Shards are the bane of the MMO world, or any virtual reality which has a very high user count. They are an acknowledgement to the limitations of the capabilities of our computers in creating truly rich, living worlds.
A shard is a clone of a worldlet. Rather than having one single massive world for all users to share and enjoy, many virtual environment providers create a number of smaller worldlets, each identical clones of one another. This has many advantages: Sharing the same artwork between shards lessens the amount of graphic design work needed. Shards on servers local to user concentrations reduce lag time and increases enjoyment. If something goes wrong with a shard, it has many identical siblings that can be copied over the top of it quickly and easily.
However, for all these advantages, a shard is a nasty thing. How can players in a gameworld feel special, feel powerful when they slay the grand Overdark, scourge of the world, as there are 37 other Overdarks all exactly the same, running on 37 other shards?
Worse, there is no way to truly leave your mark on a sharded world, as by the very nature of shards, nothing the participants do can ever deviate it too far from its sibling shards - or it will be replaced to keep the 'world' consistent.
Shards have other, more insidious drawbacks. If for example you would like to hold a conference in a virtual environment and the administration of that environment says it can hold 20,000 people, but they wind up on five different shards, then you no-longer have one conference, but five separate ones the attendees of which, cannot converse with anyone outside of their own shard.
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Enabling Player-Created Online Worlds with Grid Computing and Streaming
The most popular model for modern MMOs is the shard model - small clusters of servers, each running a separate copy of the world, and each world mostly static. To have a truly dynamic world, with content galore, and experience without end, you need a different model. You need a single world, spread across countless servers...
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A French security guard said Tuesday he had received a faceful of glass when the screen of his iPhone exploded, the second such reported incident in France.
Yassine Bouhadi, a 26-year-old supermarket watchman from the southea...