[vworld-tech] Ultimate MMO Platform

ceo ceo at grexengine.com
Wed Mar 31 09:24:56 PST 2004

Jim Purbrick wrote:
 > OK then, given no one else wants to talk, this is the discussion I 
want to
 > have. What does the ultimate MMO platform do and how does it do it?

I broadly agree with your suggested benefits, based upon our own 
research and feedback from licensees.

However, I'd say that the "ultimate MMO platform" has a rather different 
primary feature: it has to adapt. Apologies from borrowing from our 
sales literature here ;), but just as each successive boxed game adapts 
and redefines gaming (invents a new genre [e.g. warcraft], adds a 
creative new twist to an existing genre [e.g. counter-strike], etc), 
each MMOG has to do the same *within a single code-base*. It is a very 
interesting problem to try and build architectures where you know that 
potentially every assumption you make now will need to be invalidated in 
a future expansion pack / gameplay update / game-balancing.

 > I'm primarily interested from a network/server
 > middleware/framework/architecture perspective, but would like to know 
 > the kinds of graphics, physics and AI technologies people would use too.

Short answer: those organizations who have the skills in those areas are 
still totally uninterested in getting on the server side, unless they 
can do it with zero effort (i.e. someone else will use their produce to 
do it for them). It seems there is either a huge lack of foresight in 
those organizations, or else anyone thinking these things need to adapt 
for MMOG's is missing a point, and in fact the client-only solutions are 
all that's needed (or, alternatively, all that's economically viable in 
the long term). Unless there's another explanation I've missed?

 > As an initial stab, my current thoughts tend towards having replicated
 > objects built from smart properties which know how to synchronise 

I'm not sure where you get that idea from, but it's almost bound to be 
doomed to failure. In general, distributed object architectures are 
incredibly slow and inefficient - and I say this having recently read a 
stack of current patents on them dealing specifically with performance 
(UKPTO wanted to know how some of our patents differed from DOA work).

The people working on the cutting edge with such systems are only just 
about getting enough performance for environments where acceptable 
response times are measured in hundreds of milliseconds.

There is a lot of work in this area if you're interested in reading 
further. I'd suggest Sun's JINI for a start, which had generated a lot 
of really interesting stuff last time I looked.

 > What I'm thinking about is the platform that supports MMOs beyond the
 > current EQ/graphical-mud-on-steriods games and heads towards a SnowCrash
 > metaverse.

You sound close to Crosbie Fitch, who would love to build an MMOG 
"Cyberspace" (his term), and believes it's possible to do on a p2p 
basis. He's been saying this for quite a few years, and a lot of people 
have tried to explain why the things he believes will soon be possible 
are inherently unlikely materialize (and I've seen it put rather more 
forcefully than that).


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