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    Straight talk about MMOs and UDK

    I just read through this entire thread about MMOs and UDK, and how it's impossible, or really highly improbable that anyone could ever possibly make an MMO with UDK.

    I saw a bunch of reasons given to justify this position, and I found many of them lacking...

    A little history here... My drive to create my own MMO started in 1998, when I was playing Ultima Online. I seriously started working on the actual game concepts in 1999. Back then, I barely knew how to do database work with MS Access and VBA. Since then, I have taught myself 7 different programming languages, and got to the point where I have taught programming at the college level.

    I want to make this very clear... I'm not some 16 year old that wants to "make millions with a wow clone" or anything like that. I'm a 35 year old professional, so please treat me as such in replies.

    I am determined to make my game... it's not about making millions, it's about realizing a dream. That said, I fully realize just how much work and effort it will take, and even if it takes another 10 to 15 years to complete, I intend on doing it... with or without UDK.

    The question, to me, is not "should I bother making an MMO or not". This question is already answered, so trying to dissuade me from doing it is pointless... and to be honest, would be rather insulting.

    Yes, I realize that most MMO projects fail. I know WHY they fail, too... It's not because of a lack of experience or knowledge (you can always learn and grow). It's because most MMO developers are trying to make an MMO for the sake of ... well... making an MMO... to make huge money. They have no original ideas (hello "wow clones"). They have no concept of overall game design... they don't understand the full scope of the project, and focus instead on very narrow or shallow aspects of their design, without integrating it all in to the larger picture.

    Most MMO projects don't take the time to DESIGN an actual game before jumping in and trying to make one (hello "WOW clone").

    In the years I've been doing research and trying to get a firm grasp on everything I need to make my dream a reality, I have realized a lot of pieces need to be in place for any single solution... You have client-side needs, and server-side needs, and of course, the networking between them.

    The thing that frustrates me the most is when people start nay-saying the creation of an MMO and in doing so, cite WOW-like qualities that would make it prohibitive to do so.

    "You need to make thousands of quests!"
    ... Uh... what if I don't have a quest system in my game's design?

    "You still need thousands of NPCs!"
    ... Uh... no you don't... quit assuming my game has things in it just because it's an MMO, and you're used to WOW clones.

    Ask yourself this... What kind of assets do you need to create for a single player RPG?

    You need the trees, and rocks, and terrain, and water, and physics, and monsters, and inventory system, and pathfinding, and character models, and items, etc, etc... all of the very same graphical assets you'd need for a small multi-player (like 2-16 users) RPG.

    Now ask yourself this...

    What GRAPHICAL ASSET needs are added by going from a limited number of players, to the whole "massively" multiplayer game?

    NONE! The very same "huge amount of work" that needs to be done for an MMO, on the client side, is the same "huge amount of work" that needs to be done for a single, or small multiplayer, RPG.

    The only real difference is the scale of the world. Instead of a single "adventure island" (that would likely require many levels), you need maybe an entire continent (maybe 10-50x bigger?)... still requiring... many levels.

    If I wanted to have a large SEAMLESS world... and could make it so my small "adventure island" with 10 different levels, could stream together so there's no loading screens... gee, that very same solution is used for the 150 different zones in my large continent! Amazing, eh?

    So when I come here asking "is it possible to do seamless level loading?" The LAST thing I want to hear is "ZOMG, you're making an MMO? Give it up dude, it's a pipe dream!" No! Answer my ******* question rather than making assumptions and presuming to know anything about what I know, or what I'm capable of doing, k? Or, if you don't know the answer to the question... just don't reply. It's simple like that!

    I realize there are a lot of people coming on here asking "is it possible to use UDK to make an MMO?" I realize that it gets annoying to reply to them... and most of the time, your first instinct is to try to "open their eyes" as to how difficult it would be to do so... Trust me, my eyes are wide open.

    I just want answers to my questions about THIS TECHNOLOGY.

    I have worked with Ogre3D, Truevision3D, Axiom (ogre .NET port), Auran Jet (most of you don't even know what that is, I'm sure...) I've investigated Big World Tech, RealmForge (when it first started), and Visual3D engine (what Realmforge turned in to more recently)...

    I've realized the need for middleware to help build the world... I've built my own middleware. I developed a GUI system for TrueVision, I was part of the OgreDotNet development team...

    I've been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it.

    MOST of the past 10 years has been trying to find the right fricking solution to making my game... bouncing from place to place, hearing the same tired old lines from naysayers about how impossible it is to make an MMO.

    I know it's very hard to make an MMO... and ya know what? The HARDEST part seems to be getting people to give straight answers to TECHNOLOGY questions about whatever engine I happen to be looking in to, without hearing about how "Making an MMO is a ton of work, so you're really just wasting your time".

    Now, I've been looking in to UDK for about 2 weeks... working with it, watching tutorial videos, reading documentation, etc. I'm VERY impressed with the rendering technology, the middleware (especially the materials editor believe it or not), and UnrealEd in general.

    What I am NOT impressed with, is the documentation and the community here...

    -- Source Control documentation says NOTHING about Preforce being required, doesn't link to it, etc... I had to figure it out via forum searches.
    -- Most of the documentation assumes a lot of base knowledge before it makes any sense.
    -- I ask about the UI stuff... I get mixed messages about UIScene being phased out, Scaleform becoming the new standard, etc... I mention I don't like flash, and in the back of my mind I'm thinking "this is not the optimal solution for an MMO-type UI"... and I get snarky remarks about not liking flash, and preferring not to use it.

    I read threads on this forum, with people being ******** (to be quite honest), because people ask a question that "could be found with a 'simple search' of the forums and documentation." I'm sorry, but while this may be true, and it may be annoying to have someone ask about something YOU think is simple to find... doesn't mean they were able to find it so easily. It's a classic case of projecting your own experience on to the other person, and expecting them to be as good as you at finding information. Most people don't even KNOW that maybe the "easily found document" that you linked to was already found, read, and understood by the person asking the question... but it didn't answer their question fully, or was not the real question they needed answered.

    BUT... people presume to know what the other person MEANT to ask... so they give a snarky "google it" type of response, and in general just make the whole experience of learning this technology much more frustrating.

    Now, I haven't asked many questions here in the forums... mainly because I actually am quite good at finding information myself (even though it's frustrating to find some stuff... I'd rather find it myself right now, than post a question and wait 12-48 hours for responses.) However, I have also found myself reluctant to ask questions BECAUSE of the snarky "holier than thou" attitude I've seen here, and am used to seeing on ALL of the various rendering engine message boards.

    Anyway...

    THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO KNOW (so far) about UDK, in so far as my needs are concerned, to make my game.

    1) I just learned of this 64 player limit on the server side.
    I have already programmed my own server, complete with MySQL database and custom-built networking code... I'm fully capable of doing it myself... but I don't want to miss out on the Unreal Server's handling of other aspects of the game. I've heard of this DLLBind thing, but I need to know how it works, and if ultimately this 64 player limit is able to be avoided completely.

    2) I need world persistence... thus, I need a server-side database.
    As I mentioned above, I have already made my own server-side database, fully accessible through my own game server app... but if Unreal's Server allows for world persistence of not only character data, but world data as well (like... the world WILL have dynamic trees, which grow, and can be cut down)... objects in the game world itself (someone drops an item, others can see it an pick it up), etc... will I have to roll my own, or is that do-able via Unreal Server?

    3) Client-side level streaming to support a (virtually) limitless world space...
    If you can stream 2 levels together, without a loading screen, you can have 200 on disk and stream them as needed... or 2000.

    Before you go in to the difficulties of creating so many of these levels...
    L3DT (it's a lot like Terragen or world machine) supports tiled heighmap creation... so I can create an entire continent, and split it in to 512x512 tiles (or 256x256, etc)... each of which I can use as the foundation for each "level" in the Unreal engine.

    Imagine a user is in one level, and crosses over some imaginary threshold on the level, and that triggers the level on the nearest edge to start loading...

    I need to know:
    - Is it possible to have multiple levels loaded at once.
    - If so: How many levels can be loaded at once (At least 4 would be the minimum I require, potentially as many as 6 or even 9.)
    --- Don't tell me about how beastly a client computer would need to be to handle it... I just need to know if the engine supports such functionality, and I will work out the system limitations myself.
    - Where can I go to find out how to stream in another level and position it in the world?

    4) As far as UI is concerned... I am VERY concerned about having to use Scaleform. RPG game-play is a TON of interaction with the UI. I would estimate as much as 90% of the gameplay relies on the UI overlay, and not actual interaction with the game world. It's mainly the UI screens that the player interacts with to tell the server what he's doing... the only thing the 3D scene does is act as a presentation layer. The only thing I need to do in the 3D world as far as the user interacting with the world is mouse-picking and movement. Almost all actual commands given to the game are going to be via mouse clicks on a UI screen. Then there's inventory management, etc... all done via the UI. Scaleform seems geared more towards the "informational display hud", than the dynamic UI system required for most RPGs.

    I've already worked with UIScene, and find that I like how it operates... I've been told that UIScene is going away... I want to see the official release from Epic regarding this... I need verification from an official source that Scaleform is going to be the ONLY UI system available in UDK...

    That's all from me for now...

    Serious replies only please?

    #2
    Originally posted by EagleEye View Post
    Serious replies only please?
    Sure, stop telling people you are working on a MMO. Other than the 64-player limit question, all of the rest could (in theory) apply to just about any type of multiplayer client-server game.

    And before anyone else jumps in, a bunch of your questions are answered on the forums already and at least two are on the first index page.

    Good luck, chief.

    Comment


      #3
      "You need to make thousands of quests!"
      ... Uh... what if I don't have a quest system in my game's design?


      So your hero or villian or rock is going to look around at the trees and water?

      "You still need thousands of NPCs!"
      ... Uh... no you don't... quit assuming my game has things in it just because it's an MMO, and you're used to WOW clones.


      Okay, forget WoW. How many individual NPCs do you believe are in Neverwinter Nights, which isn't an MMO but a RPG. Monsters can and usually do count towards the NPC number.

      So when I come here asking "is it possible to do seamless level loading?" The LAST thing I want to hear is "ZOMG, you're making an MMO? Give it up dude, it's a pipe dream!" No! Answer my ******* question rather than making assumptions and presuming to know anything about what I know, or what I'm capable of doing, k? Or, if you don't know the answer to the question... just don't reply. It's simple like that!

      Cursing and using what could only be described as yelling at individuals here is not only bad form it's unprofessional. When people say google something or look it up, they are making an attempt to help you help yourself. As far as seamless level loading I believe that it is indeed a possibility to a point. There is still going to be the possibility of wait time for the transition.

      What I am NOT impressed with, is the documentation and the community here...

      The Documentation here is top notch and laid out so that it's easily understood if you actually read it. The UDN has a wealth of information that people have relied on for over ten years. The community is also some of the most helpful people I've ever seen in game development forums. Sure you have a few bad ones, but overall their are dozens and dozens of them that help with tutorials, videos, and some will even go so far as to talk to you one on one. However, attitude will get you something like zero for nothing. Not to mention a few choice words tossed at you from the otherside of the computer screen.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by EagleEye View Post
        I've already worked with UIScene, and find that I like how it operates... I've been told that UIScene is going away... I want to see the official release from Epic regarding this... I need verification from an official source that Scaleform is going to be the ONLY UI system available in UDK...
        http://forums.epicgames.com/showthread.php?t=724791

        Originally posted by Steve Polge
        Once this integration is fully functional and tested, we will be phasing out our old UI system. This means at some point this year, UDK will no longer have support for the current UE3 UI system. UDK developers who wish to use an interface based on the current UI system will no longer be able to upgrade to newer UDK builds.

        Comment


          #5
          I'm not entirely sure you really understand what it takes to make a game, even serious MMO's that aren't like WoW take a lot of work to make, with experienced professionals and lots of money, it can still take 5 years to develop a game for that. At least if you want it to be good.

          Comment


            #6
            Creating an MMO with the UDK isn't possible.

            1. You need source access to adjust the netcode and DLLBind alone won't be enough.

            2. All MMO's that i know run their own DB Language or SQL.

            3. When im looking at other UE MMO's than i would say yes its possible, but im unsure if its possible with the UDK. But their are some Tutorials about Level-Streaming around here or the internet maybe they can help you.

            4. As already said the old UIScenes will become obsolete in the near future, but Scaleform GFx is the better UI System in any way and if it gets AS3 support then its the ultimate solution for anything.

            + For me it sounds you're going alone on that huge task? If so THAN GET A TEAM otherwise i have to say you will fail.

            Comment


              #7
              If someone told me that they were working on a rocket in their backyard with the intention of going to the moon, I have to admit I would write them off as not being reasonable. I view the attempt to do an MMO as roughly equally complex as creating a rocket and flying to the moon. But that doesn't mean that I`m right, someone could prove me wrong... there was that movie with Billy Bob Thornton after all...

              The thing that saddens me about this is that often times ambition kills real chances in doing something achievable which results in wasting a lot of time finding out whats possible and whats not.

              So instead of saying: don`t do it, I`d rather like to say: do something smaller - but finish it (that part is important), then step up from that. That could even mean building your first gameplay block that you want to have in your mmo. do you have a fight system? good, test it in an arena style game, do you have objectives? good, at that to the arena, etc... see where that gets you.

              Just don't draw plans to build a moon base just yet.

              cheers,
              Chris

              Comment


                #8
                It is possible for one person to create an MMO by themselves. Here is one example: http://www.prairiegames.com/

                That said, this individual is an exception to the rule and had about 6 shipped games under his belt before taking on this task. It's usually wise not to use exceptions to the rule as a basis for making decisions. Just because one guy in the NBA is 5'4" doesn't mean there's hope for all short people who want to play basketball.

                The problem with individuals thinking they can pull off developing an MMO is that they just don't know what they don't know. This task is immense and only 20% to 30% of the size is really game design, etc. The vast majority of complexity is in the server architecture and networking required to pull off an MMO. This involves login servers, game servers, database servers, and many other considerations on the server side. I don't even have time to list all the client/game side issues you need to consider (the big one - accounting for lag). I can understand why it would be fun to try but it's naive to think it can be done by someone who has never actually shipped a game before. Just my 2 cents...

                Comment


                  #9
                  I appreciate the last few replies... a few people who replied evidently didn't bother reading my post (or suffer from reading comprehension problems).

                  I'd like to know where I gave the impression that I was working on this on my own...

                  FYI: I have a team...

                  I have a rather well-known web comic artist on board to do web development. This guy is an artist and PHP/MySQL programmer, whose web comic gets over 10,000 views per day.

                  I have a very talented young lady who does model animating and some 3D modeling. Her face morphing is really good btw...

                  Then there's my art director, Wade. He, and his team of 8 artists (ranging from concept artists to texture artists to modelers, even one shader developer) all work together in person (this portion of the team is all in Kentucky), and have regular meetings. They've worked as a team on other games and projects as well.

                  I am the main programmer and developer, project leader, and overall "big idea" guy that has the entire project coordinated in my head.

                  To the guy that said he doesn't think I know what it takes to make a game... bah, screw off. The last 12 years has been nothing but a learning experience for me in that realm...

                  In any case, it's looking like UDK will not be the optimal solution...

                  I'm putting in an inquiry to BigWorldTech for an indie license... yes, I'm actually willing to pay money every year for a license... and it's looking like my best bet is to go with something specifically built for the MMO type of game, rather than trying to shoe-horn an MMO in to an engine that was designed for a FPS.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Create small awesome indie game based on your "franchise".
                    Sell it, make money, buy UE3 lisence.
                    Then make mmo from the foundation of your small awesome indie game.

                    Warning, this advice coming from someone who thinks session based > persistent. Someone who thinks massive generic worlds are boring and lonesome.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Ultimately, the answer to the above is that it's all probably possible with enough hard-grind.

                      But it's not worthing hacking around it all in UDK when you could build a specialised solution that'd work a thousand times better without UDK.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by EagleEye View Post
                        I appreciate the last few replies... a few people who replied evidently didn't bother reading my post (or suffer from reading comprehension problems).

                        I'd like to know where I gave the impression that I was working on this on my own...

                        FYI: I have a team...

                        I have a rather well-known web comic artist on board to do web development. This guy is an artist and PHP/MySQL programmer, whose web comic gets over 10,000 views per day.

                        I have a very talented young lady who does model animating and some 3D modeling. Her face morphing is really good btw...

                        Then there's my art director, Wade. He, and his team of 8 artists (ranging from concept artists to texture artists to modelers, even one shader developer) all work together in person (this portion of the team is all in Kentucky), and have regular meetings. They've worked as a team on other games and projects as well.

                        I am the main programmer and developer, project leader, and overall "big idea" guy that has the entire project coordinated in my head.

                        To the guy that said he doesn't think I know what it takes to make a game... bah, screw off. The last 12 years has been nothing but a learning experience for me in that realm...

                        In any case, it's looking like UDK will not be the optimal solution...

                        I'm putting in an inquiry to BigWorldTech for an indie license... yes, I'm actually willing to pay money every year for a license... and it's looking like my best bet is to go with something specifically built for the MMO type of game, rather than trying to shoe-horn an MMO in to an engine that was designed for a FPS.
                        You've spent 12 years learning? OK, so what have you accomplished in that time?

                        And again, the amount of people listed is still not enough to make a good MMO, even in 10-15 years

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by darthviper107 View Post
                          You've spent 12 years learning? OK, so what have you accomplished in that time?

                          And again, the amount of people listed is still not enough to make a good MMO, even in 10-15 years
                          Wow dude... you're a ****.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Guys, let's try to keep the discussion civil and productive.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by EagleEye View Post
                              Wow dude... you're a ****.
                              I asked honest questions, and they weren't in any way malicious. If you really want help, and don't want your thread locked you shouldn't be so sensitive about people questioning your ideas.

                              From everything everyone knows, it looks like you can't accomplish your goal based on the information you've given.

                              If you think you can create a game as you describe with the small group you have, explain why. You've said you have been learning for 12 years, what exactly have you learned? In 12 years an artist would have a pretty kick *** portfolio. A programmer would have a few games under their belt. What has 12 years given you?

                              Comment

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