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Bobz

How can an Open World game server be distributed over multiple servers?

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Hello everyone,

 

I intent to create an Online Multiplayer Open World game. Which means players must be able to freely roam the virtual world without any loading screens throughout the world. The players must be able to interact with one another as well.

 

To achieve this result the server must have control over the entire world. Having one single server coping with this task can be very resource intensive. Especially if there are a lot of players roaming the world simultaneously.

 

Now my question is:

How can the load of an Open World game server be distributed over multiple servers?

 

I've come across multiple game solving this problems by loading screens. This is something I want to avoid at all costs.

Hopefully someone can explain to me how this should be done. And if it can't be done, please explain why.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Bobz

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I've come across multiple game solving this problems by loading screens. This is something I want to avoid at all costs.

 

Just make the game world really small. Then there's nothing to load.

 

Seriously, though, what sort of background do you have? Loading screens and what the game does behind them can get pretty complicated. There could be any number of things you have to wait on, and it's not typically the same kinds of things that are solved by using multiple servers or caused by multiple players. After all, single player games also have loading screens.

Edited by Pink Horror
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That is a tough one, and rather broad.

 

There are many different ways of doing this (portals and bsp-like splitting being two examples), but it all boils down to having transition zones in which one server is authorative and the server handling the other piece of the world is merely notified of the updates and forwards stuff that happens nearby.

 

There exist approaches of "dynamically adjusting" borders as well (I think Guild Wars did something the like, if I remember correctly), but most implementations choose a more or less fixed splitting.

 

And of course, there's "hubs" (remembered that because of another topic I saw this afternoon)  smile.png

Edited by samoth
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Loading screens on the client side have little to do with distribution of work on the server side.

Large games routinely segment the processing into different zones. Clients are moved between back-end machines smoothly and invisibly to the user.

Much more likely, the loading screens you are referring to either are caused by the client requiring large downloads, or the client discarding a bunch of sounds, maps, model, and texture information and loading a different set of sounds, maps, model, and texture information.
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Managing resources at the client is something I pretty much fixed already in a dynamic way. The user basically doesn't notice it. (It's quite possibly this is because the resources are very low profile)

 

Now my problem lays mainly with the act of "moving clients between back-end machines smoothly and invisibly to the user".

Although the user is wandering around a certain zone he should still able to see the zones around him.

Here comes in a gap when the user shows up at either two zones at the same time or none at all. The first occurs when the user's transfer is partially complete and the new server accepted the profile while the previous one hasn't released it yet. The second occurs when the previous server has signalled the new server to take over the user and releases it immediately. The new server hasn't fully loaded the profile yet, so the user doesn't show up for maybe one second.

This can give pretty weird impressions to the user as well as the others around him. Which doesn't give a "smooth transfer".

 

How can this "smoothly moving users through servers" be done?

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How can this "smoothly moving users through servers" be done?
Depends on the game.

 

You are right that when transitioning, you must know certain information about multiple zones. Servers will often replicate data in transition areas, with one being authoritative and the other being replicant. Connecting a client to both is not a problem except for bandwidth; the client can be told that a specific source of data has a specific distance from authoritative.  If you get data at authority level 2 (two away from the authority) and similar data at authority level 4 (four away from the authority), it can use the most authoritative version. Since this border data is going to be distant, precision isn't very necessary.

 

 

Usually you want your zones to be areas that are tied together naturally. Good zone transitions are usually the barren areas that people just pass through. 

 

Often the solution becomes clearly visible when you study connectivity and relationships on maps. If it isn't immediately obvious from the maps, simple hotspot analysis is very revealing. 

 

If that isn't enough, there is an entire active research branch of computer science dedicated to optimal partitions and load balancing. Research papers are your friend if you are serious about large-scale load balancing.

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