Friday, February 19, 2010

Server Structure

The other week Syp asked if there were any ideas from MMOs that people would like to see attempted again, even if the MMO they are currently in isn't that great.

Although yesterday I gave reasons why I have had trouble playing EVE Online there is one thing that I absolutely loved about it.  The server structure.  EVE is one world.  If you are playing EVE you are in the same world as everyone else playing EVE.  This has huge ramifications because it means all 300,000 people who play EVE end up interacting with one another indirectly.

Compare this to a game like WoW where you have a separate world on each server and no way to interact between worlds.  To transfer to another server actually costs $25 every time you want to do it.  I have friends who have been playing WoW since it came out who I have never actually played with because they happen to be on a different server.  World of Warcraft is actually Worlds of Warcraft.

The other server structure that is becoming popular lately is having everything instanced.  Cryptic has done this with Champions Online and Star Trek Online.  It ends up making the world fragmented, although it does allow you to quickly change to whichever server your friends are on.  Since the same people are almost never on the same servers it is hard to build a sense of community and continuity with the people you meet.

I wish more games would use EVE's server structure and let us actually have Massive Multiplayer Online Games.

3 comments:

  1. The only reason Eve's servers don't have a heart attack is because they do have different shards/instances/servers. The only difference is what shards break up, which is solar systems. Each solar system can run on it's own server if need be and it groups systems together onto one server the best it can.

    This has one main flaw that's currently present in Eve. When you have hundreds of people in one system (a fleet battle or trade hub) the server starts to cry. You get lag and I've heard descriptions that it can be like watching a slide show at times.

    This is why people are starting to instance everything. It allows hundreds of player to experience the same content but keep the lag to a minimum because you can spread those hundreds across multiple shard servers.

    Until someone finds an effective way to spread one zone/shard across multiple servers this is the best developers can do right now.

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  2. Don't you think that some of the massive in MMOs is lost when you start to divide servers up? Wouldn't one truly massive world be amazing in MMOs? I understand that technical limitations are in the way, but it is still something to aim for.

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  3. Well, once you go past the Dunbar's number, you start getting diminishing returns on increasing the world size. Hearing about others' adventures and witnessing the ripple effects from those is indeed nice, but for the most part the crowds in Eve are just background noise, no more significant to me than the NPC ships warping to and from stations.

    However, something is indeed lost by dividing worlds into servers: I can't choose the 150 people I want to associate with. No matter which server I choose, my social circle is always incomplete.

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