Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: AppDynamics Blog, Daniel Khan, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

LWM meets Chris DiBona

An Interview from the Future of Rekonstruction

Four hundred years from now, Earth is a shadow of her former self. On August 24th, 2202, a near calamitous strike from a planetary fragment sent 12 billion souls into backup and made extinct hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species.

So begins Rekonstruction from Damage Studios, the first massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) that is designed to support over 1,000,000 concurrent users. Dee-Ann LeBlanc, LWM's gaming indusry editor, recently had the chance to discuss Rekonstruction with Chris DiBona, cofounder of both Konstrux Technologies and Damage Studios.

LWM: When people hear the name Chris DiBona, it's usually in the context of Slashdot or one of a dozen other Linux writing or techie venues. Looking through your "About Me" page there's nothing in here that screams, "This man will cofound a gaming company one day." Is it every little boy's dream to build (or is it play?) games for a living? How did you end up here?
Chris DiBona:
Boredom, mostly. At the time my cofounder and partner at Damage, Tony Guntharp, approached me about this idea he had for Rekonstruction, I was initially a little cold on the idea of doing both another startup and thought that I was likely unqualified to market and manage such a company. I thought about it for a few hours, and then, over the next day or so found I was more excited about the challenge of both writing and marketing such a game than I had been in a very long time.

When Tony and I first talked, I was still working for Slashdot as an editor, which is a pretty fun thing, and I think that I was pretty good at that. I had posted some 700+ stories and written about 300 polls for the site over the year I had worked there. I have to admit I thought that I was getting a little burned out on the highly event-driven nature of working for Slashdot, so when this opportunity presented itself, I was poised to take it seriously. Running a game company really hadn't been on my short list of "Things to do after VA/OSDN," but when I realized some of the people I could get involved in the project and the exciting technical and marketing challenge that creating and attracting subscribers to such a game represents, I really had to do it in the end.

LWM: Tell us a bit about this MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). Where will it fit in the market amongst its projected competitors?
DiBona:
Rekonstruction is set 400 years in the future on an Earth devastated by 200 years of the cumulative aftermath of a large-scale asteroid strike on planet Earth on August 24th, 2202. Earth is still recognizable as such, but most of humanity was wiped out and sent into backup on that date. The overall point of Rekonstruction is to rebuild and recivilize Earth. We've written a lot about the backstory and overall game on our Web site, http://www.rekonstruction.com, and your readers should check that out to get a feel for the backstory and concept art and other visuals that we are serving up for future players there. (And sign up for our mailing list!)

As to the market for such a game, we are marketing Rekonstruction to the hard-core MMORPG player; specifically those who we feel are not currently being served well in the science fiction genre. There are a great number of fantasy MMORPGs out there, and while we felt we could compete adequately in that space, we felt that the fantasy thing had basically been done and will be a mess for newcomers for some time. Also, no one has done a near-term (in science fiction terms, 400 years in the future is still pretty near term) science fiction MMORPG, with the few offerings being tens of thousands of years in the future, so their worlds end up being really just fantasy MMORPGs with lasers or space operas.

We also think that using Earth as the playing surface brings with it some real affinity for our future subscribers and allows us to perhaps further blur the lines between reality and the game world than we would otherwise be able to. I think that people will identify more with San Francisco in Rekonstruction than Rubi-ka (in Anarchy Online) or Norrath (Everquest), and this will anchor their myth in the real world in a way that others can't currently do. I don't really think you want me to go into my annoying lecture on how narrative for MMORPGs is completely different than for first person shooters or real-time strategy games or regular fiction, but designing an overall narrative is something that we take very seriously. We see it as being one of the key differentiators for Rekonstruction.

LWM: In the non-MMORPG world, the games with thriving communities are driven by the ability to do Mods and apply other customizations (such as supplying graphics for logos, textures for clothes, and so on). No one has done this in the MMORPG market yet (that I'm aware of). Have you considered it?
DiBona:
We have, and we provide it in some limited form in our game. This is fraught with difficulties, and managing the provision of such tools in a collaborative environment represents a very difficult balancing act between gamer and game.

At launch we will provide the ability for the players to create new settlements, create new teleportation links, and more.

LWM: How are you working to appeal to more than just the teenage male demographic? Recent surveys point out that adults - and even women as an individual group - play games more than boys, and yet everyone's aiming for that one demographic. Please tell me there won't be overly anatomically "correct" females and Ken doll males (who are anything but anatomically correct).
DiBona:
I think about this a lot; I don't think that the female demographic (which is represented well in a number of MMORPGs) is served particularly well. I prefer to think in terms of providing players with the choice of making beautiful, unique, and attractive characters. I think that there is no reason to not provide future subscribers the ability to create attractive female or male avatars, but I also want them to be able to create stocky, rangy, or otherwise interesting characters.

Character model creation is actually a very exciting area in MMORPGs today; for instance, the things you can do now for facial and other expressions are pretty neat. I remember telling our concept artist just a month ago "be sure to give me a fat blacksmith looking fellow," but that's another story.

LWM: What is the game play going to be like? What kinds of in-game activities will characters be able to do, and advance by? Many people in MMORPGs like a heavy social component, for example. Game balance has proven a huge problem in many of the MMORPGs I've tried. Usually the only effective way to advance is by killing things or going on endless, repetitive quests, no matter how much thought the developers tried to put into offering crafting skills and so on.
DiBona:
MMORPGs without social components aren't MMORPGs. When you talk about the repetitive nature of quests and others, that's clearly something we'd like to avoid, and we think we have cool ways of avoiding the boring part of the leveling grind. Balance, as you note, is key. Can you have a character competent enough without some kind of "work" to get to that level? Is that what you want in a game? It is in our interest to have some kind of learning curve so that people feel competent in the control of their character, but how do we do that without creating boredom. We think we have a handle on this part of the game, but it's going to need serious oversight for as long as the game continues.

As to advancement without combat, we'll offer ways to accomplish this, but Rekonstruction is a game, and character advancement will be an important part of it.

LWM: I've read some fascinating papers on "game economy." How do you intend to tackle the many problems that come in here, like in-game inflation and devaluation, and out-of-game people selling characters and more on eBay?
DiBona:
In-game inflation and deflation is a much bigger problem than extra-game trading of characters and items. Since our game will not have shards, we will not have a lot of the quality-control problems that our competitors have with extra game sales. We will set up an escrow system internal to the game for quality control and make it clear that selling items outside the game can be tricky for people. For extra-game sales, we'll likely charge 50 cents for placing the item in escrow pending sale, that way people can say "see the escrow report at such and such link" in their auction. This will significantly reduce the support load that such sales represent.

LWM: You say that you're using solely Linux on the back end. How did you come to that decision? Was it a no-brainer for you since you've got so much experience in Linux? Have other MMORPGs done this before?
DiBona:
Actually, Linux is quite popular in the space, as are open source databases like Postgres and mySQL. Also, the cost structure in the game industry is such that using commercial operating systems isn't really a good idea. They cost so much and Linux delivers so much, as you know. Also, really, we're all Linux people at Damage.

LWM: How are you implementing the back end? Clusters? Server farm? COWs?
DiBona:
We'll be using a cluster architecture with software of our own design. We're not using grid or pvm/mpi technology, favoring our own back-end technology.

LWM: Your site says that the whiz-bang feature is going to be the ability to support one million concurrent users. What is required to accomplish this?
DiBona:
Well, we actually don't expect to have that many players for some time, so we're not going to buy that level of capacity. We have a lot of experience with clusters, mind you (Tony created SourceForge, I used to work for Tandem, etc...), so we know how to manage that kind of growth, explosive or steady.

We really want a game without artificial boundaries for the players, so providing them with a seamless experience is very important to us; having many shards we think detracts from the playability of a game and restricts the possibility of growth.

LWM: Are you talking about on a single server, or on a massive collection of separated world servers? Will players be able to interact among folks on the other servers?
DiBona:
From the players' perspective it is one game, one Earth, one world. So interaction is seamless for players.

LWM: You say that there will be a Linux client, but not immediately. Could you explain the decision process that forces this approach, and what specific issues you expect to face when porting the client to Linux?
DiBona:
Basically, hard-core gamers are fine with rebooting or using a transgaming style emulation technology, so until we can justify the added cost of maintaining another client platform, that client won't be supported natively. Support for Linux isn't really that difficult, especially when you consider that we will likely be supporting OS X soon after launch of the Windows client. The problem is that there is a cost, and unless the people on that platform are only going to play the game if it is offered under Linux number enough to pay off the ongoing investment in the Linux client, then we cannot initially justify the cost of supporting Linux directly out of the gate.

The other problem with Linux and gaming is sound - I wish that Linux sound was better.

That said, we clearly are all Linux people, so we want to support Linux, despite the financial and marketing realities of gamers on Linux, so we likely will. it's a matter of time and how successful the game is on other platforms.

LWM: Numbers are starting to show that Linux might be gaining over the Macintosh in desktop use. If the gain continues, will you reverse the OS X and Linux client rollouts? (Or at least consider it?)
DiBona:
If the number of gamers using Linux on their desktop surpasses the number of gamers who are using the Mac as a desktop OS full time, then sure, we'll consider it.

LWM: Will the OS X and Linux clients cost extra?
DiBona:
If you mean: Will the Windows version cost $34 and the Mac/Linux versions cost more? Then no.

If you mean, will they eventually all ship on the same DVD? Maybe.

If you mean, will users be able to download the Linux or Mac part of the client if they have already bought the Windows DVD? Then likely.

One thing to point out - our game will likely ship with too much data to allow for a download, so no matter what, people will have to order a copy of the game from their retailer or from our Web site.

LWM: What lessons have you learned from studying what other people have done, both in MMORPGs in general and in anything involving Linux and games?
DiBona:
What a question! We have learned so much from EQ, AO, EVE, and the rest. We really couldn't even begin to answer that without taking up the rest of your magazine's space. With regards to Linux, I'd just like to reiterate what I've been saying for more than five years now: Linux is the only way to go if you are serious about your server. With the exception of some very specialized serving needs that can only be served by the Tandems and IBMS of the world, Linux is it.

More Stories By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Dee-Ann LeBlanc has been involved with Linux since 1994. She is the author of 12 books, 130 articles, and has more of both coming. She is a trainer, a course developer - including the official Red Hat online courseware at DigitalThink - a founding member of the AnswerSquad, and a consultant.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.