The Challenge of Building / Crafting


Pathfinder Online


Ideally in an MMO such as this building would be similar to how it's done in the Sims 3. Unfortunately that's too much data to send on the fly to people.

The workaround prior MMO's have used is that you can place pre-designed structures which visibly show construction phases and are about as exciting for players to work on as a building in an RTS is for your peon/drone to work on. Crafting in most games is the same way.

If structure creation and placement is going to operate in the tried and true fashion I'd suggest all building be done by NPC's supplied with materials, because it's not fun.

If you are going to try something new I'd humbly suggest you spend almost all of your time on this, crafting, combat, and social/trading systems. Not having to script 8972394 quests and encounters would go a long way towards having far less content designers and far more actual programmers.

If you look at World of Warcraft which started from scratch on an engine they had 15 programmers. Most of the resources and time went to content designers, scripters, animators, etc. Buying something that gives you a solid code base and then sticking the brunt of your budget towards programming new game systems is how a sandbox MMO actually gets created instead of falling into a money crunch/budget hell and never seeing the light of day.

Most games and I would assume almost all engines are based on the assumption of client side resource files defining what gets rendered in the environment. The Sims can get away with crazy constructions because the resource and layout files are stored on the local hard drive (these files get big) and don't need to be sent over a network.

Skyrim with it's clutter of a million objects can't be made multiplayer, precisely because of it's clutter of a million objects. Too much data to keep in sync.

Games like Minecraft and Terraria get around this by simplifying the environment and object locations down to "tiles" or "blocks" in 3d space. I've often wondered if someone could lay a really clever blending algorithm on top of a block based environment layout to create the illusion of curved surfaces while allowing the freedom of block based manipulation.

The downside of purchased MMO specific engines is that they would fundamentally lack this capability from the get go.

Goblin Squad Member

It all depends on how far back you want you game to run well.

A sims-like system would be easy, but require a newer system for the client and a stronger internet connection.


Valkenr wrote:

It all depends on how far back you want you game to run well.

A sims-like system would be easy, but require a newer system for the client and a stronger internet connection.

Actually a Sims like system is impossible in a multiplayer environment due to the bandwidth/space requirements assuming you aim for a "seamless world" instead of a world sliced up by a million instances. Taking a look at how games like the Sims Online worked is pretty enlightening.

Keeping in mind build mode is probably also where the EA/Maxis programmers spent 90% of their time so that type of functionality is very "expensive" from a development standpoint.

Games like Minecraft as previously mentioned vastly simplify everything by distilling all data down to BlockTypeID+BlockID. This allows way more freedom in multi-player object manipulation than a game transmitting the location of hundreds of objects XYZ + orientation information. Downside? It's butt ugly.

There is probably a clever way to let the client decide all the hard stuff while actually laying out the world and transmitting the data in a simplified Minecraft-esque way. Then you could have "pretty" and flexible.

That's the crux of my random thoughts today while I wait on a client to get back to me with additional enhancement requests on their application.

Goblin Squad Member

With too much freedom and detail you end up with Second Life. You can build whatever you like wherever you like, but when people come to visit it takes several minutes for everything to load. The servers just can't handle the constant data stream.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

It's not a question of the servers being able to handle the data. The pipe can't handle the data. Models and textures are big. They should not be downloaded during the course of a session.

Goblin Squad Member

One suggestion would be to take a pre-loading approach. As items are created they are added to a database that is continuously being updated/downloaded to clients. Of course this is really dependent on scales, how many new objects are being created at any time. Is it something that can be done in the background much like some MMO's pre-load patch data?
Discovery systems can control this somewhat. Creation of new layouts and designs are limited by time-based systems of unlocking/discovering new content.
Assuming most players are using said systems to some degree it would mean a mean average would be determined and an average download requirement established. That would then have to be tweaked somewhat to cater for actual player capacity (if it required it, who knows how much data we are talking here since we don't even know an engine yet).

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Now suppose that a player is offline for two weeks. Does that player a)need to download the database of everything created by everybody before playing, or b)start playing and possibly interacting with things that can't be displayed by the client (because the client doesn't know that #e214a5d is a different chair)?

Goblin Squad Member

If you are gone for 2 weeks you are probably going to have to patch anyway. I would be fine if the game ran a process in the background keeping the game map up to date while out of game, and tracked your location in game, and updated your map file within a certain radius around the character. While you are out of the game it can watch your common locations for updates, and slowly expand from there.

Custom textures and basic shapes, are out of the question, If everything has a pre-defined shape, orientation and texture that is already part of the client, you aren't looking at a huge bandwidth requirements until you visit a new settlement, and the game needs to have a 'smart update' feature that picks what to draw in an order that makes sense(so you aren't drawing the teapot on the shelf inside of the house next to you, until everything in your characters sight is finished).

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:

If you are gone for 2 weeks you are probably going to have to patch anyway. I would be fine if the game ran a process in the background keeping the game map up to date while out of game, and tracked your location in game, and updated your map file within a certain radius around the character. While you are out of the game it can watch your common locations for updates, and slowly expand from there.

Custom textures and basic shapes, are out of the question, If everything has a pre-defined shape, orientation and texture that is already part of the client, you aren't looking at a huge bandwidth requirements until you visit a new settlement, and the game needs to have a 'smart update' feature that picks what to draw in an order that makes sense(so you aren't drawing the teapot on the shelf inside of the house next to you, until everything in your characters sight is finished).

With respect, nothing is 'out of the question' purely because we have no idea what hardware requirements and engine Paizo is working with. Less likely granted, but this engine could be new or utilising tech we haven't seen before, so it's just theorycrafting at this point in time :)

Goblin Squad Member

Something we came up with in an earlier discussion about this topic was to have multipart items quickly degrade. The only way to fix this degrade was to "paint it" with some sealer. The result was that the system of parts became a single item for all intents and purposes. It was no longer able to be taken apart and damage occurred as a single unit. This would make builders want to plan out their modularity in a way that reduces wear by doing it systematically with ever larger components.

For instance, the wood for "A" frames begins to wear away as soon as we begin building. In order to reduce this automatic degrade, instead of just building the whole structure, we build the actual "A" frames and "paint" them with our glue sealer stuff (btw, the paint is made by alchemists and has different properties depending upon their recipe). This way the multiple pieces quickly become a single to the server. If someone builds something and does not treat it, it wears away to nothing in 10s of minutes. Once someone does build something and seal it, the structure starts with as much damage as the average wear from construction...requiring additional resources to spend in "repair".

Goblin Squad Member

Very interesting. I have to admit that just doing entire buildings is a lot easier to program though :-)

Goblin Squad Member

Mark wrote:
Very interesting. I have to admit that just doing entire buildings is a lot easier to program though :-)

Yes, but then every building looks the same. Every single one. That's fine for the early days of this game, but most of us are hoping to put on our Interior Designer hats after a few months in the game. Heck, even SWG used templated housing plans; but everything inside that floor plan could be moved/rotated. So the housing footprint is the same for every house, but the stuff inside it is not. That's a decent compromise between playing Interior Designer and not having the servers melt.

Goblin Squad Member

Arbalester wrote:
Yes, but then every building looks the same. Every single one.

I thought that the issue Mark Kalmes was addressing was the additional effort it would take to model every stage of a building under construction. I'd agree that it seems a lot of work for a transitory phase of the building.

I'd think there could still be customization of buildings in their final forms, though it would probably be down the road. There would be two types of customization - visual things, like paint schemes, flowers at the windows, etc; and the more important one, visual depiction of various building upgrades - things that show how a building has been advanced and altered.

Goblin Squad Member

Agreed. Just sharing how I would like to "play" it.

Alternately, the profession (architect) skill would give access to varying types of primitives in an in-game blueprinting (GUI) utility. If the character has the necessary resources they can actually "create" a blueprint which in turn can be opened and worked on whenever the player wants. So, as an architect, I find my safe place and I design cool buildings...I can even modify my previously designed buildings. Then, I could sell the blueprints which are used by Profession (Engineers) that have access to the necessary complexity (the more complex the design, the greater engineering skill required to build) to "build" the structure. This allows a final instantiation of structures without lots of individually drawn 3d units to go up as a single unit; materials never have to "really" exist in game. But, this also allows us, the players, to build our own world...and it is well within the spirit of the PF/Golarion world.

It would allow for things such as racially specific appearances because primitives could have racial flair. It could also allow for things such as tree houses, requiring other prerequisites in the construction such as access to level x nature magic (in this case, trees should already be a primitive for landscaping purposes).

Of course, predefined buildings in predefined locations would still be much easier to program, so I have not really addressed your concern.

As a compromise, PFO could still have predetermined construction locations/regions. Then when architects are creating a blueprint, they have to specify a construction location type.

Goblin Squad Member

How hard is housing the way LotRO did it on bandwith? If that isn't too difficult I would say that is the way to go. You get X object slots with a selection of items you can place inside your yard. So you have a little garden with a scarecrow, a well, and a tree. Then you have the generic house model with the door that opens to the inside. If you actually go inside a building it turns into an instance where you can do some interior decoration, but nothing too fancy.

Hell, if instancing it is the main deal you might even be able to make it pretty darn fancy. It isn't like you will have to load the interior of each house as you walk by. You load the interior when you go inside. Then you have the walls painted how you want it, the style flooring you want. Tables, chairs, sleeping accommodation etc. Might I add interior decorating is a VERY nice feature to have in a game that is talking about using micro-transactions for cosmetic items.

If you have shops that aren't walk in like perhaps a blacksmith with an open design so customers can walk up and see you working at your forge, see the items you have on display, and say hi... then you get crap if anything in the way of customization. Maybe just the ability to show 3 items sitting on your counter and a stand of armor so customers can get an idea of what you have.

If on the contrary you want a shop where you can show off more of your inventory as well as paint the inside and put up some art on the walls... then it has to be an instanced shop where players only load that if they go through your door.

Something tells me this wouldn't be difficult to do. Housing in Wurm, Mortal, Darkfall etc. is all non-instanced with one of those games having some customization, (Darkfall) one having prettymuch none (Mortal), and one having TONS. (Wurm)

While those games aren't known for stellar graphics or lack of lag issues, if they can pull off non-instanced housing without more major lag issues than they have, pulling it of smoothly with instancing should be entirely possible. Darkfall in particular is evidence of that. The lag issues in villages aren't that bad unless there is a huge group of players fighting there or your connection is crap, and its FPS style combat with 5-10 objects per building.

Obviously instancing housing into neighborhoods like they did is a no-no but I think they did that more so that people's houses wouldn't clutter the world than anything. Other than that I don't see a disadvantage to instancing the interiors buildings themselves unless your dream is to fire arrows out your window at people. I personally don't see that as so great of a thing as to not give most buildings instanced interiors.

Goblin Squad Member

I think a lot of people would resist instanced housing neighborhoods a la LOTRO. I wouldn't be thrilled with it either.

The whole point of a sandbox is to make your mark on the world. If your mark is actually hidden inside an instance, and even occupies the exact same space as someone else's mark, it's a lot less special.

And the decorations in LOTRO really were a major disappointment. My wife nearly blew a gasket getting so upset that she couldn't place the log holder next to the fireplace.

Star Wars Galaxies and Vanguard are the models you want to use for player housing.

That said, it sounds like PFO will not be worrying about player housing right away. Hopefully, we'll get something later that feels right, but I'm not holding my breath.

Goblin Squad Member

The housing in eq2 was fun.


Nihimon wrote:

I think a lot of people would resist instanced housing neighborhoods a la LOTRO. I wouldn't be thrilled with it either.

The whole point of a sandbox is to make your mark on the world. If your mark is actually hidden inside an instance, and even occupies the exact same space as someone else's mark, it's a lot less special.

And the decorations in LOTRO really were a major disappointment. My wife nearly blew a gasket getting so upset that she couldn't place the log holder next to the fireplace.

Star Wars Galaxies and Vanguard are the models you want to use for player housing.

That said, it sounds like PFO will not be worrying about player housing right away. Hopefully, we'll get something later that feels right, but I'm not holding my breath.

I think segregating the *inside* of the house into an instance vastly increases what they can do with houses. You can let a ton of objects lie around and be configured *if* you are limiting the amount of people that can be inside.

I'd have no problem with that sort of thing, since you're looking at either a world of clutter in an instance (which is fun and engaging) or a static backdrop (in the persistent area) where you can't really manipulate anything in the environment.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
I think a lot of people would resist instanced housing neighborhoods a la LOTRO.

That was NOT my point at all. I said instanced neighborhoods are a no-no. It wouldn't even work with this game.

What I am talking about is in many sandbox games with housing, there is no transition between the inside and outside of the house. So when you walk through a neighborhood you have to load the interior of each house.

I believe THAT is what is putting such huge limitations on decorating the interior of your house.

What I am suggesting is you can place your house anywhere. And the exterior of your house is a pretty generic model with little to no customization of the area around it.

It is basically a model sitting there on the terrain with walls that can't be passed through and an open-able door.

That door opens into an instance which is the building's interior. That interior can be pretty damn fancy because, you don't have to load it unless you are inside of it. You would make it at least as fancy as LotRO interior decorating, but maybe even fancier if bandwith constraints allow it.

Goblin Squad Member

@Andius, sorry for the misunderstanding.

So, basically, you wouldn't be able to decorate the exterior of your house at all, and wouldn't be able to look in through an open door?

For my part, I would prefer to have as much decoration ability outside of my house as was feasible. I would be willing to put up with a lot less versatility outside, if I could have total control inside. But I'd still like to be able to put certain limited decorations, maybe even in limited, pre-defined spaces, outside.

Or is that basically what you were saying all along?

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:

@Andius, sorry for the misunderstanding.

So, basically, you wouldn't be able to decorate the exterior of your house at all, and wouldn't be able to look in through an open door?

For my part, I would prefer to have as much decoration ability outside of my house as was feasible. I would be willing to put up with a lot less versatility outside, if I could have total control inside. But I'd still like to be able to put certain limited decorations, maybe even in limited, pre-defined spaces, outside.

Or is that basically what you were saying all along?

Yes. Basically what I was saying is if it doesn't make the server implode you would have very limited exterior decoration. You would of course need different building models to choose from, and the ability to choose signs for shops would be a MUST. Nobody is going to walk into an unmarked shop but they might walk into a shop with a sign that says "blacksmith" or "arms and armor" if they are looking for a sword.

Beyond that like I was talking about earlier you might have things in your yard such as a garden with a scarecrow, a tree, or a well.

You just wouldn't have much. You would have your building models to choose from, and 3-5 decorative item slots.

Inside you could get really fancy. Prettymuch as fancy as the devs decide is possible/worth the development time. I would think Sim's level fancy would be possible because:

1. You don't have to load it from the outside, and people have a choice. If they are going to freak out if it takes more than a couple seconds to load they can throw white paint on the walls and have a table with a vase of flowers somewhere. If they don't mind it taking a bit to load they can really create their house exactly as they want it.

2. Inactive houses should be less of a problem here than LotRO. In LotRO that server still has the data from my house I haven't paid the taxes on in years, or the hall of kinship I was running before I met my wife. In PFO there is going to be PVP and conflict over territory most likely. Hopefully buildings that belong to long-inactive accounts turn into ruins or are conquered within a few months. So the server won't have to store the data for a ton of buildings unless there are a ton of active players.

Goblinworks Founder

If after awhile a house was starting to decay I'd say it'd have the chance to be targeted for destruction by other people; Few fireballs or torches and this place is gone and ready for a new person to move in.

Archeage is doing the none instanced house. They aren't to big, least in the start, unless you have more money to make them bigger; also the time to work on them.

For the outside wouldn't need to much for places like a tavern/inn. Symbol of a bed with another one below it showing a keg to let you know drinks are served here and a place to sleep.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Brady Blankemeyer wrote:

If after awhile a house was starting to decay I'd say it'd have the chance to be targeted for destruction by other people; Few fireballs or torches and this place is gone and ready for a new person to move in.

Archeage is doing the none instanced house. They aren't to big, least in the start, unless you have more money to make them bigger; also the time to work on them.

For the outside wouldn't need to much for places like a tavern/inn. Symbol of a bed with another one below it showing a keg to let you know drinks are served here and a place to sleep.

I'm not sure what your living standards are, but a few fireballs and a torch are the opposite of making a building ready to move in where I come from.

Goblin Squad Member

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Brady Blankemeyer wrote:

If after awhile a house was starting to decay I'd say it'd have the chance to be targeted for destruction by other people; Few fireballs or torches and this place is gone and ready for a new person to move in.

Archeage is doing the none instanced house. They aren't to big, least in the start, unless you have more money to make them bigger; also the time to work on them.

For the outside wouldn't need to much for places like a tavern/inn. Symbol of a bed with another one below it showing a keg to let you know drinks are served here and a place to sleep.

Partly agreed, but I must say, why would it not be destroy-able before decay? If a house has physical presence in the world, it should be attack-able, at least if it is not in an NPC high security town. Now how long, how hard, will it take siege engines etc... it is to destroy is valid for discussion, but to me it makes sense that many should want to and be able to build houses in player towns, and we do know that player towns and kingdoms etc... will likely switch ownership every now and then, and if the house itself isn't taken over or destroyed at that point would be seriously flawed.

As well I would find the idea of housing not being possible in ones own town... somewhat silly. I would find it downright odd if we had to regularly go to NPC towns, after we have developed our player towns. Honestly I am most looking forward to the point in the game when the bulk of NPCs you ever have to deal with, are the ones working for players and being used as a means to the players goals, rather than NPC factions and quest givers that direct and tell you what your goals are and should be. While I know that isn't the start of the game as direction is needed to teach the game, but within 6 months I would love it if I never had to take orders, or even enter territory managed by someone who I do not have the possibility to suggest alternative means to their ends (In simple terms, I would rather my dealings be with humans who can make decisions, not NPCs giving a script).

Note: This is not mutually exclusive with permitting lesser valued options for people who do want to spend the majority of their time in the safety bubble of high security. I do believe that things made in the safety bubble should have some drawback to compensate for the lack of risk, whether that is a higher tax cost to a house, or less space/storage, or who knows maybe just the inconvenience of it being further from high value items that are worth gathering and storing.

Goblinworks Founder

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@DeciusBrutus Well yeah :) after the fire clears (more of just joking around, but i'll go with it now), you would have to clear the rubble get the spot ready to build on.

@Onishi - Oh yeah I think houses would be able to be attacked, if you can't protect it yourself. There just needs to be ways if you're not there and can't afford guards around the clock... how much it takes before your place is destroyed or we'll have a lot of griefing on properties. If this house is abandoned or the person has been away for awhile, I would think it'd be easier to clean out the house and damage it (due to age and no keeping up with the upkeep).

I can see towns hiring npc guards to walk around and patrol but what's to allow to know when to head for a house across town that's being set on fire; if no PC's happen to be in the town to pay attention. Watch Towers would be the thought for that I suppose but not sure how effective they will be and how much they can see. There could be a script to see when a fire is starting to alert npc's or if they can't attack a target but see it pass the window to alert ground guards.

Lots of scripting, that I would say cost more gold per hour/day for this guard to be able to do all these things if such and such happens.
There's more to this I want to go on, but it's time for bed and I'm just leaving so much out that I want to continue on he he.


If you instance the interior of the house, the exterior is not, wouldn't that mean you can not only run out the door(s) to defend the house .. but also access the roof and defend it from there?

Goblin Squad Member

Turin the Mad wrote:
If you instance the interior of the house, the exterior is not, wouldn't that mean you can not only run out the door(s) to defend the house .. but also access the roof and defend it from there?

Yes, if there was some kind of way to get to the roof you could fight from the rooftop. You could also not instance any buildings that you need to be able to fight from inside of. For instance if you want people to be able to shoot down from inside watchtowers or the outer walls of a fort, you simply don't instance those. It's not like interior decorating would make much sense in a military structure like that anyway. The most you need is flags with your companies/kingdoms logo on them probably.

Goblinworks Founder

In Meridian 59 there was a game where so many people were playing a kill game. You had to go find them and kill them all to win.

Well the buildings were instanced so what I would do is zone in, wait for them to zone in and start attacking. They had to load the area on their side but I had a little time to get some hits in since I was already there.

Granted that was when Dial Up was the main thing and it was a very early style MMO... I'm NOT OLD! *ahem*

That was the bad thing with instanced buildings and being able to attack without consent.

Goblin Squad Member

Brady Blankemeyer wrote:

In Meridian 59 there was a game where so many people were playing a kill game. You had to go find them and kill them all to win.

Well the buildings were instanced so what I would do is zone in, wait for them to zone in and start attacking. They had to load the area on their side but I had a little time to get some hits in since I was already there.

Granted that was when Dial Up was the main thing and it was a very early style MMO... I'm NOT OLD! *ahem*

That was the bad thing with instanced buildings and being able to attack without consent.

Personally if instanced buildings were implemented, I wouldn't really see the inside of those buildings as major combat zones. Buildings would be designed to be taken down via things like sledge hammers, torches, and siege weaponry. Your village being attacked wouldn't so much be your enemies breaking inside and taking your things as it would them coming with catapults and battering rams. The only way to get attacked inside a structure is if you allow someone in who then attacks you.

I just don't see the ability to fight inside shops, houses, and other buildings you will want to decorate as being a huge deal as long as military structures like towers and walls are non-instanced. Certain structures you might make a little of both. Such as a fort may have a non-instanced outer wall with some instanced rooms for personal offices and sleeping quarters.

However if you DID decide to implement in-building combat you would make it so that your character was not represented in-side or outside the building until you were fully loaded and took control. This is something Mortal Online does when you are logging in and out, and something I think this game should implement for log-in system already. Much like EVE how when you go through a jumpgate, you come out in stealth until you move your character or how Darkfall gives you temporary invulnerably after teleporting in to a new area or logging in to the game.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

The benefit of 'instancing' buildings (not loading the content until a player enters) is that we can decorate the inside of them with more stuff without overloading the client who doesn't enter the building.

Allowing arbitrary decorations inside a combat area would be manipulated to give the decorator an advantage. Structures which will be used militarily should therefore not have arbitrary decorations, and therefore need not be instanced.

That's how I see it, anyway.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:

The benefit of 'instancing' buildings (not loading the content until a player enters) is that we can decorate the inside of them with more stuff without overloading the client who doesn't enter the building.

Allowing arbitrary decorations inside a combat area would be manipulated to give the decorator an advantage. Structures which will be used militarily should therefore not have arbitrary decorations, and therefore need not be instanced.

That's how I see it, anyway.

Exactly. That's a perfect summary of what I want.

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