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thedigerati

MMORPG Idea

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Hello, I hope I am posting in the right forum as I hate it when people do that to me. I have, what I think is a good idea for a potentially extremely expandable and profitable video game. Being a young entrepreneur I am looking into creating a development team for the prototype of this game. I humbly ask for the guidance of this community. The Game: Without divulging too much information, I would like to explain the functions of the game. It will be a client to central server based 3d MMO RPG. There would need to be an auto update system as well as an easy way to setup new servers for new worlds. There would be several intricate world systems that I would need programmers to complete. The prototype needs dynamic character models and basic buildings and terrain structures. My plans: To gather together a team of developers on a very low budget, spending for only the necessities such as advanced programming tasks. I would like to have a functional prototype in 6-8 months which I would then apply for a small business loan which will partially compensate existing developers for the portion of work completed as well as continue the paid development of the game for another 10-12 months. After such development the game will launch online for paid monthly subscriptions. Your advice: Where should I look for developers and who should I stray away from? What would be the proper kind of payment system, by the project, by the hour, etc? Is my timeline too short? What will be the main challenges to get the prototype off the ground? Is the market too competitive for a new MMO RPG idea to succeed? If anyone is willing to chat with me online about this please PM me. Regards, The Digerati

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This should be in Help Wanted forum.

Other than that:
People who are capable of producing a prototype in 6-8 months will not work for free. Those who will, will not produce a working prototype.

Saying "intricate world systems" is a very bad sign. Intricate systems means too complex, over-designed or mal-designed. No world system that succeeded was intricate. They were all straight-forward.

3D+MMO+RPG reduces your chances of success drastically. Among all the success stories about indie developed 3D MMORPGs, only Runescape comes to mind right now. All of the biggest MMOs in the western markets are not 3D, they are generally also not RPGs. Reason for this is that budgets for 3D MMORPGs are around $10 million for cheap ones, with 3-5 years development time.

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Where should I look for developers and who should I stray away from?


You don't have anything to offer. Be happy with those that choose to sign up.

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What would be the proper kind of payment system, by the project, by the hour, etc?


That depends on your funds. Do you have enough funds up-front to pay salaries of 3-8 people for 20 months, before you get any kind of funds?

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Is my timeline too short?


Probably. Most such projects take 3-5 years by game development studios of 30-50 people, with people with years of experience in the industry.

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What will be the main challenges to get the prototype off the ground?


Getting it off the ground. Once you're that far, you've got the major problem solved. Most game projects never get that far.

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Is the market too competitive for a new MMO RPG idea to succeed?


No. Now is the perfect time. Of course that means the market is flooded with MMOs. So many try, few succeed.

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I have, what I think is a good idea for a potentially extremely expandable and profitable video game. Being a young entrepreneur I am looking into creating a development team for the prototype of this game. I humbly ask for the guidance of this community.


First you'll need a solid and verified business plan, along with basic design documents and project plan.

The profitability will of course be determined after the game has launched and started getting income, which means in 24 months. Until then, it's only an idea, just like hundred others.


To be blunt. Starting a business and investing money into this is bad idea, unless you have someone who will lead this project, and has adequate development, management, financial and MMOG experience. Without that, you'll hit the ground hard and fast, especially if you invest money into it.

All successful indie MMOG (not 3D, not RPG) projects were made by one or two people, veterans in software development or game industry, who worked without pay until they launched. After they launched, they obtained some funding to keep the game alive for 6-18 months, then it started bringing in first profit.

I'd suggest you look at these stories, see how much it takes to bring out even the simplest ideas, and what all you'll be facing.

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Thank you for your advice Antheus.

To clarify some points:

By intricate world systems I used the wrong word choice. I mean more of unique; simple, but not really done yet. The types of things you wished was in a certain scenario but no one has done.

Funding I guess would be my primary issue from the get go. I have a few friends doing game design as a career path and or hobby. My initial idea was to get together a large but segmented team of young hobby to semi-pro programmers and designers that would take small individual tasks of the game. With little to offer besides a chunk of the return of profits, these developers would be doing this as a part time project. I am assuming this idea is far fetched and will be very hard to execute.

I also guess I have underestimated the cost of game development. In my eyes game companies work too hard to perfect the game for a magnificent launch. I would instead launch the game early to the public and apply monthly updates along to the subscription base. Starting out free to grow a user base and then implementing a payment system for most of the online game. The expandability of my game idea would make it easy to launch early and keep players hooked for a long time without investing months to years in story lines and levels.

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I also guess I have underestimated the cost of game development. In my eyes game companies work too hard to perfect the game for a magnificent launch. I would instead launch the game early to the public and apply monthly updates along to the subscription base.


They worked that hard to get even something playable out, and they ran out of funds. The only MMORPGs that could afford polish and playtesting were WoW, GW and recently, LOTRO (counting AAA titles only). Every other title launched incomplete, or before it was ready.

So games launched with incomplete textures, missing sounds, missing higher-level content, buggy, unstable, with no balance or gameplay testing.

Most of today's AAA MMORPG titles launched like this. Look at Vanguard - $50 million or so investment by Microsoft, tanked.

If you're going into this by hiring other people, paying the salaries, expenses, investing your money, make really sure, and I mean really sure, that you know what you're going into. Including the commercial history of all the big and small time MMOGs, starting with those with 1000 subscribers.

If you were able to produce this by yourself, or without commercial involvement, things would be much simpler and less riskier, since you'd have much less to lose.

The comparison to AAA titles may seem unfair, but keep in mind, that those involved professional teams, experienced, qualified, with all equipment, team dynamics, and funding from the start. And there, things tend to mostly go wrong.

It's just such a complex task.

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*sigh*

First off you said you had an idea. Where is the idea? You didn't state an idea. You just asked for help.

Secondly: Don't waste your time being secretive about your project. From the looks of it there is nothing original about your project. I know it may seem that way to you since you're excited about it, but when you really look at it objectively there is probably nothing new.

If there is, being secretive about it will only slow you down.

There aren't any lurkers out there praying on other people's ideas. Not in this industry. The real value of a project comes from the effort invested and the resources spent on it. The ideas are nothing. Ideas are a dime a quintillion.

Being open about your ideas will allow constructive and creative feedback and help you shape and evolve your idea into a more mature form. In all likelihood (though you may not admit this to yourself) you know beneath the level of consciousness that your idea is unsound and don't want to really post it because either it's so poorly fleshed out that it wouldn't really convert itself to an explanation at all or would be ripped to shreds by an objective analysis of its feasibility.

GameDev is supposed to be about sharing and evaluating ideas and freely flowing feedback and support. Not about dropping hints that you're hiding a great secret that you'd be willing to share with people willing to help. Most of the people here are too smart to fall for a trick like that. And anyone here who could actually give you real help would *definitely* be too smart for that.

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Quote:

Where should I look for developers and who should I stray away from?


The real question is, how do you get developers to be interested at all in your project, since you don't have funds right now to pay them(waiting 6-8 months to get a loan doesn't count). How to you get them to be interested in this and abandon their own personal projects?(we don't just sit around and wait for "idea guys",you know). I'm a programmer and I have zero interest in this project, since you haven't showed anything. You just said "I have a great idea, but I won't tell you about it unless you personally contact me and work for me". Well. I have no intention to contact you because there's nothing there to gain my interest in the first place. I prefer to work on my own projects. I've heard the "I have a great idea" mantra a thousand times. You should be able to realize that.

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i don't want to burst your bubble, but this is not a very good idea at all.

Firstly the fact that it's an MMO. These are big, expensive projects. the fact it's 3d will compound problems since your art requirements leap up a ton (from 2d isometric).

I really really doubt any bank would fund you, it's just far too over ambitious. How are you going to pay an art/programming/QA team? Will you self publish over the internet (direct2drive or steam or something?) or will you go to a publisher? How will you cover the startup costs of servers, server admin, GMs, etc? How will you handle financial transactions between yourself and your players?

I urge you to start simpler. Maybe a simple client-client game? build it up till you have a few players connecting p2p to a small online multiplayer enviroment (could even serve as a prototype for your game!). then you can (maybe, just maybe, if your games a big hit) start venturing into the scarey world of MMOs.

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I thank you all for your critism. I understand the concept about being open about your game idea, however I am a very cautious person. This is also why I am starting out here trying to find out everything it will take to accomplish something of a game. Understanding the giant risks that could ruin the plan before it even gets started, I have decided to be more open.

I have been talking to one of my friends that does modeling and levels. He said there would be some good potential; but you probably dont care. So after I have the time to summarize my idea to post, I will provide the concept in whole for the forums. Probably sometime this weekend; so please bare with me.

PvP for this scenario wouldnt really work. Once the game is functional enough to have a server, client, and characters that can complete functions it would be available to anybody that wants to beta test. Even if theres zero textures, unique models, or elaborate missions people would have the chance from the very start to understand the game objective, give their input and mold the future of the concept.

I would like to say that I am more of a webmaster than a game developer at heart. I came from a very heavy game enthusiast past, doing a gaming website, tounaments, and a video team. I feel that my unique view of organization in games and websites would provide a better startup experience to a game development. I understand that you still have no reason to believe I have something going, but I greatly appreciate the considerations.

Again, after I get the time to provide my entire idea in one simplified post, you all can hopefully tell me if I should really stop now or continue down the shakey path of game development.

Thank you

Regards,
The Digerati

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The questions you are asking here are absurdly premature. You should be asking questions like, "how are games made?", "how much time, resources, and money does it take to make a game?", "how does the game industry work?", and "how do game companies make money?". And you also need to ask yourself, "where exactly do I want to go?", "how exactly do I get there?", and "what are my chances of success?".

I would be willing to bet that:
  • You have never been in charge of the development of a game, or even worked on a game.
  • You have never applied for a business loan.
  • You have never started a company or even run a company (with employees other than yourself).

This lack of experience is a huge handicap. You need to figure out how to overcome it.

Don't get me wrong. Plenty of people start out with nothing more than their enthusiasm. Some of them succeed. Good luck.

[Edited by - JohnBolton on June 8, 2007 6:42:08 PM]

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Wow, such negativity. I think that if you are inspired, go for it. Although you have to be cautious. I think what a lot of these people are saying is that if you really don't know what you are getting into, it is a larger project than you are probably thinking. Also, with a business loan, you can get into real financial trouble very quickly. Make sure you know enough about programming and the scope of what you are doing to make smart decisions. But besides that, have a blast I hope you succeed.

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Im going to speak on the business level here, since everyone else seemed to cover their deems of whether its viable or not. In my opinion your slightly a step ahead in willing to take out a business loan. This means YOUR willing to assume the majority of the risk involved in this failing. If your willing to assume this risk, and you get the loan, you can get some good inde people to work for you, even for relatively cheap (think outsourcing). But dont try to proceed in recruiting these stars unless you have the money first... and this could be a problem...

Banks usualy consider business loans a form of an investment. Its based on alot of things, including your credit (which I highly doubt you have enough for a reasonable business loan). They also take into account your business plan, and saying "a video game" alone usualy throws a red flag. "software" throws enough of a red flag on its own (I applied for a BL a couple years ago and was turned down, being told that game development startups are too risky).

Your best bet? Venture capital or an ICO. Chances of getting those? Equally as hard (unless you "know people"). You could do this one step at a time though. Learn some basic programming, and most importantly software design and something like UML. Use your website development skills to sell a few websites at $1k a pop. Funnel this money into hiring offshore help to complete particular classes for your game. if you do your UML and design right, you can piece it out for like $100-200 a piece and put it together like a puzzle :).

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Quote:
Original post by PaulCesar
Your best bet? Venture capital or an ICO. Chances of getting those? Equally as hard (unless you "know people").

I'd have thought in this case venture capital would be even harder to get (unless you "know people", of course), as from my understanding venture capitalists look at the quality of the core members of the team as one of the key factors in determining who to give money to; one mantra a venture capitalist told me is that it's better to pick an A grade team with a B grade idea than a B grade team with an A grade idea. In this case, if you need the VC money to hire your core team then the risk factor from the VC perspective would be too great.

Of course, I suspect banks would probably have similar criteria as venture capitalists, except I'm not sure banks would loan out enough money to fund a software project without having some serious assets to act as collateral.

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Original post by PaulCesar
Venture capital


Venture capitalists wont touch a project like this with a 50 foot barge pole.

They require things like financial accounts, and there being a business in the first place. If they see no method of making their money back through sale of shares down the line refer to my first statement. :)

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Preliminary Title:
Urban Warfare

Type of Game: 3D MMO RPG 3rd Person Shooter

General concept: A modern world city environment is your playground. Characters start out dropped out of high school and begin their lives on the street. You choose to become a cop, gang member, or private security firm (still working on the third option).

Cops
Gang Members
Private Security Firms

Goals: To complete missions, increase stats and skills, obtain powerful items, create a strong reputation, complete your objective. Cops take out the top gangs, the top gangs take out other gangs as well as the cops. Private security firms can be hired to protect either or.

Own more capital, make more money, build more bombs, take out other people. Don’t lose your shit.

Group support – You can join a group of up to 8 people to complete a mission, roam the streets, or bomb a territory. This allows for car tracking, group chat, etc.

Death – If you get shot dead, (which will be decreased as a possibility so its not all death) you will awaken in the hospital. You get fined, lose all carrying items, and begin again.

Conviction – You have a common ratio to the crimes you committed. For example, one murder is 2 minute wait, 5 murders is 8 minute wait, 20 murders is 20 wait. You are also fined, tracked harder, and items can be stolen. If you are convicted you lead the police into your groups and organizations. So you want to stay unseen most of the time, and if you are seen, kill the people that will report you. The point will to be as lethal as possible without getting caught for it.

Missions: For your specific field you can do missions for items, money, or land. Cops track, arrest, and protect people. Gang members beat up, murder, and harass people. Private firms protect or assassinate. Sample missions would be following a drug dealer to a supplier. Harassing some specific business.

Items: Individual improvements and ability enhancements.
IE: body armour, guns, explosive supplies, lock picks, gadgets, radio jammer, police scanner, EMP, bombs, knives, cell phone, steroids, laptop, etc.

Features:
Housing – You can buy, build, or sell housing. You can rent apartments for money. Houses are extra protection from people, however they can be broken into. You can install security systems and other defenses. People can increase skills and get new items to break into select player's homes.

Cash system – You can steal for money, complete missions for money, sell drugs, protect people, assassinate people, convict people (arrest criminals), work for businesses, etc. The server would monitor the city market and adjust prices accordingly so people can't exploit any one market or process.

NPC's - The police will primarily be AI, but you will never know if the police are AI or real people. Obviously real people would react different in all situations.
NPC's also will 'fill' the world functions when there are not enough players. There would be a system that averages things, such as averaging wages for employees of a business, averaging land and housing prices, equalizing all the markets. So if there arent enough people buying drugs, or your private weapons, then NPC's might walk up to you (since you are known for selling) and ask to buy.

Land – 3 Tiers of land. Urban, Suburban, and Rural. Each are about the same size, and there is an outer layer of land outside rural the size of the rural section. This is the boundary area. As people build more the rural community pushes outwards, and as buildings are built in the boundary area the boundary area increases in size.

Mail system – You can mail items, money, or deeds to land to players.

Bank system – You can visit the bank to store excess money, items, or anything. You want to store money and extra weapons so its easier to restart after death or conviction.

Advertising system – There would be commercial in-game advertising available on buildings just like in real life. Players can use in game cash to advertise gangs, police departments, or private firms.

In game internet - A simplified system to connect to the internet for the ingame city and browse maps, businesses, land for sale, laws, news, weather, etc. The same way one would do so in the real life but applied to the specific cities functions.

-------------------------

Well thats just some of the core points of the game I am planning. It is definitely still a work in progress but I have been playing with this idea in my head for some time now. Please let me know your thoughts about how this could be implemented. I can't do a real business plan until I know all the different types of developers I would need, their wages, timelines, etc. I am stating right now that I am no game developer.

To some of your comments. I understand how hard it will be to obtain financing, but this is why I am researching the development stage to see how much it will take to complete a prototype to the functions we need to ensure funding. I do know some people but I would rather not call in favors to obtain the initial funding or to win the first big BL.

I also plan on using my website development profits towards the necessary game jobs. I would only go through with all of this if I fully understand the needs of each developer, parts of game, and timelines. I am planning on going all in or none at all. I don't want to jump right into this project, start grabbing developers here and there, then find out 4-5 months down the road, the giant hurdles I didn't plan for could have been avoided and that I could have saved all that time and effort today.

Thank you all for your criticisms and advice. I really do appreciate it. Hopefully with enough communication and research I can confidently decide whether or not to pursue this giant project or to save my energy for something more practical.

Regards,
The Digerati

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Your game idea reminds me of Dan Green's "Urban Empires", currently nearing the end of development: check out his GDNet journal. The main differences to me are that his game is not massive (just multiplayer), he's done most of the development himself (doesn't need a team) and he's been working on it for years; I'm sceptical that your original timeline is achievable.

The problem with attracting developers is that your project seems a bit too risky to me. You'll need experienced developers to work on an MMORPG title, but they'll only be interested if you can either offer money or (for indies) enough assurances that your project will be a success. Assuring a success generally means a reputation in the industry and/or a good working prototype, which unfortunately it seems you currently need the developers to get. It's a Catch 22 situation.

To me your project is a notch above nearly all the other MMO ideas that flood this forum, not because of the idea but the fact that you are prepared to seek loans to fund development. That suggests to me that you are prepared to shoulder most of the risk yourself, which is mandatory for an indie team leader. Unfortunately it doesn't counter the large amount of inherent risk involved with every MMORPG idea, particularly because you're missing a prototype and a skilled software engineer with the networking and client/server skills to make the game work.

Although this is more based on my opinion and market intuition, I'm also a bit wary of the content of your game idea. I guess it's partly because I've never been overly fond of the modern gangland genre (although I know that's just me), but I also think your MMORPG idea will only appeal to the teenage to young adult male market. The problem isn't that it's niche - niche is pretty much the only way an small indie MMO can work - but it's the hardcore niche that the mainstream is already directly targeting. There's also the problem that that niche, especially with the gangland setting, will attract far more of its fair share the undesirable sort of MMO player that makes life miserable for the developer and other players than something like A Tale in the Desert or Puzzle Pirates.

If you're serious, and it seems you are, I'd still go ahead with a simple business plan even without the developers. A business plan isn't set in stone, and it will help you identify the big risks you need to deal with at this early stages. I'd think the biggest one is that you need a skilled software engineer to attract the technical people you need. If you actually know one, then do call in a few favours and ask if he or she is interested; your friends will know how dedicated you are far more than random people on the internet.

But as it stands, without a prototype I don't think you can attract much interest from technical people (unless you can pay their wages of course, but you'll need a sizable amount of funding for that).

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