Hi there,

I'm generally looking for some advice on how a game could be developed. I have no skills in game development whatsoever at the programming aspect. I do have an idea though that I am writing and drawing and all that jazz for a game that requires massive online play. It's a realm that has high competition and not many people would venture into as a designer without some considerable backing but my idea requires something I haven't seen yet and I don't know if it's possible.

I understand that something like WoW or CoX has dedicated servers running the world that people connect to in real-time and interact. In a similar way, but in a much smaller world, FPS's like Halo and Call of Duty have dedicated servers that match people up and the games run on either the dedicated servers or the xboxs and computers that the players are playing on, the server/xbox being the host.

I understand it in a vague way, sort of, but what I want to know is can this information of kill counts, score, team assortments, etc (all the kinds of information that is transferred and stored between servers and players mediums that require a smooth running FPS game) exist on a larger scale like XBL or online computer servers (more so XBL for lucrative reasons lol), in fact as large a scale of WoW or at least 10x the size of a usual FPS skirmish map? Is this possible commercially or is there just too much information sent? If there is too much information sent, can a gamemap work more like in vicinity to you? So whatever goes on that is near you on the map will be sent to you to be processed on whatever platform you are playing on, rather than sending the whole map's information all the time to you? So if a car explodes 5 in-game miles away it won't lag? Or would several different 'maps' that are seamless be a better idea? So you would have to 'travel' between the maps through a sort of portal into a map that is still playing and you have all the information for to run.

This has to work as fast as an FPS as well, so given the fact there may be sniper rifles, it still needs some range and effectiveness in shooting someone and knowing you shot them and as there will be normal rifles or pistols, they also need to have a reasonable range and effectiveness.

It's a tall order but the idea literally came about when me and a friend were thinking about what's really missing in games today and we're seeing too many loading screens, too many lists to choose from about what fight we're going to have and too many people who dive in and out of games from time to time ruining gameplay for the rest of us who would like to earn our points from claiming the objective. We also want to be able to fight for something more than points, keeping the points in mind but give an objective that could take a couple of weeks to win but still has some mettle doing it.

I'm very protective of the actual idea so I can't really explain much more until I get into later stages of drawing it up, I won't be carrying on with it though if my technological misunderstanding turns out to be exactly that and what I'm asking for is impossible. I don't really design games, I write songs and play many instruments lol this is just a game I'd bloody love to play!

Like you I'm not too sure about the technical side, but I know for a fact this isn't the first time someone has thought of this idea. I remember playing Duke Nukem 3D..before MMOs were popular(or even that known) and I thought how good it would be to make a "big world" for it, where you can take planes etc to get to other contenents. Lol. If it could be done, somebody would have done it. Saying that though, maybe one is in the works, who knows

That is true and I'm sure in that sense I know someone's probably made it too, or at least tried.

I got the idea after playing Fable 3, there aren't any menus in Fable 3, instead your character must interact with everything, at first I found it annoying but now it actually seems to add something to the game, I know where to go for everything and I must actually go there for it.

Imagine if it was like that for an FPS? If you could load into the battle you logged out of last night and carry on the fight of randomly decided objectives to earn you points, automatically decided by time of day and playing habits. This is the MMO element, where you would be told all your 'orders' and then the battle would begin for several hours, not a WoW type interface either or any leveling that makes you stronger, there are none of those RPG elements in it at all, instead the map would be constantly evolving, based on where you live (or where the timezone you wish to play in) and small skirmishes happen, with a safezone for each side (in case a fight is impossible due to many players signing off).

I've noticed the idea could be possible because of how many people play online nowadays, especially if it ever hit the bigger consoles, the online play wouldn't stop due to servers being shut down permanently. I just don't know whether something like an xbox live network could take that step up, considering it already handles alot of people, I'm hoping it can but I can't be sure.

The technological risk is that the game would be actively too large or too long. Each 'world' would have about 4 weeks before it's winner is automatically decided by how many 'territories' have been claimed, if not all and a definitive winner is apparent. Each territory would have 4 states of play depending on the situation, 'neutral', 'friendly', 'enemy' and 'in-conflict'. The important thing to mention is the first 3 states aren't necessary to be 'ever-evolving' as the game would claim to be, only the territories that are being fought over because a claimed or unclaimable territory itself doesn't need to change, there's no war there and you won't need to travel to those maps. The territories that are being fought over, however, are the ones that will need the most computer power to run smoothly, at the worst case scenario, a full front of either side could be maintained and a fight existing over the stretch of the world which could encompass probably a quarter of the total territories. Say out of 20 total territories, your side could be fighting over 5 or 6 ever evolving large maps, or groups of medium sized maps equalling 25 or 30 maps that your console needs to know the information for all the time, at most.

See my dilemma? For this kind of idea to work, I don't know whether a console or any one of our average gaming computers can handle this or if they could with support from the Development side or if the internetwork can provide enough bandwidth to prevent lag? Would it be affordable or potentially require a monthly subscription?

P.S. I do plan quite far ahead, if at least vaguely because it does help to at least address as many of the problems as possible as soon as possible in some way or another

Many good MMORPGs use instancing as a way to create small-scale battles in a large environment. Instancing doesn't necessarily need to teleport players to a separate location -- many new titles just create zones with a set of objectives for each side, and the players can just walk over there. Though I can't think of a first-person shooter (i.e. a game where experience and equipment do not affect gameplay much) that does this well.

I assume that if you typed that much, you have the money to make your idea happen right now. So, a word of advice -- don't approach a large gaming network right now and expect them to jump on your ideas and to give you a ride. The way I see this type of thing play out is -- you get big, and then they approach you because they want your subscribers. Don't get shut out before this sees the light of day.

I must admit I don't necessarily have the money to go all the way like you assume but I do have the resources to make a prototype or at least be taken for that ride by larger game developers.

Like I say, it's a game I'd like to play but I don't really understand the world well enough to be the kind of thing I want to run on my own, me and the crew are a little skeptical of the internet's ability to provide the grounds for the connectivity this game would require and the ones that would program it agree that it is a ridiculously large game but has alot of potential.

To be honest, if anyone here who has experience wants to put forward their own suggestions or their name to add to the workforce, I'd be happy to take you on board and draw up the whole lot, my role in this game if it were to happen is large until it's actually working then I'm not going to be needed, I'll have written the story, developed the concept of play and provided the ground rules and expectations but further than that it's purely a group effort, artwork redrawn and then digitised and voice acting, all that is open to get involved with really. I can write scripts and draw pictures, the actual project leading and development of one as a character would require something I'm not experienced in, except for being a gamer myself.

If it was worth money, I may even consider doing all the legwork to create a working concept before development and have it bought off me for either a small amount of royalty or a larger flat-fee...as long as I'm promised a copy of the game and/or I remain a consultant or story writer, I'd probably be happy with that.

I would suggest you look into an old MMORPG fps game called planet side.

it was exactly as you described in your orignal post. a massive fps game with mmo propaties and objectives dependents on the time of day and how active people are.

so during the day when people at work there are lots of small skirmishs and at night majour battles seige citys and key objectives.

the problem was that the world was to big and combat is so sparse. which why games like cod have smaller maps with player limits.

one way to spread this out is by having instances like someone has allready said but the problem with this is there is a player cap because or some players pc could not take that infomation on screen and even if they could servers capacity will eventaully come into the equation.

why do you think wow has a player cap per a server so the big world pvp events have a player cap esentialy but while hiding it. and the battleground have a player cap to allow the maps to be in proportion to the amount of people on the map.(so they not to big or to small) and so that there is allways some action happerning for people to feel involved and not bored.

talking from a programming point of view there are allways going to be techincal problems which prevent designs from getting carried away its allways going to be the limitation of what games can come out.

also mmo are a massive project to take on for your first game just a hint ;)

if you are wanting to have the maps as big as your saying(25-30 times the normal map size but divided into zones) i would let the server do the computing of what is happening in each zone and not the indiviul machine. just get the players machine/console to get the server to send it X radius around it self and proccess that info.

much simial to how some mmo are doing the stream the game content as you play. eg if the game is not fully downloaded on your pc it will prioratise what is around you first then expand outwards since these are the most likly locations you are going to visit since they are closeist.

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