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How to put a MMORPG development team together to create a game prototype for funding


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#1 SpaceColonizationMmorpg   Members   -  Reputation: 87

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 02:59 PM

Looking for tips on how (where on the Internet preferably for free, methodology / approach, ...) to put a browser-based MMORPG development team together to create a game prototype.

 

Some details worth mentioning:

 

1. I have been working for over half a decade on the design (both business model, game design and technological aspects) of a space based (think EVE Online) MMORPG.

 

2. I have developed some alpha stage pieces that focus on game mechanics and are not graphically impressive.

 

3. I do not have enough capital to just fund people myself, so I am looking for enthusiasts who would want to participate in this as a "hobby" project (yet closed-source; I do know about NDAs and such).

 

4. The most appealing and likely to succeed type of funding would be crowd funding, which, for this type of project, requires a team and at least an alpha stage working prototype.

 

The technologies / programming knowledge that will be required for this prototype stage project are mainly WebGL and WebSockets.

 

So my question is, where can I find people like who'd want to participate in a "hobby" project which can become a fully funded game development project? I suppose game development departments at universities might be a good starting point - but how to approach these... calling or emailing and if the latter then who to write (head of department, individual professors, ...?) and what to say?

 

Or even better, are there any popular and free forums to post such a project at?

 

And what would any of you suggest how should I approach people, how should I introduce the project and myself? I'm asking because this is intended to become a mainstream commercial MMORPG, so I can't give out too much info, which might put off some people, so maybe someone has any tips on what to reveal and what not to, and how to go about in doing so.



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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10080

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 03:17 PM

You could put a business plan together and get seed funding to make a prototype to use to get the next round of funding. 

Since people like to get paid to do work on other people's MMORPG ideas, and it's going to be hard to get people to do it for free.


-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 SpaceColonizationMmorpg   Members   -  Reputation: 87

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 05:43 PM

You could put a business plan together and get seed funding to make a prototype to use to get the next round of funding. 

Since people like to get paid to do work on other people's MMORPG ideas, and it's going to be hard to get people to do it for free.

 

That... is interesting info, yet went completely past what my question was. However, considering you mentioned "seed funding", could you elaborate perhaps a bit on that - how does it work (is it private individual funding, crowd funding, ...; what do I / the team / the project give in return; what are the legal implications if there are any, in terms of personal liabilities to deliver and such) and where would you go to (on the Internet and / or in real life / in person) to attract such funding?

 

Thank you for the current input and advance thanks for future input!



#4 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1877

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 06:08 PM

do a search of "kickstarter" on gamasutra.  There are a number of kickstarter post mortems.  jeff Pobst gave a good here in Seattle at PAX Dev.  :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X6mX-_8G7M).

Note that Hidden Path ended up having to get additional funding from a VC (Venture Capital) to finish their game.

 

There are definitely legal implications-- if you take people's money (eg via kickstarter) and then never make your product, you will be in trouble.  

Read up on Kickstarter--their web site is the best place to start.

 

Of course 'private funding' is another option.  Family, friends are often the best places for that.

 

It can take a LOT of money to make a game.  A quarter Million sounds like a lot, but that's only a few months time for a team of 7...it goes fast.  So make sure you don't bite off more than you can comfortably chew.  There are many stories of kickstarters that needed to go back for more money--sometimes much more..

 

Note that if you are taking people's money, making and selling something, you are in business, and need to get your business ducks in a row just as much as you need your art done and code written.  That includes having documents for anyone participating in your project to sign, with a clear understanding of what they do or do not get for working on it.

 

One last note-- you're describing something somewhere between a hobby project and a professional project.  You should really try to figure out which you want it to be.  If it's a 'hobby' project for some of the other people, be prepared to have their part be low on their personal priority list.  You may get lucky and find someone who 'gets' your vision and works a lot on it.  But more likely, they will have a lot of other stuff going on in their lives (things that they get paid for), and if they are making no money and doing it "when they can" you may find your progress is quite slow.

 

Good luck!


Edited by bschmidt1962, 23 July 2013 - 06:10 PM.

Brian Schmidt

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GameSoundCon 2014:October 7-8, Los Angeles, CA

 

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Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

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#5 SpaceColonizationMmorpg   Members   -  Reputation: 87

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 06:26 PM

do a search of "kickstarter" on gamasutra.  There are a number of kickstarter post mortems.  jeff Pobst gave a good here in Seattle at PAX Dev.  :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X6mX-_8G7M).

Note that Hidden Path ended up having to get additional funding from a VC (Venture Capital) to finish their game.

 

There are definitely legal implications-- if you take people's money (eg via kickstarter) and then never make your product, you will be in trouble.  

Read up on Kickstarter--their web site is the best place to start.

 

Of course 'private funding' is another option.  Family, friends are often the best places for that.

 

It can take a LOT of money to make a game.  A quarter Million sounds like a lot, but that's only a few months time for a team of 7...it goes fast.  So make sure you don't bite off more than you can comfortably chew.  There are many stories of kickstarters that needed to go back for more money--sometimes much more..

 

Note that if you are taking people's money, making and selling something, you are in business, and need to get your business ducks in a row just as much as you need your art done and code written.  That includes having documents for anyone participating in your project to sign, with a clear understanding of what they do or do not get for working on it.

 

One last note-- you're describing something somewhere between a hobby project and a professional project.  You should really try to figure out which you want it to be.  If it's a 'hobby' project for some of the other people, be prepared to have their part be low on their personal priority list.  You may get lucky and find someone who 'gets' your vision and works a lot on it.  But more likely, they will have a lot of other stuff going on in their lives (things that they get paid for), and if they are making no money and doing it "when they can" you may find your progress is quite slow.

 

Good luck!

 

Hi Brian - and thank you for your input. Yet again (and I hate to sound like a complainer, and it's not entirely a complaint because I still got some info out of it and you did put quite some effort into your message) - you're completely past of what my original post asked.

 

But considering what you said, that is probably important input for a lot of people, however I am very familiar with Kickstarter, its process, legal implications and such but also video game project specific issues, as the ones you have mentioned. I could provide input related to your concerns and my planning to avoid those pitfalls, but you have not asked for that and if someone is interested then feel free to ask and I would be happy to explain then.

 

So all in all, thank you for your efforts in what you wrote, I am still in need of getting some more input on my original question - how / where specifically to find project / team members AKA where and how (what approach / method would you suggest) would it be most sensible to advertise for my project to acquire respectively qualified HRs.



#6 JTippetts   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8598

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 07:17 PM

So all in all, thank you for your efforts in what you wrote, I am still in need of getting some more input on my original question - how / where specifically to find project / team members AKA where and how (what approach / method would you suggest) would it be most sensible to advertise for my project to acquire respectively qualified HRs.


Short answer: nowhere. Consider exactly what it is you are asking. An MMO-anything is quite technically challenging. There are middleware options (BigWorld, etc...) that might make it easier but which require financial investment and also will still require a solid and experienced technical base. You admit you have no experience (admitting to only having done a few alpha-stage pieces is essentially admitting to having no experience), have no knowledge of the technical constraints, no knowledge necessary to put together an actual workable budget, design (a few years spent tinkering on a design just doesn't cut it, not without relevant professional experience; or, at least, having finished a good size project) or business plan. You have no money with which to hire qualified people to fill these glaring experience gaps, and are instead hoping for the good will of the "crowd" to pony up the cash for you to hire, assuming that people are just going to throw money at a team led by someone so inexperienced who has nothing under his belt to show that he can make good on his promise. It's just not really a workable situation.

Start smaller. An MMO just should not be attempted as your first finished project.

#7 SpaceColonizationMmorpg   Members   -  Reputation: 87

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:24 PM

@Brian Schmidt - I did watch the YouTube vid, it was quite informative starting mid-way to the end, so thank you for that.

 

 

@"JTippetts" - all you brought on was just a bunch of unfounded criticism that therefore just came across hostile and in specifically one instance outright wrong in general (tip: alphas AKA technology demos are made to proof a specific technology, therefore in fact showing that such individual / group does have that specific knowledge and that it is technological feasible in a product).

 

 

So to make things more clear, I will summarize:

 

I have everything (including a business plan, development plan, technologies know-how and general business and specifically experience in creating video games, as part of my several decades of professional experience working in the IT industry and my education) that is required to start with turning this idea for a MMORPG into a commercial (and according to the figures commercially successful) product, minus the funds, some things to take care of on the business side and the required "talent" / HR.

 

I am looking for information (tips, ideas, ...) on how to address the HR issue, specifically where to post on the Internet to advertise the opportunity to an as large as possible (yet suitable) audience, preferably free of charge. To add that "talent" to the project is important so that a prototype can be produced to attract funding.



#8 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19070

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:35 PM

There are some online communities where you can do this sort of thing, but if we take a look at a few of them...

 

...they generally aren't free, don't allow a non-paying project of the type you describe, or get little-to-no activity.

 

You could possibly try your idea of recruiting from a university, but you probably won't find much advice on it given most uni-based teams are formed from within the university or involve work-placement or internships with an established business.  I would suggest approaching department heads or professors to secure permission, and then finding out if you can address a group of students (perhaps before or after a lecture) and/or post notices on any notice boards.

 

 

If you want to attract a team of qualified and capable developers to work on an MMO you'll almost certainly need to pay them.  You might find less qualified developers who can dedicate some efforts to your project, but you'll need to cast a wide net across lots of developer communities and/or pay for advertising.

 

This just isn't the type of project people pursue with no budget.  You could perhaps try applying for a personal loan, borrowing from family and/or friends, or approaching venture capitalists to get some starting funds -- otherwise you'll probably need to start smaller.



#9 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22289

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 10:43 PM

So to make things more clear, I will summarize:

I have everything (including a business plan, development plan, technologies know-how and general business and specifically experience in creating video games, as part of my several decades of professional experience working in the IT industry and my education) that is required to start with turning this idea for a MMORPG into a commercial (and according to the figures commercially successful) product, minus the funds, some things to take care of on the business side and the required "talent" / HR.

I am looking for information (tips, ideas, ...) on how to address the HR issue, specifically where to post on the Internet to advertise the opportunity to an as large as possible (yet suitable) audience, preferably free of charge. To add that "talent" to the project is important so that a prototype can be produced to attract funding.

Advertise as large as possible is incongruent with free of charge.



I've worked on games that have a DAU of around 150,000 players. We invested tens of millions in the game every year. We have server farms in three continents. But even that isn't really enough players to be considered "MMO" status. MMO has a meaning, and it involves lots of money.

That first "M" has a very important meaning that many people forget. That first "M" can really only be achieved by a global presence that in practice is quite expensive, approaching a 9-digit figure in money. Perhaps you simply meant a more general online world?

If you honestly meant MMO, then I will assume your business plan details things like how you intend to develop your server farm, how you intend to provide global 24/7 support, global billing, global taxes, global translations, global privacy laws, global security regulations, global game ratings, and many things beyond simple game design documents. Simply creating a game (production) is relatively easy. Post-production costs and lifetime product support generally dwarf development costs.

I'm really not sure how in your business plan you intended to get your tithe-of-a-billion dollars in funding. That's the thing most people in the discussion are confused about.

So if you mean a real MMO, assuming you have already used your networking skills and talked with all your professional contacts you have developed, you will need to spend money. Lots of money. Around fifty million dollars worth of money (at least) over the first three years.

You have "several decades of professional experience". This means you should have a network of personal contacts that extends to several hundred people. Recruit your first round of leaders from people you know can do the job and are willing to take the risk. If none of your friends and acquaintances are willing to take the risk, think about why.

You incorporate your business (costing money) and start paying people (costing lots of money) as a startup.

After you and your contact network has been questioned, you need to hire one more person: An HR specialist (costing money).

You and your friends (the contacts willing to join you) will form the core team. Any skills you don't have among you get listed and given to the HR specialist. They will scour the internet (costing money) and use their network of headhunters (also costing money) to hire people with the needed skills (which costs lots of money).

If you have to ask, you probably aren't ready for it. If you don't have the experience or business acumen to hire the first core group of people, you are absolutely out of your league for a real MMO. It is a very ambitious project usually approaching a hundred million dollars. First get your feet wet with a few million-dollar projects.


So, did you mean a real MMO, or did you mean a more simple online game?


If you read the Networking Forum FAQ, there is a link to how to develop a basic online world server in under a day, and develop a simple isometric online multiplayer world in less than a week. The server in the FAQ can probably support around 500 concurrent users.

If you don't think "MMO" you really only need one or two programmers, a modeler, and animator, and some audio. You will fill the role of designer and producer. A simple, professional looking non-MMO online world can be put together by a small team in just a few months. It has been done many, many times. Again you can likely get that from your network of co-workers you developed over decades of professional experience. Building it is the easy part, selling it and supporting it is much harder.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#10 Katie   Members   -  Reputation: 1362

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 04:42 AM

"how / where specifically to find project / team members"

 

There aren't any. Why? Because people with the time/talent to build MMO projects don't generally work for free.

 

Also, they were all recruited by the guy asking this yesterday. Otr the guy the day before. Or the two guys the day before that. Because world+dog has 4 pages of a design for an MMO and wants a bunch of free effort to take that and turn it into money and fame.

 

You're in competition for the same zero people as fifty-thousand other projects.



#11 SpaceColonizationMmorpg   Members   -  Reputation: 87

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:04 PM

@jbadams:

 

Great input, thank you. I'm a bit in a rush but I'll explore your message and the links in it in detail later on today.

 

 

@frob:

 

Excellent input, yet from a certain product / development point-of-view. What I mean by that is, technologies change and allow for different approaches, and products in general can be like apples and pears, that seem similar yet are also very different from each other.

 

"If you honestly meant MMO, then I will assume your business plan details things like..." - yes and somewhat and no. The somewhat and no part not due to my oversight, but simply because at this time, that is not a real concern but "down the road" (AKA following "evolution" / versions of the game) they will become an issue. And yes, I meant MMO in the "down the road" project.

 

"So, did you mean a real MMO, or did you mean a more simple online game?" - thus, MMO in the long run but initially it would definitely be a "limited memberships" type of game. As good as someone can make predictions in terms of business development, there are simply too many variables, especially when going global, such as change of technologies over the years and market development and thus competition, therefore the future holds the answer on whether this project will ever truly become a MMO in the fullest sense of its meaning.

 

"...there is a link to how to develop a basic online world server in under a day, and develop a simple isometric online multiplayer world in less than a week..." - yup, done that myself already a few weeks ago in one day actually, with the graphics (not gameplay yet) capabilities and layout very similar to the game Jagged Alliance 2. So yeah, that was good fun and instant gratification with successful testing of a few simultaneously connected players.

 

In terms of funding the development, I have actually developed a new idea here and Kickstarter seems only an "add-on" viability, as the above mentioned YouTube vid also showed in the scenario of that developer, at least.



#12 lithos   Members   -  Reputation: 413

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 06:23 PM

You can't really go ImperialConflict in the browser game space anymore(one programmer, working on hobby time and using clip art and commissions for other parts).   Games around that concept generally only ever see 3 to 20 people online at their peak times(unless they're a member of the old guard), before the developers give up.   It's just too competitive of a space now for new users.   

 

You're going to need to be pretty awesome developer and friends with a couple of other awesome developers to try to compete for users against professionals at their day job.   At least in a genre that is defined by player time investment figures that start at hundreds of hours over a time period of months or years.   Which is why most indy games are short single player.

 

___________

 

Lets be honest when it gets to hobby time a lot of people really just aren't all that motivated, especially when you consider that for someone to be skilled enough to be useful probably has the same task as their day job.   This means that you're going to need to be the major driver(IE the programmer, artist, or similar) to keep everyone motivated.  Further more if it comes to hobby time people really don't care about your game till you're at the 90% point(IE: properly functioning, playable, and a little polished) and looking to get the last 90% done.  After this point if you do nothing you'll get a person or two offering to help every couple of months.

 

Next you've been working on this for half a decade, which means you see this as "your project".   Which puts it pretty much in the doomed category since that's not how hobby time really works(the closest thing would be people in the same hobby showing off their "baby", which you don't have).  

 

So you've accumulated pieces over half a decade, that's a really really really long time especially after you consider someone can get working games from something like Eclipse (http://www.eclipseorigins.com/community/index.php?/page/index.html/homepage.html) in a few weeks, or artists(IE: people who are trained the opposite way programmers typically are) can make something like dust (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/180520/) after 3 years(with minimal previous programming experience).   Someone design minded will be able to pick up programming a lot easier(thinking through a concept in a step by step process, finding failure points, and putting it in a communicable form(which actually describes how some do art so go figure)).

 

You also want to lead a team in a space where you have no contacts, those lack of contacts likely means you have never been a part of another team, and if never having been a part of another team means you have no experience.   So logic would dictate you kind of need to first be a part of "someone else's" team so you can learn from their mistakes and successes, which actually goes pretty fast considering how fast most hobby teams fail.  Being a part of someone else's team also means that you're introduced to a lot of people and their friends of similar interest and how useful they all are.   Considering most indy teams fail it's not even poaching.

 

I would also say your timing is pretty horrible.  If you've had asked a few months ago it'd be pretty easy to point you to someone of every game development discipline looking to add one last project to their portfolio for graduation.

 

The last thing you need to ask yourself is "would more than one of me even be useful to a team of 3 to 5?", if the answer is no you need to find a way to make it yes.






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