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Thread: Player numbers | Graphics | Network coding

  1. #1

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    Player numbers | Graphics | Network coding

    This is a suggestion, and treatise of sort to inform the other contributors which follows a somewhat logical reproach;

    Player Numbers
    Currently the number of players on a server is capped at 64. In other words, there isn't even enough room for a single company to form up in full force. Now it is everyone's dream to see full scale battles but that will remain a dream for at least another couple of computer generations. However there are other games which present the player with a large number of other players. Some of these are RPG's (which do range in the 1000's) and 1 other FPS. First I'll discuss why the RPG's are not a viable comparison.

    Foremost an RPG is not an FPS. An MMORPG may have tens of thousands of players online, but they aren't all rendered in at once. The Players will be scattered through the server and the server employs Network Bubble Coding to accommodate them. More on that later. Suffice for now with the notion that only a tiny fraction of the players on the server are actually rendered for your machine, including a relatively small area of the map. Most RPG's have a diagonal view of the map, meaning quite a small part is only ever shown at once. The rest can be left not rendered until the player moves there.

    With an FPS this is different. First, we look over the map, possibly from one end to the other, seeing large portions of it which needs to be rendered in all at once. More importantly however, with this perspective you can also see a lot, most or even all of the other players in your line of sight. This is particularly the case during battles in the open. In other words, an MMORPG can get away with massive numbers because only a fraction is rendered at any one time, while this is not possible with an FPS.

    However there is 1 (yes, ONE) other FPS which is large scale, an MMOFPS and that's PlanetSide 2. PlanetSide 2 features 1000 player servers where three factions battle each other on an open sandbox map (circa 10 by 10 kilometers). There is also organisation in PlanetSide 2 in-game, which allows players to form up in platoons (of 48). It is not uncommon to see battles involving 400 to 600 players over more important regions.

    I believe WoR can learn a lot from PlanetSide 2 when it comes to making the total number of players pretty big. Both from what that game does right and the mistakes they made.

    Graphics
    CryEngine delivers astonishing graphics. However, if you look at the graphics in PlanetSide 2 then one notices it looked prettier back in 2013/14 than it does now. During the beta testing they discovered that the server and the clients simply couldn't cope with the sheer numbers involved. So after that they started toning down the models, textures and particles. In other words they made concessions on how pretty the game looks, in favor of allowing larger player versus player battles to occur.

    The question is thus; is WoR prepared to make the same concessions to reach, say 1000 player servers?

    Network coding
    As with MMORPG's, PlanetSide 2 employs Network Bubble Coding. This mainly by enforcing a limited rendering range; 1 kilometer for all vehicles, 400 meters of all infantry and then scalable by the client for the terrain. These are the standard settings and if enforced just like that could still lead to problems (for instance 2 companies of each side marching up within 400 meters isn't unheard off, that's 400 players rendered = 2 frames per second gameplay).

    What they do is the scale the rendering range of units based on how many there are around the player. So in small battles you may experience the full 1km/400m rendering range. But when the fight is huge and there are more than x number of players around you (say 50 or more within 50 meters) then the rendering range is shortened. The idea is that in such a busy fight you're not going to be occupied with enemies 400 meters away anyway, so it just renders the enemies within 100 meters, 50 meters, 20 meters, etc.

    I believe this to be a good option for WoR but there is a problem:

    Differential Rendering Range
    For a modern shooter with automatic weapons (PlanetSide 2 is sci-fi) simply scaling the rendering range may be enough. But for WoR where battles are rank-and-file you want to be able to observe the entirety of the battlefield, your own formations and those of the enemy within your line of sight, regardless of range. It would be messy if you thought those woods over the field were empty, you march up and suddenly an entire enemy company renders in from thin air and starts shooting.

    Before I continue a word to the Devs, I'm a Unity 5 user so I'm not sure if all the definitions are the same! So please bear with me

    What I propose here is to enforce a maximum rendering range if the player finds themselves among an x number of friendlies and enemies. In any other circumstances it always renders all units within the line of sight but makes heavy use of billboard graphics (2D graphics in place of 3D ones) for anything further away than 100 meters. So;

    • Friendlies < 50 in 50 meters: maximum render range | billboards start at 100 meters.
    • Friendlies > 20 and Enemies > 20 in 50 meters: 300 meter render range | billboards start at 50 meters
    • Friendlies > 50 and Enemies > 50 in 50 meters: 50 meter render range | billboards start at 25 meters


    And tweak from there for the best results in allowing as many people to fight at once on a server. This would make concessions on pretty (billboard graphics are not the same as 3D models) but allows for more players to be rendered at once.

    Client Side Hit Detection
    I'm not sure if the game already has this, but with the numbers I'm aiming for the Server would no longer be capable of calculating all the hit data. This would have to be moved to the client's machine. In PlanetSide 2 this had lead to a phenomenon of "getting clientsided" where an enemy not yet on your screen can kill you, if the lag is hard. But in the slow paced WoR this would not be noticeable.

    With these implementations and the more modern engine the game is running on I'm sure it can support up to 300 players at least, if not 1000 like PlanetSide 2.
    Last edited by JohnDewitt; 10-04-2017 at 04:38 PM.

  2. #2
    WoR-Dev TrustyJam's Avatar
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    Thank you for the thoughts.

    Server cluster techniques used in MMO's or large scale survival games (and to some degree in Planetside 2 as well) will not work in WoR since, as you pointed out, we rely on close formations. Sure, we could get more players in there if we made it so you'd never see the enemy line (because a different server would handle the traffic in their section) but that would defeat the whole purpose of clustering then.

    Planetside is somewhat of an oddity as it is very much relying on clusters but also capable of having high numbers shown in the same one on-screen. They are using very specialized tech (and even so they produce a lot of stuttering/teleporting of players when there is indeed a lot of action going on which, again, is way more acceptable in a free roam environment such as theirs compared to our tight formations).

    In regards to rendering distances of players. We do have several levels of lods - for our skeleton (simpler animations) as well as for our models (less detailed characters).

    The player count continues to be a high priority for us (and I promise we'll go into details (in the not too distant future) regarding our future plans on how to try and increase it).

    - Trusty

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrustyJam View Post
    The player count continues to be a high priority for us (and I promise we'll go into details (in the not too distant future) regarding our future plans on how to try and increase it).

    - Trusty
    Any further update on this News.

    I must say since playing Holdfast with its 150 player count, wow it makes a huge difference with immersion and with the game as a whole. It feels like a battle as opposed to a squabble between to warring families.
    Captain Charles Caldwell

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    WoR-Dev TrustyJam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Caldwell View Post
    Any further update on this News.

    I must say since playing Holdfast with its 150 player count, wow it makes a huge difference with immersion and with the game as a whole. It feels like a battle as opposed to a squabble between to warring families.
    Nope.

    - Trusty

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Caldwell View Post
    Any further update on this News.

    I must say since playing Holdfast with its 150 player count, wow it makes a huge difference with immersion and with the game as a whole. It feels like a battle as opposed to a squabble between to warring families.
    I really don't see a TRUE way to compare the games. I play em both and to me they are not even close to the same. actually after playing WOR it is very hard to stay interested in the very kiddie like holdfast. (now that is just my opinion) I do not mean to degrade holdfast or those who like it. I am only saying it is very much easier a game on all levels.
    All governments, everywhere derived its power by the consent of the people. The government you have is by your own consent. Not by those brave grey dead of one hundred and fifty plus years ago.

  6. #6
    WoR-Dev TrustyJam's Avatar
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    Please stay on-topic.

    We have threads (in the off-topic section I believe) dedicated to discussing other games such as Holdfast.

    - Trusty

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    Out of curiosity, have you guys written your own server back-end or used a networking solution from the marketplace as a base? Also are the servers self-hosted or outsourced? And if outsourced, which host?

  8. #8
    WoR-Dev TrustyJam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDewitt View Post
    Out of curiosity, have you guys written your own server back-end or used a networking solution from the marketplace as a base? Also are the servers self-hosted or outsourced? And if outsourced, which host?
    We're currently using an old sdk package included with the engine (due to the age of the project) although heavily modified - more on that in the future.

    We're using Liquid Web for hosting the alpha servers.

    - Trusty

  9. #9

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    The luxury of actually getting an SDK package for networking is something! Although Unity is now shipping with uNET but that's only cloud based at the moment and the SDK for dedicated hosting is postponed.

    And now I know why my ping is so low. The server is practically in my basement.

    Either way, thanks for the information. If something comes to mind regarding networking I'll be sure to share it.

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