Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

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Lapo
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby Lapo » 07 Dec 2018, 15:41

Hi,
I've sent an email regarding the interview I mentioned in a previous post. If you're still up to it let us know.

Cheers
Lapo
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby FireSmartFox » 07 Dec 2018, 18:36

How can I login? After typing some random data it just says ""logging in"
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 24 Feb 2019, 23:33

First, my sincerest apologies to anyone who has contacted me and not received a response. I've been hard at work on this project and am finally ready to show some progress. I am crossing my fingers that once you get to try the tech demo in the coming months that you will understand why I have been down the programming rabbit-hole since early December.

This is about my fourth draft of this post and each previous version I ended up going on and on for paragraphs and paragraphs about things that can wait until a future post. Suffice it to say that this works; I have tried to break it, I have tried to prove the math that I did back in December (when the idea first hit) would never pan out, and so far this works and works well. In fact, it works better than I had expected it to and on a scale that I still need to recalcuate in order to come to terms with how big (as in scale of the game world, not necessarily popularity) it could potentially be.

Image

Gone is the flat Unity terrain, replaced with a procedurally generated planet (this one with a radius of roughly 2.5km). There is a lot of optimization and other work to do on the client and it could definitely use some sprucing up in the aesthetics department, but my focus has been almost entirely on the server as of late. Last night I took a detour and finished work on maintaining floating-point precision client-side, so that all of the space around this planet can be traveled to without issue, regardless of how far the player has traveled since spawning. All spawned remote players and MMOItems take this dynamic origin into account when spawning/moving and so far there have been zero issues; there is nothing to notice when the origin gets moved at all, and if not for my UI helper at the top of the screen, I'd never know it moved. I am able to fly an arc at a distance of 20km, requiring several origin shifts (threshold currently set at 5km for testing purposes), and when I return to where I was, the remote player that was at my starting point is still right where they should be even though the origin has likely moved ~1km from it's original position and moved multiple times getting there; point being, the scene remains happy and well-fed with floats that are well below the 10km accuracy limitations and the player is none-the-wiser - basically a ton of work so that nobody notices I did the work.

MMOItems, particularly how to handle so many, were the tough part. I am still working out just how many I can have per square kilometer of planet surface, and so far what is depicted in the screen below is close to the lowest end of the threshold; I would not at all be surprised to see this number double or triple in size in the coming weeks. A lot of my load-testing to this point has been on the extreme side, in that the server and client are exchanging a lot more data than they need to for what is being represented, so as the world becomes more complex, those extremes that I put in place for load-testing will be optimized, and if things continue the way they have thus far, things will not only even out but they will produce better results than what I am expecting.

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I still have some lingering questions to answer with load-tests, but they are not potential framework-breaking questions like the ones I have already answered for myself. No longer am I asking whether or not the server can handle the traffic, but I'm now calculating just how large I can make the universe and how to find a balance between the size of that universe and the number of players that server can handle. Memory limitations will be key here, and I am approaching this exactly the same way as I did the issue with thousands of MMOItems on a single planet, the latter of which took 4 failed ideas to land on. I'll never claim that this universe will be as big as others, but that's not my goal. It's not easy to work out just how large it will be since the larger I make the universe the more spread out the players are likely to be, which then relieves stress on the server since fewer players need to exchange data with one another... and you can probably see why my head has been spinning for some time now since I am the sole developer for this project and this all rests on my shoulders.

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Almost everything that existed in the original MMO demo still exists, it's just been modified. I can still equip an item, but that item is now a starship pilot's helmet rather than a knight's helm. There is still a class system in place (although it may be abandoned eventually), I've just narrowed things down to a single class for testing. Things I plan to add are harvesting the MMOItem resource deposits that spawn on planets and then crafting things with them, including building a base on a planet and/or modules for your ship. Think of a) that popular space-themed MMO that runs a single universe for all players and combine it with b) that other space-themed game with a massive (non MMO) universe that allows you to land on the surface of planets and you'll probably have a pretty good idea of where I am going to try and take this. I'm sure it sounds a bit nuts but I find I do my best work when traveling at Mach III with my hair on fire skirting the line between what I know works and what looks like it will never work, and this project definitely fits that bill. It has been life-draining, often repetitive to a soul-crushing extent and there were a lot of days where the seeming-futility of it all almost got the best of me, but today I am finally ready to say publicly that it is working, it has been load-tested time and time again, and I can't argue with the numbers anymore - and the numbers say it works better than I had ever hoped, and my experience with both Unity and SmartFox tells me that there are still several areas in which I could optimize code to get the best bang for my buck.

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My next big milestone is to get a tech demo ready and in the hands of some players. This is going to be trickier than it would have been before due to the fact that this project is no longer WebGL compatible - a trade-off I am happily making since WebGL builds are a pain in the backside and often need to optimized so heavily that they no longer represent the final product anyway. Don't expect post-processing, don't expect a flawless framerate (although my dev machine can handle 4 clients without much trouble so I don't think it'll be much of an issue for anyone), and don't expect a lot of depth to what gets put in the first demo, but there will be resource harvesting, warping, crafting, and what-not... just very basic examples of each in order to get some more realistic data as well as some feedback. I promise I'll go into the numbers when we get closer to releasing the tech demo, but for now I've got a lot of work to do on this and it needs to be scheduled around a full-time+ job, so updates may be few and far between for now. I'll go into more detail about everything when I find time and will do my best to put together a gameplay video soon.

PS. Again, my apologies to you Lapo, as well as any forum members who I have unintentionally ignored during the process of reworking this MMO. Let's just say that sometime around the holidays I came to the realization that if I was going to go big, I was going to go all-in. This is my life's work rolled into a ball and it has spawned some of the most rewarding work I have ever done, and watching a remote client streak across my screen like a comet for the first time may have been the highlight of game development career.

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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 25 Mar 2019, 17:48

I am still knee-deep in the process of updating this framework, but I just wanted to let everyone know that we now have a page on IndieDb.com where I will be posting devlogs as often as I can. I've put together a gameplay video but keep in mind that it is not edited and it's fairly difficult for me to record while operating two clients at the same time.

Gameplay vid: https://youtu.be/tvf6qrLxkEM
IndieDB page: https://www.indiedb.com/games/project-vague

I don't get much free time during the week and the majority of it is dedicated to getting a demo ready, but I do have someone on board to play the role of marketing director and I'm very much looking forward to handing over some of the reins.
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby Lapo » 27 Mar 2019, 09:04

Thanks for the update.
The gameplay video looks amazing. I'll be checking the IndieDB article soon too. If you're still up for a mini interview about the project to be posted on our blog we can arrange it via email. Maybe in the next 1-2 weeks, if it's okay with you.

Let us know and keep up the excellent work :)
Lapo

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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 27 Mar 2019, 19:09

Lapo wrote:Thanks for the update.
The gameplay video looks amazing. I'll be checking the IndieDB article soon too. If you're still up for a mini interview about the project to be posted on our blog we can arrange it via email. Maybe in the next 1-2 weeks, if it's okay with you.

Let us know and keep up the excellent work :)


Thank you so much for your continued support of our project. I am 100% still on-board as far as an interview and will try to get responses back to you in a timely manner. Feel free to send the questions any time (if you need my contact email then just let me know).
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby Lapo » 28 Mar 2019, 08:04

Thanks.
We will prepare and send the questions next week. Can I send it to the email used for this forum account?

Cheers
Lapo

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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 30 Mar 2019, 19:00

Lapo wrote:We will prepare and send the questions next week. Can I send it to the email used for this forum account?


Sounds great, I'm looking forward to it. Email I use for this account is perfect. Thanks again.
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 10 Apr 2019, 17:07

Just wanted to share some progress with everyone. After a frustrating weekend of dealing with the crazy math involved with this project, I finally did the thing that I have been avoiding for quite some time and opted to rebuild this project from the ground up. There were a lot of issues that were seemingly caused by lingering code left over form when we switched from a fantasy-themed MMO to the current project. I'll be slowly but surely piecing things back together over the coming weeks.

https://youtu.be/y_muVH0kA5I

Every ship (with the exception of mine) is completely controlled via netcode on our server, which currently resides in France. Considering how well this is working and the fact that my interpolation setup leaves a lot of room for improvement, I can push forward with almost-complete confidence. It also works perfectly for player-controlled remote clients - it's just not possible for me to effectively control two clients at the same time for the sake of a gameplay video. What's important is that each of these AI ships is sending exactly as much data as any player-controlled ship would be sending.

It wasn't an easy decision, but after careful consideration I decided that some delays in progress were worth it if it meant the underlying framework was more efficient, so this is the new project source in its current state. I couldn't be happier with the results that I am getting insofar as the networking side of things, so now the job will be to slowly move pieces of the old project (eg. the UI, character controller, etc) into this new setup while ensuring that nothing impedes networking performance.

Edit: Just wanted to add that there are only two user variables used here, one for the ship type and another for the skin. All transform data is sent/received via extension requests and handled via our custom extension.
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Lapo
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby Lapo » 11 Apr 2019, 07:21

Hi,
thanks for the update. Did you get our email with the questions for the interview?

Cheers
Lapo

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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 11 Apr 2019, 15:11

Lapo wrote:Hi,
thanks for the update. Did you get our email with the questions for the interview?


I did get the questions, but thought it best to hold off on answering them until I was 100% sure we could solve some of our issues. I'll get back to you on the interview as soon as I can.
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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby Lapo » 11 Apr 2019, 16:21

Sure, there's no hurry :)
Lapo

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Re: Project Vague - A Sandbox MMO Adventure

Postby idlepeon » 15 May 2019, 20:46

Just wanted to share a quick update: I am in the process of reworking the overwhelming majority of the game's code from the ground up. I'll likely be live-blogging each Saturday night via our Patreon until I'm done, and our goal now is to work towards a minimum viable product that we can start to share. Part of me thought I would regret this process but I am already feeling like my code base is no longer cumbersome, a state that it reached due to just how much this project changed has since we started on it (note to self: I still need to update the original forum post with new screens/info).

The goal is to get the project back to the state it was when I took the following screenshot, which was captured just before I decided to set aside what I had and consider it proof-of-concept:
Image

Once I hit this milestone, I'll begin progressing forward with new features, focusing on those that are essential to a demo. During this time I will also be in a much better place to answer the questions for our pending interview (thank you for your continued patience) and will likely start piecing together a website with profiles for characters, a newsletter sign-up, and much more.

In the meantime, this has allowed me to spend some time hashing out details for different vehicles, character races, the backstory for the game world itself, etc. We'll also be sharing these details as they are finalized, but for now here are all the vehicles that are currently set to be in the game:
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