Betawatch: Star Citizen might be opening up full persistence with alpha 3.6

    
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We do things for you! This is a thing.

It feels weird when Star Citizen is selling you something that actually exists, huh? But the title is hard at work selling you tickets to its annual CitizenCon convention, and that is an actual thing that you can go to (assuming you buy tickets). But it’s also hinting that persistence might be arriving with 3.6, thus marking an end to continual wipes with each patch and the inclusion of mechanics like insurance. Is that truly on deck or just the whisper of what comes next? Stay tuned.

Also, stay tuned for more beta news. Arriving… right now.

The author of this particular piece could not be reached for comment, as he was busy playing some other game with an intensity usually reserved for substances that have support groups. You, however, can enjoy a full list of betas just below and let us know your thoughts on betas in the comments. Plus, you know, you can let us know if there are games that skipped test phases without us noticing.

As always, we consider an MMO to be in open testing if it features free, public signups and will server wipe prior to launch. An MMO is marked in closed testing if it’s running a private test phase that cannot freely be accessed by the general public; it’s usually under NDA as well. Early access and crowdfunded MMOs whose tests we deem legitimate will be included. So-called “open beta” soft-launch MMOs with cash shops, no sign of launch in the west, or limited interest for our readers will not be listed; we also do not list expansions, with occasional exceptions.

AdventureQuest 3D: Open beta
Arcfall: Pre-alpha
Ashes of Creation: Alpha one phase one
Bless Unleashed: Closed beta
Camelot Unchained: Closed beta one
Children of Ur: Open alpha, further development merged with Eleven
Chronicles of Elyria: Pre-alpha
Citadel: Forged with Fire: Early access
Crowfall: Backer pre-alpha
Cube World: Closed alpha
Dauntless: Open beta
Dark and Light: Early access
Divergence Online: Alpha
Dual Universe: Alpha
ECO: Early access
Edengrad: Early access
Eleven: Closed alpha
Ever, Jane: Open beta
Kurtzpel: Closed beta
Gloria Victis: Early access on Steam
Global Adventures: Closed beta
Guardians of Ember: Open beta
Legends of Aria: Early access
Life is Feudal: Early access
Line of Defense: Early access, removed from Steam
New World: Closed alpha
Occupy White Walls: Early access
Osiris: New Dawn: Early access
Outlaws of the Old West: Early access
Pantheon: Backer pre-alpha
Pathfinder Online: Subscription “early enrollment”
PixARK: Early access
Project Genom: Closed alpha, servers offline for restructuring with SpatialOS
Project Gorgon: Early access beta
Prosperous Universe: Early access
SamuTale: Closed alpha
Ship of Heroes: Alpha
Star Citizen: Backer alpha
The Black Death: Early access alpha
The Cycle: Alpha, weekly test cycle
The Repopulation: Early access alpha
Torchlight Frontiers: Closed alpha, no NDA
Valiance Online: Alpha
WoW Classic: Closed beta

Yes, MMO gamers, you too can perform the unpaid quality-control work otherwise known as game testing! Check out Massively Overpowered’s Betawatch every week for a run-down of MMOs that are still on the road to launch, even if they appear to have set up a permanent residence in a shed called early access.
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Natalyia

Persistence in Star Citizen has been creeping in over time. For a very long time now the game has remembered which major landing zone you were at when you logged out, what gear you had and were wearing, where your ships were, and what sort of shape they were in – at least until they blew up, in which case you got a stock version back from the insurance.

In (I think) 3.5 proper the apartments you wake up in when you log in became persistent in the sense that if you get a box, or a plate, or a turtle and leave it in your apartment, it will still be there when you log in next time.

Then in 3.5.1 the custom components you can buy for your ships became persistent across ship loss or destruction. It’s probably the single nicest change gameplay-wise recently because it means there’s a point in upgrading things. Before, well, a bug or a piloting error and all that gear went poof. Now, not so much – and that wasn’t “supposed” to arrive in any of the 3.5 patches.

OCS (Object Container Streaming) is Star Citizen for “Don’t worry about things that aren’t visible right now” – the client-side version of that arrived in 3.3. Before then, your client had to get sent anything it might encounter. This was a huge performance hit on pretty much every measure of performance. 3.3 ran vastly better than any version before.

Since 3.3, they’ve been working on doing the same for the servers – SSOCS (Server Side OCS). At the moment, your server has to keep track of every single thing in the entire Stanton system – every NPC, mineable rock, ship, player, cargo box, etc. And run the simulation for all of them at all times. As they added Hurston, and then ArcCorp, the number of entities they’re simulating have been skyrocketing.

What they want to be able to do is have the server only “run” things that someone can actually “see”, and stream the rest of the stuff out to a database. Then, once that works they can have different servers run different planets, relying on the shared database to make sure there’s only one of everything. Once that works, they can swap to dynamically allocating servers for arbitrary areas on demand.

But for any of that to work, any place in the server code that wants to use any information about an object has to be sure the server has a copy of it. Right now, it can assume that everything’s always there. If you scan, you just go through everything, check if it’s in scan range, and report back. What it has to do now is ask the database “Hey, make sure we have a copy of anything that might be scannable from here in memory”, and then check that. Not a vast change, but without it you’ll either get nothing when you scan, or the client will ask the server about something it no longer remembers, and things will go kablooie.

So they’re going through all the server code updating everything to be safely checking, and the server to be able to notice nobody cares about something anymore, and saving that thing off to the database until someone shows up nearby to care about it again.

What that also lets them do is remember where that box of gold you left near the X-shaped pile of rocks in that crater on Yela was. Until you (or someone else) comes along again and picks it up. That’s the “full persistence” they’re talking about, and while it’s being worked on in 3.6 (and some parts of the server code might be ready for it in 3.6) it won’t all be ready.

Right now, we’ve been told the servers are at their limit in terms of how much stuff they can simulate in Stanton. And any performance optimizations they do at this point while welcome are just on the margins. In order for them to add another planet and all of its associated stuff they need to get at least the first version of SSOCS working. It won’t be perfect, as if players on the server are spread out everywhere in the system, we’ll be right where we are now. But most of the time that won’t be the case, so it will let them add MicroTech/New Babbage and then Orison without crippling the servers.

Or maybe they’ll pull some other sort of rabbit out of their hat – but so far, everything they’ve said is that the solution that will let them add another planet, its moons, and the cities/outposts/stations on and around them is SSOCS. If they can’t get that working for 3.7, they may have to slip MicroTech even if all the content work for it is finished because the servers just can’t cope. We shall see.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

just to note alot of the optimizations are actually work towards SSOCS.

anyways good post!

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

idk that many people outside of a few youtuber personalties’ fans that believe ssocs/the full persistence thing will come with 3.6. hopefully we’ll see further movement in that direction while there’s alot of gradual work that touches every part of the game, it’s gonna probably be to a degree a light switch flip in terms of executing those final key pieces on the “live” test servers.

3.7 would be more plausible for alot of people. i honestly don’t expect to see it before the end of this year tbh, but we’ll see. we do know that microtech is still scheduled for 3.7 and microtech depends fully on having ssocs/server meshing in as they are at the limit for that sort of content now.