Night of the Clones

Enhancing their already impressive reputation for transparency, Heroic Games are highlighting the results of their latest network stress test. The highly significant video shows an early, large-scale raid test for their pre-Alpha game, Ship of Heroes. The intention was to create 80 clones and have them all onscreen walking around at once while maintaining a minimum 30 fps. They exceeded that by a huge margin. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the video.

Why is this Significant?

One of the questions that comes up when talking to MMO veterans about Unreal Engine 4 is about its ability to handle large numbers of players in an MMO environment. MMO's, by their nature, have many players all in the same place at the same time, they're wearing different clothes/armour and  have different expressions, faces and hair, they're engaged in different animations, facing different directions, etc. and the players expect to be able to see each other clearly. MMO players typically spend a lot of time creating a character and want others to be able to see the results.

The Ship of Heroes character creator allows for an astonishing range of modifications right down to some great hair and totally amazing eyes - you really have to see what they're done with those! You can take a look at the progress on the eyes from a youtube video posted back in March 2017.
And, yes, the hair moves realistically :)

The Network Test

The test, which Heroic Games recorded and released in a video on their youtube channel, shows 200 highly customised clones onscreen on a single map with the framerate still above their 30fps target. The clones were designed with SoH's character creator using their own assets.They pushed it to 300 clones and still achieved over 20fps. These results are from a normal PC running at 1920x1080 with shadows on. The clones were logged in as normal players would be from 100 separate accounts created for the purpose. A number of desktops and laptops were used for this and four developers from the US and EU were logged in to record their stats (fps, etc.)

The video ends with 100 clones onscreen spread out all simultaneously attacking an unfortunate NPC.

100 clones attacking an NPC

Unreal Engine 4

Ship of Heroes is the first MMO to show the possibilities of such large numbers of players onscreen simultaneously with Unreal Engine 4. The engine allows for the usual customisations by the players to improve performance on their own machine - none of those customisations were used for this video.

It doesn't take a huge leap of faith to realise the possibilities those sorts of numbers open up for the game. The intention is to have raids involving up to at least 50 players from level 1, this is in stark contrast to the majority of MMO's which feature raids as endgame content.

And, of course, if the engine can handle that many players, then it can easily cope with many NPC's which typically require less bandwidth. Ship of Heroes is gearing up for some epic battles!

Ship of Heroes conducted a successful Alpha test of their character creator in September, and plans to do their first combat Alpha test next month, with a Beta launch at the end of 2018.