Some more thoughts on the Persistent Universe and whether or not the game is in fact an MMO. Read more about how I think they’ve partitioned the world to fit within their zones + instancing architecture.
First of all, right now, there is nothing persistent about 2.0. Nothing.
These are the facts:
Chris flat out said it wasn’t an MMO, right off the start.
2012 Kickstarter FAQ: Is Star Citizen an MMO?
No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.
2012 (pre-Kickstarter) RSI website pitch. Navy wings are made of Gold
Star Citizen brings the visceral action of piloting interstellar craft through combat and exploration to a new generation of gamers at a level of fidelity never before seen. At its core Star Citizen is a destination, not a one-off story. It’s a complete universe where any number of adventures can take place, allowing players to decide their own game experience. Pick up jobs as a smuggler, pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, or enlist as a pilot, protecting the borders from outside threats. I’ve always wanted to create one cohesive universe that encompasses everything that made Wing Commander and Privateer / Freelancer special. A huge sandbox with a complex and deep lore allowing players to explore or play in whatever capacity they wish.
Playable offline or online, co-op with friends, you sign up for a tour of duty with the UEE fleet, manning the front lines, protecting settlements from Vanduul warbands.
If you distinguish yourself in combat, you might be invited to join the legendary 42nd Squadron. Much like the French Foreign Legion of old, they can always be found in the toughest areas of operation and always snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, regardless of the odds.
Upon completion of your tour you’ll re-enter the persistent Star Citizen universe with some credits in your pocket and Citizenship to help you make your way. But in the universe of Star Citizen when one conflict ends, another is just around the corner. You’ll have opportunity to spend more time with your squadron mates as additional Campaigns are released as part of the content update plan.
RSI Forum comment Nov 2014 (<— ironic)
We have chosen Google Compute for our initial cloud implementation as we think its the best combination of power, price and flexibility. We are attempting to build a dynamic server system where local nodes can be spun up to handle the hi-fidelity server “instances” in areas that would help reduce the ping for people that are matched together.
Arena Commander is our test bed for this. When you join a multiplayer match you are currently connected to a game server by the matchmaking service. This server eventually will spin up on demand in an appropriate location to the people that the match maker has put together.
In the PU as you travel around a Star System (or jump from one to another) every time you come out of “warp” (or jump) you’ll be handed off to one of these server instances that will be spun up on demand taking into account where the people that have been contextually matched together are playing from. As we’re first prototyping / building on Google Compute this will naturally happen where there are Google Compute data centers. With some extra work we can fold other Linux Server Cloud providers into the matchmaking and server management. But it doesn’t make sense to do this before we’ve even finished the base system on Google Compute. Right now we spin up a fixed number of servers in the Google NA data center for the current multiplayer. One of the ongoing engineering tasks is to make this dynamic based on demand and then at different data centers around the world. Once this happens we would be ready to expand it to other cloud server providers if need be.
Then it became an MMO. Just like that. Why? Probably because the experienced engineers made it clear to Chris (who has no knowledge or experience building MMO games – ever) that his bullshit “dream” couldn’t be built without the architecture of an MMO.
About the game – Experience a first person universe
More than a space combat sim, more than a first person shooter and more than an MMO: Star Citizen is the First Person Universe that will allow for unlimited gameplay.
Then there was this: CHRIS ROBERTS ON MULTIPLAYER, SINGLE PLAYER AND INSTANCING
One thing I don’t like about most MMO structures is the fragmentation of the player base between these “shards”. If you had joined much later than a friend of yours, there may not be room on his world instance anymore and you have to join another parallel one and so cannot play together. This is one of the nice things about the Eve Online design – everyone plays in the same universe.
Despite the above message, it’s precisely what the heck is going on right now in 2.0 and there is no persistence in that PU. None.
And everything you read in that above missive, is pure and utter bullshit. They haven’t built any of it, have no hopes (or the tech) of building it.
And until then, my guess is that it’s going to remain a sharded, instanced world, bereft of anything remotely cohesive, massive, let alone persistent. In other words, a glorified instancing game in which you and a group of friends (12-16 atm) exist in your own pocket universe and doing basic stuff and none of what has been promised in a persistent world.
I think some of the confusion comes with the vocabulary, traditional instances are “copies” of an area which a small subset of players inhabit – reducing things like network lag etc. However this does also limit the player experience as not everyone is truly a part of the same world at the same moment. In our case we would like achieve the highest concurrency we can while still making the game playable. To that end we are approaching instances both in this traditional way as well as working on some newer ideas. If we look at it traditionally, an instance of an “area” like planetary orbit will have a maximum number of player slots, the logic of the Generic Instance Manager (GIM) will handle things like assuring that friends/parties as well as adversaries, factions, skill levels, and other attributes are all taken into account to place people into these instances. This will work in conjunction with a “Galaxy” server which simulates the universe to determine the likelihood of “encounters” or the population currently in orbit of a planet and stages the instances.
To speak to the newer ideas, and your question of “can I see through other instances?”, if you think about an instance as described above than I would say you would not “see” into another instance, it Is essentially a copy of the same area of space (parallel world of sorts) – however this does not mean that an instance is limited to one actual “server”. So for example (these are just example numbers not hard facts) if a server can support 20 people and another 10 people (through GIM or “Galaxy” logic) need to be added to that instance; a 2nd server would be spun up thus allowing a current total of 30 people in that instance shared across 2 servers (a missile object fired by any person in that instance could be seen and interacted with by any other person). This could theoretically be scaled continually, however there will most likely be rendering and network limitations at some point, let’s say that number was 100 players. So you would have 5 “servers” capable of supporting 20 players each make up a single 100 person “instance” – players can seamlessly move from server to server behind the scenes and be unaware.
This is not that same as changing instances though, which could be another set of 5 servers with another 100 people in a copy of that same area. In that specific moment the 100 players in Instance A will not see the 100 players in Instance B, though imagine 2 ships in Instance A and 1 ship from Instance B fly away from that planet towards the same open space, at some point those 3 ships will be “moved” out of their planetary orbit instances and perhaps have an encounter in a Battle Instance that was initiated around them, so you really can’t think of the different “instances” as fixed, they are not like realms, where only a subset of players exist. They are quite fluid and constantly being updated and refined by the GIM and Galaxy services.
On the slightly more technical side, depending on the contents of an instance it could be that it will be scaled differently than another instance, 10 Carriers in a single instance may cap itself to 70 players across 5 servers instead of the 100 in my above example. There are a vast array of metrics that go into determining these things, from both in-game stats as well as hardware wise like cpu and mem limitations. New technologies like containerization and the zoning system will help us spin up servers faster and allow for the seamless backend mentioned.
It is important to note that much of this is in development by many different teams and the final application and usage could vary from this roadmap. While not directly addressing each point you ask hopefully this gives you some insight into the instance system.
And this mixed message is part of the on-going engineering problems they’ve had and is not unlike all the other development missteps whereby stuff gets done, ripped out, redone etc. Rinse. Repeat.
I am going to say it again. There is no way on this God’s Earth that they can build the game they pitched and promised. Not as a sharded instance, nor as a persistent world MMO.
And note that here we are in Nov 2015 and in 2.0 they still can’t get more than 12 clients in any “instance”. For a game that’s supposedly launching in 2016, there is still no evidence of anything persistent about the world. Let alone half the shit they promised.
Thing is, MMOs can be instanced while still be persistent.
For those of you who can’t grasp the concept, here is a well-written and very relevant primers: