Food for Thought

Discovering the Impossible

Back in middle school, I would play EV Nova all day, every day, in the hopes of someday conquering the galaxy. I wasn't an avid gamer as a kid, therefore it took me weeks to finish the Polaris storyline, and I believe I did the Rebel and Vell-Os storylines, too. I did Arpia several times, and I had great fun with it until that machine finally died for good.

I am now a high school graduate, and decided to get back into EV Nova. I started on Monday, and with no plug-ins whatsoever, I finished the Polaris, Auroran, Pirate, and Vell-Os storylines in one week. I still plan to do the last 2 storylines on different pilots, and proceed to take over the galaxy on each pilot using only the technology available to each pilot (I'm trying to stay clear of pirating unless it's an enemy of that pilot, and even then I'd only capture as escorts).

Now that you heard my back story, let's get on to why I'm in the Developer's corner.

During my absence, I learned a lot about how games work, the systems, all the basics really. So I get back into EV Nova, and after a while, I get an idea. An idea deemed "Impossible; Will never be done; Never to be attempted." I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, but hear me out before badmouthing me.

I'm talking about EV Nova going online.

Now, keep in mind, over the past like 6 years, I've gotten into games like Minecraft and Battlefield. What do they have in common? They're online games. Both of their Multiplayer modes require players to connect to a server; a like universe, the very reason EV Nova was never brought online, according to ATMOS. They didn't want to recreate the entire game again from scratch just so that people could connect to a server that they'd have to maintain, and if it got popular enough, they'd never get to see their families anymore, who they never got to see anyway.

But what if there was a way for registered users to set up their own servers?

The way Minecraft works, they don't supply their own servers, only the game. You would set up a server on one computer, and people playing the game from other computers could connect. Open a port on your router and suddenly it's not a LAN game anymore. Mojang then updated Minecraft to combine Singleplayer and Multiplayer modes, cutting the work they have to put into updating the game in half. What did they do? They added an "Upload to LAN" button to the Singleplayer menu. Essentially what that does is make the computer that created the map and uploaded it the "Host" of the game, generating the world for all computers connected to it, creating the "Like Universe". If they can do it, why not us?

Don't get me wrong, I know that's easier said than done. Chances are, you'd still have to put as much effort into creating this "Like Universe" as you would into making the whole game. But what if there was an easier way?

Nobody has really looked into it, and if they have, oh well. But if there was a way to change the game engine just enough to allow someone to look for other games, or to connect to a computer running a server (since it'd probably be easier to set up the option to connect to a server rather than a game in progress), then we could get online games going, right? Create a new menu button, that button directs you to a new menu which then searches for servers that your machine can connect to. Then, what the server can do is collect the data each machine randomly generates as each player takes off and apply it to the game. For instance, say someone accepted a mission that created a fleet elsewhere in the galaxy. The server would then create that fleet to await the player who accepted the mission. Say someone else jumped into the system the fleet is in. There's the fleet, but it would only attack the player who it's waiting for unless otherwise provoked. You get the picture.

The general idea is, the server would combine the randomly generated data from each machine into one world; If one player's machine generated data for one system, the server would use that data for that system until there were no players left in the system. Something like that, but not necessarily exactly that.

When it comes to missions, storylines, etc. It'd be really hard to incorporate that in my opinion, so there would have to be some discussion on whether or not to have mission strings. I vote yes, but that's just me. There should also be some discussion towards whether players can earn technology in single player strings and bring them online, or if everything you have was earned in that particular server (like Minecraft).

It would be a lot of work, but if nobody worked hard at any of the game-changing plug-ins, we wouldn't have my favorite plug-in Arpia, EVC or EVO ports, or even any of the best TCs. We wouldn't have any of that if nobody worked hard, so why back down from this knowing it'll be a lot of work?

Let me put it this way. Our piloting skills outmatch those of the AI. No matter what we do. We can make the biggest plug-ins with the most difficult storylines and the biggest, most powerful fleets. But as humans versus AI, there's always going to be a way to beat them. So we keep creating bigger and better fleets, and in turn, bigger and better rewards. But if someone were to figure this task out, not only would they be busy as an EV Developer, but they'd show the EV world that they can do the alleged "Impossible" and we can finally test each others' fighting styles out on each other! The immense amount of work could turn out to be worth the effort, and revolutionize the way we play EV Nova.

Unfortunately, I'm not a developer, programmer, hacker, anything. So I can't undergo this project. But, I can offer my computer to developers who do decide to take it on as a host for the program to really test it out. My machine has 12 GB RAM, and if you include a "Debug Mode" as it's called in Minecraft, I can monitor how much RAM the server uses at any given time as part of the testing process.

Anyone interested can take this on, it's just food for thought. I would like it to be considered though, and if you can make it work with LAN, that's progress in the right direction! We can test LAN capabilities using Hamachi, then work from there if you decide to develop it further.

Give it some thought, I know this topic is frowned upon here, but for those of us loyal to this game, think of how cool it would be to take what is now a classic and throw it online.

@captain-zaphod-beeblebrox, on 01 February 2013 - 04:38 PM, said in Food for Thought:

Both of their Multiplayer modes require players to connect to a server; a like universe, the very reason EV Nova was never brought online, according to ATMOS.

A reason, but one of many. The game you’re describing would be no small endeavour; my suspicion is that it would involve as much new code as old, and all that with no clear evidence that it would preserve what’s interesting about Escape Velocity. (And just to be clear, this isn’t something that can be done with plug-ins or hacking. You’d need to somehow get Matt’s original code, unless you intended to start from scratch.)

it won't work unless it comes with steak knives and is 3D.

Because it already exists (sorta).
If you're looking for a EV-style multiplayer combat game, look at http://www.getcontinuum.com/
or Xsera (whenever it gets finished).
If you're looking for a modern-engine EV-style game, look at NAEV (http://blog.naev.org/).

Have you looked at NAEV recently? It's not like EVN much anymore except in concept of gameplay. The ships function much more differently now and there's a lot of space between objects in systems, so much so they had to add in a time warp effect so you can get from place to place without taking all day. It's not a suitable replacement to EV anymore. It is still a fairly good game, however.

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