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So, you want to build an Massively Multiplayer Online Game? It's a challenging process, but it can have great results, some so great that it can acquire you a financial method to sustain yourself forever! Of course, something as challenging as this needs a place to get started. If you follow this guide, I hope you will get that ground you need to get started on. I give the knowledge i've gathered fro m the years of watching the industry, in hope you see where you stand, and where you want to go with your *Possibly* next best WoW.
Before we start down that road, you need to ask yourself these questions:
Once you are past these four questions, you can get into the meat of the project, which would include designing it, coding it, testing it, and finally, releasing it. With the millions of things in between. But in order to start somewhere, we start with the four questions above, and we'll be covering them as we go through your start through an MMOG Production.Before you start, consider as well a combat dictionary and general dictionary of MMORPG Terms, so you arn't out of the loop
- What kind of MMO do I want, do I really want an MMO?
- Where do I want to go with this (Financially)?
- How much will I Invest? (WIth Question #2 in mind)
- How much time can I dedicate?
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1. Do I want an MMO? If so, Which?
Question one brings up something very important, for your answer to it will decide how to pursue the project. It will tell you your Resources, Market, Audience and Competition. These four concepts explain what your goals will be once your MMOG is actually on the field for being played.
First off, let's go back to the question. Do you want an MMO, and if so, which?
And Massively Multiplayer Game is a feat in its own. There are games out there that have multi-million dollar budgets, and finance s from Massively Multiplayer Games, and the world takes them seriously. No longer are MMOs the home made server creations of the 1990s. They are businesses, complete with CEOS, and Budget Meetings. That doesn't mean your MMO needs all that, but it's something to consider before stepping into the big leagues? It's dog eat dog, and you need to take the heat.
However, an MMOG has its benefits. Its a type of game that is online, and creates a dedicated audience. People come back to play, because the game is always updating, and offers player to player experiences. It isn't your average game that you download and play alone, or when others are about. There are usually people ALWAYS around in a popular MMO, its an addiction (some say,) and it can grab you right in.
So you want to build that MMO? Well there's several ways to approach.
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Continuation of choosing a MMOG Type
- RPG. Roleplaying Game, You have a character and build up stats on that character
- FPS. First Person Shooter. A Massively Online game of Counterstrike (In a sense,)
- RTS. Real Time Strategy. Less Common, Command & Conquer Style Combat.
- Social. Second Life, There, other "Make friends and socialize" style MMOs
- MUD/2D. The Two Demensional Old-Style MMOs of past.
- Web. Text based, and click based gameplay.
- Other. Make your own style of gameplay, Using parts of others and parts of your own creation!
Now there are MMOs that follow strictly certain setups, (For Example, World of Warcraft is Strictly a MMORPG, as it bases solely on your character building) and others that are more freeform (Second Life although based on Socializing, has an open engine that allows FPS-style combat, gaming, and many other activities within) and even few we cannot pinpoint where they belong (Oz World is a fishing game, and yet is highly social). The choice is yours. But its important you know the audiences you intend to appease to.
Incase you're in doubt of your choices, research! It never hurts to look into which MMORPG fascinates you, that way you can decide what you will like to develop, and not dislike. You can also consider how to deal with special work in your MMOG, such as holidays,
- If you intend to appease to the "Addicted", who play for many hours to have the best and greatest characters, you want an RPG.
- If you intend for large scale Twitch based gameplay, where there are no skills, you want an FPS.
- If you intend people not to fight, but rather enjoy the better things in life, its a Social If its in 2Ds, its a 2D.
- If you want it on a website, it's Web Based.
Now that you know your MMO, it's time to talk the Benjamins.
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2. Where do I want to go? (Financially)
Like any long term project, one cannot just dive in and not outlook the risks that come with, especailly on terms with what you are risking financially. Can you afford, let alone have the effort to build a massive project like a Massively Multiplayer Game? These are a few of the considerations you need to make when preparing to build an MMO. Do not forget that the MMO market contains more than 20 million players, ranging from a wide variety of games.
Financially, you want to balance your MMO with how much you intend to profit from it, based on how much you invest. If you are doing it for fun, you can literally have a budget that is 0, unless you want to add minor things personally, a project like this is only part time and not dedicated 24 hours a day.
On the other hand, a big budget is needed for a full time game development, in order to afford everything in between from equipment, software, food, water, all the essentials that keep the developer (and his game) alive.
It seems something crazy in this angle, but you still must consider the basics when you are about to end a regular occupation and build a game full time. You need to have enough to feed your game, and feed yourself!
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3. How much will I Spend?
As mentioned above, after you have labeled out your intentions, and how much you intend to go financially, and if you want to make money out of this, you need to consider three costs/profits that come in the development process.
- Startup, how much will it cost to buy the starting equipment, models and etc. to build the MMO?
- Monthly, How will I afford the servers? Licenses? website? Other costs that will be needed to maintain the game
- The Long Run, Do we have a source of revenue? If so, how long until we make a profit? Is someone covering our costs?
First and foremost, how much you invest in the startup determines your game. the true "Top of the line" MMORPGs like World of Warcraft had millions of dollars paid in development of the game, including its engine, models, shaders, systems, and many other components. In the end, there are MMOS out there which budgets ranging from $10,000,000 to a mere $10,000 and even smaller $1000. If its on the web, you can even scratch by $100 depending on how much you do yourself. The costs range depending on if you buy your resources or build them from scratch, and also include or exclude software to build and code with. Another startup cost i s something called an engine. Like a car, an engine is what drives the game, and without an engine, you won't be going anywhere. There are many engines, those that range from $150, to $350,000 in licensing costs. In future editions when we cover the actual mechanics of a game, you can put into consideration which engine you want to invest in. Furthermore, to run a game, you need a server. If you own a server, it's free (With whatever your internet costs are) if you don't. You will have to buy one monthly, or find another way. Theres are all cost factors that will play into a game's development. To get your money, a bank may not exactly agree to a loan, in this case you may have to start out of your own pocket, until a publisher to pick up the tab, and give you a hand in the coming months.
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4. How much time can I dedicate?
Although a very crude metaphor, you are creating a brainchild of your imagination, and it needs time, attention, and dedication like any other creation you make in your life. Outline the time you will dedicate based on if this is a hobby, or a business endeavor seeking profit. If a hobby, use your spare time off work, and don't let it get in the way of others and your job. If a business endeavor. You will need to balance it with work, home, and anything else in your life so it is just as important and gest all the attention it needs.
A game can go completely haywire and dismantle without dedication and attention, you can miss the important news from the world around it, or worse forget features, ideas, or other concepts that eventually never reach the game, and that spells trouble. If you think someone like a girlfriend or wife can get in between time management, then see if they can be involved! An opposite sex is not a bad thing! If this doesn't work, then consider to balance your time, much like a parent does with their children.
If you can dedicate the time to an MMO, have the startup and long term money available, and last but not least, the necessary dedication, and elbow grease, you can truly make something.
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Theres a lot more needed than just a pep talk to build an MMO. You need to look over and cover all the bases before you even begin the first lines of code! You need to have your time, your resources, and your money ready for whatever is to come, and most importantly, have patience! No patience means no game. Remember these key points, and when you're ready, you can begin to lay the foundation of your game in software, hardware, and people.
Ever thought of it? Having your very own world, that you built (By yourself, or as a team) with your own time, resources, and elbow grease, but you just don't know where to start? Have no fear! When you finish reading this series, you will know where to get started!