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lordfly

Behold, the impossible project!

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Hello. I'm new and shiny here, so bear with me. I found this forum in an attempt to find a general community of game designers that I could ask questions about game design. You guys might be the ticket, but there's a problem. See, I'm more of a content producer than a programmer. I've been designing experiences in Second Life for 5+ years, and am now slowly learning polygon modelling in Maya. I have tried learning programming, ANY programming, but the best I can usually manage is the weak understanding of variables and the occasional ability to change them. in short, I'm a mediocre artist and a rotten engineer. Anyways, because I can never get a control of my creative output, lately I've been really itching to start designing an MMO (oh god, here we go again). A fantasy MMO (oh gods, where's the nearest window). With dynamic world-editing properties (quick, hit him with a rock before he continues). In my mind's eye I want a game with the polish of WoW with the dynamic world-building of Wurm Online... For those of you unfamiliar with Wurm, it's a small indie MMO that lacks any sort of plot whatsoever; it makes up for it by letting the players change the world as they play. Trees can be cut. Moats can be dug. Towns can be planned. Buildings can be designed. This in a world that's your standard MMO trappings. The problem with Wurm is that the polish is... something to be desired. It also runs in Java, which limits it somewhat it seems (the graphics are gorgeous, but their game design choices of favoring grinding over anything else is maddening). So in short, huge ambition, no skill. My question is thus... does there exist an MMO-friendly engine that allows more or less plug-and-play of your basic MMO trappings (quest giving, inventories, levelling up, simple combat), that is also geared more towards a designer than a programmer? Or should I suck it up and spend the next decade learning a language? I'm looking at the problem at the wrong way, I guess; I have the creative gumption but not the technical one, which seems to be the opposite issue many people have. Any tips?

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I think it really depends on how much you want the game to resemble your idea. Even with a game engine, you will have to do a large amount of coding. I think that it is best to learn a language. C++ is really the only way to get the polish that you have on WoW, and most game engines are written in it.

I think the best way to learn is to go down to the library or bookstore and buy a book on c++, read that, and then start designing games. If you are too lazy to go find one to read, here is one : http://www.mindview.net/Books/TICPP/ThinkingInCPP2e.html

To start designing games once you have finished that, start with a text based rpg game, a great project outline is here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=409907

Once you do that, learn an API such as DirectX(highly recommended) or OpenGL. You could also learn a graphics engine such as ogre.

Once you do that you should have enough knowledge to throw a simple 3d rpg, and it is easy from there. Not that MMO is an easy project...(BTW a great book for you to learn how to program that is http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931841098/gamedev
a little outdated but still relevant)

You could use a game engine, but I strongly don't recommend it if you do not know a programming language.

Alternatively you could hire or find someone to help you do the programming part. I hope this helps.

~schmatz

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Actually I'm quite surprised there hasn't been a generic 3d engine released that has a lot of the traditional MMO trappings as standard plugins. My only major design change is the dynamic destruction/creation of the game-world by players. Well, that and no level limit, but that's another thing entirely.


C++ makes me shudder.... :D

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Thanks for responding.

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Original post by bulletthebluesky
I think it really depends on how much you want the game to resemble your idea. Even with a game engine, you will have to do a large amount of coding. I think that it is best to learn a language. C++ is really the only way to get the polish that you have on WoW, and most game engines are written in it.


But a language would basically require a ground-up rewrite of, well, everything? It sounds obscenely daunting. Plus, there's the whole "re-invent the wheel a billion times" thing that makes me cringe. How many combat engines do there really need to be?

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I think the best way to learn is to go down to the library or bookstore and buy a book on c++, read that, and then start designing games. If you are too lazy to go find one to read, here is one : http://www.mindview.net/Books/TICPP/ThinkingInCPP2e.html


Believe me, I've tried on multiple occasions. I'll do fine until I get tripped up with syntax or logic coding or something and then I scream bloody murder and give up. :)

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To start designing games once you have finished that, start with a text based rpg game, a great project outline is here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=409907


Hmm, a possibility there.


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Once you do that, learn an API such as DirectX(highly recommended) or OpenGL. You could also learn a graphics engine such as ogre.


Yeah I kind of assumed DirectX as a pre-requisite, but again I thought there would have been a toolkit already for designers.

Quote:

Once you do that you should have enough knowledge to throw a simple 3d rpg, and it is easy from there. Not that MMO is an easy project...(BTW a great book for you to learn how to program that is http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931841098/gamedev
a little outdated but still relevant)


Thanks... yeah, I know, shoot big or go home, right? It's not like there's been maybe 3 or 4 successfull MMOs out of 300 or anything... :D


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You could use a game engine, but I strongly don't recommend it if you do not know a programming language.


This throws me off... can you elaborate? I thought a game engine was designed to make it easier to code/script/design, not harder.




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Quote:
Original post by lordfly
My only major design change is the dynamic destruction/creation of the game-world by players.
That right there could amount to 100,000 man hours. Destructible terrain in an MMO environment is something that really has to be planned from the start, and affects every decision made while designing the engine.

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I think the best way to learn is to go down to the library or bookstore and buy a book on c++, read that, and then start designing games. If you are too lazy to go find one to read, here is one : http://www.mindview.net/Books/TICPP/ThinkingInCPP2e.html
Believe me, I've tried on multiple occasions. I'll do fine until I get tripped up with syntax or logic coding or something and then I scream bloody murder and give up. :)
Don't feel bad - knowing your limits is a good thing. Programming is not an easy discipline, and to successfully create an MMO to the same standards as WoW takes a team of experienced and talented programmers.

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Quote:
To start designing games once you have finished that, start with a text based rpg game, a great project outline is here: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=409907
Hmm, a possibility there.
If you can develop a text-based rpg that demonstrates why your concept will make a great game, your likelyhood of interesting other people with the project is increased tenfold.

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You could use a game engine, but I strongly don't recommend it if you do not know a programming language.
This throws me off... can you elaborate? I thought a game engine was designed to make it easier to code/script/design, not harder.
You should undoubtedly be using 'middleware' (a graphics engine, physics library, audio, networking, ...) rather than rolling your own for as many parts of your project as you can, but if you don't know the first thing about programming, you still wont have the knowledge to tie these systems together and write the high-level logic that drives the game.

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In my mind's eye I want a game with the polish of WoW with the dynamic world-building of Wurm Online...

Quote:
My question is thus... does there exist an MMO-friendly engine that allows more or less plug-and-play of your basic MMO trappings (quest giving, inventories, levelling up, simple combat), that is also geared more towards a designer than a programmer? Or should I suck it up and spend the next decade learning a language?



How are you going to achieve your MMO-creation goals?

Multiple choice:

A. Wait until someone designs a miracle engine, that lets you turn ideas into code.

B. Learn to program, and decide a language. Since you're more of an artist, you might want to look in the RAD languages, like VB and C#. These can cut development time by around 60%. Then realize, with only one person, you'll have to throw half your design out the window.

C. Get a high paying job, save money, and hire you a development team. You'll need at least: Programmers, musicians, artists.

D. Forget about making a MMO. (*Gasp*)

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Quote:
Original post by RebNyx
B. Learn to program, and decide a language. Since you're more of an artist, you might want to look in the RAD languages, like VB and C#. These can cut development time by around 60%. Then realize, with only one person, you'll have to throw half your design out the window.


Well obviously this isn't going to spring forthwith from my head fully formed. I was talking more along the lines of a finished product.

Initially the first goal would be to have deformable terrain and some very limited character interactions. Then maybe flora planting/removing. And then maybe some basic monsters to whack a sword at. and so on.

While I sound like a crazy teenager idealist, I have in fact worked on many a corporate project... it was just in Second Life, which is about as sheltered as you can get from programming requirements or optimization issues.

So I fully realize this is a years-long project, developed as a small hobby. If it gets any bigger than that I'd be surprised, honestly. :)

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C. Get a high paying job, save money, and hire you a development team. You'll need at least: Programmers, musicians, artists.


It's been my experience that the only person you can rely on for a hobby project is yourself - everyone else produces nothing of consequence, because they don't share the same drive as you.

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D. Forget about making a MMO. (*Gasp*)

[/quote]

Nonsense! :P


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Or should I suck it up and spend the next decade learning a language?
Suck it up and start learning. You've admitted yourself to be in the same position as essentially any beginner trying to make an MMO. You don't have programming knowledge. If there was some simple way to satisfy the beginner-I-want-to-make-an-MMO wanna-be, we would have told them already.

There isn't one.

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panda 3d. It is open source, Disney uses it in its MMOs(at least toontown online though I thought I had read that the pirates of the Caribbean MMO was going to use it too) It is about as simple as you can get, though it is still going to be more effort than you want. It is about as close as your going to get I think.

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Original post by stonemetal
panda3d. It is open source, Disney uses it in its MMOs(at least toontown online though I thought I had read that the pirates of the Caribbean MMO was going to use it too) It is about as simple as you can get, though it is still going to be more effort than you want. It is about as close as your going to get I think.
My second on that choice (and yes, pirates of the caribbean uses it).

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C. Get a high paying job, save money, and hire you a development team. You'll need at least: Programmers, musicians, artists.
It's been my experience that the only person you can rely on for a hobby project is yourself - everyone else produces nothing of consequence, because they don't share the same drive as you.
I could be wrong, but I think by 'hire a development team' he meant 'hire a full-time professional development team' (in which case your concerns about motivation would be more or less irrelevant).

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How about realm crafter?

www.realmcrafter.com

Its an mmo creator, no programming needed.

If you do want to get your hands dirty it uses a scripting language.
I think it's about as simple as mmo creation is going to get.

I'm not sure what quality of games you could make with it, and i'm not really sure what features it has as i've never used it.

You do get access to the source code once you buy it so you could add in any features you want - but that is going to require programming knowledge obviously.

And that is the problem - unless you can program an engine yourself you'll have to make do with an engine not specifically designed for your game.

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Quote:
Original post by visage
No, but seriously...prototyping with Neverwinter Nights 2 for fantasy MMOs would be highly recommended...


No, but seriously, do you have any idea what kind of game he is trying to develop? I haven't played with Neverwinter Nights 2, but I don't remember seeing anything that even hinted at being able to build and interact with the world itself, only the avatars and triggers/switches set within the world by a designer. How do you build a house in NWN2?

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