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Structure of the MMORPG Workshop

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JWalsh

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Hail all!

I've been puzzling out the best way to run this "workshop." And although I've not come to a unanimous decision between the two hemispheres of my brain, I've at least come up with some thoughts. For starters, I'm not sure this is really a "workshop" per say. In my mind, a workshop is a team effort, between the instructor and the students - to pass along knowledge to all those participating in the workshop. Often times there may even be a sort of a group discovery, where new knowledge is obtained in the process of passing along existing information.

You can tell from the above that the C++ Workshop was clearly a workshop. There was a community of tutors, as well as "students", who were working together to ensure that all those participating learned something new. Although it was cut a bit short when interest fell off, I personally believe the workshop was a success. But I digress.

This, in contrast, is more about accomplishing something as an individual, which the majority of people here on GD.net have said is impossible. While doing that I will be exposing my inner thoughts to the community, as well as providing source code, design documents, assets, and everything else needed to either re-create my efforts, or to perform your own in parallel. So this seems less like a workshop, and more of an Experiment. In the grand scheme of things I feel as much like the experiment as the experimenter, but that's neither here nor there.

My goals for this experiment are as follows:

1. Act as a microcosm of the trials and tribulations encountered by large, commercial MMO teams during development.
2. Demonstrate conclusively that an MMORPG either can or cannot be developed entirely by a single individual.
3. Provide a place where newbies can go to learn the fundamentals of developing an MMORPG (or get as close as possible to doing so)

With the above goals in mind, and the revelation that this is more of an Experiment than a Workshop, the framework for delivery is a bit questionable. Ideally, I want a system that allows me to post my thoughts, problems, and solutions as I encounter them during development; I want to be able to provide you, the readers, with areas of research and exercises so you can focus on the same problems as myself in parallel; I want to be able to deliver to you source code and executables for your evaluation and enjoyment; and finally, I want a way to solicit feedback by the 'experts' and hobbyists here on GD.net.

Here are, as I perceive them, my available options:

1. Continue to do this via my developer journal, making posts with relevant information, exercises/topics of research, downloads, etc...

2. Ask to have this moved into a workshop forum similar to the C++ Workshop, where each sticky covers a system of the MMO. This allows a systematic way to discuss the sub-components of the experiment while still having a logical system of progression.

3. Create/host a website which provides a blog, exercises, links, downloads, etc...

Ultimately, I think option #3 is the best. With that being said, I don't currently have the time nor resources to host another website. It's my understanding, however, that as part of my GDNet+ account I've got a web space I can use, but I don't currently know what the size limitation is, what technology I have available to me, or where executables, etc...might be located within the web space for use in such things as CGI, Mail, Database, etc...

So I'm currently leaning towards option #1. This would mean I would continue to post regularly on my developer journal, creating a system of standardized headers so people could identify within each post what and where the relevant items were provided. Ie. create: Research, Exercises, Design, Links, Downloads, etc...sub-sections in each journal post, when appropriate.

Hopefully this works well enough for the time being. If I find out more information about option #3, or whether GD.net will host a subdomain like minimorpg.gamedev.net or something like that I'll get back to you.

Thoughts?
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As I've said before, most users will quit after the first lesson. The lesson of "writing games is really hard" will be drummed into them, unless they think that their failure to complete a high-spec, high-scale software project with no willingness to learn and no software development experience reflects solely on you.

Nobody's saying it's impossible, just highly difficult. That first "M" in MMORPG tends to put it outside of the scale of individual meat units, while making an online game that can be played with a single server of players is comparatively quite easy (although still very difficult for a new developer, particularly someone who has never programmed before).

I am certain GDNet will provide a subdomain host for you if you can provide a decent written proposal. Talk to Superpig, Oluseyi and especially Gaiiden -- I think they will go for this.

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I've got a web site that I'm sort of wasting if you want to use it. I can create an FTP account (or whatever) for you to give you access.

I have no clue if it would be of any use, its through hostmonster, so check out the features I have and let me know if you want to use it.

hostMonster features

I am in support of your goal, even though I am really new to programming, I am sure I would learn a lot from you, so I'll give you access to whatever you need, just not access to the actual account stuff.

The actual page is www.BUnzaga.com I haven't updated it in a couple months.

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Ravuya: I see what you are saying now. I definitely don't want to hinder people's ability to make games simply because their first attempt was with a project of this scale and complexity.

At the same time, the first 'M' truly is the core of what makes developing an MMOG difficult. And without that, the experiment is largely pointless. Without that first 'M' I'm simply developing a multi-player 3D RPG, which I suppose is easy for many individuals in this community. At the same time, perhaps doing this would help illustrate that it's not the technology or implementation that's difficult, but the large amount of assets, the creation of thousands of quests, and the requirement to keep millions of users entertained month after month in exchange for their $10 that is truly why people say it's impossible to create an actual MMO by a single individual.

Do the majority of GD.net staff and moderators feel the same as you? Perhaps you're right, perhaps I should abandon the idea before I do more harm than help, and before I've convinced people that if I CAN create a MiniMORPG, it's the same as a MassivelyMORPG. In that respect, this doesnt seem like a fair experiment.

I guess the bigger question is, when people sign on asking how to develop "...a game like world of warcraft," what is it they're really after.

Thoughts?

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I think it's a good idea to teach them how to make a small multiplayer game, but you have to warn them repeatedly that it doesn't earn the first M in MMORPG.

I can't speak for other staff and mods, but I'm pretty sure it's a reasonable argument that that first M means servers, bandwidth, load balancing code and a lot of money. I've written an article for another site on the difficult components of a software project of this scale.

That said, I still would love to see something on producing a small multiplayer role playing game -- I've certainly wanted to make one for awhile and a lot of the newbies would be perfectly happy making a "small" multiplayer game instead of an MMO, considering they probably only know 2-16 other people who would be willing to play it.

This is what they really want, in my opinion -- not a multimillion dollar megagame, but they're practiced to ask for "MMOs" reflexively since all the people making online RPGs are calling them MMOs. [rolleyes]

I don't think teaching people how to program well, and teaching them the complexities of networking, is ever doing harm. Your lesson plan works fine for teaching good practice; I've seen MUD development tutorials that used text files for character storage.

I'd love to see more samples of your plan as they're developed.

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All I have to say is I've been trying to design my own game for some time now, but I always run into problems when implementing it (bad design or just no real goals) and since I haven't had much experience with Game Programming I feel a workshop like this would help get me on my feet and I'm sure others feel this way too.

I have 10 years of application programming under my belt but no time to actually work on my own side projects because of work (writing database tools in Delphi) and college but this summer I had planned on trying my second attempt at designing and developing some sort of game for learning experience possibly using C#.

I'm very excited to see that there will be a game workshop to follow along with when I'm having motivation problems and maybe even something to help me learn more about game development/design in the process. I think the hardest problem is coming up with a solid design and sticking to it. I can't wait to see the way you approach this.

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I think that we ought to have a "Workshops" section in the forums. If we get a section, it will encourage others to start workshops as well and is the easiest way to organize the workshop. More people will see the workshop if it is in a forum, and not in a journal.

Im looking forward to your C++ Workshop Post Mortem. After I read that, I will make final desicions on the C# workshop.

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Since you are making a Mini Multiplayer Online RPG, I take it that no more than 8 people will be playing at a time. Also is it really necessary for the game to be "cutting edge"? I mean we want relevant tools to make the game (ADO, XNA). But. Why make it complex (WPF) if it's unneeded?

That's my main concern. Other than that please carry on!

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WPF isnt complex. It's simple. That was the whole point of using it. WPF is light-years ahead of WinForms in flexibility and ease-of-use.

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Hey!

Yes maybe this experiment isn't fair to MMOs, but still, I think it can teach people like myself (newbies) a great deal.

As for the three alternatives, I'd like to see option 2 or 3, simply because I think it will be more convenient.

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