Defining Awesome — Seamless servers
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  • Seamless servers

    Written by . Posted at 5:06 pm on July 9th, 2007

    Here’s an idea.

    This spawned after my brother proposed it, we discussed it intensely and I realized I had a very similar idea years ago while playing Day of defeat, but I never thought of doing that in Soldat or in any other game. Now it seems very intriguing.

    The idea is called seamless servers, as in seamless textures (textures that when joined in groups have no apparent beginning or end). Let’s discuss the simplest case based on this picture:  


    Three servers (A, B, C) are joined together creating a seamless server. For the outside world they are seen as one. For example if a player opens the server browser this junction is seen as one server, let’s call this a game node. Players instead of joining a single server join a game node.

    Server A runs ‘map A’ (green rectangle area). Server B runs ‘map B’ (blue). Server C runs ‘map C’ (red). These maps are constant and don’t change unless all three are changed at once to a different set of maps ABC.

    On joining, as a red team member, the player arrives on server A. Through game progress he can move between servers, as in the example he can move forward according to the game flow. He starts on the left side and when reaching the right edge of the map he can switch servers and move to server B (blue rectangle). This is done instantly, because all servers know about the player, so there is no long connecting, and the map size is really small so they can be held in memory.  The player reaches the edge, zap, he is on the other server (map).

    What to do with this? I have several cool gameplay ideas and features for this:

    • Conquest mode

    This was the idea I had with Day of defeat. Imagine a large city. A city to be conquered by an army must move from sector to sector and win each of them. A city is a bunch of sectors, each sector is a map, each map is running on a separate server, all joined together in a seamless server. On the image above you can see red and blue dots, these are flags to be conquered. If all flags are taken on a map the players spawn and play on the server where the conflict is not yet defined (server B). The game is ended if a team conquers all sectors.

    • RPG mode

    Role-playing and long hours of play on one server will make a lot of sense with this. This will be one big world with different maps. Players will move between servers according to their experience. So at start a player would join a noob map and move from there. This would be exactly as a Massive-Multiplayer game but of course much cooler.

    • Goodbye lobby server

    Imagine a multiplayer game without a server browser. Anything like that out there? I don’t think so. Let’s say every single server in the world would be joined creating one game node, or several, for example one for each continent ‘(to solve ping issues; one game node for Europe, one for North America etc.). In each node there would be hundreds of servers. The way you would travel between servers would be through portals. Each server would link to other servers and in different parts of maps there would be little portals through which you could instantly get to another server. Of course these portals would have little info drawn on them like ping, number of players, map would be seen just by looking through the portal. Imagine chasing each other not just on one map but through several servers and maps. You could hide on a different server or go help your buddy on a different one, all without exiting the game once, all realtime.

    Of course there is much much more to this. I won’t write about the technical aspect of this because it is boring. The thing that matters is that this can be done. Definitely I want to try this out in my next game. In the meantime it can be done in Soldat.

    What a seamless server needs is:
    – a powerful host to setup 2 or more servers.
    – specifically designed maps which would act as one (or just split an existing one)
    – a script which would detect if a player reaches the edge of a map
    – disconnect the player and make him join again on the next server (this can’t be done but I can make it in 5 minutes for version 1.4.2 (feature added))

    What do you think?



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    1. This is interesting. I like the stuff that comes with it (conquest mode is pwn) but is it really worth all the work to do? seems like the lobby server works well (when it isnt bugging) to me… dunno though, I say do this stuff, just because it would be interesting.

    2. SpiltCoffee

      Sounds like a game I heard about from an interview posted on the net ( The idea there was to have two different players. You had your normal online players, and then you had your role playiny players. But for the role playing players, sometimes their game came across a level which had to be played online, so the game would connect to a server, and the server would be fitted out to play around this one guy. The allies and enemies that player played with were actual people. When a player died, he was put into the queue of people to be respawned and stuff. Well, you can read up about the idea on that site, but I think it has a sort of similar idea.

    3. I llike this idea, especially the ‘conquest’ mode idea. I have always wanted a mode like this from playing the battlefield 1942/2, and other area capture-based games. I believe if this is to be completed it would be very popular.

    4. Chrisgbk

      The idea, as you presented it, isn’t the best, simply because it creates a division between open areas. No matter how seamless the server switching process is, you would have to prevent players from appearing in front of you as soon as you enter a new server, which would involve replicating players and projectiles across at least the next server, which has overhead; in that case, it would be better to use one server on one large map.

      Where it is better suited to, is discontinuous areas such as a large underground tunnel system connecting 2 large open areas. Theres still a slight problem with that though, particularily in team games; players may camp the transition point, and the slight lag in connecting may provide better camping opportunities, and allow a slight advantage.

      If it was designed so as to allow larger player counts, as a sort of load balancing technique, that would be useful, but as it is all servers need to know about all players, so that effectively limits the number of players that can play across all connected servers.

      Conquest mode would be better suited to creating zones in a map run on one server and changing which team controls which zone, not to mention more efficient, lacking the overhead of inter-server communication.

      RPGs can make this useful, but only with solving the above mentioned points.

      The third idea, doing away with a lobby itself, is interesting, but it HAS been done before to an extent. Actually, somewhat similar to how you describe it as well, with portals with ping information; quite a few years ago I played a game such as that, but I forget what it was called. =/

      The idea itself is quite interesting, but before you implement it you have to look at it from a costs/gain perspective; if you don’t gain enough performance to offset the overhead all you are doing is hurting gameplay/performance for features that have a negligible impact. Just because you -can- do something doesn’t always mean that you -should-.

      As an aside, something like this was done with Garry’s Mod 9, a mod for HL2; someone wrote a lua script that connected to a mysql database and stored information, and allowed players to teleport between different maps on different servers.

      PS: keep up the writing, I enjoy reading it.

    5. Well.. I agree with Chris.
      Will the maps be SOOOO large that they need to be split across servers?
      And what happens if a server goes offline?

    6. SpiltCoffee: that would be awesome, I’ll check it out.

      Chrisgbk: yes this is mainly done to take off the load from servers. If a game runs smoothly with 32 players, you can raise that number by dividing more players amongst other servers. This shouldn’t be as hard as you see it, there are infinite ways of optimizing what the servers know about each other to a point where it doesn’t matter if the servers are connected or not. Also it would be a matter of clever map design to make it look realistic (players could come out of foxholes for example; and what’s wrong with players appearing out of nowhere, they do now – respawn :) ).

    7. “Server C runs ‘map C’ (red)”
      It’s orange for me.

    8. I would love to see that…

      And you would not have problem with 3 servers for exemple because you wouldent rely see the space between server it would work like if it was one server you would not even realize what apen to the player jumping true space and time ;D

      I already add the idea of soldat in a huge map with a lot of fortress and bunker that you would need to conquest great idea hope to see it soon

    9. Umm. and i think it would make more hits and warps, when the internet connection isnt too fast. If players are fighting near edges it wouldn’t be nice. For example: Player A is actually connected to server A, Player B is currently connected to server B, and their are shooting from one server to another one. I think it would make warps, and hits.

    10. I don’t think so. because they are traiding information between them so they should have no problem (maybe yes if it’s cheep server ) MM should borow the Blizzard world of warcraft server they should do the job lol

    11. To address the concern of “the area between servers”. ..

      what about just defining an overlap, such that a player can be on the edge of two servers at once? All this would require is some data be exchanged between servers, but in theory this would be a clustered thing such that all server/map sets are on a local network together.

    12. I was sure that your idea FLAB was include in the project. that why I said that there would be no problem that it would make like one map

    13. kinda like the idea but same as flabby says: All this would require is some data be exchanged between servers…

      Wonder how this would work
      but great idea never saw sth similar before actually
      would really fit within the trenchwar idea i think!

    14. DownBurst

      won’t this get as boring as trenchwar?

    15. I think the idea is pretty cool, and it should be able to work, with the proper programming (yes, im captain obvious, but dont tell 😛 ) the thing is, the server would have to be some trully powerfull machines, and the players would need good computers, and good connections asswell, in order to not be in disadvantage because of the lag….still those problems should be solved with the upcoming tecnologies… I loved the fact of chasing people trough different servers, and being able to go help a buddy thats getting beated down in a whole different server and all those kind of things….

      In my opinion you should first start making large maps for soldat, battlefield style, with the conquest style of the Day of defeat, to see how that runs and give us gamers a litle taste of what you have :P…. Still, the portals and the node, servers idea is a must, it would be a great advance in online games….

    16. This sounds like it might have some major glitches at first, but it might work very well… my only concern would be- How would players chat? I mean, if they’re on two, or three servers, there’d have to be either A.) an outside application; B.) A built in third or fourth server which would house all text messages /commands ect ect; C.) no Ingame chat or D.) The servers would have to exchange chat data as well, which I think at least, would make it much laggier to talk.

      The second and fourth options sound the best, but they would add more of a challange to making it work, wouldn’t they? The First is feasable, but it’d have to be something like teamspeak, or else players would have to minimize the game, and switch to… IRC or something of the like, and then you couldnt guarantee team chat, because enemy team players could join the chat server.

    17. This is gonna be GREAT!!!but i didnt understand the seamless server switch….
      it goes like this……
      you are in A server (the left side of the map or something like that) right ?
      or on B or on C…….
      if i go from A to B i have to wait till it downloads the map ????
      and 1 more thing…if this will work the maps will be LARGE !!! :)
      or we just make them small

    18. Couldn’t the three servers be connected to make one “virtual server”?

      Or is such a thing not possible?

    19. Great idea MM.

      It could integrate into an Event I’ve been tossing around in my head. There are still a lot of kinks to work out, though it would basically be a Soldat version of the board game Risk. Your team occupies x amount of territories, and you battle for each territory until one team occupies the whole world map. It wouldn’t be Clanwar style, because that would mean just another lame tournament. It would be a 3 day, non-stop killing extravaganza. The only problem is renting enough servers for each territory.

      However, with your idea MM, the only flaw I see, as with others is basic transition. Making a through and through seamless would mean constant data transfer of bullets, sounds, positions, etc, which could tax the connection more than the constant gostek directional change. It’s a great idea, but it would require more of the user’s computer, and it would take away a lot of Soldat’s ability to run on poor people’s computers.

      For a brand new game, however, it’d be nice. Don’t go into RPG’s MM, they will take over your time as a developer, and ours as players. Stick with 2-D, this idea with 2-D would be simple. And FLAB’s overlapping would be ingenious to implement, but regardless, there’s always the instant in which the servers need to communicate.

      Still clueless >.0

    20. PuddleJumper: Did you ever play Jagged Alliance 2? There was a map consisting of 16×16 tiles, which made for 256 maps. The whole map was a country or island. Each of these tiles could be a server.
      There wouldn’t be that much data transfered between servers because they would only have to know what happens on the edge of a map. To optimize this, there could be no action on an edge, for example there would be a small passage, or sewer connecting both maps. Of course this leads to spawn camping problems but those aren’t new problems.

    21. Im pretty sure games like Guild Wars already employ something like you described for RPG. ;o

    22. Hmm…..a server can handle only a certain amount of players at the same time, right?
      I mean, image this:
      There’s a chain of 3 servers, each of them can handle 30 players at most.
      Lets say, on each of those servers there are 20 players, so there are 60 players in the whole chain…it could easily happen that MORE than those 20 players one server can handle gather on ONE server.
      What to do?
      “Closing” a server for new connections if it is full doesn’t sound like a good idea and kinda would destroy the whole concept of the seamless maps.

      So, the maximum player limit in the whole chain would be dependant on the weakest server in the chain, which means that on all servers together there can’t be more players than the weakest of those servers can handle.
      And this again means that you could just use one single server with a huge map as well.

      It surely is a good idea for games with maps that need a lot of memory (thus you can distribute the memory needs on different machines), but isn’t this quite unimportant for 2D-games with todays servers?

    23. I don’t like the idea :)

      Well why connect some servers to one? game nodes could easily be done by one server with “virtual retangles”

      Who needs all EU servers in one node? Not very clearly arranged.

      But for example a gamenode with maxplayers 64 in conquestmode mit maps ABC. All players would meet at map B sometimes -> huge load on one server

    24. I like the idea. The game will become a total war and that’s fun.


    26. SpiltCoffee

      Allies vs Axis anyone?

    27. There would’nt be a over load on one server even if all the 60 players would be playing on the same server the reason his thatif we have 3 server and one with 60 player on it the 2 other servers would handle 20 players each so the server “overload” would handle only 20 players to because the tree server can exchange the information of all players at all time and some of that info would be supported by the two “empty” servers.

    28. Not if you set it that the less used Server helps the full one in resources, if thats possible

    29. Servers with a load-balancer would be much better, cause – as keydon said before – the problem with huge load on one server would not occure.

    30. I like the idea, but not that last bit about having no lobby. I mean, I’m battling the reds and all of a sudden some guy spawns in with a flag and goes “Don’t mind me, I’m from a different server” and then a whole bunch of people come in chasing him and then the game I was playing is messed up.
      I think maybe that last idea would have to be a new gamemode called something like total war. 😉

    31. A lot of you guys are mixing up the separate ideas he’s presenting and also misunderstanding them. He’s talking about the same ideas already in use in some games like WoW and Guild Wars, as well as some new ideas like allowing people to set up their own server “clusters” for games like Soldat, e.g. people can host their own servers, not always play on regional gateways like WoW

    32. And be sure that if it works for WoW it’s gonna work for a 2D game like soldat with only 60 players for exemple instead of 1000 for WoW

    33. I don’t see how a 3-d server like Bf can hold over 60+ pple when a 2D server can barely hold 30. Does a 2D server take more resources? or are servers aren’t very powerful?

    34. SpiltCoffee

      Battlefield 2142 Titan servers crashed a lot with 48+ players. But that’s just EA’s poor coding.

    35. Sounds like a nice idea. If the servers were sharing the information as explained, then it would be seamless. In other words, you would be connected in a way, to all three servers at once so there would be no problem of switching between servers. You would jump through the “seam” between the server without feeling a thing, and since all players would be connected to all three servers, you would be able to see others players through the interconnectivity of the servers. Eh?

      Whatever, nice idea…the idea of conquest combined with this would be nice…It would be taking the gmod movie of “War of the Servers” literally :). That would be pretty awesome.

    36. In short, this idea pwnz. I don’t have a ton to say because I’m not a programmer and don’t know what to talk about, but if you could pull this off, I’m sure you could do just about anything. It would be simply stunning.

    37. SpiltCoffee

      Heh… make a warp polygon so strong it physically throws your Soldat onto another server. Screw the server knowing about it. It can just have another Soldat.

    38. This idea rocks!
      Soldat already has the best gameplay I’ve ever seen.
      I like the RPG mode and the conquest mode looks funny too.
      If this become reality, I’m pretty sure Soldat will own all multiplayer games! 😀
      Keep up good work!

    39. man i was thinking of this too..but i never figure out wat to call it and i never post it on the forums bcuz of the flamers… anyways great idea except that part about no lobby server… diversity is good..

    40. really nice & original idea! but are u sure u can do that ;x work & release all plans sucefully?

    41. Now that I re-thought this… It could be a nice idea. For example, there could be server networks, you enter the server, and it’s like a big world where you can play different gamemodes. Just like WoW or something. In Soldat-like games it could go like you enter different part of map -> gamemode changes, and so on. Of course the maps should be veeery big. Could be intresting ;O But it would take too much time, for such a crazy idea.

    42. ShakeyX

      What i dont understand is you said it would be done on a small map for memory issues… then what would be the point as you can allready play conquest (capture the flag) style on one server, i dont see the aim of making 3 to go accross unless it was a massive massive massive map with up2 like 100 players, with doors connecting the sections of the map so that ping isnt an issue in each area

    43. truup : oh that would be cool. One game could mix several game modes. For example the middle map would have CTF, the left and right map would have INF. Also there could be any other map spawning from there that would be played with HTF. Each map wold have a specific game type and winning the whole server would mean that you would have to master all kinds of gameplay!

    44. Josheat

      Sweet Ideas. I especially like the conquest mode, awesome for soldat. just have waves of bots at you. =D

      EVE-Online uses this sort of setup with stackless python

    45. heh Josheat, I was wondering how long it would take for someone to mention EVE-Online, and then you even went so far as to mention the stackless python 😉

    46. Wow, Very indepth

      I’d like to see this with “Soldat 2.0″

    47. I think this idea could be used in hundreds of different combinations. Different game modes, new game modes, bigger maps, more action…

      Michal : A name for that type of gameplay could be called ‘Domination.’ Haha, if all ideas were incorporated, new players wouldn’t know where to start! And the community would be so big… *cries in joy*

      I want to see an example with, like, ctf_Ash or something. I’d start with a small thing and see how ‘seamless’ it can really be. Then work from there up! No problem, right?? 😀

    48. Bond James Bond

      I’d love to see this in the next Soldat.

    49. Kavukamari

      it kinda scares me *trembles* it seems like a crapload of coding, and I think it’s impossible, am I wrong?

    50. your wrong

    51. What if you went on the very edge of 1 server, could you see whats on the other side? :S

      If not, then people could “camp” at the edges of the map, and pwn anyone who comes by ;D

    52. It is a great idea for future games, but definitely not something that can be added into a game like Soldat without a lot of work.

      As for everyone “gathering” on one server, it would or would not be a problem depending on whether or not the servers share game information. If they do, then there’d be a lot of bandwidth usage between servers. If they do, it’ll also allow multiple servers to work together even when all players are on the same section (eg B).

      Maybe the way to do it is to have servers each handle a part of the map, as well as all processing/tracking/whatever related to certain players? That way it is also distributed across the servers even if everyone shows up on one server at once

    53. Some time ago i was playing mmorg game called Entropia Universe. I don’t have 100% certanity but i think that this idea was implemented there. The game had huge map(althought quite empty;) ) and there was only only one server, well actually it looked like one but really there were more. For example when game was about to be updated you got countdown(5 min) to logout because by that time server should go offline, but it happened to me a few times that when i didn’t logout in time and i was teleported somewhere faraway where the countdown was still going. Alike when i logged right after patch i got error message that the server is offline and i apperead very far from where i was while logging out. Moreover there were places on the map with lightning glitches, speciffically lightning difference between polygon edges streching sometimes over long distances. And i never seen any problems with people rapidly showing up while going from one server to another. So it looks like it can be implemented quite efficiently.

    54. Makron666

      Hey micheal, you know how you discussed “weekly Battles”, well you should add a mode like that in link dead and create giant worlds using the seamless servers method. Or cut the world up into segments and have a small load inbetween sectors. And i hope link dead has anti-aliasing 16x option.

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    60. Considering how many bugs there were in soldat with only one server in the mix, i can only see chaos for this idea. Slots would be hard to keep track of, you’d have to query all the server lists and have them communicate with each other, so that one person moving from one server to the next isn’t disconnected as another person joins, taking their place (when the server is full). It sounds like a good idea in theory, especially if the map is large (or there are many many players) enough to need multiple servers, however, i think it would be very hard to implement. Not saying that such a thing has, or ever would stop you from trying it, Michal.

    61. its been done… and i still think its a good idea.

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    70. wow Soo similar to my idea for a game RPG/sidescroll shooter. But my game had fully custumizeable weapons and skills like:Invonurbility 20sec+ cooldown for everysecond. And rage:20More Mp required for every 10th%. Or something more balanced. Would be an awsome game. But when im rich enough to get trew whit it i probebly dont remember it :)

      kinda sad though…

    71. genius idea! i would love to see it implemented. this would make a game absolutely incredible.

    72. johnny zaybock

      grat idea its like a mmo soldat style

    73. i had this idea earlier, but i didn’t tell anyone

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    79. […] devlog then you’ll see that there is nothing new there. I’ve talked about these ideas here and […]

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