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SPower

MMO development estimate

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I have a project to use MMO technology in a non-entertainment setting. I need to get an estimate on the cost of development to know the scale of investment needed before proceeding further. This should be a rough estimate in terms of man time to develop the solution only, ignoring the design function. Essentially, the online environment should contain enough tasks etc. for approximately four hours of gameplay. The feel will be similar to commercial MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. I appreciate the information is limited, but confidentiality prevents further disclosure. Thanks for your help in advance.

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Well, first you need a solid design for what your project will do, the scale it will encompass, and what features it will have. After that you can start to figure out what tasks you have, how much time they will take, and how it can be divided up.

Quote:
This should be a rough estimate in terms of man time to develop the solution only, ignoring the design function.

Oops!

Well, maybe you could give us a vague idea of what you're planning to do, and somebody can take a wild guess?

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I appreciate the information is limited, but confidentiality prevents further disclosure.

Oops again!

Seriously though, I would ask our local MMO expert about his costs: cavy99

Quote:
Thanks for your help in advance.

No problem!

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Are you actually hiring professionals at rates of pay they can live on?

You would need concept art (unless this counts as design), 3D models, animations for the people and monsters, a few pieces of music and 1 or 2 dozen sound effects, programming, hardware to develop and run the game on unless you already have some, and perhaps licensing fees for various second-party softwares. Might be nice to have a writer and/or a proofreader. But how many programmer hours and artist hours you would need totally depends on the design. 4 hours of tetris costs a lot less to program than 4 hours of mario, and 4 hours of mario costs a lot less then 4 hours of interactive movie.

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Quote:
Original post by SPower
The feel will be similar to commercial MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online.


IIRC blizzard spent upfront something like 50 million and 4-6 years to make WoW.

Then with an MMO you have upkeep costs (content developers, server maintenance and server admins, forums and forum moderators, etc). No idea offhand but that's probably a team of around 50-100 people full-time plus hardware costs plus bandwith costs which are very much not-cheap.

But, to be perfectly frank, if you are going to a public internet forum to even get you in the ballpark, you're not qualified to make this estimate. [EDIT: to be a bit more helpful in this paragraph I'd suggest you go out and find someone who's actually worked on and shipped a AAA quality MMO game and hire them as a consultant to draw up your estimate]

-me

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My approximation is probably around 70 man hour years for the scope of wow or lotro. It all comes down to distributing the work load to maximize the amount of concurrent progress in order to deliver such a project in a reasonable timeframe.

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SPower, in the very least, read this:
IGDA's Whitepaper for developing persistent worlds

This will help you wrap your mind around the parts that most people don't think about. Bandwidth costs, support costs, development, etc. Its probably the best free resource available on the subject. Anything better you would have to get on Amazon.

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Well, not for anything; developing a game like WoW is unrealistic... look at the background of that company - they made a few other MMORPGs in the past, have been running a sucessful company for over 12 years, and have a pretty penny to spend on development. What I'm trying to say is they understand what needs to be done to make a great MMO, have professionals, and of course have the money to back it all.
Needless to say, hiring a professional development team to make the game from scratch would be ridiculous; look at the source engine by Valve, it took them like 6+ years to do a re-write (by the way, as in re-write I mean it was still based off 1.6, which in turn was based off Half-Life, which was based off Quake 1 & 2).
You'd stand more a chance of developing a game using a engine that you can get a license from... such as ID Software's Quake 3 - (for $250,000) and then reconstruct large portions of it.

Anyway, back to reality. Competiting with WoW from a garage company will not ever work, the chances of that are probably the same as a meteor falling through the roof, going through your PC tower, and then bouncing onto your lap. You would need lower goals, try to compete with games like Diablo 2 and then move onto bigger and better games.


Oh ya, I almost forgot. The most important part of it all (in my opinion) is what language the game is to be written in. If the game is written in a platform dependent language (C++, C, C#, etc..) then the game needs to be worthy of being installed. But if the game is written in a universal platform language (Java) the game can be lacking of graphics, quality sound, a good particle system, etc.. An example is comparing many downloadable MMORPGS to RuneScape. I'd honestly rather see a new Java MMORPG pop up soon, so Jagex has some competition (this is slightly more realistic then competiting with WoW)

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Quote:
Original post by spikes of christ
Oh ya, I almost forgot. The most important part of it all (in my opinion) is what language the game is to be written in. If the game is written in a platform dependent language (C++, C, C#, etc..) then the game needs to be worthy of being installed. But if the game is written in a universal platform language (Java) the game can be lacking of graphics, quality sound, a good particle system, etc.. An example is comparing many downloadable MMORPGS to RuneScape. I'd honestly rather see a new Java MMORPG pop up soon, so Jagex has some competition (this is slightly more realistic then competiting with WoW)

I'm going to argue that programming language is the least important, targeting an audience is important but the language used to target them will make no difference, end users won't care if their client is written in D using Scheme scripting communicating with an Erlang server, that uses SQL for database operations

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Developing a game like WoW is not unrealistic. Otherwise, how did it come out in the market?

You're missing one major aspect to this. Developers such as Blizzard didn't make their MMO's as their first game. Blizzard was like above, well known before coming on to the scene with their first MMO project. In short, you start small and work your way up. Then such things like WoW are not so realistic.

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