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JJacobo

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  1. Thank you everybody for the replies! While I do not have time enough to break down all of the concerns I will be on later tonight. I would like to mention, though that I appreciate the brutal honesty. This sort of dialoging is more valuable to us than you might think. I do not want to give out the impression that we are running balls-first into a project that we cannot possibly handle. Yes, we have lisenced the Source engine, and that was in part due to an agreement with Valve and in-part because we really are interested in their engine. One of the steps to the projects successful launch will be a free Source Mod Called: Realms of Valhallon: Age of Campaigns which predates the MMO's story. This will allow us to build interest in the project as well as test out our combat coding amongst hopefully thousands of players. I apologize for not making this clear earlier. As for the pricing on the lisencing, as I mentioned I cannot divulge, but it ties directly into our preliminary MOD project. As for professional talent, like I mentioned we have our own studio and own producers but we also have a major publisher in-line. We have a series of tasks to accomplish though before they will move forward with us. I will comment on direct feed-back as I said later, but hopefully this infomation shines a bit more light on the project. (I always say far more than I intend to =[ ) Thank you everyone!
  2. "This is probably the worst actual engine choice to make in this case, honestly." You should talk to NCSoft too, I hear they're on a similar path. =P
  3. Quote:Original post by hplus0603 Regarding using Source: their shader and PVS and basic infrastructure stuff can work just fine for an MMO, as can their art pipeline. Getting a fully working art pipeline is a great boon to get started. Just make sure that you model your characters with lower poly and bone counts than typical Half-Life 2 models, because you'll be drawing a lot more of them. Trying to get the number of draw calls down per character would also be beneficial -- ideally, one per character. Also, if you want to have a "seamless" world, you'll be in for more trouble than it's worth (IMO). I'd recommend designing for a zoned world (a la City of Heroes, EverQuest, etc). Thank you for the more constuctive feedback hp. =P Yea, I suspect you're right about our zoning challenge, though I think there might be a more clever way to disguise the mechanics of the system, but as I have stated: I am not a programmer. Anywho, the art pipeline is a huge plus, since we can basically start modeling and doing the 2D/3D work immediately with the engine already in place. Regarding poly count, I think we were playing with making the LOD feature an option for players, with some sort of recommended setting (Source can LOD up to 8 meshes for an object). Regarding the lisencing info, part of the NDA was hrm... non-disclosure =P, so unfortunately no comment on that. Thank you for the feed-back guys. One good thing about blatant criticsm is that we get a worst case scenario for the project, which our producers like. ("It will be more work designing an engine with your planned features from scratch!") Once again guys/ I'm a developer so my job is coming up with the big ideas while the egg-heads to the follow-ups with the actual techincalities, but I am trying to learn as I go. "Jacobo has NO idea what he's talking about" =P Any other thoughts on the Source Engine for the project? On a recommendation to visit the HL2 mod community, we've found some talented and knowledgeable guys ont he engine so thanks for the ref. whoever that was. Anywho, keep the polite dialogue coming please. I appreciate everyone's feedback!
  4. Quote:Original post by Saruman Just FYI you could actually build a custom MMOG engine and game faster than building one on the Source engine. You basically have to scrap almost every single feature of Source and the way it works in order to support that game genre. Obviously, sorry if I seem flippant Saruman, obviously, but I checked out after you mentioned that "almost every single feature" of the engine would have to be scrapped, obviously. If you took any time to look at our project goals, you would see the necessity of an engine designed to support a plethora of immersive and action-intensive features. Quote: Valve Renderer - Version 2.0 (and below) shaders, bump mapping, LOD on models and world (check) - Author shaders with HLSL (check) - Cube and environment mapping (check) - Dynamic lights, vertex lighting and light maps, many light types including flickering, pulsing etc. (check plus) - High-Dynamic Range lighting (check) - Water with refraction and fresnel effects (check) - Advanced particle system that can emit sprites or models (check plus) - Projected shadows allow for a large number of characters per scene (check plus) - Occluder entities for visibility blocking (check plus) - Indoor/Outdoor environments (check) . Deformable terrain (check) . 3D skyboxes extend the horizon and add parallax on distant objects (check) . Dynamically rendered organics (grass, trees etc) (check) - Subdivision surfaces, diffuse & specular bump maps (check) - Real-time radiosity lighting (check) - Effects include but are not limited to: particles, beams, volumetric smoke, sparks, blood, environmental effects like fog and rain (check, real-time weather effects baby) - Scalability (check) . Dx6-Dx9 hardware supported Materials System - Instead of traditional textures, Source defines sets of materials that specify what the object is made from and the texture used for that object. A material specifies how an object will fracture when broken, what it will sound like when broken or dragged across another surface, and what that object’s mass and buoyancy are. This system is much more flexible than other texture only based systems. (check/ this is key to our item system) - Materials can interact with objects or NPCs such as mud or ice for vehicles to slide/lose traction on. (check) Multiplayer Network Code - Time and gamer tested by millions of gamers around the world (N/A) - Support for both LAN based multiplayer and Internet based multiplayer games (N/A) - Prediction analysis for interpolating collision/hit detection (check) - Optimizations for high-latency, high-packet loss 56k connections (check) Advanced Characters - Detailed and believable characters (check) - Realistic eyes (check) . Focus on player/object, not simply parallel views . Proper eye “bulge” for realistic eye reflections - Simulated musculature provides outstanding emotions, speech and body language (check) - Language independent speech, characters can naturally speak in many languages (check PLUS) - Skeletal/bone system for animation (check) - Layered animation system can synthesize complex animations out of several pieces (check) Physics - More responsive world with realistic interactions (check) - Sounds & graphics follow from physics (check) - AI characters can interact with physically simulated objects (check plus) - Ropes/cables, machines, constraint systems, ragdoll physics (check) - Can be controlled by level design (check) - Kinematic animated bone followers (check) - Custom procedural physics controllers (check) - Vehicles (check/ as far as mounts are concerned) . Wheels slip and skid . Realistic suspensions with springs on each wheel . Realistic leaning during acceleration/deceleration and turning . Individually tunable parameters such as horsepower, gearing, max speed, shift speed, tire material, tire friction, spring tension/dampening etc. . Multiple players in a vehicle in multiplayer . Hovercraft support for cheaper simulation Advanced AI (important of our "action-game" aspect of combat/ NPC interaction) - I/O system allowing level designers to control AI - Sophisticated navigation: characters that run, fly, jump, crouch, climb stairs and ladders, and burrow underground - AI senses things using sight, sound, smell - AI relationships determine friend/foe status of other entities - Battle AI allows squads of AI characters to operate together, know when to advance, retreat, lay cover fire, etc. Sound (check, all applicable) - 5.1 surround sound, 4 speaker surround - High-quality 3D spatialization - Custom software DSP - Automatic DSP based on environmental geometry - ADPCM decompression - 16-bit 44KHz, stereo wave data with all features - MP3 decompression (requires Miles license) - Support for audio streaming on any wave - Real-time wave file stitching - Pre-authored Doppler effect encoded waves - Pre-authored distance variant encoded waves UI (N/A) - Server browser - Displays all active game servers and allows a player to choose which one to participate on. Players can filter and sort server lists in order to speed up the display and selection of a server. - Friends instant messenger - Allows players to message each other both in and out of the game as well as join friends in existing games. No more confusion about what server your friends are on, you can easily join with this feature. - VGUI – Valve’s custom GUI interface mimics most of the windows controls but is rendered using the Source engine for both in game and out of game uniform UI display. VGUI is platform independent and is Unicode compliant for ease of localization Programming - All code written in C/C++ using Visual Studio 6.0. Easily and quickly derive new entities from existing base classes. (check plus) - Internal context sensitive performance monitoring system (check) - Graphics performance measurement tools built into the engine (check) - Modular code design (via DLL’s) allows swapping out of core components for easy upgrading or code replacement (check plus) - Dx9 shaders all written in HLSL Tools (check + + +) - Faceposer . Facial expression tool used to craft speech and emotions - Valve Hammer Editor . WYSIWYG World editor . Create world brushes . Terrain editor . Place detailed world models and AI NPCs . Set navigation points/paths for NPCs . Place triggers, clip brushes, logic etc. . Allows level designer to hook up I/O between entities to control AI within the game| - Half-Life Model Viewer . Full model previewer . Rotate models in any direction . Setup hit boxes . View physics hull . View normals . Wireframe, shaded or textured view modes - Studiomdl . Model compiler - Vbsp, Vrad, Vvis, VMPI . Map compilation tools (bsp, lighting and visibility) . VMPI – distributed compilation tool allowing level compiles to be spread across many pc’s greatly reducing compile times - Exporters . XSI, Max and Maya .smd exporters for exporting 3D models
  5. Well, we just recently adopted the lisence to the Source engine, and are still looking into all of its capabilities. You are right, in that our voice system will be now be much more attainable, but the exact method of doing so remains unclear. There are streaming capabilities built into the client already, but the challenge will be designating them as "encoded waves" and allowing players to limit which and how many of these they would like to hear. The mute player feature, will in a way be muting an "encoded wave" with perhaps their character ID as part of its dynamically named file. Also, we will have to look into how to limit the sound from streaming to more players than perhaps the server can handle, since we will be bringing together far more clients whithin Doppler range, than designed by the engine developers =P It will take some looking into methinks. But thank you for the heads up!
  6. I think he was asking if someone with FFXI could save the model in the format he needed.
  7. You know, the Source Engine that we're working with has a feature like the one you're describing called Markov groups: "A Markov group is simply a weighted graph where the next place to go to in the graph is randomly selected from a list of options. The way this works in the FacePoser is that you can select multiple expressions that you consider of a similar enough "type" to group together and use them to create a Markov group. During playback, when the model is told to play the expression that is a Markov group, one of the underlying expressions is chosen at random." This can be applied to walking, fighting, or any other animation you could think of. If you notice your gun in HL2, it actually is held in randomly different positions, by utilizing the Markov group system.
  8. http://www.phule.net/mirrors/unskilled-and-unaware.html I was laughing for minutes! =D Was there an element of whimsy involved with that link hp? "Why stupid people, think they're not stupid" By Dr. Kent Lynard of Berkley University.
  9. Quote:Original post by Anonymous Poster From what you've written, it sounds terrifingly like you don't have anyone who's highly experienced with building distributed systems or high performance network servers. Without at least one person (in charge of the team!) with that background, you are doomed. I have consulted for several MMO's and I speak from experience: I've even seen a perfectly competent (but not great) guy in this role fail to save the project because he wasn't senior enough, and there were people with the power to overrule him. So, I have just one piece of advice: go hire some real ****-hot network programmers who really understand this stuff. Without it, you're dead. Valve, Unreal, etc are all useless for MMO work, and they know it - you *have* to do all the hard MMO-stuff yourself. Shrug. Just MHO. But I do do this stuff professionally (currently building a new system for circa 1 billion hits per day). redmilamber Well I do agree with you that IF we're unable to secure more professional network programmers, we WOULD be doomed, but rest assured that we do have a working idea of what will be required and we are still currently in pre-production. One thing we do have are producers who understand business, and the details are partially the team's job to supply to them. We understand the risks involved with the high production costs (though the lisence itself is nowhere near one hundred thousand, DrEvil =]) and long development cycle and are prepared to pay (in dollars as well as hours) what is necessary for professional talent and a sound system. Regarding our current team, we have two professionals with extensive experience in "high performance network servers" yet none as yet with specific MMORPG "high performance network servers". Your criticism is well, received though, as we will not enter production (i.e. start depleting our funds) until our publisher feels confident that our team is capable of seeing the project through. My purpose for sharing the information on developer sites such as these is two-fold: as I've stated gaining community insight is for us an essential aspect to our production. We have found thusfar, that professionals on sites like this have been extremely, helpful and several have offered their specialized talents and abilities to aid our project. Additionally, more than a few ideas raised over PMs, emails, and threads regarding our project have resulted in a reevaluation, and new direction taken.(not on a whim mind you =P) I apologize if I have represented our project as a volunteer's hobby or as an ill-planned piece of vaporware, but my lack of complete disclosure has been in part a protection of our assests. Plus, as I have stated I am not a programmer and don't want to sound exceedingly ammateur! =P "Valve, Unreal, etc are all useless for MMO work, and they know it - you *have* to do all the hard MMO-stuff yourself." We agree that the software architecture (especially on the networking side) will need a complete redesign but the engine is far from useless. NPC interactions (speech included), combat physics, graphics rendering (culling and LODs were a huge plus), scenes, even wave streaming are all beautifully performed by Source, and hopefully our end product will be the result. I understand that these are indeed tools, and not a prepackaged solution as I suspect you're getting at. "So, I have just one piece of advice: go hire some real ****-hot network programmers who really understand this stuff. Without it, you're dead." I agree 100% . If any of you "****-hot network programmers who really understand this stuff" are interested contact me or keep an eye out for classified in several online (Gamasutra included) and industry journals (L.A. circulation). =] I appreciate the feed-back btw, everyone.
  10. Well, krez that's what I said, so your comment was rude and pointless. =/
  11. Well, of course certain limitations will have to be put into place, but the physics engine will be important for creating realistic combat interactions. Some spells in Kinetic Magic, for example might send an enemy flailing like a ragdoll. As for the latency, we will be limiting and balancing what is processed by our server versus what is processed by the individual clients. For example when speaking to an NPC your client will recognize the keyword and a simple command will be sent to the server so that the NPC will respond with a scripted reply already on the client machine. The Source Engine allows for streaming technology though for voice communication, but that's a topic for another thread (which it has been). We're not pretending that it is not gonna be a lot of work. =P
  12. Well, more than any other programming difficulty, this is our paramount issue. The network side of the software architecture will have to be reworked to accommodate potentially, hundereds of players on screen at the same time. Additionally we do not have the luxory of a single-player game where we can load each small area, as needed nor that of a contained multiplayer game. The challenge will be to create a zoning (or map) system that can provide information to our players and databases dynamically.
  13. The question isn't whether or not players will try to hack the client, if they can they will. What we have to tackle is how we can attempt to control the potentially damaging client-side modifications. A system of checks, would be required for certains elements of play I am sure. Fortunately, we do have adminitrative abilities such as banning and the like to deter cheating, whereas if the game were hosted by players, the vulnerabilities would be much harder to control.
  14. I believe that something like this would have to be put into play, since our project requires a lot of crunching, and we will simply need the clients to share the burden.