers of that era with 64MB to 256MB of RAM it took a long time to load a new area in the game but today with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of RAM I don't see that problem.

     

    Outside of the fact that very few games even now can actually access more than 4gb because they are 32bit applications.

    I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

    To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  • DancingQueenDancingQueen LA, CAPosts: 201Member
    Originally posted by jimdandy26
    Originally posted by DancingQueen

    People complained about zoning because with the computers of that era with 64MB to 256MB of RAM it took a long time to load a new area in the game but today with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of RAM I don't see that problem.

     

    Outside of the fact that very few games even now can actually access more than 4gb because they are 32bit applications.

    Thats the devs fault.

    Smart devs makes 64-bit MMORPG's.

  • jimdandy26jimdandy26 salem, ORPosts: 527Member
    Originally posted by DancingQueen
    Originally posted by jimdandy26
    Originally posted by DancingQueen

    People complained about zoning because with the computers of that era with 64MB to 256MB of RAM it took a long time to load a new area in the game but today with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of RAM I don't see that problem.

     

    Outside of the fact that very few games even now can actually access more than 4gb because they are 32bit applications.

    Thats the devs fault.

    Smart devs makes 64-bit MMORPG's.

    [mod edit] Even now the majority of pc's have 4gigs or less of ram. On top of that those sorts of considerations are generally nailed down fairly early in the dev cycle, a cycle that generally lasts 3-5 years. Its not an issue of "smart" its playing to the market and judging it over time.

    I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

    To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  • It takes a lot from immersion to move about in fragmented game worlds with loading screens everywhere. It's a shame most MMO developers aren't interested in virtual worlds.
  • nbtscannbtscan Phoenix, AZPosts: 774Member Uncommon
    FF14 1.0 tried a seamless world but they had a very poor server structure and it didn't work so great.  Even with their new hardware and server coding they felt ARR should go back to a zoning system.  This might have more to do with PS3 limitations though.
  • L0C0ManL0C0Man Puerto OrdazPosts: 1,065Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axxar
    It takes a lot from immersion to move about in fragmented game worlds with loading screens everywhere. It's a shame most MMO developers aren't interested in virtual worlds.

    Depends on the game, I'd say.

    For example, in TSW I think it would take a LOT from inmersion if I was able to walk all the way from Maine, US to Seoul, London, Egypt or Transylvania.

    That said, I think bandwith is the limiting factor for seamless worlds. Hardware speed and quality has increased exponentially, and with that so have our expectations of graphic quality. Unfortunately internet infrastructure and bandwith (specially outside of big cities and even more outside of the US) hasn't improved at the same speed, which is why newer games with better graphic quality have resorted to zoned instead of seamless worlds.

    What can men do against such reckless hate?

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    In a couple more years when 8GB RAM, Quad Core, and SSD is considered an "entry" level computer for 300-400$ developers will have a lot more wiggle room.

    Hell, you can ALMOST buy a full PC at those specs w/ a budget gfx card right now.

    Everything with the SSD you can now get for 500-600$ US.

     

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,770Member Uncommon
    Not only is every large game world zoned, but it is zoned in a number of different ways.  The question is not whether there are zones, but how obvious they are to players.  For a given way that a game is zoned, that can range anywhere from "you must stop here to wait for a loading screen" to zone lines that are basically undetectable without seeing the source code.  A given game can easily have both of those at once, plus other things in between them.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,770Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DancingQueen
    Originally posted by jimdandy26
    Originally posted by DancingQueen

    People complained about zoning because with the computers of that era with 64MB to 256MB of RAM it took a long time to load a new area in the game but today with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of RAM I don't see that problem.

     

    Outside of the fact that very few games even now can actually access more than 4gb because they are 32bit applications.

    Thats the devs fault.

    Smart devs makes 64-bit MMORPG's.

    For purposes of having enough space to load art assets, the real barrier is video memory, not system memory.  A game engine will typically load what it needs from the hard drive into system memory, then pass it along to the video card a small fraction of a millisecond later, and then delete it from system memory to free up space while leaving only a little bit of data behind to be able to tell the video card which texture or vertex array object or whatever to use.

    I don't think that the operating system can even see video memory, unless it's shared with system memory.  It can ask a video card to identify itself and communicate with the video card some that way, but not directly see or modify what's in video memory.

    A 32-bit program can only address up to 2 GB of system memory, not 4 GB.  But the video card probably doesn't even know whether it's dealing with a 32-bit program or 64-bit or whatever.  So long as the program properly uses an API that video drivers know how to handle, the video card knows what to do.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,770Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by L0C0Man
    Originally posted by Axxar
    It takes a lot from immersion to move about in fragmented game worlds with loading screens everywhere. It's a shame most MMO developers aren't interested in virtual worlds.

    Depends on the game, I'd say.

    For example, in TSW I think it would take a LOT from inmersion if I was able to walk all the way from Maine, US to Seoul, London, Egypt or Transylvania.

    That said, I think bandwith is the limiting factor for seamless worlds. Hardware speed and quality has increased exponentially, and with that so have our expectations of graphic quality. Unfortunately internet infrastructure and bandwith (specially outside of big cities and even more outside of the US) hasn't improved at the same speed, which is why newer games with better graphic quality have resorted to zoned instead of seamless worlds.

    The real barrier to making a game world seamless is that hard drives are slow.  MMORPGs use very little Internet bandwidth apart from downloading and patching the game.  Somewhere in the range of several KB/s is pretty typical--as opposed to tens of KB/s, even.  It's not just that game companies want to allow people with slower connections to play their game.  It's also that if you have 100k players online each using 1 MB/s, that adds up to an awfully big Internet bill to host the servers.  If you had to do that to make your game work, you would, but it's thoroughly unnecessary.

    There's a good case to be made that being able to walk directly from London to Seoul as though they were only a few miles away will seem all wrong.  But if game developers had their choice of making you sit at a loading screen for 20 seconds to transfer or only having the screen go blank for a tenth of a second before the next zone was fully loaded, which do you think they'd prefer?

    In order to be able to load assets fast enough to not need loading screens (or something much like them, such as the game freezing for a few seconds as in Vanguard), you need to be able to predict ahead of time what assets you're going to need--that is, where players will go.  If players are not allowed to warp at all, then you can safely predict that they'll next move to somewhere near where they are right now.  If they can warp from one particular spot in London to one particular spot in Seoul, then you could theoretically start loading the assets needed in Seoul as a player approaches that particular spot in London, so that you're ready if he does decide to warp.

    If a player can warp from any arbitrary location to any other arbitrary location (Guild Wars map travel is roughly this), then you're going to have a loading delay when the player warps, and the only questions are how long the delay will be and what you give the player to do while waiting.  I don't think that is, in itself, a good reason to ban Guild Wars-style map travel.  But it does mean that the trade-offs to a purist form of never having loading screens at all are worse than one might think.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,770Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    In a couple more years when 8GB RAM, Quad Core, and SSD is considered an "entry" level computer for 300-400$ developers will have a lot more wiggle room.

    Hell, you can ALMOST buy a full PC at those specs w/ a budget gfx card right now.

    Everything with the SSD you can now get for 500-600$ US.

    The problem is that in five years or so, when a budget computer comes with your choice of a 500 GB SSD or a 4 TB hard drive for the same price, a lot of people who will never actually use more than 200 GB will think that they need the 4 TB hard drive just because 4 TB is more than 500 GB.

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member

    Archeage is OPEN world and has great graphics.

    The only reason why TWO games are coming out with severe zoning is due to their developers vastly limited ability to create a different game that they started developing with 12 YEARS AGO...TESO and CU are being made by the makers of DaoC, they are doing nothing but making yet another one.

    There is no return to zones, they are just making all they know since they havent really learned anything new....hell, before those two games were announced this very site had a long arse article about the re-emergence of Sandboxes...

    Its all hype, the genre is varied and will remain so.

    “I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  • TreabhairTreabhair New Port Richey, FLPosts: 20Member

    I don't know if it's been mentioned or not, but to those mentioning that zones allow for more stuff within a zone or that zoneless areas have limits due to their nature:

    There are indeed zones in seamless worlds (or in World of Warcraft anyways). It doesn't load the entire world at once but rather each zone overlaps with the ones around it. When you move between them it unloads the previous and loads the next and since they overlap, you as the player never notice the zoning process.

     

    Honestly, zoning doesn't bother me that much but I do prefer the seamless design in open world games. Being limited to moving between areas only at certain points is a bit confining. However, I find myself more and more interested in instanced content as I get older. Games like GW1, PSO, Diablo, etc. all seemed to provide more dynamic content thanks to their instanced nature and only needing to worry about the person or party at hand. I don't believe it's a coincidence that dungeoning continues to be one of the more popular aspects of modern themepark MMOs.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    Zoning hasn't gone anywhere and it is likely to stay that way for a while. If anyone has felt that there hasn't been zones in their game, its because they've hidden them well.

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

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Axxar
    It takes a lot from immersion to move about in fragmented game worlds with loading screens everywhere. It's a shame most MMO developers aren't interested in virtual worlds.

    Why? It is not like virtual worlds are required to make fun games.

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

    Archeage is OPEN world and has great graphics.

    The only reason why TWO games are coming out with severe zoning is due to their developers vastly limited ability to create a different game that they started developing with 12 YEARS AGO...TESO and CU are being made by the makers of DaoC, they are doing nothing but making yet another one.

    There is no return to zones, they are just making all they know since they havent really learned anything new....hell, before those two games were announced this very site had a long arse article about the re-emergence of Sandboxes...

    Its all hype, the genre is varied and will remain so.

    Unless they've pulled some magical tech from their butt, Archeage will be zoned as the rest of them.

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

  • BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 224Member Uncommon
    Maybe I should have been more specific. It's not so much "zones" bother me. It's really the loading screens when going from one zone to another, from the street into an Inn or shop, etc.

    Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 4,470Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axxar
    It takes a lot from immersion to move about in fragmented game worlds with loading screens everywhere. It's a shame most MMO developers aren't interested in virtual worlds.

     There seem to be a lot of people around here that don't want virtual worlds if you read threads.  The other day someone said if you have to travel around the world (Travel times) that it is bad design.  IMO, that would be a complaint against having a virtual world.

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