So, you're designing an MMORPG? Have you thought it through?

DewiMorgan 101 Jan 20, 2008 at 04:53

[Posted this to another site, thought it might be of interest to others here]

You probably, before announcing to the world that you are going to make an MMO, need to think about it. Here are some questions to help you, with an admitted heavy bias towards social virtual worlds and MMORPGs, as that’s what I’m making.

They’re culled mostly from Bartle’s “Designing Virtual Worlds”, but also Raph Koster’s “Theory of Fun”, David Michael’s “Indie Game Development Guide”, along with Bartle’s MUD-DEV-L archives, and other sources. Bartle, Koster, and MUD-DEV-L are prettymuch required reading. Without them, your answers may well kill your game.

First, the real biggies. Community, and Economy. If you have not even considered the following questions yet, then you really need to go back to the drawing board until you can answer them in tediously boring detail.


  • How do you promote communities? Stickiness comes from friendship and loyalty to OTHER PEOPLE, not to the game (good comms, filtered comms, mutual dependencies[varying scale], teleport to friend, communal activities[storytelling], shared stuff[website/game property], jargon dictionary, play instruments (locked to same tempo), ways to relax, stake-holding[things they create - homes. stake is bigger the more control they have], encourage friendship, discourage oppression/miserymaking/griefing)
  • How large should the communities be? (max size before fragmentation \~150, but smaller communities are way stickier) Guilds (huge), parties (dozen max? complimentary careers encourage party formation), clans, secret societies, town councils… (intermediate size, for faction vs faction combat). There are advantages of both large and small communities - encourage both, in as many forms as possible to increase player stickiness. Avoid capping community sizes.
  • Related to the above how big are playermade towns, if any? Are there town councils, rulers, etc? Do NPCs get the vote?
  • How do informal communities promote themselves to permanent, formal communities? This needs to be easy. But so does forming an informal community in the first place.
  • How do hierarchies get promoted? Sure there’re always reasons to lead, but what motivations to swear fealty? Public services? Shared glory? Shared threats?
  • How do you make community members want to enlarge their communities? (having communities that require a mix of chars, or a critical number of the same type, is one way)
  • Will you have tools for community members to pool knowledge etc and work together on projects to further the community - group websites, mailing lists, with tools to keep archives, to log what was said in game and display the logs, group property ownership, ability to decide their own structure…)
  • Have you considered “matching services” - ways to help people with the same interests get around - the ability to mark yourself as looking for a group (or partner) or as “taken”, or neither, the ability to mark your group as looking for a player.
  • Do you know about, and will you encourage use of, third party communities (teamspeak, proxies, skype, icq, facebook, LJ)?


  • How persistent is the game? “no economy” only happens if there’s no persistence.
  • Will there be a supply and demand market? If you buy a baker’s whole stock of cakes bar one, does his price go up? Can you then sell those bought cakes back to him for a profit and make the price drop again? And then buy them again? And…?
  • Do you need an economy? If so, Closed or open? (Closed has no inflation; has market forces; economy-driven play. However, v hard to balance, v prone to bugs, not likely to be accepted, and too easy to gouge. Players ALWAYS break closed economies. Open economies ALWAYS go out of hand with inflation. Tying to a realworld economy to fix value means your economy is subject to RL currency variation [qv $US currently], and your world is seen to be “unfair” by poor players if you sell anything other than cosmetics and intangibles: (DVW p266): “pay very close attention to the likes of Achaea to see how to do it - it requires very careful balancing and attracts a certain breed of player.”)
  • Fixed or free economy? (aka “worthlessness” or “hyperinflation”?)
  • Do you need an NPC economy? That is, where does the iron for swords come from? Dwarven miners? Are these NPCs? What about flour from bread? NPC farmers and millers? Who farms all those cabbages? What happens to them once farmed? Who buys them?
  • Does persistency differ from region to region?
  • How do you cull crafted objects?
  • Do you ever reset the world?
  • How will you deal with trash? Objects need to decompose. While stuff can reset “out of sight”, well travelled areas are always in sight so won’t reset. A mob needs to go and close the door. Trash collectors accelerate object decomposition, provide an amusing (cheap) target and toy for users, and gather nondecomposible stuff like quest items into one convenient area.

Now some less head-bending ones. Still, if you can’t answer the great majority of these questions about your MMO, what makes you think you’re ready to start building it? Get back to designing, oh great Game Designer! *flog*

Note this isn’t a comprehensive list. But it should get you going in the right direction.

  • MMO Appearance? (text, 3D, first or third person)
  • Genre? (fantasy is about 90% of the market now)
  • Where did I pull that statistic from? Find out your own statistics. Nick Yee’s Daedelus project ( is a major source here. Search for more. Know your audience.
  • Do you have gameplay (quests, etc)? How important is it?
  • Where will you fall on the “MUD/MMO genealogical tree”? Which will you take inspiration from? Which will you try to differ from?
  • What codebase will you use? Will you biuild from scratch or use a tool? If so, which one? ( has a great list)
  • What platforms will you support? Vista? XP? Other MS? Linux? MacOS? Consoles? Handhelds? Phones? Browsers?
  • What pricing bracket/price point?
  • Will there be constant change and improvement (expansion packs etc)?
  • How long do you project your beta period will last? Long is good, means you can get >100kUsers in the first year of “release”.
  • Will the whole game have a designer-imposed story arc (eg adding/removing world elements monthly to show world progression)?
  • Will you be being a single seamless world (asheron’s call), or split into zones or even separate shards?
  • Info vs immersion? Do you hit someone “for 25pts damage”, “for half his health”, “really hard”? In some cases you can offer options, and if data is ever sent to the client you can assume that people will end up knowing it somehow or other… but what’s the default?
  • “breakpoints” come from levels: level 1 people with 1XP and 999xp are the same, but someone with 999xp is far weaker than someone with 1000xp - only one more. There are also breakpoints where skills are used in levels, or where abilities come in once a skill hits a certain point. Are breakpoints bad? They bug some people, and affect the game: is a +1str item useful? Only if you’re 1 below the next breakpoint.
  • if chars can start at any age and age slowly ingame, you can end up with 12 yearolds more skilled than 80 yearolds. Is this a problem?
  • Will you have “natural selection”? (character classes less used become more powerful, oft-killed monsters become less valuable and more resistant to the normal attacks)
  • Will you have keys? if an area can be locked and people can hoard the key, they will, and charge entrance. Also, if someone goes in, locks the door, and dies… the area is inaccessible. Arctic has 1-shot keys that degrade over time once leaving the area.
  • Is your design “making an MMO” or “porting a story”? It seems common to take a story (eg princess bride) and try to make everything in it possible in the game (eg poison immunity, improv weapons, wrestling). This will cause you much pain and sorrow as you attempt to accomplish hard tasks rather than accepting the limitations of the MMO genre.
  • How complex do you want your AI to be? “call for help”, “run away”, “run for help”, “send one of two guards to check stuff out”, “relay a help call if you can’t leave your post”… these abilities have been in some text MUDs for decades.
  • Have you picked a familiar world, or got a license? (eg Camelot) These help advertising a lot. Yes your made-up world is great and deep ad wonderful: but nobody other than yourself cares about it yet. That, from a marketing perspective, sucks.
  • Target market? How many MMO players are female? How many are over 35? Are these demographics you want? (answer: surprisingly many of both - and PvP discourages both)
  • How much change can players make to the world? Never withdraw an ability to change!
  • From the above two - where is the balance between “social” (freeform) and “gaming” (fixed rules)?
  • What is your definition of “success”? (industry standard of success: 100k players by end of year 1)
  • If you are unsuccessful, how do you get more people?
  • If you are overly successful, how do you scale? How do you manage in the various cases of growth? (explosive; rapid but constant; exponential; none; highly variable; negative)
  • Do you have NPCs? If so, can players distinguish them from eachother, and from players? If so, how?
  • Do you have Gods? If so, can players distinguish? If so, how?
  • What is the customer service plan? To deal with all incoming support queries, for every 100k users you will likely need \~10 support people 24/7, scaling more at peak times, and scaling with growth. That is, 80-160 fulltime support people per 100k users, plus management structure overhead.
  • How to you prevent bugginess/poor testing? What is your QA plan? QA does not end at version 1.0.
  • What are the essential world objects that the graphics guys MUST have complete by end of alpha?
  • What are the essential world behaviours that the coders MUST have complete by alpha?
  • What is your recovery strategy for hacks that go undetected for a long time?
  • Do you care about bots and cyborgs and gold miners? Will you even have goldminable tasks?
  • What do you do for the “elder game”, once people have “won” (completed all available quests, maxed their stats, etc)?
  • do you allow multiple characters per account? If so, min is 3, 5 is fine for most people. If you charge per character, then do you permit people to buy multiples? Griefers, mules and alt-trades tend to make up most alts. If names take up “slots” and can be traded or shared then you can manage them better than if one account maps to one name.
  • Are names a valuable resource? If you answered “no”, you’re wrong. People will pay realworld money for specific names, to name-hoarders, if you allow this. If you don’t, how do you prevent it?
  • Do you sell window dressing, eyecandy items (pictures, furniture, clothes) or functional items that give a game advantage (+10 swords etc)? The latter risks backlash, unless managed right.
  • permit descriptions? Downsides include inappropriateness, cliché, and preventing character development.
  • What will your “admin’s charter” or “player’s bill of rights” look like?
  • How do you define and enforce concepts like ownership? (need to deal with object mixing, eg coins, object tracking, and punishing the thief not/as well as the eventual holder. A publicly visible “stolen” mark would be the best, along with a note of who owns it “Bob’s horse (stolen)”. But for miscibles this can get real complex: “bill’s and tom’s and jim’s gold (somewhat stolen)” just isn’t really feasible unless you track ownership of every part of a stack, or don’t let stolen items stack.) Are there exploits available from having two of the same type of object that will not stack?
  • What things could you expose players to that might get your asses sued? (theft, virtual torment, harassment, stalking, adult content…)
  • What will your rules look like?
  • How do you punish griefers?
  • Naming - do you autogenerate or permit choice? If choice, what T&C do you put on names belonging to the continuity? (something like: “You have permission to choose any name you wish - but you may not get to KEEP a name we rule someone else to have a better claim to. If we remove the name for malicious impersonation or other griefing, you may lose not just the name but also the character, their possessions and/or the name slot. But if we must remove a name for other reasons, you’ll usually lose nothing else, and be prompted for a new name next time you log on”)
  • People die. In real life, die. Four, maybe five people I have played with have verifiably died (what am I, the black spot?). How do you deal with PLAYER death rather than character death? Wills? Tributes? Legal issues of ownership?
  • People fake death: “The single greatest cause of sudden death among beautiful, young, female players is that the guy who was role-playing them wanted an irreversible out”. An Eve player changed his *entire* online identity (emails, IMs, website, facebook, absolutely everything) and claimed to have died… so that he could join another guild.
  • How to reduce player loss & hook newbies? Welcomers, “wow” sfx and broad vistas, rewards for everything they do.
  • What scale? intimate scale seems “friendly” to newbies, but huge scale seems immersive and awesome. your scale is huge, but they can start somewhere small, where players are clustered.
  • What’s your plan for “flash crowds”?
  • Do all items have Purpose, or are some just decor? (I recommend not, but be consistent - if you can draw water from one well, then you must be able to from all - if you can fell one tree, then you can fell them all, etc.)
  • settlements - all placed, or some random? How many? How do you encourage players to explore them?
  • NPCs: how many, and what do they do? (Buy/sell/make stuff; provide services; guard places; get killed for loot; dispense quests/clues; supply background info; do stuff for players; sidekicks/pets; make the place look busy). Can any of these categories be killed? Do NPCs die of natural causes? Do they die of NPC/mob attacks? Do they get replaced if they die?
  • Should players be able to do everything NPCs do, and vice versa? Yes, ideally. Where there are differences, they should be explicitly decided on for practical reasons, not accidental. So teleporter effects should be plugged into the economy. And NPCs may know teleport routes that PCs don’t, and be able to join their group and summon them…
  • Do you make disciplinary actions public? Do you have public executions? Jailings with no escape? These punish the character as well as the player - what if two characters were involved? What if both were the same player? Should this matter?
  • What forms and methods of character development do you use? What skills, if any? Do you have levels? What do they do? How do they advance in both?
  • The five senses - sight and hearing is implicit in the engine, taste can be described as a result of imbibing actions, smell and touch need to be from character and NPC responses: head from a fire causes a stagger back; a stench makes a grimace and “urgh!”, sharp things cause a flinch, etc. “feel” and “smell” commands may be implemented too.
  • Names - above-head floating tags, or just on mouseover, or just on “look”? What’s the default? Can this be changed?
  • The Hero’s Journey. (DVW p434-443) He sees the beginning and end as IRL and the journey in the game, but does it have to be that way? Could the journey not be completed entirely ingame? If so that would give impetus to retire - not to mention a clear elder game.
  • Can you/should you make players’ houses look ratty if they don’t visit often? Weeds grow; windows break and shingles loosen; windows get boarded up… it makes it sticky, makes them return. Like that Ds game I
  • How do they give the orders to do stuff offline? Queue up a list of orders? Or let them decide on login, what they did with their “offline points”? Or both?
  • Where do they reappear when they reconnect? Where they left? Or the last transport hub they passed through (more realistic to others) or the nearest inn (charge money)/self-owned house?
  • Privacy: do you have a snoop command? Can you move about invisibly? I think perhaps so, so long as a locked bedroom door is a locked bedroom door *even against invisibility spells and thieves’ sneak skills*: while admins moving through public areas should be able to be invisible just to retain immersion and prevent them getting pounced by people needing help, inviolable privacy by consent should be hardcoded.
  • Teleporting: teleporting reduces exploration and immersion. How much should you give? If you give summon/join, then someone WILL make a taxi service between major areas. If you give it a cost, then that’s a good tax, but what are the downsides? Initially I thought “teleport to any friends” was so important that it should not be prevented (and has precedent in the wizards’ trip to a beach): now I’m less sure.
  • Gathering, crafting, trading fighting - what else is there for people to do, to earn a living? Performing? Politics? Jesters?
  • you can’t do this without volunteers, but at what time does this become work and require min wage?
  • What hardware and internet connection will it need? (in ‘96, UO had more bandwidth than New York, M59 lagged Silicon Valley on patch days)
  • Will you ever alienate the community by changing business plan (charging for what was once free)
  • Poor marketing kills MMOs. What’s your marketing strategy?
  • Where do you get good graphics and sound assets?
  • Where do you get good quest design content?
  • Comedy (killed by repetition), crime fiction (kills co-op), romance(becomes sex) and lone hero(100k Harry Potters???) genres don’t translate well to MMO. Is yours one of these? Rethink it.
  • Are there any aspects of your game that can be done “to death”? (if they can, players WILL kill all mobs: what do you do once all mobs are dead? They WILL destroy all destroyable items: what do you do once all trees are felled?)
  • What steps will you take to accommodate the different styles of player? (eg Bartle’s paper, etc)
  • How will you ensure anonymity between players? Will you even bother? (it’s always good to do)
  • Will you have Profiling? (giving people titles “Bob the thug”, “bob the mayor-slaying thug”, etc, as well as full bios autogenerated.)
  • Where will you recruit your team? What team members do you need? What extra team members would be nice?
  • What percentage of the day should be darkness? How long in real time does an ingame day last? Do you even have day and night? Seasons? How do these affect players, NPCs, etc?
  • Magic, combat, etc: what can they do and how do they work?
  • Do players aim with their mouse cursor, or simply by selecting a target? If the former, how do you find out if they hit without trusting the client?
  • Are there projectiles? How do you deal with a collision with one? Or a dodge? Again, without trusting the client.
  • Players and mobs - do they have collision detection against eachother? How does that work when both players and the server may all disagree on their locations?
  • Lag and desynchronisation: how do you deal with them in combat? What happens when someone attacks a lagged person?
  • Disconnecting in combat: how do you deal with this? It may be deliberate or accidental.

OK, those were the easy but boring ones. Let’s try some more interesting ones now….

  • Sex - do you has it? Can the players has it? Yay!
  • Death. This is a biggie. What happens when a player dies? There are a lot of options here, from “their ‘death’ counter goes up by 1 and they leap back up again and carry on” to “their character is permanently removed.” Do not dismiss either end of the spectrum too fast. Players like permadeath, they just don’t know they do.
  • Do you need gods? Are gods “real” in the world? Who are they? What do they want? Where did they come from? Why are they here? What does worship accomplish for the player? What does a changing level of worship do to a god?
  • What information will be available to the client? Eg if the client only knows what the player sees, then turning will give lag. If the client knows what is all around them, what monsters and how strong and what they are carrying… then the hacker will know this too, and will know whether to attack it. If it’s too dark or foggy to see, the player can disable fog and shadows in the client. So generally, don’t rely on stuff the client knows to surprise the player. For surprises, make monsters magically spawn near the player, etc, instead.
  • What else happens while they are offline? Do their wounds heal? Do they do work on their crafting? Do they get charged for eating, replenishing their arrows, etc? Can they make a shoppinglist and buy it? (effectively a tax)? Do your employees/slaves/pets continue to do their jobs (running your business, getting paid wages)? If you get XP for their actions, do you while you are offline? Does training take place while you are offline? Can you travel while offline? Generally, anything boring should be doable offline - but online too, just for the hell of it! So the question is less “should this be doable?” but more “how much can you get away with doing offline? The limit should be set such that people can’t just use offline alts as cash cows.
  • Are there babies? PC, NPC or both? Can they be created? Sex? Pregnancy? Visible pregnancy? Does it affect abilities/agility? Can pregnant people be killed? Can they adventure or would permitting it be irresponsible? Is there abortion? Labour? Are they borne by PCs, NPCs, Male, female? From what age? How do they look - can they be “designer babies”? Breastfeeding? Can they be taken adventuring? Hit? Killed? Abandoned? Sold? Given away? Orphaned? Adopted? (generally games avoid babies even as cosmetic addons: however, they are VERY fulfilling and VERY expensive, so are sticky and an effective tax on parents…)
  • are there children? [(DVW p288) “Mud2 has a baby dwarf that players are strangely reticent to kill at least until it cries and wakes the other 50 dwarfs in the area”] Do they age? Can they be PCs? Can they be owned, sold, enslaved, hired? Can they be taken adventuring? Hit? Abandoned? Given away? Orphaned? Adopted? Dressed in “sexy” clothing? (I’d say maybe permit kids, very carefully. They add a TON of depth as NPCs: eg “children of morrowind”, and the Ultimas, and the annoying kid in Deus Ex)
  • Pets? Pet Death? Injury? Breeding? Eating?
  • What are your realworld liabilities? (RSI, addiction, starvation, loss of job, RL violence for VR reasons, suicide, grooming, prostitution [yes, RL sex has been sold for VR benefits, and children are most vulnerable: this was one reason why Korea passed a law restricting players to >18 in many cases])
  • If a Spaniard interacts with a Canadian on a server in the US owned by a Bahamas company who’s directors are in the UK… who’s laws are they subject to? What laws may you fall under? How much do you cooperate with the authorities? How much do you protect the privacy of your users from them?
  • Can people sell virtual stuff to eachother for realworld money? It will happen, but as a black or white market? Are you involved? What are the legal repercussions? How can you be scammed? How can players be scammed? Who legally owns them?
  • Toilets? Abattoirs? They take up gameworld space, but the activities in them are less than desirable. Should they be abstracted? Also, if not, should players be able to use them to massacre animals, or to go to the toilet? Whatabout other unpleasant stuffs? Sewers prettymuch have to exist - where do they get filled from? Just storm drains and “pipes in the wall” that lead nowhere, since there are no realworld toilets?
  • Blind/disabled players - how do you cater for them? Do you bother?
  • Blind/disabled characters - are such PCs “PC”? Do you care? Can bodyparts be disabled? One eye? Both eyes? One or both legs damaged(can’t run) or nonfunctional(can’t move without wheels or a sled)? What can do this? Injury? Items? (heavy/cursed boots) Flaws? Does this affect commands? Can you “get” an item with no hands? “Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?” Allowing people to voluntarily cripple themselves for RP and character depth is a good thing. They must be able to undo it though. Undoing needn’t be simple - it may involve a quest.

What questions have I missed? [Edit: fixed various problems]

32 Replies

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NightRage 101 Jan 21, 2008 at 18:39

Thank you so much, for this huge batch of information. This should be a sticky in my oppinon. Now people can see this before posting anything about MMO issues.

Please Sticky this.

Reedbeta 167 Jan 21, 2008 at 18:58

Good idea. Stuck.

timothyinspa 101 Jan 22, 2008 at 10:18

very detailed

Sol_HSA 119 Jan 22, 2008 at 10:28

Great post. And from a quick glance these are only some of the “high level” problems - most wannabe mmorpg makers don’t have much experience on making working games, much less networked ones.

yosu 101 Feb 04, 2008 at 03:00

Dewi that whas both briliant and dark.
I found daedalus very interesting, scientific proove of many of my internal thoughts.

I want to start a MMORTS, browser based, mostly social, free, open source. Of course, without any financial support.

Any advice?

DewiMorgan 101 Feb 04, 2008 at 17:33

My advice, in order:
* Ask someone who’s made one rather than me. - I’m still in the planning stage, what do I know?
* Don’t do it! - There are tons of MMO projects that are crying out for help. Either work on them instead, or at least avoid doing it alone, and find people working on the same basic concept and work together on an engine that can serve both of you. If there are no other similar projects out there that you would be happy to team with, then see if there are engines that you can afford, to do most of the work for you.
*Do it! - if you’re gonna do it, do it now. Knuckle down today, and make at least a very basic prototype. Then you know you are more than just talk and ideas, and you can show it and people will be more easily recruited to your cause. Build on that prototype until it becomes too cumbersome, then scrap it and start over. This is where I have fallen down so far - I have no prototype, and every time I sit down and try to work on it, I get interrupted. So for the moment I am merely Dewi “All talk and no trousers” Morgan.

tusjan 101 May 07, 2008 at 14:48

thx its a good one

Forgotnglory 101 Jun 28, 2009 at 03:22

Very intriguing post, some of this i had never thought about untill now.

The idea about baby’s and sex seems to be rather … whats the word… uninviting to developers in my mind. ideas like that would add an age limit to the game however 90% of the internet is sex so who knows it could pan out.

Though, I do think “word of mouth” spreads more often from children then adults so in my mind its always nice to have a welcoming enviroment for a younger auidence but have the game mature enough for adults. Adult or a place for mature chat is always a bonus though.

anyways before i ramble on i’ll end it here.

DewiMorgan 101 Jun 29, 2009 at 15:46

A lot of the things that would make a game awesome seem uninviting, because of the risks. Children are one. A land without children is a dead land, but children in an MMO are a PR risk, and when there’s big money involved, people don’t like taking risks. So the big studios won’t touch them, and their games will remain dead.

Which is cool: it means Indies can include children to breathe more life into their games and get an edge over the larger competition. Same with other things that are considered risks: gods, slavery, permadeath, etc. Like in movies, the Indies are the ones pushing the boundaries and taking the risks.

alphadog 101 Jun 29, 2009 at 16:39

If you think that big players don’t include children because of the potential legal/PR risks, why in <insert your spiritual motive force here>’s name do you think an indie should?

They certainly do not have the legal/PR capabilities of your “larger competition”. Either the initial assumption is faulty, or the conclusion is…

DewiMorgan 101 Jun 30, 2009 at 18:51

I think you maybe missed the point. Law has near enough nothing to do with it. Unless you happen to be creating the first MMO with copious photographic nudity and a “rape” command, there’s nothing illegal about including or excluding slaves, pets, children, pregnancy, etc from your game.

However, what might change are things like the press coverage, the age rating, the ratings you get in reviews, which stores are willing to stock it, whether players enjoy the game and talk about it and spread the game virally, and so forth.

With a large studio, getting their games pulled off the shelves of Walmart because you can mow down kids is probably bad. For an Indie, that’s just great advertising, and anyway most Indie MMOs wouldn’t get into Walmart anyway. Controversial = great for indies, awful for big houses.

However, you also have to consider the types of player you will attract. Do you allow players to be children? This might be good if you want to encourage a more family atmosphere, but in that case, there should definitely be commands which cannot be applied to or by child players: anything of an “adult” nature, for a start, and probably violence too. Players don’t like being restricted, but if there are things that kids can do but adults can’t (“cute” attacks, fitting through smaller doorways, etc), then it’s fine: that’s just game balance.

Forgotnglory 101 Jul 04, 2009 at 12:28

Well i can see how any press coverage is good for an indie but at the same time some games have been completely blocked from countrys because of it. I cant remember the name of the game, but it was some murder sim game. I believe it was released by rockstar.

anyways it got outlawed in several countries and I think one of them was the UK.

While it may be interesting to include slavery and other controversal things. The public backlash may not be worth it.

DewiMorgan 101 Jul 04, 2009 at 13:42

Depends whether your game is based on bad stuff (like a murder sim you mentioned), or merely makes bad stuff possible on account of having interesting things in (like Fallout3, which enslaved children that you can free, etc).

rouncer 103 Oct 08, 2009 at 11:21

you have to be pretty good to finish any game, including an mmo, dont worry professional companies are still bringing out real good titles in all genres.

And you couldnt make any of this either… have you thought it through.

TaggM 101 Jan 23, 2010 at 14:57


  • Do players aim with their mouse cursor, or simply by selecting a target? If the former, how do you find out if they hit without trusting the client?
  • Are there projectiles? How do you deal with a collision with one? Or a dodge? Again, without trusting the client.

I could be wrong, here, but what about using dead reckoning, ray tracing, and physics?

When the client sends a clicks-event, a display coordinate should be sent to the server. The server should track location, orientation, rotation, velocity, and acceleration for all objects, along with each client’s display dimensions. Ray tracing from the client’s object, and along the paths of projectiles, should trigger a collision event if another object lies within the collidable chunk of time-space.

Luz_Reyes 101 Dec 01, 2010 at 21:30

I know it’s an old post, but wanted to comment that I agree this may be worthy of a sticky, or at least a cleaned up version of it.

Reedbeta 167 Dec 01, 2010 at 21:48

It’s already a sticky.

SyntaxError 101 Dec 03, 2010 at 20:02


“Genre? (fantasy is about 90% of the market now)” I totally agree because most of the games that are played now are more about fantasy.

I’m not sure this is because the genre is so popular with players, rather common game elements that work well fit into a fantasy game easier. For instance, healing makes more sense in fantasy than in Sci-fi or other common genres, so therefore you have a major element of combat hit point recovery you can use to make the game more interesting. Of course you can do the same thing in Sci-Fi but it’s not as natural and you get a cheese ball factor. Imagine healing in a wild west game. Just doesn’t make sense. Also you can explain more types of interesting weapons, items, etc in a fantasy genre. In short the addition of magic lets you get a away with a lot of stuff without making the game feel unnatural.

Given that I would like love to see really solid MMOs of other genres. I think the game play elements would need more careful planning to make it fun though.

rouncer 103 Dec 04, 2010 at 05:44

One thing to think about before you go tackling an mmo for your very first game. (haha I know, dont worry I sorta was dumb enough to try it a few times) is just think the amount of 3d models your gonna need.

for a basic 1 on 1 fighting game say you need 8 characters to fight each other and 2 bosses… thats 10 models in total… for an rpg your gonna need at least 100 uniquely animated characters! (no its no good using the same skeletal set for all the models, it looks crap.) and not only that, you need to make all the items armour, make everything interswappable on the character then you might decide to change your mind and take an easier option. ;)

Sure, you can finish an mmo for your first game (if your a quasi genius or really smart lad) but is it going to be professional? no way… maybe there IS smarter (quicker and easier) options to take for your first projects… try to make a simpler game more professional rather than taking on a huge job and it ending up pretty much incoherent.

And I really doubt, once you see the quality you are getting that youll want to finish the game anyway.

Dave101 101 Dec 24, 2010 at 14:36

I totally agree because most of the games that are played now are more about fantasy.

Most of the games are really about fantasy there are no reality… users like it base on what they find interesting.

Blaxill 101 Mar 30, 2011 at 17:00


anyways it got outlawed in several countries and I think one of them was the UK.

I think you are referring to Manhunt. It was not outlawed in the uk. It was considered to be re-reviewed and have its age-rating taken away (which would mean shop can’t sell it) but even that didn’t happen in the end. However, many shops did stop stocking it after a particularly violent murder in which one of the attackers was said to be obsessed with the game. (Police said they didn’t consider the link to be of any value and said the crime was the result of drug-related robbery but of course the media didn’t see it that way.)

Hobbes 101 May 13, 2011 at 17:05

I have made my own MMO, I wish I had read through this list earlier, some real good points there.

Hobbes 101 May 13, 2011 at 17:07


I could be wrong, here, but what about using dead reckoning, ray tracing, and physics? When the client sends a clicks-event, a display coordinate should be sent to the server. The server should track location, orientation, rotation, velocity, and acceleration for all objects, along with each client’s display dimensions. Ray tracing from the client’s object, and along the paths of projectiles, should trigger a collision event if another object lies within the collidable chunk of time-space.

Latency would be an issue; no?

Reedbeta 167 May 13, 2011 at 17:33


Latency would be an issue; no?

Yes, definitely. In order to be fair, the server should keep track of client latency and, when it processes an attack, ideally should back up time by the client’s latency to look at whether the attack *would have* hit a target if it occurred at that time. It may then have to “rewrite history” a little bit based on this attack having happened. This can lead to weirdnesses when a player has high latency, but IMHO it’s better than requiring people to “lead” their shots, etc.

Here is a good article on the subject from Valve, who introduced a technique like this in TFC…10 years ago now! (look at the “Lag Compensation” section).

__________Smile_ 101 May 13, 2011 at 17:40

I think client side prediction is better as it lessen server load (crucial in MMO).

DewiMorgan 101 Sep 19, 2011 at 17:18

A lot of the questions in the list are malleable - that’s why they are questions, not rules.

As it turns out, there are only three hard-and-fast rules for networked games:

1) Never trust the client side.
2) Never trust the client side.
3) NEVER trust the client side.

Complex though they are, once you understand these rules, you’ll understand why missile attacks that use physics are considered a Hard Problem.

for a start, they make it trivial for users to script bots with ingame item scripts or with third party apps like AutoHotKey, that give them guaranteed headshots every time.

This is why so many MMOs just work on the “select a target, and where you hit and what damage you do is calculated on the server based on their dodge, size, cover, etc; and your skill, weapon, proximity, etc” method. The client is just responsible for showing the pretty arrow flying wherever they clicked, but the foe’s stats are affected only by the server.

Other online games violate the second rule, or occasionally the third; they trust the client, then try to jump through hoops when people reverse-engineer the mechanism and figure out ways of scripting it with AutoHotKey or something.

Once one person has scripted it, you must assume that your entire player base has scripted it, since scripts are easy to pass around. You might as well distribute the script with your game.

At that point, your rules have changed from “click on a monster and potentially do some damage to it” to “click on a monster and automatically hit, and automatically do max damage to it”. In which case, you really ought to have started with that rule in the first place, and saved yourself a bunch of work.

Vee 101 Nov 16, 2011 at 18:27

Just a quick question. What if I have all the answers u are seeking in the first post ? I mean the game that will be sold. But there’s only one problem. Who will put his/her trust in me to give it a hearing. I mean this thing that I have in mind can be done either in a big company or a small company. In theory it should change the perspective over gaming. Sort of a phenomenon as LoL, derived from DotA which was a mod of War3 and so on and so on. So it’s evolution basically. What do I do in that case? I haven’t really started coding because … aaa …. I don’t know any coding. However I think I’ll be able to explain my idea so detailed that it will be so close to the actual one. I mean every detail not copy/paste terrain, algorithms, and so on. Eventually cuz of the world, you will have to copy paste some terrain as per productivity / h ratio ;).
Anyway, I’m hoping to get an answer even if the post is old.
Oh, I play games since I was 6, I remember even now the sounds of the cassette loading a game on my Ancient Cobra, ssssss !!!

DewiMorgan 101 Nov 17, 2011 at 05:02

It seems like:
- you’re starting out as a Game Designer, but have no experience,
- have never made a game before,
- you want to make an MMO, and
- you want people to pay you to make it.

Everyone - and I mean everyone - has a game idea. Just like everyone has an idea for the greatest novel ever written, and everyone has an idea for a great invention.

So, no: nobody will pay you for your idea. Ideas are ten a penny. Not just that: worlds are ten a penny. Haven’t we all spent hours, days, weeks of our time designing a world down to all the races, languages, careers, economies, landscape and maps? Anyone who’s been a roleplaying GM, or a fantasy/sci-fi author, has done this at least once, and probably several times. And story arcs and plots are ten a penny - anyone who’s ever spun a tale has more stories than hairs on heir head.

If you make stuff with your mind (game designer, novel author, inventor, photographer, clothes designer, whatever) your first work will probably need to be made in your own time, on your own dime. People *might* pay you afterwards, which might pay for the time you invested there, but they’ll do that only if the end result isn’t crap.

If it’s your first effort, though, it almost certainly will be crap. So you’ll throw it away and start over. Maybe several times. Nobody will ever pay you for these “learning” attempts.

But eventually, you need to make a finished prototype. Not the whole game. Maybe even a completely unrelated, smaller game. But you need a prototype, a portfolio, to show what you can do, to show what you *could* do if you just had the funding and time.

On the flip side, the fact that ideas are really cheap is a very good thing. It means you can discuss your idea freely with anyone, and the chances of it getting stolen are about zero. I’ve seen a lot of people holding their ideas closely to their chest, as if they were treasures to be protected from prying eyes. That’s no way to get other people interested in the dream! Why would anyone else steal your idea and work on it for years, when they have fifty ideas of their own that they want to work on first?

All that said: if you have a great idea, and want to be paid for it, you could try one of the sites like - set up an account, tell lots of people about your idea, and if it sounds good, then some of them will chip in a small amount to support your project. If enough people hear about it, that might be enough to fund you. What’s the worst that can happen? :)

Vee 101 Nov 21, 2011 at 10:22

If this is true Dewi, how come that all the games that are coming out aren’t “new ideas” ? If every1 has very good ideas, know how to make it so that it doesn’t fail, how come nobody does it ? If u had an idea of a game that would make tons of money, bring satisfaction on both sides ( both the user and the company ), how come we still have so few games out there meeting that criteria ( I mean extreme man EXTREME SATISFACTION )? My idea is not something that you might reply to : Heh man, plenty of ppl thought about that already. Cuz if so, I don’t see any problem with applying it and creating something at least close to my idea. But it ain’t happening. To me it seems that the ideas ( or the companies ) are limited. What happened to the imagination of ppl ? Are they this limited? Blizzard opted for following the same 3 stories for quite a while now ( as an example ): SC, Warcraft and Diablo. Hell, I agree, they were good games etc. However, their imagination failed when it came to the point of continuing the WoW storyline ( again as an example ). And once you run out of ideas on a subject, why don’t u change it ? There are so many imbalanced things going on in the game world these days. If people find Angry Birds a cool game, this should make the huge companies wonder…

And now a question: What are the limits considering the tech we have today? What’s the next level? What’s the trend of gaming ? They were 3 i know :)). From my point of view we’re going backwards. Having this technology the best thing we can come up with is Diablo 3 ? CoD ? Limbo ??? LoL?

As for my plan, I’m still gonna finish writing the game, as much as I can, register it as Intellectual Property, then share the idea with every1. Why ? Cuz lots of PROFIT$$$ can come out of it. And I wouldn’t want to create a game which can be used in an “evil, greedy, f\^$# the user, praise the money” way. Why ? Cuz this is happening nowadays ;)

alphadog 101 Nov 21, 2011 at 16:33


If every1 has very good ideas, know how to make it so that it doesn’t fail, how come nobody does it ?

Because there are dreamers, and there are do-ers, but a dreamer that also does (and does well, and to completion, and without failing along the way) is very rare indeed. It’s stochastic too; even with the best of what is obvious, the project may still fail.

Ideas are definitely not limited. Spend some time in a large studio, you’ll see that ideas are definitely not limited. In fact, IMO, it’s one of the common reasons to fail…

What happened to the imagination of ppl ?

It’s still there, but not everything you can imagine will sell.

And, furthermore, from the subset of imaginative ideas that will sell, some will not sell enough to get the investors’ ROI so it doesn’t happen.

What are the limits considering the tech we have today?

Real, immersive 3D, not the shitty “windowbox” 3D we have now.

Malgorzata 101 Apr 19, 2012 at 13:30

There’s an article about player behaviour in MMORPGs. He discusses aspects like the number of active players, session length, session composition, player movements, long-term behaviour, etc. It would be good to take those into account when designing your own MMORPG game to make it successful. Unfortunately in free teaser there’s only first page for download (along with full article on game design). The magazine, where it’s published is paid. If you’d like to see, here’s Linkto Teaser

mahaprabhu 101 May 06, 2012 at 12:29

Thanks, good posting