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Hamilton-WDS: Force of Arms Dev Blog

Personal Developer Blog for Force of Arms. Per Vis Nos Planto Nostrum Forensis - Through Force We Make Our Legacy

Author: Hamilton-NEO

Got to Start Somewhere

Posted by Hamilton-NEO Wednesday August 29 2007 at 3:23PM
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Getting ready for the Austin Game Developer Conference (AGDC) has sure taken some time away from doing pretty much anything else; even to keep up-to-date with a blog.

Got to Start Somewhere

Creating an MMO is difficult, but possible for those who have access to what I like to call as, “Creative Budgets.”  That is to say, Budgets that requires the use of creativity to get things done.  Avoid the negativism even when using words, for example, Low Budget is typically used.  Rather make it positive, though this sounds simple and appears to not be of much help, by keeping a positive spin, this will help to empower yourself.

There have been some successful MMO’s out there, which were started by one or a few people and with budgets of $250,000.  Sure it helps to have millions of dollars to work with, but this is not a requirement.  Though I do not know of how starting a small business works in other countries, in the US, obtaining funding for a project fewer than $1 million is possible.  The most competitive level of funding to get is between $1 million to $2 million.  It is either best to go under $1 million or more than $2 million.  Though if going for more than $2 million, you or your group must have a good idea, a through business plan and experience in the field.

Otherwise, go low for under $1 million; you Got to Start Somewhere, and then work your way up to another round of funding, this time in the millions.

The MMO market is still young and really I think it is still in the age of Silent Films.  There is a lot that can be done and room to grow.  Additionally, the conventional route of going through a publisher is no longer needed.  Digital Distribution is becoming popular and provides any developer the means to provide their product/service directly to a global market.  Reasons to avoid going through a publisher:
- You and your team must have made about 5 to 8 games; must have experience
- Have an idea of a game that can potentially sell 1 million copies
- Be willing to sign away your rights of your IP to the publisher. (IE: You no longer own the game, the story, etc)
- Over 80% of your idea of a game will be changed by the publisher.
- Willing to accept a cut of 10% to 20% of net sales (minus cost overheads and other things), with the low teens expected for the first timers.
- Willing to work on other projects by the publisher as your project will be contracted out to other developer studios.

Is that acceptable in order to gain retail distribution access for your title?

Personally I think, just skip retail distribution and go strictly with digital distribution. 
Yes there are more problems and greater risks.  But think about it, how valuable is your title to you?  Would you like to see a movie of it someday and earn a percentage of its success, rather than let a publisher earn it instead?  Do you want to work for yourself or for someone else?

Lastly for this bit of rambling advice:
MMO’s are still young and can be made by a few people or a small team with a Creative Budget.  It is possible and has been done.  The group I work with is an example of it.
Do not let others tell you, that only big teams and millions of dollars are needed to make MMO’s.  That, gone are the days of single programmers making games.

A new MMO just needs one person, one idea to Get Things Started.
You Got to Start Somewhere.
And Never Give Up!

soulwynd writes:

Creating a MMO isn't difficult at all. Creating a mmo to make fortunes out of it is and is usually a task left for the big studios who have money to waste on a team who can finish it quickly in hopes to laugh at the poor players who play it later.

And there are a lot of single programmer games out there, most of them way better than team based ones, they just go by unnoticed by the mainstream because they're either text based or have crappy graphics, due to the fact that they're mostly concerned in making a fun game than making a pretty game to win the kids.

MMOs have a deep root in MUDs (most are just crappy muds in disguise *cough* eq *cough cough*), you should check some of them out. A few have systems that would make any major developer's jaw drop and most only have a single programmer. You might know from experience, but you wouldn't believe how many good features are dropped just because they don't want to waste time on doing textures, meshes, etc, just to show it off in the game.

Fri Aug 31 2007 10:58AM Report
Hamilton-NEO writes:

Quite true.

What I have found out during the time of research and development is that, "Graphics help to sell the game, Game mechanics for replay value, and new content to keep up interest."  Well that is the words I go by.  A game can play great, but it does need the graphics to help sell it and bring people in.

I have looked at some of the MUD's, but mostly of BattleTech versions.  Perhaps I should look at the others as well.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Mon Sep 03 2007 7:24PM Report writes:
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