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#5949
Dsmart
dsmart
Keymaster

THE MMO THAT WASN’T

Hey, remember back in 2012 when they weren’t making an MMO?

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.

Then all of a sudden they totally were? Yeah, me too.

Please read this statement from the website. It’s the most amazing piece of game design horse shit that you could only make up if you were dreaming while high, and your brain was totally disconnected from reality. Here is an excerpt:

In Star Citizen there is going to be one persistent universe server that everyone exists on. So you will never be separated from your friends, and if you want you’ll be able to join up and adventure together, you can. Due to the fidelity of the dogfighting and physics simulation we can’t however handle thousands of players in the same area of space. Even if you had enough internet bandwidth to handle the data going back and forth and a super computer for the server there’s no PC, even with quad SLI that could render that many spaceships with Star Citizen’s fidelity.

So the “magic” of Star Citizen’s multiplayer design is how we combine a persistent universe with a more traditional (and easier to implement) temporary multiplayer “battle” instance.” – Chris Roberts on Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing, Nov 11, 2012

Which is how we get to this, directly from About The Game:

From the mind of Chris Roberts, acclaimed creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer, comes STAR CITIZEN. 100% crowd funded, Star Citizen aims to create a living, breathing science fiction universe with unparalleled immersion… and you’re invited to follow every step of development.

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.

But wait!! Let’s take a trip down the memory lane of bullshit promises, shall we? Trust me, this one is good as a setup…

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. Its pretty likely that Australia will get a local Google Compute data center before this but if not we would spend a little extra time making the backend system game server provider agnostic.” – Chris Roberts, Nov 12, 2014 (Note: In 2016, they had to switch to AWS due to their use of the Lumberyard game engine. I wrote about that)

You know what pattern recognition is, right? Sure you do…

Q: What type of work is being done to increase the server population capacity? Should we expect to see 24 or 32 player instances in the near future?

A: The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY, I think, ah, if you’ve been watching some of the chatter on the recent, ah, PTU RELEASES, and, ah, you know, what’s gonna be in 2.2… eh, it is, ah, gonna be 24 players, so we’ve been working, ah, ah, HARD on sort of optimizing areas so we can sort of scale more, I think I’ve mentioned before that the, you know, the biggest issue that we have is uhm, uh, just the overhead that the ships have because they’re very complicated, they have multiple… items that have all this functionality, they need to talk to each other over the network… they’re attached to SHIPS, a ship isn’t just one entity you know, in the case of a HORNET it can be fifty or sixty, in the case of a BIGGER ship it’s a lot more than… fifty or sixty, so they’re very heavy, ah, sort of PROCESSING WISE and the SERVER in terms of just SIMULATION and also in… in network, um, sort of TRAFFIC…

So, in general, that’s, em, you know, more the limiting… FACTOR which… we’ve been WORKING ON, so we’re… we’re REFACTORING a lot of things to… make it much more, ah, SMART about when it has to UPDATE, ah, and all the other things and that sort of ties into the work that we’ve done in the past on the ZONE SYSTEM, we’re doing sort of a, uh, whatever you wanna call it, a NETWORK LOD and an UPDATE LOD that sort of scopes depending on, you know, whether you can SEE THINGS, how FAR AWAY they are, whether they are ACTIVE, whether it’s another PLAYER, whether it’s relevant to YOU and… so hopefully all that stuff em, you know, helps… increase the load that we can do and we’re doing things like we’re… we’re… you know, pushing more and more into MULTIPLE CORES, more… MULTI-THREADING to, you know, be able to do more… you know… PHYSICS PROCESSING at the same time as we’re doing more sort of entity updating and simulation.

So ehm you know, part of the benef… part of the result of that is moving to more players in, eh, CRUSADER, we’ll continue and we’re expecting to continue to sort of push that over time, eh, to get more and more and uh, you know we’re actually working on… some ah, BACK END SERVER MESH TECH uhm, that will allow us to ah, sort of MESH A LOT MORE… players all in essentially what will be kind of sort of the same, ah, INSTANCE, uhm so but that’s sort of ah, you know a LITTLE further along, but, eh, it’s ahh… yeah, I think EXCITING so I think we’ll be able to DELIVER probably more players than we were thinking originally… in concurrent areas… ah… so… when I think, actually there’s a question about that so… I maybe talk a bit more about it then…” – Chris Roberts, 10 For The Chairman, Feb 29, 2016 (Transcript courtesy of SomethingJones, Goon transcriber)

Remember this interview statement from Erin Roberts?

So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.” – Erin Roberts, Feb 17, 2017

Guess what that “big release” was back then? Yup, you guessed it. That would be what is now the heavily scaled back 3.0 which was totally coming out back in Dec 2016.

I’ve been calling (e.g. here, here) bullshit on this MMO nonsense for over two years now. And you know what? $160M and five years later, NONE of that shit is even implemented. And they can’t even get more than 8 clients playing reasonably well in a single server instance. And they somehow managed to make it worse in the current 3.0.

And just as Chris Roberts claimed above that 128 clients being the theoretical client limit back in 2003 for Freelancer, currently, anything above 12 clients in Star Citizen, is an impossible limit with nothing theoretical about it. Nothing even remotely theoretical about it. Every single client count they cite, when actually reproduced (some have done it, there are videos) by players, has ended up being an absolutely buggy slide-show.

Remember CIG dev, Clive Johnson, from this post he made back in May?

In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader. Matchmaking tries to put you in the same instance as your friends, but beyond that it is luck of the draw which instance you will end up in. However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance.

There quite a few engineering hurdles we need to overcome before this can happen. Server performance needs to improve a lot, so there are several tasks to address this that are either currently underway or in the schedule. This will only get us so far though, and won’t be enough to fill a solar system with players and NPCs. To go further we are going to have to connect multiple servers together in something we’re calling a “server mesh.” Each server will take on the processing load for a region of space, and these regions will adjust their boundaries to best balance that load with their neighbors. You will be able to see (and fire) across the boundary from one server to another, and, as you fly through space, will move seamlessly from one server to another. We will also be able to dynamically add and remove servers to suit the current level of demand. This technology will allow us to scale almost without limit while keeping everyone in the same instance.

The problem we still need to figure out is how to handle everyone heading to the same place at the same time. I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution to that one, so it may require some game mechanic to prevent too many players congregating in the same place.
TL;DR – yes, once all the pieces are in place and the kinks have been worked out, you’ll be able to stalk your prey, and should always be in the same instance.” Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, May 23, 2017

Back when the above post showed up, I had written this extensive article counting all the ways that, Red flags aside, it was all a load of horse shit. Well, this latest post that he made should come as little or no surprise. It’s hilarious even.

You’re right that the networking side of things doesn’t get the spotlight very often – that’s just the nature of the work really. Other teams will often have something that they can visually demonstrate to the community to show their progress, but that’s rarely the case for us. A lot of what we do is under the hood, and for us progress is that the game looks exactly the same but some graph is a bit higher, or a bit lower. It’s important stuff, but not visually compelling. That’s ok, instead we get to say cool things like, “we work in the shadows – like ninjas.”  I think sometimes this lack of visibility can be misinterpreted as secrecy or a lack of progress, but neither of those is the case, and pretty much everything we do is shown in the production schedule. The only things that aren’t in there are those that can’t easily be scheduled like bug fixing. Also sometimes we need to change priorities and the schedule can lag behind a bit.

To give you an update on the specific technologies you asked about:

  • Server meshing – not started yet. Our plan was always to make the single-server experience better and more optimized first. Server meshing is going to build on the technologies we’re creating for single servers, so these all need to be in place before we can start. Also it is going to be challenging and complex work that will need the focus of the whole network programming team, so once we start work on it we don’t want to be fighting a war on two fronts.
  • Network bind/unbind (aka bind culling) – the network side of this is pretty much done. This was a big refactor of how the network code is structured to allow the server to individually control which entities each client knows about and will receive updates for. Previously the code just wasn’t set up like this, but now that refactor is complete. Actually seeing the benefits of this in a pre-alpha release is still a while off though. To avoid clients experiencing loading stalls each time a new planet or ship comes in to view, we’ll need object container streaming, and that’s still being worked on. On top of that, unbinding or streaming out entities on clients is likely to cause a lot of bugs, and it’s going to take time to find and fix them. These bugs will arise anywhere code assumes that an entity will be present on a client. For example consider a mission objective that requires you to talk to Miles Eckhart. To help you find Miles your client needs to render a marker on your HUD to show his current location, but Miles is on a different planet (literally not figuratively) that is currently streamed out on your PC, so it won’t know where to draw the marker. In this situation the client might crash, but even if it didn’t you’d be unable to progress any further with the mission. To end on a more positive note though, things have now progressed to the point where we can start looking for and fixing these bugs.” – Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, Oct 14, 2017

I’m gonna need help from some friends to express my feelings about this one….

Let me summarize this for you. Five years later, they not only have a badly broken mess of a pre-Alpha, with sub-par standard multiplayer, but they haven’t even started with core tech that could possibly form the basis for anything remotely resembling a multiplayer layer for an MMO game. And my guess is that they’re never – ever – going to get there. So there is no way in hell they’re going to ever get an MMO out of this shit-show. Heck, if they get to the part where they ever get 16 players in a server instance playing reasonably well, and as expected, I will personally send Chris Roberts an autographed card.

FYI: Right now, one of the hottest games, PUBG, has server instances with up to 100 players in a single session. And it just works. Not to mention the number of multiplayer games which don’t even consider 32 players a high limit anymore. But Star Citizen, with all this money and supposed talent, can’t get a session based client-server game running with even a 16 player low limit without the server heading South of the border.

Heck, even without having the luxury of time and other people’s money, when we were building Line Of Defense, right from the onset the multiplayer technology was designed to work in either a standard session based client-server model, or as an MMO with client limitations. That took us the better part of over four years to get it right.

This isn’t something you just tack on several years down the road. Don’t take my word for it, read some of these legacy articles (1, 2) if you think that a “multiplayer game” is the same as a “massively multiplayer game”. Heck, go ask the guys working on Dual Universe or Battlespace Infinity if they left the massive multiplayer part for last.

EVOCATI 3.0 PLODS ONWARD

You probably know by now that 3.0 is in Evocati, and the leaks about how horrid it is, keep coming. And even with CIG actively using DMCA to take down videos (though back in 2014 Chris Roberts said they would do no such thing) showing how shit it is, leaks keep coming out. The build isn’t getting any better. And we’re now up to 3.0.0e. With CC2017 around the corner.

Alpha Patch 3.0.0e has been released to the PTU, and is now available for Evocati to test! It is strongly recommended that players delete their USER folder for the Public client after patching, particularly if you start encountering any odd character graphical issues or crash on loading. The USER folder can be found (in default installations) at C:\Program Files\Roberts Space Industries\StarCitizen\LIVE.

Important: Evocati Focus: New patcher, station traversing, ship spawning, StarMap app, quantum travel, landing, air traffic control (atc) system, quantum fuel usage/balance, hydrogen fuel usage/balance, stage 2 afterburner

All the ships are flyable, but the following are the ships that have had the most attention and focus specifically for this wave of Evocati release: Gladius, Hornet Series, Sabre, Vanguard, Constellation Series, Cutlass Black, Caterpillar, Nox, Dragonfly, Prospector, Freelancer, Aurora series

We would like you to focus on the above for this initial wave of testing and bug reports.

NOTE: Other content and features are in and listed in the notes, but currently not the focus of this testing phase as they undergo bug fixes and polish. Additionally, there’s content that is not listed in the notes that are intended for live release and will be added iteratively during the testing cycle.

The issues section is a calamity of hilarity. Most of the items have been in there since the first 3.0 was released on Oct 5th. Remember back when I said if they release 3.0 inside of 4-6 months, the bugs are just going to pile on top of the pre-existing 3000+ currently in 2.6.3 (released back in April 2017)? This was the patch that was totally coming out in Dec 2016.

Major Known Issues:

  • Code 20007/30007 errors
  • All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there.
  • The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
  • Stage 2 afterburner does not work in “atmosphere”

Known Issues:

  • Content missing key elements:
  • User Interface
  • Insurance and Persistence
  • Internal Ship Docking
  • Comm System
  • Bugs, issues, and work arounds (W/A):
  • All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there
  • Sabre has nothing on MFD screens
  • The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
  • Ballistics leave “replace me” textures in Star Marine
  • Some purchasable items at Dumper’s Depot can not be interacted with
  • MobiGlas may occasionally lock your character – W/A: Spamming F1 may recover
  • When interacting with kiosk the mouse can become detached from the UI – W/A: Bring up other mouse cursor with RALT
  • You can make claims on ships that are not lost, destroyed, or damaged
  • Can not remove undersuit on PMA
  • Vehicle customizer app on wrong MobiGlas button and not yet functioning
  • ESP is may not be functioning in all instances
  • Constellation spawns without cargo
  • You are able to sell cargo from a destroyed ship
  • Repaired wings don’t always restore weapons
  • MFD screens do not fit on the panels of the Dragonfly
  • Starfarers and Constellations may float of the pad when spawned or accessed
  • Ground vehicles can not be spawned at ASOP terminals

Now word is that, as CitizenCon 2017 is next Friday, they’ve started working on yet another more stable branch which is rumored to be played at the show. I doubt they will be dumb enough to do that again, following the GamesCon 2017 shit-show. If they have 2.6.3 loaded on the machines they are currently setup for the show, I will be laughing so hard. In fact, it would be truly hilarious for people to have paid to attend CC2017, then get to play 3.0; while other backers who also funded the game, can’t get their hands on it if they’re not in Evocati. But hey, that’s CIG, and they know their core backers are a bunch of fools going through a various aspects of Stockholm’s Syndrome and Sunk Cost Fallacy.

NO, SERIOUSLY, REFUNDS ARE OVER

You were warned. This is completely real. Not going to say anything more about that.

Some people are already headed for small claims court apparently.

If you don’t believe that they’re refusing refunds now because they are low on funds, but because CS staff who have nothing to do with development, are totally working on 3.0 so they don’t have time to look into it, you’re a fool who deserves to be scammed. If the fact that, in those emails they are now citing the TOS, while telling you that you’re not entitled to a refund, don’t serve as a huge Red flag and warning sign, please, by all means, keep giving them money so the Ponzi scheme can keep going that much longer. The end result will be even more hilarious; and we just get to laugh at those guys.