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Fredrik Jahnsson

The new MMORPG's. Possible or not possible?

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Hello there, I'm new to this forum so don't kill me for doing something I wasn't supposed to do ;) MMORPG, massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. You should perhaps see the video clips of the Half-Life 2 engine before reading on. These clips can be found here: http://www.planethalflife.com/half-life2/videos/ With the majority of today's MMORPG's it is not possible to role play. I mean, seriously, they are all about doing the same stuff over and over again and maxing your characters level. The interaction in today's MMORPG's is a joke. It is dwarfed to some stiff typing and a few predefined scripted actions. To call these games MMOG's would be a much better definition. Since I'd like to see a real large scale role playing game I'd really like to see some dramatic changes in the way MMORPG's are created. I'm not talking a MMORPG that consists only of conversation/interaction here. I'm talking a nice mix of the adventuring/fighting and interaction. I have this idea of an MMORPG that I think would blow most peoples mind and I believe the hardware, connection speeds and the software for it exists today. But I'm not sure of it. What I like is to get some opinions if the following is possible. Or not possible... If possible, do you have any suggestions as to whom (a company like EA etc.) could and would undertake such an endeavor? And please, bear in mind, what I'd like is opinions if these features are possible or not possible. I do not want opinions about the features themselves, like: "Duuuuuh that live voice thing is just ST00PID no one would never ever have time to stand around having conversations in a MMORPG!!!!!!!!". Also, if you back up your statements with something (an article?) it would be great! Below I'm only presenting some of the features of the game concerning the limitations of today's technology. Here goes. 1. The "live voice" Interaction system. The live voice interaction system would add an enormous presence to the interactions in the game. This Interaction system would be somewhat similar to the one seen in Counter Strike or compared to some live chat program like TeamSpeak. Just more advanced. Yes, I'd like to see and hear the online players you meet in this game talk. Via a microphone and with a wee bit better sound quality than seen in Counter Strike for instance. What I'd also like to see is lip-sync. Like seen in Half-Life 2. Yes I grasp the difference between a FPS and a MMORPG and that we are talking enormous bandwidth here. But consider this: How about a way to really limit the area of people you are hearing? (the longer distance the lesser/lower voices) And depending on what "mode" you are in (travel mode, fighting mode, conversation mode) you would hear only a limited amount of people. Perhaps even some peer to peer standalone client could be used to lessen the burden on the servers? Then of course, this MMORPG shouldn't have thousands of players per server. More like a few hundred players. Add some pitch and other filters to the sound and even teens with their breaking voices could sound like a battle hardened dwarf. 2. The "body language/facial expression" interaction system After seeing and experiencing the capabilities of the Source engine (Half-Life 2) developed by Valve I was truly amazed at how easily one could create your own customized expression "scripts", then save them to a small amount of data, I thought "To have this in a MMORPG would be magnificent". I won't go into too much detail here but, these interactions could look something like this: When you want to engage in a serious conversation with someone, the "conversation mode" is activated. Here you have a whole lot of controls for expressing yourself with facial expressions, body language and gestures. All taken from your already defined "scripts" or maybe by some way to effect your avatars expressions directly. This data could be sent to the game server or perhaps by some peer to peer connection. The limitations I discussed in 1. could also be applied here. You would control the avatars expressions using both mouse and keyboard using this "conversation interface". This would become an art to master but easy to learn. The visual expressions combined with the live voice I know would add dimensions to MMORPG's that no one has ever seen before. This is the next era of MMORPG's I'm talking about here, yes. The question is, do we already have the possibility to create MMORPG's like this or does the bandwidth or hardware issue stop this from happening? Possible or not possible? Well, is this possible with today's technology you think? Wouldn't a 10mbit connection or less suffice for all this data to be sent? Am I totally wrong in thinking the technology AND the software, like the Half-Life 2 engine, already exists? Well I'm asking the experts here I hope so just go ahead and shoot! Just try avoid hitting me ;) Sincerely, Fredrik

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Hey,

In regards to your voice-over-IP suggestion, UT2004 already has this built in as well and doesn't seem to affect bandwidth at all. A server with 20 players all blasting the hell outta eachother can still talk while they're at it without any noticable fluctuations in ping times.

I'm sure in the case of a MMORPG this could possibly become more of an issue, particularly if hundreds of people are all standing in the same area and decide to all talk at once. Even with your proximity suggestion it could still happen (guild meetings, etc). which may cause a few issues here and there. As far as the seperate application goes, I wouldn't recommend this approach as it just forces the user to keep track of one more thing on startup, instead, maybe create a seperate socket for voice-over-ip only which could be connected to a "voice chat" server to take the load off. Most MMORPGs as far as I understand it have seperate servers for the following:

Login server
Zone server
Chat server

For every zone server there will also be a chat server which will handle all incoming messages for that entire zone. This might also be an option with what you're suggesting to take a load off the gameplay server.

As far as custom scripts and facial animations go, this shouldn't be too huge of a problem because it's the client that handles this operation not the server. Once the server has transmitted the data (much like HL transmitting arm patches) it's done with it. There should probably be some sort of cap on the size of the script allowed, not to mention a cleanup utility to get rid of them if you don't run into character x in y number of days, otherwise the user's PC would become so flooded with crap it would get out of hand. The same goes for lip synching, once the client receives the voice message, it will simply update the mesh's model based on what it knows about words and syllables, the server really wouldn't have to worry so much about this aspect.

Permafried-

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As far as MMOGs go, the virtual world "There" already has both of those features (real-time voice with lip sync and attenuation, and body language / conversation modes): There Website.

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Original post by hplus0603
As far as MMOGs go, the virtual world "There" already has both of those features (real-time voice with lip sync and attenuation, and body language / conversation modes): There Website.


Thanks! I'll go check it out right away.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I don't think it's a question of bandwidth but of server load. If you're going to have the audio based on how far away each person is, you'll have to mix a seperate audio channel for each player on the server. That's going to end up being a LOT of server load, even with a dedicated server.

The facial expressions however would work fine. Either by keyframing the faces or even having downloadable expression templates (eg: For a smile, move corners of mouth out and up)

-overflowed (I'm at work and forgot my pass)

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When i played my last MMORPG (lineage2) i got together with a group of friends and we all used ventrilo and lot of other guilds out there use this too. This may be a temporary solution to your problem. And the best part about vent is that NCSoft didn’t have to spend a bunch of money setting up servers (which would have went down a number of times) and writing the code to support it.

It won’t solve the lip sync problem but it really helps out with coordinating attacks.

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Quote:
Original post by Fredrik Jahnsson
Quote:
Original post by hplus0603
As far as MMOGs go, the virtual world "There" already has both of those features (real-time voice with lip sync and attenuation, and body language / conversation modes): There Website.


Thanks! I'll go check it out right away.


I did try it out and was stunned to find out that the only important feature of this otherwise quite common MMOG, the live voice bit, had been left out from the demo!
So I had no chance of experiencing it. hplus0603, have you tried it? Was the voices inregrated 3d voices in the game? Or were they rather like some utility such as Ventrilo, which from the game idea I have, would be useless.

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Original post by Megahertz
Vanguard (http://www.vanguardsoh.com) will have in game voice chat from what I've read.

-=[ Megahertz ]=-


Unfortunately this game's voice chat seems to be very similar to Ventrilo, which I mentioned above, just isn't good enough.
Thanks anyway!

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