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Why you don't want to make a MMOG

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I disagree. While Gordon Walton''s presentation is excellent, IMO, and truly does give caution and perspective to commercial entities seeking to produce an MMOG, it doesn''t address the concerns and aspirations of the freeware/amateur/hobbyist communities. They don''t intend to charge fees (for the most part, though some do; such should take Gordon''s presentation very seriously) and thus don''t have to assure QoS or provide extensive 24/7/365 customer support.

How do you execute an MMOG as a freeware title? Obviously, the development and launch timelines, metrics and expectations are completely altered; freeware titles have the luxury of being developed over long periods without having been considerd "late" and can have whatever user community forms around them supply much of the assets, lowering development costs. QA is still an issue, as is maintenance and responding to the incessant flood of feature requests, bug reports, fan and hate mail that a popular project will generate, which all take up time and energy better spent improving the product. And then there''s questions of hosting. It''s been suggested that the Quake model be adapted, where users host "maps" or portions of the worlds, with coalitions of server admins being able to join their maps together to form realms (need some really smart software for account, process and data migration from server to server).

In short, reasons exist why a freeware MMOG is a daunting task and not one to be considered lightly (and particularly not by beginners), but this presentation doesn''t address them - which, let me clearly state, is not a flaw. Gordon addresses the needs of his audience perfectly; the truth is that audience doesn''t include most of us.

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To sum it all up, he said (paraphrase), Stay out of my line of work so that I can make more money when my new game launches instead of having to share my profits with you peons because my knowledge base is far superior and my lawyers are already sneakier than yours are (End paraphrase).

Really, IMO, if any subset of the industry if overpopulated at this time it is the sports genre. I mean, how many basketball, football, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, olympics, croquet games do we need anyway.

The thing with MMORPGs is this, they may all evolve around the same concept but the ALL offer completely different new worlds and experiences. Noone will ever get it all correct and as such there will always be a demand for these types of games. All the Final Fantasy''s were the same but people played them because of a new story and new graphics. The same will occurr with MMORPGs and any other game.

Personally, if I ever decided to make one I wouldn''t worry about the market unless the world was in a severe depression and I knew people simply couldn''t afford to buy and play. Until then, the games will sell if they are well implemented and they will sell well if they are implemented to at least appear a little different and a little better than the predecessor.

IMO of course.

Webby

PS. If I ever make a successful MMORPG I would like to encourage the rest of you to stop trying because at that time it will have been done wayyyy too much and will cost wayyy too much to do and I won''t want you all cutting into my profit margins

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Yes, developing an MMORPG is very difficult for indie developers (and pro developers as well). Me and a friend are making one right now. But after playing "A Tale in the Desert", an MMORPG developed independantly with a very small team now has thousands of subscribers. It can be done, and we are going to do it.

-------------------
Realm Games Company

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I think as long as developers properly set their mind to it, don''t get lost in all the details, and don''t consume themselves in the effort, it can be just like any other kind of achievement. Not many people can claim to have made an MMORPG.

It''s a fair caution to those who dream of making one without really knowing what it takes, getting in too deep and not having the pride to pull out. Pride can wreck a life and destroy confidence.

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quote:
Original post by WebsiteWill
To sum it all up, he said (paraphrase), Stay out of my line of work so that I can make more money when my new game launches instead of having to share my profits with you peons because my knowledge base is far superior and my lawyers are already sneakier than yours are (End paraphrase).

Um, no.

He tried to use humor and experience to outline the challenges involved with developing an MMOG as well as to encourage people to take managed risks with new variations on the theme, lest consumers feel choked by the content similarities and revenues fall.

quote:
Really, IMO, if any subset of the industry if overpopulated at this time it is the sports genre. I mean, how many basketball, football, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, olympics, croquet games do we need anyway.

Markets. Sports gamers will buy at least one title for each of their chosen sports every year. Since these titles are also licensed off existing bodies involving real people, the latest stats, rules, accessories, style, moves and plays are critical. You try developing a sports game engine flexible enough to last five years (I''ve given it a half-hearted shot). It ain''t no joke.

MMOGs, OTOH, are based off of fantasy realms, most of them derived from a few major "cultures" (or cults; Tolkein, Lovecraft and the increasingly inappropriately-named "Sci-fi"). Rules are highly similar, and since access to content is based on paying a monthly subscription (as opposed to sports and other games where you can play the game without accessing a network), consumers are less forgiving and more cautious with their investments. Gordon covered this "credit card reluctance" as well.

Perhaps you''re being overly critical (of Walton). Perhaps I''m being overly critical (of you). *shrug* Democracy is the freedom to disagree, and the right to do so vehemently. Thus I must state that you do bring a different perspective to the issue, though I think the comparison with sports titles is flawed.

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quote:
Original post by Waverider
It''s a fair caution to those who dream of making one without really knowing what it takes, getting in too deep and not having the pride to pull out. Pride can wreck a life and destroy confidence.

Exactly. Although it doesn''t apply to indie or amateur developers 100% it does to some extent. Especially when it comes to running and developing the game. Once again, I said it would be good to put in the "For Beginners" section because it gives people who are just starting an idea of how much work and talent it takes to successfully develop a game like this.

I agree with Oluseyi that the concerns of a freeware game vs. the concerns of a commercial title are very different, not only in MMOGs but in all games, there are certain things Gordon Walton brings up (#8 and #9) that apply even more so to amateur games. A big company can always hire more people, but a couple of kids that just learned OpenGL and sockets programming don''t necessarily have the skillset to successfully build a massively multiplayer game.

This post mostly applies to newbies that want to make the next Everquest. Not people that have a good idea of what they are doing and want to do something a little less ambicious.

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Then again, it IS possible to achieve. The odds are often against the indy team, but sometimes you run into some very rare opportunities. Just wondering... how hard do you all think it would be to make an MMORPG, if the servers and the server-side software and the actual network code are allready in place? Would it be much harder then writing a normal game then? ^_^



This is the polish virus. It is not an executable, but if you would kindly format your entire harddrive, we would be happy.

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It is not just creating the MMOG (whether it be an RPG, RTS, or any genre), it is updating the content that is the real kicker in making sure players stick around.

I agree wholeheartedly with Gordon's analysis of the MMORPG market. I have worked on a few on the larger ones at EA and what ends up bringing them down time and time again is the lack of compelling content after the initial launch.

UO for some reason keeps trucking along but others arre failing right and left.

Nathan Fahrenthold
www.gamemaking.com
Free tools for game making!


[edited by - GameMaking on March 7, 2003 1:00:25 PM]

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One enormous problem with MMOG''s that Walton doesn''t mention is that players generally only have room for one MMOG in their lives at any one time.

Because of the way the levelling is structured in most games, and with the massive time-investment needed to succeed in them, you can''t possibly play more than one MMOG at any one time. I find it difficult to even play one, what with having a job and girlfriend to spend time on too

Wealth accumulation and point targets for levels have proved to be enormous catalysts for MMOGs and certainly make the games addictive, but it also means that your server load and costs will rocket because you have people logged in for 4+ hours a day.

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To me, it appears the land of game development is closely bordering, and probably overlapping, the land of all talk and no action. It seems that people believe that making a video game is like playing a video game (in ease).

I know from personal experience. I started a nice club here at my university dedicated to game programming and art. Instantly I had about 15-20 people interested within a few days. I was excited to see how many people shared my interest in game programming. It seems that's all they shared. Only half showed up for the first two or three meetings, and after that, membership cut in half every week. They found out game programming requires work.

I see the exact same attitude when I hear people want to make an online RPG. For this reason I applaud Mr. Walton. He is by no means trying to discourage programmers from having high hopes, and obviously not trying to brainwash potential competition. He is merely saying that games are hard to make. Big online games are probably the hardest of games to make.

I would agree. Reach for the stars, but keep your eyes on the stairs.

--Vic--

[edited by - Roof Top Pew Wee on March 14, 2003 12:25:08 PM]

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