A guide to creating killer MMORPG's

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starstutter 101 Nov 12, 2008 at 22:55

NOTE: This article is for the purpose of linking to and saving some typing. I hope I can speak accurately and justly for all the angry devs. Keep in mind though I try to end everything with a positive note \^_\^

If you clicked on this post expecting an actual guide on the concept creation, design, programming, networking, debugging, polishing, marketing, distributing, maintaining, securing and continuously developing new content for your new MMO coming out in a few months, then you may also be inclined to calling 1-800 numbers for miracle weight loss pills and picking up books how you can (YES YOU CAN!) become a millionaire by using e-bay.

Now, the first thing you will notice in the previous paragraph (well it’s actually just a run-on sentence) is the amount of hostility. However in truth this is really no different and perhaps much more mild than the responses of even the most professional and mature developers that have to read “MMO designer” posts every single day. Every time we turn around there is another person coming on here with no previous (or very little) programming experience announcing that his new MMOFPSRPG will be a WoW and Oblivion killer. So, before we as developers get a bad reputation for being pessimistic internet thugs, let me explain why we say what we do.

Here is a typical *abridged* MMO post@a lot of people

Hey guys :)
Me and my friends have gotten together and are putting together a plan for a new and interesting MMORPG. Right now the design is on paper but we plan to start programming soon, but we have a couple of questions:
1. What language do we use?
2. Are there and tutorials for game and network programming around?
3. What engine is good for an MMO? The new idea is <insert concept that’s been done x10,000 here> and we think it’s going to be really great. I’m the designer of the game and some others are helping, but we need programmers. If you would like to join please contact us at cheesy.address@freemail.com.

So rather than just going in the order of the post, I want to address typically the most common issues first.

This *offends* us as programmers
Games are not a mature media yet and are not at the moment taken seriously by a lot of people. For whatever reason, countless people think that game programming is an easy slackers job when if fact it’s one of the most difficult careers that a person can have. It’s extremely rewarding, but that’s because it’s so insanely hard. This kind of post is literally offensive to us because saying something like “I have no programming experience, but I could make an MMO easy” is really the same as saying “What you guys are so proud of is *sooo* easy.”

This is one big reason why we are so hostile. Even if you didn’t say it in that exact way, we have seen the attitude so many times that we start to just fill in the blanks after a while, even if you didn’t mean it like that. So we’ve covered the defensive response, but there are also a lot of things that we genuinely get sick of saying, like:

You are not, and there is no need for, a designer
Writer? Fine. Character designer? Fine. Level designer? Fine. Designer? No.
“Designer” is one of the most generic terms in existence and extremely few people know what it actually means. An idea for a game where you are on the moon fighting mutant crabs as ninjas is NOT a design, it’s a concept (and a really bad concept in this case). Design is going through every conceivable aspect of a game with a fine tooth comb. Consider the cover system in Gears of War:

  1. What is defined as cover?
  2. Can some cover break?
  3. What’s the animation we will use?
  4. What are all the moves that a player can use to get in cover?
  5. What about getting out of it?
  6. What’s to stop an enemy from coming up behind you while you’re blind in cover giving you a cheap kill?
  7. The previous issue can’t be solved so every section of every level we need to make sure this doesn’t happen.
  8. How would you take cover from a Berserker? (an issue I don’t think they handled well)
  9. What’s to stop you from accidentally using cover you don’t want to? (A problem that, in fact, was not solved in the first GoW)
  10. This list may very count into the 60’s or 70’s and I’m not going through all those.

I could go on *all day* about this one aspect and this is just one tiny part of the game as a whole. Obviously I can’t begin to go through all the design aspects of an MMO, but here’s a guy that tried:

http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=11656
This is a well written and enormous list, but far from everything is covered.

So, we’ve established that just the design of a good game is overwhelming, but lets examine why, as an indie, you do not even need a designer…

The team you’re putting together
If you take the time to read all the articles and especially the one I linked to above, then I truley commend you and you are one in a thousand. But that’s just it, you are one in a thousand, and that means that finding someone else with the drive and determination to stick with the development is going to be incredibly difficult. You may find another person through the help of the internet, and if you’re really lucky, 3 determined people. With this few people and the need for programmers + artists, you don’t have the resources to dedicate a “designer”.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and this is what I thought at one time… that you and your friends will develop this together. Let be be as clear as I possibly can [[[this is an EPICLY bad idea]]]. I have lost several friends rather unpleasantly via this logic, so please don’t make the same mistakes many of us have. It’s just never a good idea to mix serious business and friendship, and I had 2 projects crash and burn because of it.

Quality team members are looking for quality leaders
Now don’t get me wrong, it is possible to put together a good team, but you need a tangible product. Good developers and programmers are smart, and they ,from experience, look for leaders that are not going to abandon the project. The best way to do this is with a tangible self made prototype, and a playable demo is a real plus. Developing an actual playable slice of the game will dramatically increase your chances of putting together a quality team.
But let me get off this subject because I have gotten off track.

If you’re asking vauge questions about programming languages and engines, you’re not ready to create a 3D game, let alone an MMO
It’s a general rule of thumb that if a developer asks “which engine do I use?”, then they probably don’t have the faintest clue of how to use them and what they really are. As far as engines go, there’s a lot of questions behind what you’re asking.
There’s some additional information here:

http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=11869
and here

http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=13176
But this question is really a useless one to ask as there is no engine set up to handle the scale of a real MMO, that’s a hardware issue, not software. Now don’t get confused, there are engines that offer larger than usual multiplayer capacity, but nothing even remotely close to an MMO scale.

NOTE: As mentioned below, I should have made the difference clear between bogus engine questions, valid engine questions and valid beginner questions. You can ask “which engine do I use” but the way to go about that is by providing specific information about your project. There is no master engine forged in the fires of Mt. Doom made to complete every task conceivable by man. Every scenario has a different engine that fits it’s needs. So it’s fine to ask engine questions, but please give your specific goals and needs. If you are a begginer and need a good direction for learning to program, look through some of the old threads an stickies before asking on the forums. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these questions, but look around before asking please.

There is no such tutorial like “how to make an MMO”
If there was and it was valid, it would make history. Even much simpler single player games cannot have a real tutorial because the amount of work, knowledge and experience that goes into them is absolutely massive and simply cannot be effectively communicated in the form of text. It’s like reading about baseball as compared to actually playing it. Like reading about a country as compared to living there.

But really, all these arguments don’t even need to be said because:

It’s just infeasible and impractical
This is a good read if you want to learn why:

http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=12978
After a fair amount of debate the conclusion that most of us came to is that it’s theoretically (with half a life’s dedication) possible to make an MMO, but not possible to:

  1. Get a player base large enough to qualify as an MMO
  2. Afford the server hardware and the brute force computer power to run it fast and reliably
  3. Maintain the hardware and the software as well as securing it against hackers
  4. Maintain the content creation required to keep an MMO alive.

And once you through all those factors in, it’s simply impractical to make one at all.

Now, the idea of friends and people playing with each other is attractive, but there’s a much simpler solution to all this:

Make a multiplayer game
There is a tremendous (or should I say massive) difference between an MO and an MMO. Multiplayer is difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible and has gotten much more common among indie produced games. Multiplayer or co-op is completely possible and I would encourage you to take on a project like that as it could serve as a good learning experience. Now, most likely you will not finish the game (that’s just statistics speaking) but it will have at least served as an in depth learning experience. An MMO, on the other hand, will leave you dazed, confused and unable to gain progress leaving you with much waster time in the end.

But above all, something that just cannot be stated enough:

Set your goals reasonably
Pong -> tick-tac-toe -> Tetris -> Mario -> doom
Work your way up the ladder. Make smaller, releasable, playable segments of these games and see how much effort it takes. I would estimate the average time it takes people to make the list similar to that is around 10 - 13 months assuming they already were fluent with computers in general. It’s like everything else, start small, go big.
I once heard someone say “If you shoot for the moon and you miss, you’re headed for the stars” and my response was “Oh you mean kind of like that mars probe that just missed its landing target so it crashed and burned?”

The point is, over-ambition kills, and we we’ve all been through it. I started several projects when I was younger and the after about 1/5th through each of them I realized that I was no longer learning anything from the current project and if I didn’t finish it, I would have completely wasted the time. I’ve learned my lesson sense then and to aim within what I can really do, which is substantially smaller than my goals before. As a result I have finally been able to catch onto a good learning curve, and while I still have so much to learn, I know that pacing will help a lot, and I know it can help you (YES YOU!) do it too.

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alphadog 101 Nov 13, 2008 at 16:27

Ninja Moon Crabs? I think I once suffered from NMC in college. Penicillin worked then, but there is a “super” strain out now.

Seriously, you summed it all up well. I guess I don’t need to come to this forum anymore. ;)

The only “constructive criticism” is the engine help part. I think you should draw a distinction between the “naive seeker of the Master Engine To Rule All MMOs, to be done in under six months”, and real game developers inquiring about things like a good entry point into development if new to the scene, or someone finally ending a project and trying to reconnect to “what’s what” in the industry.

And, +1 on making this, not the moon crabs, sticky.

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starstutter 101 Nov 13, 2008 at 17:11

@alphadog

I think you should draw a distinction between the “naive seeker of the Master Engine To Rule All MMOs, to be done in under six months”, and real game developers inquiring about things like a good entry point into development if new to the scene, or someone finally ending a project and trying to reconnect to “what’s what” in the industry.

Ah ok, I see, I’ll get to fixin that :)

And, +1 on making this, not the moon crabs

Awww, no one likes my moon crab idea :-(

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fireside 141 Nov 13, 2008 at 17:55

Yes, nicely done. It’s tough to know whether these people are completely naive and perhaps would become programmers or artists, or are just in some strange fantasy world where they think making games is the same as choosing a character’s hair and whatnot in the latest MMO they’ve been playing. I really don’t know and go back and forth on it.

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gardon 101 Nov 17, 2008 at 02:36

Or they’re just kids who don’t know any better. Most people think everyone posting here is 22 years old and has a college degree. I wanted to create my first MMO when I was 14 and didn’t know any better. And since kids don’t have any sense of professional etiquette, they are unable to ask the right questions and understand how those questions are being interpreted.

I feel for them because in today’s world, the indie developer has to do THAT much more work in order to keep up with the industry. I know so many intelligent people that would have done well in the software industry, but turned away because of how complex everything is.

The days of programming Mario and Zelda in your basement are over. It’s either MMORPG or nothing. Thank you very much WOW.

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Sol_HSA 119 Nov 17, 2008 at 06:52

@gardon

Or they’re just kids who don’t know any better. Most people think everyone posting here is 22 years old and has a college degree. I wanted to create my first MMO when I was 14 and didn’t know any better.

Back then I wanted to write my own text adventure. You know what? I did. The bar is slightly higher these days, I guess =)

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roel 101 Nov 17, 2008 at 09:27

roel’s guide to creating killer MMORPG’s

Forget it. You’ll fail for sure. Stop bothering us.

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starstutter 101 Nov 17, 2008 at 14:51

@gardon

I feel for them because in today’s world, the indie developer has to do THAT much more work in order to keep up with the industry.

Keep in mind though that indies have one thing that the industry will never fully have: innovation. Can an indie compete with a AAA company when it comes to making first person shooters? No. Can an indie compete with AAA in new gameplay concepts? Absolutley, because the industry doesn’t innovate (except in rare cases). I’ve heard plently of complaints that even Mirrors Edge grew standard after a while and felt like a first person prince of persia.

As far as indie production budgets go, the expectations of quality largley come from comparison to the same type of games, and the product can be viewed much less harshly if there’s really nothing to compare it to. People think WoW looks great even though many of its visuals resemble 2004 - 2006. What if an MMO came out that was an efficient crysis-style, graphic monster? Would people still think WoW looks good?

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fireside 141 Nov 17, 2008 at 16:06

Keep in mind though that indies have one thing that the industry will never fully have: innovation.

There are problems there also. There really is just so much you can do and computer games have been around for a while. You can put a new twist on things, but they all start to look alike after while and you do kind of look at production value, etc. I like the idea of online games myself, because there is a completely different standard. People want something that loads fast and is fun to play and graphics quality, etc, only has to be good enough.

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starstutter 101 Nov 17, 2008 at 17:02

@fireside

There really is just so much you can do and computer games have been around for a while. You can put a new twist on things, but they all start to look alike after while and you do kind of look at production value, etc.

Good point. One thing I have to question though is, are we really reaching the limit of what games can take form as, or is our way of thinking about games just constrained because there are so few unique ones?

I like the idea of online games myself, because there is a completely different standard. People want something that loads fast and is fun to play and graphics quality, etc, only has to be good enough.

I do agree but there seems to be an emergence of expectations going beyond that. Left 4 Dead is a perfect example. To me the characters look fine and everything else is just average, but average doesn’t seem to be good enough and so many people have been complaining about how the game looks. Then again, maybe people just expect too much from Valve.

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fireside 141 Nov 17, 2008 at 20:26

Good point. One thing I have to question though is, are we really reaching the limit of what games can take form as, or is our way of thinking about games just constrained because there are so few unique ones?

Well, they did sound stuff like Guitar Hero, but there’s really only so much of that you can do and it all reminds me of Karaoke. They may come up with input devices that allow a little more innovation but mostly I think we’re topping out. The trouble is that games lean more toward simulation and less towards story and simulations really don’t feel a lot different. I still don’t know how people can play race games over and over. They’ve managed to add a few story elements that make them slightly different but not much. I think in the end they’ll have to develop games that have skill nuances like holding and swinging a golf club and getting slices etc that require endless hours of practice to get right. Button pushing really isn’t cutting it anymore unless it’s strategy like chess or something.

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starstutter 101 Nov 17, 2008 at 22:28

@fireside

Well, they did sound stuff like Guitar Hero, but there’s really only so much of that you can do and it all reminds me of Karaoke.

Guitar Hero… I have mixed feelings about. On one hand it was an innovation to have something like that for a console. On the other hand there were so many arcade games building up to that concept that in the end the only origional thing about it was that it was console based.

They may come up with input devices that allow a little more innovation but mostly I think we’re topping out.

But I think we would have to look at how many are true innovations, or just one time gimmicks.

The trouble is that games lean more toward simulation and less towards story and simulations really don’t feel a lot different.

But see this is where I can say that I think our creativity has been severley constrained. I don’t think for a second that games are limited to simulation, and I think it would be possible to mix the genre of adventure games with new production technology. I just don’t think anyone has tried it yet.
This article is not completley related to this, but it’s an interesting read.

http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010129/adams_02.htm
Especially take a look at rule #4

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fireside 141 Nov 18, 2008 at 19:38

Especially take a look at rule #4

That just shows how much we are using simulations. The fantasy genre in books has probably 1000’s of different stories using those types. In games, if we’ve seen it once, it feels like old hat. What if you said “no doctors, lawyers, or cops”. You would cover 90% of story media and it really has nothing to do with nothing, since stories are about people not job classifications. It just proves how limited our thinking is when it comes to games. In games we want something always new in game play so air has to blow out of the walls or something, but you run out of that stuff pretty quickly. Also, just because it’s something unique doesn’t make it good or fun. I can come up with all kinds of ideas that would be unique, but wouldn’t be fun to play. The reason mages are used in games so often is because they lend themselves to interesting game play. The same reason we like army games. Well, not me, but most people.

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starstutter 101 Nov 18, 2008 at 21:14

@fireside

The fantasy genre in books has probably 1000’s of different stories using those types. In games, if we’ve seen it once, it feels like old hat.

well I admit the #4 rule is a bit flawed because it only pretains to story. I think more of the complaints about origionality are just how the games play. I mean, how many games are there where you don’t constantly have a gun in your hand? Not many. Shootings fine to an extent but I am truley getting sick of games based entirley around it. Stories though are kind of… well, a different story.

Stories in games in general are not very good because we haven’t quite figure out how to tell them properly. The trend right now seems to be imitating movies but what we need to do is find a way to make the player feel like he’s genuinley contributing to the story, rather than having it just presented to the player and then he goes off to solve every imaginable problem by shooting things. On the other hand I don’t want the player to feel like the center of the universe, because that’s unrealistic too. Now, what I mean by contributing the story is not “having the player write it”, because that doesn’t turn out very fascinating. I personally think the way to go in that regaurd is to give the player that “the world goes on without you”.

As it stands the players insignificant actions trigger earth shaking events that (imo) remove belivability from the story. In HL2 for instance, the combine wait to strike and the entire city is at a standstill untill gordan picks up a gun or walks through a door.

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cnoffsin 101 Nov 19, 2008 at 22:30

First off this is my first post but i just want to say this is an awesome site and forum!

I really enjoy the “wanna make an MMO” posts (and sanity inspiring replies) and was wondering if maybe there could be a forum group made just for:
“i want to make an MMO”
so that possibly could make an effort to filter them out from the other perhaps more realistic posts?

once again great site

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starstutter 101 Nov 20, 2008 at 04:26

@cnoffsin

I really enjoy the “wanna make an MMO” posts (and sanity inspiring replies) and was wondering if maybe there could be a forum group made just for:
“i want to make an MMO”
so that possibly could make an effort to filter them out from the other perhaps more realistic posts?

First off welcome to Dev :)
I’m not quite understanding your proposal though :huh:

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fireside 141 Nov 20, 2008 at 09:43

I really enjoy the “wanna make an MMO” posts (and sanity inspiring replies) and was wondering if maybe there could be a forum group made just for:
“i want to make an MMO”
so that possibly could make an effort to filter them out from the other perhaps more realistic posts?

I’m not sure it would help a lot. They liven up the forum if nothing else. Sometimes it gets old, though.

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Reedbeta 167 Nov 20, 2008 at 17:37

If there’s anything universally true about “I want to make an MMO” posters, it’s that they don’t read. If we create a special forum for them, they probably won’t post in it, because they won’t be paying enough attention to notice it. ;)

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starstutter 101 Nov 20, 2008 at 17:41

@Reedbeta

If there’s anything universally true about “I want to make an MMO” posters, it’s that they don’t read. If we create a special forum for them, they probably won’t post in it, because they won’t be paying enough attention to notice it. ;)

At least we can say we tried. :)

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fireside 141 Nov 20, 2008 at 19:23

Stories in games in general are not very good because we haven’t quite figure out how to tell them properly. The trend right now seems to be imitating movies but what we need to do is find a way to make the player feel like he’s genuinley contributing to the story, rather than having it just presented to the player and then he goes off to solve every imaginable problem by shooting things. On the other hand I don’t want the player to feel like the center of the universe, because that’s unrealistic too. Now, what I mean by contributing the story is not “having the player write it”, because that doesn’t turn out very fascinating. I personally think the way to go in that regaurd is to give the player that “the world goes on without you”.

I think the real problem with stories in games is that the industry wants to let players ignore the story if they so desire, which makes it a useless fringe element. I’ve read all kinds of times in articles things like “they don’t have to read this if they don’t want, they can skip the cut scene if they want to and still play the game, you can do it the story way or just shoot your way through. If you can do those things, it’s because the story is irrelevant. Trying to break up stories with branches, etc, really doesn’t work out very well. It’s just another way of washing out the story and making it basically useless. As much as we would like to think so, games aren’t that much different than movies, however the player needs to discover the story rather than it being presented to a character in a movie. Which is where games seem to fail. They spoon feed it to the player in cut scenes that you can skip if you happen to drool and have an itchy trigger finger.

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starstutter 101 Nov 21, 2008 at 00:04

@fireside

They spoon feed it to the player in cut scenes that you can skip if you happen to drool and have an itchy trigger finger.

That’s why I like the half life method though. If the player has an burning desire for carnage they can still be destroying Dr Kliners lab while he’s giving instructions. :)

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Sol_HSA 119 Nov 21, 2008 at 06:37

@Reedbeta

If there’s anything universally true about “I want to make an MMO” posters, it’s that they don’t read. If we create a special forum for them, they probably won’t post in it, because they won’t be paying enough attention to notice it. ;)

There is, however, a chance that some of them do read, and if they find a forum with a couple thousand of those those posts, they may start to think.

A collection of said posts might be a valuable resource in that sense.

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ville_v 101 Nov 21, 2008 at 15:29

Since we have some articles in Devmaster.net about the subject (for example http://www.devmaster.net/articles/building-mmorpg ), you could add link to articles somewhere in your post. If somebody reads it through and still wants to make an MMO, the article I linked might get him started.

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Inferno13 101 Mar 26, 2009 at 17:04

@starstutter

when if fact it’s one of the most difficult careers that a person can have.

One of the most difficult career that a person can have?

Ok its challenging but isent that slightly exaggerated?

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snoogans775 101 Aug 29, 2009 at 08:24

They may come up with input devices that allow a little more innovation but mostly I think we’re topping out.

I recently read an article on Gamasutra(forgot the author!) about the rate of progress right before and after the first video game crash. His basic presumption was that we are heading for another video game crash because of too much focus is being placed on graphical improvements and over-standardization of games.

But “topping out” still seems very far away. Plenty of big studios want to make the next “Shadow of the Colossus,” because it sold really well on it’s ingenuity and it’s artful relevance to players. Indie games are producing an onslaught of new ideas which are creating new purposes for video games. Like any other art form, video games are just trying to adapt to the current generation, and right now it appears that tons of people still want to fire shotguns at point blank range, but indie games liek Braid and The Beggar are giving totally new takes on game design. In Braid’s case, it’s also making some pretty good money too.

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gillvane 101 Mar 14, 2010 at 14:46

@starstutter

There is no such tutorial like “how to make an MMO”
If there was and it was valid, it would make history. Even much simpler single player games cannot have a real tutorial because the amount of work, knowledge and experience that goes into them is absolutely massive and simply cannot be effectively communicated in the form of text. It’s like reading about baseball as compared to actually playing it. Like reading about a country as compared to living there.

But really, all these arguments don’t even need to be said because:

It’s just infeasible and impractical
This is a good read if you want to learn why:

http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=12978
.

Is this becoming less and less valid? Big World Tech has released an indie license for their Engine that costs $299.00 USD.

It comes with some nice docs, basically a tutorial for making an MMORPG (even if it is how to put up a server for the stock game that comes with the engine, which you can modify).

The server technology is proven to handle 10K players. I’m not saying you can get 10K players to join your game, or that all by yourself you can make the content for 10K players, but the software is available. Now!

You need to script in Python, but that’s not impossible for someone to learn, and especially since there are example scripts for you to follow and modify.

There is a forum that offers support as well, so you can ask fellow Big World users about your scripts, etc.

I”m not saying it’s easy to make and MMORPG. I’m not saying 99% of those that try won’t fail.

But I am saying, maybe it’s time to ease up on all the doom and gloom about making an MMORPG?

MMORPG Maker is a site where people are working on their MMORPGs, mostly with Torque and the TGEA kit, some with Realm Crafter, and now more and more with Big World Tech.

Stop by and chat with those people that have decided it is possible to make an MMORPG, or check out the Big World Tech indie license.

The Devs of the Hero Engine, used for making The Old Republic, have stated they also have plans in the future to release an indie version of their engine.

Making an MMORPG engine from scratch is a daunting project, but fortunately you don’t have to.

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rouncer 104 Mar 14, 2010 at 18:33

Its no big deal… you can actually unbelievably start one from scratch and be successful too. :)

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stodge 101 Mar 17, 2010 at 01:57

I would say that if you want to write an MMPOG, scrape together $300 and the Big World Engine, or any other that comes out with an indie license. Or just learn it all yourself!

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fireside 141 Mar 17, 2010 at 02:28

Is this becoming less and less valid? Big World Tech has released an indie license for their Engine that costs $299.00 USD.

The engine might handle 10k users, but normally that would take a server farm, which is out of the range of most individuals, and each server would probably need a copy of the license. Also, there needs to be a lot of modeling done, even if most of the scripts are re-used. I guess I would say, please point us to the individual that made a decent MMORPG that handles 10k users. Not only that, but there has to be a refund on that money so the servers can stay running. MMO’s are normally a company type investment and the failure rate is quite high. The truth is there are very few individuals that can write a small, single player game by themselves. I would say in most cases this will be an individual throwing away 300 dollars, which at least isn’t all that much money. What will happen is they will write a small cruddy demo and use their connection for a server and run 50 players for a while until they realize what a waste of time the whole thing is. Personally, I’ll stick with the doom and gloom unless you can show me a decent MMO that can run at least 500 players at a time written by less than 10 individuals. Anyway, I don’t personally tell people it can’t be done, just that it’s a lot of work and will probably fail, which I think is accurate. Most of these people have zero experience and should be starting out writing small 2d games.

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Sol_HSA 119 Mar 17, 2010 at 06:59

@fireside

Most of these people have zero experience and should be starting out writing small 2d games.

While I agree with all that you said, I think these turnkey-mmo-thingies is exactly what the i-wanna-make-my-own-mmo folk need.

They’ll never get enough people to play their game for the concurrent user limit to be a problem (and if they do, they’ll have bigger problems to solve anyway).

In the meantime they have something to tinker with, something they are excited about, which is a rather strong motivator for learning.

The small 2d games wouldn’t make them as interested in learning. But, if they wise up along the way, maybe they’ll try doing the small 2d games at some point, if only to learn how to make their mmo better.

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Cayle 101 Mar 17, 2010 at 10:07

@fireside

Most of these people have zero experience and should be starting out writing small 2d games.

Most of these people should work on an NWN persistent world or MUD to learn the ropes because that is a bit more relevant than a 2D platformer.

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alphadog 101 Mar 17, 2010 at 17:37

@gillvane

Is this becoming less and less valid? … But I am saying, maybe it’s time to ease up on all the doom and gloom about making an MMORPG?

If one is really setting, as an end goal, to make a successful, *MASSIVELY* multiplayer online game, it simply is not easy and people need to be told that.

The reason is not the technology. It’s been relatively easy for a handful of years to string together best-of-breed components and get something online. In fact, the crappy MMO kits (Realmcrapter, etc.) have been more of a detriment to progress than an aide. It hopefully seems like a shift is happening in that viable platforms are being made available at prices that usually kept it to AAA studios; that’s the inevitability of market forces.

The real difficulty lies in the execution of the whole project, from an operational and logistical POV. For example, if you think picking out an engine is hard, wait till you have to source actual art or coding talent.

Like your post, most people focus on the tech and not the daunting 90% of the rest of the project that would indicate success.

That being said, I honestly wish any entrepreneur (who correctly reads themselves as such) the best of luck. I am one of those crazies who think failing is as much fun as succeeding! :)

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rouncer 104 Mar 18, 2010 at 04:07

Its true you do need to be good, but you know its alot of these newies dreams to have one of these all of their own creation.
I just say if you work hard over a period of 20 years, then you might be able to START one.

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gillvane 101 Mar 19, 2010 at 15:36

@fireside

What will happen is they will write a small cruddy demo and use their connection for a server and run 50 players for a while until they realize what a waste of time the whole thing is. Personally, I’ll stick with the doom and gloom unless you can show me a decent MMO that can run at least 500 players at a time written by less than 10 individuals. Anyway, I don’t personally tell people it can’t be done, just that it’s a lot of work and will probably fail, which I think is accurate. Most of these people have zero experience and should be starting out writing small 2d games.

I don’t think that making a small cruddy demo with 50 players is a waste of time. I think it’s a great learning experience.

I believe A Tale in the Desert was written by less than 10 developers and has over 500 players.

I don’t think people need to hear that they will fail. What good does that do? It’s not constructive criticism because there is nothing really constructive about it.

I think it would be a worthwhile post if you gave positive suggestions on how someone might make their project better, or have a better chance of succeeding, if you actually know any of that information.

But, that will never work, you’ll fail. Does anyone really need that advice? I dont’ think so. Discouraging someone from trying, is discouraging them from learning. Failure is alright, because we learn from our failures.

Not trying is what sucks, because you learn nothing from that.

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rouncer 104 Mar 19, 2010 at 21:04

Im not against your hopes and dreams gillvane, work for it!
If your dream is riches tho… maybe thats not what you should make
one for, maybe putting it out there for free makes more sense.

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fireside 141 Mar 19, 2010 at 21:29

I think it would be a worthwhile post if you gave positive suggestions on how someone might make their project better, or have a better chance of succeeding, if you actually know any of that information.

But, that will never work, you’ll fail. Does anyone really need that advice? I dont’ think so. Discouraging someone from trying, is discouraging them from learning. Failure is alright, because we learn from our failures.

Not trying is what sucks, because you learn nothing from that.

Well, I think what’s needed is for the person to narrow his/her scope. Start with a small single player game, then add AI, then go to multi-player, from multi-player possibly expand to MMO. It’s important to start small and work up. Most people have zero experience and all they talk about is the different races they’re going to have in the game. It’s cart before the horse. When you tell them they even have to learn a language they don’t want to hear anything about it. I consider that constructive criticism.
I think one of the arguing points from my view was that people should start with muds or something but I disagree. Every game boils down to a game loop with player interaction and at least some AI. It’s like saying I want to write a novel but I don’t want to learn my alphabet. First learn your alphabet, then write some short stories, then write a novel. Some people will never get beyond writing short stories, but that’s good because they actually wrote a complete work. They didn’t paste a bunch of code and put in the character’s hair color.

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rouncer 104 Mar 19, 2010 at 23:22

but its obviously possible that you can make one, there is shitloads of them out there.

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alphadog 101 Mar 23, 2010 at 15:14

@gillvane

I believe A Tale in the Desert was written by less than 10 developers and has over 500 players.

Ten paid devs? Or “free” devs? What about artists and sysadmins? Because 500 players x $14 = $7000/mo of revenue. That pays for maybe one good dev and the rest would cover various overhead, like servers, bandwidth, miscellaneous expenses if they are incorporated, etc.

The take-home point when saying “I want to make a successful MMO” is define success for yourself before embarking on the quest.
@gillvane

Failure is alright, because we learn from our failures.

Well, I guess the counterpoint is that history is littered with people who don’t gauge the size of the failure. Failing in the small is, as you indicate, very educational, failing big can be disastrous, both psychologically and financially.

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sanman 101 May 03, 2010 at 22:17

Aphadog, I think there should be a thread that classifies the various games under categories which group them according to common characteristics.

A lot of newbies might not see the similarities between different games in the way that a developer would see them. One game may have elves and fairies, while another may have robots and tanks, but the 2 games may be very similar beneath the superficialities.

This might help newbies and oldies alike to get more appreciation over what’s been done many times before, versus what is truly novel and groundbreaking.

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rouncer 104 May 04, 2010 at 00:49

I think only one guy made runescape.

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vrnunes 102 May 04, 2010 at 01:58
//
// Version 1.1
// AUTHOR: <insert your name here>
//
BOOL CUltimateAndEasyEngine::OnButtonCreatePress()
{
    // please edit the following parameters to customize your game.
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_DIMENSIONS, "3D");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_TYPE, "MMORPG");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_GAMEDESIGN, "ZOOMBIES | AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_SHADERS, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_OPTIMIZATIONS, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_SOUNDS, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_MODELS, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_GAMELOGIC, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_LANGUAGE, "AUTO_CREATED");
    pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->SetParm(P_ANY_OTHER_DETAIL, "AUTO_CREATED");
    // end of game parameters

    if (pUltimateAndEasyGameCreator->Create("MY OWN 3D MMORPG"))
    {
        pUltimateAndEasyBox->Show("Done!");
        return TRUE;
    }
    else
    {
        pUltimateAndEasyBox->Show("Something bad happened. Click button SOLVE_ANY_PROBLEM_FOR_ME to solve.");
        return FALSE;
    }
}
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vrnunes 102 May 04, 2010 at 03:08

A comment about my joke: I never stated that a single person could not create alone an MMORPG.

The joke is because of the many many many many questions coming from people who CLEARLY show that they din’t do a simple google search about the subject, then registered on forums asking TRIVIAL questions about how to create an MMORPG. Worse yet, asking for OTHERS to do the HARD WORK for them. For free, of course.

There is a pattern that is easily recognized by anyone who has at least a minimal experience with games development in general, of any genre: they are just LAZY PEOPLE, looking for the easiest path.

I will be sincere here, I don’t like lazy people. And I don’t like opportunists as well, those who enter a market with insufficient knowledge, motivated by money and/or fame.

That is my opinion, and the reason for my joke. And I don’t care if nobody agrees with me.

EDIT: (and my english still sucks)

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alphadog 101 May 05, 2010 at 00:41

@sanman

Aphadog, I think there should be a thread that classifies the various games under categories which group them according to common characteristics.

The myth that would perpetuate is that the proper (sole?) gauge of an MMO’s difficulty is the feature list. That may be useful for a small-scale, single-man effort, but on larger scales, it isn’t relatively important.

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sanman 101 May 05, 2010 at 21:38

“feature” is just a word. If you like, it could be a list of favorite landmark games that appeared, along with a description of why they were landmark titles. This could be another way to describe the evolution and trajectory of gaming.

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Luz_Reyes 101 Dec 23, 2010 at 17:23

Glad to see that this was made into a sticky!

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Nikke 101 Jan 07, 2011 at 14:04

If you dream of making an MMO, go for it. No-one has the right to stop you into creating one. Just be prepared, and plan ahead so you know what you’re up to.

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alphadog 101 Jan 07, 2011 at 14:28

Furthermore, remember to sing “Kumbaya” for more cosmic energy to power your success.

Also, The Secret!

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Nikke 101 Jan 07, 2011 at 14:47

@alphadog

Furthermore, remember to sing “Kumbaya” for more cosmic energy to power your success. Also, The Secret!

I’m sure your team did the same when they created this website.

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Dirus 101 Mar 06, 2011 at 02:23

@fireside

I think the real problem with stories in games is that the industry wants to let players ignore the story if they so desire, which makes it a useless fringe element. I’ve read all kinds of times in articles things like “they don’t have to read this if they don’t want, they can skip the cut scene if they want to and still play the game, you can do it the story way or just shoot your way through. If you can do those things, it’s because the story is irrelevant. Trying to break up stories with branches, etc, really doesn’t work out very well. It’s just another way of washing out the story and making it basically useless. As much as we would like to think so, games aren’t that much different than movies, however the player needs to discover the story rather than it being presented to a character in a movie. Which is where games seem to fail. They spoon feed it to the player in cut scenes that you can skip if you happen to drool and have an itchy trigger finger.

Actually.. Since this is a thread on MMO’s The above scenarios don’t really fit.

The main issue with “Storylines” in an MMO is that 99.9% of the time nothing the player does makes a lick of difference. There is a whole host of issues as to why, including persistence across shards/servers.

If there was an MMO that had a player influenced storyline I think a lot more players would actually pay attention to it. However as of today I don’t recall off the top of my head a major MMO that has solved, or bothered to solve the issue of making the players actions actually effect the storyline.

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fireside 141 Mar 06, 2011 at 04:14

Actually.. Since this is a thread on MMO’s The above scenarios don’t really fit.

Agreed. The topic had migrated to stories in games “in general”, and that’s what I replied to.

I’m not really an MMO player so it’s hard to have a discussion on this. Mainly, stories are a group of independent missions that are under a higher mission, which could roughly be called a story. It gives the game cohesiveness and a goal and helps to maintain interest after the repetitive game play starts getting a little dull. Most games I’ve played, none of which are MMO’s, the player had some input in the story. I don’t think the player should be a little god that decides how everything works out because that’s not how life works. Much of what we do in life, we have very little control over, but I still feel that story elements shouldn’t be totally optional, because that, in itself, causes a separation and makes the game less interesting. I’ve always been a fan of point and click adventure games for that reason. You had to play the story, and because of it, the story was more interesting. You had little or no control over it, but that didn’t keep it from adding a lot of interest to the game and that’s something I find lacking in modern games to varying degrees. I think games cater too much much to people who are not at all cerebral. It’s like a lowest common denominator but it goes too far and we end up with kindergarten stories. Bioware is kind of an exception and I’m interested to see what they do with Knights of the Old Republic MMO.

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rouncer 104 Mar 06, 2011 at 04:22

An mmo isnt harder to make than any other game, in my opinion… its just that you cant even make a single game, let alone an rpg.

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fireside 141 Mar 06, 2011 at 04:29

I think there’s a natural progression form short games, to games with NPC’s, which are sort of like other players, to social games that actually have other players and NPC’s. I’m still at the NPC stage and I’m not that interested in social games because of the money involved in setting up the servers.

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rouncer 104 Mar 06, 2011 at 05:04

I wouldnt know how possible it is or not to start an mmorpg all on your own, if I did go for it, and actually finished the game (what most people cant even do) who knows how successful id be or if it would crash and burn completely.

Id be rich if it did work tho. ;)

But im still working on modelling, I havent even got up to finished game stage yet… id have more luck trying to distribute a novel modelling package.

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alphadog 101 Mar 06, 2011 at 15:19

@rouncer

An mmo isnt harder to make than any other game, in my opinion… its just that you cant even make a single game, let alone an rpg.

There’s a huge world (pun intended) of difference between an MMO and, say, a Tetris knock-off.

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rouncer 104 Mar 06, 2011 at 15:45

I spose, I meant average aaa game on the shelf of the video store… nah, i dont think you could make anything there, mmo or not. right?

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fireside 141 Mar 06, 2011 at 19:31

It’s probably easier to do an MMO than get on the shelf of a video store. One person can pretty much forget either one of those things. In the realms of possibility, one could probably do a game for an online distributer like BigFish or something, or a flash viral ad game. Anything bigger and it’s backers and teams and all that.

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Dirus 101 Mar 06, 2011 at 23:06

Having worked on an MMORPG that was sold in stores across North America and Europe I’d say that the 3 main difference between creating an MMORPG and an offline RPG are $$$, Netcode & Database. With the $$$ being the biggest issue due to the Hardware/Bandwidth & upkeep costs etc. Netcode would be the next biggest issue.

You can forget Art, & Storylines as they’re pretty much identical, tho a Offline RPG usually has a bigger investment in the Storyline. They both require a ton of art assets. Same goes for Character related issues like classes/professions, as well as skill trees etc. Items as well, both are pretty much equal. Quests.. same thing.

On the terms of a guide to creating killer MMORPG’s I think another thing that a lot of people underestimate is just how many DB Tables an MMORPG requires. The first one I worked on we had 37 different tables with some aspects of the game requiring interaction between 3+ different ones. The current pet project I’m working on has 52 as of this moment.

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gillvane 101 Mar 08, 2011 at 18:59

I think the original post is somewhat dated with the indie release of the Hero Engine (5K), Big World Tech ($300.00), and now the IdeaSys release of Hero Engine for no money up front, and a 70/30 split.

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ville_v 101 Aug 21, 2011 at 16:32

People usually say here that programming an MMORPG is easy (like the first post did), but you need lots of money to have enough players or you can’t call it an MMORPG. They say that means making an MMORPG is impossible and you shouldn’t do it.

On Devmaster.net people usually think MMORPG means something with millions of players. But in practice MMORPGs usually have 2-4k players per shard (world). Because of their design, one shard may have different parts of the world on separate server machines and one server machine can have parts from different shard. Login servers are usually separate from gemaplay and chat servers.

Eternal Lands has 1.5k players on one shard, which is running on one server machine. Chat, gameplay and login are on the same server process. Login is threaded, but all gameplay is in the same thread. The server has been programmed by a single person. When the following blog posts were made in 2006, the game was 3 years old and he had programmed it on his free time. He is a professional though.

Some facts about Eternal Lands:

http://eternal-lands.blogspot.com/2006/09/server-migration-is-complete.html

http://eternal-lands.blogspot.com/2007/01/yet-another-new-record.html

http://eternal-lands.blogspot.com/2006/10/703-players-online.html

“The new server is a Dual P4 Xeon 3Ghz
The old server is a Dual P3 1.2 Ghz”
“The actual server process [on the old server] took about 6.5% of the CPU with 600 connections.”
850 players online, server load stays under 20%.
750 players online, highest peak in bandwidth was only 1.1 Mbps (out).

This means you can run 1k players on a $50 machine (not per month; in fact today you can get machine with hardware above for free) if you have 1 Mbps connection. I would count that as an MMORPG. In fact, I would count any game with over 200 players per world as an MMORPG.

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Reedbeta 167 Aug 21, 2011 at 16:42

@ville-v

People usually say here that programming an MMORPG is easy (like the first post did)

Not really - *certain* people repeatedly claim that MMORPGs are no more difficult to program than any other game, but the majority of us claim that they are hard to program. :lol:

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scarsia 101 Nov 22, 2011 at 00:53

@gardon

Or they’re just kids who don’t know any better. Most people think everyone posting here is 22 years old and has a college degree. I wanted to create my first MMO when I was 14 and didn’t know any better. And since kids don’t have any sense of professional etiquette, they are unable to ask the right questions and understand how those questions are being interpreted.

I feel for them because in today’s world, the indie developer has to do THAT much more work in order to keep up with the industry. I know so many intelligent people that would have done well in the software industry, but turned away because of how complex everything is.

The days of programming Mario and Zelda in your basement are over. It’s either MMORPG or nothing. Thank you very much WOW.

i strongly agree…

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Robert_J__King 101 Feb 09, 2012 at 11:17

@Reedbeta

If there’s anything universally true about “I want to make an MMO” posters, it’s that they don’t read. If we create a special forum for them, they probably won’t post in it, because they won’t be paying enough attention to notice it. wink.png

That’s so true, because when I started in all this, I “wanted” to pop the question and ask about some hardcore MMO, idea but then I just read, and read, and read alot. and then I never even had to ask one question except if I was doing the right thing as a beginner in the “beginning” process. And I learned soooooo much, just because I read the forums rather than asking so many questions. I will admit though most of what I learned, that at least lead to helping me learn was from the dumb mmo questions that people asked and made other devs mad in the first place. I just read there thread about about how they can’t do this and can do that because they don’t know anything about programming, and then every now and again some lone ranger dev would post a good link for starting out on there thread and I would just head that way. Saved the ass chewing for someone else. ;)