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MMORPG Game Design

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I am very interested in MMORPG game design and am in the process of attempting to design one. I''m less interested in the security and performance aspects at this point as to how to actually implement. Once I have that down in my head I can start to think about the other concerns. I think if you are designing for a truly massive game, then a distributed environment is the only way to go. When you are talking about supporting thousands of concurrent connections, and your world is gigabytes in size, I would really doubt you will find a single affordable server to run it on (someone please correct me if i''m wrong, please). Most available MUD software out there are memory-based. A MMORPG, I would think, would not be able to have that luxury. I was thinking along the lines of a specialized database server component that held as much data in RAM as possible and used some sort of least used caching algorithm to cache out data as new data is required. I would love to hear anyone elses ideas on the subject. And of course as the world grows, you could always add another database server for a geographical region. The big problem would be keeping everything in sync. Does anyone have any experience with trying a commerical (or not) relational database. My first instinct would be that it would be too slow, but I''m not positive about that. As far as connections are concerned I was also thinking along the lines of a network of connection servers (one main, so you only had one ip address, that would distribute to others as per some loading scheme. This redirection could be done behind the scenes if you had a client couldn''t it? And then you have the problem of getting the components to communicate with each other as well as the client. As you can see I''m at the beginning stages of the design, and any discussion about it would be great. Hitman.

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I know almosting nothing about MMORPGs, but here is a little thing I came up with. To save both memory and processing time, only the AREAs (read, not individual locations) that have people in them are loaded/processed. This is, I suppose, a fairly basic thing, but if you have a little-visited part of your game, this can save a lot of time and memory. You may want to add a flag so that some areas are always loaded (like a main town that most people only are in when the first sign on: people will always be going in and out a lot, causing loads and unloads, but there will be times when no one is there). This is the technique behind my MUD (still in development, btw).


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