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A Good Start for a MMORPG? (A core that could compete with Ultima Online)

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It's late at night here so I'll try keep it brief and hopefully stop any tangents before they happen.

From what I understand you're asking whether the goals of doing a MORPG and then maybe moving onto a MMORPG is realistic. My knee jerk reaction is no. I think that you would probably be better of making some small test versions of the game so that you can prove what you want to do is possible and then maybe getting others on board to help out. You also need to remember that a MORPG is actually quite different from MMORPG in both design and implementation. For instance I don't know a single MMORPG that can say "Anything implemented after this, is polish." although that is possible for a MORPG. By making a MORPG you risk putting yourself in a position where you can't successfully turn it into a MMORPG.

Your ideas, although decent, seem to need some more refinement as-well.

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Breaking down your grand objective into smaller objectives is a good thing, and aiming for a core upon which you can build further is certainly one way of doing so. However, to me, achieving something comparable to UO, even though it's over ten years old, is still a pretty big milestone. If I were developing this game, I would aim at breaking things down much, much more.

e.g:
1. Build a simple application which allows a single player to walk about a couple of rooms using a client/server architecture. The 'client' part of the application retrieves object and map data from the server part of the application ONLY. Note there is no actual networking involved here. Your objective here is to establish the basis for the client/server interface and to get something reasonably 'playable' - even if it isn't actually a game - running as quickly as possible.

2. Split the application into the separate client/server apps, using the core interface, and implementing network code. The application should appear to be identical to the previous version, but this time the server component can be running on a completely different machine.

3. Enable multiple players to connect to the server. Players can walk about the rooms and see each other. Perhaps add a handful of action commands such as emotes and chat so players can interact a little. Stress test and work on solving scaling issues (what happens when 200 people gather in the same room? 1000? These cases need to be handled smoothly.

4. You now have the core of a game. Your characters can walk about, talk, see each other. From here, you can start adding the features that will make it an MMO proper, such as combat, NPCs etc.

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IMO, most MMORPG's are actually MORPG. You rarely see more than 20 players on screen at any one time, except maybe in RAIDS or PvP, and even then not really. The only MMORPG's I know of that actually are true to MMO are quite few. Most seem to be more along the lines of ORPG (not even MORPG) with a centralized database. Perhaps the capital cities are MORPG, but it leaves me pondering when so many MMORPG's have a plethora of servers, but so few on each. Sometimes I wonder why some MMORPG's aren't just lobby games, and why they even hurt themselves by maintaining persistent servers (not databases) like they (i assume) do.[/quote]

There are a few games that call themselves MMOGs but are in fact lobby game. I have seen people call LoL and HoN MMOs although they most defiantly are not. It's kind of a moot point though since it's all just a semantics, give it a few years and the MMO hype will have died down enough for games to start moving away from that as a definition.

The reason for the massive number of servers but only having a few thousand on each is generally down to technology. It's just not possible for most companies to create or buy servers that could reliably handle a more than a few thousand players at once. Even then you get more than a 50 people in one place and you will get server issues in most games. There does seem to be a slow move towards bigger single servers though, SOE talked about "mega servers" (name may be wrong) and of course there is EvE online with its single server.

What ideas specifically are you talking about?[/quote]

I feel that in general you have an idea of what you want to make but you have not made any final decisions about it. Move away from saying it will use a system like/similar to X game. Instead get to a point where you are happy to say this is the system I will be using. That way you know exactly what you want to do and more importantly others know as-well. It also means you can run tests on implementing that feature and if it all goes wrong you can go back to the drawing board.

You also need to be careful about borrowing ideas from other games, the oddest things can be copyrighted e.g. the stats a game uses for its characters (str, int etc). It may not seem like much but if you base your entire game on something like that and find out you can't use it in the end you will have some huge headaches.

Also what i was talking about when it came to the differences wasn't so much to do with the network but the actual design of the game itself. It may seem odd but to me when you make a MORPG then you're primarily making a game but when you make a full blown MMORPG you're primarily making a world. Some things may work really well in one but just don't have the same impact in another.

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The main thing you'll have to take into account if you plan on "extending" something into an mmorpg in the future is scalability, The server architecture differences between a morpg and a proper mmorpg are about as big as the differences between Microsoft Word and Counter-Strike, you should, in my opinion actually write it as a MMORPG from the very start. (This doesn't mean that you should implement a gameworld the size of europe and 35000 quests, 5 million npcs, etc from the start, it just means that you should design your overall architecture in a way that can scale to the extremes an MMO requres), The game design considerations are also quite different between the two gametypes.

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I like the look of the artwork and I hope that you can find a way to make a game become reality. I won't tell you not to do it. All I would like is for people to succeed in creating enjoyable games. I hope you are open to help, if not now, in the future. Collaboration is something I wish more people would be open to, but I can see why they would not want it so. Design and implementation of said design integrity is something that can be hard to want to alter, but for the sake of the game, do not fear change. Don't be afraid to seek programming/design assistance if you truly wish to create something as expansive as I believe you want to create.

You can do it. Start basic and work up from there. Aim for success, not a niche.

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My advice is to get something online as soon as possible. Otherwise this thread could very well be about your offline rpg.

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I love the old MMORPG's. I don't really have anything to add tho. My only thought is that you should maybe consider accepting contributions, and perhaps even paying for them. Making an entire game by yourself would be so soooo much work, and there are a lot of things that would need to be good too. I know a small independent MMO that was pretty successful (they ended up selling the company and getting good jobs etc), but that was a husband and wife team, the husband doing the programming and the wife was very good at dialogue and quest writing. They also employed an art guy to help them with some extra art assets. He lived in a different country and worked as a professional artist for a game company so was very good, but he obviously did a bit of extra work on the side for them, partly because he loved his work, partly because he wanted to help out this nice couple to make a successful game, but also partly (I think) because they paid him.

There are however examples of games that have people submitting content for free. Usually all they ask for, is for their name to be credited. There are lots of ways to approach it I suppose, I just wonder if it might be good for you to reach out to people who like the same kind of thing and see if you can get a helping hand from somewhere. Good luck anyway.

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Really, the only thing I need help with is the actual programming itself. The art assets are 90% done and I handle all of those (in addition to paying others what I need done).
I really want to learn to program, because I really enjoy it. The only help I'd need really would be additional programmers (or a knowledgeable programmer that can teach me and help with the game at the same time). If three people can make a successful game, one being programmer, one being artist, and one being a writer, than I can do it by myself, having already completed most of the art and the game needing very little writing. (I don't like MMORPG quests really, and take more of a quest-less sandbox approach like UO or Darkfall. Writing is also very easy for me, if I want to include it).

1 Programmer + 1 Artist + 1 Writer = Success.
1 Programmer (me) + Nothing Needed + Nothing Needed = Success??

Perhaps if this were 2 years ago when I first started the project and had not yet anything made already, the collaboration would be required.
I'm not really interested in selling out to a big company, unless they offer enough for me to fund my own 3D MMORPG, which won't happen unless I get a high share of profits and it is successful. I don't want to abandon my dream and working for myself, to work for someone else doing someone else's dream! Hehe.

Perhaps my game will become a niche game that is unsuccessful as a business, but sustainable. I'd love that. Or perhaps it will be a casual-friendly game for everyone that is successful as a business, and I'll use that to make more high quality games. Either way, it's never about the money, but about the quality. A game by gamers, for gamers. "Because everything else sucks." :P



"A Good Start for a MMORPG? (A core that could compete with Ultima Online)"
This is the title of your thread. Do you not mean what you said here?

From the Ultima Online Wikipedia Page:
"The initial team was composed of Garriott, Starr Long, Rick Delashmit and, a bit later Raph Koster, who became the lead designer for the project. Koster wrote a number of public "designer letters" and usually went by his nickname of Designer Dragon. Koster drew inspiration from a number of prior online games[sup][6][/sup] such as DartMUD."

One person didn't make Ultima Online.

The original creator of Ultima and one of the founders of Origin Systems, Richard Garriott(who worked developing several Ultima single player RPGs before UO), was not the creative lead nor lead designer of the collaboration which spawned from his creations. Many players attribute the success of UO to Raph Koster.

Here is a good piece with Koster after his UO/SWG jobs: The Escapist : Raph Koster on Fire

I found this quote to be of value in particular:
exceeded every wildest expectation. The players don't care about what you wanted there, about what the dreams were - they only care about what they have in front of them, and then they proceed to do things you never imagined. And in UO's case, a lot of what they managed to come up with was truly amazing and not at all something I had ever pictured.


If you truly want to make a good, successful, game you need to put the game before your self. You have put a lot of work in already. You have talent. You have drive, but maybe you don't have the whole package to create an MMORPG alone? What is the percentage chance that one person, in this case yourself, can create the entirety of an MMORPG that will be fun and successful? You can try to do it alone, but what are the odds? Is it worth sacrificing your dreams for? Making your "dream" game won't be cheap. Why not get a solid base experience under your belt that has more of a chance to succeed which would thus increase your chances of eventually making that dream come true?

The world of which you create needs to have a history in order to have a future. A reason for the way it is what it is. You may not need quest writers, but you will need to create lore for your world. You need an ecology. You need social structure. There is so much involved that I don't see how one person can fathom doing it on their own.

I read what you say and I have a hard time believing it. Is it truly going to be a game, by gamers, for gamers? Or are you going to try and do it alone?

I am not trying to be mean. I am just trying to help.

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It's certainly possible, games used to be made by one person all the time, and some still are. Gotta look no further than Minecraft and Angry Birds. But those games are a far cry from an RPG, and miles away from an MMORPG.

There is a huge difference between putting together a game that works, and putting a game that is popular and manages to maintain some popularity. With MMORPG's, I know that people churn through content so quickly. Look at something like Rift for example, one of the most expensive games out there costing many millions and employing 100+ of top people in the industry and it still took years to make. And yet, I had seen and done everything there was to do in just 3 weeks and then it got uninstalled. Not only that, but this is true even considering that most of the 'content' is crappy MMO grind content. Like you said yourself, the quests in MMORPG's tend to be very dull, "Kill 20 wolves" rather than a nice story line.

The game I mentioned that was made by 3 people and was a success, it was a success in financial terms in that they managed to recover their costs and got jobs from a top games company from it. But in terms of the actual game itself, again, very few people played it for more than a month. And this was a game that was made relatively recently with similar tools that you have. It was made using Python so pretty easy to put together.

So I think you could do it, but I just question how interesting and deep it can be, and whether I would be interested in playing it when my alternatives are so good. Casual gamers are not going to be interested in something like this when they can play The Witcher 2 with blood n guts n boobz and flash graphics. And hardcore RPG nerds like me, tend to be really picky and need lots of deep content. If an RPG doesn't have dozens of spells and really challenging and interesting combat (Baldur's Gate style, etc), then I'm very unlikely to play it. So you got your work cut out! So all I'm saying is that if I was you, I would be looking to get some contributions from other people.

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Tools tools tools

documentation documentation documentation.


You cant do the assets& behavior/game mechanic logic all yourself past a certain count/complexity.

Tools to create assets (you cant go on borrowing UO assets forever)


Scripting tools/wizards for mods to let player create the stuff to fill in all the stuff you cant do alone.

Unfortunatekly you will find that the tools are a bigger programming effort than the engine.


Good Documentaion to show how to use the tools.

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Tools tools tools

documentation documentation documentation.


You cant do the assets& behavior/game mechanic logic all yourself past a certain count/complexity.

Tools to create assets (you cant go on borrowing UO assets forever)


Scripting tools/wizards for mods to let player create the stuff to fill in all the stuff you cant do alone.

Unfortunatekly you will find that the tools are a bigger programming effort than the engine.


Good Documentaion to show how to use the tools.


Curious what you meant by the portion of the post that I put in bold.

As someone not involved and purely out of curiosity, do you have any tips on where to find some good information as to how to design these tools?



And to the OP, what method would be used to create the game world? Is it a plane modeled in 3ds Max, Maya, UDK? All tile based? I tried google'ing how to create the landscape for a UO like view, but I haven't had much luck. I may not be much in the coloring department, but I think I would like to explore just creating landscape for such a view.

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I do not think it's impossible to make an indie MMO, but I will point some things out.

In most MMO's, content is king. This is particularly true of the EQ family of MMO's, but even UO had a fairly staggering amount of content. It is a tremendous time sink to make all the content for an MMO by hand. I would strongly encourage you to look into the possibility of procedural generation for any content you can manage. Good procedural generation can help reduce the content burden a lot, even if you have less control over the user experience.

It seems to me, though, that you're more interested in emergent, player-to-player based interactions. PvP, RvR, so on and so forth, rather than quest grinding and raids. Fortunately, that could take a lot of focus off the world crafting aspect and give you some breathing room to use procedural generation.

I totally respect your desire to do this on your own, but be aware that the programming burden for an MMO can be pretty intense. I'm not talking like an MMO prototype, but something you actually release and thousands or millions of people play. If you're not already a pretty ballin programmer, you're going to have a long, long road ahead before you could release a polished, scalable project. We're not talking months here, but likely years. It can be hard to find quality talent to help you, and finding free quality talent is really, really hard to do, but it might be beneficial to try to drum up something. Money can go a long way to attracting motivated talent to a project, and your time might be better spent making money to hire talent to work on your game (if you have an avenue to make more money). Of course, do whatever makes you happy, and if working on this solo makes you happy then go for it.

Lastly, I don't think targeting a niche is a bad, or a commercially unviable, idea. Quite the opposite. Often a niche market is NOT being targeted, and while it may not be the 10 million potential userbase every marketing director salivates over, it can be an accessible and rabidly dedicated market. 10 million "maybe" users can be a whole lot worse than 500,000 guaranteed users.

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[quote name='wodinoneeye' timestamp='1316077294' post='4861971']
Tools tools tools

documentation documentation documentation.


You cant do the assets& behavior/game mechanic logic all yourself past a certain count/complexity.

Tools to create assets (you cant go on borrowing UO assets forever)


Scripting tools/wizards for mods to let player create the stuff to fill in all the stuff you cant do alone.

Unfortunatekly you will find that the tools are a bigger programming effort than the engine.


Good Documentaion to show how to use the tools.


Curious what you meant by the portion of the post that I put in bold.

As someone not involved and purely out of curiosity, do you have any tips on where to find some good information as to how to design these tools?



And to the OP, what method would be used to create the game world? Is it a plane modeled in 3ds Max, Maya, UDK? All tile based? I tried google'ing how to create the landscape for a UO like view, but I haven't had much luck. I may not be much in the coloring department, but I think I would like to explore just creating landscape for such a view.
[/quote]

The left picture is using assets lifted directly from the old UO (extracted from the game or made available somehow after the code was released -- when people started running their own servers). The right picture I dont recognize but looks something similar.

They had MANY animation tile assets for all the game motions as well as overlays for equiptment matching those frame animations. There were many hundreds (more? thousands) scenery tiles and objects which could be placed onto the scenery (and in inventory containers). I recall they did go thru them at one point and made them look better (higher res).

The graphic tools were frame based animation editors probably with customizations for the data format and overlaying patterns (like drawing clothing objects onto a standard figure template for all the different animation sequences)

Sound tools probably more standard sound effect snippets.

Scripting ?? not sure what IDE they did use but likely was like EMACs with language specific helper operations. Again VERY specific scripting (WOMBAT wasnt it) though they may have had several languages for different purposes -- animation control vs game mechanics (maybe all native with macros) vs interface control language.

They had some kind of tool for placing new stuff in the scenery (in game time) they used for Seer (non-paid assistants) created events (I once worked at a company and an employee had been a UO Seer and said they and the GMs had VERY few tools of any kind/sophistication)

Installer/patch tools of course.


If you want alot of AI you will want a compiled scripting language for it as alot of scripting interpretors run 10-20 times slower than native code and AI is a CPU pig (geometrically the more complex it grows)


Player accessible tools for player content creation is even worse because the tools should be idiot-proofed and polished and would vary from asset converters to full AI script creators (wizard-like IDEs often can work though even they can get very complicated and thus buggy/ a pain to support). Standard attribute editors for canned object templates arent too hard but proper modal/interrelated info validation can be a pain to build up and maintain.
And as I mentioned, for players to use (if not also employees) all these tools have to be documented (and more polish for ones aimed at players if you want more than a few hard cases to ever use them to most of their potential)

There are alot of open source projects that do various aspects of these tools but they would require customizations to meet the engines requirements (many of the commercial
engines come with some tools if you can get such an engine cheap enough)

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[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1316191879' post='4862510']
[quote name='wodinoneeye' timestamp='1316077294' post='4861971']
Tools tools tools

documentation documentation documentation.


You cant do the assets& behavior/game mechanic logic all yourself past a certain count/complexity.

Tools to create assets (you cant go on borrowing UO assets forever)


Scripting tools/wizards for mods to let player create the stuff to fill in all the stuff you cant do alone.

Unfortunatekly you will find that the tools are a bigger programming effort than the engine.


Good Documentaion to show how to use the tools.


Curious what you meant by the portion of the post that I put in bold.

As someone not involved and purely out of curiosity, do you have any tips on where to find some good information as to how to design these tools?



And to the OP, what method would be used to create the game world? Is it a plane modeled in 3ds Max, Maya, UDK? All tile based? I tried google'ing how to create the landscape for a UO like view, but I haven't had much luck. I may not be much in the coloring department, but I think I would like to explore just creating landscape for such a view.
[/quote]

The left picture is using assets lifted directly from the old UO (extracted from the game or made available somehow after the code was released -- when people started running their own servers). The right picture I dont recognize but looks something similar.

They had MANY animation tile assets for all the game motions as well as overlays for equiptment matching those frame animations. There were many hundreds (more? thousands) scenery tiles and objects which could be placed onto the scenery (and in inventory containers). I recall they did go thru them at one point and made them look better (higher res).

The graphic tools were frame based animation editors probably with customizations for the data format and overlaying patterns (like drawing clothing objects onto a standard figure template for all the different animation sequences)

Sound tools probably more standard sound effect snippets.

Scripting ?? not sure what IDE they did use but likely was like EMACs with language specific helper operations. Again VERY specific scripting (WOMBAT wasnt it) though they may have had several languages for different purposes -- animation control vs game mechanics (maybe all native with macros) vs interface control language.

They had some kind of tool for placing new stuff in the scenery (in game time) they used for Seer (non-paid assistants) created events (I once worked at a company and an employee had been a UO Seer and said they and the GMs had VERY few tools of any kind/sophistication)

Installer/patch tools of course.


If you want alot of AI you will want a compiled scripting language for it as alot of scripting interpretors run 10-20 times slower than native code and AI is a CPU pig (geometrically the more complex it grows)


Player accessible tools for player content creation is even worse because the tools should be idiot-proofed and polished and would vary from asset converters to full AI script creators (wizard-like IDEs often can work though even they can get very complicated and thus buggy/ a pain to support). Standard attribute editors for canned object templates arent too hard but proper modal/interrelated info validation can be a pain to build up and maintain.
And as I mentioned, for players to use (if not also employees) all these tools have to be documented (and more polish for ones aimed at players if you want more than a few hard cases to ever use them to most of their potential)

There are alot of open source projects that do various aspects of these tools but they would require customizations to meet the engines requirements (many of the commercial
engines come with some tools if you can get such an engine cheap enough)
[/quote]

What he described that he did was use the UO screenshot for an example to go by and he recreated it using his assets, if I am not mistaken.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Eventually UO added custom housing, which gave me the most insight, that allowed players to claim a "plot" and then use the House Design Tool to add different items; Walls, doors, tiles(here is the tiles, figure the whole world was made with tiles, lava/water/dirt/etc), and even roof pieces. It wasn't perfect, but it was something that I know I personally spent many hours messing around with. Do I want a custom castle? Do I want a custom Villa? It provided a lot of fun with a bit of frustration. Roofs were hard to add. Generally you had to make your house smaller than the plot just to get a roof to appear to fit right. The plots were never available as big as an actual castle model, I don't believe, 25x25 I think was the largest custom plot.

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Actually Ive been waiting for YEARs for 3D assets to be made available basicly free to use for the visualization of the situation in
my simulations where I run my AI (which is my real interest and where I want to spend my time). The animation tools are still very expensive,
have proprietary formats and the assets meager (its the figure animations on a pre-rigged figure I need -- hundreds of them to visually act out a complex AI driven world)

Someday they will have more standard animation sets and tools that will have people publishing them free (and I could at least make a few to fill in
some missing ones I want). The figures are more common now but the animations just arent here yet.

Actually something like that will allow indie devs to make alot of niche games (at least the figure animation part). The AI mechanisms to make them act smart
instead of just pretty is more my realm (and has its own problems and is even less available than the animation stuff)

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Actually Ive been waiting for YEARs for 3D assets to be made available basicly free to use for the visualization of the situation in
my simulations where I run my AI (which is my real interest and where I want to spend my time). The animation tools are still very expensive,
have proprietary formats and the assets meager (its the figure animations on a pre-rigged figure I need -- hundreds of them to visually act out a complex AI driven world)

Someday they will have more standard animation sets and tools that will have people publishing them free (and I could at least make a few to fill in
some missing ones I want). The figures are more common now but the animations just arent here yet.

Actually something like that will allow indie devs to make alot of niche games (at least the figure animation part). The AI mechanisms to make them act smart
instead of just pretty is more my realm (and has its own problems and is even less available than the animation stuff)


I would be happy if I could make a modern take on the old UO Britannia style world. Like the OP's viewpoint/UO viewpoint, but an updated look and my own landscape. I am trying to find a way that I can add to a team outside of design/writing, but I am not overly artistic nor do I have the patience to program for extended periods.

I am guessing to do what I seek to do would require a combination of a 3d model layered with tiling, or each one independently, but I just can't find good resources on how to proceed. I really like observing nature and I think I could make some pretty cool worlds, so level/world design is where I am looking into now. I have looked at Tiled and Sourceforge's version of a tile editor, but them seem to be too dated for what I seek to do, but that could just be a lack of good images to use with the editors. I don't know.

*bangs head against wall*

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It depends on the focus of the MMORPG of course, if you're going the FFA PVP-centric MMORPG route. Then here's my advice, not from a developer standpoint, but a player's. I've played a lot of PVP based games. And I can tell you, sometimes less is more.

The beautiful thing about MMORPGs is that a player is infinitly more dynamic than an AI, all you need to supply people with is a game world with items, skills, towns, dungeons, monsters and most importantly a player faction/guild/group system. It's basic human instinct to crave competition, player guilds will fight eachother and make their own stories. And all you have to do is sit back and watch.

Not only does gameplay end up fresh, but you get to do less work. That's my thoughts at least.

Cheers and good luck to you,
Shodex

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