[MUD-Dev] Star Wars Galaxies: 1 character per server

Vincent Archer archer at frmug.org
Mon Jan 13 12:25:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


According to Caliban Tiresias Darklock:

> The defense of your playstyle is reasonably irrelevant. The
> question at issue is more one of whether a game MUST support your
> playstyle, and I would argue that the answer is "no" regardless of
> who you are and what your playstyle is and how many people agree
> with you.
 
> In short, there can and should be games you won't play.

That there can, no doubt.

That there should, it remains in contention.

> It has nothing to do with the database design. Your proposal
> ignores the problem of servers becoming full. When a server is
> full, you can't have another character on it no matter how much
> you pay. This

That's not a problem. Or rather, not the problem you think it is.

Your character storage is either statically fixed, or dynamically
allocated. If fixed, then you might have a character creation pbm.
But, even if you have 100kb of data to store for a character, given
that modern, cheap storage can hold easily 40Gb of data, a server
can store 400,000 characters. That is far in excess of any number of
characters a server will realistically host.

If the storage is dynamic, then your problem will not be a character
you can't create, but the items that you can no longer introduce in
the world.

And even then, you can gauge the "average storage per character".

The same measure holds in both cases. The only time your dynamic
character storage becomes a problem is if you have a central
character store for all the characters of the game, not a store per
server. And in that case, it doesn't matter if the characters are
created on different servers or a single server.

Storage (on disk) is not the limiting factor that decides if the
game must be SCS or MCS.

> Exactly. An MCS server can't support as many players as an SCS
> server, so you need more servers. And that's not an intra-server
> issue at all.

Not for that reason. And not in the real world.

Math does say an SCS server, in the pure theoretical sense, supports
more players. In the way a ZCS (Zero Character Server) supports an
infinite amount of players.

In practice, the limits (for database storage) are not relevant.

> It could be addressed this way if you provided a character
> generator for a PNP RPG. Unfortunately, a *game* also needs to
> provide a world in which the characters adventure. That world also
> takes up storage and database capacity, as well as the talents of
> various content creators, and it is necessarily populated with
> opponents which use storage and database capacity and CPU cycles.

That's the real limit.

A character consume a certain amount of resources:

  - Network bandwidth
  - CPU
  - RAM
  - Disk
  - Content

which differ, whether the character is on-line or off-line.

The real limit in all games ever seen so far is content. Not
network, not CPU, not storage.

Content.

An on-line character consumes content. He needs place to meet with
friends, location to visit, places to adventure and hunt.

That limit defines how many PLAYERS, not characters your server can
support. It does not matter how many character each account has on
the server. By definition, a player will have only one character
on-line at a given time. And if the player is not on-line consuming
content on server A, he'll be on-line consuming content on server B,
which means you've made no savings.

So the real questions that defines how many characters a player may
have on a given server are the following two:

  - What is the ratio of active players to inactive, but regular
  players
  - How much content does an inactive character consume

The first question is statistics, and the numbers I've seen bandied
regularly are 1/5.s, i.e. there's one player on-line at peak time
for 5 regular players.

Note that, if you try to force SCS, you'll be slightly
counterproductive here. In my experience, players tend to play
exclusively on one server; the one they have all their friends on.
If you force, thru SCS, people to play on different servers, then
that ratio will change, and you will see more regular players per
peak active players.

So the big question is:

How much content does an inactive character consume.

And it comes from, guess what...

Housing (which I'll expand to have all world resources exclusively
owned/operated by the character - house, mines, factories, vendor
stalls).

How large is your world for housing.

If your world provide play space for A active players, and housing
space for C characters, then the number of characters a player may
have on a server will be, roughly, equal to

  MCS = C/(5 * A).

That's where you know if your game has to be SCS or can be MCS.

Database storage is a red herring. The issue is not database space,
it's housing space in the game world.

--
	Vincent Archer			Email:	archer at frmug.org

All men are mortal.  Socrates was mortal.  Therefore, all men are Socrates.
							(Woody Allen)

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