As a RL PHP programmer/tech writer I *really* want a crash course in how something like Rift actually works. It's pretty amazing.
I imagine that the bags, slots, abilities, etc. are all just a giant SQL database where items are joined to characters via a table of primary keys, and that the cooldown between casts and ability uses are to allow the communication and computation to occur, but how does it work that I can ride my mount from one end of a continent to another without (until recently) any lag or obvious loading?
How does the game track quests for various people in various stages so that we see different things depending on where we are in a quest?
What exactly is sent to/from the server in each data packet? Obviously the physical location of my character, any ability I use, etc. but how much data about the surrounding users? Obviously the game can't be sending info about everyone on the entire continent or it would take forever but it also has to know the position of other players relative to me, etc.
This isn't the place for a 50 page explanation but just a brief writeup would be really cool/helpful. Thanks.