Today's main Gamasutra feature article, an excerpt from the Massively Multiplayer Game Development 2
book, describes the algorithmic basis needed for implementing an MMORTS game capable of sustaining hundreds of units for each player.
The introduction to the piece, by authors Gideon Amir and Ramon Axelrod, explains:
"In a massive multiplayer online real-time strategy game (MMORTS), thousands of players share the same contiguous virtual space. Each player controls dozens of units (in contrast with MMORPGs) and can battle with/against any number of players simultaneously. The players need to receive information in the immediate surrounding of all their units. As these units can be very far apart and see many other players with thousands of units, the amount of information that must be transferred to the client machines to keep their world state consistent is far greater than those required in the MMORPG genre.
Dealing with this tremendous flow of information poses one of the greatest challenges of the MMORTS game genre. Naïvely, updating all the information (in excess of 50KB/sec) around each of the players’ units all the time is impractical in today’s low-bandwidth modems. Even if every end user had equipment capable of reaching this kind of throughput, the cost of such communication load will be tremendous to the game provider."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on the subject (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).