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  1. #21
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    Before anything I'm not trying to be rude or anything. My English skills are not as colorful as i would like so maybe sometimes I can sound rude but it's because of this.

    I think that the statement
    There are very good and solid reasons this hasn't been done before and it's because the amount of work and maintenance required to do this doesn't pay off in terms of game play value
    It's driven by a economic/industry standard factor which 3dbuzz have the privilege to ignore (at least for now).

    There are tons and tons of games that have broken this factors (ie, ICO, no one though that a guy running around with a girl were a good idea for a game) or even the first pong game was developed in an oscilloscope which no one thought to use it in that way. So if we 3dbuzz has no string attached to the industry standards and economic factors while developing a great educational experience then lets roll with it. I've always learned more from my mistakes than my successes.

    Besides any of this I've the conviction that if Jason is asking Lee to build an enormous terrain to Lee he has something in mind besides just being a record killer (or maybe not ).

    The other statement that I really have a problem with is this:

    Once I realized I could do exactly the same thing with a smaller world as I could with one so big most of it would never be seen
    Is there any rule about every player has to explore every patch of terrain the game has otherwise is a worthless patch that has to be removed?
    Lots and Lots of players enjoys of personal preference spots in the world because is a good grind zone, they like the landscape and another examples that I can't remember right now.

    Anyway I don't know if having a huge world is going to pay off but I prefer to try and fail rather than drop the idea just because the "industry standards" says so.

    And again, I respect you for what you have shown in the forums it's just that I don't agree with you this time.

  2. #22
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    It's driven by a economic/industry standard factor which 3dbuzz have the privilege to ignore (at least for now).
    Do you know how the business model works for independent studios? For the publisher this might be true but for the game developer it absolutely is not true. The way independent studios work (for the most part) is that we come up with a game idea, pitch it to a publisher, and if they like it we start working on it.

    When we were independent we had full creative license to make the game the way we wanted to. So it absolutely is not about money and is all about having the opportunity to create awesome games that people like to play. Game developers make less money and work much longer hours than most developers. Some studios crunch for months working 15+ hours a day for months and make less pay when compared to most other software engineers in the business world.

    I'm not saying other software developers don't work hard but there is no such thing as official "crunch" in the business world. For game studios this has nothing to do with money and we hate hiring people that are money focused. We're all about creating an exciting and fun game play experiences for people that buy our games. Honestly, the love of making games is the heart and soul of most game development studios, not money.

    The thing about game play value is that game play value directly correlates to financial value. If a game isn't fun it doesn't sell so publishers depend on us to make the game fun and also to know what makes good sense from a game play point of view. Players don't buy games for terrain or even good graphics. They buy our games because they're fun and if they're not fun than no one buys them hence game play value is important to both publishers who are looking to make a buck and game developers who are pationate about making a fun creative product that people enjoy.

    Is there any rule about every player has to explore every patch of terrain the game has otherwise is a worthless patch that has to be removed?
    You're really missing my point here You're right, no it doesn't, but we're not talking about a few patches, 100 patches, or even 1000 patches. We're talking about 99% of a world terrabytes in size which is probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of patches that will never even be seen. That means you're going to spend years on tech to support a world where your game is going to only occupy less than 1% of it. If your game is going to occupy 1% of the world then don't you think it makes sense to spend less time working on more traditional tech so your game can at least occupy 75% to 100% of the actual world. Then when and if you need more you can expand.

    Lets say you want to build a diablo clone and you have two options for development. The first option involves using traditional methods and will take you 5 years. The second option inovles taking 10 years to make the same game the ONLY difference is the game will be surrounded by gigabytes of terrain that has no content and most of which the player will never see. If I'm going to take an additional 5 years to build the game I better get more game play value out of the deal than terrabytes of randomly generated terrain that the player has no chance of exploring and I have no chance of filling with content. Its all about the ratio between time and effort to game play value. The tech we're talking about is just insane for something like a game.

    So lets be totally honest here. I don't know how big the buzz team is but lets say they hired consultants and had a team of 10 guys working on this. Could a team that size even populate a world the size of wow? No probably not, since blizzard had close to 100+ people working on wow. A team of 10 people could probably populate a world with content that is 1/4 the size of wow and that's being VERY optomistic. So if you know you can only fill a world 1/4 the size of wow with meaningful content then why would you create a world 1000 times the size of wow? That means only 0.25% of it will have playable content while the rest will be unexplored hard disk bloat.

    The way this would normally work is you would build a world that you can manage first and then leverage success to expand it later. You shouldn't start out building a game world so big that the only tech you can find requires reading NASA white papers. Start managable and leverage success to scale up. I'm just saying, we're either building a game or we're creating a really cool terrain system. You can easily create a huge massive world that 10s of thousands of players can play in without spending all this time on pointless world sizes so big no one will ever see all of it.

    If you want a real world example of a game that got too technology focused go research duke nukem 3D. That game took 13 years to make as a result. They have actually put tech in the game that lets you take a marker and write on white boards, etc when you're in buildings. The game is a 3d shooter, why would you take months to put a white boarding system into a game like that? What game play value did that have? Absolutely none and as a result of this silliness, the game took 13 years to make. There are many other wierd meaingless systems like that in the game, the white boad system was the only one i could think of off the top of my head.

    I'm sorry but having terrain 1000 times the size of wow is silly when we're talking about a game. It's not silly if you just want to do it because you can, however, I thought the point of this was to make a game. If that's not the case or I'm just missing something than I need to reset my expectations.
    Last edited by jjguzzardo; 05-02-2011 at 09:18 PM.

  3. #23
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    I'll start off with that each of you have very valid points and from the perspectives that you are looking at the issues they are for the most part very good arguments. However there are a few things that are probably just misunderstandings from what we are experimenting with and knocking around the office as potential ways we would like things to go not necessarily the way they will go.

    First is the absolutely ludicrously large world. Yes we want a large world. Will it be the largest ever developed for a game? Who knows? That isn't really the point of the exercise the point is more to see if it is possible and if so how we would approach said problem. The true point is that both Jason and I wish that existing games didn't have to limit the size of the world based on the size of the development team nor the depth of the investor's pockets. To that end Jason said he wanted a large world and I responded with lets make it 98% procedural. Not necessarily real time procedural as the terrain R&D may indicate (as initial testing proved unsustainable) but handle in a way where there is much more complex system that goes about constructing the world and saving it to a "World Server(s)". This system which I've already started to flesh out in part would work across multiple PCs to batch process the world to help get the job done as it will be many orders of magnitude more complex than what you've seen to date. I'm thinking patches will need minutes to calculate instead of fractions of seconds. The premise is that the more work that can be done by the computer is less that has to be done by developers and as JJ very correctly points out we don't have a large team of content developers and my estimate of completing a single zone by hand would be about 715 man years of labor which we definitely can't fund. So the only way to do this will be leveraging the power of computers.

    What's the point of making a huge world that will remain 80% unexplored? This is the point where I think JJ's argument falls apart and Xav and Duke haven't quite manage to explain is that while we aren't manually populating the entire world of content does not mean that the world will not have playable content. Yes having a world with 80% of just terrain to walk around is useless but this is not the plan. We are planning on populating the ENTIRE world with mobs, npcs, towns, villages, quests, etc. we will doing it procedurally though just as we build the world to begin with. While I can't go into detail yet I've already worked out how this can be done on paper at least so that it may be possible for even Jason or I to wander out into a new area not knowing what to expect and find things to do, monsters to kill and quests to complete all with out ever having had to assign someone to go into that area to do the work. All this doesn't even begin to get into content that would be generate by players themselves. Try doing that in a world the size of WoW with the numbers of players that they have. Not saying we will be able to compete with WoW what I'm saying is that lets experiment with the upper limits of what is possible and reigned back from there. That is a much better way of approaching it than running out of room because we didn't think large enough out the gate.
    “little expense has been spared to give the impression that no expense has been spared.” - Douglas Adams

  4. #24
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    What's the point of making a huge world that will remain 80% unexplored? This is the point where I think JJ's argument falls apart and Xav and Duke haven't quite manage to explain is that while we aren't manually populating the entire world of content does not mean that the world will not have playable content. Yes having a world with 80% of just terrain to walk around is useless but this is not the plan. We are planning on populating the ENTIRE world with mobs, npcs, towns, villages, quests, etc. we will doing it procedurally though just as we build the world to begin with.
    Lee, this statement doesn't make sense to me. What's the point of making a huge world that will remain 80% unexplored? This is the point where I think JJ's argument falls apart. I don't mind being wrong, however, I'm trying to understand how my argument falls apart just because the 80% of unexplored world is going to be filled with randomly generated content. Whether you fill it with content or not, it's still unexplored, i.e. no one ever sees it. What would be the point of populating 80% of the world with randomly generated content if no one will ever see it? If the world is unexplored than filling it with ocean, or not even having it there at all, would net the same result as randomly generated content. Am I missing something?

    So I think it's a sound argument to say that if you know up front your world is so big most of it won't be seen by players than make it smaller . Randomly generated content only helps you if players will actually see it. If I can get in a plane and fly half way around the world before a player even flies across a single zone in the game then, trust me, most of that world will never be seen. You don't have to make it small, you just have to make it smaller. That way you can have a world that people will actually explore and see all of your designer created content and randomly generated content .

    Since i pretty much wrote a novel if you add up all my posts , you may have missed that I mention the possibility of randomly generated content for the part of the world that's explorable. However, I just have to say this never usually works in the long run. It's like going through randomly generated dungeons in torchlight. After the first dozen of them, clearing mobs with a random boss here and there gets old. Basically, players eventually learn to predict the pattern for randomly generated content and get bored much faster than with designer made content. It doesn't matter how creative you get or how much you think you can game the system. Players ALWAYS figure out your system because randomly generated content can only go so far. Where randomly generated content does work is when it is used as a supplement to designer driven content. With a world 1000 times the size of wow, randomly generated content will be most of the game so I'm not sure about this approach either.

    One of the best examples of this failure is Darkfall. Darkfall is a sandbox MMO that has around 10k players per server. There is a US and UK server so about 20k players total. Their pve content is all randomly generated. ALL of it, except a few quests and it TOTALLY sucks. No one likes it at all. It's really fun for the first 2 weeks because the AI is actually pretty good for what it does. But it's just boring running around seeing the same mobs, knowing how they all fight, doing the same stuff over and over. It's just a big grind fest. The other problem is interesting based off of our current discussion as well. The world size of darkfall is probably 1/2 to 3/4 the size of WoW, and you want to know what one of the biggest complaints is? Finding PvP fights is too hard because the world is too big. So for this game we're talking about a world 2000 times bigger. I'd say finding a pvp fight in a world that size would be much harder .

    All I'm saying is lets not get so excited about big huge massive worlds that we start trying to figure out how to stuff a game into our big world using randomly generated content. Instead lets actually make a game that people want to play and build terrain that fits into that. Stuffing a game into a huge world seems backwards. I've worked on 3 or 4 MMO or MMOish games. All of them started really simple and scaled up with each new release. This approach works really well. There's no need for release one to be version 10 of the product. Why not make a slimmed down version one and scale up as needed?

    I do want to end on something positive, I think player driven content is an awesome idea. In fact our studio is experimenting with social aspects like this as well, where players can give each other quests, etc. Great idea!

    All you guys are sharp talented folks over there. I'm just trying help, write a novel, and kick a few dead horses all at the same time. Vacation is over tomorrow so I'm not going to have much time again but hopefully I've provided some good food for thought. I am fully confident that once all the RnD dust clears the right thing will emerge and everyone will be happy. Please don't misinterpret my vocal disagreement as a lack of support or confidence in any way. Again, I'm really just tryng to help.
    Last edited by jjguzzardo; 05-03-2011 at 05:05 AM.

  5. #25
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    First of all I've never played darkfall but I've read every where about being one of the biggest worlds around and certainly larger than WoW. And the are big complaints about the pvp system but they have huge sieges and stuff... It's rather ironic that a full loot game has a bad pvp system.

    Going back to our subject, I don't know why you are saying that 80% of the world is not going to be explored. Is that a fact with proven statics pulled from other MMOs or is what your experience dictates you or is someone told you?

    as a sidenote:

    I prefer a rather more action reaction approach. Build the insanely huge world see how players move, and develop the zones that aren't being explored by adding content or events or challenges or whatever.
    You prefer a standard world size filled with lots and lots of content firstly to avoid wasting time with a complex terrain system and because an insanely huge terrain will probably not add anything to the fun of the game.
    (It's a very very short resume of the discussion I'm missing lots of stuff here just wanna state the main arguments)

    We both have good argument. You, being a professional game developer, have lots of insights of the endeavor an MMO is and I really appreciate the whole experience you are throwing into 3dbuzz for all the other students.
    I've reversed engineered some MMOs (mainly Perfect World and Dragonica but also something of Lineage2) and also runned some private servers over here (don't do this, is illegal almost everywhere). So I learned to detect the problems some of this games had and had an user base from where to get input from directly.

    And what can I say about Lee, he constantly surprises me with his ideas and how he is tackling by it self all this R&D stuff.

    This thread has became my favorite and I really look forward to some sort of meeting about this like we had about gameplay mechanics so more people can jump in into the discussion .

  6. #26
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    I think it's possible that we've got two running definitions of "unexplored."

    From what I'm reading here, it seems like jjguzzardo is defining "unexplored" territory as territory that no one will ever see for any reason whatsoever. He's basically saying we would have areas that we can put our finger on and guarantee with full confidence that no player will ever lay eyes on them. An example might be a zone that lies (possibly many) hours worth of travel away from the primary design-driven zones.

    Lee, on the other hand, seems to be defining "unexplored" territory as those areas that lie off the beaten path, areas outside of mainstream designer-plotted content, that have at least the potential to be seen. Open sandbox-like areas with entities (probably even quests) that are accessible, but are not required and - if I had to guess - would not develop the story in a meaningful way.

    If you put that piece of the puzzle into place, what both of these gentlemen are saying makes perfect sense.

  7. #27
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    First of all I've never played darkfall but I've read every where about being one of the biggest worlds around and certainly larger than WoW. And the are big complaints about the pvp system but they have huge sieges and stuff... It's rather ironic that a full loot game has a bad pvp system.
    Darkfall is smaller than WoW. You can run across the whole world in an hour or so and ride a horse across the whole world in about 30 to 40 minutes and it still feels pretty damn big. They don't have a bad PvP system, I've played the game for over a year and was heavily involved in their forums so i understand the issues players had with the game. The issues are, again, that they have a bad PvE system because the entire thing is randomly generated. You spend most of your time grinding skills on the same randomly generated content just so you can pvp. Then, after months of grinding randomly generated content, you're finally ready to pvp and you can't find PvP fights because the world is too big and randomly generated content doesn't provide enouph incentive for people to wander around the world. They're really close, they just need more real game play cotent in the game it would do much better.

    Going back to our subject, I don't know why you are saying that 80% of the world is not going to be explored. Is that a fact with proven statics pulled from other MMOs or is what your experience dictates you or is someone told you?
    I never said 80%, Lee said 80%. I'm saying 90%+ because that's just the way it's going to be. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be harsh but this is just math coupled with the experience of working on these games professionally, not something someone told me. If it takes 31 hours to fly across just one zone than it could take weeks or even months to travel across the entire game world. I haven't done exact math on this but, that's not just 1000x the size of wow, that's probably something like 2x or 3x larger than the planet earth. You could take all 6 billion people on the planet earth and they would all fit in the state of Texas, and we're talking bigger than earth? This discussion is like trying to get people in the US to understand how big a trillion dollar deficit is. Do you really have any idea, I mean really, how big that is? So yes, it will remain largely unexplored and to say it won't is like looking at a green crayon and being unwilling to admit it's green. It's not that I want a small or even traditional sized world. I just think something more managable should be the final goal. Like start out with a world the size of WoW and see if you even need the tech to support something bigger than that.

    In 1984, it was proven by the economist Thomas Sowell that the entire world population (4.4 billion at the time) could live comfortably in the state of Texas. He wrote “Every human being on the face of the Earth could be housed in the state of Texas in one-story, single-family homes, each with a front and a back yard. A family of four would thus have 6,800 square feet- about the size of the typical middle-class American home with front and backyards.”(Carter 99) According to more recent research on the topic, all of the world’s 1997 population (5.84 billion) could fit on the small Island of Bali in Indonesia.(Stiefel 98)
    Now, we'll be lucky if our player base breaks 10,000. So think about it. Most of the world will be unexplored and the other problem is that the game world will look dead. With a world that size the chances of seeing your friends running around are next to 0. Most of the time you probably won't even see anyone in the world and this adds to the psychological effect that the game world has no life.

    A Game with a massive world that primarily depends on randomly generated content isn't even a real game. That awesome back story that zak wrote is what "a game" is all about. You take designer created content from that story and put in the game in a creative manner. That's a game. A huge world with randomly generated content is just cool tech for programmers, not a game. This is why programmers make horrible designers. They focus too heavily on cool tech and not enouph on the game. I'm including me in this. If left to my own devices with no designer, I fall into the same trap. I'm just more aware of it now that i'm in the games industry.

    I prefer a rather more action reaction approach. Build the insanely huge world see how players move, and develop the zones that aren't being explored by adding content or events or challenges or whatever.
    This goes against almost every process oriented best practice, not just in game development, but in any kind of software development. You should always start out with small managable software releases and build in more complexity with each release until you meet the goals of your final version. Trying to release version 10 of your product as release one is foolish because there are many issues you could have ironed out in release 2 that would have prevented a handfull of related issues in release 10. Again, if you think this is my opinion just read any book on agile software development or any book on software development processes in general. In fact you can probably just google it. You absolutely don't want to dump version 10 on your players in the first release, cross your fingers and hope everything works and then when it doesn't go into fire fighting mode bringing the game down every 5 minutes to fix bugs. You do that and it won't matter how awesome your game is. You'll hemerage players so fast it'll make your head spin.

    And what can I say about Lee, he constantly surprises me with his ideas and how he is tackling by it self all this R&D stuff.
    I couldn't agree more, Lee is really awesome and creative as are all the people at 3d buzz. However, I work with some pretty awesome people at work and I'm sure many of the students in this class are creative and awesome as well. For example, the guy who sits behind me started college at age 12 and had 2 masters degrees in physics and math by the time he was 18. He's been working in the games industry for 16 and has had his hand in almost every game I love to play. When working with guys like lee and the person who sits behind me , I try not to get all stary eyed about how awesome they are and try to stay focused on what's important to the success of the mission. Right now I'm very concerned about where this might be going but like I said in my previous post, I'm confident the right thing will be done when RnD provides a more clear path. Until then, I'm just doing the Paul Revere thing.
    Last edited by jjguzzardo; 05-03-2011 at 12:52 PM.

  8. #28
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    I think it's possible that we've got two running definitions of "unexplored."

    From what I'm reading here, it seems like jjguzzardo is defining "unexplored" territory as territory that no one will ever see for any reason whatsoever. He's basically saying we would have areas that we can put our finger on and guarantee with full confidence that no player will ever lay eyes on them. An example might be a zone that lies (possibly many) hours worth of travel away from the primary design-driven zones.

    Lee, on the other hand, seems to be defining "unexplored" territory as those areas that lie off the beaten path, areas outside of mainstream designer-plotted content, that have at least the potential to be seen. Open sandbox-like areas with entities (probably even quests) that are accessible, but are not required and - if I had to guess - would not develop the story in a meaningful way.

    If you put that piece of the puzzle into place, what both of these gentlemen are saying makes perfect sense.
    Ahh, ok, thanks for clearing that up zak. This makes more sense now, I was a little confused there. Wow, i made a post with only 3 sentences

  9. #29
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    A couple of other things to clear up is that WoW is about 80sq miles based on what I've read on websites. A zone in the R&D is just under 2,500 sq miles so we aren't talking 1,000's of times bigger than WoW or 2 to 3 times the size of the planet Earth though this system in theory could handle it.

    80% is a number that I pulled from your posts JJ.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjguzzardo View Post
    You don't want 80% of the game to just be randomly generated for the sake of making the world seem big. No one is going to ever explore a world that size. That's a huge cost in time and development with very little return on fun, in my opinion. Especially when 80% of world will never be explored anyway as most people will be begging for fast travel to avoid long travel times.
    The only reason I would imagine an area would never be visited by anyone is if it was either unreachable or there was no reason to go there which is why procedural generate content interest me so much. One thing I can assure you though is that if it is possible to get there (and sometimes even if its not) than someone will go there, that is something that the Tech Demo taught us. If we can make a system that can entice players into these areas either to explore and play the procedural content or with the prospect of being able to build there own content so much the better.

    This is still very early in the R&D process so nothing is a for sure yet at best we may have a couple very soft maybes. A balance will definitely have to be found at some point but it is still too early to worry about it until we know how far we can push it. Once we know what the upper limit is than we can scale down to something practical. I feel that we should definitely explore this because if we don't and we have to limit the world size based on what we could only create by hand then the MMO might be the size of 5 or 6 WoW zones if we are lucky.
    “little expense has been spared to give the impression that no expense has been spared.” - Douglas Adams

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjguzzardo View Post
    This goes against almost every process oriented best practice, not just in game development, but in any kind of software development. You should always start out with small managable software releases and build in more complexity with each release until you meet the goals of your final version. Trying to release version 10 of your product as release one is foolish because there are many issues you could have ironed out in release 2 that would have prevented a handfull of related issues in release 10. Again, if you think this is my opinion just read any book on agile software development or any book on software development processes in general. In fact you can probably just google it. You absolutely don't want to dump version 10 on your players in the first release, cross your fingers and hope everything works and then when it doesn't go into fire fighting mode bringing the game down every 5 minutes to fix bugs. You do that and it won't matter how awesome your game is. You'll hemerage players so fast it'll make your head spin.
    Well look to what happend to twitter. They didn't thought well enough the DB system and had a lot of issues some years ago. This happend because they though in a "smallish manageable" DB.
    Actually it woulnd't 1000x more fun to group a couple of WoW servers in one ? well one thing why they can't do that is because of the map size (and other reasons of curse).
    Even look at the asp.net series... Nelson is putting together a Uber complex framework for the management system that could be solved much more simpler than what he is pulling off.
    The Small manageable things could lead to super complex scenarios in the future. Everybody that has worked in any company that had suddenly started growing like crazy knows about what I'm talking.
    If Jason is envisioning a WURM style housing or real-state system if you stay small without thinking what could happen in a near future they will start trying to patch a system that cannot grow as they need and they will have to throw everything, migrate stuff around from one framework to another, prevent data losses, dealing with players complaints, downtimes, etc etc etc. Or they will have to restrict the access of a very good game feature because they can't make the system grow as they like.

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