MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games) and their rise across the net
MMOGs are an abbreviation for Massively Multiplayer Online Game.This is a video game which is capable of supporting hundreds and thousands of players interacting with this running video.
Gaming platforms have become diverse and a universal game environment is supported.MMOGs require specific hardware and software to play and be a part of these online games.
Firstly a Personal Computer (PC), keyboard, mouse, screen, graphics card, sound card, speakers, head sets, a suitable operating system, sufficient RAM, a hard disk needs to be present. If required, joysticks can also be used to play these games for the best gaming experience.
The operating system (OS) is a key requirement needed in all PCs to play a MMOG. The hardware connects to the BIOS which is connected to the OS connecting the low level machine code to the application software which is high level language such as JAVA and COBOL. Consequently connection to the graphics driver, gaming code then straight to the virtual world it is connected to. The OSI model is responsible for effective communication of data through each layer on the PC and the servers machine. Therefore when a user is playing a game the data will flow from the gateway server to the log in or zone server to the world server into the database which is where the data for MMOG is stored.
MMOGs can be played by it connection to a game server. A game server is a remotely or locally run server used by game clients to play MMOGs or video games. Most video games played over the Internet operate via a connection to a game server usually via different networks connected through cables, tracks and busses from the motherboard to the gaming server. A user will connect to a MMOG using an internet connection where the user’s actions will be sent to and retrieved by a server which then calculated a new game state and send this back through the linked connection to the player, with the series of actions repeating.
Furthermore, as multi-platform game technology continues to grow, this allows one game to be played in a different platform concurrently, as advances in the development of distributed game server including the less popular listen server technology is necessary to support large numbers of parallel game including their users safely when playing online. MMOGs, in which large numbers of users play a game in the same virtual gaming world, is a big field of heavy server loads due to game event handling, this leads to problems of latency server, client packet loss.
This graph shows the amount of MMOGs have been subscribed to since 1997. It shows that more and more people are becoming attracted to playing MMOGS up until 2008 as the graph does not go any further. The most popular game that is shown is World of Warcraft with over ten million subscribers to the game.
Personal Computer or Console
As online gaming enters the mainstream, system requirements of the personal computer (PC) are moving tremendously in performance. The key issue is that online gamine needs to meet the growing necessities of gamers and online gaming membership. In order to facilitate this, games must have a powerful processor to maximise the game playing experience.
The processors role is vital to any computer as it manages the entire system for example where to start and stop executing commands inputted by the user. The processor will fetch data needed by the instruction commanded by the user and returning this processed instruction after execution, then again fetching instructions inputted for example the user loads a game. Consequently after the control unit has fetched, executed and decoded an instruction the program counter holds the address of the next instruction within the memory for example the user has clicked on start game after loading the game. The instruction pointer keeps track of where in the program the instruction has reached.
in a system starting from input from a joystick for example into the memory where it is processed and stored if needed with the necessary output given in the form of for example moving 3d images on the screen.
The processor manages multiple roles as it carries out many instructions and thus becomes complex for running the operating system (OS) (1), the web browser or the downloaded Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG).Therefore the better the processor the faster the quality/ performance when playing a MMOG without any pauses and halts. The latest Intel i7 2.8 GHz processor containing 8 cores for 8 way multi-tasking and an L3 Cache which delivers top class performance during game playing.
Random access memory (RAM) is used to temporarily store the applications used to play the MMOGS allows reading and writing to be carried out. RAM is volatile memory as when there is no power sourced to the RAM, data cannot be retained(1). The highest amount of RAM available is 8GB DDR3, continually expanding. Hence the more RAM the more available space the PC has to store the current game being played.
The hard disk, secondary memory can be used to store a game or the application needed to play the game. This uses sequential access which contains rotating disks (3). It works by looking up data needed to be processed from the game players input processing this data from the calculations made in the arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and saves it in the cache which is a high temporary storage place that makes and answers requests. The hard disks capacity can now increase up to 1terabtye within newer PC’s.
The GPU forms the core of the graphics card that usually sits inside a slot on the motherboard(10) but sometimes it is pre integrated into the motherboard. It roles and responsibilities for processing images, creating the picture displayed by the monitor for example the 3d moving images in MMOGs. The GPU is a specialised processor that runs calculations of advanced image processing especially 3D Graphics(2). The GPU contains a separate processing unit as it stores images before displaying them.The graphics card is able to allocate slots when viewing 3D scenes for instance in MMOGs similar to the CPU where it can process data for example dual core processors which can carry out two instructions at the same time. The GPU enables a third processor to process its own data speeding up operations such as playing games which are wholly based on images, 3d images and moving images within the computer for example speeding up the sequence of the images played from the game(2).
The GPU talks to the frame buffer to designate parts of memory used to store images before viewing it. RAM DAC, random access memory digital to analogue coveter converts the digital images stored in the frame buffer into analogue, which is then sent to the screen to be displayed. The GPU also contains BIOS similar to the CPU, which loads when the computer starts(2). The interface connects the graphics card to the motherboard requiring high broadband necessary for displaying video clips and 3d images within games(2).
The basic sound card is printed on the circuit board, which uses analogue to digital AC DC converter and a PIC interface card to connect to the motherboard and input output connectors for microphone and speakers(6). The sound card enables sounds to be heard from the speakers or gaming headset for audible effects when playing MMOG’s creating different moods and scenes.
The screen often referred to as a monitor, where by the display is the most common form of used output, with feedback in the form of text and graphical images used to view the game when it is being played(5). Most desktop screens use liquid crystal display (LCD) or cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. For an ultra-sharp Display when playing games the TFT active matrix 24in – Widescreen, with a Max Resolution of 1920 x 1200, Colour Support of 16.7 million colours. Other output devices include speakers and a gaming 2.4GHz head set.
The function of a keyboard as an input device where people can type, inputting data, use shortcuts to control many programmes, access menus also games(7). The keyboard also includes control keys providing cursor and screen control which is needed to play many MMOGs for example using the left, right, up and down arrows(7).
There are many types of mice an input device; the main ones include a mechanical scroll mouse, optical mouse and a track ball mouse(8). A laser point mouse which uses light-emitting diodes (LED) or laser as a way of tracking movements is the most common enabling MMOGs to be played easier due to its swift broad movements making game playing easier as there is no wire attached.Other mice include of foot mouse for disabled people, joystick mouse for gamers and a touch pad mouse.
Lastly a common input device, the joystick which helps gamers to truly personalise their gaming and flight stimulation experiences. This includes a dual throttle lever for control of a multi-engine aircraft, twisted axes, adjustable hat switches, scroll buttons and trigger buttons to enable MMOGs to be played in a variety of ways making them more interesting. Many of these input and output devices can have an interface with PCs by serial ports and USB.
A game server is a remotely run or a locally run server which can be used by gamers to play MMOGs. Most games that are played over the internet function by having a connection to a game server. Thus online game ply is impacted bythe network characteristics of players that are at one time connected to the game server. Many online games allow a choice from a wide range of servers available. This is the case for many MMOGs as users can run their own servers allowing players to connect from anywhere on the internet. This is known as a listen server, a dedicated server also exists. These are the two types of servers used to play MMOGs.
Listen servers are peer to peer servers which run on the same PC as the gamer client. When the gamer disconnects this server is shut down because the server and the host client are run symmetrically. This means that the game must be transferred to another player or end completely which is not preferred on a big server as the host needs to either stay online wasting slots in the server and computer power possibly slowing the game or ending the game for all other players. Due to the small processing size listen servers will also not be able to handle the client’s game, server processing and the hack detection as it is difficult to function correctly without the required processing power. Although they are easy to set up by simply creating a new game then allowing players to join. Also the user only requires one PC in contrast to a dedicated server that either allows client to host the server or play a game. The client cannot physically do both unless there is a second PC/ machine.
Dedicated servers are client to peer which run independently of the clients. They are set up on a separate PC which is often hosted in a data centre. This means that they will have a high processor for high amounts of processing and high bandwidth as it does not need to share a CPU with the players game. In general dedicated servers are the preferred method of hosting game servers for most PC based MMOGs. It is beneficial to those who demand more control, the freedom to install multiple games onto the server. Due to its general processing ability it can then support a huge number of players at the same time.
What level of network quality service should be provided to maintain a satisfactory gaming experienceThe network has a huge impact on MMOGs. Having a reliable network connection means that players are able to log onto a network online which is available and use the services provided such as playing games buying game subscriptions etc. Without a network connection MMOGs cannot be played. Kuan et al have found that network delay and network loss significantly affect a players willingness to continue playing a game.
MMOGs depend upon the network connection for their operation on the speed and reliability of this network connection. Firstly bandwidth which is the average rate of successful data transfer through a communications path which is usually measured in kilobits and megabits per second. The more bandwidth available more data can be transferred through the Ethernet cable for playing MMOGs. In contrast latency is delay, the amount of time it takes a packet to travel from its source to its destination. A low latency network connection will experience small delays whereas playing a MMOG on a high latency network connection will generally be prone to more delays which can be expressed in mili seconds. One way which latency can be measured is small packets of miniature data (32 bytes) is sent to the host and the round time trip (RTT), the time it takes for the packet to leave the sourced address travels to its destination and sent back is then measured. When playing MMOGs the more bandwidth available more data will be transferred during a second speeding up game play. Also the less the latency the less delay it will take for each pat of the game to be displayed without pauses and stops. Thus the combination of latency and bandwidth gives the user a perception of how quickly the game can be played and necessary data transformed.
Server packet loss rate is also another factor that affects speed and reliability of a network connection in MMOGs. This concerns the loss of ratio packets sent from the game server to the player which credits for added latency before state updates or game messages are presented on the screen to the players. Client packet loss rate concerns the loss ratio of packets sent to the game server by players which credits for added latency before a players commands can be handled by the game server as loss detection and recovery cost precious time.
This general diagram shows the process when playing MMOGs in real time.
The client is playing a game and their actions are received by the server and it then calculates the game state, which is then sent, then the server again does new actions which is received by the server and it then calculates the new game state, thus sending this new game state back to the pc and this cycle continues until the user has finished playing the game.
In more detail MMOGs often use distributed servers which are required to support a large number of concurrent games.
The data is sent from the user to the gateway server which passes on the information to the zone or login server which then goes to the world sever connecting to the database of the game that is being played, the new data is then sent back through these severs back to the user’s PC. This data is sent using the CPU or the micro-processor which connected to all the elements of the computers components for example the games input and output elements via cables and he bus which is a sub system used for the transfer of data between the different computer components and the networks which enable the PC to connect to the gaming server(1). This is called Serial Advanced Technology Attachment(5). The busses are highly flexible as they can become external busses, in connecting different machines together such as connecting to the game server.
The communication between the server and the game client can be divided into three main sections. This figure provides an outline of the architecture which illustrates the physical and logical layout of the game application and the communications legitimized between the server and the game clients. The data access layer within extracts the database from the application allows the systems to retrieve data representing objects in the database. The application layer system features implemental of users, online games, game modes, game states etc. Lastly the presentation layer which consists of HTML and java scrip, basic page templates and display, dynamic views of the system are presented to the user.
Operating Systems Game Playing Software
An operating system (OS) can be said to be a system software which is responsible for direct control and managing of input, output hardware and basic system operations. In addition it is a foundation upon which the application software such as web browsers and gaming software can be run. A operating system that can be used to play games on is Windows 7 a 64 bit operating system.
The role of the OS is to manage the hardware and software resources and interact with the data and its presentation. OS process management ensures that for example if the game is being played it receives sufficient process time for the expert functioning also states that the processor is used to its optimum capacity. OS storage management allocates the relevant or necessary memory space for the game application and its connected hardware in the one of the different available memories for effective and optimum processing of information. OS device management manages input output devices, programs with device drivers conjoined with the OS controls the flow of information with allocation of system resources to ensure correct input and output from for example the joystick. Lastly the OS user interface provides a consistent way of communication between the user and the game being played for example if one was playing the game in real time efficient communication would be needed to be present.
A general game server needs a kernel 2.0.24 or better and a good OS for example Linux. Linux is a good in distributed networking game servers. This is because it gives incredible performance to host the games compared to bulky terminals. Also it is thus possible to customise it to the hardware and load requirements of the game which is being hosted as it uses a user friendly kernel configuration file as well as the full source availability for this kernel. The Linux OS system resources receive sufficient processing time and the processor being used to its optimum capacity when hosting a game. It can also manage input and output well including managing the data to host the game extremely well.
The game playing software can both be bought and downloaded online, or from a shop where by the games software will be present on a cd. This software is then installed on a PC ready for the gamer to play. It interacts with the data from the internet as it established a connection with the server and the OS along with the internet can transmit and receive data which is then converted from binary data into a high level language that the PC understands such as java, COBOL. This language is then then transferred into graphical moving images which the user can interpret and understand and continue to play the game for example the user will know if he has been shot or he has killed a person.
The game servers use specialised software of the game which the server is dedicated to although it will contain different data as in order to run a game on a game server it has to be able to host games etc. which normal game playing software cannot do. The game servers game software interacts with data similarly via the internet by establishing a connection with a sever which then can connect to a player and thus the game can be successfully played. The game server is a distinct process, usually upon a different machine, which retains information on whichever virtual world it supports at that particular time. It converses with the game clients used by the players to retain global information about joint locations, player interaction. For example, each player will have different window into their joint virtual location depending on where they are in the game. The scenes accessible to the players must be consistent so if one player changes the state of an object for example, that object must exist for all the other players and be in the same state. Although Presentation does not need to be considered as the gamers do not see what goes on inside a gaming server although those who maintain gaming servers need the data to be available in a readable form so that with their technical knowledge they can successfully manage the game server.
The games engine works by the operating system loading the game server onto its system including the graphic drivers. The server connects to the network code and other instances of the game. This then connects to the gaming code for example a high level language then connecting to the virtual worlds where many players can play the MMOG.
Online games have continued to increase in popularity, with the MMOGs being played over a type of computer network connected to the internet starting with the basic hardware, this needs to be up to date with the latest hardware installed in the pc for example keyboards, joysticks need to be compatible with the game that is being played. For the best gaming experience a NVIDIA graphics card which has its own separate processor, a good quality sound card with speakers are needed.
This increase in popularity of online gaming has resulted to the huge growth of the internet, different network connections are now available, these include peer to peer and client server architectures which enables anyone with a connection to the network, internet is able to play a MMOG and interact even in real time with other players due to the high processing ability on servers networks are now able to support many millions of players.
Although bandwidth and better network connections are increasing and have become present in the busses and cables this does not mean that the network connection is completely reliable. Due to the millions of client’s connection to a game or several games at different times this can still lead to problems of latency where packets take longer to reach their destination so this could bring about small pauses in the MMOG. Also some locations such as remote locations may receive less bandwidth which then in turn affects the game as the game play will decrease especially if it is in real time as this data travels from the user, to the log in server, zone server, and world server to the databases.
MMOGs require the OSI mode to function in which the important parts, the data access layer executes the database from the MMOG application. Following the application layer features implementations of clients, game modes etc. as lastly the presentation presents the displays and dynamic views of the game to clients. Therefore as technology grows the scope for playing MMOGs increases as better facilities are provided and are constantly developing to do so.
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