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What’s Next For Star Citizen – Building An MMO

The next major thing for Star Citizen is SSOCS (Server Object Container Streaming).

This is the current bottleneck in a series of tech they need to complete to expand out the universe, improve performance, get more players in each server, have new star systems & permanent progression. Let’s talk about the expectations of this, Server Meshing, Persistence, problems that CIG may face and when will we see it?

Currently a single server is responsible for the entire gameplay area (which is constantly being tracked) and is one of the reasons that that we only have 50 players per server currently. 

Server Object Container Streaming allows the Server to standby gameplay areas if they have no players proximate there and activate them when they are close by.

This tech should be paired with further optimizations when it comes to the generation and clear up of missions, NPCs and entities which is extremely important. 

SSOCS does not solve all our issues with Star Citizen’s Network code, it is not a magic bullet, it is another step towards what is needed to make Star Citizen an MMO.

It’s also an essential component of Squadron 42 the Single Player Campaign of SC as effectively your PC acts as both Server & Client, it’s tied to a lot of the core tech of the game.

So what can we expect with SSOCS, CIG have been quite juxtaposed in their responses saying both that it might not add much in the way of performance gains and also it’s like night and day and gives gains in a similar way that Client Side OCS opened up frames rates to us.

The goal of SSOCS however is not for direct client performance boosts.

It may allow for more players on a single server BUT again that is not it’s goal.

It should improve server performance with less server crashes, less degradation better hit registration, less issues with AI, rubberbanding, better framerates where the server had bottle necked.

Originally Full Persistence and SSOCS were going to be unified, this would have objects saved where you placed them on the server when the area went into standby and between server crashes and potentially between servers. So when you load back in you’d be exactly where you were when you logged out. It’s not clear at this stage whether CIG want to have some of the changes you have affected in the world load in with you and exactly what changes are tied to you logging in HOWEVER whatever their decision regarding this will likely be a temporary measure as Server Meshing could eventually solve this by having everyone on the same mega-meshed server. 

CIG have since said that they can Decouple some of the Persistence & SSOCS features and release them in step. There is an expectation that some of this might come with Alpha 3.8 by the end of they year. Partial Persistence with aUEC & Purchases being carried over to each patch has big potential here (please note that this does not mean NO MORE resets, but more likely less, CIG will reset the databases if they need to and when they change over to UEC from aUEC) BUT also the inclusion of Planet microTech in the Patch also suggests that either SSOCS will be in game OR some of it’s features and optimizations towards that. 

Server Meshing is a little way off yet, it allows for multiple servers to hand information off to each other seamlessly and them to look after different areas of the same Star System as well as different Star Systems, it’s believed that Server Meshing is required to have more Star Systems in Game. This comes in 2 stages Static, where individual planets & areas of space will have their own servers. And then Dynamic Server Meshing which will allow any given object container be it a ship, space station or room to become a server based on the player population of that area.

This does still leave questions of what will CIG do if Server Meshing doesn’t work as intended, how exactly will CIG prevent 20000 players from trying to have an Org Party in a single bar in the game?

If some players are separated by different servers how do the changes affect the game world at large? Well some of this CIG have previously talked about as well.

There will be a system that tracks changes in the game world, missions, npcs and simulates them & records the data and this will affect the game world, producing appropriate missions, changing the cost of goodies, probabilities of NPCs spawning in, getting attacked by pirates, or receiving a distress signal or even getting interdicted.

To what level it will track a player placing a rock on the ground in a certain way and that data being saved, that’s a slightly more complex question.

We know that the world will have to spawn enemies, missions, loot and POI in.

The most likely system CIG will use is one where items persist where you leave them based on a level of importance, an item that has value like a weapon placed by a player may persist where you left it for a month where as a rock you throw an hour & when you log back on they could have you loading back in on the server you were originally… HOWEVER if they have to split players up where in the same area they changes made area likely going to be “cleaned up” and basically not saved or not important.

This is much more likely to happen in HuB areas so major landing zones or trade huds… this is also areas that it probably matters a lot less that these changes are saved.

My thinking is that certain areas like individual physicalized habs will be less visited, areas in cities that get over populated they can delay trains, raise prices, slow elevators or artificially bottleneck to keep player populations down in a single areas.

CIG won’t know exactly how effective SSOCS, Server Meshing and all this tech will be until they have completed it and optimized it. How many players will we get on each server, it will be more and as many as CIG can manage BUT we don’t know how many when.

Static Server Meshing will allow for a lot more, the Dynamic Meshing a lot more. WE might not get any more players on a server with SSOCS though.

SSOCS could be here by the end of year 2019.

Static Server Meshing could potentially be in our hands in 2020.