I Wish Making An MMORPG Was That Simple

I saw an announcement for MMORPG Tycoon 2 and it got my thinking. MMORPG Tycoon 2 is about making and running your own MMORPG. Well the idea once again popped into my head about wishing I could simply make a MMORPG — a real one.

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/tu_WdJNR7lo” width=”700″ rel=”no” wmode=”transparent”][/su_youtube_advanced]

I can’t code. I have the artistic skills of … something with no artistic skills at all. Those barriers to entry are impassable.  I do have one talent: I know what makes MMORPGs fun, and I’m great at seeing the big picture and bringing projects together. If I had a set of tools that basically did all of the coding and art for me, and allowed me to simply create my world, enter in all of my mechanics, develop my own features, and essentially put it all together with a user-friendly interface, then I could easily make my own MMORPG.

Imagine if it was that simple. Imagine if like you see in that MMO Tycoon video you can simply drop your zones next to each other, plop in some art assets, code the orcs to behave a certain way and use X defined abilities, and piece it all together. I feel like I have the millions of ideas for executing an awesome world all up in my head and on the hundreds of pages of design documents I’ve already drafted over the years. Imagine if the tools were $15/month or $100 one time or something cheap rather than thousands of dollars in licenses.

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/dUeJyiEja84″ width=”700″ rel=”no” wmode=”transparent”][/su_youtube_advanced]

Someone should develop an engine that handles all of this, makes it all super user friendly, and basically lets us launch our own MMORPGs, and charge a monthly fee per user. If I want to form a dev team then I just pay for more monthly licenses. It can’t be that hard (for those people with talent) to develop a program where people can collaborate online and build a world. Just take something like MMORPG Tycoon or Project Spark and make it better and a real MMORPG tool. Dangit, I want to get started now!

  • Yeah the world has changed. What most of these dumbass game producers (and I’m talking extremely dumb..ridiculously dumb) don’t realize is the only thing they have going for them – “stickiness” and subscriptions is only achieved through being “hard”. Yeah you lose the pizza mafia crowd, but you gain loyal subscriptions.

  • What are subscriptions?

    The development model for online games right now is to kickstart or greenlight an idea, get people to buy into it, and then move onto your personal yacht or what have you.

    Subscriptions. Hah. That requires a real game.

  • If making a MMO was that easy…. then your MMO would struggle with thousands of MMOs made by people exactly like you, doing MMOs exactly like you, and generally less talented than you (or worst, in some cases, very much more talented).

    Further, if your MMO was any kind of good, it would be stolen/copied/plagiarized by shady people, whose poor imitations would tarnish the public perception of your real product.

    I mean, it would happen the very same thing that has happen everytime when Internet has lifted the entry barrier to a highly specialyzed profession.

    Point in case: Steam’s disastrous attempt to let modders monetize mods.

  • Angry Onions makes a very good point and one that really never occurred to me before. Like you, I’ve often daydreamed about making my own MMO. I’ve even looked into the possibilities. It isn’t as impossible as you think: there are several inexpensive options out there that work, to a degree.

    What’s more, I have been involved, on the margins, in what’s now barely ever mentioned as a potential flowering of a thousand MMOs – the first couple of years of Neverwinter Nights. That suite of tools allowed anyone to make a fully-functioning 3D RPG – even I made one, put it up, had people play it. Some of them even enjoyed it. There were teams of people who combined their efforts and sewed them together to make persistent, online worlds, some of which easily rivaled MMOs for size and complexity and many of which ran for years.

    I dabbled around in one of those for a bit but, as with creating my own standalone RPG scenario, it was obvious that it would be incredibly time-consuming. During the four months I wrote my RPG I virtually played no MMOs at all. There was just no time to do anything other than go to work, sleep and write that thing. That enormous time demand, more than any difficulty, represented the barrier to entry.

    If you imagine a toolset that really could render making an MMO easy, quick and simple then as Onions points out everyone would make one. There would be literally millions of MMOs. Even with the NWN toolset, which basically required some light understanding of a simplified C++ style language (at least that’s what I understood it to be) there were many thousands of scenarios glutting the websites that listed them.

    If there were thousands, tens of thousands of new MMOs coming online over the course of a couple of years, who would play them? And, as with Minecraft, if one or two of them turned out to be really good, it would eat almost all the potential customers.

    That said, I’d absolutely love for there to be a really simple, drag and drop MMO maker like you describe. NOt because I want to become an MMO mogul but because I’d love to make an offline game that plays exactly like an MMO so I can play it myself, whenever I want, and never have to worry that the company running it will turn it off!

  • Also, I just googled Project Spark and, presumably in a freakishly ironic co-incidence, I find that Microsoft announced only yesterday that it’s being discontinued. The website is still there but the download from the Windows Store has been discontinued. There are still copies of the boxed XBox version left on Amazon. Microsoft support for the games made by the platform will end in December 2016. So that’s out.

  • You know what makes MMOs fun for YOU, don’t confuse that with having universal knowledge about what makes a MMO fun for everyone else.

  • @Proximo: No, I’m infinitely knowledgeable in all things. I find your lack of faith disturbing. ::eye roll:: All ridiculousness aside, I have 10 years of archives here that do show I have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work with regard to making a decent MMO.

    @Bhagpuss: Spark was really cool, and closest in concept that i’ve found to what I’d like. I too would not want a tool like this to become a MMO mogul. Zero dreams of striking it rich or making it big by launching the next WoW. I’d want to make a world and a game that I would love, and I know tens (maybe more) of thousands of people would enjoy too.

    @Angry Onions: For me it’s less about having a unique idea and running to the bank with it. I just want to make something really cool.

  • Yes, and I value your opinion, but i can tell you that a lot of your ideas on what makes an MMO fun are rather reasons I wouldn’t play it.
    No concrete examples right now, I’d have to go back and read your articles find some examples.
    But there is not one correct way to make a good MMO, there are many.

  • The point of making your own MMO is to make it the way you want. I personally don’t care what the masses want. There are plenty of those options out there for them. I want a niche community driven PVE focused grouping based MMO. No one is making that outside of a few crowd funded options. It is what it is.

    The focus has got to go back to making a game that like minded people will enjoy. I game made by genre fans for genre fans. The second you start looking at a wider audience is the second your game becomes like every other.

    If the options become lots and lots of niche and very specific MMO, then so be it. It’s better than the current situation we’re in.

  • @Ald: You’ve nailed it, and I can’t say it better. Back when these first wave of MMORPGs came out, they were made for like-minded people. People making the games said, “I’m making this for people who want this type of game — people like me!” That grew into games being made by genre fans for genre fans. When things started to go wrong was when people starting to think they could make a game for a wider audience — a game for everyone.

  • The NWN games were pretty awesome. I played on some of the “MMO”-ish servers. Those were good times. 🙂

  • So I rethought myself a bit. Because would I play a superhard game if it came out today (or even an easy one)? I’m not sure. I may have finally aged out of caring. But the whole thing is still very interesting.

    The early games were hard, and we didn’t care and we’re definitely like minded. We didn’t have a choice really though. They were all hard. So we gladly signed up for our $10 a month and it was a bargain. The people not trying hard didn’t do well. And even some of us that tried hard, and picked a ranger, didn’t do well either.

    But it somehow made it all really interesting, and your choices had consequences.

    And then WoW came out. And it wasn’t hard and most of us looked down our noses at it. But it was accessible to the masses. And they signed up for their $10 a month too. But there was way more of them. We really didn’t understand why any of the first generation would want to play that though.

    And then the games kept coming, each less hard than the last. And suddenly WoW was looking hard. And there were a lot of these really not hard games to choose from all of a sudden.

    And they tended to draw in big audiences for short periods of time. All sucking down $10 a month from way more people, for a while. It never lasted. But all the companies chased it. And are still chasing it. It never lasted because it wasn’t hard.

    But somehow WoW has managed to walk the accessible and still a little hard line that nobody else can. And it has a huge head start that nobody can catch up to.

    So you run the risk of being super hard and attracting a small fan base of 1000s of us, or making a game that is super easy and gets millions but nobody wants to play in a month or two.

    It seems to me that’s where we are, and they are all grabbing the 2 months of glory, and then looking for new jobs. I’m not sure I blame them, but really glad I’m not in their industry.