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Zombibonez

To prototype or not to prototype?

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I have an idea for an MMO that I want to create, but I am not a game developer. I would like advice on how to go about creating the game, given that I have little to no experience. Currently, I have been learning how to use Unity and planned to create a prototype of the game myself. This way I am not just a girl with an idea, and I have something to show when recruiting indie game devs. I do not know how difficult creating a prototype is for a beginner or if that is actually the place I should start. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Any place is a good place to start.  As long as there is motivation behind it. 

My advice is to start small, Unity is a lot of game engine to digest. 

Begin with pen and paper, or text editor/etc.. of choice.  Get every aspect of your game worked out to the finest detail you can.  While you are doing that, work through as many Unity intro level tutorials and c# scripting/coding intro level tutorials as you can find.

Through some of this you should be able to figure out what aspects of this you want to/can tackle yourself.  As well, you will also be building up the documentation and knowledge you will need to recruit assistance. ;)

If you are truly motivated to make this happen, I recommend starting a project blog here on GameDev.net.  It's a great way to stay motivated and to get help/feedback on your progress.

Best of luck with the game idea!

Edited by Septopus

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When you say "MMO", how do you define that? What would be a close competitor when it comes to scale, content, concurrent players, etc.?

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16 minutes ago, Lactose said:

When you say "MMO", how do you define that? What would be a close competitor when it comes to scale, content, concurrent players, etc.?

I am sorry. I misspoke. It is more of an online multiplayer game, not an MMO. There is no persistent, open world that MMOs tend to have. A close competitor would be Darwin Project, and similar games. 

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My opinion on this topic is pretty clear:

ALWAYS start with a prototype.

You never know how good any gamedev idea actually is unity you created the first prototype. During this process, you will find out how much fun certain gameplay ideas you had in mind really are. A lot of times ideas sound super interesting on paper but after making the first prototype you realize it is actually not viable. It would be pretty bad if you found that out after trying to find additional members for your team.

How difficult making your first prototype will depend a lot on what the core gameplay elements of your game are. When it comes to MMOs you have to think a lot about networking stuff and scaling of your game for a lot of players. I would recommend getting a good idea about the network part of your game first. It usually is pretty tough to add network stuff to a project when a lot of parts of the game are already done. 

For a very first project, this sounds like a big challenge. I would recommend starting small. Try to build a simple multiplayer game to understand what to think about when it comes to multiplayer games. After this try focusing on the main core gameplay elements. 

Last but not least let other people test your idea. This is usually the easiest idea to find out how good your idea actually is. As Septopus already said. Starting a blog here on GameDev is a very good idea.

Good luck with your project! :) 

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I don't have much experience with game development, but I feel I can offer some food for thought because I too have thought about starting a game project and what I'd like to see when joining a game project.

I assume you have a strong vision for the game. Make a design document that explains the game clearly and concisely from a purely functional point of view (don't worry about the technical aspects yet). I use mind mapping software to begin my game planning before proper documentation. Do not be wordy or convoluted with your ideas.

I'd post your game idea (mechanics, setting, style, etc.) and use that to entice people that have a passion for YOUR vision of the game. Drawings, diagrams and descriptions will be important because you're selling an idea to people that have to pay with their time and energy. Treat your request for developers very seriously and as professionally as you can.

What strengths do you bring to the table? You have a game idea, but how do you see your role in the project? Be honest and upfront with everyone you communicate with.

I'm not entirely sure that you need to make a prototype though. I mean, if you can articulate your idea well enough, what will a rough prototype truly accomplish? Unless the concept of the game is based on a unique mechanic that really hasn't been seen before, what games are you borrowing your ideas from? If you want to make a prototype mostly to hone your skillset, that is another matter entirely and I'd urge you to not drag others into a project that you are still figuring out the basics in.

I hope that helps you. You're already braver than I am by taking these first steps towards making a game.

Edited by Guy Fleegman

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I think at your stage you shouldn't be worrying about whether to prototype or not.  You just need to get something, anything, working. Anything you do will be worth it, even if you end up trashing the  whole thing later, mainly because it gives you experience.

I personally never really "prototype" anything. I write code with the intention of using it, but at the same time I realize that it's possible I will dump it later. Sometimes I may first write a subset of a given algorithm, just to flesh out any issues, but I generally don't go about writing a whole project, that I intend to throw out.

Of course different people have different methods of working and I don't think there is an absolute right or wrong here.

Edited by Gnollrunner

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I would suggest taking an intermediate step and making a much smaller, offline, single player game first.

You mentioned you have zero experience and taking on a multiplayer game of an uncertain scope might (and WILL!) demoralise you.

My suggestion is to make an arguably uninteresting game "clone" (don't stop reading here) first - snake? tetris? space invaders? flappy bird? Anything you liked with a well defined scope and features. Make it work, make it playable.

By doing this, you'll learn what challenges lie before you, when making a game.

You will NOT be wasting considerable amounts of time making something that's already been there. No. You'll learn your tools, you'll be gaining invaluable experience which will later allow you to assess what needs to be done (for a complete product) and how much it costs (time, resources and/and money).

TL;DR With zero experience, take small steps, finish something very small first and well defined and be surprised how much longer than expected it takes.

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Thank you to everyone for all of your helpful input! I really appreciate that you have taken me seriously lol

Am I way too ambitious? Yes haha. Every day of my life. Thank you for trying to ground me. I had a good feeling many of you would tell me to start small. I suppose that is inevitable given that they have you start pretty small in many of the Unity tutorials. 

I do not intend to be the main developer for the game, because that seems way over my head. I do, however, seek to add value to a partnership or team. I figured knowing more than how to write a business plan or a game design document would be ideal. 

Mainly, I was not sure what my first steps should be. Should I write a GDD before making a prototype, or the other way around? As one of you already mentioned, why design a prototype if I'm not testing the feasibility of a specific game mechanic? I recently learned prototypes are meant to answer specific questions you have about how the game will work, not necessarily to show off a potential game. I am not entirely sure where that leaves me, but the first step seems be to get a better understanding of the work that is ahead of me if I decide to commit to undertaking such a project. 

Edited by Zombibonez

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Depends on what you want to do.

Bad Advice #1: If you plan on "producing" a game (being the producer). Then a GDD is a good start. However... Producers pay their devs money. So I don't think that that is where you want to start. (unless you have several thousands of $$$ lying around).

Bad Advice #2: Otherwise: If you want to start your own unpaid hobby team, you need to bring something to the table. Can you do one of these?

If you plan on writing a story, then write a story.

If you plan on doing art, then make some demo art.

If you plan on being a programmer (like me!), then you should create a *small* prototype that you can eventually turn into a game. If you are new to Unity (which is a great tool!). Start here. If you can't complete this tutorial, then Unity is still too complex for you. Choose something simpler to work with.

Good Advice!: However, what I would better recommend for you: If the answer to all the above questions is "no". It is too early to start your own team. Put your plans aside and do one of the following:

Follow an online tutorial, and create a Pong or a Tic Tac Toe clone. If you have no experience, then this will take you several weeks, but is the best way to boost your basic skills. At the end you will:

1. Understand basic coding

2. Understand computer game art workflow

3. Understand sound

4. Understand user interface

5. You will understand where and when you have time to work on your project.

6. Most important: you will know which part of the process you enjoy!

 

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