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An Inside Look At Warhammer Online's Server Setup

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hate-to-see-the-power-bill dept.

Games 71

An article at Gamasutra provides some details on the hardware Mythic uses to power Warhammer Online, courtesy of Chief Technical Officer Matt Shaw and Online Technical Director Andrew Mann. Quoting: "At any given time, approximately 2,000 servers are in operation, supporting the gameplay in WAR. Matt Shaw commented, 'What we call a server to the user, that main server is actually a cluster of a number of machines. Our Server Farm in Virginia, for example,' Mann said, 'has about 60 Dell Blade chassis running Warhammer Online — each hosting up to 16 servers. All in all, we have about 700 servers in operation at this location.' ... 'We use blade architecture heavily for Warhammer Online,' Mann noted. 'Almost every server that we deploy is a blade system. We don't use virtualization; our software is somewhat virtualized itself. We've always had the technology to run our game world across several pieces of hardware. It's application-layer clustering at a process level. Virtualization wouldn't gain us much because we already run very close to peak CPU usage on these systems.' ... The normalized server configuration — in use across all of the Mythic-managed facilities — features dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors running at 3 GHz with 8 GB of RAM."

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71 comments

They're still running this game? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603408)

each hosting up to 16 servers

There are still 16 servers for Warhammer Online?

70 * 16 ? Are they kidding me? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603420)

They have like eight servers (worlds) up, tops. They closed all the other ones down. There's no way they have 1120 servers running.

Re:70 * 16 ? Are they kidding me? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603522)

I just checked. Server status page shows 7 servers, down from the 15 that remained in the middle of March 2009 after they shut down 63 servers.

Re:70 * 16 ? Are they kidding me? (3, Insightful)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603940)

That's PHYSICAL servers. A single game "server" is made of multiple PHYSICAL servers.

Irrelevant (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604268)

You don't need a shitload of *physical* servers when you have no gameplay servers.

Re:Irrelevant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30604366)

Sure you do, if you're using archaic server software from the days where DAoC was born.

At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (5, Informative)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603456)

Sponsored Feature: Restless Entities Never Sleep -- The Back End of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

New features enhance the overall gaming experience, such as Intel Turbo Boost Technology (to maximize speed for demanding applications), Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (for advanced multi-tasking and support for up to eight threads), and Intel Smart Cache (to provide a higher performing, more efficient cache subsystem). Experience Warhammer Online in its best light with the processor that has become the gold standard in the gaming world, the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition.

Re:At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (2, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603472)

From the beginning of the article:

[In this Intel-sponsored feature, part of the Visual Computing section, the technical experts behind Mythic and EA's Warhammer Online discuss the mechanics of keeping the MMO running across multiple servers and data centers.]

So yeah - if you start picking up on the glossy brochure language... it's because it is, in fact, marketingspeek. But burried in all the "gosh golly isn't this product swell" blather is some interesting little tidbits about the environment; wheat from chaff.

Re:At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (2, Informative)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603504)

Ahh, I was trying to figure out how I missed that - turns out the link to the article starts you on the second page where the disclaimer is nowhere to be found. Not that it's a dig on gamasutra as it's clearly stated in the title. Just wish /. had mentioned it before I read most of the way through and was wondering why I felt like I was reading and intel ad.

Re:At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605950)

You and me both.

Re:At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603634)

I guess the recession is hurting everyone, even /.

Someone say kama sutra? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603752)

She lies back on the nude beach, her tumescent clit glistening in the sun, labia minora almost moving every time there's a strong breeze. Her ever so slight blonde peach fuzz barely visible in the sun. She coyly spreads her legs, appearing to be nonchalant but secretly enjoying the gazes of the horny boys who have gathered around her. Her nipples are pointed skywards, partly from the cool breeze but mostly from the thought of every male for fifty yards staring at her young naked perfection. She turns over and adjusts her towel on the sand, knees on the towel, elbows on the ground, and her heart-shaped ass thrust up in the air just a little too much, revealing her puffy labia and pink anus. Her perfect full breasts hang down and jiggle slightly from the motion as she pretends to smooth out the towel. She lies down again on her back and spreads her knees far apart with the heels together, as if her only motivation were to tan the insides of her thighs. She drapes a light cloth over her face, which serves a dual purpose: it keeps her face cool but also encourages the growing crowd of boys around her to stare unabashedly at her pussy, knowing that she won't be able to see them gawking lewdly while their rock hard cocks press into the sand longing for release. She drifts off into a brief nap and awakens to find that the boys have moved closer to her, some within five yards. A few are sitting crosslegged, naked and casually stroking their cocks, their eyes fixed on her pussy so intently they don't notice she is now awake and can see them by peeking through the light cloth. She pretends to continue sleeping and absent-mindedly touches her pussy as if to scratch an itch. Her fingers tug at her vulva, spreading apart her pussy lips to reveal the moist inner labia and her engorged clit before returning her arm to her side. Once spread her pussy lips stay slightly open, revealing the amazingly pink inner flesh. She drifts back to sleep, dreaming of being taken forcefully by a High Elf in Warhammer online as wave after wave of orgasm cascades over her body and she shudders in pure bliss.

Re:At least gamasutra labels their paid placements (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605150)

I though it was just my cynicism kicking in at first. Glad someone else noticed that this whole thing reads like a big advertisement for Intel... It is.

Article summary (2, Insightful)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603546)

Blah blah blah, intel cpus are the best, blah blah blah. Reads like one giant intel advertisement

Re:Article summary (2, Funny)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603666)

Be thankful it isn't another iphone advert.

Re:Article summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603890)

That is because it actually is a giant Intel advertisement. If you go to the first page of the article (link goes directly to the second page and skips it) and see the header, you'll note the following:

"...In this Intel-sponsored feature..."

But the submitter cleverly linked to the second page directly, skipping this part. If one was cynical, they may suspect that the submitter was a marketer for Intel...

Re:Article summary (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30607942)

I love my i7 to death, but wouldn't AMD's new 6-core CPU be better since it uses overall less power to do the same amount of work, even if it takes a bit longer to complete the work.

WTF is Warhammer Online? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603572)

Oh, right. Another fucking Windows-only game. No Linux or Mac client. And if there was one, it would be emulating the Windows code, which is also lame. Newsflash to game companies: more and more HOME USERS are buying Macs. Stop counting the marketshare of Windows, it includes secretaries and cash registers and whatnot. It's pointless. Look at what home users are buying, it's not 90% Windows and not 90% Xbox either.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603604)

Heh. They have a mac client. Nerd rage much?

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (3, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604126)

It is impossible for Mac users to nerd rage.
Mac users would have to be nerds for that statement to qualify.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (5, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604374)

It is impossible for Mac users to nerd rage. Mac users would have to be nerds for that statement to qualify.

So... douche-rage?

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610048)

Blizz released some nifty info back in Sep 09

WoW:
20,000 computer systems
13,250 server blades
75,000 CPU cores
1.3 petabytes of storage
4,600 staffers

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30604824)

About WAR Mac Version

WAR for the Mac is made possible using the Cider Portability Engine from TransGaming that acts as a "wrapper" around the game software, enabling it to run seamlessly on Intel-based Macs. TransGaming's Cider technology allows Mythic Entertainment to rapidly enable and deploy WAR for the Mac, providing a new high quality gaming experience to the ever-growing Mac gaming community.

So no, that's not a Mac client. That's a pile of emulated Windows shit.

Using Cider to "port" a game to the Mac is like a car company painting two extra doors on their two-doors cars and calling them four-doors.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30607318)

I might just be stupid - but if its emulating windows to run the game, why is that a problem?

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30608520)

Because it is slower than running it natively and it uses more resources. I've tried it and can testify, it isn't a very good way of doing it.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30609418)

I'd hate to break it to you, but...

Cider -> Cedega -> WineX -> Wine -> Is Not an Emulator.

You know, the not an emulator that ran Counter Strike faster on Linux than Windows?

It's funny how open source technologies are propped up in one context, then slammed under a different one because of obvious bias.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30608552)

Because emulation usually sucks for 3d games. The game barely runs on my Intel iMac under WinXP. I'm just going to guess it won't run at a playable rate under any emulator.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30609448)

I'd hate to break it to you, but...

Cider -> Cedega -> WineX -> Wine -> Is Not an Emulator.

You know, the not an emulator that ran Counter Strike faster on Linux than Windows?

'Playing Windows games with WineX' has been beaten to death years ago, lets not resurrect it under a different name.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30609902)

WINE/WineX/Cedega/Cider/etc. are not emulators. They are implementations of the Windows API on Linux and MacOS, and have the potential to be at least as fast as Windows.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614978)

Which, unfortunately, doesn't help the game run any better. The fact is that Cider absolutely sucks. Using winelib or collaborating with Codeweavers (makers of Crossover) would have yielded much better results.

Re:WTF is Warhammer Online? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30608538)

They do? Damnit, I've been running it with Boot Camp for no reason!?

Virtualization (4, Insightful)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603610)

I've always felt virtualization was pushed too heavily as a concept, making up for failings of the operating systems and how they are used. Many admins have become so used to consolidating existing legacy servers together that we start thinking every app should be wrapped in its own private copy of an OS - as if the whole point of the concepts of users and groups and limits have been forgotten.

Re:Virtualization (2, Interesting)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603754)

Sometimes virtualization makes sense for an app where you don't really know exactly what the usage requirements are going to be. You know at first, your app not going to need a full machine to run. So you wrap it in a VM, and throw it onto a shared server. But you think, in the future, you're going to need to scale up to bigger and better hardware. But you're not sure.

If the app is already contained in a VM, it's trivial to just move it from Server A to a Bigger Server B if you need more power. The process takes no longer than it would take you to reboot the machine - sync up disk image (as much as possible), power off machine, finish syncing disk image, power on machine on new hardware. Doing this without virtualization would not be so trivial, and would force you to reinstall the app from scratch.

If the time comes that an app outgrows it's virtual server environment and needs dedicated hardware, again, it's fairly trivial to just copy the disk image onto a disk partition, boot off a rescue disk to repair any driver/hardware incompatibilities between virtual machine and the real hardware, and then simply start up the new machine. Doing this again, would require reinstalling from scratch.

Of course, some things are trivial to move, so it might not make sense to virtualize those things. But other could take a good number of man-hours to install, configure, import data, etc. You probably only want to do this once.

Also, when keeping everything separate, you don't need to worry about things where updating App A on this server, which has new version of dependency X, if app B if going to be affected by this. If everything is separate, you don't need to worry about some future new dependency of your app will break another dependency on another unrelated app.

It's not the end-all-be-all of solutions, but it definitely makes sense in a lot of situations. Throwing more hardware at the problem to make it go away is fairly cheap, and usually much cheaper than paying people people to try and fix interoperability issues between unrelated pieces of software.

Re:Virtualization (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30603866)

It is also great when you have an old server that has been running for a long time on piece of crap hardware that is about to die. You can just do P2V and not worry about trying to transfer data over, especially those ones that have been in production for years and reinstalling software is not feasible.

Re:Virtualization (0)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603964)

But you don't need virtualization to do that really. If you've got a smaller app then put several of them on a single server. If it needs a bigger server later, then put the app on a bigger server. The advantage of migration with VMs is that the apps can be dumb and not know how to save/restore their state if you move them. When you get to the point where you've got one process per VM, you end up wasting a lot of resources; more memory usage, longer context switches, more paging.

What it really does is solve a lot of problems more easily than fixing the problems themselves. Which is perfectly fine, except I see too many who seem to treat virtualization as something that is inherently better/faster/stronger.

Re:Virtualization (1, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603944)

I was thinking the same.

Basically, enabling legacy applications to survive by giving them a slice of a real machine and running them that way is a great crutch. But not more. It would be more efficient to revamp the system and bring it up to contemporary code, but often that's not possible. I blame closed source and companies that wrote it going out of business, but that's me... I could ramble about shortsighted management decisions and putting the life of a company on the line and dependent on the existance of another company, but ... I won't.

And as usual with great crutches, management (and often their techs, too) have turned it into the be-all, end-all solution for everything. It's a tool that solved a lot of problems and suddenly it has become the tool for every problem. Often problems that would not exist without the tool altogether.

Re:Virtualization (4, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604034)

Basically, enabling legacy applications to survive by giving them a slice of a real machine and running them that way is a great crutch. But not more. It would be more efficient to revamp the system and bring it up to contemporary code, but often that's not possible. I blame closed source and companies that wrote it going out of business, but that's me... I could ramble about shortsighted management decisions and putting the life of a company on the line and dependent on the existance of another company, but ... I won't.

The open/closed status of the program code has got nothing to do with it. We use virtualization with plenty of code where we have the source (either open source or written in-house) because that lets us greatly improve the utilization of hardware. Why take up a whole rack of servers to do what one modern blade can cope with? (Most servers aren't CPU-bound.) What's more, it can do this without you having to figure out how to get all those silly deployments to work together nicely.

The other good thing about virtualization is that it lets many people have control over their own machines without needing lots of "servers" under desks. That means you can do things like ensuring that everything that the business really depends on has UPS power and sane networking. (I know. Critical stuff shouldn't be put under someone's desk. Virtualization makes it easier to bring reality closer to that ideal.)

Virtualization isn't perfect at all, but it does cure a bunch of problems that crop up in reality and at far less cost than "doing it properly". (For one thing, it's not cheap to build a new datacenter. Even fitting out a new server room isn't something that you want to have to spend on every day.)

Re:Virtualization (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30609514)

The next question might be, why does each instance of your in-house code need a private OS to function? At least, that's what I wonder each day at my own workplace. Virtualizing UNIX systems doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Containers make a little more sense, but why is it so hard to run multiple applications on one UNIX system now?

Re:Virtualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30604014)

Virtualization isn't simply about consolidating. And yes, like any technology it can be misused, or worse yet, misused with good intentions. (Buying into the marketing hype). However, virtualization isn't simply about providing a hosted 'shell' around your virtual app, off the top of my head I can think of automated virtual machine migration -- your hosting hardware dies, the centralized management server will realize what has happened and automatically bring the VMs hosted on that hardware up on different hardware -- it's not really the same as clustering, but it does provide a great IT niche.

For instance, at my old company we had it set-up such that if HQ had a fire or something and the VMs died, their data was already mirrored to an off-site that would automatically bring them up in the event of a catastrophe. There are many ways to skin this cat, but don't hate on VMs without knowing the full deal.

Also, 'legacy server' migration is awesome when you've got wonky old WinNT servers that you need to migrate to 'something' before their hardware craps out.. It eliminates a lot of hassle when you can just point and shoot to get that done.

Re:Virtualization (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604250)

Virtualization gives some advantages:

1: You can move the VM between physical hardware with little trouble. Power off VM, robocopy the files, power it on. For older Windows operating systems that required a reinstall if the underlying HAL changed, this is a large lifesaver.

2: Fast backups with the snapshot functionality.

3: Cloning -- need more instances, grab more hardware, fire up Hyper-V or ESXi, slap the VM on and go to town.

4: Clustering -- several physical machines can host one VM through a SAN and if one box fails, the failover can pick up where the main machine left off on the machine (not the app) level. This means you don't need to worry about how apps will deal with jumping MACs or hardware changes unexpectedly.

5: Security. If a VM got infected, it can be powered off and rolled back to a safe snapshot, and also a snapshot taken of its dirty state for forensics.

6: Ability to run on future hardware. Say everyone ditches x86 and amd64 and decides to go to IBM's POWER architecture and emulate legacy stuff. The stuff in the VM won't care that is is actually isn't running on a different CPU.

Of course, virtualization's disadvantage is performance losses due to the added overhead of more context switching.

For a MMO, virtualization isn't really needed except at the database core. If a zone server [1] goes down, there will be people nerd raging on the forums, but in reality if someone gets to it in 24 hours or so, people won't be pulling their subscriptions. The only real thing that would cause people to bail is a large player database rollback, so days to weeks of playing are lost. However if you have a good database cluster, this isn't going to happen.

Virtualization is just one of many IT tools. Sometimes it is an excellent thing to have. Other times, there isn't any real need to have it, especially for CPU intensive stuff on a server that can be cloned or easily reimaged with the apps on it.

[1]: I'm assuming zone servers handle the combat mechanics, only sending updates to the core player database when a player loots an item, dies, logs out, disconnects, or at a periodic interval if nothing else changes.

Re:Virtualization (4, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604468)

6: Ability to run on future hardware. Say everyone ditches x86 and amd64 and decides to go to IBM's POWER architecture and emulate legacy stuff. The stuff in the VM won't care that is is actually isn't running on a different CPU.

This is not true. Hardware virtualization is not emulation, which is what you're talking about here. Processes in the VM are run directly on the host processor, they're just managed by the hypervisor. There's no emulation layer, since that would make performance pretty atrocious. So, the stuff in the VM absolutely will care about what processor you've moved to, especially if you've suddenly changed instruction sets. Binaries compiled for x86 won't magically run on PowerPC just because it's running on a VM.

Re:Virtualization (1)

gollito (980620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30608286)

+1 Insightful
Even going from AMD to Intel procs on a VM server can cause issues

Re:Virtualization (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605442)

First off, what the hell is a "database core" ? Why would you virtualize it? You just cluster them if you need more than 1 physical hosts resources and if you need less than that you just install multiple instances of whatever DBMS you're working with.

And I don't know who told you your guests could run on another type of hardware but they lied to you. There's no emulation happening. If the OS is designed to run on x86 hardware it won't magically run on another architecture.

Re:Virtualization (1)

Yakisoba_noodle (1617819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30608296)

Nice summary of VM benefits. What I find amazing is that the developers decided not to use off the shelf virtualization technology. How much development time would have been saved? Were tests conducted to see whether efficiency would be gained? Or did they just say "screw it, we don't know VMware, we're going to write it ourselves, from scratch!" The backup/restore/dynamic allocation/other benefits above are no joke. For a game, they are especially interesting, but so many firms ignore them.

Re:Virtualization (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30609974)

I guess I would use World of Warcraft as as example. They have their own custom DB engine that keeps track of just about everything. Blizz use to have a link that let you look up some interesting info like

What mob was the most killed
what items dropped from which mobs
average gold per mob
average damage done per mob
fastest time a mob died
zone with the most average players
how long the average player was in the zone..

I could go select to filter by level 50 players, then find out their most played class, what level players ganked them the most, what mobs the most likely died to, what zone they played in the most, what time they were on, average time played, time it took to level, average DPS.. crazy stuff.

Just about ANYTHING you could ever want to know and it was broken up per day/week/month. I don't think it was a real time search, but was updated every few minutes as data did change.

Now, all this data is processed real time on the realms and stored. This database keeps track of about every user event in the system with lots of extra metadata for all 10,000 players on a realm. If they're already diving this far in, what's the harm of adding their own VM style snapshots/restore/etc.

VMs also run the overhead of loading multiple copies of the OS in memory.

Re:Virtualization (1)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615008)

There isn't anything in there that you can't do with properly designed unix applications to which you have source access. Virtualisation is useful, but not for that.

Re:Virtualization (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604386)

No shit, I wish more people would see that the added complexities of virtualization sometimes outweigh the advantages, especially in resource-intensive apps that have never been tested in virtualization.

Re:Virtualization (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604506)

say you have a few dozen apps relying on 5 different versions of Oracle BEA weblogic. you can't upgrade every WL box to the latest version since it will break another app on there and you can't upgrade every app since it take months of dev time. so you scale out and have one or a few WL instances on each OS instance. in this case you virtualize it because it reduces server sprawl and it's a stealth way of upgrading the hardware to something an ancient OS like Windows 2000 cant support. HP doesn't support Windows 2000 on it's latest servers. and driver updates for Windows 2000 stopped a few years ago and some things like the newest RAID cards don't have Windows 2000 drivers. but running it on VMWare you can upgrade the hardware

Re:Virtualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30638070)

I'm currently on a project to virtualize several hunderd servers onto new Virtual IO servers. They will pay for themselves and the project in reduced floorspace and power usage.

It was a lot of machines that were over spec'd for their applications and we are now moving to 10ths of processor usage/memory. Working well for us.

Dell ad? (3, Insightful)

Degro (989442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603656)

This game failed in big part because of their extremely poor server performance. Who cares how they did it?

Re:Dell ad? (3, Insightful)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603720)

This game failed in big part because of their extremely poor server performance. Who cares how they did it?

Well, both poor server performance (Fortress battles were completely unplayable when I quit) plus they opened WAY too many servers at the start. If they'd started with 1/3 as many servers the game would probably be in far better shape today. The server transfers that they opened up as a last-ditch effort prior to merging servers was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, destroying my server's population.

WTB a fantasy (okay, I'll say it...WoW-like) MMO modeled after EVE's economy, industry, PVP, territory control, etc.

Re:Dell ad? (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603988)

You enjoy squaring circles?

You want an MMO that is approachable and very easy to play, where learning a pattern of repeated keystrokes ensures success that runs along the creed of "insert time, get reward", where items and their stats are the be-all, end-all defining element when it comes to the strength of your character without too much dependency on your playing skill (i.e. a WoW-like game) with a complex player driven economy, where almost all equipment is entirely player created, with a complex resource/research/production chain, where groups of players hold territory that determines who has access to which resources (i.e. EvE's economy)?

I think such a game is impossible. Or, at least, it would not be fun to play for the majority of its population...

Re:Dell ad? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604136)

So what you are saying is
1.) Invent time sink
2.) Make people pay for wasting their time on something that wont matter
3.)???
4.) Profit.

No wonder most games are boring to me now.

Re:Dell ad? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604670)

Does what you do in *any* game really matter? All games are time sinks, they are a way to waste/enjoy free time.

Re:Dell ad? (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606024)

It works for pro sports.

Re:Dell ad? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606786)

Prior art! Pretty much any hobby that's not free or getting you ahead in your job.

Re:Dell ad? (1)

lonecrow (931585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30612636)

Word War II online had a neat idea. It was a MMO that was played in campaigns. Within each campaign many players would just log in and fight first person style. But there was also other players that made strategic decisions within a campaign that effected the game play of all players.

For example the leadership players could decide to reduce fighter plan construction in favor of having more tanks available. When a player logged in they might find that all the plans were already in use so they would have to go inf or take a tank out.

This basic idea could be translated into other game worlds.

Re:Dell ad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30604304)

The problem with MMOs is that they have to make a *lot* of players with varying playstyles happy:

Player "A" reads MMO-Champion to always keep track of what the top powergaming class, spec, equipment combination, and rotation is to keep DPS maxed.

Player "B" loves PvP and wants real risks and rewards.

Player "C" is casual and just wants to do some solo quests for some money or some currency usable for some armor down the line.

Player "D" is a hardcore raider and has his 24 other buds in a dungeon, every raid mob in the game is on farm status.

Player "E" is on a lot, but mainly chatting it up in serverwide chat.

Player "F" ends up running group instances all the time.

Player "G" has a team of friends connected via Vent to make an unbreakable team in battlegrounds.

Player "H" is just on because his GF is on all the time, and he just sits around with a low level character chatting in guild chat.

Player "I" is a tradeskill addict and has low level characters with insanely high tradeskill levels. (You don't see this in WoW, but in Everquest 2, you do see level 5s walking around with level 80 tradeskills, and epic quality gear from TS quests.)

Player "J" is over in the remote cottage with some female character hitting the cyber.

Player "K" spends her time playing the auction house. Buying low, selling high, knows the market and has more game currency made legitimately than most dupers have when they get caught and banned.

And so on. MMO design is tough because all these playstyles (and more) have to be figured in, as well as trying to minimize the impact griefers, farmers, botters, and exploiters have. If a MMO lets the griefers and botters take control, people will bail in droves and only a few people will be left, not enough to sustain the game. Origin learned this lesson when people bailed for EQ, then 989 Studios/Verant/SOE also learned the lesson when people got tried of being trained, kill stolen, "cockblocked", and having to spend 9 hours on a raid just so three people can get one piece of gear. This caused an exodus to WoW en masse because Blizzard had mechanisms in place to deal with PvE griefers and dungeons (instancing system.)

Then there is hardware. Here Blizzard shines. WoW can run on an abacus. It can also redline all 240 cores on a Quadro FX 5800. Other MMOs needs midrange to upper end hardware to play decently, especially on raids. Because of the wide range of hardware, this gets more people playing, especially with low end equipment (students in their senior year playing WoW on their Macbook bought as a gift when they started their first semester.)

Finally, there is the UI. Some MMOs have easy learning curves. Others like UO, a player ends up completely lost and just going back to another game.

This isn't to say Blizzard is perfect, but they are like Apple -- they know their product sector and make decisions.

Re:Dell ad? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603990)

Umm... to avoid repeating it?

Nothing is too bad to serve as an example how NOT to do it.

Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603796)

The increased proportion of slashvertising is a direct result of the holidays? Or the holidays are slow news days and that only leaves the omnipresent advertising.

i.e.: In a hypothetical fast news holiday...day, would we have a quick and constant flow of mostly ad news? Or just the normal proportion.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (2, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30603976)

Actually, it is kind of interesting to see what's in the back room. I know in some MMOs if a "server" is down there's inevitably some wiseguy who says "they should buy a better machine", or "I'm an IT dude and I could run the place better than those bozos". Other times people are confused why some regions of the game are working but others are not. Or why it takes so long to reboot the "server" to apply the next game patch. Or why there's scheduled maintenance. I think there are a lot of players who really believe that the companies just go out and buy a single computer (probably a tower) for each game server. The scale of the operations are pretty large.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604138)

Blades take the same amount of time to boot as most servers. The reason for the downtime is data transfers.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610904)

Yes, but my point is that it isn't a single computer that is a server. The shutdown, patch, database updates, reboot, and verification involves tens of computers.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30604328)

What cracks me up is people who say that, especially the IT dude thing, then when asked what they would do differently, it seems they get the deer in the headlights thing going.

If one wants to know what running a MMO is like on a small scale, some Neverwinter Nights and NWN2 persistant worlds used a core database (MySQL + NWNX) and zone servers so they could deploy an immense world spanning a sizable number of PCs. It gets pretty scary how much CPU a zone server which just handles the mechanics of gameplay chews up, even with a relative small number of players. Now multiply that times the crazy-big amount of players a full size MMO has, and one sees why virtualization isn't used because every CPU cycle is precious.

Another example of CPU time are old fashioned MUDs. A popular LPMud with a number of imms making objects and regular players out battling stuff could not just jam a box with multiple CPUs, but also eat up a lot of RAM and I/O moving areas, zones, and mobiles in and out of memory.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30605498)

I've never seen someone type so much to say so little.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610604)

You should have read the article. It was worse...

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610960)

Yeah, when I ran a MUD it was on a "mini-super". While CPU was an issue (especially during the work day when the computer had other jobs to do), bigger concerns were with handling a large number of active network connections and RAM space. And this was with only about 50 players at once.

Re:Holiday slashvertising or simply a slow news. (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30607262)

I think there are a lot of players who really believe that the companies just go out and buy a single computer (probably a tower) for each game server.

Thats exactly what Codemasters did to Operation Flashpoint :D

Nominate Gamasutra for fading brand (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30610884)

Gamasutra can be added to that list of tech brands that have failed. Once upon a time, Gamasutra had technical articles with technical content. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find real information anymore. Programmers used to write detailed treatises on techniques they've used. Now the money managers tie everything up in NDAs and the state of the art has failed to advance for a decade.

By squinting hard and using a calculator, it's possible to decide that a "server" in Warhammer is actually 3 cooperating CPUs (I refuse to call 3 machines a cluster). Ok, that's vaguely interesting, but it took 3 pages to say that? I defy anyone to find a second piece of technical information anywhere in that "article". Not only was it a fluff piece desperately trying to advertise both an MMOG (to... game developers? Competitors? Huh?) and CPUs (to game developers; Ok, signs of intelligent life), it was nearly incoherent, with the required product placement sentences (and whole paragraphs) jammed in arbitrarily.

Then there's this gem:

...and servers that can be managed easily and even remotely, if need be.

Oooo. Even remotely, like that's some kind of hot shit new technology. What? Stop running Windows Server you idiots! It's an oxymoron! Yeesh. Not only are the articles light on content, but if this guy is all that's left of the writers, Gamasutra can turn off the lights right now. They're done. Stick 'em in the Wayback Machine and move on.

I'm so disappointed. It's the eve of 2010 and the MMOG article served up on Slashdot is a fluff advertising piece with no discernable content. I was hoping for insights into clustering techniques and load balancing and hardware failure rates and software design and...

I guess you can tell I never played Warhammer......

Why does summary link to 2nd page of article? (1)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619246)

I was going to complain about this, ("come on, slashdot editors, pay attention"), but then I realized that the first page of the advert-article is essentially content-free. Was this odd link a feature or a bug that's a feature anyway?
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