Beyond Dark’s giant online universe has millions of planets and almost infinite exploration possibilities. In addition, there can be 100,000 players in one galaxy and each player may control 100’s of ships and colonise many more planets.
A game engine that can handle a 3D universe 100’s of light years across, yet allows players to zoom in and see their customized ships in all their glory with millimeter precision, simply does not exist. To build Beyond Dark we had to heavily customise the Unity 5 engine, as well as build our own server-side engine (called the Andromeda Engine) to host the gigantic online universe on our servers.
Building a game engine that handles this incredibly large universe is a challenge. I have worked on previous AAA multiplayer titles, the advantage in these previous games was that only a small proportion of players were online at one time, and when players went offline, we didn’t need to process their gameplay.
The bigger challenge in building Beyond Dark was that players can have many units and can give orders to those units, such as to fly across the galaxy or to intercept another ship. If the player goes offline, those units must still be processed and updated according to the orders of the player. Other players must be able to see those units and interact with them. In other ordinary MMOs players have a single unit and it disappears when you log out. This was a tremendous challenge in building the Andromeda Engine for Beyond Dark.
Now we have built and tested the modified Unity engine and our Andromeda Engine, we are focusing heavily on layering in great gameplay. This week we have been working on visibility, where players must have radar coverage to see enemy ship movements, and use sensors to scan unexplored planets. Our special FX programmers have also been creating fantastic looking engine thrusters, more info and pics follow in an upcoming post…
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