Archive for November, 2009

Is it possible to make an MMO in Torque Game Builder (TGB)?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I hear this asked here and there throughout the Garage Games forums and once in a while in various other game development forums. So what’s the answer?

Honestly I can’t say for sure, but my current project is an MMO(RPG) and I’m using TGB to develop it.  Anyone who has used TGB might be thinking, “That’s suicide!”, but I think its possible and sooner or later (at the rate I develop games, definitely later) I’ll find out for sure!

I know TGB can be used to make quality games, so what more is there to consider in making an MMO?  Besides the sheer size of the project, the biggest thing that comes to mind is networking/data architecture to support thousands and thousands of players.

With that, here are some of the things I’ve already considered:

  • Will TGB’s “turn-based networking” be an obstacle? The networking that comes with TGB was initially referred to as turn-based networking which to me implies that it is kind of slow/laggy, but in reality its more of an RPC-based networking so as long as you don’t need real-time ghosting for something like a twitch-based game, I think TGB may be able to hold its own.
  • Can TGB handle that many concurrent connections? I asked this question a few different ways on the GG forums and the big shots tell me that the only realistic limit is the bandwidth and server hardware.  I guess if they are wrong then by the time I find out for myself it would be way too late to change to a different engine and you’ll surely find me hacking away at TGB source code to try and make it work.
  • Does TGB have DB support? No, but there are some community source code mods that make it pretty painless to add SQLite support and it took me all of a couple hours to get this working. I hate making source code mods to TGB, but this one was definitely worth it… you simply can’t make an MMO without DB support.
  • How much bandwidth will the server need? This is one thing that worries me because its not something that I can easily test.  As far as bandwidth goes, EQLive published EverQuest’s usage years ago as being about 1 KB/s per user download and .25 KB/s upload.  While I’m sure today’s MMOs (WoW, etc) use way more than that, I’m also estimating that my MMO will use quite a bit less than that as it doesn’t require as much information to be sent as often (in theory).  TGB also has a way to ‘tag’ strings between the server and each client such that subsequent sending of the same string gets sent as a tag ID rather than continuing to resend the same string over and over again.  This should cut down on the bandwidth usage.
  • How will I scale up the server as more players join? Most likely I will host the TGB server myself until the beta is underway and then scale up to a VPS or Dedicated server as needed.  The server will need to be Windows based (mostly because that is my development platform).  I also need to be able to scale up quickly in case I get an honorable mention on one of the big gaming news sites, but I also don’t want to break the bank while I’m anxiously waiting for that to happen.

All-in-all I think I’m going to have my hands full for a long time, but I wouldn’t even try this if I didn’t think it was possible.

If you’re considering using TGB or another GG engine to make an MMO, check out this awesome list of discussions on the subject:
http://www.garagegames.com/community/forums/viewthread/84535

Even if you’re not going with TGB, here is a huge list of things to consider when making an MMO:
http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=11656

Turning 30 Sucks

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

So I’m turning 30 in a few days… and I think I’m going through a midlife err..um… third-of-a-life crisis :?

I’m normally very logical and clear minded, but I’ve been very irritable lately (just ask my wife).  On top that, the clarity that I once had seems gone at the moment.  Turning 30 has motivated me to start thinking about what I want to be doing for the next 5 to 10 years and therein lies the confusion…

I have a great job as a software developer, but is that what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?  It wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen… I also don’t think quitting my job and scraping pennies as a wannabe game developer is the best choice either.

A little clarity would go a long way right now, but anyway here are some other things I noticed that suck about turning 30:

  • I can’t eat a pile of really spicy wings anymore… well… I can… and do, but its not worth it the next day (if you know what I mean) :shock:
  • My hair is thinning… not that noticeable to other people, but I can’t help but notice the glimmer of my scalp through my hair when the light hits it a certain way.  I’ve been turning gray since I was 18, but that never bothered me as much as this.
  • I feel like I have no time to do anything outside of work and sleep, and I don’t even have kids yet!
  • Its easier to get hurt and slower to heal.
  • I didn’t make my first million yet… oh, like your goals for turning 30 are so much better! :mad:
  • My memory has been going downhill quick… I’ve got a ton of iphone reminders and post-its everywhere for things I’m supposed to do.
  • There’s only a few years left until the end of the world.

That’s all I got for now… leave some comments and let me know what you think sucks about turning 30!

New Look and Feel for Bantam City Games

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks… The 24 Hour Game Experiment got me thinking about what it would be like to be a full-time game developer.  What would I do first?  What’s most important?  When I thought about it, the first thing I would do is redesign the main website to be more customer friendly and less ‘corporate’ looking.  I also wanted to get a better way to gather newsletter customers.  Lastly, I wanted to get some kind of up-sell system going.  After realizing that these are the first things I would do, I stepped back and said, “Well, why don’t I just do these things now!”  It’s not like they are huge time-consuming tasks like creating an MMO :)

So, I haven’t done the newsletter part or the up-sell part yet, but I’m just about done giving the site a face lift (some of the ToW pages still need to be revamped).  So take a look around the Bantam City Games site and let me know what you think.  For those of you too lazy to click the link and browse around, here’s a screen shot of the main page.

bantamcity

The 24 Hour Game Experiment – Conclusion

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Well… the experiment is over.  I’m sure it comes to no surprise to most of you, that I did not finish the game in time.  I think realistically I would need another 72 man hours to make this game sell-able.  The problem is that it took me about 2 weeks to get in just 24 man hours and by the time I put in another 72 it would be way too late to get the game out for the holiday rush.  Not to mention some of the publishers I’ve contacted say that their queues are already jam-packed for the rest of the year.

With that being said, the project wasn’t a total waste.  Here are my observations:

The Good:

  • I was able to include mouse-controlled game play, splash screens, menu, credits (all with screen transitions and some with final artwork), in 24 man hours.  That’s a huge accomplishment and quite frankly a credit to Torque Game Builder.
  • I think a Christmas-themed game was a good choice from a sell-ability standpoint.  My thought here was that it should be easier sell a ‘less complex’ game when it is properly themed.  I don’t think anyone buys a Christmas game expecting to play it for months and months.
  • I found a really cool site for generic vector graphics that can be reused in games (I found out that not all royalty-free sites have this type of licensing option).  www.VectorStock.com

The Bad:

  • 24 hours is obviously too short a time to finish a game.  I half knew this going in, but ‘The 96 Hour Game Experiment’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it :grin:
  • I started the experiment way too late in the year to get a Christmas-themed game to market (especially with me being extremely part time).
  • I underestimated the amount of time it takes to test the game’s fun factor and throw away parts that aren’t fun and come up with/test new ideas.  This is where I spent the final hours.

The Ugly:

  • Another unfinished project gets put on the shelf :mad: (at least until next year)

Overall, I’m glad I did the experiment and I hope to do another one at some point next year (with more realistic expectations).  This project made me realize how much I really can get done in such a short amount of time and that maybe being a part-timer isn’t the best way to go.  I’ll be putting some serious thought into how I can devote more of my time to game development in the near future.  For now, its back to working on my MMO…

I hope you enjoyed following along with the experiment and decide to stay tuned to see what’s next!