Gameplay Concept - Infinity MMO

Gameplay Concept

Hi everyone,

I am sure the devs already have a clear vision what gameplay will look like, and what is possible with current tech. Nevertheless I want to share my thoughts on gameplay, maybe somebody likes my ideas. :wink:
My suggestions are for a possible Infinity MMO not Battlescape.

First of all I don’t like the idea of permanently destroyed ships and paying insurance. I think by treating ships like throwaway objects it diminishes the experience of owning a ship and upgrading it.
It is incredibly frustrating to loose a ship, this alone makes twitch combat uninteresting to me in a space game. I play Elite Dangerous and the amount of whining about lost ships in their forum is incredible, even with a mainly adult audience. Pvp is also largly non-existent in that game.

Who wants to fight epic space battles if the experience only lasts a minute?

To prevent destroyed ships I thought of a specific battle system.

Let’s say a group of players claim a sun system to mine, trade and expand. To do that they have to erect a space station that defends said system. This space station must be bought with ingame currency (very very expensive) and it is destroyable. If another foreign player enters the system he is instantly killed by the mighty lasers of the station or he can enter and dock on the station (to trade, whatever), this behavior is controlled by the stations owners.

If a group of enemy players want to conquer the system, they have to enter the system as a large group, the enemy players are then placed in an instance with the players that own the station. All other players that may have resided in that system up to that point are evacuated, because the station can’t guarantee their safety ( they are kicked from the server).

The battle starts here!
The reason the entering ships are not destroyed by the mighty lasers is that the lasers are not strong enough to hurt the shields of ships that are backed by a mothership, because during a specific time of day the station is recharging (explanation follows).
This gives station owners the option to only fight at certain day times, lets say 17:00 to 23:00 is possible fighting time (because the stations shields are down to recharge or stuff like that).

To prevent total ship destruction, a group of fighter ships alway come accompanied by a larger mothership.
This mothership is controlled by the commanding player. He can tag enemy players for his fighter pilots to see, so he can prioritize enemies that have to be killed first, and stuff like that.
If the shields of a fighter ship fall below 5%, the ship is instantly teleported into the mothership (this can be explained with the same technology that makes interstellar travel possible). The ship is now docked to the mothership and the shields recharge.
This recharging takes maybe 30 seconds, after that the ship can reenter the battlefield.
The commanding player can prioritize whom of his fighters recharges faster etc…

Of course the recharging of the shields takes a lot of energy, the mothership has a limited amount of energy. If the energy is near empty the mothership has to retreat and the battle is lost. (kind of a ticket system like conquer mode in battlefield)

The players can now destroy the station or hack it, or fun stuff like that.
Because every player only owns one ship and it is virtually undestroyable, it is way more fun upgrading every little part of the ship with better weapons and stuff.

I think that would be a good progression system without levels or grinding. The core gameplay should be battling other players not grinding enough resources for a new ship.
Better weapons and stuff should be achievable by setting up a research system in a space station and mining seldom minerals. This justifies the troubles of setting up a station in the first place.

Also you could makes this all possible with a server system. To set up a space station the group of players must have a private server where all this action happens. Like player owned battlefield servers.
If a player enters the player owned sun system he connects to this player owned server.
Of course if they loose this system the can use their server for a new system. To conquer a system the enemy players must have their own servers ready.
Also battles like that can last hours or days. There could for example be a function for a temporary truce if both parties agree to it. The battle is simply paused and fighting can continue the next day.
To me Infinity: Battlescape would be the first step in this direction.

The core systems and unclaimed systems are not player controlled but with instances, that way players could be grouped together for a more alive experience, the chat (if there is one) could be serverwide, the economy is serverwide too.

If a players shields go below 5% outside of the above described battle instance he is teleported to the nearest station. (like the graveyard in WoW)
There also could be large battles against NPC that work in the same manner but with NPC commanders.
Or just lone NPC enemy/friendly ships you can shoot.

The idea of larges battles between hundreds of players is really cool, but probably not possible with current bandwiths. I know of an experimental game that had a thousand players battling each other, but that involved a lot of trickery and is probably not possible with 6DOF movements.

Please excuse my bad english.
What do you think? I know hardcore gameplay has its merits but I think huge battles over territory would be cool too.
Getting better weapons, more territory and influence, and a fun battle system could really make an addictive gaming experience. Maybe my suggestions are really shit, please feel free to tell me :-).

I thought this too originally. However, I don’t feel that way any more. PvP in Infinity should be realistic, and should represent an actual risk to avoid it simply playing like some arcade-y shooter with no consequences. On the other hand, to avoid issues like those experienced in Elite, ships should be significantly harder to destroy than to merely disable or remove from combat. There should also be some kind of penalty to the attacker for destroying the ship (for instance, making it impossible to loot once destroyed.
This would therefore solve:

I don’t see why combat should be instanced. Also, evicting players from a system because someone’s attacked it is going to be pretty jarring, and it’s also more open for abuse. If the player is ejected into open space they’re now a target for waiting enemies, wherever they turn up. They’d be better off inside the station with all its armour to protect it.

Time-based invulnerability is a kinda sucky experience for anyone wanting to fight another corp.

Private servers are the antithesis of an MMO. Instances are less useful now that MMOs typically get hosted on servers that can handle a significant number of players at the same time, and the content is designed to work in instanceless environments. EVE doesn’t require instances, and Guild Wars 2 only really uses instances for story quests and dungeons and PvP. Planetside 2 also doesn’t use instances (though it has multiple servers), so I don’t see why Infinity should be using them

Thanks for your reply! The reason why I think combat should be instanced is that I believe that servers can’t handle more than say 64 players at a time, at least for twitch combat. World of warcraft only has higher numbers because the updates that are send every time are pretty basic and the rate of the updates is not very fast. In eve online it is even worse, they introduced time dilation so that the game is playable with higher numbers. A battle that normaly would last 30 minutes then lasts 8 hours. This workaround does not work with shooters. Sure numbers higher do work. Planetside or MAG for example, but they are far from thousands of players. Also if a large fleet attacks a system and there is some kind of cap for player numbers the fleet that arrives first will always win because of higher numbers. I would argue that you can’t comprimise with bandwith because the game would be simply unplayable. To my knowledge Elite Dangerous uses peer to peer connections for placing players together, thats why we never see more than 30 players together (if you are lucky and have a very fast connection). The most players at one time I encountered were 4. Thats pretty bad. And they are still heavily instanced. To have 1000 players at one spot every player would have to have glas fiber connections to handle the sheer amount of data send.

Guild wars must use instances. I can’t imagine that every player in a city sees every other player whos currently in the same spot.
There is simply no way to place every player in the same universe and still have a playable game. Multiple servers like planetside are even worse than instances because you cant interact with people that are not on your server.

By evacuating players from the system I thought of teleporting them to the nearest station.

Not beeing able to loot destroyed ships wont stop people from doing it. There is also no smart way of artificially prolonging combat. Reducing weapon damage for example wont stop 3 players from smoking a lone player in a matter of seconds. A shooter where you need to pump you enemy for minutes to kill him would be pretty boring.
Even if this works it still would not solve the issue of losing a significant amount of progress everytime you go into battle. To make battle worthwhile insurance would need to be really really cheap. Otherwise I can’t imagine somebody willing to loose his ship for 4 minutes of combat action.
Wow with permadeath would be the worst thing ever. The gameplay would be like Dayz, no real progress, lots of grieving and replaceable characters.

Having players host instances (player controlled solar systems) would be like giving out server software for battlescape with the option for the players to choose their own location in the universe. All the costs for the servers would be loaded off to the playerbase, and still the servers needed to host the core systems and the unclaimed systems will still be a challenge.

The player operated servers would not be private because every player has the option to log in and die, have battles in a large group or receive permission to enter and trade, explore and the like. Also there could be reserved slots for spy ships that enter the system in a cloaking device to scout the possible battlegrounds.

Sounds legit. Not at all bullshit.

I mean, for a game like Infinity you’d need location in 3x64bits, orientation in 2x32bits, heading vector in 3x32 bits, and 32 bit player ID (assuming less than 4 billion players visible at any given time). To keep things twitchy, you’d want all this information with no more than a 50ms delay (a game like TF2 does work with more than this, but doesn’t feel as smooth).

So that’s… (364+232+3*32+32)x20x1000 = 7680000 bits/second = 7.3Mbit/s for a brute-force approach.

Yes, clearly this sort of internet connection is simply not possible to achieve through a copper cable. Never mind the fact that INovae aren’t planning for more than a few hundred players which was done in PlanetSide over a decade ago, or that methods exist to reduce the bandwidth requirement.

TL;DR

You are objectively and verifiably wrong, but thanks for your input.

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They’re currently looking at hundreds of players vs _hundreds.

But it will largely depend on how good the netcode for the engine is, and how much processing is required server-side as opposed to on the client. It’ll also depend on the quality of the server shards hosting the game as well, which is why EVE have spent an awful lot on reliable infrastructure.

AFAIK, systems won’t be individual instances (in the MMO), so this would be largely irrelevant

See Runiat’s response here, but basically, it largely depends again on how much data you have to send to the server, and how much needs to be sent back.

GW2 has started running superservers since earlier this year (I think). They started encountering problems previously where having players locked to a specific server meant that some servers had difficulties getting sufficient populations to take on world boss events like Tequatl. I don’t quite understand how it technically works, but for PvE you can get away with a lot more by pushing a lot of processing clientside and allowing the client to cope with missed update packets. The superservers also got rid of overflow regions, which were intended to deal with surges in active players higher than their home server could support.

What if that one is under attack? What if that station is being controlled by the attacker? They could then set the station to attack ships when they left the station. Again, the system is open for exploitation.

Of course not, but there’ll be less reward for doing so. Sending people to prison for committing murder doesn’t stop murders, it just makes them a less attractive solution to a problem.

Erm, it might. It might make the difference between being obliterated in seconds and having a chance to do a runner or otherwise evade the attackers.

Sure. But if you’re battling over something, like a system, your objective is to capture that system, not KILL ALL THE THINGS. You only need to wound your enemy sufficiently to make them break off to achieve your objective. You only need to disable an enemy’s engines and weapons to get them to give you loot.

Then don’t go into a battle you don’t think you can win?

But if anything Infinity has more in common with DayZ than with WOW. I kind of don’t understand the argument against permadeath (or for it). In Infinity, you are essentially your character. Their “skills” as a pilot are directly linked to yours. By allowing for the destruction or disablement of ships, you’re encouraging gameplay like Counter-Strike rather than Call of Duty. Rather than having combat being arcade-y and effectively meaningless, you should be punished for dying by losing your ship and some of your valuables. Your insurance should always be enough to at least get you a new basic ship, with more expensive insurance plans potentially to ensure a like-for-like replacement or simply a like model replacement (stock parts, no upgrades)

If you do that, you’ve got a multiplayer game with an interactive lobby with some weird meta-game stitched in, not an MMO.

Also, if you’re going to offer an MMO with a monthly subscription fee (which is still the plan as far as I know), then to also ask that players foot the bill for their own servers to do combat in is frankly taking the piss.

Hey, no need to get upset :-).

To require a continous 7,3 Mbit/s downstream from all players is utopian.
Even a tenth of that would be a struggle for some potential players. A that alone is are only the updates for position, a lot more has to be communicated in a complex multiplayer game.
Also the gameserver has to send this to all clients, the though of that is laughable. Unfortunatly the internet does not work like that. There has to be a downstream for each client, not one for all.

But there are surely never thousands of players in one region. Also the rate of the updates must be much higher for a shooter than a RPG.

Yes hundreds vs hundreds like Planetside 2. Not thousands vs thousands. And the keyword is “aiming”. If you want to have one universe for all players, the maximum of players in a system must be limited or there must be instances.

No I don’t think so, you simply cannot have battles with potentially thousands of players. At least not with the current infrastructure.

The players can be send back to the nearest friendly station.

Thats not how shooter gameplay works. Maybe you never die in a session of counterstrike. Normal players certainly do.
You can either have a space combat simulator, with gameplay that would be incredibly frustating to common players, or you can have a Space MMO with the core gameplay beeing large space battles.
If the penalty of dying is that high, large battles will be a very very rare thing.

This is all observable in Elite Dangerous today. PVP is non-existant. The game is a trading grindfest of the highest magnitude and the replay incentives are low to zero. No sane person will play this as much as a normal MMO with a real progression system.

Um… take it from someone studying computer science – you do not seem to know the various technologies of the internet very well. Such a task is easy – how do you think Netflix streams video? Live broadcasts are sent? Just by using multicast for sending updated player position the server load is decreased enormously.

I do think that 7.3 Mbit/s is high (although I’m far above that, thankfully :smiley: ) for a game, but you forget compression of data (which should work well here) and a whole lot of tricks that game developers have been working on for years.

Multicast works well for video and audio streaming because packet loss is not very important and multicast only works if the internet provider supports it. Generally multicast does not work in multiplayer mmo games. Please study a little more. :wink:

Also multicast is only used in live streams. Like video telephones for hotels and things like that. Netflix is a video on demand service. Meaning that the users request data at whatever times they want. It would only be usefull if people all wanted to watch the same stream at exactly the same time. That isnt compatible with the whole concept of video on demand.

Meaning it would be useful for streaming same data to many clients such as player data in a MMO?

I’m really itching on finding out how this is possible though:

Yes it would be useful for that, unfortunatly it currently doesnt work without special hardware. I was talking in the context of him claiming that streaming services like netflix use it. Which is total bogus. If it were that simple companies would have already done it!!!

Yes, like planetscape which has a maximum of players in one location (this cap is much lower than the actual player numbers on one server). Even planetside 2 never has its maximum of players in one location. These calculations just don’t add up. To support the data rates Runiat calculated, the server would need to handle and upload 7 GB of data every second and players would need a downstream of 7 MB/s (which is near most peoples theoretical dsl modems bandwith limitations). This is all only positioning updates not all else that needs to be communicated!

It has to be player isolation, maybe different strike forces at different locations in the system or some other trick like that…

I suppose it depends on @INovaeFlavien intended meaning of “battle”.

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I agree. Isolation or instances. I prefer the proposed isolation explaination I described in my first post.

Planetside does the same thing. There are hundrets of players on one map but they designed the gameplay in a way that allows for huge battles (which are laggy yes) but makes them rare because the “Squads” or Lone Wolfs aren’t all attacking/defending the same spot.

For me fine. I prefer lag over invisible walls or pararell dimensions though.

But that is exactly what multicast is meant for? Sending the same data to many recipients. Here, take a look.

Um, but they do. Take a look at this section.

Obviously it requires the hardware to support it, but most large ones here in Europe seem to already have it. Plus there are probably many different reasons why no one has used that in a multiplayer setting so far – probably because existing methods are good enough.

Inovae has already tested their network code quite a while ago with the combat prototype. I am confident that they know what they are talking about, unlike either of us. :wink:

Again I wasn’t denying the purpose of multcasting…
You claimed that netflix and other companies that stream content use multicasting, this is complete bogus. It’s bogus because streaming the same data to multiple receivers defeats the purpose of video on demand.

Please read this quote from the link you provided:

While IP multicast has seen some success in each of these areas, multicast services are generally not available to the average end-user.[citation needed] There are two major, related, factors for this lack of widespread deployment. First, forwarding multicast traffic imposes a great deal of protocol complexity on network service providers.[citation needed] Second, core network infrastructure exposes a far greater attack surface, with particular vulnerability to denial-of-service attacks.

No, the reason is the unavaiability to end users and the pitfalls of this technology.

I don’t think that inovae already has finished network code laying around that supports battles between hundreds of players and I never said that hundreds of players are not possible.

Reading peoples posts where they fantazise about space battle between thousands of players with no instancing and no lag is really frustrating though.

Hundreds. I wish they could manage hundreds. And I expect some lag. And yes it’s hard to do but it’s one of the big future selling points of I:BS. I wish all the best for Inovae to find a way to overcome those big network problems.

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Peanuts. I simply posted to state that it was possible and that various technologies exist to solve the problem – any server is capable of handling large data rates, it is what they do. Apart from games there are so many applications that have way more demanding requirements that I believe the difficulty you seem to perceive to be not so difficult – not easy, it never is for various reasons, but doable.

Now, video on demand can obviously not use multicasting, agreed – but the fact remains that they manage to send a multitude of streams of data to millions of users every second. Therefore solutions that are already working must exist. Multicasting was only meant as an example.

You also continuously exaggerate the amount of data that has to be sent. Apart from the positions of objects around the current player, what else must be sent to him? All graphics are only client side (it is all procedural after all, once the seed has been sent no updates required). You’re hardly going to be trading a whole bunch while in a fight (and even if you did the data is insignificant in comparison). And even if you were, that is data that is sent once every few minutes while the user navigates the GUI in between. Hell, just by staggering the rate of data based on distance to the player you can decrease the amount significantly – there is after all no need to update every ship every second. Ships far out can suffer to be updated at a significantly lower rate compared to the ship the player is fighting against.

Look, I’m just going to let it be here. It is obvious we disagree – I think it is possible, you don’t. If everything goes well we’ll see soon who was right based on I:BS. Furthermore the MMO is still years out. Look where we were in terms of internet speed 5 years ago and where we are now. If Infinity the MMO comes out in 5 years (which will not happen, I almost guarantee it), networking speed will again have increased significantly (and also server computation power, and yes I know that Moore’s law is coming to a close, but that doesn’t matter here).

Enjoy your further discussions. :smiley: