A DICE Dev About Scale and Playercount

#1 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

With Battlefield 3 on the horizon and it being multiplatform, this ancient forum post by a DICE developer might be of interest...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's about the scale and playercount of the console versions of BF:BC 2 and what they can or cannot do and why. There's definitly hope for a larger scale Battlefield game on consoles.
 
Enjoy. And dream of a bigger and more badass Battlefield experience than ever.
#2 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -

Interesting that the bandwidth is the primary limitation, and that only because MS and Sony enforce a certain limit.  I noticed when playing RDR with voice chat that bandwidth never went over 8KB/sec...  That's like ISDN speed...

#3 Posted by Binman88 (3687 posts) -

Wasn't it enough to just post this in the other topic about BF3? Anyway, as long as they don't compromise the PC version for the sake of the console version, I'll be happy. I'd rather play an updated BF2, than BC2 again.

#4 Edited by bitcloud (646 posts) -

MAG runs 256 lagless, whatever restrictions there are, obviously vary by platform. I'd rather have them put the full fledged game on the PS3 and not something stripped down either, intelligently map the controls and you're set.  
 
RDR is player hosted by the way.

#5 Posted by Joelteon7 (101 posts) -

The thing about MAG is that the graphics are notched down, there aren't anywhere near as many vehicles and there is no destruction. All these elements interact with each other, so the bandwidth will be be taken up by these, and all the people in there using everything they're using to effect these other things. 
 
Of course, BF3 will be using the new and improved Frostbite 2.0, as opposed to the 1.X version we're using now for BC2. Hopefully the drawback of having fewer people will be brought back up to scale as the engine is refined and tweaked. Regardless, I can see the consoles getting less people. At most, I reckon they'd push it up to 28 or 32, at worst it'll stay the same. 

#6 Posted by bitcloud (646 posts) -
@Joelteon7:  32-64 is well within the realm of possibility. BC was always meant to be a smaller game anyway.
#7 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -
@bitcloud said:

" MAG runs 256 lagless, whatever restrictions there are, obviously vary by platform. I'd rather have them put the full fledged game on the PS3 and not something stripped down either, intelligently map the controls and you're set.   RDR is player hosted by the way. "

MAG suffers from massive drawbacks due to it's 'Massive Action Game' nature. There's literally no simulation to speak off. From ballistics to vehicles to whatever else other games run simulations for, MAG has none. Graphics obviously suffered a lot too. Opposed to the promise of huge battles, MAG's gamedesign doesn't really allow for the full 128 vs 128 players to clash at any time, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of the game. I guess it's fun enough, but I don't find its concept or execution to be particularly enticing.
 
If you've got a decent PC, try out some of Novalogic's games. Joint Operations and Delta Force titles allow for up to 128 players (some servers even go for 200+ slots) on maps that are actually wide open. With tons of vehicles. From tanks to choppers to motorcycles to boats and so forth. That's the kind of gameplay I expected from MAG. Sadly, it didn't deliver. As a matter of fact, it feels and looks more like a very largescale CounterStrike 1.6. Kinda antiquated and not reflective of its huge playercount. Also - CounterStrike's moment to moment gameplay is still worlds better than MAG's, even outside of CS's interesting economy mechanics.
 
MAG just ain't a good comparision, because Zipper was willing to sacrifice anything to get MAG running semi-smoothly with 256 players on one map and enabling semi-meaningful gameplay experiences for everyone. Battlefield always had high fidelity vehicle simulations as a part of its core gameplay. High fidelity simulations are in Battlefields genetics. Sacrificing simulations ain't the way to go. Adding more and better simulation to future Battlefield games is the way to go. This generation, they added fully interactive environments to the mix. To great success. At the cost of scale. That said - we hopefully will see BF3's scale go back up to 64 player maps without sacrifices made to all the other aspects of the game.
 
In the longterm, DICE definitly has made the right decision. They've got a leg up on the competition with their Frostbite engine technology. No other engine performs the miracles Frostbite does in an online environment at that scale (albeit it's still somewhat unstable). Not even CryEngine. Can't wait to see the BF3 reveals. I will bust a nut.
#8 Posted by Joelteon7 (101 posts) -
@bitcloud:  Yeah, but you try telling that to the legion of fan(atics) who seemed to think that Bad Company was supposed to be exactly the same as Battlefield. The people who actually listened to the devs are the ones who have to keep chirping on that BC/2 wasn't designed to be BF3 or whatever. Hopefully the console versions will be up to par, but I can see them being scaled down. I can see them being very similar to the infantry only maps from BF2/2142 which were smaller, but with some vehicles. I can't see there being that much of a difference between BC2 and BF3 for the consoles, to be honest. At least if the bandwidth limitations stay in place. 
 
@Seppli said:
 In the longterm, DICE definitly has made the right decision. They've got a leg up on the competition with their Frostbite engine technology. No other engine performs the miracles Frostbite does in an online environment at that scale (albeit it's still somewhat unstable). Not even CryEngine. Can't wait to see the BF3 reveals. I will bust a nut. "
I agree entirely. Destruction aside, I'd have to say my favourite new feature, if you can call it that, is the sound. I can't think of any other game with as such amazing sound effects. If only BC2 had that distinctive theme tune. (Also, do you happen to use the official EA UK BF forums? I think I've seen your name on there before, or, I'm making it up and looking like a complete weirdo!)
#9 Edited by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@Seppli said:

If you've got a decent PC, try out some of Novalogic's games. Joint Operations and Delta Force titles allow for up to 128 players (some servers even go for 200+ slots) on maps that are actually wide open. With tons of vehicles. From tanks to choppers to motorcycles to boats and so forth. That's the kind of gameplay I expected from MAG.

Joint Ops often ran like absolute laggy shit though.  The simulation was also on a VERY similar level of MAG, while at least MAG was nowhere near as laggy.
 
To this date no FPS/TPS has done 128+ player games without significant lag problems.
 
edit : btw, I really enjoyed Joint Ops, but it was a super laggy experience.  I have about 3 VHS filled with gameplay footage to prove it too, heh.
#10 Posted by bitcloud (646 posts) -
@Seppli: MAG was mean't to be infantry based combat and not really focus on vehicles to begin with. What I hope happens is the have the single player be BC3 and the multiplayer be the evolution of BF2. MAG maintains a really smooth fps and network latency because the devs don't stop tweaking where they can and Zipper definitely knows multiplayer games.  
 
@Joelteon7: As long as they continue to optimize, there won't be a problem. I also think sometimes the BF games of old maps were too big and a lot of areas became empty. I see them taking what they have collectively learned from the BC series and BF PC series and putting out a better game then both. The BC series was designed to be smaller so a return to form on BF3 would be refreshing.
#11 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -
@Diamond said:

" @Seppli said:

If you've got a decent PC, try out some of Novalogic's games. Joint Operations and Delta Force titles allow for up to 128 players (some servers even go for 200+ slots) on maps that are actually wide open. With tons of vehicles. From tanks to choppers to motorcycles to boats and so forth. That's the kind of gameplay I expected from MAG.

Joint Ops often ran like absolute laggy shit though.  The simulation was also on a VERY similar level of MAG, while at least MAG was nowhere near as laggy.  To this date no FPS/TPS has done 128+ player games without significant lag problems.  edit : btw, I really enjoyed Joint Ops, but it was a super laggy experience.  I have about 3 VHS filled with gameplay footage to prove it too, heh. "
Not quite true. Novalogic got into some financial trouble and whatnot and has passed on the servers to another company. Back in the day, when all was rosy and Joint Ops just came out, I had no lag problems whatsoever playing on European servers. I frequented East Coast servers from time to time too, which was still playable for me. I heard bad things from the game since that other company took over the server duties. 
 
Anyways - the point I tried to make was, that MAG isn't designed for every player to fight on the same frontline. The maps are more designed like elaborate mazes. Corners and walls and whatnot splitting up the 256 players into smaller fractions. Usually these fractions ain't much more than 32-64 players. Nowhere near as epic a battle as Joint Operations' battles where. Never told Joint Operations had amazing simulations running. I just said it's the best 'Massive Action Game' I've ever played, because it's designed with super-sized warfare in mind. Whereas MAG focuses on a ton of little crucial tasks, Joint Operations just let 128 players go wild on huge maps without artificial restrictions. Actual large scale warfare.
#12 Posted by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

Sounds interesting but idk if I want huge amounts of players like MAG.

#13 Posted by Ryax (4630 posts) -

still not happy about it being multi platform.. 

#14 Edited by Diamond (8634 posts) -
@Seppli:  I played the demo basically day one and bought the game very soon after.  I live on the East Coast so those were the servers I went on, as far as I remember.  I basically played the game from soon after the first release until a few weeks after the 1st expansion.  Unless they sold off the servers extremely quickly, it was basically an ever present good chunk of latency and skippiness.  It wasn't so bad that I wasn't the #1 player on the largest servers for a few rounds, god I wish I still had screenshots of those victories.  Basically everyone had the lag, and the game was still really cool, but it wasn't anything like the smoothness of a round of BF1942 or Counter Strike...
 
MAG separates the players, as you say, and that does keep the latency down.  Also, since it's a console game they could have client side hit detection, which would really help how firing the guns felt.
 
Personally I still have a lot of doubt if they announce BF3 will support 128 or more players, even if only on PC.
#15 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -
@bitcloud: 
 
I know that. I acknowledge that. I just don't find MAG conceptually enticing. If I play a game with a huge playercount, I expect the battlefield experience to reflect that. MAG just doesn't deliver that massive battle I'd appreciate in such a game. It's just another smallscale experience thanks to gamedesign breaking the players apart and funneling them into lots of smaller skirmishes. It's just not what I find enticing about huge playercount gameplay. I expect tons of infantry and countless air and land and sea vehicles ranging from huge transportation vessels to assault crafts of all sizes and functionality. I expect 1001 viable ways to tackle the given tasks. I expect each and every player fighting over the same couple of objectives at all times. 
 
It's extremely hard to do such largescale combat and it being any fun for the casual FPS player, because huge numbers have to be mitigated by hefty respawn timers and long transportation routes (seemingly, since nobody came up with something better), in order to prevent a constant stalemate. The result is a much slower paced experience with lots of commuting from your spawn to the objectives. MAG went for a different feel. Much faster paced and streamlined. Akin to other modern warfare shooters, such as BF:BC 2 and CoD : MW2. As I said before. If I want the feel MAG's going for, I'm looking for that in smaller scale games, because they offer just that... in much higher fidelity. I believe you can do high playercount gameplay with wide open maps and keeping everyone together without resorting to extreme commutes to the objectives and superlong respawn timers. If it was my job to come up with such a thing, I would. 
 
Anyways - it's a shame that the current generation of consoles doesn't seem to be able to handle 'massive action games' without extreme drawbacks in fidelity and interactivity and freedom. Things PCs were already doing when console players were still playing on PS1. The bigger maps of BF:BC 1, such as Oasis and Harvest Day and End of the Line are the closest consoles got to that type of gameplay. In fact it's still my favorite to this day. BF:BC 2 has the better moment to moment gameplay. The big picture sadly ain't all that. DICE just sacrified a lot of freedom for more casual appeal. Faster pacing, less angles to play. I hope BF3 will increase freedom and scale... and hopefully playercount too.
#16 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -
@Diamond said:

" @Seppli:  I played the demo basically day one and bought the game very soon after.  I live on the East Coast so those were the servers I went on, as far as I remember.  I basically played the game from soon after the first release until a few weeks after the 1st expansion.  Unless they sold off the servers extremely quickly, it was basically an ever present good chunk of latency and skippiness.  It wasn't so bad that I wasn't the #1 player on the largest servers for a few rounds, god I wish I still had screenshots of those victories.  Basically everyone had the lag, and the game was still really cool, but it wasn't anything like the smoothness of a round of BF1942 or Counter Strike... MAG separates the players, as you say, and that does keep the latency down.  Also, since it's a console game they could have client side hit detection, which would really help how firing the guns felt.  Personally I still have a lot of doubt if they announce BF3 will support 128 or more players, even if only on PC. "

Admittedly - It had a small delay to everything. Just little enough not to qualify for a real lag. I got used to it quickly. Can't remember any rubberbanding or teleporting lag. Zero gamebreaking latency issues. At least when playing on local European servers. 
 
Generally, Europe has way better internet connectivity than the US. We ain't got a middle with nothing but cornfields.
#17 Posted by bitcloud (646 posts) -
@Seppli: I don't know about that casual players being turned off. I know a bunch of people jumping onto PS3 games for different reasons and if someone is willing to learn a game, it doesn't have to be difficult. I'm not saying you HAVE to like MAG or anything, but it offers an fps game in it's own flavour and does a good job at what Zipper wanted. 
 
Consoles are just now stepping into PC territory and it really just gets better from here. All there games I have seen in MAG(full game) have had no lag whatsoever. BC2 had a stint of laggy servers, but it's all fixed now.

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