In multiplayer games, there are four approaches to player naming: Players can type in a name, be assigned a name, choose a name from a list, or have no official name.
Entering their own name
The simple and common approach is to have players enter their own character name. This works well; players can choose a name they want to roleplay, use their standard username, or make up something clever. Duplicate names are disallowed and no one has trouble creating a unique name.
The downside is that some players will create names that break immersion; names that don’t fit into the game’s design. We’ve all met “p0wnz0r3dyou” (as Tony11harp said in the forum), “Stifler’s Mom”, and “George Clooney”. These names range from distracting to offensive. You can try to disallow words, or change names after you catch them, but those stopgaps have never worked well.
Gamers are thick-skinned and […] Read more of this post…
Terrain is the shape of the ground in a game world.
How terrain is made
Terrain can be generated by hand, generated using algorithms, copied from existing real terrain, or made using a combination of these methods.
Hand-crafted worlds are the most creative. It takes a lot of work to hand-craft terrain, making large-scale hand-crafted worlds impossible. Most recent game worlds are hand-crafted, which is why their worlds are relatively small. Most game engines include terrain-crafting tools.
Algorithmic creation, better known as “procedural generation”, uses software to generate random landscapes based on a set of rules. Procedurally-generated worlds can be vast, but it’s hard to make them realistic, and new places tend to be predictable.
Finally, a world can be generated by mimicking an existing world. NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) project provides 90-meter elevation resolution of most of Earth’s surface, and the USGS provides the National Elevation Dataset […] Read more of this post…
A streamed world is a game world where only nearby world data is sent to players. A completely streamed world would stream everything to the player including terrain, environment, objects, and other players. First Earth is this way, as are a number of other indie games, such as Minecraft. Most online games are not.
A little bit of history
Streamed worlds have a long history, technically starting with the first online RPG in 1978, text-based MUD1 by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle:
Player sends: *n
Game responds: Path. You are standing on a path which leads off a road to the north, to a cottage south of you. To the west and east are separate gardens.
Ultima Online was released in 1997. UO was not fully streamed; the world was made up of 25 million+ tiles contained on the original retail install disc and subsequent patches. But tiles could be […] Read more of this post…