To shard or not to shard

Chris Chester
C. Chester|07.04.08

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To shard or not to shard
As massive as we like our MMOs to be, the realities of modern networking have made sharding, the creation of identical game worlds hosted on separate servers, a practical necessity. Last week, Awen, Jumpgate Evolution community manager, elaborated on why the NetDevil team was looking at sharded server architecture. Understandably, players maintain that the ideal MMO minimizes sharding to allow players to interact with the greatest possible population of other users.

As Awen explains, this isn't exactly possible with Jumpgate Evolution. While their spaceserver architecture--which is similar to EVE Online in that different regions of space can be hosted on different hardware and scaled to the server load--is technically capable of handling most of the challenges of going unsharded, the central-state server on which all the non-combat activity is managed, does have a physical limit. In a game that is focused on real-time space simulation, their focus is on minimizing latency, and that's why they're going to use sharding.
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