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mmo question

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Hi, it's well established that no one person or even a small dedicated group can make mmo game. However, do you think it's possible for a massively-populated-website such as this to organize an mmo project and see it to completion? I know I wouldn't mind writing a function or two, and I am sure others would contribute a little time here and there. Most of the work would be to identify small tasks and put them all together - someone from the website, or someone truly dedicated could be tasked with this part. Once all the code is in place, the graphics would probably be need to developed professionally (for money), but it would be wounderful to see a terribly looking, but a perfectly working mmo game you helped developed, wouldn't it?

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If we tried to make an MMO on this site we wouldn't be able to decide whether to write it in C++ or C# let alone even begin to think about the design.


There have been cases where single people/small groups have written MMOs and it is definitely possible, just not at all easy.

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Allrighty than.

I was picturing the organizers making all decisions and using the large pool of programmers available to do small tasks.
The language would be up to the organizers, and if someone doesn't agree, well they can't contribute than.

But I'll drop it.

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Hasn't something like this been tried on gdnet before? I think it was called the gdlib or something? It was a loooong time back, but I definetly remember some sort of community gdnet community effort thing. Anyone remember specifics?

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Original post by abeylin
Hi, it's well established that no one person or even a small dedicated group can make mmo game.


Don't tell these guys that =P

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=419229

-=[ Megahertz ]=-

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It is very well possible for a small group, even an individuum, to program a MMO game.

However, what most people don't see is that you don't hack together a terrain engine and a skybox, load a few md3 models, and there you go, you're the MMO Uberlord and the million dollars come flooding into your pocket.
Although that is what most people seem to believe, it is just plain stupid, sorry to say so.

A project such as a MMO game requires above all very careful planning, a very widespread assortment of skills, and very thorough quality control, both during development, and later on.
If the gameplay sucks of if it is too hard to even get started, then even the most brilliant graphics aren't good for anything (see Ryzom).
If you make a couple of strategic mistakes in an otherwise good game, your players will run away (see Eternal Lands).
If there are any considerable exploits (either in the ruleset, or the game protocol) that you did not consider, cheaters will cause so much grief that people will soon refuse to play your game (many examples).
If you did not plan the levels system properly, your players will either quickly max out and get bored or will become frustrated and kick it, anyway.

In addition to a good concept and programmers, you need a few good artists, and at least 3-4 years of dedicated time (I am not talking about 2 hours per day after school!).

If you really get so far as to actually launch something after years of development, then you only need a couple of ten thousand dollars in advance to buy servers and bandwidth until the returns cover the costs... because you know, everyone will want to play your game, but few will actually pay for it.

After that, you can start thinking about how to handle the 25,000 support queries that you will get every week in addition to regularly updating your content and dealing with cheaters and crackers.

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Original post by abeylin
Hi, it's well established that no one person or even a small dedicated group can make mmo game.


Not to give you false hope, but "A Tale in the Desert" did in fact build a rather successful little MMO as a small, dedicated group.

But dedicated means DEDICATED. Double mortgage your house, quit your job, ignore your kids, ruin your marriage sort of dedicated. And you need SEVERAL guys to do that. And they need to all be good at what they do and work well together as a team.

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I believe that most of the MMO projects that get abandoned, get abandoned because of a lack of content. The content production challenge for an MMO game requires a lot of artists. Even a single zone in a game like EQ would take a year to build and quality control if all you had was a single artist -- and that's not counting all of the different meshes you'd need to build for player characters and monsters.

ATITD could do what they did because they took the focus away from art and made it instead the tech tree and rules system. They also have no monsters.

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They had beetles wandering about. They were like 6 feet tall and had sharp pincher things. Not that they attacked you. But yeah, way less art than normal, although still quite a large number of objects for such a small team.

One smart thing they did to make up for their lack of art was to allow (and even require) players to create art and sculptures on their own out of the basic objects the game provided, which really helped make the populated areas less monotonous (although in the second telling, those stupid houses looked so darn identical early on).

They also made up for their lack of art by putting more effort where their strength was: coding. They allowed the players to draft "laws" that they'd then quickly code up into the game. Really interesting idea. I'd encourage anyone trying to build an MMO on a limited budget to look at them as just about the only real success story.

But once again, yeah, don't do it. Can't be done. Not that there aren't groups out there trying.

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I'll agree.

Trying to create a MMO is a daunting task.

Howerver, creating the technology to support such a game is not so daunting and is possible by a small team.

They may not be able to create 80+ zones of content, 150+ different character/monster models, 20,000+ items and 4000+ quests to keep the players busy, but they can create the tools and applications necessary to support the possiblity of that. No doubt it'll take a few years of work to get to that point, but defintely doable.

And if you get to that point, then you'll pretty much have gained alot of the skills and experiences that are required to join a game company that is working on such a project.

At least thats the way I look at it.

Gaming is heading in this direction, this is the way things are going to be moving forward. You can try and figure stuff out now, or wait until you're working for some company and have a deadline looming and try and figure it out then. Personally, I'd rather have the headstart.

-=[ Megahertz ]=-

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Quote:
Original post by abeylin
Hi, it's well established that no one person or even a small dedicated group can make mmo game.

However, do you think it's possible for a massively-populated-website such as this to organize an mmo project and see it to completion?

I know I wouldn't mind writing a function or two, and I am sure others would contribute a little time here and there. Most of the work would be to identify small tasks and put them all together - someone from the website, or someone truly dedicated could be tasked with this part.

Once all the code is in place, the graphics would probably be need to developed professionally (for money), but it would be wounderful to see a terribly looking, but a perfectly working mmo game you helped developed, wouldn't it?


There is an mmo called eternal lands. (www.eternal-lands.com) The original development team was two persons (programmer and artist). Since then the project is taken over by a small team and the game is getting quite large. Most of the content is centered around harvesting, crafting and fighting mobs. The graphics are pretty outdated by today's standard (blocky meshes like in wow), but you get development tools with the game so you can make and submit new zones. You could find more info on their website. (the game is free to play)

So it is possible, but needs a few very talented minds to do it.

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Original post by Ozymandias42
I'd encourage anyone trying to build an MMO on a limited budget to look at [ATITD] as just about the only real success story.


So ... Runescape, with a smaller budget, doesn't count as a "real success story" ? :O

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Original post by redmilamberSo ... Runescape, with a smaller budget, doesn't count as a "real success story" ? :O
Good example. In fact, Runescape is worth trying solely for learning how to do some things right. :)

Two people (well three, if you count in the finance guy) programmed it from scratch (to date they have 100+ employees).

The first version (now called "classic") sucked so bad that you would wonder why anyone would even bother to try it for even 5 minutes. The second version still has quite bad graphics compared to any "normal" game. The combat system, while not being very ingenious, is quite complex and very often updated. There is a new super-killer weapon almost every month and another more-or-less useless feature almost every week.

This sounds really terrible, so why was it (and still is) nevertheless successful?
1. It is 100% Java, so it runs on basically every PC.
2. The handling, is easy enough to allow *every idiot* on this planet to play (and there are a lot of them). Basically, anything can be done with two mouse clicks.
3. You get into game in less than 3 minutes. No gigabytes of download. No manual to read, everything that is important is either obvious or can be learned from a NPC.
4. Most everything is unambiguous, it is really hard to do something wrong. If you don't know what to do... no problem, you get plenty of random assignments. There is even a dedicated skill based entirely on fulfilling random assignments. Now tell me a better way to keep an unmotivated teen busy all day.
5. The levels system is almost consistently laid out very cleverly. It is a perfect Munchkin magnet (and there are a lot of them).
6. The regular new super-killer-weapons and their subsequent nerfing 2-3 weeks later are a nuisance. Nevertheless, they keep a million 14 year olds busy trying to get the newest one.

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[quote]Original post by Damon Shamkite
4. Most everything is unambiguous, it is really hard to do something wrong. If you don't know what to do... no problem, you get plenty of random assignments. There is even a dedicated skill based entirely on fulfilling random assignments. Now tell me a better way to keep an unmotivated teen busy all day.[/qoute]

I hope you're not making fun of teens, considereing I am one :P.

But yes, Runescape is a pathetic game and yet attracts so many people. I used to play it, and I can tell you exactly why I was attracted to it so much. For one, its free (I never payed to be a member), and there aren't a whole lot of free MMO's out there that you can play right in your browser, and that graphical. It was also attracting because it was simple to play, and yet there was a lot to do. I think the main reason it is so popular is because of all the content.

To get back on-topic, I don't think that an entire community would be able to agree on certain ideas for an MMO, but a small group can definitely make one. It just might take a long while.

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I think the main reason it'd be difficult for an online community to make a game is the organization required. Sure, you have things like sourceforge, but collaberating on programming projects is so much better if you're all in the same room.

e.g. the network code has a weird glitch in it. Do you:

a) fire off an email to a guy in a different time zone
b) walk over to him and figure out what's gone wrong

This applies to pretty much any team based software development. Sure, there's heaps of tools out there to facilitate remote collaberation, but in the end it's a lot more efficient and productive to have everyone in the same office.

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There are distributed organizations that can deliver on projects. Time zone differences are annoying, but can be worked around.

The problem with "community" projects are typically along the lines of:

1) The majority of the community are persons who are in the early curve of learning the trade, and aren't going to generally make the right decisions.
2) There is no money involved, so those who have experience don't have a lot of time to dedicate to the project, because they have real jobs.
3) Good projects are driven by one or a few strong visions, carefully articulated by respected leaders on the project. Typically, the "leader" of community projects is someone with a bright idea but no history or proven skills to back it up, and you end up with either "why should I write your game for you for free?" or design-by-deadlock.
4) MMO games need lots of art. By and large, artists work for free much less than programmers.

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-- Just a post about my own experience --

First of all let introduce me:
- Since 2 years I'm developping a web base MMORPG, a bit in the direction of Runescape.
- I have a good knowledge of database, server administration, and programming
- Some ok artistic skills (but not the time to use them)
- And a bad writting skill

Still since a bit more than 1.5 year the game is up and running:
http://www.nowhere-else.org

I developped 99% of the code myself, took free graphical resources to feed the 2D engine, and let the players writes their own quests, and with this magical mix it seems to work.

I know maybe you guys was thinking about a full featured 3D MMORPG, but I thought it would be smarter to let people play from anywhere (even at work), without any download, and without requiring a big PC to make it run.

My conclusion:
It's possible, but it requires a HUGE investment in time... really. Maybe something that new MMO developers don't even imagine (for sure I didn't thought it would requires me soo much time and effort)

Now if you want to know more details how it works (how I developed it, or any other things) let me know (bertrand@nodalideas.com)

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Quote:
Original post by Damon Shamkite
Good example. In fact, Runescape is worth trying solely for learning how to do some things right. :)

Two people (well three, if you count in the finance guy) programmed it from scratch (to date they have 100+ employees).


One person, actually.

Quote:

The first version (now called "classic")


That was the third version.

Quote:

This sounds really terrible, so why was it (and still is) nevertheless successful?


The answers you outline are all highly relevant but not answers to that exact question, they are explanations of the real answer: it works in secondary schools, unlike all other serious commercial MMOGs (although some are slowly finally muscling in). There *was* no competition.

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Original post by hplus0603
skills to back it up, and you end up with either "why should I write your game for you for free?" or design-by-deadlock.


LOL. "Design by deadlock". Nice :).

Quote:

4) MMO games need lots of art. By and large, artists work for free much less than programmers.


Having lived in Brighton for some years ... no way, artists are just as happy to work for free, it's just that ourside of full time mainstream games dev, artist and programmer social networks tend to overlap so very very rarely/remotely/thinly that its damned hard for either to find each other.

(i.e. I have met dozens of artists just as happy to work for free as the programmers, yet whinging constantly that all programmers are either demanding $50/hour salaries or are just incompetent; sound familiar? :))

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Quote:
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Original post by Ozymandias42
I'd encourage anyone trying to build an MMO on a limited budget to look at [ATITD] as just about the only real success story.


So ... Runescape, with a smaller budget, doesn't count as a "real success story" ? :O


Puzzle pirates is another MMO started by indies which is quite successfull:
http://www.puzzlepirates.com/

They also opensourced their framework btw:
http://www.threerings.net/code/

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Guest Anonymous Poster
>> Hi, it's well established that no one person or even a small dedicated group can make mmo game.

http://www.kingdomofloathing.com

You just got pwnd.

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A project such as a MMO game requires above all very careful planning, a very widespread assortment of skills, and very thorough quality control, both during development, and later on.

Something that becomes less and less practical when you start to get a huge and varied team, such as a large website of developers. The idea of pulling together a huge team is actual counterproductive, the more people you have the more management you need by the really skilled people, so the best techs get wasted as management trying to juggle developers of all different skill levels. Unless you hire experienced management in which case you're building a company.

Too many cooks spoil the caek, get yourself a small team of dedicated developers and they will kick the pants off of a massive mess of a team any day.

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