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New Technologies Attack the One-World Problem 157

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-reach-the-folks-on-theta-epsilon-earth dept.
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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New Technologies Attack the One-World Problem

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  • by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:50PM (#20605847) Homepage Journal
    ", 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.
    • by toleraen (831634)
      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.
      • by WED Fan (911325) <akahige&trashmail,net> on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:47PM (#20606577) Homepage Journal

        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.

        bzzzzt

        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.

        • by toleraen (831634)
          So you're saying that Hackers was a far greater atrocity to geeks everywhere than Episode 1 was? Really?

          Here, [google.com] just type in your address and call the first number that comes up. They'll help you out of your mom's basement.
        • 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 Sti
          • by WED Fan (911325)
            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: (Score:3, Funny)

              by WED Fan (911325)

              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,

            • by Valdrax (32670)
              I'm sorry, but you're going to have to explain in detail to me how picking (in the heyday of both games) 1st or 2nd edition AD&D over Tunnels & Trolls shows any sort of sophistication. The old AD&D ruleset was a complete mess whereas T&T offered a much simpler and more playable set of rules.

              Personally, I'd argue that a willingness to try games from less well-known publishers like Flying Buffalo instead of just following the mainstream shows a little more "geek sophistication." Besides, T
          • by geniusj (140174)
            For what it's worth, Dungeon Runners (a semi-free MMO) is like this and can be somewhat amusing for a few minutes :P
    • by grimflick (947516)
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
      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 c
    • 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 certai
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jandrese (485)
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Achoi77 (669484)

          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 cryst

          • by LauraW (662560)

            ...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.

            Interesting. I work at Google, and "shard" is Google-speak for one "partition" of a distributed system. It's also a verb: "shard it" is the usual response when someone has to write a system dealing with large amounts of data. And last year, some Google engineers open-sourced a sharded version of Hibernate [hibernate.org] (an ORM layer for Java) a year or so ago, and some of the papers [google.com] on research.google.com talk about this technique too, I think. And on a lighter note, a couple of years ago someone replaced the "Sh

    • by quanticle (843097)

      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.

  • 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!!

    --Ray
    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WED Fan (911325)

        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 mea

      • ROTFL.... That was good, I liked that comment, made my day.

        From the article:

        >EVE Online's servers, for example, which now support only 200,000 players, currently process more than 150 million operations per day.

        Oooh look 150 million operations... That would be the combined trading for Dell, Microsoft, IBM, and YHOO. How many stocks are there on the NASDAQ? Hmm, several *thousand* Then you need to add options, futures, and a few other instruments.

        Now to top it all off! Equities on a world wide level is ab
        • by Original Replica (908688) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:09PM (#20610587) Journal
          Oooh look 150 million operations... That would be the combined trading for Dell, Microsoft, IBM, and YHOO. How many stocks are there on the NASDAQ? Hmm, several *thousand* Then you need to add options, futures, and a few other instruments.

          I'm sorta curious where you got your numbers. From what I could find with a quick search Nasdaq handles about 550,000 trades per day total. Granted that covers over a billion shares moved each day, but the number of transactions seems to be about one third of EVE Online. On top that the trades seem to be between 5,500 or so listings, moved by 7000+ brokers. That would seem to be easier to streamline than the actions of 30,000 players interacting with however many tens of thousands of EVE environmental items there are. http://h20223.www2.hp.com/NonStopComputing/downloads/Nasdaq.pdf [hp.com]
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rfunches (800928)
            You're forgetting that real-time dissemination of all those listings in the midst of trading puts even more strain on the system; there are a lot more eyeballs looking at live quotes and trades than there are actual trades, and because countless shares can be traded in less than a second the ability to push that type of real-time data to providers is nothing short of amazing. The amount of open orders the system has to also handle must also tax the system (order not filled = no shares to count as a trade) a
          • What I am referring to are the end user trades. You are probably right that there are only 7000 brokers. But from those 7000 brokers there are 7000 * X traders. Granted some traders are your slower investor types, but then there is E-Trade, Interactive Brokers, etc that all tie in to the main exchange via the broker. When I say trades I don't just mean trades. As the other person who answered you said, remember that there are also oodles and oodles of bid and ask operations. So say that there are 100 actual
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by toleraen (831634)

      Support small independent publishers -
      Looks like everyone is just trying to stay relevant around here, aren't they?
    • by GreggBz (777373) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:25PM (#20606315) Homepage
      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.
      • by vertinox (846076)
        Yes, I attribute a great deal of my professional skills, and in fact, my computer mentality, to video games.

        One time during rush hour traffic, a passenger of my car told me I drive like I'm playing a video game.

        I replied that "I play to win".
  • NASDAQ=MMO (Score:5, Funny)

    by pieaholicx (1148705) on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:54PM (#20605905) Homepage

    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...
    • What's this about shards? I thought only warlocks had to worry about that.
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:58PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 2nd Post! (213333)
        You try to open a thousand pages with a thousand flash-powered stock charts and see how YOUR system handles the load.
    • Corporate raiding went out of style after the 80's. Something about downing the S&L market.
    • 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.....

  • 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
    • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sciros (986030)
        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
        • 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 wh
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cowscows (103644)
          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 ke
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drspliff (652992)
        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 woul
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          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
          • by drspliff (652992)
            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
            • I could see how this gets into net neutrality... and government regulation. I don't want that though. I'd rather just let good ol' competition do it for us. That's what brought me from all text MUDs to my current favorite: Tabula Rasa. (closed beta incidentally, lots of people on the server usually though). Tabula Rasa is a FPS/MMORPG hybrid which allows you the choice of playing in FPS or MMO mode. I choose FPS mode and find it to be very entertaining. It has a nice big world with good artwork and s
      • by greg_barton (5551) *

        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

        • 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 potentia
          • by greg_barton (5551) *
            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.
            • You plainly did not read my comments. Or fail at reading comprehension.

              I never stated such a thing, and if you can find where I said that and quote me on it, I'll eat my hat. (it's made of cotton candy btw)
              • by greg_barton (5551) *
                I refer to the original quote:

                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.

                Methinks you fail at writing comprehension.
                My assertion is that each client need not download all information that every other client uploads. Your statement asserts that every client would need to do that. Though I'm sure you'll find some way to wiggl

                • I guess I could've been clearer what I meant by "action data". Nevertheless... I meant data that makes the player move around or perform actions. Given that I also stated these players were all involved in the same battle, it would follow that this action data must be sent to all the other players around said player in order for everyone to see what everyone else was doing.

                  This isn't about 'winning'. And I can't go 'home'. I, like most other /. trolls, am stuck at work! There, did I successfully wiggle
      • 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 in
      • Even if it did, there's still other possibilities -- compression, for example. (A lot of those movements are going to look the same.)

        Let's look at some real numbers [cstrike-planet.com], hmm?

        And that's for Counter-Strike Source, which, if you don't know, is a very fast-paced FPS which absolutely needs to be as accurate as possible (so people can get headshots, etc). It probably uses several orders of magnitude more bandwidth per player than your typical MMO.

        Note, also, that this is server bandwidth needed, not client bandwidth.
      • by vertinox (846076)
        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.

        Microsoft of all people was developing a technology called DonnyBrook [digg.com] which would theoretically allow a thousand player Counter Strike match. It basically creates something called guidable AI which only 4 players actually sends information to each other player and the "AI" assumes or takes control of everyone els
    • by vjmurphy (190266)
      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 se
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        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.

    • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338)
      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 me
      • by Sciros (986030)
        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 cl
    • by toleraen (831634)
      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 req
  • NASDAQ MMO (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:57PM (#20605961) Homepage Journal

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

    And you thought the grind in WoW was boring!

  • One world MMO? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sanosuke001 (640243)
    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
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by everphilski (877346)
      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) instancin
    • 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 b

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      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.
      • 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.
  • by cruachan (113813) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:08PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cruachan (113813)
        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 inwo
  • by BarneyL (578636)
    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
    • Right, the procedural nature of EVE makes it easier... but they still need a super computer to handle all the players and the market.
    • by EnsilZah (575600)
      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 c
  • 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, b
    • by Etrias (1121031)
      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.
      • by tibike77 (611880)
        WoW servers and status info [worldofwarcraft.com]

        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
  • 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.

  • 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. :)
  • 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 ser
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:22PM (#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.
    • by Achoi77 (669484)

      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.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        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?
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:39PM (#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.
    • "... 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 -

      • 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 A
  • Problem is... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by omgamibig (977963)
    ...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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skeevy (926052) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:06PM (#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.
  • 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.
  • by Synn (6288)
    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.
    • by DimGeo (694000)
      2 would be great, I think. But then I remembered about the Auction House, the guilds, etc. - how should all that be handled? I expect it should be possible that all AH items should expire when you switch the server and you should auto-quit your guild (or make all the guilds global). It would be a great idea to have one global super-AH, but just imagine the runaway prices or speculations that could happen, or maybe the market self-regulation that this could bring... The possibilities seem endless...
  • by MMORG (311325) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:59PM (#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.
  • Yawn, like this one [annexia.org]?

    Rich.

  • While I'm sure there are some interesting algorithms that can be used to manage hot spots and the like the shared world problem is only secondarily a tech problem.

    The problem is a design resources and player density problem. The whole reason that players want to play on the same server is socialization but this runs the risk of everyone wanting to be in the same place. While crowds may make it self-controlling in some sense it will scuttle the feel of the small shop in the woods or tiny forest town if it
  • Magic: The Gathering Online is another example of a massive multiplayer game (300.000 players) where the transactions weren't very well thought out... and a large part of the game relies on the "trading" aspect of a trading card game.

    The "Is the server up" tread on the forums runs to 143 pages since November 2006 and is very scary http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=733609 [gleemax.com]
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I remember the opening to UO having the globe that was UO being shattered into many pieces that each had the same world in it, thus the invention of shards? Or was this a common practice in other MMOs before it? I guess MUDs that ran the same rule set could have been thought of as shards, but then different people were running them. Of course technically I understand the concept, I am just talking about the term 'shard'.

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