Optimizations roadmap

  • Culture

    > Lower tick times isn't just the motivation for people to move. It's the motivation and the entire purpose for implementing world sharding at all. If we're fine with 5-second tick rate, then the world sharding system is not needed, and we can switch to another tasks like power creeps.

    This statement makes me feel like you're not actually reading what people are saying here, or at least are not understanding it. Obviously we want lower tick times. But not at the expense of having two unequal worlds. 

    If you make a new shard, lock it to the same speed as the existing shard, AND PEOPLE STILL MOVE OVER TO THE NEW SHARD, then tick times for both shards should drop. What I am trying to say is you don't need to use tick times being faster on the new shard as motivation to move people over, as there are already a ton of things that would motivate people to do so (I even made a list above).

    This seems like the best of both worlds. You get multiple shards, and people migrate to the new ones which reducing load on the first shard. That in turn reduces tick times for the whole system, but doesn't cause people to get upset that one shard is "better" than the other. It also doesn't introduce all the strategic garbage that two separate tick times would bring (ie, i can use my spawns on the second shard to build troops twice as fast as the people on the first shard).

    So, just to be clear-

    * People want faster ticks.

    * People do not want different shards to have different tick rates.

    * People will migrate over to the new shard regardless of its tick rate.

    * The primary shard will have it's tick rate increase as people offload CPU to the second shard.

  • Dev Team

    @tedivm, I’m quoting your earlier post here:

    New players will naturally spawn to the new server but older players (the ones who have supported the game the most) have established themselves and many of them will not make likely make the jump. I don’t think the shards are likely to balance out soon.

    It’s still an open question whether the number of established players willing to respawn on the new shard is enough to reduce the load of the old one. In order to significantly improve performance they need to not only create colonies, but to respawn completely. Your reasons are fine, but they may not convince many established players to do so.

    And in the worst case we get two shards at terrible game speed instead of one.

  • YP

    I'm not against shards with different tick times... I think there could also be seasonal shards with a predefined life span like 4 month with separate ranking pages or shard with other changed constants or rules or stuff like that.

    Instead of just saying tick times must be eveywhere the same I think it's more important to think about what would be the problems with shorter tick rates on other shards. It's hard to say without more details how it would be implemented.

  • Culture

    I don't believe players will "jump" to the new server- I have no intentions of respawning- but with the right game play mechanics in place they would most certainly move over part of their code base.

    I will admit though that the more I thought about sharding as a game mechanic the cooler it sounded, so my earlier concerns have died down a bit compared to the tick rate concerns.


    > It’s still an open question whether the number of established players willing to respawn on the new shard is enough to reduce the load of the old one. In order to significantly improve performance they need to not only create colonies, but to respawn completely. Your reasons are fine, but they may not convince many established players to do so.

    So what you're saying is that you're hoping the tick times themselves will be enough to push people over. My point is I don't believe it's necessary. 


    > And in the worst case we get two shards at terrible game speed instead of one.

    The worst case scenario from the players perspective is that all of the loyal players who have been supporting this game for years are going to get screwed over in favor of new players on the new shard, with their only main option being to respawn on the new server. To be that's a much worse scenario that having two shards with lower tick rates.

    You're also ignoring a big thing here, which is that even if the tick times don't increase immediately they should stop slowing down. If we're stuck living with 4.5 second ticks, well, we've been living with that for months now. At least we don't have to deal with 8 or 10 second ticks, and once the shards balance out more (which will happen due to the factors I brought up) the tick times should start going down.


    If you look through all the posts the biggest complaint about sharding is the different tick rates. If you had said the tick rates were the same from the start I don't think there would be many real issues at all here with this mechanic. Why not just start with this mechanic to begin with, and if people don't end up moving consider changing the tick rates after?


  • YP

    I have looked through the posts and only found 3 or 4 players who say tick rates have to be synchronized... some multiple times but I wouldn't call it "all the people" by now. Some have concerns about how the top lists would work for example, but that is a question that could be solved. 

    I don't see a reason why new players,  that want to start in a new shard, should have to live with 5 second tick rates.. the tick rates will probably synchronize when the shard population converges. I think the current tick rate is bad for "old" players.. but it is even worse for new players that only have a single room to watch and work.

  • Culture

    I personally am not concerned about the differing tick rates, as as artem and others have pointed out, they will start converging at some point on their own. At this point I think sharding is a good solution, maybe in the future a way to recombine them may be developed. 

    Is sharding itself going to be available on private servers? I can completely see people creating a cluster of small low-cost servers and running a larger PS on them.

    Any idea what the max world size of the shards are going to be? I personally would like to see them smaller than the existing world, maybe 50x50 or 100x100 at most.

  • SUN

    I'm not worried about the different tick rates either; I feel every problem that has been identified can plausibly be solved satisfactorily without kneecapping the tick rates of new shards.


    Even the comparative increase in spawn rates could solved by rate limiting the portals somehow.


  • I don't find myself agreeing often with Tedivm, but I do now.

    I believe the synchronized tick times would be necessary in order to maintain game balanced and the one world feel.

    I've also had my worries alleviated to an extent. The idea of shards does feel quite interesting now and provides some very intriguing possibilities. If you couple the shards with a nice 3rd structure representation of some sort on how shards are connected, that would make it even cooler.

    The sharding does provide a nice encapsulation of game state allowing for a solid scalability plan.

    It's perhaps important to realize that having the tick times as low as possible shouldn't really be the target of the game. Instead, the game world should aim for a specific tick rate. A tick rate that we all feel makes the most "sense" considering game balance and the relationship between the game and real life. For super low tick rates there's always simulator or private servers.

    My suggestion, of course, would be 3.6s per tick. That allows a very easy conceptualization of the game world in terms of real time: 1k ticks are 1hour. Alternatively, 2.4s would be another decent number to aim for since that would make 1 creep last 1 hour.

    In fact, I would suggest that even if we eventually have the ability to lower tick rates below those numbers, that the tick times be artificially held to those values. The extra hardware capacity would come in handy to ensure tick time consistency.

    One last important point. I would strongly advise that coupled with sharing you shatter the main world. The current world is too big to be a single shard considering the current performance issues. Make it a fancy event of some sort. Draw some lines which will become the shards. This gives players/alliances incentive to preemptively position themselves so they end up in a single (or multiple) shards.

    Or go crazy and just reset the world, but I do feel if you do shards, the current main world needs to be adjusted somehow or it will never be "playable".

  • A shattering event could be really fun. Would anyone really be upset to have their empire distributed among multiple shards?

    Some world position logic might be disrupted, but otherwise there's no reason to change room names.

  • Culture

    I personally don't have any opposition to a "shattering" (which, as a bonus, already has a really cool name) but I also am entirely in a single quadrant.

    If there was a special testing setup for people to have time testing across multiple shards and coordinate the "shattering" event then I think active players who are in multiple quadrants would actually have an advantage over the fact that they would already be spread out. That being said I can also many reasons why people would not be a fan of this, so I would definitely recommend getting more community feedback before really considering it.

  • Culture

    Another option, rather than a shattering, do a gradual depreciation of the world, disable respawning into it and /or encourage users to spawn in the newer shard(s) instead, then in the future it may be empty enough you could shrink the current world or disable it entirely

    On the other hand, if a shattering occurred, (say, on the double highways to make 4 shards), it would be interesting having the one room on one shard while all the other rooms are on a different one, would be a nice opporunity to work on multi-shard code and cross-shard travelling.

  • SUN

    A 'shattering' event would be awesome. 

    But if it isn't 'opt in' somehow (even if it is just everyone in a sector/sector group agreeing to shatter that section) I can see players getting frustrated. This is since it has the potential to completely destroy any hard-coded configuration (but if you have an empire of a decent size you probably have relatively little of it (or at the very least it is easily managed etc.))

    Now that isn't to say that the players in the sector(s) who want to shatter can't just boot out the nonconformists via force (or vice versa).


    Plus I want to get out the popcorn and watch entire areas of the map go dark.

  • int_max

    A shattering event sounds cool, but I think just creating a new shard and "blacklisting" some sectors so people can't move into them would probably work.

  • AYCE

    I'm no game designer, so these ideas may be terrible, or interesting.

    One thing I think Screeps is missing is some variety on the map. There is little in the way of strategic areas. As long as you have space, you are happy. There isn't much of, oh hey look so and so's space is better than mine, I should take that. Or, I need that space for some strategic reason.

    Someone had mentioned a while back about Z index on the shards. What if the shards were vertical from each other, and the portals between them went vertically? Meaning my room at W1N1 would in some way be able to portal to shard above and below me at the same room. This would add some strategic reasoning to position between shards, and connect them in a physical meaningful way.

    Additionally I'd love to see special areas of some kind appear on the map such that we could fight over them.

  • int_max

    @Timendainum you mean have them be less of a portal and more of a ladder?

  • > What if the shards were vertical from each other, and the portals between them went vertically?

    This is a truly great idea! It would make shards (probably called "levels" then) feel more like an intrinsic concept of the game world and less like a workaround for database performance bottleneck. (I still would prefer solving that problem by switching databases, however.)

  • int_max

    I agree with @tynstar

  • Dev Team

    The concept of "vertical" persistent portals is a core idea of this world sharding system. I've probably not expressed it clear enough in the blog post, but this is really what we've meant originally. Sharded worlds will have different sizes, so one-to-one position match can't be done, but their portals will link them in the same vertical positions like elevators.

  • Being forced to defend from attack across multiple shards is more apparent when it's described as a ladder / elevator / floor / Z axis

  • Dev Team

    Shard portals will be placed only in neutral highway rooms. And you cannot build portals yourself. There is nothing special in defending from such attacks, it is like any other attack from the highways.