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mmo capabilities of UE4?

Okay so please don’t flame me but I’ve found some motivation to start teaching myself how to develop a game and I’d like to know if UE4 is capable of doing what I’m interested in.

My motivation is to see a mmo based around some of the core gameplay mechanics of Sword Art Online (why I said please don’t flame me) and art style and gameplay/engine mechanics of ArcheAge. What I’m curious about is if UE4 can handle a mmo of that scale. I’d like multiple instances of the game running on one server so players can go to a destination and instance into another. I’d like to do this so that certain servers won’t get to clustered since their will be limited resources/land and to keep server load at a minimum. again I apologize if I’m doing a terrible explanation of what I’m thinking of. I’ve seen how ArcheAge performs on CryEngine so I don’t know if that would be a better engine for me to start learning on or not?

PS Yes I’m completely ignorant when it comes to game development, zero experience but I’m tired of waiting for this type of game to come out and really using that as my motivation.

My advice would be to start small, and a lot smaller than an MMO. With no experience in game development, you will probably succeed better if you start from the bottom, rather than try building an MMO which takes huge amounts of time and man power. You should look at some of the starter tutorials and build up your knowledge from there.

As for building a game of that type, in theory yes, it is possible in UE4, as should anything seen as we have the source code.

Yea I’m aware that an mmo is way beyond out of reach for me but I’m not worried about that, the vision I have for this game in my head is what is motivating me and is what will make me happy to work on no matter how little the progress is.

I figured it would be possible to extensively program what I need into the engine but I guess I should have asked is this something that is already possible in UE4 or will is require tons of network programming and base code editing/optimizing to get to work?

Would most likely require alot of programming.

Hi BlackoutCrisis,

The engine is not what determines how large of a game you can make. That is reliant on your hardware, server size, etc. You can absolutely make a large scale game, including MMO’s with UE4, the questions to ask yourself are: Does UE4 fit my needs for programming/mechanics? What style of gameplay am I looking for? Does UE4 have the features I need to be able to make my game? Etc. With UE4, you have the possibility of making pretty much any type of game you want, though some may require C++ or changes to the source code to fit your specific needs. We have a large documentation section that can help get you started and our community of developers tend to like helping new developers out! https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/

UE4 has replication system made for scale of game like shooters, it’s not made to senstain huge number of players on one server, you probably would need to be verycareful or modify how replication works or create your own system for that. I think good practice would be if you try to create the game just for single player (which would looked like you only one on server) as a prototype, see if you up to the task just by that and actully have something to show to somebody else that could help out (Since MMOs require a lot of content) and you can always go from that in other direction if you like (Semi-MMO like Guild Wars 1, Party based RPG like Diablo or even single player), it always be good lesson if you have no other ideas

As for using SAO as inspiration, coincidentally yesterday i find video which tries to review SAO as video game, it’s little harsh (as he don’t like anime overall) but you might find good points in there: https://youtu.be/Vh0qWtYmAjs?t=215 I never watched SAO (i’m more manga reader then anime watcher) so this video explained what it has and i really liked the floored world idea (but it not really new, look Persona 3)

Not to be harsh or anything, but it really doesn’t matter how much motivation you have. You’re not going to go from zero experience in game development to making an mmo, or even making a portion of an mmo, or even making a portion of a portion of an mmo. You seriously have to start extremely small or it’s going to be a 100% waste of time.

I know this is going to sound harsh but it’s more informative for my sake as well as OP’s … but

Have you actually attempted a MMORPG with UE4 to make such claims and/or have data to back this up? I read this often and I’m wondering if this is being pulled out of the air or there is actual evidence. Seeing how an Unreal Engine Developer said it’s possible; I’m curious if he’s actually wrong. Not to mention I’m curious about the capabilities of UE4 in such situations. I know CodeSpartan had his demo server running with 150+ connected clients (sure that’s no MMORPG but I’ve yet to find a MMORPG that has 500+ people in one area.)

Odds are against him that he’ll succeed but who knows maybe he has the burning passion of ten dozen people and makes it work. There are many teams that start small and grow to indie MMO’s (he never claimed to want to make a 1million plus person AAA game, just a game LIKE ArcheAge/SAO unless I’m mistaken.) However even if he doesn’t succeed it won’t be a 100% waste of time. Many lesions will be learned as well as the complexity of a MMORPG in his pursuit. Nothing is ever a waste of time if knowledge is retained/gained.

Good luck with your endeavors BlackOutCrisis.

Sorry for the long post, but…

As a former game design and development instructor, and current professional gamedev, I applaud BlackoutCrisis for his interest and having the motivation to take that first step in learning about game development by asking questions here.

As an instructor, I have seen TONS of students enter an academic game development program with “game ideas” and grand illusions of game design and development. So, OP, grats on you for having enough desire to reach out and ask questions.

Now, the cold harsh truth. Generally speaking, game studios never hire a person with game “ideas,” but no proven skills or portfolio. If you want a career in this industry, you need to master a craft FIRST. That means, learn to program, or learn to be an artist. This will take years and will test your commitment. And honestly, unless you already have experience in programming (preferably C++) or have used other game engines before, UE4 is not a platform I would suggest you start with, nor should you start with an “MMO”. Why? Again, if you want a career in this industry, you have to realize this is a very competitive field. The best way to get in the door? (1) Master a craft and (2) have a portfolio of ***completed *** games. As somebody who has hired and fired before, I won’t interview candidates who have a bunch of half-baked, unfinished/broken “ideas” in their portfolio. I will HEAVILY favor somebody who has completed, polished games in their portfolio, even very small games. Why? It shows you have the commitment to master a skill AND finish a project, and finishing is the hardest part.

TLDR: If you are not an experienced programmer or artist, I really would recommend you start with another engine like GameMaker or GameSalad, and a much smaller game.

If you have no programming experience whatsoever, I wouldn’t start with another engine. I would start learning C++ or any object oriented language first and then once I have a decent grasp on it, I would use Unreal with Blueprints for small games. I am pretty good with C++, but I don’t like using it for UE4 because A) I don’t make anything big enough that the speed difference would be even remotely noticeable and B)C++ in Unreal Engine seriously requires an insane computer, otherwise it’s just too slow. I have a solid state drive, 16gb of ram, and an i7-4790k and Visual Studio still runs at a snail’s pace :frowning:

To contribute to the discussion on how well UE4 is suited for MMOs, I think it would be most accurate to say that UE4 is not inncompatible (so yes, compatible) with creating MMORPGs. However, what makes an MMO is that they are scalable to any number of players, and you will have to do a lot outside of UE4 to achieve that. Consider this: no one PC is strong enough to manage hundreds, let alone thousands of players in an interactive world. To host an MMO world, you must have the ability to have a group of computers working together to host what the player perceives as one world. Lets take World of Warcraft for example, they (like all MMOs) do all kinds of stuff to be able to split the task of hosting the game world:

  1. Spread the player base over what they call realms (also known as shards). These players can never interact.
  2. Spread the player base in one realm across different instances, you’ve got the different continents and all the dungeons. These players can never meet each other without a loading screen.
  3. Even the task of managing the same instance (like one seamless continent) is split up across different servers where each server is in charge of a different area

So you have groups of servers that host one realm, and within a group, the responsibility of handling one player’s game experience is constantly shifted from one server to another. The architecture for this is not something that UE4 provides, it would be way too specific towards MMOs. However, UE4 can still be useful for you in creating your MMO-like game. Here is how:

Option 1: Use UE4’s replication features. You can use UE4 as a game server that hosts a part of your game world and build something overarching that, when appropriate, sends the player to another server that is in charge of a different part of the world. In this case you would use UE4’s replication (multiplayer) features which will help you a lot in creating a synchronized multiplayer experience. Then you can use UE4 as game client as well, just connect it to the server as usual. You can see this as having a large multiplayer game, with the option to travel from server to server as part of the game. One downside here is: you cannot seamlessly connect to another server without loading screen.

Option 2: Do not use UE4’s replication features. You would use UE4 to simulate the game world, both on the server and client, but handle the synchronization yourself. So you make UE4 think its in a single player game, yet simulate all kinds of actors based on incoming custom network data so that it results in a multiplayer world. Why in heaven’s sake not use UE4’s replication you ask? Since in this way you can easily transfer a player’s connection from one server to another seamlessly (without loading screen). But underestimate this not, doing the networking yourself is a huge ton of work and you have to know very well beforehand what kinds of interactions you want in your game.

At any case developing an MMO is a huge commitment which I wouldn’t advise anyone unless the experience of attempting so would contribute to your studies or your desired profession, even if you fail. If you really have your mind set on making an MMO, then go for it. I would advise going for option 1 first. Just make a big multiplayer game, say one that can support 64 players. Then add the option to transfer from server to server, while still part of the same game experience. Get an in-game chat working so that players can communicate even between separate instances (also requires networking outside of UE4!). If you can send a player from one server to another from within the game, you can send them to any server so then by connecting servers to each other you have an MMO albeit with many loading screens. Keep your game worlds small, so that you don’t need to host an entire continent on one PC. Lastly, since you’re going to be an indie MMO developer, you need a community. Start a community fast and let these people help you by giving you feedback. It would be a real waste if all that effort goes into a game that no one is interested in. Good luck!

depending were you live there are a lot of government and training provider funded courses in game design that will give you enough knowledge to touch all bases look at career kick starter or evocca im lead to believe both are international. im studying game development though evocca in Australia and I find it relly helpful. sorry if this isn’t the answer you wanted but you have a dream never give up and stay focused. hope this helps and good luck ide love to see a sao based mmo one day remember me for the beta test hahahah.

Thank you to everyone that posted! I’m very well aware that this will probably never turn into an actual game and to make it clear I have no intentions of making this a professional project. BUT this is what I’m using as my inspiration to get my foot into the door and give me some guidance with what I need to start working on and learning. I personally believe the blue print and mechanics I have in my head (soon to be typed up and organized for anyone interested in a similar project to this) are a huge step forward in mmo design. With such a flooded market of copy pasted mmo’s that have zero immersion and consequence to actions I think my ideals (which are shared by a large portion of other people) are exactly what the mmo scene needs right now. As I said I don’t expect even a remotely playable version of anything to come out of this but maybe getting an organized blueprint and base assets for this type of game down will inspire a lot of other people to work on a game of this type.

As for the responses to if UE4 is capable of doing what I imagine I think for if this ever got to the scale of a real mmo I would have to switch to a different engine like Cryengine for example but I believe the community and huge amount of information out there for UE4 makes it the best option for me to start learning and applying some of the ideals I have.

BlackOutCrisis, There is a UE4 community member that has done all the heavy lifting work for you. He has done a MMO Starter Kit. He even has a tutorial on how to add it to a server, so you can get started straight away. A lot of people have got it including me, and what they are doing is adding the stuff to make it their MMO. Also in the MMO Starter Kit is a update script. So if you update your server and someone has your game, when they connect to the server it will add the update to their computer. Also, if you do get the MMO Starter Kit and you want to have all the C++ files as your game name you can create a template from it, so later on if you decide to create other mmo’s you have a base for them. Here is a video tutorial on how to create a Template