The One Man MMO Project
Whenever I tell someone in the games industry what I'm doing, they give me a look. A whole lot of information is packed in that expression: you're crazy, it's never going to work, try something easier, you're wasting your time. Non compos mentis.
This experience doesn't seem to be unique. A couple days ago Dave Toulouse said, "When you have no experience making games and you work on an MMO you avoid telling too many people what you are doing because nobody believe you can pull it off and many will make sure to discourage you from doing it."
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After spending so long on the patcher, I decided I wanted to cherry-pick a few small items off of the todo list this week, knock a bunch of 'em out and have a good sense of accomplishment. That was Monday.
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I needed a way to deliver my game to players, but I have a fundamental problem: the game is really, really big. That means that it is completely impractical for players to download the whole thing in one go, it needs to have a streaming installer.
I did a lot of research on patching and installers over quite a few months. There are so, so many approaches you can take. Windows installer is a great tool, use it if you can. I tried really hard to find an existing solution, but I'm sad to say, I didn't find a solution that would suit my game.
The biggest roadblock to using an existing solution was that I have a lot of files. My test world has around 18,000 files and the full dataset will have many, many more. With that many files, a regular single-file self-installer would be gigantic.
You wouldn't believe how much work adding this one progress bar was!
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I was listening to Chris Hecker's talk No One Knows About Your Game this week and he makes a good point. It is a big risk to not talk about what you're working on and then hope that your press strategy all comes together for the game's release. I haven't talked about my game because I don't like to talk about things that aren't done yet, but that changes today.
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I was hugely disappointed when I learned that the developers of Natural Selection 2 lost $30,000 in credit card charge-back fees on 1,341 Steam keys bought fraudulently via the Humble Store. I had a bit of a warm spot in my heart for The Humble Bundle, but indie devs can't afford to take that kind of hit.
I don't know what sort of arrangement there is between The Humble Bundle guys and the developers, but The Humble Bundle is making good money, I'm really shocked that they haven't spent some of that money on effective fraud prevention.
When choosing a payment processing service for your game, don't just look at the discount rate, make sure you look at what they do to prevent fraud and read the service agreement carefully. Credit card fees can bankrupt you if you aren't careful.
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A while back I put together an audio system which I have been using to play music in the menus. While I had the ability to play any sort of sound, it was kind of inconvenient to use -- each sound had a handle that needed to be managed.
I needed something that would run the audio system and manage things for me. With the number of complaints I've heard from audio folks over the years about the general lack of attention to audio in games, I was surprised by the lack of solid information on what kinds of features you would want in an audio system. I looked around on the web, then went through all the Game Programming Gems books until I found Creating an Audio Scripting System. Quite a few of the ideas I implemented came from that article.
If you're an audio person and there's important stuff I'm missing, or if this is all just wrong, by all means tell me in the comments.
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So that last blog post was picked up by gamasutra.com which was pretty cool. It was tweeted to over 70,000 people, hit the front page of Gamasutra and stayed there for three days, was featured, and made their news feed. I got 15 comments, saw 22 new followers, traffic on the website was 8 times normal the first day (almost 25% of those iDevices!), and it has now settled at twice what it used to be.
Between checking out the comments and web stats, I've been working on a bunch of different things.
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I saw this post on Gamasutra yesterday, and I thought "maybe people wonder what programmers do all day." So here it is.
8:12am Wake up.
8:26 Hug the family goodbye as they head out for the day. Cover head with blankets, not ready to get up yet.
9:02 Roll into the office. Check on onemanmmo.com, then Twitter. Gamestop says that 60% of the people it surveyed wouldn't buy a game console if it wouldn't play used games. Yeah sure.
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Singletons get a bad rap from programmers. Just go do a search for "singleton problem" and read any of the first 100 results. From all the anger you'd think they cause disease, or burn books, but no. They're globals, and programmers hate globals.
The recommended "solution" to the singleton problem is to pass the potential singleton to every class that needs it as a parameter so that you can see it is used in the declaration for the class. It's only one variable, or one parameter to a function call, so what? That's the approach I took for my entity system, dutifully passing it to every class that needed it, and having them store it internally if needed.
The problem that developed is that the ES is the central database of my game and it is used by dozens of different modules. Over time, the standard approach had amounted to a few ugly workarounds, hundreds of lines of code to maintain, tens of thousands of instances of one variable, and hundreds of thousands of function call parameters - every frame.
I'm extremely pragmatic and I've always taken other programmer's grand pronouncements on code purity with a large grain of salt. That was clearly an unacceptable trade-off just to avoid a global. Singletons are tools, use them appropriately.
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Grab Bag - 2014-12-11 00:21:13 (2 comments)
I knew that quadtree template would work better than Facebook ads! I never played Warzone, but I am taking a lot of inspiration from Red Alert 2 and the other games in the C&C oeuvre. You're right, The Imperial Realm::Miranda is awesome and I will ...
Grab Bag - 2014-12-10 17:38:02 (2 comments)
I randomly found your site while searching for implementing quad trees :D
Anyway I cant believe the awesomeness of your game, it seems like command and conquer, tiberian sun, yuri's revenge,red alert2 etc online???
Also reminds me of warzone ...
Enabling NVidia GPUs on Optimus Laptops - 2014-12-03 12:18:32 (2 comments)
This seems somewhat heavy-handed given the documentation, but it does work. I had to modify the popup to tell the user to restart The Imperial Realm::Miranda since this doesn't take effect until the next run. Might make this an installer step at ...
Enabling NVidia GPUs on Optimus Laptops - 2014-12-03 02:45:15 (2 comments)
Wow, did some more testing and even successfully loading NVAPI isn't enough to enable the NVidia card with the 334.75 drivers.
Dates are Hard - 2014-11-16 11:58:48 (3 comments)
Also still following this project.
Hope we can jump into action soon.
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