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.
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/