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saqibakhtar

MMORPG On Cell Phones By Teleco Operators

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saqibakhtar    122
Hey, would it be a good idea if the Telecom operators (specially in third world countries like Pakistan and Middle East) launched a MMORPG game as part of their Value Added Services? They could host the server and people could play the game from wherever they are (obviously using a java enabled phone). What a price tag of $1 - $1.5 per month for unlimited play. Do let me know what you guys think of this idea and what hurdles are there in doing such a project. Thanks Saqib Akhtar

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frob    44969
Quote:
Hey, would it be a good idea if the Telecom operators

Unless you are a decision maker or researcher for the telecom operator, it doesn't really matter what a straw poll like this yields. Major corporations don't make policy decisions based on what a few customers think.

If you are a decision maker or researcher for those companies, you should know that there are established research methods to determine the demand for a given product. Asking people outside the desired demographic is not one of those methods.
Quote:
Do let me know what you guys think of this idea and what hurdles are there in doing such a project.

The up front hurdles are fairly big. You need a telco willing to work with you extensively and sufficient buy-in from execs at that company to allow your project to consume their resources (this kind of support has a big price tag), and the money to actually develop your project, and enough expected consumer support and market research to show that you have a viable project to convince outsiders to fund or otherwise work with you.

Next are the hurdles of actual planning and development. These are diverse and sundry and cannot be listed in a single post like this. This is usually solved with enough money to employ experienced people. This will take a few years and many millions of dollars. Tens of millions if you do the development in expensive countries and locations.

Another hurdle you will have will be to actually test and then deploy your application. Once it is out there, you must continually support your project. As an MMO you will need to continually modify the world. This requires maintaining 24/7 call centers for support, a group of workers online to keep things appropriate for legal reasons, and technical workers to diagnose and repair issues as they are discovered.



As for what I think of this idea, my thought is that it's a very risky business venture. Sure it has a possibility of a high yield, but the required investment capital and extremely high risk will scare off nearly all possible investors.

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gunning    749
Sounds good to me. I intern at a large corporation that among other tasks makes the communication technology in cell phones, and I can tell you that the technology to do something like this exists. It is just a matter of convincing the right people to go for it.

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shmoove    821
There already are MMORPGs for mobiles. "Age of Fantasy" comes to mind.

What I don't understand is why you want the telcos to be involved in the development. You don't need them to develop the product. They could be helpful with hosting, billing and customer service, but if you come to them with a good product they'll usually be glad to get involved.

shmoove

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eng3d    91
Quote:
Original post by saqibakhtar
Hey, would it be a good idea if the Telecom operators (specially in third world countries like Pakistan and Middle East) launched a MMORPG game as part of their Value Added Services? They could host the server and people could play the game from wherever they are (obviously using a java enabled phone).

What a price tag of $1 - $1.5 per month for unlimited play.

Do let me know what you guys think of this idea and what hurdles are there in doing such a project.

Thanks

Saqib Akhtar



Sorry, it's a bad idea.

Because the transmission of data is (to the date) really expensive, slow and with a serious lag. Even if the connection was stable it's too costly to be affordable for everyone. Usually the people that can pay a unlimited plan are more interesing in check their email and browsing rather to play lousy games.

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gunning    749
Quote:
Original post by eng3d
Because the transmission of data is (to the date) really expensive, slow and with a serious lag.


Much to the contrary, and speeds are only getting faster. Wifi is going to be built into every phone one day, and we're already seeing high-speed wireless networks (like Verizon's EV-DO). And despite what it would seem, cell phones are actually quite powerful but I believe it is user-interface issues cause them to feel slow. That will change. An MMORPG for a cell phone could be exactly what we need to revolutionize the way people use "smart" phones.

Quote:
Even if the connection was stable it's too costly to be affordable for everyone. Usually the people that can pay a unlimited plan are more interesing in check their email and browsing rather to play lousy games.


I do not agree. Think about all the people who ride the bus/train/subway to work. Think about all the kids trying to play a game in classes or in cars with their parents. Even I play cell phone games and I'm a college student with a PS2 and modern computer. It's more practical than a DS or other handheld device when I need to kill some time somewhere.

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trojanman    394
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Original post by skittleo
Quote:
Original post by eng3d
Because the transmission of data is (to the date) really expensive, slow and with a serious lag.


Much to the contrary, and speeds are only getting faster. Wifi is going to be built into every phone one day, and we're already seeing high-speed wireless networks (like Verizon's EV-DO). And despite what it would seem, cell phones are actually quite powerful but I believe it is user-interface issues cause them to feel slow. That will change. An MMORPG for a cell phone could be exactly what we need to revolutionize the way people use "smart" phones.

T-Mobile is launching UMA, detailed here, and alongside the improvements to high speed access via HSDPA on Cingular and EV-DO on Verizon and Sprint, cell phones are now reaching speeds that are very acceptable for downloading and transmission of data. Also, phones are making very large improvements to performance including high ARM 9 and now ARM 11 processors as well as very large amounts of heap ( greater than 1mb, which for a mobile device is HUGE!). Techincally speaking an MMO for a mobile handset has been proven and it could prove to be a catalyst for improving the mobile games market.

Quote:
Original post by skittleo
Quote:
Original post by eng3d
Even if the connection was stable it's too costly to be affordable for everyone. Usually the people that can pay a unlimited plan are more interesing in check their email and browsing rather to play lousy games.


I do not agree. Think about all the people who ride the bus/train/subway to work. Think about all the kids trying to play a game in classes or in cars with their parents. Even I play cell phone games and I'm a college student with a PS2 and modern computer. It's more practical than a DS or other handheld device when I need to kill some time somewhere.

I do have to agree here with eng3d that the subscription model and associate data cost with mobile can be a troublesome spot for making this sort of game successful. Wireless carriers will have no problem defining a subscription plan for this type of service, since in fact a subscription model is already in place for standard non-mmo games but I do fear that consumers will shy away from both a subscription fee and additional fees associated with data downloading.

Another point, which really hasn't been brought up, and really should be for this type of game is what happens when a connection isn't strong enough or isn't available. PC MMO games have the advantage of being on an (usually) 'always connected' system whereas a mobile phone is left where you are trying to play the game at that point in time. The developers are either going to have to design another set of play mechanics and worlds that you can play offline (this can increase file size on an already limited budget) or not allow you to play without a connection(this is not a good choice from a design/sales pov). Also, would you have to then spend a significant amount of time updating onto the server when you do get a connection back, or do you assume that the offline play does not affect the persistant online world? These are just a few of my concerns.

[Edited by - trojanman on May 7, 2007 6:46:57 PM]

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surogue    122
It's not a bad idea really, I mean here you have a collection of bored people that are already carrying around computerized devices that are on a massive wireless network. A MMORPG is exactly the sort of game that would be perfect for running on such a system. And unless cell phone games have gotten a LOT better since the last time I had a cell phone these phones are desperetely in need of some better games. This is of course assuming that you want to play VIDEO GAMES on a freakin' TELEPHONE and not USE IT AS A PHONE [smile]. I mean that is so weird when you think about it isn't it.

However, personally I am not sure if I would play it. At least not a scaled down version of a traditional MMORPG like you'd play on a PC. The problems I see are thusly:

** The "keyboard" on a phone sucks and there is no mouse. Telephone numeric keypads are best suited for use as a D-PAD type controller which works great for platformers etc. MMORPGs however are a lot like RTS's, and RTS's just really must have a mouse. With an RPG you usually just control one player so you do not really have to have a mouse as bad as you do with an RTS where there are a lot of units to control at once.

However without a mouse it could be hard to select other players or monsters that you want to talk to/attack/etc, and since the keyboard sucks it would be hard to chat with the other players in real time-- it would be like you were trying to text-message several people at once while playing a video game and using the same tiny 9-12 keys for all of it at the same time. Of course since it's a phone you could just talk to people assuming you could get enough bandwidth, but then you'd have to keep holding the phone up to your ear and setting it back down again to look at the screen.

Controller issues are why the Super Nintendo version of Sim City sucked. Sim City is a great game, and Super Nintendo had some really awesome titles. Both are winners. But when they made SNES Sim City they just carbon copied the PC version over and didn't take into account that the system they were porting it to was different than a PC and needed to be interacted with differently. I owned that game. Only played it like twice. Later I got Sim City 2000 for DOS and Link to the Past for the SNES and played both of them extensively. This is not pointless rambling, my point is that there is a lesson here, that it is terribly important to be aware of the unique abilities and limitiations of the device your game will run on and integrate it completely into the design process.

*** Cell phone screens are very small, and they have to be that way or the phone is not as useful, so this is not "going to get better". If you use an overhead view, either you won't be able to see hardly anything of your surroundings or the graphics will be so small that they will pixelate/be hard to make out, therefore they will suck and your game will look like shit. If you use a 3D view like the modern PC RPG's, assuming cell phones get powerful enough to do full 3D--and there are already some 3D titles out for phones--things could be better but the screen is still going to be very small.

*** You say this would run on a Java phone. Yes phone games should be written in Java. Otherwise you'd have to code a different version for nearly every model of phone there is. BUT--While phones are getting faster all the time I am not at all convinced that even a full speed PC could run a real MMORPG that was written in Java, especially one with a fully 3D enviornment which as I argued above would be necessary for it not to look awful. (Now I just know somebody is about to come back and give a link to some RPG that's written in Java. I just know it, and I know damn well that someone somewhere has written one. But I'll bet you that it is not exactly World of Warcraft. It may rock and be a lot of fun, yes. You don't need awesome graphics for that. But whatever interface it uses to get by with using Java probably wouldn't work well on a phone for the reasons above. Am I right?)

Java (and let me take an absolute irrelavent tangent to throw a brick at the abomination from the depths of hell, so-called C#/.NET because to my knowledge most of this applies to them as well) may be all in style nowadays and lots of people think it so cool. One of the things that's really cool about Java is that you can write a program in Java once and it'll run on anything from a Mac to a UNIX server to a cell phone. However the truth is that Sun did not invent this idea. This is not fancy new technology, it is simply a new version of old technology that's incompatible. I'm speaking of BASIC. BASIC was invented for the exact same reason--because when they first started manufacturing computers there came to be a lot of different kinds of computers competing with each other and none of them could run each other programs. The reason a BASIC program can run on any computer that has BASIC is because BASIC is an interpreted language. The reason a Java applet can run on any computer that has Java, is because whether or not your "Java Runtime" uses this or that optimization or dynamic recompilation or whatever, basically Java is an interpreted language too.

So my point is, saying that you're planning on writing an MMORPG in Java is like saying that you're planning on writing an MMORPG in QBASIC. It's not impossible no. But the programming language you've selected is going to greatly excarbate the already very difficult task of coding an advanced & complicated game like an MMORPG. The only difference is, Java sounds a lot cooler, whereas people would laugh at you if you said you were going to write an MMORPG in QBASIC (or think you were The Freakin' Coding GOD if you succeeded).

Most of the time when people say, "Java sucks! It's interpreted and slow.", what I hear is it's different now, computers have gotten so fast that they can run interpreted apps and it's not slow. Well that may be so to some extent but if that's REALLY true where are all the MMORPG's written in VB and is Quake 5 going to be written in GW-BASIC so I don't have to worry about compatibility ever again?

This BTW is why cell phone games still relatively suck whereas PDA's for years have been running Doom and Quake and playing all your old NES games--the CPU in a cell phone is just as fast as a PDA's, cell phone's have special DSP chips in them that are great at really fast math, and they have smaller screen resolutions which means fewer pixels to blit out each frame. But cell phones use Java, and PDA's run their code natively. My guess is, these new games coming out that don't suck quite so bad are using special HLE (high level emulation) calls they added into to the phones just for games so that the game is essentially a script making calls to a native graphics library.

Not to mention the pure programming aesthetic of just because you have lots of CPU power isn't an excuse to use an inefficient algorithm. Yes your computer may be really fast and it'll work fine. But the better algorithm would be even faster. This excuse is exactly why I'm sitting in front of a computer that is literally 2 - 3 THOUSAND times faster than my old antique Mac Plus, but the crappy Macintosh runs all it's programs just as fast my new computer. If thousands of programmers hadn't been lazy by saying "it's 2Ghz, who cares, it'll take 40 milliseconds at the most" everything we did on the computer would be so lightning fast we wouldn't be able to keep up and nobody would buy the new CPU's because they would barely know what to do with what they already had. If you don't believe me make a new partition on your hard drive and put Windows 3.1, Netscape, and Trumpet Winsock on it and reboot and you will be freakin' shocked how fast your computer REALLY is. Yes 3.1 doesn't do nearly as much as XP or "Vista", but all the core functionality is there and 95% of the time what you are doing on the computer is only a wee bit more advanced than what 3.1 could do. A few months of hacking and 3.1 could have NAT, DivX/MP3, long filenames, and zip files integrated into the shell and not be any worse off for it.


However, yeah I know, that last paragraph was just me jabbering on for fun and had nothing to do with your question so I will get back to your question. Why 3rd world countries specifically? And I agree with the other posters that it would be easier to not involve the telecom operators so extensively. It would likely be much easier to get them to resell a game that you provide than to convince them to invest in running a server etc for a business that they are not really in.

To sum up, I'm not telling you it's a dumb idea. In fact I think an MMORPG is about the best type of game that you could put on a phone. But if it was to be done you would have to be very very creative and re-invent a lot of the ways an RPG works to adapt it to the unique setting of being played on a phone. This would not be like playing a Mario game on a phone where you can just develop the game and fix up the scrolling for the smaller screen and a couple things here and there and it's done. Not only would you be developing a game which is in one of the most complex and difficult game genres to develop, but many of the things which have become traditional for the genre would have to be re-invented and re-thought. You could not fall into the groove and just "make another MMORPG", a lot of it would be like you were making the FIRST MMORPG. My opinion is that this would be absolutely necessary and if well done the game could be awesome. If it was poorly done the game unfortunately would probably suck rottenly.

I'm bored so just my 2 cents.

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serg3d    100
If the game would have real cash prizes, or legal real-virtual cash exchange it may catch even with horrible graphics and shallow gameplay. Middle East people, Israely especially are suckers for gambling.

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