Some Concerns...


I wanted to address a concern that I have regarding how the voting is going so far. At the time of this post, there are only 3 votes on the poll, which, considering the small amount of exposure, is completely expected.

So far, though, multiplayer is the top voted feature which got me thinking. If multiplayer does win out, or even if it's something that wins a different poll down the road, it leaves me with some concerns.

Time To Implement

Multiplayer is not necessarily something I can implement fully in a week. Depends on how functional you want it to be, and when it comes to my standards of functionality, it would take longer than a week. Especially if I were to try and write it from the ground up, which I will NOT be doing since there are perfectly good tools and API's that already exist, which I will get to in a moment.

UNET Deprecation

For those that are non-developers or unfamiliar with Unity, they have a networking layer that is currently being deprecated and replaced with their NEW networking system, which focuses first on dedicated servers and all that. If you want to get into more detail, you can find more information on the UNET Deprecation FAQ. The short of it is that UNET's HLAPI and LLAPI are being deprecated and will no longer work with Unity after 2018.4 (LTS). 

One of the things they are getting rid of with UNET is continued support for P2P (Peer-to-Peer) multiplayer! They are going into it with a heavy focus on dedicated servers in the new networking features (at first anyway). That's really alright, but it woud be nice to have something that still has continued support for P2P servers rather than the multiplayer of the game relying solely on how long the developer wants to continue supporting/paying for the servers.

Implementing multiplayer with UNET would still work with versions of unity that are 2018.4 (LTS) and earlier, however in 2022 Unity will shut down the P2P Relay Service and their Legacy Matchmaker service, which would essentially kill all multiplayer ability. No bueno. And besides, there are just way too many cool new things coming in Unity 2019 that I would like to take advantage of, to continue development of the project in a legacy version of Unity.

Third-party Solutions

There are some other options for Multiplayer such as Photon Unity Networking, and another newer one that's been making waves recently called SpatialOS. The issue with these great services is having to pay for them, and the price goes up based on how many concurrent users we need. At least that's how it works with PUN (and currently UNET). 

SpatialOS is a little different in the way they calculate how much you pay, which you can read about on their Pricing Page. The fact of the matter is that while there are solutions out there to make this possible, the only way I'd pay for these services is if I can raise the money through donations to cover the cost. (Life is hard man)

There is a third option, as pointed out by one of my lovely discord members (shameless discord plug), called Forge Networking. It's an open source, completely free networking solution that is without a doubt worth looking into, and is something I am in the process of doing.

Conclusion

So what does this mean? Basically, if Multiplayer wins the poll voting, I will have to respectfully decline and go with the next highest rated. That is not to say that multiplayer will NEVER be implemented, simply placed on the backburner until it becomes a little more realistic to pay for a service and implement it, or if a free, open source solution fills our needs. Feel free to continue suggesting multiplayer as a feature, so that it keeps me on my toes and constantly checking what our options are. But form here on out, until it becomes more realistic, I will be forced to ommit multiplayer from the poll each week.

The current poll for the week of 12/31 - 1/7 will retain multiplayer as a votable option purely to see what kind of interest it draws in. After that, multiplayer will not appear on another poll until it's something that truly can and will be implemented.

Thanks so much, I can't wait to see where the future leads.

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