This is the documentation for an older version of MMO Starter Kit. The newest documentation can be found at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19zB2RCk_OG9aZ0T_NGS9668XcCtn6WQTTbam9K5jpw4/pub

MMO Starter Kit Documentation

by CodeSpartan

Table of Contents

Credits

Getting Started

Full configuration

Using your own map

Transferring assets from another project

Customizing the player character

Mesh and animations

Materials and highlight

Character sounds

Customizing the NPCs

Creating items

Editing multiple assets

Running the server on your local computer

Listen Server

Dedicated Server

Server IP and clients

Removing the players limit

Setting up Unreal dedicated server on Softlayer

Restarting the server application automatically in case of a crash

Launcher and patch system

Troubleshooting

Critical (crashes)

Other issues

Credits

I would love to thank and give credit to the following:

VaRest Plugin - Vladimir Alyamkin (Ufna)

The authors of the free assets that are used in the demo:

Sword Girl model (used only on the demo server, not distributed) - Bunt Games

Inventory icons - Ravenmore

Inventory sounds - qubodup, Akeroyc

female voices - AderuMoro

male voices - Michel Baradari

Getting Started

You will need Visual Studio and a source-built version of UE4 to use MMO Starter Kit. If you don’t have it yet, follow the official instructions here: https://www.unrealengine.com/ue4-on-github  (This guide is for version 4.6.1 )

Note: if the editor tells you that the project was built with another version, choose “Convert in place”. If it fails to convert, right-click on the blue .uproject icon in the folder with the project and choose "Switch Unreal Engine version", choose your engine, then right-click again and choose "Generate Visual Studio project files".

switchversion.png

You will also need a webserver with PHP and mysql, it can be the same server where you host your website. The free hosting provider http://www.000webhost.com/ has been reported to work well with MMO Starter Kit if you disable their analytics code. The following instructions assume you already have a hosting provider:

  1. Create a new mysql database and import this file to create the structure: https://copy.com/3S6JVCrVJhfJ6sef

  1. In every script in the PHP folder, replace the following (you can use Notepad but it’s easier to use Notepad++ Find in files feature):

        

Text to search for

Text to replace with

your_username_goes_here

your mysql username

your_database_name_goes_here

your mysql database name

111111

your mysql database password

localhost

(optional) your mysql server host name, if it’s not the same as the server with php scripts (if not sure, leave it as localhost)

  1. Upload the scripts to your web server

  1. Test that the php scripts can execute by going to http://yoursite/somefolder/mmologin.php - it should display something that starts with {"status":  

If somewhere it says Connection failed: Can't connect to local MySQL, this means the strings that you replaced in step 2 are incorrect. If instead it displays raw php code with <? and such, this means that the php scripts don't execute properly on your webserver.

  1. In JSONRequests blueprint, set the Hostname variable's default value to the url path where you've put the scripts, ending with a slash. For example: http://mysite.com/mmo/

  1. (optional) Run the chat server ( Chat\Server.exe )

Now let’s head over to the editor and test it out!

  1. Open the Start map located in Game\Maps

  1. Click Play, then register and create a character. Don’t try to enter the world.

 

  1. Click Stop and go to your mysql database. Check that there is a new character in ‘characters’ table and change its id to 0.

You only have to do steps 1-3 once. You need this because when playing in editor, the game assumes you have logged in as the character with id 0, allowing you to fully test everything - saving/loading of position and stats, inventory items, etc.

 

  1. Open DesertRallyRace map. Check Dedicated server to have a server run in the background. Click Play.

Full configuration

If you want to concentrate on customization and gameplay first, you can skip this for now. Follow these steps if you want to configure the full MMO Starter Kit demo setup (launcher/patcher, dedicated server on Softlayer):

  1. Run the standalone listen server + client, and check that everything works fine.
  2. Build the dedicated server
  3. Order and set up a virtual server
  4. Configure patch system and distribute the launcher to your users

Using your own map

  1. In the project with the map, right-click on the map that you wish to use and choose Migrate, then choose the Content folder of the MMO project. A list of dependencies will appear, click OK.

  1. Open up your MMO project and your new map and place a JSONRequests actor located in MMO/Blueprints anywhere in the map.

  1. Go to Settings > Project Settings > Maps & Modes and change Editor Startup Map and Server Default Map to the map you migrated over in step 1. Don’t change Game Default Map - the game should still start in the main menu.

  1. If when you play in editor, your character (the one with id 0) falls through the ground, change the saved coordinates in mysql ‘characters’ table for that character to an appropriate location on this map.

.

  1. If this is the map where new characters should start, in mmocreatecharacter.php set the correct starting coordinates and rotation (yaw).

  1. In MMOPlayerCharacter BP find the comment that says “Player respawn (automatically)” and set the coordinates in the Make Transform node to the coordinates where the players should respawn after death.

  1. If there are going to be NPCs with pathfinding on this map, make sure that you have a Nav Mesh Bounds Volume for them to use.  

Transferring assets from another project

  1. Right-click on the asset that you wish to migrate and choose Asset Actions > Migrate.

  1. A list of dependencies will appear, click OK, then choose the Content folder of the MMO project.

Customizing the player character

Mesh and animations

This guide assumes you have the following animations for your model: idle, walk, jumpstart, jumpend, jumploop, combat idle, attack, and death. If you don’t have them all, everything will still work but the t-pose will be displayed in place of the clip that you haven’t specified.

  1. Import the skeletal mesh and desired animations, or you could migrate the assets from another Unreal project.

  1. Duplicate the GuyPlayerCharacter blueprint located in MMO/Blueprints and name it appropriately. You will work with this new blueprint for the rest of the steps.

 

  1. In the new blueprint, find the animation blueprint that it is using and navigate to it. Right-click on it and choose Retarget Anim Blueprints > Duplicate Anim Blueprints and retarget, then choose your character’s skeleton. You will probably have to uncheck Show only compatible skeletons.

  1. Open the newly created animation blueprint’s Anim Graph and click on the first node (State Machine). In the state machine open the Idle/Run state, choose the central Blendspace node (it will be named like IdleRun_TPP_Copy) and double-click on it to open the Blendspace.

  1. Drag and drop your run, walk and idle animations to the three circles, top to bottom.
  2. Repeat the steps 4 and 5 for CombatIdleRun node.

  1. Back in state machine, double-click on JumpStart node, click on the Play node there and change the animation sequence to your model’s jump start animation.

  1. Repeat the previous step for JumpEnd, JumpLoop, Dead and Attack nodes.

  1. When you created the new animation blueprint, several retargeted animations were created in the folder with your character’s skeleton, with names ending with “_Copy” and possibly a thumbnail looking black. You can delete them now, just make sure you don’t anything that has a reference left.

  1. Open the character blueprint that you’ve created, and set the default skeletal mesh and animation blueprint to the new mesh and animation blueprint that you have created.
  2. Open the GameMode “MMOGame”, located in MMO\Blueprints\GameModes, go to Defaults and set Default Pawn Class to your new character.  

Note: make sure your skeletal mesh has a Physics Asset specified. It is required to be able to click on dead characters. You can create a Physics Assets by right-clicking on a Skeletal Mesh and choosing Create > Physics Asset.

Materials and highlight

If you want the characters be highlighted on mouse hover, the material of your character’s mesh needs to have a scalar parameter “Highlight Amount” - the highlight effect is up to you, for example you can add an emissive color. If you would like to know more about this you can check out the GuyMaterial located in MMO\NewCharacter. Note that player’s own character is not highlighted on mouse over, only other players and NPCs are.

   

Character sounds

  1. For character sound navigate to the character blueprint that you’ve created in Mesh and animation tutorial
  2. In the Defaults tab under the category “Sounds” you can find three arrays: Pain, Attack and Death sounds. Each of them can have as many sounds as you wish - they are chosen at random.

Chance Of Sound variable determines how often the pain and attack sounds will be played (death sound is always played).

Customizing the NPCs

To customize the NPCs you will need to follow the same steps used earlier when learning how to customize the player character. The only difference will be instead of duplicating GuyPlayerCharacter blueprint you will duplicate GuyRoamingCharacter blueprint located in MMO/AI/Roaming.

After you’ve created your new NPC, you can place it on the map and it will appear in game.

Creating items

  1. In your MMO/Blueprints/Inventory you can find some demo items. You can duplicate one of them, or create an item from scratch by doing the following: right-click > Miscellaneous > Data Asset > ItemData. 

  1. If you open an item and its details are not visible, click on Window menu and put a check next to Details.  

Note: The current method of storing the items in the mysql database is not recommended for shipping (though it’s easy to use for internal testing). It stores the full path to the item in your Unreal folder - this results in long strings that take time to transfer, but allows the developer not to worry about ids or where they store their item assets. To optimize the network load you could either implement some id system, or at least store only the name of the item in the db and let Unreal add the path to the folder (and make sure you place the items in one folder).

Editing multiple assets

If you want to edit multiple NPCs or items at once or if you want to edit them individually but there is a lot of them, use the property matrix:

  1. Select the assets that you want to edit, right-click > Asset Actions > Property Matrix
  2. In the resulting window, you can select a single asset and edit its properties (to the right).
  3. To edit multiple assets at once, select all the assets that you want to modify with shift and modify the properties that you want just like you would to with a single item.

Note: in property matrix you can sort the assets by any property by pinning the property so it shows up in the table and clicking on the column name.

Running the server on your local computer

Note: if you want to set up a server that will run 24/7, you could look into ordering a virtual server instead.

Listen Server

A listen server acts both as a server and as a client. Since the focus of this kit is to create a MMO running on a dedicated server, the listen server doesn’t fully act as a regular client (it doesn’t have UI, etc). However, it is very useful for testing standalone builds since there often are differences between Play in Editor and standalone. It is highly recommended to test your builds with Listen Server + Client combination before packaging.

 

  1. In your MMO project folder, there are two shortcuts: UE4Editor.exe - Client and UE4Editor.exe - Listen Server. Right-click on one of them and edit the Target field so it corresponds to your Unreal Engine folder (first path) and MMO project folder (second path). The “-local” parameter is specific to MMO Starter Kit and tells the client it needs to connect to local game and chat servers. If you want other people to connect to your server, remove the -local parameter and follow these instructions.  
  2. Run the Listen Server. When your map has appeared, run one or more clients.

Tip: you can run those shortcuts even when you have the editor open.

Dedicated Server

A console dedicated server is needed in order to run your game on a virtual/bare metal server (for example, Softlayer or Amazon) which normally have no video cards and to maximize performance.

  1. Make sure that everything works fine when you run a Listen Server + Client, it can save you hours of packaging.
  2. Open your project in Visual Studio, use the code template in this guide by Epic to create the new build target. Replace all instances of "Game" with the name of your game project and save it as <Game>Server.Target.cs next to the other target files.  
  3. Choose Development - Server configuration. If you don’t have this option, make sure you’re using a source-built version of Unreal.
  4. In Solution Explorer right-click on your project and choose Build.
  5. Depending on your machine, this can take from 30 minutes to about 2 hours. You will only have to do it once per the version of Unreal. If the current release is 4.6, you won’t have to do it until you download Unreal 4.7
  6. After it’s done, switch the configuration from Development Server back to Development and close the Visual Studio.
  7. Now it’s time to package your game since a dedicated server only works with a packaged game. First, uncheck the Use Pak file setting:
  8. Then, go to File > Package Project and choose the target hardware and an empty folder for the packaged game. The packaging process will take about an hour.
  9. After the packaging stops, go to the folder that you chose for the packaged game and check if it has something in it. If it is empty, this means there was an error during the packaging. You can check Window > Developer Tools > Output Log to see what the error was.
  10. If the packaging was successful, go to your project folder, and copy the Binaries\Win64\<ProjectName>Server.exe to the  Binaries\Win64 folder of the packaged game.
  11. Create a shortcut for the file you copied in the previous step, and add a -log parameter. Run the shortcut. A console window should appear - this is the dedicated server.
  12. Create a shortcut for the client .exe located in the same folder and add a -local parameter. Run the shortcut and test if you can connect to the dedicated server and play.
  13. If you want other people to connect to this server, follow these instructions.  

 

Server IP and clients

In order for the clients to be able to connect to your dedicated or listen server, you need to specify the server IP address in mmologin.php. Find this text “'address'=>” , and specify your ip address there.

Note: when the client is being run from shortcut, there should be no -local parameter in the shortcut in order to use the address from the php script.

Removing the players limit

To remove the default players limit, in your packaged game folder open file Engine\Config\BaseGame.ini and look for “MaxPlayers=”. Set it to the desired number.  

Setting up Unreal dedicated server on Softlayer

At some point you will want to have a server that is online 24/7 and doesn’t interfere with your other activities on your computer. You can maintain this server yourself on a dedicated machine or order it from a hosting provider of your choosing. This guide explains how to order and set up a virtual server on Softlayer, where MMO Starter Kit demo server is being hosted.

If you don't have the dedicated (console) server running, follow this guide first

1. Make sure everything works correctly, then archive and upload to your favorite cloud (for example copy.com) the following :

If your upload speed is not ideal, wait until the files have uploaded successfully before proceeding to step 2.

2. Order a Softlayer virtual server with Windows Server OS through www.softlayer.com . You can order an hourly server first to test things out, then make an image of it and order a monthly server from this image. The lowest virtual server configuration is enough for small-scale testing, though you might want to increase the disk space. With a 25 GB hard drive you will have only around 2.5 gb free space from the start.

When determining which data center to use - if your users are from Europe you could use Amsterdam, and you could choose Dallas for the US. MMO Starter Kit demo server is hosted in the data center in Washington to provide decent ping for Europe and the US both.

You could check the stats at https://wondernetwork.com/pings to have an estimate at what your users' ping will be.

If you have PayPal, you can pay with it instead of a credit card, then your order will be processed instantly. Credit card orders can take longer or even fail if for example you live in Europe and your bank requires a special verification. The website says your order will be processed within 15 minutes. If you don't receive an email from Softlayer in 15-30 minutes, you can contact their live chat directly - they answer immediately 24/7 and are very helpful!

3. Once your order has been approved, you'll receive your login and a temporary password, log in and change the password to a permanent one.

4. Wait until you get the email saying the server has been provisioned and is ready to use.

5. In Windows, Run > Remote Desktop Connection. You might want to pin it for ease of access in the future. In Softlayer control panel, go to Devices, double click on your server and use the ip address, username and password from there for the remote connection.

6. On your server, open up Internet Explorer and go to the cloud where you’ve uploaded the files in step 1. Download all the files that you've put there.  

7. On your new server, install the prerequisites located in your packaged game’s folder Engine\Extras\Redist\en-us. Start your dedicated server and chat server. Copy the ip of your server from the Devices page to 'mmologin.php' script. Try to run the game as a client (using the .exe from your packaged game folder) and see if it connects to your new server.

If everything is ok, go to your Softlayer control panel, click Devices, click on your server's name to open a Device Details page then Actions > Create image from device. This will allow you to create new servers that are exactly like the one you've setup (with Unreal already there and dependencies already installed) without going through all the steps again. Making an image can take more time than is estimated, give it around 30 minutes.

Restarting the server application automatically in case of a crash

 After you’ve got your dedicated server running 24/7 you probably will want to ensure that it will restart automatically in case of a crash - even AAA game servers sometimes crash! For this, I’ve found RestartOnCrash free application very handy - it doesn’t require installation, is only 2.5MB and has everything I need including a log file.

Launcher and patch system

There’s a separate documentation for the Launcher/Patcher, you can find it here.

Troubleshooting

Critical (crashes)

Q: When running the game in editor, I get a crash after I choose a character and try to enter world

A: You can’t enter world from start menu when running in editor, use standalone client+listen server (check Listen Server part of the documentation)

Q: When I open your project in Unreal version *.xx, it crashes

A: Are you using the latest stable version? The “sneak peek” versions and branches can have unexpected behaviour, I recommend you use the latest stable version of Unreal Engine.

Q:When I switch levels, the game crashes with this error: “X not cleaned up by garbage collection!”

A: If you haven’t modified anything in the demo project, check the first question in this section instead. Make sure your persistent classes such as GameInstance(MMOInstance) have no references to the actors in the previous level. Check the log for the information on which classes to look for. You can clear the references by setting them and not attaching anything to the set node.  Also, when you create UMG widgets, add to them to an array and destroy the widgets in that array before loading a new level.

Q: The game crashes with BSOD/system reboot, what to do?

A: This is a hardware error, most probably your video card overheats. It can be fixed by running the game with shortcut parameter -VSync (Unreal doesn’t use VSync by default so your framerate can go to 500+ which can cause the videocard to overheat).

Other issues

Q: I want to customize the main menu but can’t get some of the panels to appear, the “eye button” doesn’t seem to do anything!

A: When MMO Starter Kit was being developed, the editor didn’t yet have the eye button, so I had to use this trick - I set the scale of the panels that I needed to hide to 0. This will be removed in the next update. For now, just set the scale of all the panels to 1 and you will be able to use the eye button as normal.

Q: Where is <some functionality> done in blueprints? I can’t find it.

A: You can ask me on PM/Skype/forum thread, however I recommend you use Edit->Find in blueprints feature to save some time. For example you could search for "Create Widget" to find where the UI is created. :) Note that this search doesn't include level blueprints, except for the currently open level.

Q: When a player character dies, it falls through the terrain

A: Check Using your own map step 6.

Q: I walked off the edge of the map and now my character falls when I play in editor

A: In your mysql database, in ‘characters’ table find the character with id 0 and set their posx, posy and posx to some appropriate coordinates in your map.

Q: When testing things in editor, I can’t seem to block the controller movement/mouse look in the starting map with the menu. SetIgnoreMouseInput and SetIgnoreMovementInput don’t work.

A: Make sure you are running the starting map with Dedicated server turned off and 1 player.

Q: I can’t access a variable from one blueprint in another, but you seem to use that variable just fine!

A: Make sure the variable is marked as public (eye icon). When I was making the kit, sometimes Unreal allowed to use a private variable as public, I guess this was a bug in the editor that was fixed later.

Q: I’ve made a totally new php script and added a request to it to JSONRequests where the other requests are and it doesn’t work

A: You can use php code checker to check syntax in your php script. Also, use Notepad++ or other specialized editor because editing php in regular Notepad sometimes results in errors for me.