This article provides an overview of the main components that make up an Ares game. It introduces some terminology that you’ll encounter throughout these tutorials.
The following image shows all the different Ares components and how they fit together at a high level. Each component is described in more detail below. It’s not expected that you’ll absorb it all at once, but you can refer back to this as you learn more about the system.
At the left are the Clients, which are how you connect to the game. Generally you’ll use a MU client application (like Atlantis or Potato) connected to the telnet port. Ares also allows you to access the Web Portal through a web browser.
The Engine is the heart of Ares. It is the central server that everything else relies on. It provides all the basic scaffolding needed to make the game work. The Engine manages configuration, loads plugins, manages connections, and dispatches commands and events. Individual Ares games should not need to change the engine code.
Ares supports a robust Plugin system, with its features separated into plugin modules. Plugins provide all of the player commands - even core functionality like movement, help, descriptions, pages and channels. They handle game events, responding to things like “character connected” or “game started”.
Plugins are highly-configurable, allowing game owners to easily change their functionality just by editing the game configuration. You can also add new commands and web screens with your own plugins, often without touching core code.
You can change the core plugins–customizing them or even ripping them out completely and replacing them. For example, a fantasy MUSH might replace the outfits system with one that ties in with a crafting system. However, this is not for faint of heart. Some systems just do not mesh well with Ares’ open, transparent RP architecture. Even for systems that are feasible, changing core code can impose significant design and maintenance challenges on the code staff. In many cases a different MU server might be a better foundation than Ares.
Ares uses Redis, a fast and lightweight database system. You don’t need to deal with Redis directly. Both the Engine and the Plugins communicate with the database through Database Models. DB Models utilize the Ohm database library to translate Ruby code into database queries/updates.
The engine provides some common models, like characters and rooms. Plugins may add their own models for everything from mail messages to combat instances. They can also add custom fields to the common models, to store character attributes like profile fields or skills.
The Web Portal is the game’s website, allowing players to manage scenes, character profiles, wiki pages and more. The Web Portal consists of an EmberJS web application running on top of a standard web server like nginx (the Ares standard) or Apache. Players connect to the portal through their web browser.