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Server software in the box?

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Greyhawk
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Server software in the box?

I was down at my favorite watering hole the other day and ran across a fellow gamer. We talked games for awhile and it turned out his favorite game was Grand Theft Auto. I've never played GTA, but according to him, GTA IV included in the PC box a copy of the server. Apparently the idea was that players could set up their own private server, open it to the public, and people could join them there. Kind of a mini-MMORPG version of GTA IV.

And then Cyclops came along with his ambivalent request for "super villains at level one".

Free association as that thread unfolded brought to mind The Mighty Paladin wanting a game with no levels and nothing but endless street crime to fight.

Pieces began falling into place and I could not help but wonder.

Would it be possible, or even advisable, for Missing Worlds Media to include server software in their boxed product?

Assuming it is both possible and advisable, the server should allow for things like a world with no level progression but full access to power sets. It should also have the ability to use the character creator to create a custom cast of signature NPCs, both heroic and villainous. If possible, it should include map creation software allowing the private server to feature a completely unique map using the same building models with, of course, interior options where appropriate. Door assignment for instanced missions, and so on.

I know. It's crazy. How could MWM hope to profit from this strategy? Well, there are a couple of possibilities. They could sell advertising space for private servers in the main server version of the game. They could forge a link between the private servers and the ingame store at the main server so that people using the private servers would buy consumables and bonus products from the MWM store. They could charge a monthly fee for setting up a private server that would be a percentage of the normal subscription fee. Perhaps they could offer portals between the main Titan City and the private server versions that charged a fee. (Probably too difficult to implement, but it is an idea.)

One thing is certain, if the box included server software and the download did not, then it would provide an extra incentive to buy the box. It would also be the perfect solution to one of their stated goals: preserving access to the game even if MWM itself disappeared.

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Lutan
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As far as I know it was

As far as I know it was already planned to give players access to an empty version of the game which then could be modded and filled with NPCs and missions. And used as a private server. I am not sure though.

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I second that. I don't have a

I second that, Lutan. I don't have a source handy at the moment, but I believe MWM's intention is to give players the ability to run private servers so that CoT doesn't suffer the same fate as CoX in the event of MWM's demise. I can't say whether or not tthe ability to host a private server will exist as part of the CoT distribution at the game's launch though. It'd be great to have a dev deliver a verdict on it if they haven't done so already.

whiteperegrine
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assuming there were private

assuming there were private servers running at the same time as the game proper, it could prove to be interesting. depending on how much players can modify the existing game I honestly believe there could be private "public" servers out there that could eventually rival MWM's own in terms of player population. I could easily see myself checking a few out if it happened.

the biggest down side for allowing this to happen is the fracturing of the player base.

I am also curious that if this were to happen, how do they handle the store items...do the private servers get access to that information? or will it just be the basics and nothing extra? if it is just the basics...and the idea is that they are going this route (giving out the the server info) to ensure that CoT can stay alive after the demise of MWM then I would say they really need to look extremely hard at how they plan to implement a cash store. with a general subscription model...easy peasy to implement as the players already have access to everything...but with a cash store....suddenly things got a lot harder....

Foradain
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I found this:

I found this:

Doctor Tyche wrote:

I think you will like our solution.
Now that I am not on a phone I can go further into details.
If you'd recall in our update on the server technology, we said we were using Unreal's inherent server as our foundation. Those who think about it would realize that the server for Unreal is the client, running in a special headless mode. All we have to do is not remove this feature from the client, and give instructions on how to launch your own client as a server.
I am never one to engage in extra work, so we simply do not plan to remove this feature of the client. Now, running in this mode you will have to load up maps, missions, NPC's all individually, lacking our central watchdog system. None of your own private adventures will reflect in our global statistics, but for those who wish to, yes, the plan is to allow just this.

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Greyhawk
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Foradain wrote:
Foradain wrote:

I found this:
Doctor Tyche wrote:
I think you will like our solution.

Now that I am not on a phone I can go further into details.

If you'd recall in our update on the server technology, we said we were using Unreal's inherent server as our foundation. Those who think about it would realize that the server for Unreal is the client, running in a special headless mode. All we have to do is not remove this feature from the client, and give instructions on how to launch your own client as a server.

I am never one to engage in extra work, so we simply do not plan to remove this feature of the client. Now, running in this mode you will have to load up maps, missions, NPC's all individually, lacking our central watchdog system. None of your own private adventures will reflect in our global statistics, but for those who wish to, yes, the plan is to allow just this.

*wheels turning and light bulbs popping*

This is going to be a very interesting game...

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Gangrel
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There is a downside to

There is a downside to including server software with the game:

You are giving people a reason to NOT pay their subscription fee and to play on their own server.

It is fine where "non" MMO's do this, a lot of the time they are match making servers/small content. And typically you do not have 100 different features all running on server instances.

However, if someone has a powerful enough system out there, enough to keep their pool of friends playing the game, even when the game is running? Yeah, I can see myself go "screw paying MWM the funds, I would rather pay LESS to my friend to keep his server up".

And then there are the client side mods/hacks and what not. Remember, if you give the server out to the players, so that it is enough for them to play the game, then they WILL have a tool in their hands enabling them to introduce hacks/checks into the main game.

It is also yet (another) product that they have to maintain.

They already have several costume creators to maintain (or at least plan to) and then there is the MMO side as well. That is a LOT of work ahead of them...

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Gangrel wrote:
Gangrel wrote:

There is a downside to including server software with the game:
You are giving people a reason to NOT pay their subscription fee and to play on their own server.
It is fine where "non" MMO's do this, a lot of the time they are match making servers/small content. And typically you do not have 100 different features all running on server instances.
However, if someone has a powerful enough system out there, enough to keep their pool of friends playing the game, even when the game is running? Yeah, I can see myself go "screw paying MWM the funds, I would rather pay LESS to my friend to keep his server up".
And then there are the client side mods/hacks and what not. Remember, if you give the server out to the players, so that it is enough for them to play the game, then they WILL have a tool in their hands enabling them to introduce hacks/checks into the main game.
It is also yet (another) product that they have to maintain.
They already have several costume creators to maintain (or at least plan to) and then there is the MMO side as well. That is a LOT of work ahead of them...

If I understood what Doctor Tyche was saying about the Unreal engine there's going to be a fairly thin line drawn between what's considered a "client" for this game and a "server". Basically it sounds like with relatively few modifications a knowledgeable person can switch the operation of the application from being one or the other fairly easily with Unreal.

Now I would agree with you that if MWM made it too easy for anyone to set up their own private CoT servers that some subset of the playerbase would likely "branch off" to play on their own and stop bothering to pay MWM for anything. I don't really know how hard it would be to prevent people from enabling their own servers outside of MWM's control, but if there was a way to stop people from doing it until MWM officially allowed it I'd be fine with that. This would mean the only way to play CoT would be via a traditional connection to MWM's official servers until such time as MWM had to permanently close its operations. Only then would it "let the cat out of the bag" for private servers to allow people to play AFTER MWM was gone.

As far as mods/hacks go MWM will have to worry about preventing people from doing that against the official servers regardless if they let people have their own private servers or not. I have to assume that the only way they'll let you connect and play on one of their servers is via a default "vanilla client" version of the game so being able to easily hack the official servers should remain relatively difficult for most people to do.

Again if they decide to reserve the "nuclear option" (of letting players have access to setting up their own servers only until after MWM is shutdown) then there wouldn't really be a question of "maintaining multiple products" because that scenario would only happen if for some reason MWM was going out of business.

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

Lutan
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On the other hand, people who

On the other hand, people who play on a private server do not cost Missing Worlds Media anything. If thy play locally or host their own servers, that does not put strain on MWM servers. And they would have to buy the game first.

And how many people will really do that? If there was a fully developed game world out there I could play in, with an engaging story and many other people to team up with, I think I would prefer that over having an empty world I have to fill with missions and contend myself.

Lothic
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Lutan wrote:
Lutan wrote:

On the other hand, people who play on a private server do not cost Missing Worlds Media anything. If thy play locally or host their own servers, that does not put strain on MWM servers. And they would have to buy the game first.
And how many people will really do that? If there was a fully developed game world out there I could play in, with an engaging story and many other people to team up with, I think I would prefer that over having an empty world I have to fill with missions and contend myself.

I'll be playing this game regardless if MWM lets us have private servers while the "official" game is still running or not. I might even dabble with a private server for myself if it's allowed, but I fully intend to financially support MWM regardless of whose server I'm playing on. I'm just considering the possible scenario where there's a breaking point of having too many people playing on their private servers (and not paying MWM anything for that after the initial setup) for MWM to continue operating.

Now if there are enough people who would want to play on their private servers but are ALSO willing to occasionally pay MWM for periodic "official" updates then more power to them. I'm just weighing the pros and cons of allowing private servers to operate freely while an official game is also being maintained by MWM. It's a serious question that needs to be addressed.

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

Lutan
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And I thought I throw in a

And I thought I throw in a few pros. People tend to be lazy and I guess it will be hard to outperform a devoted company with dozends of coders, writers and artists.

But you are right it is better to err on the side of caution.

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Depends on how "controlling"

Depends on how "controlling" you want to be of the game itself. Allowing people to set up their own servers is a hedge against a "going out of business" condition similar to what happened to Paragon Studios. It also creates opportunities for applicants to join the Development team to DEMONSTRATE their ideas in ways that can be peer reviewed, without having to fall back on the "Trust me, I know what I'm doing" line of reasoning. That then makes it "easier" for MWM to appeal to a wider range of potential Developers and improve the pool of talent that they're using to produce the game.

Thus it's more of a "sideways" expansion rather than a "vertical" one of creating competitors that will push MWM out of business. It's a move that makes the game Mod Friendly, rather than keeping it a hermetically sealed "walled garden" type of affair. At that point, you're dealing with the difference between open source and closed source when it comes to potential future developments, talents and recruiting for staff.


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There are multiple

There are multiple permutations of this conversation ongoing. The exact implementation has not been decided upon.

The absolute minimum will be the release of a binary with operational instructions when the game/project sunsets. I expect, personally, it will be far more generous.

Lin Chiao Feng
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Another thing to keep in mind

Another thing to keep in mind is that the built-in UE4 "server" (headless client) is really just a LAN-party kind of implementation; it may or may not scale to high (Atlas 33) player counts. Also, I'm guessing that at least part of the rules resolution part of the game (especially the parts that the UE4 client doesn't handle itself at all) might be only implemented on their servers, so a private server would have to replace this or do without somehow.

But this makes me happy on one level at least: should worst come to worst and MWM shuts down at some point, the game can survive, fragmented as may be. This is a much better outcome than CoH got. So long as CoT launches, its worst case outcome will still be far better than CoH's.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

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Lin Chiao Feng wrote:
Lin Chiao Feng wrote:

But this makes me happy on one level at least: should worst come to worst and MWM shuts down at some point, the game can survive, fragmented as may be. This is a much better outcome than CoH got. So long as CoT launches, its worst case outcome will still be far better than CoH's.

And might have Tony host a script on the Titan Network as the main listing of private servers. :}