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Role Playing (Games) IBM

IBM MMOG Roundtable Rundown 20

Plaguelands has up a rundown on the recent IBM MMOG Roundtable, with speakers such as Steven Reid, Raph Koster, and Geoff Heath putting in their two cents on the growing massive industry. Krones is not shy about voicing his opinions as regards the speakers and their effectiveness. From the article: "Continuing on, despite my subjective disagreement, Steven Reid; Directory of Community Relations NCsoft Europe stepped in after Heath and he pretty much spoke general edification about mmo communities. His presentation was average, not up to the quality of articles seen from community specialist Jessica Mulligan, but I believe he is well qualified in doing what he does and has an excellent head on his shoulders. The defining part of his presentation on community building is that community leaders should be local and native from that community. This is crucial for many reasons... including the most important, cultural differences." Also includes links to streaming media of the event.
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IBM MMOG Roundtable Rundown

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  • The author of the article thinks everybody sucks. Except Raph Koster. Yeah he rules. Also he says that die-hard server nerds will "probably eat this shit up" as far as Patty Fry's presentation is concernced. In conclusion, I think everybody should just watch the thing instead of reading this guy's stuff.
    • Re:To summarize (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Alkaiser ( 114022 )
      This is hilarious considering how badly Koster screwed the pooch on SWG.

      He basically establishes that his model is a complete real-world failure, and yet, people keep inviting him to speak at places.
      • Re:To summarize (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dachannien ( 617929 )
        Apparently, people place value on learning from the mistakes of others.

        • Re:To summarize (Score:2, Interesting)

          by RaphKoster ( 603840 )
          I must say, I have always been fascinated by the different behaviors taken by game fans towards game creators than by fans of other media's relationship to entertainers in other media. Nobody says that Stephen King is a retard because he screwed up an alien invasion novel--I mean, how easy a home run is that? Clearly, we should never listen to a word he says again. Besides, he bears sole responsibility for what he did, it's not like there was a team writing the book.

          I'm not whining or being defensive here-

          • Re:To summarize (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Dachannien ( 617929 )
            I think part of the reason is because there has historically been a channel between MMOG players and developers. Since MMOGs are generally works in progress, players see an opportunity to take part in the design process. Unfortunately, many of those players are motivated only by enhancing their own ease-of-gameplay, even at the expense of other players. Since that goal is pretty much directly opposed to the goal of balance held by the game designers, some players view it as a battle to be fought (a sort
            • Re:To summarize (Score:2, Interesting)

              by RaphKoster ( 603840 )
              I've made the politician comparison myself many many times, so I don't cringe at it at all. :) That tension is interesting, though. We are, in the end, entertainers as well as politicians. Something like the post above is decrying the entertainment value (I think) not the management as such. At least, that's the way I generally read it. I won't pin blame for failings of SWG on the players, nor will I take credit for its many successes (which posters like the above tend to overlook). What's interesting to
            • In a sort of dramatic irony, part of the reason that some of the more ambitious features of SWG fell flat is because the players, driven by greed and the desire to be first at something,

              Damn those players for being human.

              They should be blaming themselves for the failures in SWG's design, instead of blaming the designers. It's really the players' fault tht eliminating "the grind" is probably the biggest challenge in MMOGs.

              Sounds like Sony logic of "it's a beautiful design, it's the user's fault it does
              • Designing these games is a lot like designing the fitness function for a genetic algorithm. You spend some time writing the code, and let it run for a while, only to discover that you have to start over because the GA found a degenerate solution to the fitness function you posed to it.

                The difference is that with MMOGs, there's an outlay of millions of dollars and multiple years involved, and just "starting over" isn't really feasible. Since you can never really know for certain whether you got the game d
  • Pathfinding (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ockegheim ( 808089 )

    On the tech aspect, something I didn't know Koster mentions is that 40% of the cpu processing is utilized on pathfinding. Yes, fuckin' pathfinding. A fuckin' decade, and almost half of the potential processing powers developers are allocated is used to fuckin' pathfinding. And you know what? Pathfinding is a joke, it could use a lot of work.

    I suspect a lot of work has already been done on pathfinding (the optimum legal way for a monster to get from A to B?). An algorithm that delivered a performance bo

    • Re:Pathfinding (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RaphKoster ( 603840 )
      Everybody basically uses A* or variants thereof. The issue is that the environments have gotten more complex (bigger and more detailed graphs to search), the behaviors demanded by consumers have gotten more complex, and there's just plain more AIs to run. BTW, the comment was largely MMO specific. As such, the pathfinding is happening on the server, not on the client computers. You buying a faster computer won't help much. ;)
      • How slowly can the pathfinding be updated and still keep things believable for the player? That seems like an easy way to reduce server load. Are people using other optimization techniques as well, like only searching the local portions of the graph, bounding obstacles with large bounding polygons having few vertices, and such?

        • Re:Pathfinding (Score:2, Informative)

          by RaphKoster ( 603840 )
          The MMO servers I have seen run anywhere from 100ms to 250ms frame times. They all amortize CPU load across multiple frames, of course, to keep player responsiveness as high as possible. So as load increases, AI is usually the first thing to get deprioritized. 250ms seems to be the slowest you really want to run an MMO server at.

          All the optimizations you cited are pretty standard. In addition, there's a lot of preset paths, use of client-side steering (in other words, only making it LOOK like the creature

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