Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Gamasutra: Simutronics' HeroEngine Adds Large Single-Shard Capabilities

As I said in the previous blog entry, it's GDC and that can mean lots of news. Such as this one.

Gamasutra reports that Simutronics, developers of HeroEngine which in turn is being used by BioWare to create Star Wars: The Old Republic, will now support large single-shard capabilities. This means that, potentially, they might be able to run Star Wars: The Old Republic on a single shard (i.e. one 'server') or have only a few large shards (instead of dozens of shards making it impossible to connect with friends already playing).

Here's the news report:
Simutronics has announced that its HeroEngine MMO development platform now supports more than 100,000 concurrent users on a single shard.

The company refers to it as its "Seamless World" technology, and says it allows developers to connect several areas to create one large space without boundaries.

"There is no limit on how large a single seamless world can be," Simutronics explains, adding that the worlds themselves can be instanced as needed for specific requirements. HeroEngine is currently being used by BioWare on its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO.

Simutronics also says it will continue developing scalability features between worlds to increase the maximum capacity per shard over time.

At the same time, the company's also added Linux server support for HeroEngine -- noting that both Windows and Linux servers are interoperable within the same environment.

Finally, the latest version of HeroEngine adds Autodesk Maya 2009 support and content packages for publishing via LivePush so that players can deploy content updates without ending their session.

"Creative visionaries are no longer bound by arbitrary limits on the size of their virtual worlds or how areas in those worlds can connect together”, said Simutronics CEO and HeroEngine Architect David Whatley. "And, they can choose to run their virtual worlds on Windows or Linux, or any combination, in order to meet their cost and performance goals."
Of course, there's no guarantee that BioWare will actually use these capabilities or, if they use them, that they'll use them to run just a single shard. But personally I do greatly hope that they will just have a single shard because these shard divisions that MMOs usually have are not only stupid, they're also damaging to the community. And if there's one thing all MMOs live on then it's their communities.

So here's hoping that they'll just have one shard now that HeroEngine seemingly supports it.

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