I have been toiling over extensive renovations in Mars Explorer's networking system, background information on which can be found @ this thread
on the Unity developer forums.
2.11 represents the beginning of these renovations, and a tremendous milestone in Mars Explorer's development: the rise of the dedicated server. Don't let the .01 version jump lull you into complacency - this is just a continuation of the epic 2.1 beta series, with a slight version bump because it's networking is significantly rewritten and is not backwards compatible with the rest of the 2.1 players.
Previously, every game you joined in Mars Explorer was "hosted" by the player who started it. This meant that every piece of information (vehicle positions, rotations, & velocities, laser fires, laser hits, color changes, etc etc) was sent from your computer to the host's computer, and then from the host's computer to the computers of other players connected to the server. In essence; unless the host had a first rate internet connection, gameplay was terrible.
With 2.11, this all changes. There is now a fleet of "dedicated" servers ready to host your games for you, relaying network packets far more rapidly and reliably than your home computer ever could. Best of all, the "client" version of Mars Explorer retains all it's logic to act as a host when necessary - allowing you to host offline LAN games just as easily as ever!
Connection to a dedicated server when starting a game will soon be completely automated and transparent to the end user - but for this first release, just join an empty "Dedic8d" server to get started. Mars Explorer will detect when you are the first one to join a dedicated server, and will enter a special mode that allows you to exercise full control of your game just as if you were "hosting it" in a previous version.
This is just a first release, and there are still many things to be done!
Player banning, eviction, and password protected games aren't quite working yet with the dedicated servers - and there are probably other bugs as well.
Once I get the networking perfected a bit more, I will be back to work on the standard enhancements (such as cameras) :)
Other stuff in this release:
- Awesome new loading graphics and webplayer installation splashscreen
- Autofocus webplayer for more intuitive name entry when playing for first time
- Faster webplayer loading
- Incredibly polished starfield :)
- Smoother borders on the "black cloud" floating behind the list server
- Server list should now load instantly
- No more lockups or glitches when canceling loading a world
- Now automatically finds open ports to make starting a server a cinch
- Name entry page now looks perfect @ any viewport resolution
- More personable connection failed message
- Connection retry system now works with direct connections as well
- Fixed "news ticker buttons" flickering with strange messages while reentering lobby after exiting a game
- Network Interpolation now correctly defaults to 300 ms instead of 200 ms
- Enhanced Server Settings networking interface
- Whirld library can now read .obj files without them needing to be gzipped. That's right - you can now design a world in Blender, and play it just about instantly in Mars Explorer!