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Developers Corner

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MMORPG Game Concepts  » So, I want to make an MMO But have no clue how to...

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Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 8507

3/14/13 2:40:07 PM#41

Seems over-ambitious to try to call it an MMO.  To simply have a card-battle-based RPG which also has lobby-based PVP would be plenty on its own to implement.

In fact, High Grounds is probably exactly what you'd want to shoot for if you want to actually produce this thing.  At it's core it's basically a vaguely magic-esque card battler (except the characters are never presented as cards.)  It has a very simple single playre mode to fight for new cards, they sell new card packs, and then there's PVP (I thnk).  And because it doesn't go for a massive world map with exploration: it was made.   To try to bite off really huge game ideas for your first game will ensure it's never made.

(My background: have worked in game industry about 13 years now.)

"Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
"There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates


Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 4491

RIP City of Heroes!

3/14/13 2:48:33 PM#42


Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/08
Posts: 4889

3/14/13 2:50:04 PM#43
Originally posted by CyborWolfTK





  Learn a few programming languages. C#, C++, Java, Python, and even HTML would all be useful to you.

 Next, Learn to use some 3d Modeling programs. Blender is free, and is my favorite, your mileage may vary.

 Learn to use Imiage manipulation program. I.E. Photoshop, or my favorite(because it's free) is GIMP.


Network with other people who are like yourself. Work on other people's projects, until you have a firm grasp of what is going to be required.

 Make your first projects VERY VERY SMALL.  Add content to them, or progressivly build larger projects.


At this point you won't need much advice, because your going to know the stark truth.


Making a RPG, stand alone card game, side scroller, or really any kind of simple game is HARD.

Making an MMO adds x50 the difficulty even for the most basic kind.


SIr, I wish luck with your project. This type of undertaking consumed nearly 6 years of my life, and I eventually gave up once i understood just how massive an undertaking it is.

Actually, if you have a game vision in your head already step 1 should be picking an engine. 


Step 1) Find an engine that offers the features and such that you are looking for. There are a great number of engines available at varying price points. This will dictate many things such as your art assest pipeline, the coding language knowledge you will need, etc. 

Things to consider when choosing an engine

A) Price. Many engines are available for the indie developer, but not all pricing is the same. Some are completely open source, others expect a portion of your profits. Read the information available for the different engines and see which falls more in line with your budget and vision. 

B) Your pipeline options. Many can use programs like Blender which is free, others make it more difficult to use some of the cheaper less mainstream modeling software. Some go as far as pretty much only being usable with 3DS max without an extensive amount of work. 

C) What type of game it was designed to make. Some are primarily focus on FPS games, some are geared more towards Racing games. Read the documentation and check the forums for possible engines. Some are for 2D some are for 3D. Some even target specific platforms better than others. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The more geared towards your games vision the engine is, the less headache and work will be involved. 

D) Time vs. Quality. Some engines offer a great deal of potential for the quality of the finished project but are going to take a great deal more time to finish the project. Some engines are designed in a way that can speed the process up a great deal, but offer less potential quality for the finished project. Figure out how much time you're willing to invest in your project and how much potential quality you are willing to sacrifice. 

E) Team or solo the whole way. Some engines have poor team support, others have excellent team support. Some will increase in price a great deal depending on team size. Determine if you plan on this being a completely solo project or do you eventually plan on bringing in others. 

F) Server hosting. Some engines will offer server hosting as part of your license, others will expect you to do this on your own. Some will offer it if you pay extra. Find the option that fits your budget best and go from there. 


A bit of fore thought can go a long ways to decreasing the amount of work and headaches you will encounter along the way. Picking the engine that best suites your games vision, budget, available time, etc. is the first step you should take because in the end it will pretty much determine everything else that will be needed. 




Now that you have your engine all picked out, lets move on to the fun part for me. Learning! 

Step 2) The engine you have chosen will have its own language with its own syntax . Learning this language will speed the creation process up a great deal. If you want to tweak the engine it is beneficial to learn the base language as well because then you can truly make it your own. But learning the base language and tinkering with the engine adds time and potential headache so be prepared. 

Things to consider: 

A) Complexity of the language. Some are considered easier to learn than others. Some will carry over usefulness while others like DarkBasic end with that engine. 

B) Platform. Java is a pretty broad programing language. It can be used to make games for pretty much any platform. Other languages are more specific and can require a lot of changes to port a project over to a different platform. 




Step 3) Your asset pipeline. Depending on the engine you chose your path of least resistance will vary. Some work flawlessly with something like Blender and 3D coat. Others will work better with something like 3DSMax and Zbrush. In theory you can use what ever pipeline you wish but... using one that isn't the focus when they developed the engine can put you at a great disadvantage. Some times you could end up waiting for your chosen software to add a certain importer/exporter, some times you will have to go through trial and error to get the animations or textures to import correctly. If you chose your engine well though you should be fine. 

Things to consider: 

A) Price. This is a huge one here. Blender is free and 3D coat only costs around $200 for comercial use ($100 if you are using it for hobby or school) but somethile like Zbrsuh (around $700.00) and 3DSMax (around $4,000.00) can be more than most indies can afford. 

B) Learning curve. A lot of more expensive modeling software is easier to learn while many of the cheaper/free ones have a pretty steep learning curve. Blender is free and powerful but even vets from software like 3DSMax can get hit hard by the learning curve. Though after learning it Blender can be one of the fastest modeling programs around. 

C) And of course, your path of least resistance. How easy it is to use your software in conjunction with your engine. Is it worth the extra effort and time involved to use something like Blender if it saves you thousands? Is it worth the cash to lessen the headache and work involved?



I like other advise starting small and doing a single player game first. You will learn a great deal along the way. In the end though, you are going to do what you are going to do. So hopefully this helps in some way. The little mini guide I posted above can help you use a little forethought. A little forethought can shave years off of your development time as well as spare your wallet a little pain and suffering. 


Novice Member

Joined: 11/10/12
Posts: 1338

3/14/13 2:53:55 PM#44
Originally posted by Tsumoro

So, I want to make an MMO But have no clue how to...

Congratulations! I´m happy to inform you that you meet all requirements to become managing director of a AAA developer studio!


Secrets of Dragon´s Spine Trailer.. ! :D

Best MMOs ever played: Ultima, EvE, SW Galaxies, Age of Conan, The Secret World

The Return of ELITE !


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/03/06
Posts: 740

3/14/13 2:57:33 PM#45

Step 1. Don't. 

Step 2. Seriously. Don't. 

Step 3. Making MMO as first project is the worst aspiring developer can do. 

Step 4. If You still want to make MMO. Don't. 

Step 5. Learn a coding language (C, C#, C++ preferably) or at least scripting language (java, lua, Flash)

Step 6. Write down the concept of a simple, singleplayer game. Of everything. Mechanics, world, what the game is about, etc. 

Step 7. Build a working proptotype of game using most basic models/sprites and see how it works. 

Step 8 - 99. Iterate. 

Step. 100 - Publish and/or cry. 


Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/26/08
Posts: 2558

"Before I speak, I have something important to say."

3/14/13 3:22:08 PM#46
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by mmoski
Originally posted by birdycephon
Originally posted by Tsumoro

Interesting, would you say picking up something like 'Java for dummies' would be a good place for a beginner to start and build up a frame-work upwards?

Java is good for simple games, but not MMOs. You could try using it for the client, but the server, you might want to consider something faster like C.

I think he would be better off avoiding learning multiple languages, what i would do is take a good look at books on  the language your thinking of using, bar that the net is a really good resource to just get started, spend a few days trying out some simple things, a key part of development is understanding what your doing, in this portion of testbeding, if something gets too confusing, or just doesnt gel with you move on and try something else, you may find that  one language suits you better than another.

Dont get hooked up on whats fastest, as your making a 2d game, many of the performance issues found with mmos you can ignore, and serverside speed will only limit the number of players you can host perserver. The only thing you need to worry about is can what your trying to do be done in your chosen API.

Java is plenty fast enough, as would a number of other programming languages.  And that's even if you want to do a bunch of fancy 3D things.  For a purely 2D game, it's fast enough by an enormous margin.

As for C, I've never used it, but a friend explained to me that C offers you all of the power of assembly language, together with all of the convenience of assembly language.  I really doubt that that's what you want to use to make a game.

The first language I learned was C so maybe I'm biased.  It's actually easy to learn because it's a small language.  It's extremely fast, has a ton of libraries for various projects and is very well documented.  It may not be your thing if you wanted OOP, C is procedural which is a different way of thinking.  Yes you will have to manage memory yourself which is not necessarily a bad thing.  You will have to write your own data structures, there are no binary heaps or linked lists built into the language.  Overall I don't think it's a bad place to start learning.

EDIT:  Yeah Java did a bad rep for being slow in it's early days, which it was.  But over the years performance has increased greatly.  Since Oracle took over though security seems to be a big problem.

“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
-- Herman Melville



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14670

3/14/13 3:23:38 PM#47
Originally posted by Sovrath
Originally posted by Reskaillev
Originally posted by Sovrath
Originally posted by Reskaillev

Get a team...


You can't do this alone in any decent amount of time, you are NOT a one man army.

Get some intrested ppl with skills together and start working :)


Where to find these people? If you know this, please tell me ASAP :)

Though, if one has the talent, ability and time one "could" do it alone...

but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Fixed something there :)

Talent and ability mostly aren't the primary problem.

Actually I would say talent and ability are the problem. Unless something is seriously "seriously" wrong, we all have time. Not all of us have equal talent and ability.

The primary problem is whichever one you don't have.  There are probably (relatively few) people in the world who have the talent, ability, and time to make a game, but not the interest, and lack of interest would kill the project.


Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 4491

RIP City of Heroes!

3/14/13 3:28:38 PM#48
Originally posted by FromHell
Originally posted by Tsumoro

So, I want to make an MMO But have no clue how to...

Congratulations! I´m happy to inform you that you meet all requirements to become managing director of a AAA developer studio!




Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/12
Posts: 401

OP  3/14/13 3:43:29 PM#49



Thank you to everyone that has commented. Far too many posts for me to multi-quote so I thought I would just reply. I have read through everyones posting, some positive and some negative but none of them bad so to speak. 

Now, I suppose in reviewing what you would call the game I am trying to make 'not an MMO'  in the traditional sense when compairing it to the games on the market from the aspiring unique to the tired cookie cutters. 

MMO to my understanding stands for 'Massively Multiplayer Online' so in short, a game played online with a large community. Which, is something I am looking to do but admitingly not something I can achieve any time soon. 

I will however take onboard, perhaps smaller projects, skilling myself up and gearing myself up for what I would consider 'End game' with regards to my vision. 

I have plenty of games I would like to make, from RPG's to scrolling shooters like Metal Slug. All of them sprite work, its just something I enjoy being a lad that grew up in a world of Commodores, Nes and Master System, I just really like the creativity behind it. I have always found that some games today lack an emotional impact because they go 'too far' simply because they can have have the tech available to do so. Palom and Poroms 'stoning' in Final Fantasy always impacted me more as a gamer simply because your imagination behind that sacrifice always felt more 'real'. 

I am just waffling here. So I should get more on track. 


1) there appears to be a LOT of research and reading to do, which I have a leg up in and more of an understanding now thanks to your kind posts. 

2) I will be making some short/long games with as many tools as I can get my hands on. revisiting RPGmaker which I understand is now on STEAM and Gamemaker. Plus looking into some of the more advanced engines, tools and coding available to me, such as C++ , Java etc. 

3) Through experimenting with these I hope to form more of a portfolio and an understanding in the industry to realistically set some goals I need to achieve in order to ove further. This doesn't mean 'making' the product, but being in a position where I can see what I can do on my own, what tools I need, people I need and obviously the main one, capital. 


In closing, I might post on here some things I make if people are interested. If not interested, that is fine also. I shall see how far I can take it. 


Also, just to answer some questions as well that I saw....


[] I am not doing this to make a 'living' I have a full-time job as well as personal and financial responsibilities and I am not silly enough to quite everything to follow a pipe dream. This is more, a vision, a hobby I will continue to invest in with the means of something being fully realised. If it does, if it doesn't isn't really the end for me, its the partaking in the journey and enjoying what I do. Some people build ships in bottles, this, for me is something I wish to pursue. 

[] As for not discussing these ideas, I honestly don't mind. I am not worried about someone pinching my idea and making a game. I mean if they did they would save me a lot of time haha. But I believe in transpancy but I also felt I needed to explain a bit about what I wanted to achieve or make in order to get people to understand what things I might need. 


That is all I could remember top of my head. Still feel free to discuss if you like and I will comment when I can. I will also update the orig post with progress, what I am up to as well. I will perhaps make some quick sketches to show what I am looking to do more clearly as well. 


Thanking you for your time. 




Novice Member

Joined: 9/27/12
Posts: 150

3/14/13 4:28:48 PM#50
Another place to start would be to attend gaming conventions.  Cons such as Comic Con in San Diego ( and the Game Developers Conference ( in SF just over a week from today (I have my tickets :) ) are great places to meet and greet as well as see whats out there.  I know quite a few people that started out attending GDC on their own dime and working their way into getting a job at a AAA game development company.

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6400

3/14/13 7:10:03 PM#51
Somebody call Quiz


Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/19/11
Posts: 610

3/14/13 7:16:17 PM#52

This one should go in developers corner.

Seek a lawyer first and make sure you can afford the contracts.


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Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 632

3/14/13 8:55:25 PM#53
do it as a board game first with just paper, card, pencils, d6 etc

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6496

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

3/14/13 9:28:56 PM#54
Originally posted by Quizzical

If you want your game to ever exist, you basically have two options:

1)  Make it yourself.

2)  Get rich and then hire other people to make it for you.\

And 3) of course:

Go to work for someone else, accept that you're going to have to compromise. The Fine Art of Creating For Pay.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/08/13
Posts: 307

On hiatus for a while guys, MMOs still aren't interesting me.

3/14/13 9:31:30 PM#55
Without really analyzing your particular idea, I'd say ignore most of these critics and do some research on templates and enabling programs to piece your idea together. Almost no MMO makes their own engines because its extra work and they have a lot to do. This pretty much describes you to, find available programs which have much of the programming done already, and get to work on it til you inspire some assistance or get attention from some funders.

Sorry I don't have the resources linked for you, all I know is that there are several of them free, and if you ask some actually informed people, they will probably show you how.The developer section might be a good place to start...

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, if they get angry, they'll be a mile away... and barefoot.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/24/05
Posts: 93

Wisdom spewed from the mouth of madness.

3/14/13 9:43:48 PM#56

I've been developing software for decades...I can tell you one thing.

Start small and use your experience to build up your projects.

You need to learn the basics of development, alone.  Once you get the basics down, you need to learn how to develop games (single player ones).  You can even start with text based stuff...learn how to handle interaction, randomization and debugging code.  You need a lot of this.  Once you get that down, you can probably start dabbling with simple "game makers" and start making single player games.  However simple they may be, your ideas can start being fleshed out in a single player fashion.

Most importantly, throughout everything, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING...from planning to coding to documenting bugs and their solutions to post mortems.  You will NOT remember everything at all times.  You're already older now than you were when you started reading this post, age deteriorates that.

A MMOG is a huge WILL probably need a team and some experience in knowing how to handle certain situations.  Software development is in its most basic form the same accross any type of project...the only thing that changes is the scope.  The scope of a MMOG is ginormous.

intylerwetrust Xfire Miniprofile
  User Deleted
3/14/13 10:08:04 PM#57

I think you should look into Java. Runescape was made in Java and it was one of the most popular browser based games in the world. I agree with the others about starting small.

For example, for the card battle system, build a program that will take one input (card) read the information associated with that card and compare it to another input (card) and then decide a winner based on the outcome. It doesn't have to been anything complicated. You could just make a simple window that has two selections, like two drop down boxes with variables that you can select like "a,b,c,etc." whose properties are defined in the program (like "a" would have "attackPower=3" and "defense=4" and a button that will compare the two selections.

I've never made a game before and have only done some light programming but this was just an idea I had. You could make small programs like this for all aspects of your game to get an understanding of how those systems would work and then slowly begin to expand on them and link them together.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 1297

3/14/13 11:45:40 PM#58


  Something to mention....

  Game Maker also has a version you pay for thats a tier above the regular purchased version.  It comes with the ability to port the game into the correct format for the Android and iOS marketplaces.  It also supports multiplayer elements, and could EASILY be used to create a simple version of your card game which a person might play connected to people on their contact list.  The work needed for that isn't even all that bad, using GM.  Its not EASY...I mean, that would be lying to you in a very nasty way.  No matter what tool you use, it can't do everything.  IN game maker that means having to create your own "expansions" to the system using straight up programming.  But it will easily curtail half of the workload for you on this.  Using the tool in this way, to get a version of your game going that you can use to "test" with friends using smartphones is BRILLIANT.  Android is your best starting place is, ah..a bit of a bastard regarding ease of use with their service. 

  Tragically, its also still one of the most profitable platforms.  But you don't need profit.  You need to get your feet wet and really get a taste of the action.  Game Maker has its own basic game tutorial built into it, as well as some genre specific tuts you can download that are really useful and awesome learning experiences. 

  But before you get any further with this...I have a small piece of advice.  Its a mirror of something another person said.  Don't start telling your whole game ideal.  Its actually destructive to YOU, because your brain gets the same pleasure sensation from explaining a thing as it does from doing it.  It will actively hurt your willpower, and this is NOT the field to have weak will.  You're gonna have days in this where you spend, literally, 5 hours combing through your code trying to figure out why one small detail isn't working right.  Its going to suck.  You WILL start losing your mind and hating it.  Unless you have an experienced programmer on hand to talk to about these issues, learning it by yourself is trial and error of the absolutely worst magnitude and you need all of your energy you can save dedicated toward it.

  Now, here's how you can help yourself stay focused and get this done.

  Its a card game, so start with 10 cards.  Really dig deep and ask how you can make those 10 cards fun to play.  Ask how you can make them interesting to see, and how those visuals make them so distinctive that a player will KNOW what it does at a glance.  Play a mock game with just those cards and try to achieve a balance with them so no combination of them will break your game.  Once that is fun, add 10 more.    Never start with the whole problem.  Cleaning an entire house is HARD.  Cleaning a room is just a little crappy.  Cleaning a table off, or picking up the floor in that room is easy.  Break your game down to that level and work with it in that way.  Have a loose outline, but never demand you adhere to it.  Accept, right now, that you should not be attatched to the large ideal. 

  Its easy to make a BAD game because you tried to force good cake into a sour belly.  Your grand ideal might not be as much fun as your small sample.  So you have to expand that sample until it becomes a large ideal.  You do not try to condense it the other way, that tends to make you force certain elements and that never ends well.  Look at Far Cry 3's multiplayer.  Forced.  Bad


Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 8507

3/15/13 12:43:10 AM#59

The cleaning analogy makes me think a Construction analogy is very apt:

  • Building a game is a lot like building a house.  It's a place for your gamer(s) to live.
  • Building a small game is like building a tree house:
    • with carpentry knowledge, you can build an awfully nice looking tree house.
    • with electrician knowledge, you can hook up lights and maybe give it a badass desk with an outlet for a laptop.
    • with plumbing knowledge, you can hook up a sink up there and maybe have enough amenities to cook and store food up there.
    • with additional types of knowledge you can add a real door, a pulley/winch elevator, and well-sealed paned windows.
    • It's possible to have all these skills at a competent level, but it takes a LOT of time to do it all yourself.
  • Remember all this work just creates a tree house (little games like Kongregate-style java/fllash games.)
  • It's not a full-on house (full-featured singleplayer game.)
  • MMORPGs are apartment complexes.
Basically if you're not going to make a career out of it, building houses or apartment complexes doesn't really make sense.  It's far more realistic that you can build a completely badass tree house though!
The analogy isn't 100% accurate of course, because things exist like MMO Bomberman or MMO Minesweeper or Realm of the Mad God which could ostensibly have been built by one person each.  But these games have very smartly-constrained featuresets in order to work.  Also these games are more like creating a drive-in movie theater: they're fun little distractions, but they don't have anywhere near the amenities required for you to want to spend loads of time there.  Like a drive-in movie theater they're pretty cheap to make if you do it right (you just need a giant screen, a projector, and a bunch of audio hookups) -- and unlike drive-in theaters there's actually more of an audience for this sort of thing ;)

"Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
"There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/25/11
Posts: 474

I don't always play MMOs, but when I do, I play sandboxes

3/15/13 4:19:19 AM#60

"Hello guys

I want to make an MMO.

I have absolutly no knowledge of any coding language, nor about graphic design, but I came up with this totally derivative idea of background that took me a whole 5 minutes to develop

so i guess thats most of the work to do, right? "



you want to make an MMO?


1) coding

learn C++ then work on increasingly bigger and dificultier projects for a few years until they point where you THINK you have mastered the language and all its ins and outs...only to find your sorely mistaken. then after some more work, you are ready to move to another higher level language like C# where you have a lot to learn once again


do the same for server languages, since its an MMO and you will spend half your time designing a client that has to communicate with a server


then pick either OpenGL or DirectX (or both most likely) and get ready to spend months drowned in documentation while learning to use them


2) graphics

learn 3-D modeling,then 3-D animating for another...oh what I should say...couple years? use that time to start producing the enormous amounts of assets that you will need in your game


3) engine

learn a game engine, several free around, then learn how to put 1) and 2) together

and no, i dont mean scripting shit like RPGMAKER, calling that an engine is insulting...I mean Ogre or Unity and above

of course even the most basic and limited engines  will take an experienced programmer quite a lot to master, LET ALONE tweak the existing modules to fit their specific needs, LET ALONE develop their own modules, both of which any serious MMO developer would have to do

and for the sake of making this point as clear as humanly possible, let me stress it again, dont call RPGMAKER and the such "game engines"...just dont...if you want to be taken seriously fo even a split second, DONT


4) work

get AT THE VERY LEAST a group of 10 likeminded individuals and get ready to spend ALL your free time on making the game for a few more years




then MAYBE you'll be able to produce something worth being on a harddrive for more than 20 seconds...but then, most likely no, still crapware


but if you have reached this far, i suppose you will be sufficiently qualified in many areas (and with a lot of work, expert in a couple of them) so you'll meet the requirements to apply for a job at some serious game studio and be put to work on real stuff instead of being given menial tasks like unit testing or code refactoring

congratz. finally you will see shit getting done





honestly, if i were given a dime everytime I see one of this threads I'd have enough to fund my own MMO by now.Its simply hilarious.




"Hi guys, I like general hospital soap operas, once I skimmed thru the first pages of an anatomy book, and my girlfirend thinks I would look hawt with a scalpel in my you think I could get a job as Neurosurgeon without doing the mandatory 10-15 year long studies first?"

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