Recently I’ve started playing Star Wars The Old Republic, which provoked few thoughts about MMO design in general
Server instances are one of the oldest design concepts in Massively Multiplayer Online games. Although this concept long outlived its usefulness it is still widely used by new games. I believe mostly because World of Warcraft is using it and a lot of people like to copy everything WoW.
Server instances solve issue of spreading the load of players and form nearly physical bounds allowing servers to handle a well defined amount of pressure. Unfortunately this pattern creates more issues than it solves. For instance a player may create a character on one server that becomes so popular that it becomes difficult to log in – as the server may put players that it cannot handle at the moment into a queue which empties when other players leave the game.
Another issue is that friends of said player may start playing on other servers, making it impossible for them to play together. Some companies fight this by providing character transfers, some even charge for this. However character transfers are a workaround they raise the operation costs (support) if it is not automated.
A different approach, taken by only a handful of games such as Star Trek Online, is to have one server and completely invisibly to players separate them across servers. If a server becomes full, new players connect to new instance without even knowing about it. If they however want to play with their friends, by creating a group the game can put them on same server.
This also solves issue with inevitable server migrations – once game becomes less popular, most server’s population becomes so scarce that the company behind the game decides to merge existing servers to save costs and increase overall population per server. As with any change, it comes with mixed feelings from any communities and issues of its own – like conflicts in player character names.
Another solution is to have only one world – without instances. This is least used pattern as it affects other game design choices as well. For example the game world must be designed in a way that it can support hundred of thousands, even perhaps millions of players in a way that it would not create overcrowded areas.
There are also other technical and design issues with this approach that I would like to discuss in future.
Tuesday 23rd of August first organizational meeting of IASA Ambassador program took place in Irish Life & Permanent building in Dublin.
IASA is a non-profit organization with aim of promoting forming a profession of architects in technology sectors.
As it is first ambassador program in IASA around the world it’s that much more exciting to be part of it.Read More
Last year an idea was born – ArenaEngine. It came to being after a pivotal change in my plans to develop yet unnamed Sci-Fi MMO. After going through some scenarios with Alexander Casassovici he suggested to focus on what I do best and have most experience in – servers/middleware.
It took several months of bashing out ideas, prototypes, demos to iron out a plan and architecture for ArenaEngine. I’ve stopped freelancing and downsized my company in January ’11 to concentrate on ArenaEngine only. One thing was certain – this project needs sales and someone with overall experience in structuring company for scalability and I’m not fitting this requirements as I’m a techie.
Fortunately there are organizations in Ireland that are made especially for people like myself. That’s how I’ve got onto the Genesis which is a startup accelerator programme run and funded by Cork Institute of Technology and Enterprise Ireland.
After two months so far (out of twelve) this course is proving to be exactly what I need. That said driving a concept for a company such as this sucking a lot of energy from me. I don’t mind developing the software and whole platform for the product – it comes easy to me, but the marketing, financial analysis and predictions, structuring company etc. are not something I may say I am most proficient at. Never less Genesis works like school sometime – you have no choice but to comply.
So, can I do it alone? I must for now, unfortunately I had to let go one developer who worked with me on the prototyping stage as simply I’m running out of savings from last contracts. ArenaEngine is completely self funded so far and until either version 1.0 hits the online shelf or I manage to secure investment I can’t afford to hire anyone.
In future posts, which will be a mixture of technical heavy posts and business related posts I’ll leave a trail of progress being made. As mentioned above a lot had been done so far and the next few posts will summarize that.Read More
But not software…
Looking around companies in Co.Cork you’ll see that all technology companies that show up on the radar are companies making/selling either:
- medical devices
- point of sale / e-commerce
- consulting about IT
- IT support
- and of course web design (with blog/CMS integration)
The lack of internet based companies, startups and pure software development is apparent. Even when trying to lead in technology development Cork is stuck one leg in physical world. Where pure virtual products and services have no limits in how quickly they can scale and grab new markets, all physical products and personal services are and always will be limited by its corporeal nature.Read More
Two weeks ago I’ve attended the IASA Architect Core course not certain what to expect. I’ve joined IASA just before the Irish Chapter was formed in late 2010 and haven’t had the opportunity to meet with anyone from IASA face to face. Thirteen people attended, a great mix of characters, experience and backgrounds.
The course was a good mix of lecture and hands-on workshops which helped to understand it and remember better by doing. The latter proved to be the challenge as the whole week was packed with so much information that its impossible to remember it all otherwise. Practical workshops also made bonds and friendships to form, outliving the course duration.
Overall the experience and knowledge were eye opener for me. It helped me to validate my skills and create an improvement path for my career. I’ve also learned more about IASA and its vision of strengthening the IT architects profession and am looking forward to be part of making it happen.
Sometimes a great feature that by design should improve overall security can have outright negative impact on it. I’m thinking here about security questions that are used by some online services.
As I’ve expressed my grief in my previous post someone got access to my Live account. After some forensics it seems like the poor choice of security question was at fault.
We are living in Facebook and Google era where personal information is available broadly and finding details about someone is rather easy and becoming easier. Some typical security questions are: name of your first teacher, you mother maiden name, your childhood superhero, your pet name, birth date etc… When you think of it services like Facebook have that information available for anyone that is curious and determined enough to look.
So when a security feature becomes security vulnerability? One way at least is when you let a quasi-private data become the way to gain access to someone’s account without a password.Read More
I’ve announced this before last week here but I’ll mention it again – ArenaEngine will be presented for the first time in public at the next Open Coffee in Cork (that’s tomorrow!) and the Beta1 will be announced soon as well.Read More