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, as many of the most significant and potentially rewarding game experiences are events which require large and coordinated teams to complete. Most MMOGs also share other characteristics that make them different from other multiplayer online games. MMOGs host a large number of players in a single game world, and all of those players can interact with each other at any given time. Popular MMOGs might have thousands of players online at any given time, usually on company owned servers. Non-MMOGs, such as Battlefield 1942 or Half-Life usually have fewer than 50 players online (per server) and are usually played on private servers.
Also, MMOGs usually do not have any significant mods since the game must work on company servers. There is some debate if a high head-count is a requirement to be an MMOG. Some say that it is the size of the game world and its capability to support a large number of players that should matter.
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For example, despite technology and content constraints, most MMOGs can fit up to a few thousand players on a single game server at a time. To support all those players, MMOGs need large-scale game worlds, and servers to connect players to those worlds. Some games have all of their servers connected so all players are connected in a shared universe.
Others have copies of their starting game world put on different servers, called “shards”, for a sharded universe. Shards got their name from Ultima Online, where in the story, the shards of Mondain’s gem created the duplicate worlds.
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Still others will only use one part of the universe at any time. For example, Tribes (which is not an MMOG) comes with a number of large maps, which are played in rotation (one at a time). In contrast, the similar title PlanetSide allows all map-like areas of the game to be reached via flying, driving, or teleporting. MMORPGs usually have sharded universes, as they provide the most flexible solution to the server load problem, but not always.
For example, the space simulation Eve Online uses only one large cluster server peaking at over 60,000 simultaneous players. It is challenging to develop the database engines that are needed to run a successful MMOG with millions of players.
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 Many developers have created their own, but attempts have been made to create middleware, software that would help game developers concentrate on their games more than technical aspects. One such piece of middleware is called BigWorld.
An early, successful entry into the field was VR-1 Entertainment whose Conductor platform was adopted and endorsed by a variety of service providers around the world including Sony Communications Network in Japan; the Bertelsmann Game Channel in Germany; British Telecom’s Wireplay in England; and DACOM and Samsung SDS in South Korea. Games that were powered by the Conductor platform included Fighter Wing, Air Attack, Fighter Ace, EverNight, Hasbro Em@ail Games (Clue, NASCAR and Soccer), Towers of Fallow, The SARAC Project, VR1 Crossroads and Rumble in the Void. Typical MUDs and other predecessor games were limited to about 64 or 256 simultaneous player connections; this was a limit imposed by the underlying operating system, which was usually Unix-like. One of the bigger problems with the modern engines has been handling the vast number of players. Since a typical server can handle around 10,000–12,000 players, 4000–5000 active simultaneously, dividing the game into several servers has up until now been the solution.
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This approach has also helped with technical issues, such as lag, that many players experience. Another difficulty, especially relevant to real-time simulation games, is time synchronization across hundreds or thousands of players.
Many games rely on time synchronization to drive their physics simulation as well as their scoring and damage detection. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, known as MMORPGs, are the most common type of MMOG. Some MMORPGs are designed as a multiplayer browser game in order to reduce infrastructure costs and utilise a thin client that most users will already have installed.
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The acronym BBMMORPGs has sometimes been used to describe these as browser-based. A large number of games are categorized as MMOBBGs,, Massively Multiplayer Online Bulletin Board Games, also called MMOBBRPGs. These particular types of games are primarily made up of text and descriptions, although images are often used to enhance the game. Steve Jackson Games’ UltraCorps is an example of a MMO turn-based strategy game. Hundreds of players share the same playing field of conquest.
In a “mega” game, each turn fleets are built and launched to expand one’s personal empire. Turns are usually time-based, with a “tick” schedule usually daily. All orders are processed, and battles resolved, at the same time during the tick. Similarly, in Darkwind: War on Wheels, vehicle driving and combat orders are submitted simultaneously by all players and a “tick” occurs typically once per 30 seconds.
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This allows each player to accurately control multiple vehicles and pedestrians in racing or combat. Some MMOGs have been designed to accurately simulate certain aspects of the real world. They tend to be very specific to industries or activities of very large risk and huge potential loss, such as rocket science, airplanes, trucks, battle tanks, submarines etc. Gradually as simulation technology is getting more mainstream, so too various simulators arrive into more mundane industries.
The initial goal of World War II Online was to create a map (in north western Europe) that had real world physics (gravity, air/water resistance, etc.), and ability for players to have some strategic abilities to its basic FPS/RPG role. While the current version is not quite a true simulated world, it is very complex and contains a large persistent world. The MMOG genre of air traffic simulation is one example, with networks such as VATSIM and IVAO striving to provide rigorously authentic flight-simulation environments to players in both pilot and air traffic controller roles. In this category of MMOGs, the objective is to create duplicates of the real world for people who cannot or do not wish to undertake those experiences in real life. For example, flight simulation via an MMOG requires far less expenditure of time and money, is completely risk-free, and is far less restrictive (fewer regulations to adhere to, no medical exams to pass, and so on).Another specialist area is mobile telecoms operator (carrier) business where billion-dollar investments in networks are needed but marketshares are won and lost on issues from segmentation to handset subsidies. A specialist simulation was developed by Nokia called Equilibrium/Arbitrage to have over a two-day period five teams of top management of one operator/carrier play a “wargame” against each other, under extremely realistic conditions, with one operator an incumbent fixed and mobile network operator, another a new entrant mobile operator, a third a fixed-line/internet operator etc. Each team is measured by outperforming their rivals by market expectations of that type of player.
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Thus each player has drastically different goals, but within the simulation, any one team can win. Also to ensure maximum intensity, only one team can win. Telecoms senior executives who have taken the Equilibrium/Arbitrage simulation say it is the most intense, and most useful training they have ever experienced. It is typical of business use of simulators, in very senior management training/retraining.
MMOPGs, or massively multiplayer online puzzle games, are based entirely on puzzle elements. They are usually set in a world where the players can access the puzzles around the world. Most games that are MMOPGs are hybrids with other genres.
Castle Infinity was the first MMOG developed for children. Its gameplay falls somewhere between puzzle and adventure.
There are also massively multiplayer collectible card games: Alteil, Astral Masters and Astral Tournament. Other MMOCCGs might exist (Neopets has some CCG elements) but are not as well known. Alternate reality games (ARGs) can be massively multiplayer, allowing thousands of players worldwide to co-operate in puzzle trails and mystery solving.
ARGs take place in a unique mixture of online and real-world play that usually does not involve a persistent world, and are not necessarily multiplayer, making them different from MMOGs. Massively multiplayer online music/rhythm games (MMORGs), sometimes called massively multiplayer online dance games (MMODGs), are MMOGs that are also music video games. This idea was influenced by Dance Dance Revolution. Audition Online is another casual massively multiplayer online game and it is produced by T3 Entertainment.
Infantry Online is an example multiplayer combat video game with sprite animation graphics, using complex soldier, ground vehicle and space-ship models on typically complex terrains developed by Sony online entertainment. As the field of MMOs grows larger each year, research has also begun to investigate the socio-informatic bind the games create for their users. In 2006, researchers Constance A. Steinkuehler and Dmitri Williams initiated research on such topics.
The topic most intriguing to the pair was to further understand the gameplay, as well as the virtual world serving as a social meeting place, of popular MMOs. To further explore the effects of social capital and social rel
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