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Aegon

MMO Game questions.

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This is similar to a question I already asked but after reading the answers I am left with a few more questions and a change in my overall concept. Let's say I am a "decent" game programmer. I'm not, but all this is for the sake of this example. Let's also say I have a friend who if a 3d graphics artist. Now let's say me and him want to make a small-scale 3d multiplayer online game. It's not a full blown "MMORPG", but it should be able to support about 100 players per server. The game is practically featureless. The "map" is just flat terrain, and it is about the size of a school gymnasium. The only thing to do is walk around this flat terrain with the character you "made", and all characters are exactly the same. There is only 1 model for people to play as. Other than walking, let's say they can also jump and fly, but there is no real animation for either, just changes in the x/y/z positions I suppose. The game has a chat system as well, a very simple one with a single channel displayed to all. There is no sound in this game. There are no quests. There are no items. There is no crafting. There is no combat. There are no NPCs. There is nothing to interact with. There is no nothing that isn't already listed here. Players should be able to download a client from a simple website and once opening it they are put at a spawn on the flat map where everyone else spawns and they can run around. That's it. The graphics are basically like Zelda the Wind Waker, meaning they are undetailed, low polygon count, simple textures, but they get the job done. Picture 2 Now the questions: How long would this take to make for a decent game programmer and graphics artist working together? How long would this take for a lone programmer of decent game-making capabilities to do by himself if he uses pre-made graphics downloaded for free? If I paid a decent game programmer and game graphics artist how much would I have to pay them to have this made and get good results? Is there a "source" or "framework" or whatever that already exists on the internet that provides the features this hypothetical game has, so that I can download it and mess around with it's code or whatever? It doesn't have to match exactly but the closer the approximation the better. If most of the gameplay (What little there is) is in Python or Lua or something that would be even better because those are the only languages I have any understanding of. If it's all in Python/etc that would be best for me but I've read that Python isn't used for server architecture because it's too slow, but remember this game is only mean't to support 100 "players" and there isn't going to be much going on in the game to strain the servers, so I think Python would actually be sufficient for a project like the one mentioned here. Thanks. [Edited by - Aegon on April 13, 2010 7:35:08 AM]

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You are on the right track, still it is hard to predict ;-)

For a more or less raw estimation of effort you need to break your work packages down more in detail. As already said, you have a good start with listing all your requirements and all features which aren't needed at all. After a more or less complete list of detailed features try to put some number to each work package (1/2 day, 1 day etc.). After that, try to get it verified by some experts (some experienced coders on this forum :-) ). This will lead to total number of manpower you need to multiply with a certain factor for the experience of your programmer.

At least, this will give you only a "feeling" of how much effort is needed to do your simple prototype,but never ever underestimate the time you need to "prepare" some free models or "just to code" some simple algorithm. Most people tend to overestimate there performance which leads to an unterestimation of effort.

Here's an example of what I mean:

client
- starting up dialog 1/2 day
- simple user input 1 day
- rendering scene ..
-- ...
- network
-- sending position updates to server 2 days (testing/debugging!)
-- retrieving position update from server 2 days
-- updating world positions of other entities 1 day

server
- ...


Good luck :)

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This is really hard to predict, but my best guess would be like:
Something between a week (prototype like) and 4 weeks. I think it would cost you beween 400$ (some students) and 10000$ (Professional work). The student work might even be the better product in the end.

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All of those comments were useful. Thanks. Looking forward to more though.

I would gladly pay 400$ to a student as long as the end product meets the specifications I paid them for. I would pay up to 1000$ as long as it's stable and reasonably unbuggy. And I think 1-2 months is a reasonable time frame for them to finish as well. Don't bother PMing me about it though I prefer to ask some real life acquaintances about what they can do for me.

So if your correct, that sounds fine. Pretty close to my own estimates whether by coincidence or not.

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Quote:
Original post by GWDev
This is really hard to predict, but my best guess would be like:
Something between a week (prototype like) and 4 weeks. I think it would cost you beween 400$ (some students) and 10000$ (Professional work). The student work might even be the better product in the end.

That depends on the students/professionals themselves, but experience has led me to believe that that's a gross overestimation of the average student. If someone can't show previous projects of reasonable quality, I wouldn't take the risk. ;)

To the OP: How long this would take depends on the programmer and artist. To get a fair estimation, you'd have to let them do some research.

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Quote:
Original post by Aegon
How long would this take to make for a decent game programmer and graphics artist working together?

How long would this take for a lone programmer of decent game-making capabilities to do by himself if he uses pre-made graphics downloaded for free?

If I paid a decent game programmer and game graphics artist how much would I have to pay them to have this made and get good results?

Since you don't have experience, the best thing to do is look at comparable work.

You said you want graphics like Wind Waker. So look up the game credits and observe that it took 17 people to model the characters, UI, and effects, and another 9 on the maps. They are professionals working full time, using professional tools. Considering the time in development, I'd guess somewhere around 50 full-time work years for the art.

You can use similar calculations to estimate the programming time. It is near near 150 full time work years.

Your game is smaller than Wind Waker, so scale accordingly.

If that project is not comparable to what you want, you'll need to find something that is, look up the approximate work required, and plan accordingly.

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Apart from totally agreeing with frob in that this is NOT a few weeks' work, it's worth correcting a common fallacy. People often think that if they elect to only have primitive-looking graphics that their game will be a lot simpler to make. THIS IS NOT REMOTELY TRUE.

Here is some pseudo-code to load a primitive 100-poly mesh from the early days of 3D games:

loadModel("simple.model")


And here is the pseudo-code to load a 100,000 poly mesh:

loadModel("complex.model")


The same goes for textures - whether they're 2048x2048 in high definition or 16x16 pixel art makes no difference. You're going to load them with a tiny piece of code and render them with an equally tiny piece of code.

Yes, of course more complex graphics will take longer for an artist to make. (But not proportional to the number of polygons - more like proportional to the cube root of the number of polys. Same for textures - artists will work at the size that suits them and then scale the texture down as required.) And there are some advanced graphical features that take time to implement. But the code you use will not change significantly just because your models and textures are smaller than is commonly used.


There's a similar fallacy here, in the idea that "it's not a full blown "MMORPG", but it should be able to support about 100 players per server." 100 players per server is still 'massive', as far as the programming undertaking is concerned. Sure, it's not MASSIVE in the idea of scaling to 10s of thousands, but you're going to have to go to about the same amount of effort as you would to support 500 or 1000 players - ie. a lot more than you have to do to support 4 players.


With all this in mind, I would say that it will take you months and months to build this from scratch... or potentially just days if you use software that provides most of your features for you. Any existing software you use will impose limitations on your game so you need to spend some good time evaluating the options, ideally alongside people who know what they're doing - ie. a programmer and an artist who know their respective trades and know what your requirements are.

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Good to know.

But I don't intend for every single thing to be made from scratch. I'm asking how long this would take with proper use of libraries and such.

There's probably a suitable library for networking, graphics handling, and whatever else (I don't know many of the libraries that exist because this is not my "bag" =P). Panda3d or some other "game engine" might also be put to use.

So yea anything that can use a library, will use one, for this hypothetical project.

So with that in mind does anything change as far as my questions/answers go?

Also I realize that you load models and textures the same way regardless of complexity, but it depends how many your using, my hypothetical game just has one model, and it doesn't "do" anything within the game.

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So you want to create a virtual "lounge".

As simple as this project is, it will possibly still be problematic to get the networking aspect right. If that is no big hurdle, I guess (and the following numbers are totally made up based on reading similar posts on getafreelancer) you could get the code done in 1-2 months for 2-6k €.

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