Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

What happens when you log off?

This topic is 5613 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Hello, I am part of a team in the process of creating an MMORTS/Space Sim. Part of the features of our game, is the fact that the universe continues on after you log off. I was wondering people''s opinions on how this should be accomplished. Right now, we are thinking have an advanced, fully customizable AI, take over control of the player''s empire, when they log off. As well as putting in place certain boundaries of what can happen when someone is offline. The AI would be customizable through a user friendly menu, or through a scripting language, which more advanced players could use. What do you all think? Thanks, Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
that sounds good... maybe you can work it out so that instead of picking stuff from a menu, you can have a "steward" and some other AI lackeys that "control" the player''s empire... it''d be the same thing, don''t get me wrong, it''ll just be a nice in-game interface (the player can leave a list of directions/script/whatever).
one problem is that the AI will never be as good as a real human player; perhaps AI controlled empires should have limited offensive power but kicked-up defense, so it''ll never expand the empire while offline, but it will have a decent chance of surviving until the player comes back.
just my $0.02...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I agree, that you should be able to leave a list of directives. As for expanding the empire, well..its possible
The map in this game is going to be absolutley massive, so there will be a lot of empty space, or at least at the beggining of the game. Plus think of all the single player games you have played that the AI was decent in. Of course it is no match for a human, but it can be fun sometimes

Thanks for the help,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
it may be fun for the ppl playing who take over the land quick. since the empire will be partial autoonmous anyway (since it an empire) it should be able to handle defense well. the AI should not conquer or explore land unless the player lets the AI do so. the AI should be very strict in following what the player says, but self preservation of the empire ALWAYS comes first before any other directive. the less chance of losing the empire the better. i know i would hate to do all this work and come back to find my empire gone due to faulty AI.

dont use a scripting langauge for advanced players. keep it simple, newbies will complain that its unfair (which it is). you dont need absolute control (and plus scripting incurs needing to be able to test them without ill effects), just enough so the empire stays around till the player gets back.

why not look for other MMORPG space sims. one i played actual placed you on a fleet with other players and the players actually made up the empire. so you had different teams fighting for the terriotory. you may wish to go this route instead. basically players choose a team and they stay with that team gaining expierence and money for better equiment and ships. they could dock the ship at logoff so its safe.

the question is do you feel you could create the ai required to make it feasible? persistent worlds fall apart when the player needs to rely on the ai, but if the player relies on ai during actual gameplay then it may not be too bad. i suggest TONS of play testing with ppl willing to actual do things like team up against players of log off (it will be a common thing). you also have to make sure the empire dont become to strong either. tough calls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, those are some good points. But it won''t be announced when a player goes offline perhaps, so that the other''s wouldn''t know if someone is offline or not. And yes, the preservation of the empire should come first, and then the other directives. There should also be boundaries of what can happen and effect an empire, while the player is offline. Like a certain extent of things that can happen.

Thanks,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The best way to allow for it would be to give the player the ability of making sweeping commands(settle this star system, conquer this one, build improvements here) as well as specific orders, and make the usefulness of micromanaging everything minimal at best. That way, when the player is gone, he can leave his general orders behind with the assurance that things will go as planned, without having to spend enormous amounts of time directing every move that will be made in his absence.

Making the world furry one post at a time

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I agree, but the AI should also have the ability to do more. Because you can''t predict everything so it should be able to make decisions on the spot.

Thanks for the input,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
my ambitious nature is getting the better of me but...

wouldnt it be neat if your eg starship crew had black-and-white type AI where they learn from you and carry on controlling in what they think is the way you would do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am SO glad I'm not designing this one... Too many possible problems.

Is there tech development? If so, how do you start a new 'empire' when all the current ones already have higher tech and will just wipe your sorry butt out (don't tell me they need the newbie empires, they'll just end up being the experience farm for new crews for the older empires).

How does a new empire get started in an older shard?

Does it just magically pop up outside the sight of the older empires or does it pop up in the midst of them?

If it pops up in the midst does it get the empire of the empire it's creating an insurgence inside of or is it doomed to being outclassed and quickly destroyed?

Don't get me wrong, it's got potential, but I'm thinking that it's more of a large scale strategy game than a MMORTS in the normal sense of 'RTS' on the computer. I'm thinking something like World in Flames strategy, maybe Federation and Empire (Star Fleet Battles strategy game, horribly imbalanced) type strategy game.

Just out of curiosity, how many strategy games has the developer actually played? Not computer strategy games, but board games. I mean the big ones too... Europa, World in Flames, that level of strategy games, where you need 2 pingpong tables just for the board and another one for the counters. That's the size that you're looking at here, probably bigger. Otherwise you'll end up with a game world that hits it's critical mass point (players conquer x% of the galaxy/universe) and it's all downhill from there if you're not careful. It's definitely not a long-term game... after 6 months your single galaxy/universe might be down to 6-10 alliances or, if it's small enough, 6-10 players.

Good luck to your team. I'm somewhat skeptical on the potential of MMORTS game potential though. Not yours in particular, just the genre in general.

[edited by - solinear on July 30, 2002 1:53:38 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don''t think this is necessarily a good idea. If the idea is that your empire would still be there when you got back, it couldn''t work. For example:

I build up an empireof considerable size, but have to leave. I log off and the AI takes control. The AI goes into a super defensive mode. Now, let''s say another player comes along to attack my empire. If the AI has an artificial defensive boost such that the aggressor cannot destroy my empire, the game would fail to be fun for him. Also, any time a badass army attacked my empire, I would log off for a period of time and log back in to see if the attack had ended.

Now, if the AI did not get a strong enough boost to repel all invader, why would I want to put forth the effort and investment of my time to build an empire knowing that it would be overrun when I logged out.

I would say that the only way of making an on-line RTS persistant while maintaining the fun in playing would be to save the strength of the player on exit and respawn them on entrance adjacent to empires of similar strength. This would allow casual players to play against other casual players.

Any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, I see one big problem. If two people who are friends that work at different times of the day play the same empire to keep it active, they could largely dominate any opponents.

I can see solutions, but they''re not really MMO compatible.

1) Play each ''game'' (scenario?) to the end or until your Empire is finished/destroyed.

2) Get points based upon how well you do (kind of like Civ)

3) Every time you start fresh, you start with people who have similar point values to you and you can spend those points for racial/imperial bonuses like tech and so forth or save them for the future. Also, if you start later in a game, you get bonus points to assist you.

4) Keep a tally of highest total points, highest average points earned per game (over 3 games) and so forth.

This will have a few different effects. First, it will mean that nobody''s stuck with a losing proposition. Second, Sticking around longer will earn you more points, so you''re more likely to try to last longer in a losing position hoping to get more points for the next game you play in. Third, if you win, you''ll likely be playing against other people who are of similar skill level. Fourth, there is competition for both total points and for average points per scenario.

Just some thoughts though. I still don''t think that it''s a good medium (MMO) for RTS games though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have heard this problem a couple times, so I will say a couple things. I played a game called artifact, the sole base of the game is to search a huge map, look for artifacts, and hold 4 of them for 24 hours. The catch is you can only play for 2 hours at a time(its a timer) and you gain back 15 minutes every hour. The only ai is if you are being attacked, your units fight back(if they are within range). This game was fun for the simple fact that you could utterly decimate others while they were away and even while they were there, but it was simple to rebuild, allianced were easy, and there was no difference(other than personal skill) between vets and newbies. Now other games can be just as fun, or better, but this game was good at the time.

Another game I heard of with this problem would be someone making an online elite game. ... Well I will skip all the others to get to the point. Ai should defend just as well as a human, if you cannot program this, just give the units a small boost(just enough to match human players) and tell them the ai is just better(try not to make it hp, try shots fired or speed). A list of commands to do while away is good, but when attacked they should draw sufficient troops to defend, not more, unless its possible to do such a thing without putting other spaces in danger. If you want them to be logged on while away, they must be safe.

In addition, I have played a couple online games(mostly muds) where me and my friend alternate shifts. I play, he sleeps, I sleep, he plays. This creates only a small imbalance, as not many people do this. To punish such a thing would probably cause normal people to be punished for nothing at all, but the easy thing to do is to say, "You have been playing 24 hours, your troops/ are tired". Let them continue to play, but at a diminished rate.

"Practice means good, Perfect Practice means Perfect"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
The only rts mmo that i have played is Artifact by Samu Game.
The game dont have any ai whatsover when you are not there and people can attack you all the time (logged in or not).
This is not a really good way to do it i think but the game have some good idea to how manage this kind of problem though.

You can let your ally control your empire when you are not there.
Which i think is a great idea. If you put that in that gonna be a good start. Dunno if your game gonna have guild or something like that but you should do a command that let you give the permission to another player to control you empire. By doing that you gonna decrease the number of time where your empire is "uncontrolled"

Dont allow people to attack during certain hour, a lot of people are actually enough crazy to stay up until 4 am just to be able to attack an empire when anybody is there. Gonna suck for people who cant play during the hour that you determine but it''s something that i think should be done.

Make the player set task in advance for the ai to execute when he is not there. But i think the ai should do ANYTHING if any command are ordered. Because if you do that it''s barely the ai who gonna control the destiny of your empire, you cant be there even 1/10 of the time. So the ai gonna build more of the empire than you.

Artifact was not a persistent world so losing your town was not a big deal. But in a persistent world geting destroyed during the night when that took your week or even year to build it gonna suck a lot

Pretty much all the idea that i have for now, gonna rethink about that though, it''s an intersting problem i think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Its late so I haven''t taken the time to read all these responses; I just want to throw in my two cents.

I think that IF you decide to go with the AI system, wherein the AI takes over play for you when you are away, then you need to have the AI play as the player would.

There are two ways to accomplish this: Either use a VERY simple scripting system that allows even non-programmer folk to build a set of instructions that handles different types of events the way the player norally would, OR, you develop an AI strong enough to "learn" from you as you play. In other words, it handles things the way you (the player) handles them, and the longer you play, the more accurate the AI''s interpretation of your command.

Another option, MUCH simpler in the greater scheme of things, is to formulate some kind of logical-sounding scenario wherein your empire is simply inaccessible to other players. Obviously you can''t just say "My Empire is on vacation" -- you''ve got to think up a really good, believable reason why players suddenly can''t fight your empire or otherwise affect it in any way.

Now, I''m reminded of the old Tradewars 2002 game, too -- in this game, it just informed you of everything that happened while you were away when you log back on. This isn''t actually such a bad idea either -- but in this case, you should make it somewhat difficult to COMPLETELY wipe out an empire -- and you should be careful to make sure that a new empire can be created easily enough if somehow it does get destroyed in your absence.

I never really got into the Tradewars game, so I''m not the best person to tell you how it worked, but its something to look into perhaps.


Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

"I create. Therefore I am."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well,
First off, thanks for all your comments. This game is geared towards being an mmorts, so I don''t really think changing it is an options. Now you have to consider the magnitude here; first off, finding someone''s whole empire and destroying it would not be an easy thing. If the map is so huge, you would have to know where they are to wipe them out, because they would have been spread out. Also, the players will have the option to customize their ai, so that it would have a fighting chance; the attackers wouldn''t have a single disadvatage. They would be able to destroy most of the empire, leaving only the homeplanet, or the home system, spared, while the defender is offline.

Now to prevent people from logging off in the middle of a fight, there could be a time of say 5 minutes after the person logs off, that the ai takes over. We would have to add something in for accidental logging off, like the internet becoming disconnected.

Finally, I think that the things you gain from a system like this, would far outwiegh what you lose. This would be fun for players because they would be able to develop their empires over time. They would not have to play extensive periods, or anything like that. But could still expand.

Thanks for all your comments, and I''d like to hear more of your opinions. Also, we recently renovated our site:
http://www.spacesim.tk
So tell me what you all think!

Thanks again,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How many servers are you planning on running anyway?

Think about it...If, say, you have 10,000 user accounts...but only 25% of them online at one time...then your servers will be under the load of 7,500 user AI/scripts...this is ontop of countless unit AI/scripts under the command of the absent users...isn''t that pushing things a bit much?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well server wise,
we don''t have a set number; we were going to use cluster technology, and set up a system where they would share resources. Right now, we are trying to concentrate more on the design aspects, and then think about how to implement them physically; not the other way around.

Thanks,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually you only expect to get 20% during peak times, 25% is only at the highest peak times, like the day before Thanksgiving or the day after a large expansion. You could fear the 8-10% user load during the lowest population times, so you''re actually looking at a much higher AI load most of the time.

Wow, I never thought I would find an online game company that actually hopes that their customers stay online .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Solinear,
That''s an interesting way of looking at it
The client''s computer could bear some of the ai burden, however. Up to a cetain point, it may even be able to take care of all of the ai that that player would encounter.

For example, because of the large map, and the diversity of the people playing on it, meaning timezones, you wouldn''t meet too many new people at once; unless you happened to stumble upon a huge battle. Now lets say that the server has ever player''s ai scripts logged, and stored. As soon as a player comes in range of someone who is offline, now this happens long before the player is aware he is about to meet someone, the server send the ai script to the client. As soon as the player actually meets the other race, the ai script starts running, but on the client''s computer. Now this might be done for 4,5 various ai, but most likely no more per client. Considering the magnitude of the game, you aren''t that likely to meet multiple offline users anyways.

A final thing I want to add, is that you won''t necessarily know the user is offline. There will not be a flag above their heads reading: I am offline, come and kill my ai Players would proceed upon the assumption that they are facing a human opponent, and continue from there.

One more thing I forgot, there are lots of aspects of this game other then combat; although combat is a major focus. Trade, diplomacy, economic are all other things that we have to think about when the user goes offline.

Thank you all for comments, and I''d like to know what you think.

Thanks again,
Fireball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
For example, because of the large map, and the diversity of the people playing on it, meaning timezones, you wouldn''t meet too many new people at once; unless you happened to stumble upon a huge battle. Now lets say that the server has ever player''s ai scripts logged, and stored. As soon as a player comes in range of someone who is offline, now this happens long before the player is aware he is about to meet someone, the server send the ai script to the client. As soon as the player actually meets the other race, the ai script starts running, but on the client''s computer. Now this might be done for 4,5 various ai, but most likely no more per client. Considering the magnitude of the game, you aren''t that likely to meet multiple offline users anyways.


This is IHMO not a good idea. If you use the client to perform AI, you will open up the door for cheats. The server could randomly check the validity of some actions, but it would still leave some holes.

Also if it wouldn''t be likely for you to meet offline users, then it would be even more unlikely to meet online user. Either this would become a boring game or this view might be wrong.

Greetz Safariman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First off, cheats are a problem, I agree; we will worry about them later. As for more people being offline then online, this is simply not true. As in the case of any mmo, people being offline is always a problem, but the game has to deal with it. I think that with some tighter security, running ai scripts of the client won''t be too big of a problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by fire_ball
As for more people being offline then online, this is simply not true. As in the case of any mmo, people being offline is always a problem, but the game has to deal with it. I think that with some tighter security, running ai scripts of the client won''t be too big of a problem.


Actually the highest player usage that I ever saw on Everquest before they pulled the user counts was 65k and that was when they had just over 300k user accounts. The only times that they ever went over 65k was on Sundays, when they hit 72k for a very short period of time. In other words, the most addictive and prolific MMOG in the US never hit 25% and didn''t get over 20% for more than 15% of the time.

AI on the client is flat out a bad idea though. As someone said in the past: "never, Never, NEVER trust the client. He is the enemy". That might not be an exact quote.

Tight security doesn''t ever protect you. They will crack your security. I''m sure that you''ve got the best security people in the industry, but it''s still not going to protect you against packet sniffers and packet disassembly.

I think that my advice is going on deaf ears, but I still think that it''s necessary to give it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
The TradeWars 2002 idea is a good. I too remember that game and the good thing about it is that there were certain protected zones where you could leave your ship and could not be killed when you left the game. So you can leave your ship there instead of on your planet which if not well defended could be destroyed. But the catch was that only a certain number of ships could occupy each protected zone (I think there were like 6 protected zones) so at midnight excess ships whould be kicked out of the protected zone (the game kept track of who was there first) into some random place in space.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites