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.