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New Technologies Attack the One-World Problem

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the can't-reach-the-folks-on-theta-epsilon-earth dept.

Role Playing (Games) 157

Hugh Pickens writes "An MIT Technology Review article has new details on the challenges of a 'one world design' in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Most games shard their servers, putting up artificial barriers between friends and family members. Technologies are now being developed to keep lots of players within a single world, some of them based off of the unique PvP-heavy title EVE Online. The best part - the technologies don't just apply to gaming. 'NASDAQ, for example, can be thought of as a very large MMO, supporting very large numbers of 'players' performing billions of transactions daily in a graphically intense environment, all within a single shard. Technologies that solve this problem effectively, says George Dolbier, technical lead for games and interactive entertainment at IBM, will have applications in any industry that requires spotting and reacting to trends, or "anything where behavior is dynamic and you need to move resources around rapidly."'"

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That's fine (-1, Offtopic)

brian.gunderson (1012885) | about 7 years ago | (#20605817)

But will it blend?

Re:That's fine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20605881)

But will it run linux?

Re:That's fine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606023)

Blend, yes. Linux, as always, no. Case closed ;)

No shit, sherlock (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#20605847)

", for example, can be thought of as a very large MMO, supporting very large numbers of 'players' performing billions of transactions daily in a graphically intense environment, all within a single shard. "

Jeezs, you mean there are large transaction systems out there? Thank god MMO's brought the technology to the world! Gah. MMO's do nothing technically new regarding transaction.

Also, what is the 'Graphically intense' interface the NASDAQ has? Compared to MMO's it's nothing.

Re:No shit, sherlock (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20605915)

Remember that scene in "Hackers" where they're 'flying' through the contents of the Gibson? That was just a video capture of some day trader dumping his MS stock.

Re:No shit, sherlock (4, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20606577)

Remember that scene in "<Redacted>" where they're 'flying' through the contents of the Gibson? That was just a video capture of some day trader dumping his MS stock.


For even mentioning that movie, your Geek Factor suffers a -10 hit.

You're RPG equivelant is now "Tunnels and Trolls", and your Star Wars equivelant is set to "Jar Jar".

Want to worsen it? Mention that Sandra Bullock movie./p.

Re:No shit, sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606657)

Oh, that's the one about a bus that had to SPEED around a city, keeping its SPEED over fifty, and if its SPEED dropped, it would explode! I think it was called "The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down."

Gotta love Homer J..

Nice Try (2, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20606725)

You're trying to get me to say the name of that other Sandra Bullock computer movie.

Well, it ain't working, sparky.

Re:No shit, sherlock (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20606985)

So you're saying that Hackers was a far greater atrocity to geeks everywhere than Episode 1 was? Really?

Here, [] just type in your address and call the first number that comes up. They'll help you out of your mom's basement.

Don't knock Tunnels and Trolls! (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 years ago | (#20607349)

For even mentioning that movie, your Geek Factor suffers a -10 hit.

You're RPG equivelant is now "Tunnels and Trolls", and your Star Wars equivelant is set to "Jar Jar".

Are you knocking Tunnels and Trolls? T&T was a great "beer and pretzels" game of yesteryear. The rules were dirt simple in comparison to the fantasy RPGs of its day, and it didn't take itself seriously. What other game has spells like "Take That, You Fiend," giant squirrels as dungeon monsters, and modules with names like "Rat on a Stick" where you could either kill the monsters or set up a fast-food franchise for them. The T&T games I played back in the day were a heck of a lot more fun than the old D&D games.

(Personally, given its age, I consider even knowing about T&T to be bonus geek points, but putting it in the same category as Jar Jar shows failure.)

Re:Don't knock Tunnels and Trolls! (1)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20607669)

Geek sophisticaton, my good man. DnD for Geeks, T&T for casual geeks. Star Wars for Geeked Geeks, Jar Jar Star Wars for geek wannabes.

Re:Don't knock Tunnels and Trolls! (2, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20607767)

Star Wars for Geeked Geeks

I know I'm moving off topic and replying to my own post but I'm reminded of a few years ago, I was back in San Diego at the home office, I was the Far East Technical Training Manager for the company and GL had just re-released "Empire Strikes Back". I was in the theater with a bunch of kids who weren't born when it was first released. The kid next to me was mouthing almost every scene and getting all excited at the key points in the movie. When Darth announces he is Luke's father, this kid almost splooged the entire aisle, and reacted as if it were the first time he had heard the line.

I know he's posting on /. around here somewhere.

I smell a penis :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20605947)

Who's could it be? ;)

Re:No shit, sherlock (1)

grimflick (947516) | about 7 years ago | (#20606109)

Turns out that TFA was suggesting a MMORPG borrow from NASDAQ or a similar massive system rather than suggest that NASDAQ could benefit - or had benefitted from MMORPG's tech. It's true however that there's not much graphical about Nasdaq unless you consider the literal graphs of the performance of various investment vehicles. ...

Re:No shit, sherlock (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#20606177)

Also, what is the 'Graphically intense' interface the NASDAQ has? Compared to MMO's it's nothing.

Hell no! Think about what a NASDAQ MMO would be like! I'd buy a bunch of shares in a company with foreign holdings, and then order the third-world factories not to use the regular safety precautions, monitor them, and then sell all my shares when there's an accident before the news hits the market! That would be both graphic *and* intense. I don't think the interface would take much from that experience.

Of course, someone's probably already done that...

You're confused... (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 7 years ago | (#20606413)

I don't know what "shard" means in this context. I'm going to assume it's a dorky way to say "server", but you're missing the point. The author is saying, "NASDAQ can do it. Why can't MMOs?", not the other way around. MMO's are really nothing new technology-wise. The difference is that no MMO comes even close to be as well built, technically, as say, the NASDAQ and NYSE. Those systems are incredibly high volume, and relatively stable. (Hint: They're not using MySQL).

MMO's could certainly make certainly large worlds. The systems themselves are not all that high volume (hence the comparison to stock markets). It's just that none of them are built well enough to handle it.

Re:You're confused... (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | about 7 years ago | (#20606517)

Shards are basically entire instances of the game world. They may (and often are) spread across multiple servers, and it is theoretically possible (although unwise) to run multiple shards on the same server. To make a suitably geeky reference for Slashdot, Shards are sort of like parallel game world universes, only your character only exists in one of the universes not in all of them.

Re:You're confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606567)

So if you get hit by a flying shard do you then have to say, "I sharted"? And what if you sharted in the woods and nobody was there...

Re:You're confused... (2, Interesting)

Achoi77 (669484) | about 7 years ago | (#20606651)

This became popular when the first big MMO (Ultima Online) came onto the scene. In an intro movie of UO, you have some kind of evil wizard casting a spell to destroy the universe/take over the world (I don't remember exactly, it's been a while). Eventually the world gets.. encapsulated by some magic crystal ball that he had. Then came along the mysterious avatar to battle this villan, which during the course of the fight, the crystal ball falls over and shatters.

turns out that the destruction of the crystal ball did not destroy the world/universe/whatever, but instead ended up creating 'reflections' of the world identical to the original. So now all the broken shards of the crystal ball contain a variant of the original world, which brings the avatar to start a new quest: how to bring the shards back together. (it looks like the devs at UO never got to this part :-P)

Re:No shit, sherlock (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#20606733)

Also, what is the 'Graphically intense' interface the NASDAQ has? Compared to MMO's it's nothing.

Yeah. I didn't get that either, considering that MMO servers aren't graphically intensive either. All of the graphically intensive work on MMOs was done on the client end, I thought.

Re:No shit, sherlock (1)

genner (694963) | about 7 years ago | (#20608183)

Quite right.
However Nasdaq doesn't have to deal with real time PVP.

Gamers Changing the world... (2, Funny)

happy_place (632005) | about 7 years ago | (#20605851)

Don't you love it how gamers try to make themselves relevant to the rest of the world? I love gamers... they're so... important... to... um... well... Just keep playing, guys!!


Re:Gamers Changing the world... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 7 years ago | (#20605929)

Game development is actually on the forefront of computer technology and a lot of useful results come out of them because games push it so hard. Gamers(who don't develop), however, are just subsidizing this.

Re:Gamers Changing the world... (2, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20606693)

Game development is actually on the forefront of computer technology and a lot of useful results come out of them because games push it so hard. Gamers(who don't develop), however, are just subsidizing this.

God bless you, gamers. Without you, we wouldn't have a space program, a Hubble telescope, high impact plastics, modern medicine...oh, wait.

But, after Halo, I think we have enough fodder for the cannons.

Because of gamers, we have a bunch of dorks running around with kanji tatoos without knowing the meanings, but their favorite character has one.

One of our genious coders at work was a die-hard gamer. Used to have his own hours and would work 3 to 4 hours a day, but then he turned out 12 hours worth of code each day. But his entire life was gaming. When he had an online wedding with one of his characters, and nobody from work showed up, he got really ticked and went off the deep end.

We had an intervention.

Now, he's on an 8 hour clock at work, doesn't watch TV and doesn't game. And, we can actually have conversations with him, he doesn't smell, his code is more readable, and we all understand what he's doing, therefor, the entire organization is turning out more and better code.

There's a lesson in there, somewhere.

(Oh, and no, we aren't in South Korea.)

Re:Gamers Changing the world... (2, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20606117)

Support small independent publishers -
Looks like everyone is just trying to stay relevant around here, aren't they?

Re:Gamers Changing the world... (3, Interesting)

GreggBz (777373) | about 7 years ago | (#20606315)

I do know that gamers become very relevant to the rest of the world when they grow up.

As a teenager I spent many, many hours in front of a computer playing games.

Since then, I have never been afraid of computer technology. I am not despaired when challenged by a technical problem, I embrace it. I have always been drawn to learning and becoming better. I am better at problem solving, deciphering UI's and reacting quickly when a crisis arises. These days, as a hobby, I program computer games, which keeps my mind sharp and the logic ticking. Yes, I attribute a great deal of my professional skills, and in fact, my computer mentality, to video games.

You know, I might just say that playing computer games was a better learning experience than playing high school sports.

Re:Gamers Changing the world... (0, Troll)

happy_place (632005) | about 7 years ago | (#20606463)

Don't get me wrong, I agree... but it's cute (imo) how there's a need to explain how gaming technology is benefitting the blind people in Africa. :) It's like deep inside every gamer, there's this need to apologize for having fun with technology, rather than solving all the world's problems. :) Game on! --Ray

dumbass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20605875)

whoever wrote this summary is a fucking dumb ass. It told me nothing and just left me with questions. Fuck what is wrong with you /.

Re:dumbass (5, Funny)

MiharuSenaKanaka (1080135) | about 7 years ago | (#20606251)

We have no choice! Our mod points can't repel flamebait of that magnitude!

NASDAQ=MMO (5, Funny)

pieaholicx (1148705) | about 7 years ago | (#20605905)

NASDAQ, for example, can be thought of as a very large MMO, supporting very large numbers of 'players' performing billions of transactions daily in a graphically intense environment, all within a single shard.
But mom, I can't go to bed, my NASDAQ guild needs me to do another raid...


Zombie91836 (699598) | about 7 years ago | (#20605943)

What's this about shards? I thought only warlocks had to worry about that.

Worst. Pun. Ever. (4, Funny)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 years ago | (#20605975)

Personally, I locked onto to the "graphically intense" part of that comment.
Doesn't seem to me that thousands of stock-trend charts and graphs really count, unless you're making a terrible pun.

Re:Worst. Pun. Ever. (2, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | about 7 years ago | (#20607191)

You try to open a thousand pages with a thousand flash-powered stock charts and see how YOUR system handles the load.


cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 7 years ago | (#20606347)

Corporate raiding went out of style after the 80's. Something about downing the S&L market.


sydneyfong (410107) | about 7 years ago | (#20607339)

Well it might be intended for +5 Funny, but AFAIK this really happens.

I live in a GMT+08 place (i.e. approximately on the opposite side of the Earth) and I knew of friends who invested in USA stocks, and they really do stay up at night to keep an eye on the market.....

MMO Devs should pay heed to the financial sector (-1, Troll)

ringbarer (545020) | about 7 years ago | (#20605919)

Shutters click as cameras capture the publicity stills, the pictures that will be on the cover of every magazine this week. This is how the world will remember the Olsen twins: matching tight pink blouses highlighting firm, buoyant adolescent breasts, tight black jeans suggesting a level of sexual experience which the twins do not, in fact, possess.

When the pictures are complete, the twins are turned so that they stand facing one another. Their arms are held behind their backs. The bailiffs bring a pair of cuffs for each girl. The cuffs have no keyholes; they are not designed to be removed. This fact is not lost on the girls, who begin to sob helplessly as they feel sharp steel close around their slender wrists.

Twin winches hum to life, pulling the girls up onto the balls of their naked feet. They begin to strangle almost immediately. They emit tormented gurgling sounds as boiled hemp digs into their tender throats. Quivering lips strip a couple more years off their apparent age. Their increasingly desperate facial expressions confirm that the Olsen girls are in no way prepared for the sudden pain. They have led lives of comfort and pampered privilege. They have never known suffering, until now.

The winches fall quiet, their cruel work done. This is where the girls will remain: in that place where the pain is psychologically overwhelming but not physically dangerous, in that horrible place where they could, perhaps, remain forever.

Still, this is an execution. And so the girls must not remain on their toes forever. They listen carefully as the announcer explains the rules of the game. He makes it sound erotic and exciting, and that is surely how the audience sees it. But it does not sound erotic and exciting to Ashley or Mary-Kate. Indeed, it fills their hearts with an almost limitless dread.

If nothing else happens, then in one hour's time, twin trapdoors will open beneath the girls' feet. Because they are already on their toes, there's no chance that their necks will snap. They will have to dance themselves to death--a process which, the announcer explains, could take up to an hour, because the twins don't weigh very much, and because their nooses have been tied loose.

If, on the other hand, one of the girls chooses to take action, she can buy herself a quick, easy death. As the announcer speaks, bailiffs slip small cylindrical remote control units into Ashley's right hand and Mary-Kate's left. If either girl pushes her button, then her winch will lower her down onto the gallows platform, while the trapdoor drops out from under her sister's feet. She may watch in comfort, her breathing perfectly unrestricted, while her sister endures a terminal slow hang. The girl who pushed her button will then have earned a neck-snapping long drop.

The moment the announcer finishes his introduction, the twins begin to negotiate through their tears. At first they are selfless, altruistic:

"You have to drop me, Mary-Kate," Ashley whimpers. Her voice is thick and rough. The noose is tight, and it hurts to speak. "You're my baby sister. I have to take care of you. I can't bear to watch you hang!"

"Baby sister? You're two minutes older than me, Ashley! And how do you think I'd feel, if I had to watch you spend an hour strangling to death? No way! We'll die together!"

"Don't be stupid, Mary." A little anger surfaces now, through the pain, through the laborious breathing which is required to get even a few words out. "Do you know how much that'll hurt?

"Hurts now," Mary-Kate replies. She is being economical with her words, for each one costs her dearly.

"Yes. And we're still on our toes. Airdance...much worse."

"Scared," says Mary-Kate.

"Then push the button."

The girls perspire as they suffer. The thin pink cotton of their tight tops sticks to their skin; the wet fabric is slightly translucent. Naturally, they wear no bras. Their taut, pouting young breasts press up through their blouses, yearning towards the heaven they will surely soon reach. The nipples are large and unusually hard; the announcer explains that this is a normal response to controlled asphyxiation. Bailiffs approach and unbutton the twins' trousers. The zippers come down. The men peel tight black denim off of wet, slender thighs. The twins are wearing minimal satin g-strings in hot pink. This grown-up underwear looks shockingly incongruous on their pubescent bodies, and yet it is also deeply sexy. Their bellies are flawless, the tight flatness of youth enhanced by careful dieting.

In the second half hour of their ordeal, the twins become less cordial:

"Can't're so greedy, Mary. Making me dance..."

"I'm greedy? You're such a I you hang..."

"Then we both get...what we most fear..."

"Shut up, Ashley!"

Towards the end, pain and panic combine to make them say some rather unkind things to one another:

"Want to dance on air, don't you? Afraid if you push the button....I'll be the big star?

"Fucking cunt, how can you say that?"

"It's always want to be in the need to have all the glory...never enough for the both of us..."

"Shut up, you little whore! How dare you?"

"You know it's true."

"You want to die, Ashley? You want to die? Fine! Then you can die!"

Mary-Kate regrets pushing the button the moment her feet hit the deck. "Oh God I'm so sorry Ashley," she blurts, but it is far too late. Her sister's eyes grow wide with horror and disbelief as the well-oiled trapdoor swings open beneath her, sending her plunging to her doom.

Mary-Kate stands sobbing in her noose and cuffs, feeling guilty for each unrestricted breath as her sister dances. It is the most horrific spectacle she has ever witnessed. Ashley kicks like a cheerleader, the sculpted muscle of her long slender legs tensing and relaxing as she hangs. The involuntary action of her firm young thighs pulls the crotch of her g-string into her hairless virgin cunt; the g-string is so wet (with perspiration?) that her pussy is clearly outlined through the satin. Ashley has never looked so helpless, so vulnerable...and yet so beautiful. The way that her impertinent young breasts bounce as she convulses; the way that her tiny tummy undulates...there is something sexy about it, Mary-Kate has to concede.

But that realization just makes it all the worse when she has to look at Ashley's face, which quickly turns red, then grey, then blue. The tears are flowing freely, as is the drool. She was right...oh, God, she was right! It's so much more painful than a mere tiptoe hang; Mary can see that now. "I'm sorry!" she wails, again and again, knowing that her sister can't hear her, knowing that she is not, in fact, forgiven.

As predicted, Ashley goes the distance. She has the body of a sixteen year-old supermodel: tight and skinny, with plenty of endurance. Sometimes respiration is painful for her, sometimes it is agonizing. But she does continue to breathe, somehow.

Mary-Kate (and everyone else) watches attentively as the pain slowly fills Ashley's twitching, suffering body. She is so physically's obvious now, where the pain is, how bad it is. Mary-Kate, who knows her sister's body as she knows her own (for they are, after all the same) can see it easily. The agony has spread from Ashley's desperate lungs all throughout her torso; it is in her belly now, moving down towards her pussy. Soon it will consume her.

When Ashley's motions suddenly become more vigorous, Mary-Kate knows what it means. These are her sister's death throes, which at least mean that their mutual ordeal will soon be over. But to watch her sister's ending--the vacant, lifeless eyes, the body still twitching in agony, breasts heaving, drool-covered lips quivering, hips rocking instinctively in a very suggestive way--is almost more than she can bear. Ashley is more animal than human now, and soon she won't even be that.

Ashley dies spectacularly, of course. She goes stiff, breasts thrust up and out. The death rattle tears its way out of her throat. Piss erupts into her soaked g-string as she convulses briefly and goes limp.

As promised, Mary Kate draws the long drop. But there is no end to the slender teen's misfortune, for her neck does not snap after all, and so she must dance as well. It takes her only ten minutes, for her fall did draw the hangman's knot tight, tight enough to snuff her...but it hurts tremendously. Indeed, the announcer speculates that her pain might actually be even more intense than that of her sister. Certainly Mary-Kate puts on a spectacular show, stretching her long lean legs towards the floor far below, wrapping her thighs around her miniscule g-string as her sister had done. Her braless breasts bounce freely. No way would Ashley capture all the limelight. No way. They might focus on Ashley's longer ordeal, but they would remember both deaths. Yes.

Just to make sure, Mary-Kate begins to sex it up as she suffers. Her stiff-nippled breasts bounce with such vigor that it actually hurts, but she doesn't slow down. She tightens her virginal pussy muscles, pulling the g-string in close against her hymen. She begins to rub the pink satin against her sex, making love to her panties for the benefit of the audience. The rippling muscle of her deeply toned belly speaks of youth and energy, fertile possibilities snuffed out in an instant of pure agony. Her angelic blonde halo frames a face stricken with torment. Blue cheeks spasm beneath the tears and drool. Her eyes are wide, but she is still there: she feels it all, right up to the end.

And of course, she has to stare at her sister's dangling corpse as she twists in her noose. For ten minutes of endless agony, she must live with the choice she has made. And then her bladder relaxes and she joins her sister in the next world.

Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1, Informative)

Sciros (986030) | about 7 years ago | (#20605955)

WoW isn't the only MMO out there. Not all MMOs have numerous servers each supporting one single "world" with no way to move to the others. Guild Wars lets you play with anyone, anywhere, anytime in the world. Servers are specific to entire continents (with Asia fragmented into Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea), but people can group across those servers on a whim and play together.

Since GW is largely instance-based there might be fewer performance issues to deal with than with WoW in this regard, but my point is I just don't see how one would dedicate a "news" story to this topic when a popular title like GW has already tacked the issue.

Or did I totally misunderstand the topic altogether? It could be ^_^

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606015)

You misunderstood it. Guild wars is instanced.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Informative)

Sciros (986030) | about 7 years ago | (#20606047)

Hmm actually looking closer, I understood it far better than you did, it seems. Guild Wars is instanced for "monster-filled" areas. Not for anything else. The Slashdot story deals in large part with the game economy, and in Guild Wars this market economy exists and is driven by transactions across an entire continent (North America or Europe, for instance). I get the impression from the story that such is not the case for WoW.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Informative)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 7 years ago | (#20606207)

Guild Wars also splits the city zones up by geographic location and load. You might have US Servers 1-4, Internationals 1-3, etc, all for one city zone.

It's not a true 'one server' solution. It is, however, a very smooth and well thought-out system of instant on-demand character transfer between servers.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (4, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20606181)

Tackled the issue my ass.

GW doesn't allow a thousand players to engage in an epic battle across miles of terrain. Let alone a hundred thousand or a million. You get split into identical but differently numbered shards and yes, you can move between them, but if a bunch of people want to meet up and have that huge, epic, battle, it's not possible in GW.

I don't even want to think what the bandwidth requirements per CLIENT would be in a epic battle on the scale of D-Day or something similar with thousands of players moving and performing actions simultaneously.

Let's imagine each client uploads 5kb/sec of action data to the server. If there were 1000 players in the battle doing this simultaneously then each client would need to download 999*5kb/sec of data to say updated in the battle. So, close to 5 megabytes per second. I.E. you'd need to have a 40 megabit internet connection running at it's full capacity and with a good ping time to be able to even stay current with the battle.

Just drop it down to 1k/sec. You'd still need an 8mb connection running at full capacity.

This is why epic, world-sized battles aren't a reality in MMOs. GW cannot do this.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Interesting)

Sciros (986030) | about 7 years ago | (#20606263)

I'm not sure that what you're talking about is what I'm talking about, or what the story is talking about. The story I think is mostly about economy and economic transactions and such. GW handles those on a continent-wide level. As long as you're in America, you'll be affected by every "material" transaction in America.

Is the article linked to about creating 1000-man battles? Because server load would be far from the only issue. Exactly right when you say bandwith requirements. There's also the issue of RAM. Even loading into an area with 1000 engaged combatants would take FOREVER on anything other than the beastliest of computer systems.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20606409)

Well, from my perspective the issue is that this chunking of players into shards with artificial limits is exactly the problem new technology is trying to overcome. It's the only way you can achieve certain activities, such as real-time battles, or stock trading for that matter. On some level the connection between entities in these networks has to be constant, or 'real time', enough that the system knows what each entity is doing at every point of the smallest defined unit of time to avoid discordance when the separated entities recombine into a same-level abstraction. Either that or you have to wait for validation of data, cross-checking, error checking, conflicts between the data sets, etc ,when they recombine to that level. From which you lose the ability to have a fast-acting environment of multiple entity interaction, which is essential to what MMOs are really trying to accomplish. I.E. to really put the "Massive" in MMO.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 7 years ago | (#20607967)

I've seen 1000 player battles in EvE-online, and it isn't pretty. The setting for EVE is in space, so that helps some, because it spreads everything out more and there's not really any terrain and such to worry about rendering, but it's still bad. My computer has a few good years behind it, so I have frame-rate issues with just a couple hundred ships on grid, but some people with better setups have said that their frame rate usually isn't bad.

The real problem that EVE has is the server. It just chokes on keeping track of all those ships, and then once shooting starts and it has to do calculations for all of that, and people are jumping in and whatnot, things are generally unstable and the whole game is liable to crash.

It's certainly not an easy problem, the servers have to not only keep track of where all those ships are and what they're doing, it also needs to send a bunch of that information to each and every other player in range. The amount of data that needs to move back and forth pretty much scales exponentially, so I'm not sure if the hardware can every really keep up with what we wish was possible.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Insightful)

drspliff (652992) | about 7 years ago | (#20606829)

It's not necessary to have DATARATE*NUMPLAYERS of information broadcast to every client which is the design of most multiplayer FPS games, but it's the easiest thing to do - having the server act relatively dumb and handling basic physics & movement control (basically just stopping the client from cheating, and implementing the rules of the game).

If you take some basic principles, such as level of detail that you expect to see or not see:

  * In a 1000 person match it's highly unlikely that it would be structured so that you could see all 1000 people at any one time. So the server only sends updates about stuff the client needs to see.

  * It's highly unlikely that you'd need to have 60fps updates for people or objects that are bearly visible and very far away (hence, fogging or blurring far away objects). Maybe we cut this down to 320 bytes per second per person/object (16fps, 20 bytes of minimal movement info).

  * The closer something is - the more granular the updates are, going upto maybe 10kb/s for clients & objects around you.

Sure this takes a lot of processing on the server side; calculating the visibility of every object before sending updates, but I think the payoff for doing it would be worth it.

Secondly - I have a 20mbit cable connection at home, and reguarly get 1.5-1.8mb/s downloads to servers in the same country, so the speeds you're talking about aren't too unrealistic - the technology and bandwidth is there but a lot of the time game developers just aren't using it.

You can apply the same principles to any message routing architecture (like stock markets, realtime weather, datacentre monitoring etc.) - providing average values or no information about targets or sources which are of no interest, and progressively more information about things that the client needs to know about or are most important (e.g. realtime graphing of the critical database servers, and less detailed information about everything else).

Couple this with p2p connections (e.g. the servers connect directly to you to provide realtime information) and it can scale very well :)

Just some food for thought,

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (2, Informative)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20607391)

It all depends on the viewing distance. In today's most advanced games the viewing distance is measured in miles, or close. It would be very easy to expect that in a game with 9 million subscribers (if the game was on a single world server and not split up) that 1000 players within each others' views would happen at times. In WoW I think my max viewing distance to seeing other players is maybe 1000 yards. It certainly isn't a mile. But consider this: With WoW's technology (as supposedly advanced as it is) I have seen battles with 200 or so people all in each other's view. The zone ground to a halt and latency flew. Everyone lagged and the game became unplayable.

This is pretty bad, considering WoW is a game that everyone expected (probably unrealistically) to be able to deliver battles on the scale of all-out war, and not simple skirmishes that lag everyone to death. Of course, it was never meant to be. Perhaps in WoW 2.

I saw the same thing in Star Wars Galaxies. One time the server I was on scheduled a battle royale between the Imperials and the Rebels. We chose a desolate point on one of the planets as our battleground. We lined up, at about max viewing distance from each other. There were maybe 150 players amassed ready to battle. The battle started and pretty much everyone not on a beefy connection lagged hard. You could see people just running straight with no control over their characters, off into the distance, because they were so lagged. That was when I realized that MMOGs would be a long time coming before they could really deliver the promise of epic scale battles like I wanted.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

drspliff (652992) | about 7 years ago | (#20607653)

Just as a disclaimer, the only MMORPG i've ever played is EVE Online - and only because my flatmate was addicted and tried to get me addicted.

I do see what you mean though, even if you average at maybe 3k/s (not including packet overhead) per player, with 150 you've averaging ~570kb/s which does need a pretty beefy connection, you could probably bring this down to 300kb/s by reducing the update frequency for players out of your immediate vicinity.

Still - I know a lot of people who are on "broadband" but can bearly push 100kb/s, but I also know a handful of people (mainly in Tokyo) that are on 100mbit straight into their homes.

There's no denying that in order to handle the kinda stuff you're talking about the bandwidth grows above what's normally available today, but the only solution I can think of would be for ISPs to start different pricing and bandwidth structures for different types of customers (yeah, I'm getting into net neutrality territory here).

Imo there could be a lot of benifit if bandwidth was brought higher into the state level (from a socialist point of view) instead of being the domain of individual companies to invest in new technology when the current stuff is raking in a nice profit at half capacity.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

greg_barton (5551) | about 7 years ago | (#20606899)

Let's imagine each client uploads 5kb/sec of action data to the server. If there were 1000 players in the battle doing this simultaneously then each client would need to download 999*5kb/sec of data to say updated in the battle.

Not at all. The information transferred between players is not a completely connected graph. For instance, if I'm looking away from player A there's no need to update player A's visual information.

This is similar to the real world. If I'm a mile away from an explosion in a battle I don't get as much information from it as someone 100 yards away. (And, of course, one yard away I get too much information...) At one mile I might know general direction from the sound of the blast, but not much else. In other words, the server would have to determine what portion of the 5kb/sec of action data from each player is uploaded to me. That's the complex part.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20607275)

The location of all players near you or in your potential visual field must be sent to you at all times. I can flick my wrist and turn around much faster than my ping would update player positions of people behind me but in my potential view. If the server hadn't been sending the data already I would turn around and see nothing, then someone would appear before me when the network caught up. Doesn't work like that. As soon as I flick my wrist the player is in view.

As long as a player is in your potential field of view, whether 1 foot or 1 mile away, the server will need to provide up-to-date information on their position. If a player is behind a world object then the server can decide not to send that data until they approach edges of each other's FoV. This is illustrated in games where people use cheats such as aimbots. As soon as a player crosses into the cheater's available FoV (even if behind them) the aimbot spins and fires -- but no sooner.

I think in this respect this is where games differ from systems like the stock market. And I'm not sure this is relevant to the story. Or maybe it actually highlights that the story was off the mark from the start. I don't know. It certainly seems to show me that it's even tougher for games than it is for some systems... And the story may be trying to say this, to which the question becomes: So what? Games need this, nothing else really does. It's irrelevant.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

greg_barton (5551) | about 7 years ago | (#20607799)

All information about a player's actions do not need to be sent to all other players in the game. You plainly don't understand that concept.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

Incy (635621) | about 7 years ago | (#20607913)

1kilobit/second? where are you getting that number? *sniff* Smells like it came out of your butt. Best case they should only have to transmit key press/release, mouse press/release, and perhaps point of view changes. Don't get me wrong.. its still a big problem, and consolidating that information for quick redistribution to the other clients is a real pain... and something to avoid..:)

Epic, World-sized battles possible. (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | about 7 years ago | (#20608259)

You DO NOT need to update all clients with all client data. It is NOT a n**2 problem. You only need to update clients that are interacting. The problem with this approach is that is is DIFFICULT. You have to still update positions on the non-interacting clients at some intervals so they are not out of place completely. And the server has to keep track of who interacts with what. Most developers at this point would just use the n**2 solution where you update all with all data and just limit where they can interact.

Also, you do not need to update non-interacting, non-visible characters at all.

EVE is a really easy solution because,
    * it is NOT action game - it is a pure strategy (pilots don't dodge stuff, ship flies by itself)
    * no need for low lag (see above). So, you can have 1000 clients in one battle.

EVE sometimes has huge lag, but is still playable.

EVE is much easier game to write large battles for than say FPS like Quake. And yes, WoW is like EVE.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

vjmurphy (190266) | about 7 years ago | (#20606191)

Guild Wars isn't really an MMO, either. It's a graphical lobby leading to instanced worlds. The lobby portion is partially MMO, I suppose, but quite unlike Everquest/WOW/Etc. Dark Age of Camelot allows movement between servers, though (nice for older games, so that you are consolidating the player base a little more).

I'm not so sure I want one server for everyone, though: some games have certain RP elements that attract a certain crowd, so having RP servers is a nice way to make a community; same for PVP servers.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 7 years ago | (#20606989)

You know it really pisses me off when WoW snobs say "Guild Wars really isn't an MMORPG." Let's see:

Massive: You bet
Multiplayer: Yep
Online: Definitely
Role-playing Game: That too

And Guild Wars actually let's me communicate with EVERYONE in a given city and travel easily between servers, unlike WoW which locks my character into one server and charges me $12 to do a simple move.

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606223)

The "World" of Guild wars is a glorified chat room and handles no where near the amount of data that a single WoW continent does. does basically the same thing as Guild Wars does now but without the graphics. Each "Instance" is guild wars is essentially just a game of Diablo 2 running and the "World" is just

Wrong (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#20606267)

Actually, the devil is in the details: when you said that GW is instance based instead, then "one world" doesn't even mean the same thing as in WoW. GW, just like Diablo 2, is the exact opposite. Everything is instanced. It doesn't even _have_ a real shard or world, in the WoW sense.

To illustrate what I mean: in WoW I can for example take a treck from Anvilmar to Ironforge to Stormwind to Goldshire (see for example the funny video with the 40 level 1 gnomes raid on Hogger for a group doing just that) and meet a few thousand players playing in the same world. _That_ is WoW's "world". And going "one world" would mean essentially all 9 million players literally running around in the same world. Not in instanced versions of it.

Does any part of GW have that? No, I don't think so, everyone who isn't in your instanced game, just doesn't exist in your "world".

Technically speaking, GW has lots of smaller shards, not one big world for everyone. It just invented a way to spawn new shards as needed, that's all.

This isn't to say that GW is bad or that WoW is better. I can see the point in instanced content. But let's not go redefining terms for "my game can beat yours" willy-waving. Just having basically a lobby from which you can start an instanced game or join one, does not make a "one world game" in the sense discussed here. It's just not the same kind of "one world", so making the claim that it did it before WoW is meaningless. It's like saying that cats invented leatherworking because your cat has white "shoes".

Wake me up when you can have 36,000 people in your GW game running around independently and actually randomly seeing or meeting each other. That's currently the average population per server in WoW. _That_ is the point at which you can claim with a straight face that GW even does the same thing in that aspect. Do it all in all world? Well, wake me up when it supports 9 million players in the same game, running around and whacking NPCs independently.

And here's another thought, and what the guys in the summary missed:

Chances are you don't even have enough geography for that. If you parked one player per square metre, you'd need a 3 km by 3 km world just to have the players stand there. If you want them to actually have some space to move around and hunt without stepping on each other's toes, you end up needing a world as big as TES Arena. Except at that point you also need a hell of a lot more quests (people won't be happy if they have to run an hour just to get to the next quest giver), and other problems start to creep in too. _That_ is why noone, WoW and GW included, ever tried doing that.

So people coming up with ideas like "hey, look, it's technically possible" have just missed the point.

Re:Wrong (1)

Sciros (986030) | about 7 years ago | (#20606357)

Well you can randomly run into and see any of hundreds of thousands of players in GW at any point in time, but only as you go through outposts. Yes, it fragments the population, creating instances of towns and explorable areas and missions, but it does this in a "temporary" manner. And the economy, among other things is continent-wide in its effect, and does support transactions from all these players at once.

My point is that with GW's approach even though players are temporarily fragmented, they are not closed off from other players completely. In WoW you cannot play with just anyone else on Earth, but in GW you can. So in that sense it is "one world." And that's the sense I was dealing in...

I'm not saying GW is better or WoW is better or whatever. WoW's probably tackled a lot of other gameplay and immersiveness issues that GW never even attempted. I just don't know WoW well. All I can tell you is what GW does ^^

Re:Guild Wars has had "one world" for 2+ years (1)

toleraen (831634) | about 7 years ago | (#20606343)

Say it with me, "Guild Wars is not an MMO". If you want to claim that GW figured this out ages ago, then I'm going to claim Battlenet did it before. One huge chatroom with instances.

With the instances the developers know pretty much how much processing power they'll need, since there's only so much that can go into one instance at a time. I'm not saying it's easy to figure out, but knowing that only 6 or 7 people (can't remember what it is in GW) per instance means you can limit the processing power required to run that area. I'm guessing they could send that instance off to which ever server has the resources to do it as well.

This is a convenience MMOs don't have. You have 10s of 100s of zones, and at any one point in time 200+ people could decide to gather in any one of them. There are a very limited number of areas in GW where there could be that many people at any one time. Easy to predict. Not as easy in a MMO. That's the problem this article is trying to address.

NASDAQ MMO (4, Funny)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 7 years ago | (#20605961)

NASDAQ, for example, can be thought of as a very large MMO...

And you thought the grind in WoW was boring!

Re:NASDAQ MMO (4, Funny)

HarryCaul (25943) | about 7 years ago | (#20606049)

Leveling up in NASDAQ is a lot more fun than in WOW. The gear is a lot better too.

Re:NASDAQ MMO (2, Funny)

Achoi77 (669484) | about 7 years ago | (#20606293)

yeah, but it really really sucks when you get PK'd in NASDAQ. Nothing you earn is nodrop/soulbound


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20607253)

You and I appear to have different definitions of the word "fun"

Imagine (0, Redundant)

mfh (56) | about 7 years ago | (#20605995)

A beo~ oh nevermind... wrong direction!

One world MMO? (2, Interesting)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 7 years ago | (#20605997)

I don't see how that is even feasible. I don't play WoW because it's a horrible game. However, I have tried it. Now, there's what, 8 million subscribers? Let's say 1/4 of them were logged in at once.

First, can a server even handle 2 million simultaneous logins? I bet they could do something, but it would cost a LOT more than splitting them up into managable chunks.

Second, the game world would have to be enormous in order to give people enough room to move around and do their own thing. Just imagine hunting a single boss, 300 people at the same time trying to kill one monster... it'd make me quit.

Now, the game dynamic would have to be changed and yes, that is possible. But at this point in time, I don't think it's physically feasible to run a virtual world the size something like this would have to be in order to fit everyone in at the same time. Zones lag enough as it is. And updating every user's stats? Unless we all have 1000mbit internet connections, I don't think we even have enough bandwidth. And the travel time in-game for that kind of world? You better give everyone instant teleport to any destination or nobody's going to want to move around...

Re:One world MMO? (0, Troll)

everphilski (877346) | about 7 years ago | (#20606075)

First, can a server even handle 2 million simultaneous logins?

Distributed computing. You have your world spread across multiple servers, with certain zones on certain servers. It is done this way already in modern MMO's.

Second, the game world would have to be enormous in order to give people enough room to move around and do their own thing. Just imagine hunting a single boss, 300 people at the same time trying to kill one monster... it'd make me quit.

(1) bigger world with more targets
(2) instancing - allow multiple groups of people to have-at the same target at the same time. Everquest had this since 2003, and WoW does this too on certain targets.

And updating every user's stats? Unless we all have 1000mbit internet connections, I don't think we even have enough bandwidth.

And the travel time in-game for that kind of world? You better give everyone instant teleport to any destination or nobody's going to want to move around...

Or spread it out logically. Theres no reason a max level character should travel to a noobie zone unless (1) it is for a quest or (2) they are trying to twink out a new friend. So lay out the world such that they progress from easy to hard. Travel won't be difficult if you follow the natural progression. More zones - less people - less updating.

Re:One world MMO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20606147)

Unless we all have 1000mbit internet connections,

That would be a serious downgrade, wouldn't it?

(M)ega- is significantly different than (m)illi-!

Re:One world MMO? (1)

archeopterix (594938) | about 7 years ago | (#20606217)

Zones lag enough as it is. And updating every user's stats? Unless we all have 1000mbit internet connections, I don't think we even have enough bandwidth.

Not "we all" - only the game servers have to be connected with ultrafat low latency pipes. "We all" are supposed to log onto the nearest server and be happy with our current bandwidth. The technical problem is in making the distributed servers act transparently as one big server to "us all", so that Joe, Ivan and Taro from Australia, Russia and Japan can band together and kick a bosses ass in realtime, each one logged onto his own local server.

Re:One world MMO? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 7 years ago | (#20606249)

And updating every user's stats? Unless we all have 1000mbit internet connections, I don't think we even have enough bandwidth.
That's as wrong as saying 3D games will never work because no video card is fast enough to render every polygon in the entire map at a decent framerate.

Re:One world MMO? (2)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about 7 years ago | (#20606289)

The GP is correct. During certain situations where concurrent actions are at a high level, such as large battles, the required bandwidth rises linearly with the number of players on the field. To truly create a battle where thousands of players are involved at once would exceed the bandwidth available by most of today's household internet connections by a large amount.

Obligatory Second Life Comment (4, Interesting)

cruachan (113813) | about 7 years ago | (#20606093)

Obligatory to mention it, but this is of course what Second Life does, and one of the reasons why it's interesting. With SL all assets are stored online, not on your local PC (preloaded from CD or whatever) and everyone is in the same world. Anyone who witnessed the growing pains of SL over the first part of the year when concurrency went from under 10,000 to 30,000 plus will be more than a little aware that what they had didn't scale, although they do seem to have a handle on it now and conccurency of 50,000 is just about bearable.

Re:Obligatory Second Life Comment (2, Informative)

anomalous cohort (704239) | about 7 years ago | (#20606945)

this is of course what Second Life does ... everyone is in the same world

Although it is true that there is no end user experience of selecting a world, my guess is that it is still a shard based architecture based on location within the world. I base that guess on the observation that object rendering and latency seems to be dependent on the number of people and objects in an area. A densely crowded area has much more lag then a sparely populated area. It is not dependent, however, on how many users are currently logged in to the world.

It seems to me that SL is multi-shard but you don't explicitly select the shard. Moving from one part of the world to another may move you to a different shard.

Re:Obligatory Second Life Comment (2, Informative)

cruachan (113813) | about 7 years ago | (#20608229)

You are correct to some degree, in that the Second Life 'Grid' is made up of about 10,000 'sims' each of which equates to a cpu and holds an area of land int he grid. Your avatar is always located in a sim, and you move between them when moving around the world. One of the issues is that a sim can currently hold about 50-70 avatars in one place (although you can hold a meeting at a corner and up this to 250 or so).

However in practice this is a relatively minor consideration. More specifically anyone inworld can talk to (IM) anyone else logged on at the same time, and all assets are held in one database, so neither people or possessions are sharded in any way whatsoever.

Lindon Lab have apparently declared that the current architecture should manage up to 100,000 concurrent connections. I'm not sure I believe that, but one of the reasons I've come around to thinking that Second Life in whatever form it evolves into over the next few years, will be the dominent virtuality going forward is because LL have faced and tackled the scalability issues so far with reasonable (not brilliant, but ok) success. There's more first mover advantage there than is commonly realized.

EVE is a special case (2, Informative)

BarneyL (578636) | about 7 years ago | (#20606119)

The article seems to miss that EVE being space based allows a huge environment to be created easily, a few random number generators and a bit of tweaking and you have a whole universe of stars and asteroids and it's easily extendable after that.
The landscape in the likes of WoW is a lot more design intensive, you have features and locations with NPCs and dungeons and so on put in place. To double the population on the server you would need to either double the design/quest writing hours, add in a bunch of fractally generated landscape that would be relatively boring and largely pointless or go with the EQ2 route of opening up instances of zones which always seemed artifcial to me ("Hey are you in Common Lands 1,2,3,4 or 5?").

Re:EVE is a special case (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | about 7 years ago | (#20606587)

Right, the procedural nature of EVE makes it easier... but they still need a super computer to handle all the players and the market.

Re:EVE is a special case (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 7 years ago | (#20608335)

It might be less trivial than EVE but I think making a rough sketch of continents and such and then letting the details be algorithmically generated shouldn't be that complicated.
They can always tweak the stuff for specific places later.

What I would like to see is a more dynamic world.
I haven't really played any MMOs since Dark Age of Camelot so I'm not sure what the state of NPCs are nowadays, but I think it would be interesting to see monsters migrate across the game world, players and NPCs building new cities.

apples vs. oranges (1)

achilles777033 (1090811) | about 7 years ago | (#20606129)

The author needs to not compare apples to oranges. WoW and EVE might both be round (MMO), but they aren't the same, 200k isn't even in the same ballpark with 9 million. The author needs to do some more research before they try and compare the two. How many WoW players are there per shard, for instance? I'd not be surprised if there were more than 200k players on some of the larger WoW servers.

and that bit about 40-on-40 battle size for WoW is totally bogus. That might be the largest battleground instance, but I guarantee that there have been larger PvP battles in some of the major cities. I've personally seen multi-raid group per side battles in some places. Not to mention the number of people who were on hand for the opening of the Gates of AQ and the Dark Portal.

Re:apples vs. oranges (1)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20606233)

Just as a clarification, that's 200k on one continuous world. WoW is conveniently broken up into several servers to handle the load. A more apt comparison would be a universe (EVE) compared to a multiverse (WoW).

I'm pretty sure that WoW doesn't have 200k on just one server. They'd only need 40 servers then.

Re:apples vs. oranges (1)

tibike77 (611880) | about 7 years ago | (#20606965)

WoW servers and status info []

34 "High" population PvP servers
31 "Medium" population PvP servers
36 "Low" population PvP servers
17 "High" population regular servers
69 "Medium" population regular servers
13 "Low" population regular servers
22 assorted population density "special" servers
= 222 servers

The total AVERAGE number of USERS on a server would therefore be in the 40k area.
As for the activity level, I'd be seriously surprised if they manage to have over 10k concurent users online on any of them, more like 5k tops probably.

The problem is surge capacity (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#20606183)

In EQ, when they would try to run a special event, a large number of players would try to join and crash it.

If you have 100,000 users and some kind of non-instanced shared event (say you tried to have a virtual stadium where spectators in the stands saw an event below) the capacity required is beyond the capacity of current hardware.

OneWorld Problems? (1)

Limburgher (523006) | about 7 years ago | (#20606193)

Hell, which ones? Poor performance? Quirky configuration? Conflicts with IBM Director? Event Rules errors? Corrupted objects? Magic failing package deploys?

Oh, wait, you didn't mean JD Edwards. Never mind. :)

Three Things To Think About (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 7 years ago | (#20606209)

1. Many people don't want to play with their family. My son likes to grief, hold grudges, and seek vengeance. I like to Care Bear, focus on skills, and meander about, for example.

2. The concept of being forced to play with people who think PvP is great just bores the tears out of me. Just as my RPG style probably does the same thing to PvPers. So, having a fractured community is kind of nice, and it's also good in that, should I totally mess up (as I did when I founded a Squirrelly Wrath guild on one server and "invited" someone that then insulted everyone he could find in multiple lands, making the guild a piece of shyte, well, I just created characters on a different server (sorry, Sisters of Elune, it wasn't me).

3. Economics doesn't need to represent the world. Why should I want it to represent 250 million Chinese Gold Farmers? I'd rather it represent people from Ecotopia quite frankly ...

Re:Three Things To Think About (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20608159)

You know your son griefs and don't try to stop him? Great parenting. Raising bullies is fun.

Fixes one problem but makes more (2, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 years ago | (#20606279)

If all of WoW was a single shard, what would the result be? With the existing world size, the population density would be insane. Somewhere around 100x a normal server or so. I've seen AHs with nearly 100 people in them, so how about the same with 10,000 fighting to get to an auctioneer? Or rather than fighting with 2-3 others camping the rare with the drop I need, it'll be 200-300 camping the 24 hour respawn. Or expand the world to a size that gets difficult to meet up with people unless you always get on and off where they are. What the WoW solution would be would to let people move characters around on servers easily. That way your choice of servers wouldn't be a problem when a friend mentions that he's on a different realm. But that would be hard to do now because of character names. And what about items that are hard to get and you not only camp the spawn, but pick certain servers to camp.

I'm not saying that the problem can't be fixed, but it is something that would be hard, if not impossible, to fix in an existing large MMORPG without causing lots of trouble for the users.

Re:Fixes one problem but makes more (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | about 7 years ago | (#20607131)

I wanted to see how big the in game world of Azeroth really was. Since Azeroth mostly contained two continents of roughly equal size, I came to the conclusion that 1 continent would be roughly the size of Manhattan.

And at 9 million people, which is slightly larger than NYC, that would mean Azeroth would be about 1/2 as dense as Manhattan.

Re:Fixes one problem but makes more (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 years ago | (#20607201)

Now, since it will be only one server, they'll have to decide whether to make it "regular" or PvP. I think it would be interesting to have it PvP. Oh, and bigger raids. I could see a 1000 person raid being common with so many people. But I see my FPS decreasing in cities with all the textures of the other chars, so what'll happen to the framerates with 100x the number of people to draw?

Other applications as well ... (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20606491)

"... will have applications in any industry that requires spotting and reacting to trends", or "anything where behavior is dynamic and you need to move resources around rapidly."

Like, say ... a battlefield or even a major military campaign. Eventually war is going to be a matter of software "generals" maneuvering resources and personnel around in order to achieve maximum effect. Something tells me the military may already be far ahead of what the massively-multiplayer folks are doing. Or maybe not: when you think about it, a closed universe interacting with millions of actual human beings is a great place to experiment with this sort of thing, and hey, you even get the players to pay for it.

Re:Other applications as well ... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#20607857)

"... will have applications in any industry that requires spotting and reacting to trends", or "anything where behavior is dynamic and you need to move resources around rapidly."
Like, say ... a battlefield or even a major military campaign. Eventually war is going to be a matter of software "generals" maneuvering resources and personnel around in order to achieve maximum effect.

You mean like they have since... well, time immemorial? Seriously, that's the definition of generalship in a nutshell - and they've been doing it for millenia. (Though logistics and operations research didn't become formalized until WWII.)

Re:Other applications as well ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20608197)

Yes indeed, but I said software generals, as in "expert computing systems placed in charge of strategy and logistics", specifically referring to the eventual replacement of human military leaders with software. Of course, whether a computer will ever be able to replace a great leader is another issue entirely, but in terms of integrating vast amounts of real-time information from thousands of sources and formulating a sound battle plan ... well, that's something an expert system (or whatever we're calling AI in twenty or thirty years) will be able to do.

What do you call it when a Shard craps out???? (0)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 7 years ago | (#20606705)

What do you call it when a shard server craps out? It sharded.

Problem is... (2, Interesting)

omgamibig (977963) | about 7 years ago | (#20606789)

...most worlds are simply to small. Imagine all WoW servers merged. You couldn't even enter a city. The worlds would have to be designed much larger. Could be truely awesome but I guess they just end up as big bleak planes of boring nothingness. Switching servers should be made as easy as possible. Perhaps like FPS, your character is stored on a central server and you simply choose a server, connect and start playing with your friends.

RTA carefully (3, Insightful)

skeevy (926052) | about 7 years ago | (#20606823)

There are a few items of note:

First, this George Dolbier says that MMOs and massively distributed financial systems share the same problems, and that the financial systems have gone a long way to address them. He says MMOs should adopt solutions applied to the finance sector.

The second thing to note is that he talks about predicting and reallocating server computing resources. He's from IBM, who hawks services and products in this very area.

Sharding in WoW really is a big pain (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 7 years ago | (#20607135)

Everywhere I go I have met people that I like in real life and who also play.

Are any of them ever on the same server? No, of course not :(

Of course, supporting the density of 9 million people on a single wow server would both require and allow massive shifts in gameplay. No more grinding thirty mobs at once - you've have to zerg rush a single murloc to get him down, or the world would be completely overrun in murlocs.

EVE Propoganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20607183)

Is it me or does it seem that all the scandal and internal cheating going on at EVE probably put a dent in their customer base. Now they ramp up the PR machine to protect their cash cow from imploding on itself. Other than a paragraph or two about WOW and the NASDAQ they go into too much detail about EVE.

I mean really some crappy "independent" report and then interviews with the new EVE economist who never once addresses the cheating problems and the fact that EVE is not a closed system as it interacts with the real and parallel world.

Re:EVE Propoganda (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 years ago | (#20608485)

No, I think they probably got a lot of advertising out of that scandal.

Easy to do (1)

Synn (6288) | about 7 years ago | (#20607547)

Go one of 2 routes:

1> Instancing of all areas, ala Guild Wars style.
2> Select your character, THEN choose your server, ala FPS game style.

You solve two issues, it's easier to scale up when your game gets popular(no character migrations off of heavy servers to deal with) and it's easy to scale down when the game starts to die off(no annoying server merges).

But on the downside you can't charge people $25 to move their character just so they can play with their friends.

Not a technology problem! (4, Insightful)

MMORG (311325) | about 7 years ago | (#20607775)

I see this kind of thing pop up on a regular basis, and it always missed the point. This isn't a technology problem! Speaking as someone who's actually worked on multiple massively-multiplayer games, once you've got the server tech to support 10,000 people on a server cluster, there aren't a lot of technical obstacles to scaling that up to 8,000,000 people. Every part of the server cluster can be scaled out more or less infinitely if you apply the correct (and already well-known) engineering solutions. And money, of course.

It's actually a content production problem. If you're going to put 8,000,000 people into a single virtual world, you have to have places for them all to go and not be horribly overcrowded. Ideally you want all those places to be unique, interesting, and compelling to play. The fundamental problem is that we simply don't know how to create that much content. Hand-crafted content is far too slow and expensive to produce at that scale, and auto-generated content is repetitive and boring. Eve Online manages to hold 200,000 players in a single server cluster environment only because all of its environments are the same random-generated solar systems. Once you've seen four or five systems in Eve, you've seen them all. Fortunately Eve's strength doesn't rely on the environments, it relies on PVP action. WoW couldn't get away with that.

mainframes? (1)

sinner6 (884407) | about 7 years ago | (#20607893)

The Nasdaq comment caught my eye. I believe that Nasdaq, at least in part, sits on Unisys built mainframes. Has any MMO company talked to Unisys, IBM or any other mainframe manufactures? (are there any others left?)

It seems to me if you wanted "1 world" it might be a good idea to start by having "1 machine".

Of course this presumes the reason why things are on many servers is mainly technical restrictions as opposed to content creation reasons. Maybe Eve works as 1 world is because you only need a map maker; it is the players that create the content, meaning drama. A mainly PvE game would require lots and lots very carefully crafted content to make sure everyone has enough room to spread out but still group up. It is easy to create enough content for 25,000 people is easier then for 200,000; unless the other people are the content.

Re:mainframes? (1)

MMORG (311325) | about 7 years ago | (#20608555)

No, mainframes wouldn't particularly help with the "one world" problem.

First, you're correct - the main problem is actually content creation as I previously posted.

Second, if you peel back the "gaming" facade and just look at it in terms of software engineering, an MMO world is a pretty standard distributed computing problem. A stateless problem like, say, a web search engine can be easily partitioned to run on commodity hardware. An MMO world is a stateful problem, so it's not as easy to partition, but it can still be done if you're smart and careful. Most (all?) MMOs partition on the basis of locality in the world (I'm near a few other players and far away from all the rest). The global state needs to be kept reasonably consistent but because it's a game it has far more wiggle room than something like the NASDAQ. The point is that an MMO world benefits more from the cheap scalability of a large farm of commodity servers than it would from keeping everything together on a huge mainframe.

Of course the partitioning approach breaks down if every player in the whole virtual world decides to congregate together in the same location. The answer is usually "don't do that". Eve is somewhat unique in that regard because they encourage extremely large PvP battles in a single system, and they've been struggling to support that on their hardware. But if you can avoid having to support that particular scenario, then having one huge virtual world is mostly not a tech problem.

EVE is sharded (1)

tbcpp (797625) | about 7 years ago | (#20608445)

In a way EVE is sharded. See each solar system can run on only one CPU. Once one system gets too loaded, CCP will move agents/quests to different systems to spread out the load. At no point will a weapon, ship, etc really go from one system to another. Whenevery they jump, their data is actually just picked and moved to a different CPU. So in a way EVE Online is made up of thousands of shards with the ability to swap data back and forth. Now once we have 10,000 players in one world/shard/star system, that's something to get excited about.
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