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Indie MMORPG

Creator of the MMOs www.starcorsairs.com and www.golemizer.com

Author: Over00

New indie space MMORPG opened for testing

Posted by Over00 Tuesday September 20 2011 at 8:05PM
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I'm happy to announce that my new MMORPG Star Corsairs is now opened for testing.

Star Corsairs is a browser-based space MMORPG featuring a deep crafting system and real-time space combat. Create an alliance and fight for domination over systems, become the richest merchant of the galaxy or just help the Federation to get rid of aliens.

Star Corsairs is currently in alpha stage and will soon be available as a beta released. Feedback is highly appreciated to fix remaining bugs and just generally improve player's experience.

 

 

Alpha & Beta release - Why?

Just like my previous MMORPG Golemizer all development and financing is assumed only by me. As you surely know developing an MMO is quite some work and specially when you do so alone. While there are already many things to have plenty of fun in Star Corsairs there are still many more features I wish to add and I plan to do so with feedback from players.

While the game is in alpha some resets might occur but you will not lose your username, password and alliance. I won't be touching those.

Once the game is released as beta then there won't be any reset but I will still be tweaking stuff, adding new features, improving those already available based on player feedback and so on. As a 1-man team it's simply impossible to explore every side of such ambitious project alone while still working on the development of the game.

So basically alpha=testing, beta=fully playable game with more improvements on the way.

 

 

Crafting & combat

Star Corsairs is meant to please both crafters and players more interested in action. Every single component in every single single spaceship must be crafted and can be customized to your liking. While players can still find loot that will upgrade components they will still have to either craft components themselves or buy them from crafters. Players are creating everything in this game.

Have enough of crafting and would rather get into the action? No problem. You can do so at any moment and you are not penalized by your previous play style. You won't be making decisions you might regret later in this game.

 

Invite your friends and join the action!

So head to http://www.starcorsairs.com and let me know what you think. If you appreciate what you see then remember to tell your friends about it. It's the best way you can help this game to become the ultimate space MMORPG out there.

You can report any bug you experience through an in-game button you will find at the top-right corner of the screen. I also invite you to subscribe to the newsletter (link on the website) to keep up with the latest news and the upcoming beta release.

Thanks for your help and I'll be seeing you in space!

 

Golemizer v2.0 … What I would do differently

Posted by Over00 Thursday December 2 2010 at 4:34PM
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Originally posted here: http://www.over00.com/?p=1119

No I'm not currently working on version 2.0 of Golemizer. Yes like I said I'd like to do so later. I feel the IP is rich and still have much potential. I think the IP itself can do well if some things are done better and to be fair Golemizer is still online after 2 years so it's not a total disaster. It still have done better than some other big MMOs that didn't last more than a few months. No version 2.0 wouldn't please all current players of Golemizer 1.0 and there's some good reasons for that ... Keep reading to find out why.

 

Client technology

 

While I feel there will be some bright future for HTML 5 I'm not sure I would use JavaScript for Golemizer 2.0. We're still far for perfect support (IE is still the most popular browser and sucks at it) and there's little support to distribute HTML 5 games. Yes we're seeing more and more opening for this but it's just not for today.

This means I would probably use Flash for the client. I'm not a Flash fanboy but right now it's the easiest way to distribute web games. It's true that a game like Golemizer should do well on its own website without any distribution on portals but considering how poorly I've been able to spread the word about Golemizer (and how great were some blogs to ignore my calls) using Flash and distributing on other websites could give me maybe 1% more chance.

I did put Golemizer on Facebook (and it did poorly) and on Kongregate (and it was quite complicated to integrate) but going the Flash way seems like a no-brainer currently. It's still easier for me to code in JavaScript than it is to code in AS3 but just the pain of adjusting the code to support all browsers is enough for me to consider something I don't fully master. Just for your information Golemizer currently supports IE 6 +, Firefox, Chrome and Safari which covers a lot. This wasn't easy though. This wasn't easy at all ... Tell me about "standards" ... yeah right ...

 

Server technology

 

I would seriously evaluate the possibility of using an engine that already handles some of the headaches servers need to take care of. Golemizer isn't an intensive game on the server (when there's no obscure bugs that is) but my lack of experience in the matter consumed a lot of time. A lot... lot... lot of time. Being able to get something done for Golemizer 1.0 just convinced me that I should at least take the time to check what's around.

It's no magical solution of course as using 3rd parties always have downsides but I've spent so much time on figuring out how to not make the server explode that spending some months on some existing technology still would be a benefit. Developing a server is no joke and often no fun. I've done it once but I'm not sure I'd like to repeat the experience.

Maybe I would end up coding it from scratch again (as what I learned should in theory help me this time) but I would still take the time to look what's available before jumping in it right away. The bottom line is that I would do some research before deciding which way I'd go.

 

No direct PvP

 

Boom! Some players from Golemizer version 1.0 will hate me. At first I imagined Golemizer like some kind of mini EVE Online. Ambitious yes but so cool. I just didn't know how to do it very well. Mostly because it wasn't what I was really aiming for I guess. I wanted a crafters heaven and expanded my idea to a sandbox heaven. I just couldn't do both at the same time very well.

I've spent way too much time on figuring out how I could interest PvPers in Golemizer and I've lost focus. I've coded a lot of gimmicks that were badly planned and I've even convinced myself that it NEEDED that. I developed too many mechanics in some ridiculous time that it was doomed right from the start.

And don't get me started on community management ... The most time-consuming concerns I had were related to PvP and community management related to it. Drama ... Banning ... Abusing ... Hate mails ... Threats ... It was just way more than I could handle and it wasn't even what I wanted to start with. At some point I was desperate to get more players and I tried way too many things which lead to more troubles.

And another shocking fact ... PvPers don't spend much money on the game. Dedicated crafters were always the most important supporters of Golemizer while PvP mostly only brought people who were requiring me to spend a lot of time for little money. So the most time I've spent on Golemizer was for people who didn't help me to get any profits out of Golemizer ... bringing me further from my goal of making a living out of games. That was my mistake. I shouldn't have let PvPers take so much place in Golemizer as I know for sure that I've lost some of the people I wanted to play Golemizer in the process.

So how would I handle PvP? Through PvE player content ... Where Golemizer really shines. Crafters become some kind of GMs and this provides and incredible amount of content. Way more than a single person could ever design and good content too. Want to fight another player? Well you'll have to do so by fighting his content. The golem mechanic works perfectly for that and it's really the idea behind Golemizer. For example one of the thing I'm really not sure why I added is the weapon system. That would be out. That means some people wouldn't like the new version but I bet that it would please other people who didn't enjoy being chased while harvesting flowers.

Yes PvP could be done much more better but the truth is that it wasn't what I really wanted to do for Golemizer. Call it bad planning or some kind of panic attack on my part. Yep the whole open PvP is probably something that interested a lot of players but also know that it pushed away others. Those others I'd focus on for V2.0.

 

Self-running quests system

 

The current quest system in Golemizer is bulletproof meaning that all quests need to be approved by a GM before being available. It is however a lot of work to manage. I'd rather give more autonomy to players with the quest system and let them handle some kind of rating system. Sure it would create a lot of crap so it means I'd have to imagine a system that makes it easy for players to spot the good content.

Maybe I could promote some players to "quests judges" and their ratings would be the official rating of each quests. Players who have produce themselves good quests. That would open the door to some weak stuff but I'd be ready to accept that instead of having to manually check every single quest created. The current system makes sure crap is not introduced in the game but requires way too much work which means a player can wait several days/weeks before seeing his quest approved. And the end result is often frustration and players quitting. I'd say it was particularly true when I was the only one able to approve each quests.

 

More rewarding resource hunting

 

Simple stuff. When players are digging to create a dungeon they are gathering resources at the same time. They don't see anything they just order their golems to dig. What if you get in a room you just created and found that rare metal lying on the floor.

Instead of picking up a flower and hoping that your dice roll is good what about going after that special rare high quality flower only found at a particular time in a certain region.

What about being able to expand the world! Players can already do so through their dungeon and cities but what about the actual world. And having them as the owner of this part of the world. This last idea could probably be available through microtransactions to keep things under control but I can see how some players would enjoy that.

 

Better logs for players and me

 

Players just love to know what happens in-game when they're not online. Who killed their golems? Who completed their quests? Who just bought something from their merchant? Who just joined their city? And so on. It also helps to debug non-bugs. My golem disappeared!!! No... it was killed by Mr GolemKiller. It happened more than once and I've spent a lot of time trying to find bugs that were not bugs.

 

Wiki right from the start

 

When I added a wiki for players to document the game it helped a lot. A lot ... I would never release another game of this scale without a wiki. Besides because of the nature of Golemizer a lot of players are enjoying updating it. Just take a look at the current wiki for Golemizer. It's amazing to see the love that have been put in there.

 

More tools

 

I tried to have a lot of tools but most of these tools were too complicated for GMs to use. For version 2.0 I would design the whole world through tools GMs could understand and use. I'd say I did that to some extent but it still wasn't enough. That way it would force me to build decent tools that could be used to expand in amazing ways the game. The less I have to manually manipulate the code and the database the better. It means that new stuff can be added faster and with less risk to break something. And I did break things while updating Golemizer and it did cost me players. If I would have taken a slower and safer path (meaning a path GMs could also follow) I would have allowed me to add more things to Golemizer and more things faster. For a game like Golemizer it means everything since everything is about giving players more items, more clothing, more power. This is how Golemizer was able to survive for over 2 years and counting.

Of course back then I was learning how to create this weird MMO idea so I didn't have all the knowledge required to make efficient tools I guess and I underestimated what kind of tools I'd need. I'm hoping I have learned enough to fix that in version 2.0.

 

More stuff to buy with real cash

 

I've said before that my planning to monetize Golemizer was all wrong (non-existing would be more accurate) so I wouldn't make this mistake again. One thing I learned is that players will pay for cool stuff even if that cool stuff doesn't have any impact on the game itself. The most popular item sold for real cash in Golemizer is some "Exotic rug". That's right. An item that doesn't have any impact on the game. It's just cool to have and nice to decorate your house. The second most popular item sold for cash in Golemizer? A plant ... Yes those items are fairly cheap but I've made more money with those than with any other items in the game. So with version 2.0 I would offer more items of this type. Give enough to make crafters relevant but have regular exclusive items in the store. Those sell and it often doesn't need to be quite fancy to be popular.

At some point I went into some intensive programming for new mechanics available through the store and it just wasn't worth it. The GPS system is a good example. In the end I just ended up offering it for free as I thought it was a neat system for players but it just didn't work that well as a paid service.

 

Graphics

 

It would remain 2D but I wouldn't use any free graphic libraries. It got the job done for version 1.0 and people have been good at remembering me how not so great the graphics are ... That means that I would get everything done from an artist and wouldn't even think of doing it myself.

Of course paid work means a lot of upfront money. Blimp Wars cost me nearly $2,000 for the art and I never got a cent back for it. In a game like Golemizer one of they key feature is that there is so much to craft, to use that I can't think of how expensive it would be. Some stuff could be cut and added later but it still means a lot of art to be done.

There's of course the option to work with an artist who is ready to take the risk of working on the project and would be paid later ... Easier said than to find though. A lot of people underestimate the work to be done and it means to remain focused on a single project for a very long time. Having someone to go away after two months just because of a lost of interest can't cut it. It's true for artists, coders, writers, ... everyone. And finding people ready to commit until the end is hard. Really hard. I even had some hard times with some paid artists so someone who would accept to get done work for no immediate money would need to be damn good at convincing me he wouldn't quit mid-project.

That brings me to the next point ...

 

Money

 

I would get funds for the development of the game. Or at least I would try. Again easier said than done. It was pretty hard for me for version 1.0 to even talk about it as I'm no business man and my project just sounded like some silly adventure that wouldn't last more than a few months. So the funding came from my own pocket.

Now I have a damn good demo to show what I want to do. Why not just get money to improve the current iteration? Past some point things just can't be fixed and some problems are too deep down at the root of the code to make it a valid alternative. I built Golemizer while I had no experience at all in game development and it shows. I'm far from a pro but there's a few things I learned since then that would greatly help me to build a solid base for the game.

Just asking people to support a project can work to some degree. I surely didn't expect the kind of support we received for The Fae's Wyrd for example. There's also things like Kickstarter (which I cannot use as last I checked it required a US bank account) and Indie Fund.

Why money? Well first for graphics (see above) and second because I've already built 1 MMO part-time at nights and I'm not interested to repeat the experience. It's hard to create something of this scale when the only coding time you have is after a full day of coding. I'm still putting money from my own pocket in the sense that I do take at least 1 days off per week to only do game development but it's still not a lot.

Of course there's still some hope to make some money out of smaller Flash games that could help to fund bigger projects but let's not bet on money that's not in my wallet yet.

 

Professional website

 

Again something else that requires money. I can code websites but I can't create pretty pictures for them. And pretty pictures are important. The first version of Golemizer's website did a terrible job selling the game so I would make sure to have something nice to show visitors. The current one is better but it's still far from looking like a game's website.

 

Release early, release often

 

With a big BETA tag on it. I did released often with version 1.0 but I surely didn't release early enough. Golemizer isn't about out-of-the-box content. Players are building content. It means that a new version of Golemizer could be released pretty quickly and could benefit from the input of version 1.0 players which could probably be the first to adopt the new version (besides PvPers of course...). It could also be a nice way to fund the development of the game.

In version 1.0 I made the mistake of trying to develop some content and some content before the quest system was created. It took way too much time and the content was poor anyway. I should have spent this energy on a better introduction to the game. A better tutorial.

But what's the point of playing a game with not much in it? Well if you're asking the question it's probably because you wouldn't play Golemizer anyway. If you enter Golemizer and wait for something to happen then nothing will happen. Pretty much like Minecraft in fact (besides at night monsters will attack you but I could add that if that's what you want).

All it needs to be released is the crafting system. Golems don't even need to be there yet as I've found that a lot of players are not even bothering about them. They're too busy decorating their house or some fancy settings. So an early public beta release would be possible and would benefit the game I think. I'll admit that Minecraft being still in Alpha is helping me to think it would work. When you think about it the core of Golemizer is quite simple: Crafting.

 

Do less but better

 

That's just to complete the previous point. Focus on improving what's appreciated instead of rushing to develop new stuff that might just not work. Introduce new systems slowly to test them and plan better expansion.

 

Bottom line

 

This IP is very important for me and I'd like to be able to visit it again with the experience I've gained. Out of everything I tried it's still the most successful project I worked on even if it didn't match my expectations. There's no way of knowing for sure how a new version of Golemizer would do but I still believe it could do well someday. Not so long ago numbers were telling me that it could do well with a bigger crowd and now I have to figure out how to get that bigger crowd. I think I outlined some stuff here but there's surely more to it. Otherwise I would probably be busy working on that new version right now.

Got loot?

Posted by Over00 Monday May 3 2010 at 10:45AM
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Need to kill monsters for no reason? Got 5 minutes on your lunch break with nothing to do? Well you might want to check my latest game Dungeon of Loot.

Dungeon of Loot is more a graphical MUD than an actual MMO. The point of the game is loot ... and monsters ... Or monsters and loot ... You pick.

It's easy to play and only requires a Facebook account. No download, no Flash. It runs on most browsers with no need to install anything.

So take a look here: http://www.dungeonofloot.com/


Golemizer now on Kongregate!

Posted by Over00 Tuesday February 23 2010 at 3:27PM
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The sandbox MMOG Golemizer is now available on Kongregate!

So if you already have a Kongregate account and hate filling yet another account creation form then head to Kongregate to take a look at the only real sandbox MMOG on the indie scene.

It doesn't have to always be fun to be fun

Posted by Over00 Sunday February 21 2010 at 1:06PM
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I just updated the mini-game for sheep in Golemizer (the previous system was putting too much pressure on the database so sheep were inactive for some time when I discovered the problem). Most players will argue that this can barely be considered as a mini-game since there's no puzzle here and doesn't require any skills. In fact most will probably say this is just plain boring and I don't blame them.

Like any system in Golemizer I don't expect every players to enjoy it. Some like to sell resources, some like PvP and others have become specialists in room decoration. That's what I like about Golemizer, there's a little something for everyone and you don't have to go through the stuff you don't like.

So the new mini-game for sheep is simple. You first buy a sheep from a farmer, drop it in your city and then each day you must take care of it until it's ready to be sheared. Players must train the husbandry skill to be able to take care of sheep. Like most skills there are three levels: apprentice, intermediate and expert.

To use the husbandry skill you simply right-click on the sheep and select husbandry. A roll is made against your husbandry skill and then you see the result. The better you are the faster your sheep will be ready to get you some wool (useful to craft clothing) and the most chances you have that your sheep will remain healthy. If you leave your sheep alone for too many days you'll have a hard time to take care of it and the health of your sheep will decrease (and the quality of the wool you can get as well).

That's it! Once the state of the fleece reach 100% you are ready to shear it. Again your shearing skill will help you to get better wool.

As you can see it's very simple and like I said I don't expect most players to find this system fun. It means that probably few players will have sheep and few will be able to provide wool to others. Clothing are quite popular so there's an interesting market for players that are more in the merchant game.

But why would a player go through such "boring" task? Because they are not looking at the task itself but at the whole experience of selling wool to other players. Maybe it's just because they want to be the most popular wool merchant of the game or maybe they just enjoy being the person handling everything to craft clothing.

In Star Wars: Galaxies the process of gathering resources was quite boring and didn't required much skill. All you needed was a lot of time to scan for the best resources locations and a lot of money to buy extractors. Yes it was boring but there was resource extractors everywhere. Maybe some players were enjoying extracting resources but most were really interested to run their own shop.

Master weaponsmiths and armorsmiths were the most popular players on each server and they were making very good money out of it. If you were after fame or just wanted tons of credits to buy the rare loot fighters were gathering than gathering resources wasn't that bad. Of course once they reached such fame they often had people selling them resources instead. Being able to work for that very famous player was almost an honor.

But why not make the process exciting so the experience becomes even better?! Well that's not the point. If you focus on some random puzzle game than the focus is not the merchant or crafter experience but the mini-game itself. If you enjoy having your own shop chances are that you wouldn't care about such mini-games that have little to do with what it could look like in reality. The end result is the fun not the process. The process just end up being fun because you have an objective.

But then it's boring for other players?! Yes and that's just fine. There's no point trying to please everyone with the same single stuff. Give them different things to do but don't bother to please everyone with a single system. Chances are that you'll end up pleasing nobody anyway.

Back to Golemizer, there's something interesting to note about this. The game is heavily focused on crafting yet not all players like crafting but are still enjoying it. For example if you're into PvP or PvE you want to have the best golems. You can buy them from someone else but most will actually craft their own golems to be sure they are using the best resources possible and because it's THEIR golems. It's THEIR creation bashing on the enemy.

If you would ask them if they think crafting is fun they would probably tell you that they don't. However with a specific goal in mind it makes the experience fun anyway. Could I make crafting more exciting? I guess but I don't want to. It's just fine as it is right now and the people that have to enjoy it are already enjoying it. By changing the process I would loose some of those people and there's no guarantee more players would suddenly enjoy it.

Bottom line? Keep it simple, it's fun anyway.

Explore the sandbox world of Golemizer in a few clicks

Posted by Over00 Sunday February 7 2010 at 2:04PM
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I recently released a new website for Golemizer called the Atlas: http://atlas.golemizer.com

Everything you see in these screenshots have been crafted and created by players. Can't get more sandbox than this!

 

 

To add pictures of their favorite zones players can simply craft an Electron Stamper and use this item while playing. When they use their Electron Stamper a picture of the current zone is automatically added to the Atlas.

Each month trophies will be awarded to the photographer and the zone builder based on the ratings of each pictures.

So if you've been curious to quickly take a look at a real sandbox game it's never been easier! Head to http://atlas.golemizer.com !

 

10 interesting facts about Golemizer (free browser MMO)

Posted by Over00 Monday February 1 2010 at 10:10AM
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Time flies and it’s now been more than 2 years since I wrote the first line of code of Golemizer. There’s a lot of things I’d like to say about it (and will) but for now here’s 10 interesting facts about this project of mine. If you’d like to find out more by yourself just go to www.golemizer.com!

If you're after top of the line 3D graphics then it's obviously not for you but if you're looking for a rich sandbox MMO you're at the right place!

 

1. Almost everything you see in Golemizer can be crafted by players (houses, clothes, golems, furniture, tools, …).


2. Since it’s release on September 2008 players have crafted more than 2 million items.


3. There is over 26,000 zones to visit in the world of Golemizer (houses, cities, dungeons, islands, …).


4. While Golemizer surely wasn't the first MMO to allow players to create quests (for instance Ryzom Ring in 2006) it did so before the Architect system of City of Heroes for which the hype was claiming it was the first MMO to allow that.


5. Players have created so far over 3,000 quests (all quests must be approved by me or the GMs so you won't find quests built only for farming XP or loot).


6. You can receive directions to find every quests in the game through the GPS system.


7. Players can add voice-over to their quests by inserting a link to a YouTube video (video is not actually shown so you only get the sound).


8. You can play Golemizer at work even if you don’t have Flash installed! It’s all running on Javascript (not Java).


9. It would take over 1 year to train all 230 skills available to players. Learning a skill cost time points that you gain every hour so you never have to grind! It’s a bit similar to the system found in EVE Online.


10. Without any real marketing more than 36,000 players have registered an account on Golemizer.
 

Building your own game - Avoiding 4 critical issues

Posted by Over00 Thursday December 10 2009 at 1:08PM
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Yesterday I have presented 4 issues I have encountered while developing the MMO Golemizer.

Acknowledging problems is a good start but taking measures to avoid them again is even better.

I'm currently working on my second title: Blimp Wars. While Blimp Wars is not an MMO (though it is online and multiplayer) the lessons learned from Golemizer can still be applied for this game.

So how am I trying the same issues I faced with Golemizer? Here it goes:

 

Sticking to a simple and fun concept to get to release

In Blimp Wars players get to pilot blimps (duh) in different type of games (pirate hunt, conquer which is similar to king of the hill, ...). By doing well in battles, players gain shillings they can spend to customize and upgrade their blimps.

Simple enough. However, the first thing I heard when I announced Blimp Wars was "Will we be able to create guild and play team matches?".

Well, sure it's a great idea. One I plan to add at some point actually. But look, I'm a single developer and while some beta testers have already played the game I am not 100% sure everything is set as it will remain. Adding on top of that guilds and team matches means a lot of additional work.

Will the game be better with team matches? Surely but you got to draw the line somewhere. I'm starting with free-for-all matches and then will add team matches once the game is released and I'm satisfied with its state.

You can come up with many good arguments why I should add team matches right from the start but then again, neither you or me can guarantee this feature will make the difference between failure and success.

It's better to implement fewer good ideas than try to throw in too many unpolished ideas.

 

Look in your pocket and find money to hire an artist

That's what I did for Blimp Wars. Surely there will always be people that don't like the look of the game (I still remember people complaining about WoW graphics at first yet I think this game is doing quite well) but it's way better than what I had for Golemizer.

Yes it cost quite some money but I now know that better graphics are required even if it gives me just 1% of chance of getting more players.

Blimp Wars has a lot less graphics than Golemizer which helped to get it done. You need to remember that Golemizer is an MMO allowing players to build their dungeons, houses, cities and so on. That means a lot of graphics and honestly even with good will I wouldn't have been able to pay an artist for all of that so that's the reason I had to rely on free graphic libraries.

So yes, when thinking of your "great game idea" check if you can manage to deliver it in a somewhat good fashion. Maybe you'll need to cut some features because it would cost too much. Just make sure these features are not key to your game.

 

Blimp Wars is not an MMO so it means less maintenance

That's an important point. There's no way I can maintain 2 MMOs while having a day job, a wife, friends, a dog, ...

Sure I have quite some more ideas for MMOs but I just can't do it right now. Now it doesn't mean that I won't have to do maintenance on Blimp Wars but it will require a lot less.

Sure I'll keep adding features but once the game is released and fun, there's not the same rush as an MMO to keep updating it.

Since Blimp Wars is using the same engine as Golemizer it also means that my code is much more stable than it was at first for Golemizer. The code has been improved for over 2 years now so there are a lot of issues I won't face again with Blimp Wars.

 

Yes I started promotion early

In fact I published the website (www.blimpwarsonline.com) before having done any significant work on the game.

That wasn't a risk as I know based on my experience with Golemizer that I'm able to commit to a project and actually deliver. Sure there wasn't much to see at first (there's now screenshots) but it allowed me to get some people on my newsletter, fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter. These are all people I'll be able to contact once the game is released, hopefully bringing a starting crowd to the game.

I already contacted websites to warn them that Blimp Wars is coming, sent press release and added the game to websites like ModDB.

Even by doing all of this it doesn't guarantee anything but like always it's not a matter of getting sure results but a matter of raising the odds in your favor.

As a small game developer it can be hard to get noticed so you cannot afford to not try.

 

Finally

Remember that this is not a magical recipe for success (like I said in my previous post). That's just bits from my experience and I'm still learning myself so take what may be useful for you.

Maybe I'm wrong on some points but I feel I'm putting myself in a better position this time. Time will tell.

So if you're interested in Blimp Wars I invite you to sign up to the newsletter here to become a beta tester. You will automatically receive instructions once you have completed the sign up process. Active beta testers (meaning you provide actual feedback on the forums to help me) will receive a starting amount of in-game currency once the game is released.

Hoping to see you there!

Building your own MMO - 4 issues to avoid

Posted by Over00 Wednesday December 9 2009 at 9:07PM
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It's been more than a year now that Golemizer has been released. I am now working on my second game Blimp Wars but I'd like to look back at what I did with Golemizer so far.

Of course Golemizer didn't become a WoW killer (that was never the point anyway and I surely don't pretend I could build such game) but it did found it's own little niche of crafters and explorers.

So yes I'm happy about Golemizer but I can't help to think that it could have been something more (maybe it will someday, it's still young). The great thing is that I only have myself to blame. That's the good thing about working on your own project. You both get full credit for success and failures.

So now that I can look back at over 1 year of the game being available to everyone, what are the problems I have identified along the way?

Here are the 4 biggest issues I have identified


Too many ideas

If you're like me, there's probably a lot of stuff you'd want in your "ultimate MMO" yet you have no idea how to implement them properly because, eh experience is not earned while sleeping.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is."

Exactly. An idea may look good until players get to play with it.

I had a lot of ideas and I think that at some point I forgot that I was the only coder on this project.

Ideas are cheap, you need to be able to make them reality if you want someone to care about them.


Underestimating how important good graphics can be

Some games are knowing great success and they are only text games. However when trying to reach people good graphics do help.

When I started Golemizer my budget was $0. Since I had to pay for servers I obviously couldn't afford an artist to do all the work needed on top of that.

Now success isn't earned quickly. Probably some of those text games started slowly and it took years to reach a big crowd. It takes time because a lot of people are turned away if you don't have good graphics even if they could enjoy the gameplay.

Hopefully some people can get over this, it's just take more time to reach potential players.


Underestimating maintenance required

An MMO is always evolving. May it be because you added a new feature or just because new players started playing and discovered some new bugs that nobody noticed before.

When you have a team to test the game you can catch a lot of the problems early. When your team is only yourself... it's more difficult to catch everything.

Remember "too many ideas"? well you need to make sure you are able to test all those ideas otherwise you will be spending a lot of time fixing everything once the game is released.

Of course all MMOs are fixing bugs once the game is released. The difference here is again the size of the team. If a Blizzard programmer becomes sick of fixing bugs for WoW he can as well quit his job and find another one. If it's your own game we're talking about quitting is not an option unless you want to call it a failure and shut it down.

So before adding anything to you own MMO remember to ask yourself this question: "Will I be able to maintain it once it's live?"


Not being prepared to promote the game properly

Promotion is the hardest part of building your own MMO. If you build it they will NOT come.

It's quite easy to find lists of advices on how to promote your game but these lists are not magical recipes. If they were everyone would be using them and would know massive success.

So even if you follow all these very good advices (yes they are good) it doesn't mean it will work as intended.

So you need to be prepared and you need to start promoting your game way before release. The biggest issue is to end up with an empty server at release. Players enter the game and see nobody online so they might not be interested to hang around until others join them.

If by doing that it doesn't mean you will know success but it surely can't hurt unless you are spending too much time promoting your vaporware.


Next

Tomorrow I'll post how I'm trying to fix these for my next game Blimp Wars.

It doesn't mean I won't do other mistakes but I can at least try to avoid some of the issues I've known while developing Golemizer.

Until then you can take a quick look at Blimp Wars here: http://www.blimpwarsonline.com/

Indie MMORPG Golemizer - One Year Anniversary!

Posted by Over00 Thursday September 3 2009 at 4:04PM
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Already 1 year! On September 14th 2008, Golemizer was finally released after 1 year of work done on nights and weekends. It still feels like yesterday!

Like many people will tell you, building an MMO is not an easy task. And if you're an indie game developer, well, it's a huge task. Even if the project is small with 2D graphics it's still a lot of work. A lot of work to reach release day and even more work once it's released.

Golemizer has changed a lot since release. Just to give you an idea, here are bits of the 22 updates over the last year:

  • Quests created by players
  • Weapons system (players were only using golems to attack at first)
  • New website
  • Content expansion Diliculo Island
  • A new tutorial area
  • Blimps
  • A full revamp of golems to allow more customization
  • Clothing system
  • Voice over for quests created by players
  • Many new items and golems to craft
  • Underground trains
  • Facebook integration
  • A lot of work on the interface
  • ... and the list goes on

A lot of updates were in fact suggested by players. So you could say that the sandbox side of Golemizer doesn't stop at what you can do "in the game" but expand to everything surrounding it.

When you don't have the marketing power of an AAA studio, the only thing you have is hard work and your players. So working on an MMO means that you need to be close to your players. There's always specific requests or concerns but without the players, well, there's no game. It can be exhausting sometimes but after working on a project for 2 years, there's no going back.

For the one year anniversary of Golemizer there are some activities going on like a hunt to find NPCs that are giving away items and in-game currency and a competition to design a golem. You can read more about these activities here: http://www.golemizer.com/index.php/one-year-anniversary

So what's next? A lot... like always! I still have plenty of ideas to expand Golemizer and the only thing holding me back is time! Yes, I still have to keep my day job to be able to run Golemizer. I'm not rich with this game but I'm enjoying every single minutes working on it. Besides, I recently knocked on some doors and someone finally answered! So there's big plans for Golemizer coming (hoperfully) soon that could change a lot...

As you can see, it's not too late to join us! It's only the beginning...

We're waiting for you at www.golemizer.com

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