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Everything But the Game

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An online game is never done. Adding Value as the Developer ... Sony Online Entertainment Platform Group and R&D Team. PlanetSide and EverQuest II Game Teams ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Everything But the Game


1
(No Transcript)
2
Everything But the Game
  • Robert Mitchell
  • Senior Programmer
  • Sony Online Entertainment

3
Outline Everything but the Game
  • Introduction and motivation
  • Game, Not Game, Not Covered
  • Everything But the Game
  • Questions and answers

4
Background and Bias
  • Sony Online Entertainment since 1999
  • Trivial Pursuit, PlanetSide, EverQuest II
  • Platform Group
  • Login Server
  • Chat Server
  • Web extensions
  • /pizza
  • and more

5
Preconceived Expectations
  • From the players
  • Without the game, nothing else matters
  • Friends and community are everything
  • A game gets one chance to make a good first
    impression
  • From developers and publishers
  • An online game is a service
  • Customer support costs are significant
  • An online game is never done

6
Adding Value as the Developer
  • Ways to make more money
  • add more players
  • improve retention
  • reduce costs
  • boost development team efficiency
  • create additional revenue streams
  • The game is the game
  • Leaving Everything But the Game

7
Game
  • Art and Audio
  • Game play systems
  • Tools
  • Graphics rendering
  • User interface
  • The game client
  • Server code
  • Database persistence
  • Lots more!

8
Not Covered
  • The right way
  • Installers
  • Process for ltinsert taskgt
  • Network/server management
  • Customer service policies
  • Marketing Sales
  • Legal, Accounting,

9
Everything But the Game
  • Patcher
  • Chat and messages
  • Localization
  • User authentication
  • Billing
  • Customer support tools
  • Test/Debugging tools
  • Community tools
  • Web/Mobile extensions
  • And more

10
Warning Warp speed ahead
  • Each of the following topics is likely suitable
    for an entire presentation
  • The intent is to give you a flavor of some
    potential implementations and pitfalls and to
    give you a place to begin
  • Your requirements, constraints, and business
    objectives may be significantly different

11
Patching
  • Updates to the client
  • bug fixes
  • new content
  • Digital distribution
  • Pre-stage files
  • Dont forget about the server
  • Potential Solutions
  • HTTP Get
  • BitTorrent
  • Subversion API
  • Windows BITS
  • Traditional upgrades
  • Enhancements
  • Compression
  • Deltas
  • Supporting multiple client versions

12
Chat
  • Community is build around the ability to
    communicate
  • 101 ways to talk, shout, whisper,
  • Emotes
  • Friends and ignore lists
  • Good grief! Spam and profanity and
  • Lawful intercept or the art of snooping
  • Voice chat
  • Video chat

13
Persistent Messages
  • Because your friends and guild are not always
    online
  • Mailbox access
  • Storage limitations
  • To guilds
  • Item/coin transfer
  • Spam ! fun

14
Localization (L10N and I18N)
  • Simple String replacement or lookup
  • Complex Grammar engine
  • More than just text
  • date/time and number formatting
  • currency and units of measure
  • sorting
  • UTF-8 vs Unicode vs ASCII
  • French, Italian, German, Spanish - FIGS

15
User Authentication
  • The foundation for persistence
  • Login name versus public name
  • Lost passwords
  • Shared passwords
  • Parental controls

16
Billing
  • Show me the money!
  • Think about expansions and flags for specific
    features
  • And people without credit cards
  • And FRAUD!
  • And taxes. And
  • Let someone else worry about this one

17
Transfer Tools
  • If you have persistent player characters and more
    than one server, engineer for the ability to
    transfer characters between them
  • Balancing populations
  • Debugging live players on test servers
  • Players moving between servers
  • Maintain community like server types
  • Prevent avoiding accountability

18
Customer Support Tools
  • With privilege comes responsibility
  • If a player can do it have a way for CS to do
    it and undo it even if the character is offline
  • Have a way to determine if the player has done
    it
  • Knowledge base
  • Ways to report bugs and abuse

19
Logging
  • Log everything of value
  • Parse it, mine it, summarize it, track it
  • Control the volume and focus of debugging data
  • Automate logging of crashes and other outliers
    and exceptions. Monitor them.

20
Monitoring
  • Because no one likes it when the boss asks what
    happened? and you dont know that anything
    happened.
  • Like logging but with active alerts
  • Fault detection, hardware issues, crashes
  • Watch load and populations and anything else that
    starts to be predictive of failures
  • And track your economy and level progression and
    revenues

21
Security Issues
  • Never trust the client. Never put anything on the
    client. The client is in the hands of the enemy.
    Never ever ever forget this. Raph Koster
  • Includes anything sent to/from the client
  • Expect users to search for and to find exploits
    and ways to automate the game
  • Avoid making the hackers task simple

22
Test and Debugging Tools
  • Automated testing
  • Load testing
  • Fake groups and guilds
  • The ability to do anything
  • The ability to replay what happened
  • The ability to ask what if?

23
Community Tools
  • Forums
  • Leader boards and achievements
  • Player information
  • Guild pages
  • Blogs
  • Game video to web
  • The social network / web 2.0 stuff

24
Web and mobile extensions
  • Interactive maps
  • Interaction with your vendors and guild
  • Mini-games with in-game results
  • All those micromanagement tasks
  • Just dont have it call me at midnight

25
Match Making
  • Looking for group?
  • PlanetSide Instant Action
  • PvP lobbies
  • And the traditional find me an opponent

26
Auctions and Microtransactions
  • Real-money transfers are here
  • In-game advertising revenue
  • Alternate business models
  • Getting a cut of the profit would be nice
  • Design the game with this in mind

27
Priorities
  • Different games and different developers will
    have different priorities
  • The order of the presentation is close to my
    personal preferences
  • Do what you can
  • Use anything already available

28
Questions and answers
29
Thanks
  • Sony Online Entertainment Platform Group and RD
    Team
  • PlanetSide and EverQuest II Game Teams
  • Online Game Developers Conference
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