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The Icon Bar: News and features: Artex/VOTI announce networking initiative

Artex/VOTI announce networking initiative

Posted by Tim Fountain on 13:17, 27/1/2001 | ,
Artex Software and coding group Visions of the Impossible have announced a new partnership to try and produce a standard networking system for use on future Artex and VOTI games. According to VOTI coder Lee Johnston, their system will include a simplified API with specific support for client-server gaming architectures. If successful, the system may be offered to other RISC OS games programmers in the future.
  Artex/VOTI announce networking initiative
  (17:32 27/1/2001)
  Mark Quint (19:34 27/1/2001)
    Nathan (22:59 27/1/2001)
      Rich (10:21 29/1/2001)
        Lee Johnston (12:29 29/1/2001)
          Rich Goodwin (09:33 30/1/2001)
            Lee Johnston (11:31 30/1/2001)
              Mark Quint (21:58 30/1/2001)
                Rich Goodwin (10:01 31/1/2001)
                  Lee Johnston (10:02 31/1/2001)
                    Rich Goodwin (09:51 1/2/2001)
                      Alex Macfarlane Smith (10:49 1/2/2001)
                        Mark Quint (14:10 11/3/2001)
Gunnlaugur Jonsson Message #86837, posted at 17:32, 27/1/2001
Unregistered user Fantastic! Finally a serious chance of multiplayer games for RISC OS!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Mark Quint Message #86838, posted at 19:34, 27/1/2001, in reply to message #86837
Unregistered user wahey!!! just need the games now.....
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Nathan Message #86839, posted at 22:59, 27/1/2001, in reply to message #86838
Unregistered user Just to let you know that getting RISC OS games to play over a network is looking quite difficult. Unfortunately RISC OS isn't well supported in this regard.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rich Message #86840, posted at 10:21, 29/1/2001, in reply to message #86839
Unregistered user What part's giving the problem? Surely the stack's fairly standard, otherwise RISC OS would have problems communicating with other machines - apart from standard Internet stuff, I know Quake and Doom are slow but it has been done and the source is available...?

Of course I'd offer to help, but I doubt my Perl/BASIC would be of much assistance ;)
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Lee Johnston Message #86841, posted at 12:29, 29/1/2001, in reply to message #86840
Unregistered user Part of the problem is that one of the RISC OS machines will probably have to act as a game server. You're immediately dividing the servers available bandwidth by N where N is the number of players. Then, assuming you're updating certain state every frame you need to take that value and divide by your frame rate. Finally divide roughly by two for receiving and broadcasting messages. Now assume that the best you have is a 56k modem and it's not looking great.

I don't think people truly appreciate just how little bandwidth there is available for high performance games. Something like Quake works because it has a central server sitting on a big fat pipe running the game code and distributing the results. Throw in some really hard core client side prediction and it works (just about). Doom works because IIRC you can only play two player.

I also think people don't appreciate just how bad the Internet is. It has improved since X-Wing vs Tie Fighter appeared but LucasArts reported seeing over 50% packet loss. Having said that while the backbone is reasonably good now the last mile hop (ie from you to your exchange) is usually absolutely terrible.
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Rich Goodwin Message #86842, posted at 09:33, 30/1/2001, in reply to message #86841
Unregistered user I appreciate the points made, but what I don't get is why "RISC OS isn't well supported in this regard". Surely it's the same for any OS? And as any online machine can be a server for Quake-style games these days it's not always solved by having a central server. Doom especially doesn't have a central server ability IIRC as TCP/IP support is a hack on the null modem stuff isn't it?

There aren't many games for RISC OS that have network support, but I was hoping Nathan would clarify if there's a particular problem with RISC OS itself.

I guess it might help if you can get a RISC OS-friendly ISP to run a server or two...? (hint: the same people who were willing to run a RISC Quake server for R-Comp's version of Quake?)
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Lee Johnston Message #86843, posted at 11:31, 30/1/2001, in reply to message #86842
Unregistered user RISC OS is (more or less) as capable of running networked games as any other OS. Note the lack of multithreading does mean that we are unable to exploit certain technologies that are available without considerable effort of the part of the team trying to exploit them. I also understand that Pace are in possession of a much improved IP stack which will be appearing in RISC OS 4.5. I don't know what the exact improvements are but you don't rewrite an IP stack without good reason.

What RISC OS lacks is recognised support from the Internet community at large. I won't go into details but there are problems with simply trying to host a game. (Incorrectly configured firewalls, firewalls doing port remapping, sometimes it's difficult to solve these without support from the people hosting the problem area). I'm aware of how Quake gets around some of these problems. For the time being we're trying something slightly different.

Have you played a largish Quake game where the machine acting as the server only has a 56k modem? I rather suspect that if it works at all the only thing that saves it is the client side prediction. In fact it may not be noticable on a fast network but the client in Quake is actually continuously out of sync with the server. However it's a simple game which makes it easier to deal with this.

Doom is two player only - compared to trying to support a four player game the bandwidth that's available is luxurious.

If you've ever played Command and Conquer over a network you'll realise just how bad it can be when it goes wrong.

So no there's nothing particularly wrong with RISC OS as such but there are problems to overcome.
When Nathan said "support" there are wider issues than the OS as it runs on your computer but they are RISC OS related.

The easiest way to view this is to take it as the press release says "to TRY and produce..." "IF successful". Don't expect a sudden plethora of networked games to appear but there are people looking into it - something which hasn't been done in the past.
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Mark Quint Message #86844, posted at 21:58, 30/1/2001, in reply to message #86843
Unregistered user ok, then isnt the answer to have a high bandwidth server with a rather large, fat pipe connected to the internet???
Then all the 56k modem users can connect into that.

That idea works well with most modern day PC games.
shame there arnt really many RiscOS ISPs around :(

But there must be people out there with Decent connections to the internet. (only 2 days now... :) )
perhaps an in-game rating of a user's connection and latency could "decide" who hosts the game server
for the "match"??
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rich Goodwin Message #86845, posted at 10:01, 31/1/2001, in reply to message #86844
Unregistered user Half-Life (amongst others) has a rating of server lag, and you can sort by it so the fastest servers come out on top.
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Lee Johnston Message #86846, posted at 10:02, 31/1/2001, in reply to message #86845
Unregistered user A high bandwidth server?

Who is going to host and maintain it?
What OS is it going to run? It'd have to run RISC OS to run most games as must of us are still coding in ARM code. How many ISPs do you think are going to agree to that?
How many games will it support at once? One
How many players? Difficult to say but IIRC a Quake server can only cope with about 16.

Latency and bandwidth ratings for players? It's a very good idea and has been considered. I'm not going to comment past that.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rich Goodwin Message #86847, posted at 09:51, 1/2/2001, in reply to message #86846
Unregistered user Sheesh, do I have to spell it out? :)

Why not contact ArgoNet as they have seemed interested in hosting RISC OS gaming stuff in the past. They still have Acorn machines internally, including TIMM (which used to process web page uploads, but is now relegated to the on hold music server after several CD players bit the dust).

I'm sure if someone spoke nicely to them they'd be willing to get a little PR out of hosting a machine or three at their offices, as most of the traffic would probably be out of office hours.

It might be good to write a server version of the game though - basically take out all the display routines and just run the AI etc., plus maybe allow someone to telnet in and change settings. That'd speed things up so that, at the very least, you wouldn't need top-of-the-line machines to host the games, any old ARM 6 machine would do. It shouldn't take too much extra programming as you're mostly taking out, not putting in ;)
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Alex Macfarlane Smith Message #86848, posted at 10:49, 1/2/2001, in reply to message #86847
Unregistered user Doom on RISC OS supports 4 player incidentally.
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Mark Quint Message #86849, posted at 14:10, 11/3/2001, in reply to message #86848
Unregistered user i was just thinking but if Argonet we'rent too happy to host servers, how about RI48.net who have just sprung up?
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The Icon Bar: News and features: Artex/VOTI announce networking initiative