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Turd Burger

Hypothetical idea for multiplayer gaming.

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Firstly, a few people are going to be scared off when I mention MMORPGs. Don't be - I am not going to rabbit on about how cool it would be to make a totally unoriginal clone of a non-indie-very-commercial MMO game. Instead, I am going to suggest how online games could work in a way that eliminates the need for gross amounts of hardware (servers, maintenance etc...) and that builds on a sense of community within an online game. -FIRST THINGS FIRST- My understanding of how your average MMO works is as follows, the world in which the characters exist, essentially lives on a server usually miles away from any of the players. The world is part of the client that the users own, but all of the thinking and pulling power is done by the servers. They literally 'serve' (send and receive) information to the individuals who live in the MMO world. The characters basically live on the server. (This idea varies wildly depending upon the game, Runescape for instance is entirely self contained within the browser - so everything is the same, except the client is really just housed online instead of at the users end of the wire.) -MY IDEA- My initial idea started as a simple 2D avatar chat, where you could download the client and use it to customise your avatar, maybe build an environment (A small custom map?). The interface I visualised was similar to those common in 2D RPGs like the old Zelda games. The user could then connect to the internet and search for other users online (Through some sort of local lobby perhaps?). Three or four friends could connect up to the game, play around in the room that whoever was hosting had made, and ultimately interact online. The idea thrives on the fact that so few users would need less internet pulling power, and the whole thing could be hosted from a PC instead of a server. -THE IDEA EVOLVES...- After tossing the above mentioned thought around in my brain for a few hours, I had a thought that could make the experience a little richer. If you could introduce a currency/trading mini-game of some sort. Like this: ----- Player #1 hosts a room/map/whatever Player #2 joins P#1's room Player #3 joins P#1's room All the players have a game of poker (for example) Player #2 wins the game, as a prize - he gets to keep P#3's red hat. Later that day... Player #4 hosts a room/map/whatever Player #2 joins P#4's room The two play poker Player #4 wins this time, as a prize - he gets the red hat that P#2 won earlier. ----- You see, this way - the item in question changes hands without the end owner and original owner ever having met. Your characters inventory is stored with your client on your PC and stays the same, regardless of what room you log into. -THE REST OF THE IDEA- Once I had the trading idea in place, the rest seemed to sort itself out. Simply add the core elements of an RPG (Spells, dragons, machine-guns, fridge magnets - whatever theme you choose) and you have something really interesting. The players can mod their rooms, throw out griefers or anyone who they don't like - but their power is limited to their own rooms/maps of course so they can't go mad with power. The players have total control over the design of the environment. In a sense, the environment is infinitely large (An IMORPG!?) and at a fraction of the practical cost of a server based MMO. The only limit to the idea, is how many people a hosting PC will allow in any one room at a time, but even this opens the door to something new: If someone with a big server decided to get the client, they could host a massive world that players could join at their leisure anyway - and that itself would be an MMORPG within this 'IMORPG'. Please let me know what you think of my idea - BUT... ... I am only a pixel artist, so please answer with small words my little brain can understand. I know nothing about programming. If you have ANY feedback, let's hear it - point out any flaws you can see (because you devs are more in-tune with the practical workings of this sort of thing) and hopefully we might be able to think-tank our way around it. TURD BURGER [Edited by - Turd Burger on November 15, 2008 1:18:23 PM]

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Re:

That is how multiplayer games worked before there was the term "MMO". It is not "thriving" because the model does not make money.


Dungeon Siege (2002) was a 3D Online classless hack&slash RPG that includes a free full level editor that allowed the players to mod and create their custom worlds. (There were official online maps and I think it had the largest continuous seamless map at the time.) Players could connect to an official game matching site (Zonematch), where they can host games or find games. The max number of players allowed in a hosted game was 8.

Players can duplicate stuffs by saving and loading files on the client side. Basically after player #3 lost the red hat, he could reload the file and get back all his items. If player #3 knows the structure of the data file, he could just edit the file and get any amount of money, stats, or items as he wants.

There could be lag everytime a player joins a game and lag/end of game when the host need to quit or crash. Since the monsters in the game do not respawn, after sometime there would be nothing to kill in the world and the host needs to reload. There were mods where the monsters do respawn.

I am not saying that it cannot be fun like this. Just that this is how it was. You can still have a community that does not cheat and play nice, given that someone cloud host a decent game. It has only been 6 years but Microsoft no long support Zonematch because it is not raking in any money, since players with illegal copies could still connect to the Zone and play. You can still play it because there are unofficial sites that still do game matching.

The game was fun at different levels, and there is no limit to how many characters you could have. So for any game you could find one of your characters that suits the level of the other players and play. The game loots were also tuned such that there is no need to buy equipment or potions.


There is nothing wrong with the idea, it is more fun this way to some people.

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And Dungeon Siege and it's online functionality was pretty similar to the Diablo series which is the first thing I thought of when reading the OP.

(The OP also reminded me a bit of animal crossing.)

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Thanks for the replies.

I hear what you're saying, but the philanthropist in me wasn't really thinking about it from a financial point of view anyway.

I thought the model would be more like something to enrichen an MMOCC style environment, also as an antidote to some of the problems that go along with MMOs being naturally massive without losing the innate benefits.

I'm biased and I know that it is a naive assumtion to say that 2D works quicker than 3D, but in this case - could graphical simplicity not hurry things along?

Maybe a display in the client side lobby could read something like:

'Game room number 1234 | Players 4/10'

So that the strain on the host was limited (the limit could even be determined automatically).

Lastly - as you mentioned, players (usually the unpopular minority) will ALWAYS crack the client and fudge their own stats, but with any luck the players who are hosting environments/worlds/maps/rooms will start to form groups and circles of trust which in turn group together into trusting communities. This (paired with an in depth moderation system) could go some way towards banning/tagging shamed and misbehaving players.

I just can't help but feel that in this idea somewhere is a really juicy alternative to just having one world where - other than the odd update - the edges are too well defined.

[Edited by - Turd Burger on November 15, 2008 1:11:19 PM]

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As others have noted, you're basically talking about a structure like Diablo. You'll note that in Diablo, you couldn't just "reload your old save", because it was impossible (under normal circumstances) to exit an active game session without saving the state of that session.

Now sure, you could find ways around that, like killing the game via Task Manager or yanking your power cord or something. You could minimize that by updating the local save file regularly during play, perhaps without informing the player when you've done so.

Still, that doesn't address the issue of players reverse-engineering the save file format and then poking in whatever data they want. For that case I think you would design tools and systems that empower the community to police itself. Many online games have block/ignore lists, kick-votes, etc. for this reason. In your idea, perhaps a player who has been unanimously vote-kicked X number of times within Y time period gets a publically-displayed "badge of dishonor" or something, warning others to avoid the cheater/griefer. (This is an unrefined idea, but it's a start.)

Also, take a look at Metaplace. It seems kind of like what you're describing, at least in terms of its fundamental structure.

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The feedback so far is great.

Invicticide, I like the badge of shame idea you came up with - though I fear that the players could easily create a new character or find a way of clearing their own reputation (which is after all, just another stat).

The flaw in the plan is the fact that control and trust are handed over to the players, which is at the same time, the core reason it would be great fun.

I'm sure there's a way around this little hitch though.

It would be impossible to build an uncrackable security system - there's just no such animal. Perhaps if you could somehow take the emphasis of the gameplay away from the player stats - so any ill-gotten stat advantage would be less significant and therefore not much to cheat for.

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Thanks Wai,

Has anybody got any other ideas about how security could be tightened up with this system?

This is a purely theoretical discussion so all input is welcome.

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Don't do increments in power.

When you start that's as powerful as you'll ever be everything else is you trading off power for a different one.

So in the case of stats you'd end up trading HP for more Strength and whatever.

In the case of gear that piece of platemail prevents more damage while the other slows down shield/weapon swings less.

__________

Sure you lose a lot of RPGiness but people will still play whatever archetypes and slowly move stuff around(aka character build) because that's what most people are going to want to do. You'll also see that when players are playing in a style they want to they'll typically be a bit more powerful even if they aren't statistically so, or they'll atleast have a bit more fun.

you can 'mark of shame' anyone when they enter the game or force them to respec when they enter with bad stats.

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I have an idea for tightening the security a bit through relying on other servers and possibly other trusted servers.

Let's say the server you play on keep track of what you have given what you started with when you joined and what happened since then. When you leave the server the final character state is archived.

When the player joins a new server the server asks him to reference the last server he played on. Then the new server directly asks the old server for the character info from the player's last play session.

Server admins can have a whitelist of trusted other servers and just not accept info from unknown servers.

There are some obvious negatives here but I'm not sure how large they are.

First of all, from the player's perpective, what happens if your old server is offline? You can't play (or at least you can't play with your saved character). I guess this could be avoided by saving a longer list of server history. If the most recent server is down you only lose the last session's data and you can simply backtrack to older session ends.

That brings me to the second obvious negative: servers will have to store a lot of character data for a long time and worse, they must be ready to serve it to anyone at any time. It is still not as bad as having to serve data to everyone continuously. From the player's perspective, some lag is acceptable for this connection since it only affects him at connect time. Further, given that servers are small, it is unlikely that a lot of players would need session-ending data at the same time. Storage space could also be combated. Say the data is stored client side instead and servers just keep some kind of hash of the data state. Whenever data has to be verified, the client sends his information (this would have to be relayed through the new server) and the old server hashes it and compares to the stored value. I know it's possible to break hashes but it wouldn't be easy.

Reviewing these two negatives they don't sound so bad. What do you think?

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