One of the goals of Dual Universe, an upcoming massively multiplayer science fiction sandbox game, is to have every one of its players, potentially millions, playing on the same game server together. Earlier this month developer Novaquark ran a large-scale experiment, simulating 30,000 concurrent players wandering the same in-game planet. It’s a sight to see.
Getting everybody playing in the same place is an issue every massively multiplayer game faces. Techniques like multiple servers and instanced game zones ensure that there are never too many players in the same place at the same time. Dual Universe’s developers want everybody in the same universe. If a dozen players want to come together and build a base using the game’s robust construction tools, they can meet up without having to change shards or connect to their own instanced servers. If 30,000 players want to throw a massive party planetside, that’s fine too. Just watch.
The 30,000 players were AI, of course, aimlessly wandering the planet’s surface. It’s not quite the same as having 30,000 live users online at once, each with different connection speeds. There were alpha test players present for the event as well, however, and it seemed to work fine for them, without significant lag or the game crashing.
I’ve been following Dual Universe’s development for some time now, and I really like what I’ve seen. It’s got that mysterious science fiction vibe that endeared me to games like Anarchy Online. Maybe I’ll run into several thousand old friends when the game launches next year on PC.