MMO Design and Technology


02 Apr 2009
MIPTV and the astonishing fact of its relevance to Onteca

blog-for1An industry event that appears to be useful and thought-provoking. Then again we are living in ‘interesting times’, especially for old media. I’m tempted to point out ‘all their base r belong to us’, were that not all a little 1997.

In the meantime, it looks like the ARG horse is still being flogged, Was there ever a point  in time when this particular format was alive, rather than just a seam of digital fake-gold seeded in the internets to lure investors? Thing is, giving life to simulacra is what we do, so maybe the next iteration will go beyond the existing tiny demographic into a mass market or two.

Oh, and they have finally noticed that ‘gaming is a force to be reckoned with‘.  Astonishing, although the speaker admits the old media industry is still sceptical. The guy who posted the article added his own comment, as you will see if you look closely at the following: (http://www.reedmidem.com/mipblog/index.php/2009/04/02/108-arse)

Onteca’s forays into the merging of of gaming and TV have shown plenty of scope for the field. In fact our collaboration with the BBC for the Brainbox Challenge series of games has become a talked-about proto-type of the genre, demonstrating the truly disruptive potential of this approach.

Onteca is going to do  further work in this area. Three of our programmers have just returned from BBC training in MHEG, a language for creating terrestrial interative TV. Under a hundred people in the country can code using this rather useful language.

Good job, though, that we didn’t pursue our plan to create a widget for helping content creators to make interactive TV. As it seems Yahoo had the same idea. Reason why Onteca has a policy of not getting over concerned with IP;  if your idea is any good, someone else is thinking along the same lines anyway.

Still, looks like an entertaining event. Made us hungry for more. Roll on BTween, which is in Liverpool this year.

25 Feb 2009
Liberatis – an early alpha version of an MMO produced by a group of Young People

Onteca is proud to announce the unveiling of a playable Alpha of our Mediabox Project, ‘Liberatis’ (a name thought of by a young person working on the project). This is an MMO created by young people, for young people. It involves some violence, within a Tolkienesque ‘fantasy’ setting, because that is what the young people called for. It is still at an early test stage, but is playable.

Given the theme ‘Freedom’ this is what a group of 14-19 year olds came up with

A screenshot from liberatis

A screenshot from liberatis

Over 50 young people worked for four months to make this game. First the young people planned out an overall story, a premise, a series of characters and detailed paper-based maps and Level Design Documents for each section . Next they had to painstakingly learn the skills they would need: Maya to create the 3D assets; Photoshop to create the mood-boards and textures; the Torque level editor to create landscapes full of trees, mountains, valleys and towns in which the game could be played. Onteca provided support and training at every step.

Onteca then worked on integrating all these elements into a playable game, to the design of the young people and under the direction of their representatives.

Some of the most academically inclined young people on Merseyside worked alongside young people from a local Special School who had learning disabilities. Everyone addressed themselves to the same tasks and were expected to prodice the same results. Sometimes the young people would work alongside each other, sometimes they would split into school and project based groups. Standards were high across the range of schools, with genuine talent and IT ability coming from all groups involved.

Areas worked in were amonst the most economically disadvantaged in the country. That said, the young people who involved themselves in this project were eager, polite and creative. Hopefully, they will learn from being part of the making of Liberatis, and consider a career in the North West’s still healthy Games Industry.

Thanks to all the young people involved, and Onteca hopes you like the game you helped create.

An alpha version of the game is available to download here to install it, just download and run.

if you get an error message mentioning python when running the game on certain versions of vista you will need to run the game as an administrator

02 Feb 2009
Best Free MMO Engine

This one might be a work in progress, kind of a toss up between

tmmokit – www.mmoworkshop.com

This one is really free to use, no royalties at any point.  A bit rough and ready but does work.  Uses Torque as its render client

multiverse – www.multiverse.net

Royalties but no up front fees, the tools are nice but keep crashing for me.  Good in theory but seems to be a bit glacial in its progress.  Uses Ogre as its render client

monumental – www.monumentalgames.com Maybe a different focus for this tech as the two internal projects are not RPGs.  Have had a pile of investment recently so will watch with interest.  Not a lot of community on the site though.

More …. must be but i haven’t found them yet.

29 Jan 2009
Performance in MMO Engines

Generally i can’t find any information about the way in which World of Warcraft is put together, but through some lightweight spying, looking at their jobs page you can see that the whole thing is coded in C++ which must have been a hell of an engineering effort, hence their enormous budget for production.  Obviously C++ is the fastest possible code for raw speed but i don’t fancy we have the budget to go that way.

We are currently using the Tmmokit which will max out at around 200 players per server.  I am keen to move forward incrementally and come upon an interesting article about Eve online (which claims players in the thousands on individual shards).  Eve uses Stackless Python.