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Server design for a mobile MMO game

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Hi all,


I am a C++ programmer of 6 years and I worked in a company who worked on lobby based multiplayer games before, so I am not a total noob.

Me and my coworker want to create a simple mobile mmo which has 3D rendering, point and click walking, combat and trading.


We pretty much know we are going with RakNet for our networking but we are unsure how to best design the actual system.


The mobile can only render so much players on the screen so we would have to limit each map to like 1-50 players? Would a channel based system

be appropriate to sort this? For example as users join a map and it overflows past 50, the 51st player would be transferred to channel 2 which is an exact copy of the previous map. Am I thinking on the right lines here? if anyone has worked on something like this I would love to hear your ideas, if this was a desktop MMO the whole process would be much simpler since the client could render much more and the network is much more reliable (not wireless).


Say the game gets popular since we want to release the client for free and use microtransactions as a revenue source, if 5000 players suddenly join we need to think in advance what is going to happen, ofcourse we do plan shards and keeping max players on a server to 1000-1500 anyway.


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What does rendering have to do with the networking?  The two are independent.





Networking is the way the clients communicate with each other and remain in sync.  This will be your biggest concern.


Networking on phones has a wide range of performance.  One minute a phone can be on an EDGE system getting around 8kb/s with very high latency, and then it can switch over to a nearby cell tower at 50Mb/s 4Glte speed.  Connections may need to be re-established in the background without interfering too much with game play.


This will likely be your main consideration when it comes to the world size.  How much of a world can you keep in sync at slow speeds?  How much data will your world be modifying?  How will you handle players that are in transit, frequently hopping between cell towers of differing speed?




The next biggest consideration will be the simulation (not the rendering).


The simulation is going to need to operate on a wide range of hardware.  Of course, you can specify a minimum spec machine.  Do you want to allow 1GHz Snapdragon and Hummingbird processors? Or do you want to require something like a dual-core or quad-core Tegra processor?


Assuming you are careful with your development you could create a different executable for different processors, giving better experiences to those with faster devices.  After all, communications protocol is independent of processing.  Again this is up to you.



Rendering is really the last consideration.  Things that are simulated can easily be culled from rendering on a slower systems; extra graphical goodness and gratuitous particles can be rendered on high-spec machines.







Figure out your world and its communication needs first.  Then improve the design of the communications system until it works for your target architecture.   That will tell you how many people your world can support.

Edited by frob

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