New answers tagged storage
I'll focus on answerable bit of the question: I can't see why an entire database system would be implemented just to read a few saved variables, but at the same time, if it's more efficient or built into the engine there's likely no reason not to use it. You are missing the point. There is no real reason to invent bicycle (own DB system) when you can ...
I think you should not update database whenever something changed by player. You should update database in a sufficient frequency. Before updating database you should hold frequently changed data in the memory; a database updater thread can update/store database for instance at 1 hz.
When this is for an online game, you should definitely store that information online on your server. When you store the character state on the client, your players will edit it to cheat. The MM in MMORPG stands for "Massive Multiplayer", as in "Too many players to store in regular flatfiles". You will definitely need a database which is used by your server ...
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