[MUD-Dev] MMORPG/MMOG P2P design

lynx at lynx.purrsia.com lynx at lynx.purrsia.com
Thu Feb 27 14:09:46 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Crosbie Fitch wrote:

>>> Interesting idea, but I wouldn't have thought the nature of the
>>> system's design should that visibly affect the game design.
> Sorry, but 'classic MUD' and 'scarcity' are the last things I have
> in mind.  Perhaps the only things I'm thinking about are
> 'scalable', 'virtual world', and 'entertaining'.

In current MUDs, entertainment is provided by achieving higher
levels-- which is worthwhile because the increasing difficulties of
the game make higher level characters scarcer-- and acquiring prized
items-- which is worthwhile because these items, which are more
powerful, are also scarcer.

If you have a peer-to-peer regime, either you must find some way to
retain scarcity in the face of people willing to adopt not entirely
legal means to achieve what they want, or you must abandon that
particular style of entertainment and find a different kind of game.
Which is what I was trying to get at, by suggesting that the new
currency of a p2p game might be attention.

> Chicken and egg. No implementation without funding. No funding
> without implementation. Perhaps what has to happen first is that
> enough people get a vague suspicion that there might just be
> something in this harebrained notion...  then maybe one day
> someone will provide the funding.

I'm not clear on how exactly you plan to get funding for a system
that would generate no revenue beyond, possibly, box sales so that
people could run the system.  Given that you're dealing with a p2p
regime, you would have to fear that people might very well use p2p
networks to share the files and deprive you of even that revenue

More likely you might be able to persuade people to implement this
together as an academic project.  But this means that you will have
much smaller resources than an MMOG being implemented by a
well-funded company, and therefore your ambitions should be set much
lower than 2 million PCs.

But, supposing you have a revenue model in mind-- say, the P2P
network depends on your company providing trust servers to
arbitrate, and therefore people must pay you to participate in it or
become untrusted individuals-- a proposal with a realistic-sounding
plan for implementing the p2p network and a business case analysis
would go a long way toward helping you secure the funding you want.

Alternately, if this is about 'empowering the people', make it an
open source project and get things started with enough code and a
powerful enough design that others can build on it and will feel
compelled to help, because they share your idealogy.

> If we're talking arbitration then it's not democratic, but
> hierarchial.  As for monolithic, I'd say that every computer
> should run the same software, but otherwise things are pretty
> heterogenous.  As for 'maintenance', the resources of the system
> are provided by whatever amount players feel like contributing.

Arbitration does not imply a hierarchy, but in fact, simply the
existence of another entity who is considered to be neutral.
*Authoritative* arbitration, where the entity is selected from a
class of entities which are accorded that authority, does indeed
have a hierarchy, but the imeplementation of such is a design

A particularly important design decision too, considering you want
this to be a peer-to-peer game.

I disagree that the p2p design requires all computers to run the
same software as well.  You can certainly have them do so, by
bundling all the information for it in every box distributed, but
allowing players to specialize might make things more
efficient. This player has high bandwidth, but not much disk space.
That player has a lot of disk space, but little CPU processing

I've actually pondered p2p game networking for different
applications, and I think that Tribes 2's community bears
examination because you have all these people contributing to the
game in different ways.

> I'd agree to remove the assumption that all players should be able
> to interact with every other player, or at least 'interact with
> equal fidelity'.

Not sure why the quotes here - I don't think I said that, did I?
Nor that players should never be able to interact with every other
player, should they choose to enter the same universe as another
player.  You may be misinterpreting my aim here.

> But 'single, seamless world'?  You don't want this? I suppose that
> one way to solve scalabilty - simply have multiple shards
> instead. End of problem.

No, the purpose of having multiple universes is not for scalability,
though that's certainly a win, but to allow everyone to choose their
own authorities and create their own settings, and for players to
choose what kinds of settings they want to visit and possibly,
contribute to.

In other words, it doesn't make sense for someone to be able to beam
off the Enterprise into the D&D-land, nor to import a character from
one into the other.  And what if you have issues with how someone
decides to portray dragons in their world?  Why should you be bound
to play there, if you can as easily start up another world and try
to recruit staff to contribute to it?

The small P2P graphic MUD could be a very cool discussion subject.
Trying to beat every MMOG out there...  Not so interesting, because
it's just not going to happen on a shoestring budget, and it's hard
to discuss the nitty-gritty details with such a huge canvas.

> However, giving players the burden of having to worry about who to
> trust, and which players should own what content, is too
> great. Players just wanna play. There'll be enough micromanagement
> and politics in the game itself.

Play what?

Gameplay that someone has designed and has implemented, possibly
with the help of others?

With art, stories, and characters that people have designed and
might want to keep restricted to their particular setting, rather
than sharing freely and without recompense with others?

I don't think that players are burdened with the issue of who to
trust and who should own what-- I think that *creators* are burdened
with this issue.  In fact, I think that creators might very well
prefer to choose who should be allowed to publish their work,
whether or not their universe is 'loose' or 'tight' in how freely it
distributes authority for simulating itself.

All these cool games don't just manifest out of empty air, someone
has to do the work.  Let them choose how their game will be

>>   2. Let the worlds of the P2P network be small and
>>   separated. ...
> Hmmmn. Are we 'forced' to co-exist on this planet?

> However, you can have as many different worlds or, more
> accurately, 'universes' as you like. Each universe is a separate
> game.

-- Conrad

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