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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Open Sourcing MMOs 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the create-a-new-community-license dept.
The Stropp's World blog has an interesting editorial of the pros and cons for open sourcing MMOs, especially those that have "died." Stropp examines both sides of the issue and makes some compelling arguments. "So, there are some good reasons for a company to open source the game that it is soon to retire, and there are a couple of good reasons against. What to do? If opening up the client is not an option, open up the server code. This would allow the open source community to take the software, install it on a community server and open it up to the fans. Other players might want to grab the source and create their own private servers, perhaps with different rule sets for PvP and the like. The life of the game could be extended for years, supporting a thriving community."
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Open Sourcing MMOs

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  • What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Keruo (771880) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:16PM (#24308305)

    If you open source the game, anyone can read from source how all the quests and puzzles work.
    Kinda defeats the point of playing..

    • People figure all that out anyway. Those who don't find cheating fun can just ignore it.
      • by mweather (1089505)
        You can't ignore the inflation it causes, or the deflation of crafting prices if the quest reward is craftable. A simple gold or item dupe can completely destroy a MMO.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by oahazmatt (868057) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:18PM (#24308355) Journal

      If you open source the game, anyone can read from source how all the quests and puzzles work. Kinda defeats the point of playing..

      Wouldn't it be less of a hassle to read the Player's Guide, if such was your goal?

      • Wouldn't it be less of a hassle to read the Player's Guide, if such was your goal?

        True, but think of your geek cred man!

    • by malkavian (9512)

      Yep, those will be the guys taking up the support.
      Those that just want to play probably won't be reading the source.
      Besides, when was the last time one of the big games didn't have walkthroughs of all the quests within the first couple of weeks anyway?

    • People already have the ability to look up all of the answers to all of a games quests and puzzles online. This would seem to be a non-issue.
    • The same can be said of any game with cheats like Doom or Civ. Just because someone can do what you are suggesting doesn't mean everyone will, or that those who do it will destroy their enjoyment.

    • If you open source the game, anyone can read from source how all the quests and puzzles work. Kinda defeats the point of playing..

      The point is, that people can create different rulesets, puzzles, and quests, then share with others their creations. Extending the life of the game nearly indefinitely. P.S. It's already possible to look at the game databases and learn how the quests work. It's really simple most of the time. Go to X, kill Y, Z times. P.P.S. This information is also available in a quest log of sorts...

      • Absolutely right, it has always made sense to envolve the community of gamers for the long term health and viability of a game. This seems like a great way to do it. I think you would end up with many smaller MMO communties, but many would likely last for a very long time.
        • by rtb61 (674572)

          In reality for MMO's to work and survive over the long term they need to be supported and promoted by ISP's. The benefit for an ISP is keeping off network traffic to a minimum if the MMO is limited to the ISP's own user base.

          Of course all the ISP's can share a part of the continued development of the MMO and the cost would be paid for out of some of the off network traffic savings.

      • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:34PM (#24308665) Homepage Journal
        I agree completely with this. Not impressed by WoW and its artificially slow leveling system, my wife and I tried an unofficial shard server that tendered 10x experience and gold. The game was still too plodding for us to play for long, but it was neat to see some higher level areas with only a marginal investment in time. We each bought a $2 official trial game client at the local games store so Blizzard still got a few bucks for their trouble.

        I really wish I could go out and buy the Auto Assault client (pretty despicable that stores still sell a worthless client to a long dead MMO) and play on a private server somewhere, or better yet, host my own. What could possibly benefit the publisher more than continuing to profit from game a game after the official service has been cancelled? What do they have to lose?
        • by HanClinto (621615)

          What could possibly benefit the publisher more than continuing to profit from game a game after the official service has been cancelled? What do they have to lose?

          Perhaps their packet encryption algorithm. Sure, it usually gets reverse-engineered, but if they have untapped extensibility built in that they could use in a newer game, then keeping their network security layer proprietary can help for future games.

          • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

            by ericrost (1049312) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @03:53PM (#24309859) Homepage Journal

            If their "SUPAR SECRET" network encryption algorithm needs to be "SUPAR SECRET" to be secure, then its not. Security through obscurity != Security.

            • by HanClinto (621615)
              It's never going to be secure as long as you give a somewhat intelligent client for the user to run. The DRM fiascos have taught us this.

              The most an MMO can do is hope to stall the crackers for as long as possible. The only way to make your game secure is to not give the players a client. As soon as you distribute a client, you have no security, and obscurity is all you've got.
              • The best an MMO can do is to keep as much as reasonably possible on the server, on the assumption that the client will be hacked but the server is reasonably safe from the users. In particular
                -the item database and the transaction logic for acquiring and trading stuff
                -the hit and damage calculations. This may be difficult for FPS-type games that require a lot of CPU for ahalfway decent ballistics simulation.

                • by HanClinto (621615)
                  I wasn't just talking about duping items, or making super-hit weapons -- many of the other problems include things like creating bots to grind the game, creating map hacks to display where all of the monsters are (possibly with what loot they have), where hidden players are, hilight hidden trigger points, setting textures or clip buffers to let the player see through walls or around corners, etc. All of these issues that I've listed are very real issues in online games, and unless you want to render each sc
                  • by ericrost (1049312)

                    That's an issue of design not "security". The whole backwards concept of security against the user is what DRM has illustrated very nicely doesn't exist.

                    You can simply design things such that information is only revealed to the client when is appropriate. Any time you start giving the client info that should not be displayed to the user you open yourself up to these hacks.

                    Again, not security, design.

                    • by HanClinto (621615)

                      You can simply design things such that information is only revealed to the client when is appropriate

                      Simply eh? Alright -- tell me how I can "simply" and feasibly make it impossible for a player to peek around a corner in a 3d MMO, or prevent him from seeing through a wall, or make enemies more visible by changing their textures to bright pink. I'd love to know how to do this without calculating the clip buffers for every client with every potential object in the same zone as him (which is of course O-n^2 complexity). I addressed this very thing when I wrote:

                      unless you want to render each screen on the server and stream it to the client as video, you're going to open yourself up to at least some of these attacks being possible

                      I both agree and disagree with you. I agree tha

                    • by ericrost (1049312)

                      Visual hacks can't be avoided. Knowing the loot on the monster certainly could. At the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, I can still spend enough effort and black box engineer a client that looks identical to you. So every piece of data you send me, you send me. Obfuscating it doesn't change that fact. Its in ram somewhere, and will be read.

                      That's exactly my point is that its a design issue not a security one. So there are things you can't avoid. Make the payoff low and it really won't matter.

                    • by HanClinto (621615)
                      By keeping the client closed, you can raise the cost of cracking, and thereby make the cost/benefit payoff ratio of cracking lower. It's all risk ratios, and the ratios are more in favor of the companies if they don't release the source code.

                      I'm not saying that these risks and costs can't be offset by the increase in brand loyalty that such an act of goodwill could create (the way many people are grateful and give respect to id software for GPL'ing their engines when they get old), but I just want to exp
                    • Alright -- tell me how I can "simply" and feasibly make it impossible for a player to peek around a corner in a 3d MMO, or prevent him from seeing through a wall, or make enemies more visible by changing their textures to bright pink. I'd love to know how to do this without calculating the clip buffers for every client with every potential object in the same zone as him (which is of course O-n^2 complexity).

                      Against the wallhacks you'd need a server-side visibility calculation. I guess it could be somewhat s

            • by drsquare (530038)

              If their "SUPAR SECRET" network encryption algorithm needs to be "SUPAR SECRET" to be secure, then its not. Security through obscurity != Security.

              Then I hope you don't obscure your password when people ask for it.

        • by Clovis42 (1229086)

          Not impressed by WoW and its artificially slow leveling system

          Levelling is slow in WoW? I just starting playing, and I've found it to be lightning fast. Besides single player RPGs, I've only played DragonRealms and Tale in the Desert. They both featured insanely slow levelling systems. It took weeks to gain a level in DragonRealms. I was like level 14 in WoW in about 8 hours maybe. I know it will slow down as I go, but I thought that WoW got a bad rap for having a super easy quick leveling system.

          Oh, an

        • Server emulators really only re-create about a 1/10th of the game though.

          I've found none of the spells work properly, none of the encounters work properly (unless you count a boss who either stands there or just auto-attacks working), npc's are missing etc.

          I feel bad for someone who judges the game based on a "private server", however one of the things I discovered setting up my own emulator was just how much game state is controlled by the server - quite a bit it turns out.

      • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

        by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @04:28PM (#24310367)

        It's already possible to look at the game databases and learn how the quests work. It's really simple most of the time. Go to X, kill Y, Z times. P.P.S. This information is also available in a quest log of sorts...

        Everquest I, in particular would be a great counter example. Sure nearly all the quests were documented on the various sites, but the information was often sketchy or even outright wrong. Often it would say 'go to an area and kill everything that moves for a while and eventually the named will pop', but in reality the spawn was triggered elsewhere. Other times, the spawn you were interested in only popped from one particular place, or lots of mobs named X spawned in the area, but only the ones that spawned at (x,y) dropped z. So if you needed 5 z's you could spend hours killing all the mobs named X, until you had 5 z's... or you kill them until you get 1 z, then rush over to (x,y) and kill everything that respawns from that point, and get your 5 z's MUCH MUCH quicker.

        A few quests -were- documented to this degree by people who had done the quest dozens of times, and -really- understood it. But far more quests exist where the sort of information you could get from the source code just isn't available.

        Hell, in everquest, even some of the most basic mechanics weren't well understood for years. For example, whether the mobs spawned with loot, or whether it was generated on their death -- for -YEARS- people swore up and down that they had better drop rates of x if they had y equipped when they killed it.

        This information is also available in a quest log of sorts...

        Another feature EQ1 didn't have. (To its detriment really)

        But there were elements of EQ1 quests that were really quite brilliant -- Its one of the few games that actually required the community come together and solve quests as a group. For one quest you needed two coins -- one on a high stump in a dark forest that was only somewhat safe to enter when the quest was level appropriate... and even then only during the day, the other in at the bottom of a frozen river, where you had to enter a hole in the ice.

        The quest giver gave almost no direction to finding these coins, and a player playing 'solo' really had no chance in hell of ever completing the quest before he had levelled FAR beyond it... unless he communicated/collaborated with other players -- one of whom might have discovered the first coin while levitating through the forest, and another who discovered the 2nd coin exploring under the ice.

        It was truly brilliant when playing it 'back in the day' when those quests were still being solved; sure after it was solved the locations and screenshots of where to go were up on the web, but many of the quests even today are only partially documented. People have reported you can get an X here or a Y there... but often there are much better places to get X's and Y's.

        And any longtime player has lots of insights into the game that simply aren't documented.

        New MMO's have really 'dumbed it down'. In WoW you just run from question mark to question mark on your map.

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          Yeah, EQ was pretty terrible like that.

          AoC does it right, I think. If you have a "find the missing boy" quest, instead of wandering aimlessly through an entire zone, or looking online for spoilers (which is how WoW works), it highlights a circle on your map, so you only have to look around in a restricted area. Makes it much more fun.

    • There are plenty of quest guides out there. If anything, this allows people to change the quests and make them more fun.
    • You could open up the source for the engine etc. and just provide place holder info for quests, as an example of how they may be made, and just keep the actual quest code from the releases.
    • If you make the game engine flexible and put the quests and such in the data, then open-sourcing the code won't give much away.

    • Um, if you can look at the source and see how the quests and puzzles work, you can write your own quests and puzzles and incorporate them into the game. After all, isn't that the point of open source?

    • by AndyG314 (760442)
      for most if not all video games there are online spoilers available. The point is kinda moot.
    • by Carnildo (712617)

      If you open source the game, anyone can read from source how all the quests and puzzles work.
      Kinda defeats the point of playing..

      Do something like Nethack: the source code is available, there are extensive guides, and it's still a difficult game with a great deal to discover.

    • I wouldn't worry so much about the quests as the skills/spells/gear etc.

      If you think people obsessively spreadsheet their min/max now, just wait 'till the code is out there.

      But maybe it wouldn't make much difference, on a popular game people are willing to spend hours and hours experimenting with min/max theories, and come up with pretty overpowered stuff.

    • It would still work for PvP-heavy games like EvE Online. Because the fixed quests/missions are less important. Much of the game dynamics comes from player interaction (to a large part in the form of players trying to take others' territory).

      Not that I think CCP will open source EvE soon... they are still making a nice amount of money as it is.

    • Sounds like you've never played an MMO...

      Services like thottbot [thottbot.com] are what makes the crappy quests tolerable.
    • by agendi (684385)
      Yeah but you might level up your programming skills in the process. :)
    • by vga_init (589198)

      That's not really true because the quest and puzzle data could just be proprietary data/modules/content/whatever that they store on the server and keep separate from the open source implementation of the game. That means anyone can be free to develop free content and create a game of their own based on the free code, which has already been done quite spectacularly with a number of games such as Quake.

  • The sword of 1000 truths is mine!
    • Yeah, well sword of Yx1000 is mine (where Y = your gear).

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Loadmaster (720754)

      Ha, Ha! I parry your sword of 1000 truths and strike back with my Bushian Flail of a billion duhs.

      I really like this idea for an open source MMO. Seems like fertile ground for political/social commentary.

    • by Behrooz (302401)

      The sword of 1000 truths is mine!

      I'd rather have the sword of 1000 dares, based on my teenage experiences.

  • It would be great if Cyan open-sourced Myst Online [mystonline.com]. They are now in the process of resurrecting the game for the second time. Myst Online has a crowd of almost religious followers who would be very happy to be able to keep the servers running after the games final death.

    • by Skrapion (955066)

      Well, they're planning on releasing binaries for the MO server, as well as binaries and source for the content creation tools, so users can create their own content. Cyan will still be running central auth and avatar servers, though, so you don't need to start from scratch on each shard.

      All this and MORE (pun intended) is discussed on the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org].

      • I'm pretty optimistic about what Cyan's doing with MORE. They're moving to a very open model, even though they aren't (probably can't) open-source the actual game code. And for a game like Uru, it seems that community participation in content development is a lot more important than in software development.

        It doesn't seem to be much of a stretch to imagine Cyan eventually open-sourcing most of the game code, and allowing the community to fill in the gaps left by the proprietary libraries they've used. It se

  • by kellyb9 (954229) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:25PM (#24308505)
    Why would they want to extend the life of their game? They want you to buy the new one!
    • Buy a new one? Not really, they want to do just enough to keep you paying that monthly fee. Bringing out new games tend to splinter any established player bases a game might have.
    • by dk90406 (797452)
      And patents. Patents also exist in MMO's. Open Sourcing would potentially give make those worthless (not that I approve of SW patents, mind you).
    • by argent (18001)

      I'm amazed the author of the article didn't have this obvious insight. :)

      Or maybe the whole article is making a rhetorical point?

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @03:23PM (#24309433)
      Who's more likely to buy Doom 4, someone who hasn't played any doom game in decades or someone who still plays doom 1 & 2 regularly using different mods? Communities build up, buzz is generated through the grassroots, if the community's any good it may even grow and spread, which would make your next game even bigger.
      • by vux984 (928602)

        Who's more likely to buy Doom 4, someone who hasn't played any doom game in decades or someone who still plays doom 1 & 2 regularly using different mods? Communities build up, buzz is generated through the grassroots, if the community's any good it may even grow and spread, which would make your next game even bigger.

        Maybe. Maybe not. And once the game is OpenSourced, you can't put it back in the box if it doesn't work out.

        Plus subscription MMOs are different from other games in that most players won't

  • UO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:26PM (#24308519) Homepage Journal

    Didn't they do this with UO?

    Oh, wait, they reverse engineered the protocol, made a ton of implementations of the server, and the game is still played. There was even a new official client version in 2007, according to the Wikipedia page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_Online [wikipedia.org]

    I'd love to play Galaxies or Matrix Online, but I'd never pay for them, just like I never paid for UO, yet played it religiously for three years.

    • Re:UO? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:57PM (#24309053) Homepage Journal

      The question that pops into my mind after reading your post is:

      Would you shop at "Ye Ole' Nike Blacksmith"? Would you venture forth to save Prince Sony? Would you have the intestinal fortitude to sit at an inn with architectural features and iconography identical to that of a Pizza Hut?

      If there were integrated marketing merged into these free games, would you still be willing to play them (for free of course). Knowing that your viewing of integrated advertisement would be offsetting the server side costs?

      -Rick

    • by IdeaMan (216340)

      The open source MMO business model should be similar to Linux.
      A commercial company similar to RedHat can use server fees to fund development of engine improvements which are then contributed back to the open source development. They shouldn't have to contribute back all the artwork or the data sets.

      The biggest problem is resistance based on the perceived lack of cheat detection/prevention. The current thinking on this in commercial MMOs is firmly in the security by obscurity camp, and we all know how thor

    • by Rinisari (521266)

      I should add that I do pay for City of Heroes/Villains at the moment, but I've not played much lately. However, school is done, and now I'll have a lot more time.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:26PM (#24308523) Homepage Journal

    The simple fact is, its volunteer work and as such it is not a priority for those doing it.

    Lets throw in a few other issues.
    1. Differences. It is very hard to have a leader over a project like this in an environment where a dissatisfied group can up and fork their own
    2. Feature creep.
    3. Boring crap. All the graphics needed for the client. This collides with issue #1. Designers want X but available artists deliver Y.
    4. Time, time to deliver something playable isn't quick if they want a lasting product. Linux didn't spring up overnight.
    5. Mindset. Too many would come at it with the mindset that "if only game X did this". Well see #1. Everyone can't agree and many lock into a pattern of wanting to do X because either they liked X or didn't.

    Really I don't see any large scale MMORPG like those given. I can see a contribution based one where the approach is modular like Never ending nights yet that still would require a good deal of client and server work. Yet the base framework could be created to allow people to sub the art in and if the scripting language is good enough to build their own. I am sure there are many examples of this already but it probably comes down to #1 again. Differences.

    • by jeiler (1106393)

      Really I don't see any large scale MMORPG like those given.

      "Large scale" may be over-rated for open sourced, formerly-commercial MMOs. Post-market MMOs are going to be run on a hobby level: very few hobbyists can afford the bandwidth or servers necessary to make a post-market MMO a truly "large-scale" experience.

      If the game will translate to the smaller-scale of the hobbyist, then it's a win-win situation: the players win, because they can keep playing; the company wins with customer goodwill. If it's a game where they can still sell the clients after open-sourci

  • by jfclavette (961511) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:28PM (#24308557)

    I'm willing to bet most MMOs trust the client to some extent, in order to reduce their load. Open Sourcing them might not be such a good idea.

    • by fractic (1178341)
      I believe you are right about this. This would explain why hacks work. They basically change something clientside and then convince the server to accept the change. Clearly not all communications get checked serverside.
    • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:47PM (#24308861)

      I'm willing to bet most MMOs trust the client to some extent, in order to reduce their load. Open Sourcing them might not be such a good idea.

      You massively overestimate the power of security by obscurity and massively underestimate the power of reverse engineering. Just about every instance of server-client gaming where the server trusts the client has resulted in subverted clients to cheat using that trust. Modern MMOs (and any other server-client games) do *not* trust their clients.

      • It's been a couple years since I played EverCrack, but there were definitely tools that allowed you to do things because the server assumed the client was telling the truth. For example, you could instantly warp around to anywhere on a map, even if you couldn't run that fast, even if it was an inaccessible location, etc.

        It also allowed you to see all the mobs in any given zone. Once upon a time, the server even told you what the monsters were carrying, so you knew exactly what to hit to maximize your far
        • No, EQ is not that modern, being over nine years old. The way its client got hacked was an object lesson for those who came later. It is worth noting that EQ was released on March 16, 1999. Before the year was out, ShowEQ was available to hack it. So much for security by not releasing the source code.

      • by Stray7Xi (698337)

        MMO's *DO* trust their clients for some things. Such as movement, where latency can cause serious problems. The servers do put limitations on this however.

        Suppose I have a hacked client and I simulate 2 seconds of packetloss, how far can I travel in one second? I can potentially report to server that during that 2 seconds I was traveling west the whole time or east the whole time. The server realizes 2 second of packetloss is reasonable and trusts the client. Everyone else sees me teleport to the posit

        • Nice example, and some games have far more drastical limitations:
          In Day Of Defeat: Source (a HL2 mod) admins can set a "maximum ping" in the millisecond range.
          I often see messages like "Player X was auto-kicked for breaking the 150 ms latency limit".

    • by vertinox (846076)

      I'm willing to bet most MMOs trust the client to some extent, in order to reduce their load. Open Sourcing them might not be such a good idea.

      Trusting the client is what got Ultima Online into buttloads of trouble in the early days. You don't need open source to hack the client. You just need a smart guy who knows how to read memory dumps and TCP/IP stacks.

  • The only thing they have to lose is in rereleasing the "new" and "improved" version in the future (many people will stow file cabinets worth of stuff in thier basement for 20 years hoping it will be "worth something one day", instead of letting people enjoy it for free). I dunno if they really lose this but certainly most people are terribly nervous about thier IPs being used outside of thier control.

    I can see thier argument to some degree, but once the game is "officially dead" they need to put "need be
  • by Trojan35 (910785) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:46PM (#24308855)

    Because the reasons to play a FPS (most updated graphics, best new gameplay features) aren't the same reasons to play a MMO (building a character, seeing time invested result in virtual properties). The 5-year old MMO can compete very well with recently released MMO's (Warcraft vs AoC).

    This is why MMO's aren't OS'd, and probably won't be.

  • How do you support a website with bandwidth usage comparable to youtube?

    My solution is to let various MMO game apps running on a cluster of servers, and add a subscription and/or advertising to that cluster.

    This would be an extension of having shared forums in a single machine. The owner of the machines doesn't have to deal with game user accounts - that part is controlled by the game masters.

  • by rotide (1015173) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:50PM (#24308937)
    MMO means it is a Massively Multiplayer Online game. Open sourcing would be decentralizing the servers. But that also means that each time you run a new instance, you split the player base. World of Warcraft already does this with Realms, but this is a hardware limitation issue. You can't squeeze 10 million players on one box, the CPU would simply die. But if 100 people want to "keep a game alive" by running their own servers, you now effictively split the populace 100 ways. Stops being Massively Multiplayer really quickly.

    Games such as Quake, Counter-Strike, etc, work just fine because they are meant to be split into 8 or 16 or 32 player chunks. MMO's are meant to be played by literally thousands of players. How do you group for an instance if only 100 people even have accounts? You certainly can't raid. How do you do large scale PvP battles? You can't. How do you have an economy when only 1 person is selling something and the other 5 people don't want it?

    My second point is this..

    BANDWIDTH!

    WoW takes about 2-4KBps per person of bandwidth. Multiply that by lets say a minimum of 100 people we're talking 200-400KBps dedicated and this doesn't allow for growth. Pretty sure my upstream on my home connection is capped at 64KBps. I don't want to think about paying for a business class line to let people play a dying game for free.

    There is a reason MMO's will stay corporate, it takes a lot of money to keep them running. Yes, you can have offshoots, just like people run private WoW servers, but those aren't MMO, they are toys, novelties, something the masses will never join.

    • "Yes, you can have offshoots, just like people run private WoW servers, but those aren't MMO, they are toys, novelties, something the masses will never join."

      I agree this will never work for the "masses", thats one of its greatest strengths in my opinion.
      • by rotide (1015173)
        Then, again, it stops being a Massively Multiplayer Online game. One rich with many quests, group dynamics, PvP, raids, and an economy. Those are all things that pretty much define a good MMO.
        • True the experience would end up much different (certain dynamics would be less viable), but I can see how much fun could still be had with a group of friends and an entire MMO to explore.
    • by evilWurst (96042)

      And yet, I could entirely see people running private WoW servers for a playerbase of just 10... that's perfectly fine if you're not huge into PvP and have some kind of script to populate/simulate the auction house. That's enough for those ten players to each have two accounts (one alliance, one horde) with a few characters on each... basically exactly one guild on each side and that little group of friends explores the world together.

      For many people, it's the huge persistent world full of things to do that

      • by dwarfking (95773)

        Actually it might be possible to make a game explicitly designed for small persistent servers

        Which is what the original Neverwinter Nights from Bioware did. They provided the tools to create your own world, and server code that runs on both Windows and Linux to host it. Servers can set the max number of players.

        For NWN there are hundreds of modules available, and a large community built around creating new content for them (Community Expansion Pack).

        Bioware didn't actually open source the system, but they did document most, if not all, of the content data files which is what allowed the community

      • This can also be especially fun, as the world gets a hell of a lot more dangerous when there are 10 to 100 people in a world designed for a few thousand. I played on some private EQ1 servers for kicks once, and its amazing how spawned full of monsters some zones will get when there is nobody knocking the monsters back down.

    • Unless of course clever OSS hackers decide that a distributed server could work, then all the central server does is compute checksums of the various nodes. Would it be easy? No! Could it work? I don't see why not. Some kind of spanning tree algorithm to tie together those "closest" in the game world, and crippled IRC to handle the chat.
  • I've seen many games thrive on user created content, and it is going to be seen more and more often. Games like Counter-strike started out as a modification of another game (halflife). Now Counter-strike itself has mods. (Mods of a mod if you will) In terms of MMO's, In World Of Warcraft, I don't know any guild that doesn't require several certain add-ons for raiding. The add-ons are of course not made by Blizzard but by the community. Instead of making the game incredibly complex by offering every utili
  • by b4thyme (1120461)
    Wouldn't this make it incredibly easy for bot writers as they would know all of the anti-cheating countermeasures built into the game?

    Not to say that this is a bad idea, I feel that a lot of times MMO companies fail because they do not listen to their users, this would simply be taking it to the next level if implemented well.
  • by Drogo007 (923906) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @03:08PM (#24309227)

    They don't open source old games probably for the exact same reason any large legacy project isn't automatically open sourced - licensing issues. There are probably large swathes of code they don't have the right to release in such a manner. Game companies very rarely write all their own code from the ground up. Instead they take some basic building blocks (graphics engine, sound engine, network engine) and build around that.

    In some cases, they simply take an existing game engine, license it and add their own content. Interestingly enough, one of the few game companies that has a reputation for opening the source on their old games is also one of the few game companies with a reputation for completely rewriting the engine from scratch every time (a.k.a. ID Software)

    Even if you somehow wave your magic wand and make all the licensing issues in the engine code disappear, you're still left with the same issue for art assets: There are often a large number of licensed art assets (textures, music, etc etc) in a game as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jfim (1167051)

      Indeed, a lot of games use third party libraries/middleware, such as Bink, Miles Sound System, Renderware [wikipedia.org], Gamebryo [wikipedia.org] etc.

      It wouldn't be very useful to have the game without those libraries. The middleware systems are usually quite extensive and producing an open source version of those would be quite hard, especially since a lot of games depend on very specific versions and configurations of the actual middleware --- or even modifications to the actual library code! Since the middleware handles pretty much a

  • Worldforge (Score:5, Informative)

    by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:07PM (#24311761) Journal

    There is an Open Source MMO project, launched over ten years ago (I remember it was announced on Slashdot) called WorldForge. It, so far, has failed to really go anywhere. Don't get me wrong, it has stayed alive, and they do have some tech they've built. But nothing that's really much of a game. They've had various things that I would describe as 'prototypes' or 'tech demos' - I check in on them every year or two to see what they have.

          WorldForge has it's developers, but for whatever reason, it never seemed to reach that critical mass where there were a lot of developers, artists, writers, etc who really jumped in and started building a true MMO with it, that I can tell. It's interesting, but for whatever reason, it seems like an MMO is just something that, at least so far, doesn't seem to work well as an Open Source project.

    • Err, forgot to link (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JSBiff (87824)

      WorldForge [worldforge.org]

    • by Ksempac (934247)
      I don't know about WorldForge, but there is another open-source MMORPG which is slowly growing : Planeshift http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlaneShift [wikipedia.org]
    • by broeman (638571)
      The framework of an MMO is not that easy to build: chat (ircd), items db (rendered with good fps, something many MMOs fails), client/server (clusters) ...

      As many gamer nerds, me and some friends are playing with the idea of making our own MMOG, and doing some methodology brainstorming atm. But doing the programming behind it all is a big challenge. Seeing the code from "professional" MMO programmers would be interesting.
      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Well, you might want to take a look at Worldforge [worldforge.org], then. Like I said, they do have some tech, and you're right - there is quite a bit of tech that has to be developed, fairly complicated tech, in order to build an MMO. As far as I can tell, WorldForge looks like it's done a somewhat decent job of creating a game engine for building an MMO, there just doesn't seem to be any actual game that's been created with that Tech yet. Might be a good time for you and your friends to jump in and contribute.

  • Sun has the Darkstar engine which is open source -
    http://projectdarkstar.com/ [projectdarkstar.com]

  • If the company is large enough to create a successful, large MMO, you may be assured that they are exclusively interested in making a profit - no matter what their PR claims.
    Opening their code will not cause profit, probably causes licensing issues, and might distract from their latest game.

    Simple.

  • I don't think it would really be practical to open the source of a dead MMO because of all the non-source assets in such a game: the art assets (textures, models, sounds, music, etc.). Plus, any open MMO will have rampant cheating, which will kill any real interest that a larger community may have.

    I think the best thing that can happen to a dead MMO, meaning after they have pulled the plug and shut down the servers, is to release the server software to the public. Not the source, mind you, but the softw

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