Hi, MTA players! This is the official announcement that the shard system is definitely going to be going ahead, and is my main coding priority from this point on. I've finally got round to posting a change log, which means I've got the minor changes out the way that I wanted to make before I started on the big part. There are also lots of undocumented internal changes I've made that were necessary before I could begin on the actual sharding code, and I've had to do lots of testing and planning through code to make sure it's actually going to work, but now I'm ready to pass the point of no return and start actually writing the sharding part.
That means there probably won't be many minor changes coming out on the server for the time being, as that means working on two separate versions of the code at the same time, which will be confusing and annoying. I will still be working on our other servers, particularly the Plutonium server, but most of the work I do on them will be my way of taking a break from the MTA stuff.
It could be some time yet before it's all finished because, as some of you know, I have problems concentrating and I go through periods where I can't focus on programming at all, followed by periods where I'm doing it constantly. For that reason I'm not going to put a date on it - it could be weeks, it could be months, could even be another year if I have a lot of bad days - but it's definitely on the way, and it will be well worth it.
Now for some details on how it's actually going to work. For those who haven't heard, the plan is to split the server into multiple "shards", which will be different worlds running alongside each other, as if it's multiple servers, but all in one place without splitting the playerbase. The main point of this is so that the people that want to can have a fresh start, while the people that would rather continue with the accounts they've been building up on the existing server for years can do so.
I will be coding it in such a way that it's easy to add more shards in future, when the fresh start shard gets like the existing one is but, what most of you probably don't know yet, is that we're not going to start with just 2 shards but 4, and they are not all going to be the same, as I originally planned. My current plans are to have the following setup from the moment the shard system is released:
Shard 0: PvP Old - This is what the existing server will become. All of our houses, loot, shop points, player stats, etc. etc. will continue to exist on this shard. Anyone that has no interest in starting afresh can continue to play on shard 0 and things will continue almost as they are. There will be a few differences though, for example loot will spawn a bit more slowly and shop point rewards for levelling and leaderboard places will probably be reduced, but I think most players will welcome that.
Shard 1: PvP Normal - This will be identical to shard 0, except it will a completely fresh world, so this is where the people wanting a fresh start will probably start playing the most. All new players will be encouraged to start on this shard, and there will be various things pushing you in its direction, events for example.
Shard 2: PvP Hardcore (no bases) - This one will have no VIP bases, as the name suggests. It will also have some aspects changed to make it harder, for example zombies will probably have more health and do more damage, and loot might be harder to find.
Shard 3: PvE Hardcore - Yes, this is pretty much going to be the return of the PvE server. Player-versus-player damage will not be possible on shard 3. Stealing vehicles and loot from other players will be allowed, but you won't actually be able to harm them. Zombies will probably be harder to kill, like on shard 2. This time around, players won't be able to transfer loot from the PvE shard to another one, but the plan is to take it further than the original PvE server and add a lot more player-versus-environment features. One idea I'm thinking about is adding zombies in certain interiors and zombie bosses at the end of them, which drop good loot (think, for example, a zombie that looks like Big Smoke, with enough HP that it takes 5 of you to take him down, and then you all get something out of it). There will also be no ping limit on this shard, so this will be somewhere that you can play if your connection is lagging
(The term "shard" isn't confirmed - they may end up being called worlds, universes, realms, or something else - but for now we'll call them shards.)
I don't expect an immediate increase in our server population, but I think over time it will build up more people. I will probably start the server slot limit at 100 (not including reserved slots), and may add player limits for the individual shards too. The machine we're currently renting should be able to handle that many players, though the zombies would be spread thin, but if it got to the point where that started to become a problem, I would already be able to afford an upgrade to the server machine, in theory.
I have planned out a fairly complex lobby area, with some new ideas and some borrowed from the WSBG server. There will be portals to each shard and portals to some of the safe zones, where players will be able to do things like play on the aracde machines or enter a demolition derby without having to be connected to a particular shard. And that means certain safe zones will be multi-dimensional - shared between all shards - though you won't be able to use them to trade items with the people you see there from other shards. It also means the events, stats and leaderboards associated with these things will be shared between all shards, while most other events and the stats and leaderboards associated with more DayZ-related things will be separate for each shard.
Gangs will be server-wide, rather than per shard, so you will be in the same gang for all shards, but that's where the party system introduced today comes in. I would like to encourage all players to get used to using it. I also encourage you all to enable and get used to sticky chat, because after the sharding is complete, there will be too many different chat channels for it to be practical to have a separate keybind for each one, especially for players that use a lot of custom keybinds. Sticky chat means you only use the two default MTA chat keys. The team chat key will always go to party chat if you're in a party, or gang chat if not (at the moment it's always gang chat but that will change), and the main chat key will always go to the last channel that you used it for and will change when you enter the command for another channel (there are single-letter or single-number commands for each chat channel). You will still be able to use the current chat system if you really want to, but you will have to bind each key manually as there will be no default chat binds.
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