Pathfinder Online vs. Life is Feudal


Pathfinder Online

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Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It was once described very succinctly to me by someone saying: " ... look adding 3 more engines to your 4 Cylinder Toyota is not necessarily the optimal way of making it go faster, same with computers. "

As far as money goes, it is relative, a friend of mine involved in vintage warbirds once said " ... restoring WWII aircraft is one of the best ways known to mankind for turning large fortunes into much smaller ones and making small fortunes disappear entirely." The point? many projects can potentially suck up vast sums of money for minimal or sometimes no result. Throwing money at an engineering problem is the microsoft approach and look where that leads :D

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It is only a tech issue that money can resolve if you consider that money buys people, and people design solutions. You can't buy a solution, only dev time. And buying dev time does not guarantee a solution, not even close.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
I think it's fascinating that they're generating interesting social dynamics on a server with less than 64 players.

It partly has to do with how the server was advertised. When a server is listed as 24/7 friendly and helpful, all welcome and behaviors operate outside of that, the GM has God-like powers to enforce the server description.

The opposite holds true as well. There are servers that are listed as "hard core PvP" and if you complain too much about suffering at the hands of others, you will get banned.

As far as the social dynamics, there is an opportunity to create role played social structures in the game. The group that got banned was a Danish based group, that was obviously named with Danish names and all sporting Nordic weapons and armor. They were a raiding group, very much along the lines that I have been planning on doing in PFO and in LiF. Where they went wrong is they crossed the line between having fun and beng spiteful.

That sounds very much like the rules "arbitrary and capricious", with an appeal process (email the server admin) that is itself arbitrary and capricious.

There's a narrative somewhere where that went "one guy got banned for winning too much, then the rest of the group got banned for protesting". It has the same lack of a truth-value as every other narrative.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Thod wrote:

Just reading an article on bbc news about assasins creed Not sure this works outside the UK

Some glitches in the program sound pretty familiar to PFO - like the falling through the floor to infinite depth and the desynch issues.

The Unity servers go up and down more than Zog (all hail Zog!) would if we put the stress test on it. There are bugs that block completion of plotline quests unless you get lucky, between the checkpoint and a fight.

Playing AC:Unity has made me reconsider several beliefs about what obviously must be MVP, since apparently it's okay for a AAA title to have those at launch. On further consideration, my opinion remains that they are worse than delaying the release date.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Kadere wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It is only a tech issue that money can resolve if you consider that money buys people, and people design solutions. You can't buy a solution, only dev time. And buying dev time does not guarantee a solution, not even close.

It's only "an issue that can be resolved with money" if you mean "money is a required part of the resolution of this issue".

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:
Kadere wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It is only a tech issue that money can resolve if you consider that money buys people, and people design solutions. You can't buy a solution, only dev time. And buying dev time does not guarantee a solution, not even close.
It's only "an issue that can be resolved with money" if you mean "money is a required part of the resolution of this issue".

What I mean is that with enough money the servers can be bought. You don't have to create a new technology to transition from multi player to MMO level servers.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Bluddwolf wrote:
DeciusBrutus wrote:
Kadere wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It is only a tech issue that money can resolve if you consider that money buys people, and people design solutions. You can't buy a solution, only dev time. And buying dev time does not guarantee a solution, not even close.
It's only "an issue that can be resolved with money" if you mean "money is a required part of the resolution of this issue".
What I mean is that with enough money the servers can be bought. You don't have to create a new technology to transition from multi player to MMO level servers.

I guess you mean "MMO server technology has already been developed"? Sure, there's a place where you can buy most of the pieces of hardware that form a MMO server. But if you buy all of the parts for a truck, it's not a simple thing to "just put it all together".

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DeciusBrutus wrote:
I guess you mean "MMO server technology has already been developed"? Sure, there's a place where you can buy most of the pieces of hardware that form a MMO server. But if you buy all of the parts for a truck, it's not a simple thing to "just put it all together".

Hey Decius, I just bought these parts from the back of a van from some Iranian dude. Lets see if we can put together this nuclear fusion device. :P

CEO, Goblinworks

3 people marked this as a favorite.

There is no place you can buy an MMO solution turnkey. We looked. Hard. Big World was the only real option.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neadenil Edam wrote:
..." ... restoring WWII aircraft is one of the best ways known to mankind for turning large fortunes into much smaller ones and making small fortunes disappear entirely."

"How do you make a small fortune?"

"Start with a large one."

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Bluddwolf wrote:
DeciusBrutus wrote:
Kadere wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@Bluddwolf - ok, that's a legit place to start. It certainly isn't obvious to the average player why "making a multiplayer game into an MMO isn't just adding more server capacity". I'll try to explain a bit........

Well, that was so much more informative / useful than ROFLMAO. However, what I had said still holds true.... Not so much a tech issue, at least not one that money can't resolve.

Thank you for your extensive response.

It is only a tech issue that money can resolve if you consider that money buys people, and people design solutions. You can't buy a solution, only dev time. And buying dev time does not guarantee a solution, not even close.
It's only "an issue that can be resolved with money" if you mean "money is a required part of the resolution of this issue".
What I mean is that with enough money the servers can be bought. You don't have to create a new technology to transition from multi player to MMO level servers.

What Ryan just said was the exact opposite of that. Multiplayer servers work up to a point, when you hit the MMO threshold, then they start to fail and they spend more time talking to each other than actually running the game.

If it was easy and just required a huge pile of money be tossed at it, there would be AAA games a plenty trying that. Instead, they're sticking with tried and true methods, like sharding. If you want a single shard MMO that's big, well, you need a new way of looking at things, a new paradigm of program development and network architecture. Trust me, its not just a problem of "buy 5 more servers".

Goblin Squad Member

From following the Darkfall Development, this is one of the biggest things they worked on, and continued to work on.

Goblin Squad Member

EVE accomplishes this through having shards. As Ryan described above, the key issue is "what is viewable from one shard into the next" or a blending of the shard border (if I understand him correctly).

In EVE, you don't see what is on the other side of the gate. However, certain information is not limited by the gate (ie. market details, ship configuration, cargo in hold, etc.) From what I gather, when you pass through a gate, an exact duplicate is created when you exit a gate.

Sharding I'm guessing is just one solution.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:

EVE accomplishes this through having shards. As Ryan described above, the key issue is "what is viewable from one shard into the next" or a blending of the shard border (if I understand him correctly).

In EVE, you don't see what is on the other side of the gate. However, certain information is not limited by the gate (ie. market details, ship configuration, cargo in hold, etc.) From what I gather, when you pass through a gate, an exact duplicate is created when you exit a gate.

Sharding I'm guessing is just one solution.

EvE is a series of rooms. And there are some globally accessible databases. There is no looking between shards. I highly doubt that the Jita shard holds all the data on the items there, it probably has a pointer/redirect of some sort that connects the client to an external database.

PFO is a seamless world.

Huge difference from a tech perspective. Sharding is not a solution for PFO.

Goblin Squad Member

I can se some options of some sharding in the future, it would be a way to handle dungeons and similar stuff...

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:
EvE is a series of rooms.

Do I recall that, at some point, you could, if you were willing to spend significant time on auto-pilot, fly between systems without using gates? If that capability exists side-by-side with gates, I wonder how it's handled?

CEO, Goblinworks

No, you can't.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:


PFO is a seamless world.

Huge difference from a tech perspective. Sharding is not a solution for PFO.

I don't believe PFO is as seamless as you're suggesting, and that is also not supported by what Ryan had written.

There is definitely a "seam" when you cross the border of a hex. The faster you travel (ie running) the more severe that seam impacts what you are viewing and experiencing. Minimally there is lag when you cross over, but I'm sure you suddenly notice (on occasion) that there is a group of mobs where they had not been rendered a moment before.

This mostly (I'm avoiding the absolute "only) happens at the border of a hex. That tells me the border is a seam. Ryan mentioned that they had to tweak how far into the next hex that you can see (this is something you can't do in EVE).

PFO has the potential of being more seamless than EVE, but I wonder if that is really a decent trade off. I'd like to hear (read) what the advantages of "room" would be over "seamless" and vice versa.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
This mostly (I'm avoiding the absolute "only) happens at the border of a hex. That tells me the border is a seam.

I don't think you are correct (on two levels).

1) In my experience, this mobs-appearing-out-of-thin-air effect is no more common at hex boundaries than anywhere else int he world. Perhaps you look for it more in those circumstances.

2) On the subject of seamlessness, I think you're asking for a bit much of our current technology to expect that seamless be truly seamless. In any method of separating things across two computers (of which we are currently capable) things are always separate. The question is exactly how much sharing of information there is. Perfect sharing of information means that both computers have to know everything that either does, which makes it of no value to have two in the first place.

Within our existing technological capability, PFO is relatively seamless, in that you know enough about the other side of the line that there are no big surprises. For definitions of Seamless sharing of MMORPG worlds across multiple computers of which human beings in 2014 are capable without spending far more money than GW has, I think PFO is right on the definition.

Goblin Squad Member

Running cross hex borders can be risky sometimes, but it is way better for the immersion than the transitions in NWN for example. Those who try to had persitent worlds really had to tweak and think to make it work in a nice way.

Travelling in hyperspace or through warp gates seems to be a excellent way of keeping the suspension of disbelief...

CEO, Goblinworks

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EVE is not a "sharded world".

This is another of those discontinuous function steps.

It turned out that the architecture of the first MMOs had a serious problem. The database they used were limited in the number of transactions they could process per second, and the way those games were architected generated a tremendous number of transactions. What the engineers discovered was that they could run worlds with about 3,500 accounts logged in simultaneously to the logical server (the cluster of all physical servers that comprised a world). If they tried to push above that number they found the whole cluster would suffer.

In addition they discovered that they could have about 20x as many accounts on a server cluster as they could have logged in accounts. Since each account has a certain overhead load in terms of number of characters, and each character has a certain overhead load in terms of the amount of space it and is associated data structures occupy in the database, and the larger the database the slower it performs, pushing much above that number of accounts also caused serious performance problems.

(If you remember the first year of WoW, this is why they had to keep stopping the sales of the game or not letting people create new accounts and why they were introducing new servers continuously. They were trying to build and provision servers fast enough to keep ahead of these limits and sometimes couldn't.)

In this era everyone used SQL servers and that meant for the most part Oracle (once you got above a certain size it was really hard to use PostGres or MySQL, and there were for various reasons high end considerations that tended to drive people away from Microsoft SQL and towards Oracle). A lot of project started on an open source SQL server and had to spend a huge amount of money redesigning for Oracle. Those companies that tried to stay on MySQL or PostGres quickly found that they were forced to spend as much time working on the database as they were working on the game and they rapidly ended up with custom database code that was hard to maintain.

When EVE was developed CCP wanted to avoid these problems because they wanted to have a single logical server. To do that they needed a database that could withstand having 10-20x more user accounts and logged in characters than the traditional MMO architecture. They finally settled on a combination of hardware and software solutions to the problem.

On the software side they went with Microsoft SQL and became a part of a project inside Microsoft to help companies who wanted to do high volume transaction processing on MSSQL. That got them access to engineers who could help troubleshoot bottlenecks, recommend how to configure the systems, and investigate bugs and performance problems.

The other thing they decided to do was to move to a solid-state harddrive system. This was long before SSDs were commercially available. The only vendor that could produce a drive unit with the storage capacity CCP needed was a Defense Department contractor who built hardware for mysterious 3-letter government agencies. CCP was able to buy one of their drives, although it required negotiating a special export license and it had to be located in the UK, not in Iceland.

That combination worked and CCP was able to push their system past what everyone else was able to achieve. Due to the benefits of Moore's law on SQL databases, they've been able to keep expanding and extending their architecture to accommodate growth.

One other element that they used to good effect was the natural segmentation of the game world into separate star systems. They don't have a "seamless world" like Pathfinder Online or World of Warcraft. By containerizing activity in discrete nodes they were able to parallelize the processing work for those nodes, putting each one on its own hardware. There were 5,000, then 7,500 systems, and theoretically they could have had a 1:1 mapping between a physical server and a star system. In practice they did not because most of those systems have very low populations most of the time so several can be hosted on a single physical server.

There is a problem with CCP's architecture. They wrote the core game code in Stackless Python. This is a pretty good language for a lot of reasons and it has a lot of fans in game development. It does, however, have one significant flaw. Stackless Python appears to the programmers as if it is a multithreaded system allowing them to parallelize their code for maximum efficiency. However, in fact, it relies on an internal data structure called the GIL (Global Interlock) to synchronize all the threads. And the GIL is processor bound. That means that CCP can run many star systems on one processor, but it cannot run one star system on many processors.

Moore's law used to increase the speeds of processors so CCP kept getting more capacity as processors sped up. But for a while now instead of making the processors faster, CPUs have been getting more processing cores. The total number of instructions the chips can process continues to increase but the number of instructions a single core can process has flatlined. CCP is not getting the benefits of Moore's law anymore.

In order to fix this problem, CCP will have to rewrite it from the ground up in a different language. So far, that has proven to be a task beyond their considerable collective ability.

Since EVE was developed and long after the first MMOs, a whole new approach to high volume transaction processing has been developed to serve the needs of massively large global internet services like Google and Facebook. In general that's known as "noSQL". These solutions provide pathways to deliver a higher level of performance than traditional SQL-style databases.

Microsoft also created and made available the .NET system and the C# programming language. Those tools enable developers to create highly parallellized code that can use multiple processors efficiently while working in a very high level language with modern features like reflection and garbage collection. Due to the way Microsoft elected to release these tools there are versions which work on Mac, Windows and Linux. That enables developers to write cross-platform applications, and THAT enables us to do things like run the game servers on very high performance Linux optimized specifically for our needs, and have clients for Windows and Macintosh that can all interoperate, with everything taking maximum advantage of whatever hardware we're running on.

So we're now in the territory of doing a "WoW-style" seamless world on an EVE-style single server. Nobody knows how well this will scale and how we'll deal with the inevitable problems of congestion and load balancing, but we are reasonably sure that we've passed through several gates of hardware and software capability that enable us to attempt it.

Goblin Squad Member

It's really good to hear more on the technical side. I remember when Unity was announced (Dec 2yrs ago?) I immediately feared this was a huge set-back due to not getting Big World and given most of the risk of this project is right at the beginning.

Business Model, Technical Architecture, Community Structure, Game Design all seem to interact and be based off each other.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Microsoft also created and made available the .NET system and the C# programming language.

Does this mean PFO is written in C#? If so, that's awesome! I always assumed it was C++.

Goblin Squad Member

Unity is primarily a client-side engine. It can talk to just about anything on the back end.

(I happen to be working with unity to talk to CAN networks in cars.)

CEO, Goblinworks

Unity uses C# as its default "scripting language". There are parts of the code that are not written in C# and are compiled outside of Unity and then linked. There's an awful lot of C# in Pathfinder Online.

CEO, Goblinworks

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@AvenaOats - you are exactly right in your apprehensions and they mirror my own.

Unity just doesn't have a client/server architecture we could use off the shelf. There were attempts to make MMO systems for Unity but none of them passed even the first tests we subjected them to.

However, of all the things that we could have had to "roll our own" in this project, the client/server component is the one thing I was comfortable doing because that's the work that Mark did at Cryptic. Having already gone down this path once, he has a very good idea on how to scope the various problems and what the system needs to be able to do in terms of performance and capacity.

It is suboptimal that we had to do this work. If we could have used a system that already had it we'd have been further advanced in other aspects of the project. But life is life, and we had to roll with that punch.

Long term it's probably a benefit because we'll have more control over how this critical part of our system works. If we were using someone else's code we would have to deal with those interactions, but having done it ourselves we can make whatever changes we think necessary whenever we think they're necessary.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
There's an awful lot of C# in Pathfinder Online.

That's really awesome. Thanks :)


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Although I didn't play for very long, this MMO experience was one of the memorable and odd ones. I came upon several friends with whom I like playing. Little, close-knit, no egos, etc.

In our company, I served as the forester. I would just cut trees, transfer the logs, and neatly stack them for the rest of my guild each night when I logged in. I did this for at least two hours every night.

I would have thought you were crazy if you had told me that I would genuinely love this. It felt like "my territory" in the woodlands that surrounded our fortress. It was amazing to hear someone say, "Whoa, thanks for stacking all these logs here." Up until everyone else, it was simply a really enjoyable, social game for me.

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