Calculate the size for an open world with no instancing?

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Hello!

How do you think – is it possible to make an open-world MMO game with no instancing?

I mean, the main issue is – to design how large the world should be. Definitely, it's related to a possible number of players at the same time online, but probably there are more things need to bear in mind?

And about players count – how to calculate it more-less properly when the game development only on a stage of idea design? (I doubt it's even possible, correct me if I'm wrong)

TL;DR

How to calculate which world size do I need to the game launch?

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Thanks!

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Calculating players count is impossible, let alone at "idea stage". Goes from 1-2 concurrent players to some thousand, depending on... well, if only I could tell you what makes the difference between an unsuccessful and a successful game! It is almost impossible to predict this.

About the world size, I'd definitively stay on the small side. First, the larger the world gets, the harder it gets to fill it with something meaningful. But also, people tend to cluster in few locations anyway, and most of the remaining area is empty. It's not very interesting to run across empty terrain for half an hour, and not see another player.

You can always open new areas if your world proves too small. Just remove that large fallen tree which used to block the passage to the next valley. Too big... difficult to make smaller. So... maybe start out with a 2x2 km square, and see what happens. If you already have a hundred concurrent players on average during beta, you can always double the area then.

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Goes from 1-2 concurrent players to some thousand, depending on

Well, yes, that's why I've created this post – probably, there are some known paths how to design this part of a game and not based on players counting.

It's not very interesting to run across empty terrain for half an hour, and not see another player.

Well, it depends on a gameplay, no? It could be crowded by players, but what if the game wants to make a feeling of unexplored territories? There should not be lot of players around in that case, only in some basic points (e.g., in cities). And at the same time, each player (or group of players) should be able to find "own piece" of that exploration (and still has a chance to meet other players, as in real world, not as in instanced games).

Just remove that large fallen tree which used to block the passage to the next valley

Probably, it will work for some cases, but hard to implement really open world with a path just blocked by some tree. It's good for a corridor-style games, where player have just a single way to go...

Also other issue with this way is that still need to develop those additional zones pretty fast (in case if game becomes successful) – or to have some buffer with zones which are unavailable to players – but it's taking us back to the question – how much zones need to have pre-developed?

While this make sense for alpha/beta tests, thank you!

Edited by norlin

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Yes, of course it's possible, it's been done.

No, there are no rules to follow regarding how big the world should be. It depends on what the game design calls for, on the technical specifications, etc.

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there are no rules to follow

That's for sure, but I've just hoped for any advices :-)

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Your main concern regarding world size is to make it large enough for each individual player to have fun. Overcrowding is a good problem to have; it means you have a lot of players and probably some money which you can spend on development. So it's not worth worrying about that at the start.

World size is up to you, and you'll want to consider:

• how far can a player see?
• how fast can a player move?
• how long do you want it to take a player to cross the map?
• how does your design limit progress across the map? (e.g. combat difficulty, impassing obstacles)
• how much content are you actually able to create?

Nobody can tell you "You need 15 zones for every 1000 players" because nobody has any idea (a) how large your zones are, (b) whether you even have zones, (c) how long it takes for a player to complete a zone, etc etc. There are no guidelines. Just decisions.

Edited by Kylotan

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how far can a player see? how fast can a player move? how long do you want it to take a player to cross the map? how does your design limit progress across the map? (e.g. combat difficulty, impassing obstacles) how much content are you actually able to create?

Ok, thank you! I've thought about exactly these questions, but also thought maybe I've missed anything important.

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Ok, thank you! I've thought about exactly these questions, but also thought maybe I've missed anything important.

Not really, its just deciding how things are going to work, and making decisions that make sense.  while doing this, Its important to pay attention to how your choices affect each other. IE what game dynamics arise from you set of choices. You want to avoid choices that lead to bad dynamics - stuff like:   empty world + slow movement rate = no action.

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For reference, many of the largest games developed over many years with millions of active players have world sizes in the 40 to 60 square mile range. WoW is about 60 square miles, Skyrim and Dragon Age Inquisition are about 20 square miles.

Also for reference, since many people are familiar with The Sims 3, the largest world size in 'create a world' is 4 square kilometers -- 2048 meters x 2048 meters.  Many people spend hundreds of hours playing in the world map that is one square kilometer, 1024 meters by 1024 meters.

Another frequent trap is wanting to make real-world sizes for their games, about 60,000 square miles of usable area.  The problem with that is that you need a population the size of earth to get the same density, and even then there are huge swaths of desert and frozen tundra and wastelands where nobody resides. Your game likely won't have that scale of billions of players (no game currently does) and you don't have the ability to create that much content and interesting materials.

Think small.  Then think smaller.  Then consider that in professional games, there are many worlds smaller than one square kilometer take many work-decades and sometimes work-centuries (fifty people for two years, or about 60 people for 18 months) to turn into interesting maps and worlds.

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billions of players

That's the plan! xD

I have seen a game worlds comparison today: http://i.imgur.com/uBWCz.jpg

(And there is a second part, but can't find right now).

It mostly depends not only the size itself, but rather on how fast players could travel in a world.

Yes, you're right. The content filling is the most complex part...

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