"We feel that a single shard should be the natural choice of any MMO developer," says CCP in one of Game Developer
magazine's most talked-about features
, in which the EVE Online
team outlines the technical solutions that simultaneously connect all its players.
In keeping with that opinion, EVE Online
is very unlike the majority of MMOs on the market, but its continued growth points to a team that has hit upon an unusual recipe for success, and here, the team explains its strengths:
"The real solution to this problem [the quality of procedurally-generated content] is to embrace the notion that in an MMO, just like in any other social network, players are the content," the team says in the article.
"Once that is accepted as a fundamental design guideline, it becomes easier to navigate the challenges involved in creating and maintaining a single shard architecture and actually gives the advantage to that design model."
The article goes into depth to explain how the team tackled major design and, particularly, technical issues within its game -- which encourages players to change the fabric of the game space by setting up their own outposts.
For example, the team uses a database system that alleviates some problems, even as it presents challenges: "Having a distributed database system, where one database stores all characters and other databases store each shard, brings all kinds of complexities that we don't have to deal with," it says. "There is no need to replicate data between databases, nor to call multiple databases nor move characters and belongings between sharded databases and so on."
To find out more about the challenges faced by the EVE Online
team and their solutions to them, check out Gamasutra's latest feature, Infinite Space: An Argument for Single-Sharded Architecture in MMOs