For around 12 years have been creating online rpgs. Only three have ever seen the light and only one have I ever pushed enough for it to persist. If there is one thing I have learnt, it is the importance of planning.
Many people I talk to want to create an online rpg. Many have had the idea. Most start and get bogged down. Things get complicated. They get confusing and it all just becomes hard work and no fun at all. The problem is, the seemingly simple game is in fact a monster to programme and design.
When you have that bright idea and vision, write it down. Start making notes. Don’t go to the computer and start creating it! Put it down on paper first. Start to draw your maps. Consider how the game will work.
Have everything on paper first. See how it all works together as a whole on paper because finding that your combat system does not work with the magic system you want is going to take hours, days maybe even weeks to fix.
So start making notes. Here are some points to think about:
Genre – Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Social etc
Combat – How is it going to work? Will there be PvP? Is it turn based, all done in one?
Magic – Work out a system early on in your notes. Will use mana? How do characters learn the spells? Will scrolls be involved?
Quests – How will these work? For a mmorpg there is a lot of data to keep track of. How will quest data be tracked per character. Will there be automatic quests generated in game? Is there an overall campaign?
System – How are you going to create the game? Personally I have opted for a browser based system using PHP and a MySQL database. This I chose as it is a simple system to use, compatible with all browsers and very flexible. You might want something a little more slick however. Any programming language can be used such as Visual Basic or C++ but keep in mind that it needs to work with some form of database or saved file system and work online although this article relates as well to offline games.
Graphics – Where are you going to get your graphics from? There are some free sources, but you want to a have a uniform style. If you can create them yourself, then get started. It is all part of planning. Make you graphics or as much as you can before you start programming. If you are getting them made, you will be pleased you did all the planning first as you will know what images you need. I was drawing for weeks before www.dicingdangers.com
Do the Maths – Work out the mechanics using simple mathematics. For example, a level 10 fighter needs to have an equivalent level 10 monster that the players finds to be just the right challenge. Work out how much life, armour etc a character has per level on average, and create the monster for that level.
Well I hope this helps. Let me say it again. Plan it all out like a big map before switching the computer on.
DicingDangers is a new browser based MMORPG. It is a high fantasy graphical/text based realm where you take on the role of one or two characters. The tone is light and fun yet an attempt is made to give it a certain depth.
As a characters you start in the City of Nerlan where you are asked to go on a simple introductory quest. This quest involves fishing and rat catching. It gets you right into the key areas of the game; resource collection, exploration and combat.
The game is level based, so your character gains levels as he improves. There are many areas to explore and each area is designed for certain levels. Levels are gained by earning experience points when exploring, fishing, making potions etc.
Item collection is proving a popular pastime for current players. There are hundreds of items in game, and players enjoy showing off their latest finds. Encounters sometimes drop special items and these can then be seen by other players.
A recent introduction to the game is potion making. There is a small quest that leads to the ability to produce healing potions.
Combat is obviously a large part of the game. This is split into two varieties. Player versus Player and Player versus Monster.
They both work the same and the result is calculated immediately by the game engine. The player however is given tactical options with the ability to set rules for combat. These rules are when to flee, when to use a potion etc and can be based of the amount of life the character has left, or the battle round or even how much gold the character is carrying.
Both close combat weapons and ranged weapons are used. Ranged weapons are used for the first 3 rounds of combat. If the enemy does not have a ranged weapon then the attacker gets 3 free attacks.
The game is played using action points (ap) to perform key actions. You are given a generous amount, but the idea is to limit game play to a couple of hours twice a day. The reason for this is partly ethical but mostly in order to give those who can only spend a couple of hours a day the chance to keep up with others. This may appeal to older players who have less time to spend gaming.
At present there are a few skills such as close combat, ranged combat, alchemy, exploring and fishing. More are on the way, and an important note is that the game is live and thriving, but still in beta mode and being updated daily. For example new lands are opening up all the time. Alchemy is but a precursor to a full magic system. Guilds are to come. There is a lot to do already and hundreds are doing right now, but there is so much to come.