Unified DB Resource

Development directions, tasks, and features being actively implemented or pursued by the development team.

Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby charlieg » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:31 am

Isn't this relevant to the simulation of the economy?
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:27 pm

pheonixstorm wrote:A question for everyone
How many of you (doesnt matter for or against SQL) think that vegaserver should be an mmo? Don't think about cost, don't think about how hard it might be to code. Think Online persistent privateer, elite, or whateer other flight sim trading game you have played. Think fun!


Small scale, non-persistent multi-player would be a great addition. It would be much fun and might greatly improve weapon/ship balancing and AI competence (by modeling it after what experienced players do to each other in multi).

But the whole MMO thing is potentially a giant monster that could consume the entire game/project. I mean putting all the work it takes to create one aside, gameplay-wise, an MMO always ends up somewhere between an actual game and some soulless crap virtual world like second life. Because you have to protect players who only recently started playing from veteran players that have built up quite a lot of capital and firepower, which limits the realism and the big things that can happen in the persistent universe, or otherwise you end up a persistent universe brutally dominated by a handful of well established players. In short, your persistent universe either degrades into second life or a banana republic. At least unless you do frequent universe resets, like semi-persistent MMOs.

It also changes the game into something more serious-- you have to dedicate time to keep coming back to play in the universe to stand a chance, otherwise you will be overtaken by other players in some way while you are asleep or doing something useful. You can't just casually play a couple hours whenever you feel like it, you have to devote yourself and schedule hours you will play every day, in order to keep pace with what is happening. Unless of course it is a 100% lame second life universe where nothing happens anyway-- the opposite of VS' focus on a dynamic universe.

You can support the engine potential for a future VS MMO of course, if you really want to, but I certainly wouldn't want it to be a distraction from general development or other super features, like porting to OGRE. Just my humble opinion since you asked anyways.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Mets » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:56 pm

klauss wrote:There's an important question there:
Will vegastrike multiplayer be a cooperative peer-to-peer system (as in, we trust in the client's good intentions and we don't actively prevent cheating?)
Or will vegastrike go the mmo route and implement a client-server system where the server strictly enforces anti-cheating rules?

It's a serious design decision with serious different routes and objectives.

For one, peer-to-peer systems fare much better in very big worlds, and are decentralized so easier to set up with comunity-driven nodes. But there's cheating... you can't prevent it, and people will and do cheat.

For two, client-server systems are expensive to maintain (someone has to pay for the server, and it has to be a powerful server, or if things get big enough, even a server farm). If VS devs can't afford the expense, we might end up with 0 (zero - none) servers, and thus NO multiplayer whatsoever.

Client-server systems also need a lot of effort to get anti-cheating right.

Just caught this thread so I thought I'd comment.

As some of you know, I currently have a multiplayer server up and running SVN version of vegaserver. While I no longer have much time to be a software developer, I do have enough time to keep a server going, and I'm happy to do so for this project. I'd really like to see a MMO vegastrike in one form or another if people would like to work on it. I think it's the best way to attract people to the game. Think, free star wars galaxies :)

I have quite a bit of experience running a game server. I (not very often anymore) play BZFlag, which uses a server-centric approach with servers being run by volunteers. Of course, the resources are quite less, but you build a nice network staff with operators and admins, and things run well. It's no different than a large IRC network. There is inevitably a cheater-vs-admin war, and there can be some drama, but if the game is coded well and the server computes decision making like shots being fired, targets being hit, and controls currency for each player, it shouldn't take too much work.

This leads to a second point, and that is computing resources. Vegaserver, since it isn't responsible for graphics, doesn't consume a whole lot. As long as all graphic and visual information is handled client-side, and all "math" is crunched on the server, you should end up with minimal cheating and not have to pay for expensive servers.

The best example I can give of MMO with low-cost servers would be Valve/Steam. You can run a team fortress 2 server for 20 people for not a lot of money, and Valve's built-in anti-cheating measures are excellent. Again though, you have to have the software written to minimize cheating, something bzflag is still very much working on.

I like keeping the server up, and I'd like to see this developed, so I'm committed to supporting at least one public server. You can consider the current server permanent until I get bored with the game/find some other similar game with a more active multiplayer.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:28 pm

I think you forget that Valve is not an open source development group. Their anti-cheating technologies need
to be hacked by those who would cheat.
Vegastrike is open source. Anyone with a bit of time to study the sources can modify them and run a cheating
server.
But frankly, I don't see what you see in multiplayer in space. Is head to head really that much fun?
Well, if we had empire building, strategy, ability to set up factories, convoys, cities... then maybe an mmo
could get interesting; but then there's the problems that Deus Siddis eloquently summarized. And all these
features would have to be coded. And if I live long enough, I'll be pushing for that they be coded, but for the
sake of a fuller solo playing experience, first. It seems to me that you come from an angle where everything
begins with having a multiplayer feature. I think everything begins with having a good engine, clearly coded,
first of all; and secondly having a game with rich content. We're very far from either of these goals; and to
me, working on multiplayer code is just a distraction and a waste of time.
Consider this: For the past 3 or 4 years, the original developers were working on ALMOST nothing else but
multi-player. I kept telling them they were wasting their time, but they gave me the silent treatment, and
forged on with it. Practically noting of value to this game, or any of its other mods, was done over all that
time. We, in fact, lost most of the mods, as there was no progress at all with the engine and people lost
enthusiasm. Just look at the mods subsection of the forums: It's a cemetary! All because of multiplayer...
And vegastrike multiplayer is still in alpha.
Now that the original developers have moved on, I see this as an opportunity to get more important things
done, like better graphics, sound, physics, collisions, AI, and hopefully 3D cockpits, 3D bases, radar modes,
stealth, improved damage models, improved economics, a better universe generator.. the list goes on.
And to clean up the engine, first of all.
But you seem to be suggesting that time would be better spent on multiplayer. I could not disagree more.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby croxis » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:14 am

Just because you don't like head to head does not mean no one else does.

That being said, full MMO is a bad idea for all the reasons listed. What I am personally more interested in is still persistent universe but limited to the 64-256 player range. Something akin to freelancer or neverwinter nights.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:55 am

croxis wrote:Just because you don't like head to head does not mean no one else does.
Fine. Well, that's already done; so you got your wish.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Mets » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:36 pm

I don't think multiplayer needs to be the focus, but I do think it's an integral part of the game that needs to be improved. When I hear MMO, I'm thinking on the order of 50-100 people on a server.

I agree that devs should focus on the suggestions you laid out. What I don't want to see happen, however, is multiplayer development come to a halt. Multiplayer is easy to develop; just work on the non-multiplayer things you suggested and multiplayer will get better by default. As long as there's at least one dev making sure the changes work with multiplayer, and helping multiplayer along in the efficency department, I think everyone will be quite happy with the results.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:46 pm

Mets wrote:I don't think multiplayer needs to be the focus, but I do think it's an integral part of the game that needs to be improved. When I hear MMO, I'm thinking on the order of 50-100 people on a server.

I agree that devs should focus on the suggestions you laid out. What I don't want to see happen, however, is multiplayer development come to a halt. Multiplayer is easy to develop; just work on the non-multiplayer things you suggested and multiplayer will get better by default. As long as there's at least one dev making sure the changes work with multiplayer, and helping multiplayer along in the efficency department, I think everyone will be quite happy with the results.
Fair enough.
Multiplayer WILL get better, eventually. One thing I've been trying to convince Klauss and Safemode we could do is separate the simulation, collision and AI concerns from the rest of the enginge into a separate process. This process could be based on vegaserver, and it would act as a local server, for solo playing; and as a remote server proxy, for multi-play. But I'm not sure if I'll succeed in convincing them; and even if I do, I'm not sure when it would happen. But something good should happen in the multiplayer front, at some point.
I don't agree about the "Multiplayer is easy to develop" statement, though; not sure where you got that; it is DAMNED difficult.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:38 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:Well, if we had empire building, strategy, ability to set up factories, convoys, cities... then maybe an mmo could get interesting; but then there's the problems that Deus Siddis eloquently summarized. And all these features would have to be coded. And if I live long enough, I'll be pushing for that they be coded, but for the sake of a fuller solo playing experience, first.


Damn straight, set up colonies and infrastructure to put together a small space empire-- that's the kind of gameplay VS totally lacks and suffers from. Getting involved in exploration and wars doesn't really matter so much if you can't stake a claim somewhere in the universe either.

It's the biggest element of gameplay that is totally missing from VS, even though VS is built around dynamic empires and many specialized combat and logistical spacecraft. There's a strategy game going on all around you but you aren't allowed to play to, except as a pawn in a scripted storyline (also not implemented).

And then the existing gameplay major elements, direct combat and trading, are not at all well fleshed out yet. So at this time, the only point of multiplayer is in the role of a development tool IMO- a way of tweaking combat balance and combat AI based on human versus human competition in controlled circumstances (normal roam-the-universe play being not-controlled by contrast, so mmo persistent universe stuff is not useful here).
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:36 pm

Really, it shouldn't be all that difficult to add all these features. Mostly python programming I bet.
What we need first is a clean engine; clean code, good graphics and sound, good physics and AI, 3D cockpits and bases, a blurring of the distinction between being in space and at a base, separating bfxm headers as xmesh, to make it easier to modify the art, time tracking, multiple choice dialogues, personal inventory, 3D characters, email, magazines and books, modding tools ... Once all these things are in place, the rest is python; --high level stuff.
The hard work is all the low level necessities.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:03 pm

chuck_starchaser wrote:3D cockpits and bases, a blurring of the distinction between being in space and at a base . . . 3D characters ...


This is an especially interesting area as well, IMO. When there can be really interesting, full 3D realtime, physics, AI powered stuff happening inside of ships and bases, there is less of a mad focus trying to make a million things happen on the outside to keep the pace up even when it makes no sense (like speed SPEC and constant Uln/Luddite/Pirate ambushes).

And being the evil bastard that I am, I feel similar activity on planets' open surfaces would just kill. But to be done right that would require the advanced full scale planet simulating technology also needed for the famous/infamous 'seamless planetary flight' super feature though of course.
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Re: Unified DB Resource

Postby Mets » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:09 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:
chuck_starchaser wrote:It's the biggest element of gameplay that is totally missing from VS, even though VS is built around dynamic empires and many specialized combat and logistical spacecraft. There's a strategy game going on all around you but you aren't allowed to play to, except as a pawn in a scripted storyline (also not implemented).

And then the existing gameplay major elements, direct combat and trading, are not at all well fleshed out yet. So at this time, the only point of multiplayer is in the role of a development tool IMO- a way of tweaking combat balance and combat AI based on human versus human competition in controlled circumstances (normal roam-the-universe play being not-controlled by contrast, so mmo persistent universe stuff is not useful here).


Speaking of this, is there anyway without doing too much work to turn on AI in multiplayer? I feel like if you could play the normal game, but with a group of 4-5 friends, you might feel like you are a part of a much larger strategic story, as opposed to being alone in space. You and your friends could organize convoys, find sectors you want to claim on your own, "control" your preferred trade centers, establish your own routes, etc. Of course we all do this on our own when we are in solo and are on a merchant path, but it's much more fun if you can join up with somebody who's on a bounty hunter path, somebody who's on a fighter path, etc.

It also might be a good idea to formally recognize different "career" options in some way, or at least highlight them somehow for PR purposes.
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