Licensing agreement creates a virtual revolution in MMO applications

Software removes need to upgrade server capacity

Australia's ICT research centre, NICTA, has signed a commercial license agreement with VastPark, a virtual worlds platform provider.

The deal is part of NICTA's Peer to Peer (P2P) project which has developed software set to revolutionise the virtual world and online gaming experience.

Massively multiplayer online (MMO) applications, such as large multiplayer games and on-line virtual worlds, have attracted an enormous user population on the Internet.

In fact, thousands of users can be online simultaneously in the same virtual world, which creates a significant challenge for creators of these worlds.

P2P project leader Dr Santosh Kulkarni said the traditional client-server approach does not scale affordably as server capacity needs to be upgraded to meet the anticipated demand for the service.

This is because rich media content requires the underlying network to be upgraded to handle the expected network traffic and central servers are a single point of failure and require constant maintenance.

Based at the Victoria Research Laboratory, Kulkarni said the P2P team has developed a decentralised network engine for virtual worlds that can scale to an unlimited number of users, thereby enabling creators to develop and deploy online games and virtual worlds more efficiently and cost effectively.

He said it enables virtual worlds to scale to an unlimited number of users without the need to upgrade infrastructure.

For gamers it will mean a better gaming experience and it may be cheaper to play games as the cost of infrastructure for the creators can be greatly reduced.

It also means that the "flash mob" problem (where suddenly a massive crowd appears on one world) is actually handled without additional centralised infrastructure.

NICTA's agreement will give VastPark access to this technology.

The agreement also provides the P2P team with a commercial platform to conduct a large-scale trial, and a commercialisation path with VastPark as an industry collaborator.

"NICTA's technology will reduce the cost of maintaining expensive game servers by delegating data processing to individual participants," Kulkarni said.

"This will also improve resilience to failures by removing the single point of failure and reduce game traffic in the core network, improving system performance."

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