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News & Features Discussion  » Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: So You Want to be an MMO Developer

20 posts found

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  1/02/07 9:22:41 AM#1

Nick Parkinson, the Community Manager for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, has released the third in his series of features that address the question: So You Want to be an MMO Developer.

If you're reading this, there's good news. You've probably already starting doing all the things you need to do to be a designer. Bag of Doritos in one hand? Highly caffeinated beverage in the other? If you answered yes, you're already halfway there. First and foremost, you need to play games. You need to love it, and we're not just talking "I root for the Bears when they're winning" love... we're talking "I wore my Mike Ditka signed boxer shorts to my wedding" love. If you don't have that, you'll probably get tired of it pretty quick.

Secondly, aside of actually playing the games try creating some. You don't need to know how to program to do this. Write a killer quest out on paper. DM a game of Dungeons & Dragons for a group of friends. Make mods for NeverWinter Nights or Morrowind. Write short stories. All of these things will help you develop the ability to get creative ideas out of your head and translated into compelling gameplay ideas and content. It's also provides a great response to angry parents/spouses demanding to know why you're always on that infernal computer.

Read the whole article here

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Novice Member

Joined: 11/21/04
Posts: 60

1/02/07 11:37:45 AM#2
I love that Peter Rocchio guy.



Novice Member

Joined: 12/19/06
Posts: 10

1/02/07 12:21:42 PM#3

This is a great article even for the folks like me who aren’t looking to develop their own MMORPG.

Great read.



Novice Member

Joined: 8/04/04
Posts: 2166

Loquendum Ut Vulgus, Sentiendum Ut Sapientes

1/02/07 1:03:24 PM#4
I have a question that I hope isn't too dopey.

In the article he says to beta test MMO's and give good feedback in the forums.  I've actually beta tested a few MMO's and tried to give good feedback in the forums to help make the games final product the best.  But what I've noticed is it's hard to tell if you've given them something they really need.

What I mean is on the games I've beta tested, when I did go to the forums all I saw was a lot of begging and whining.  It was more like the folks weren't trying to improve the product but more trying to persuade the developers to create a game they want or they weren't going to play it.   And when some people did try to give good feedback they were drowned out by people giving them grief or insult.

What kind of input is quality?  What kind of feedback would make the developers say, "Brilliant, I'm glad this guy is helping us out", and what kind would make them say, "Is there a way to muzzle this guy?"

I'm not looking for a simplistic answer to this question, because I have seriously thought about it, I'm asking specifically like what are some good examples. 

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/21/04
Posts: 384

1/02/07 1:09:41 PM#5
that one guy is wielding an astro pop

Which Final Fantasy Character Are You?
if I were to kill a titan tomorrow and no CCP employees showed up to say grats I would petition it.
Waiting for: the next MMO that lets me make this macro
if hp < 30 then CastSpell("heal") SpellTargetUnit("player") else CastSpell("smite") end


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/21/06
Posts: 38

( #_x(O=(-_-Q)

1/02/07 2:44:14 PM#6
I honesty wonder what the developers think when they come onto these (or any other for that matter) forums and see all the naysayers (my God, naysayers?) spouting their prophecy(s) of doom.

Not only do they have to sit for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours working like mad, but then to be ridiculed by their very own people!  It's preposterous!  Why would anyone, anyone, want to be a part of the mad world that is game design?

Don't get me wrong, I love videogames very much.  Hell, they've gotten me through some rough patches there when I had to go in hiding after making all those phone calls from inside peoples houses.  But my main point is,  why be part of something that could possibly be flamed mercilessly on a forum somewhere by people who haven't even played the game?  Why be part of something you spend your entire time working towards only to have it falter from it's flight and crash to the ground with all the naysayers dancing around like ewoks on fire yelling at the top of their lungs, "See?!?! I was right!!! I was right!!! Someone like me!!!"?

And on that note, Sigil, please let me into the beta so I can post about it and point out flaws in a clear and concise way with possible solutions listed in a step-by-step manner thereby increasing my chance to possibly get hired for Crawler Placement or QuestSpeak. 

Good day.

Yes, I also find that shallow and pedantic.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/29/03
Posts: 287

Bite my lip
and close my eyes
Take me away
to paradise

1/02/07 3:21:35 PM#7
Originally posted by Ozriok 
Why be part of something you spend your entire time working towards only to have it falter from it's flight and crash to the ground with all the naysayers dancing around like ewoks on fire yelling at the top of their lungs, "See?!?! I was right!!! I was right!!! Someone like me!!!"?

Such beautiful imagery, I would love to see Ewoks-on-fire in my next MMO.


...but time flows like a river...

...and history repeats...

-Leader of "The Fighting Irish" in DAoC on Hib/Kay-


Advanced Member

Joined: 6/24/05
Posts: 957

Forging the Future

1/02/07 5:20:45 PM#8
Well it is nice to see that these designers encourage up-and-commers by saying there's a chance, whereas most articles I've read on the subject simply say, forget it man, it won't happen.  Guess we will have to do a lot more beta testing.

IronOre - Forging the Future


Novice Member

Joined: 11/30/06
Posts: 7

1/02/07 7:07:59 PM#9
Definitely an entertaining article, even for people not looking to be an MMO dev.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/14/04
Posts: 192

1/02/07 7:26:35 PM#10
Very interesting article. Thanks a lot Nick for your time and the usefull information.



Novice Member

Joined: 11/19/03
Posts: 7445

The enemy is so dumb! They believe that WE are the enemy! - A famous orc commander.

1/02/07 8:17:54 PM#11
Originally posted by reavo
I have a question that I hope isn't too dopey.

In the article he says to beta test MMO's and give good feedback in the forums.  I've actually beta tested a few MMO's and tried to give good feedback in the forums to help make the games final product the best.  But what I've noticed is it's hard to tell if you've given them something they really need.

What I mean is on the games I've beta tested, when I did go to the forums all I saw was a lot of begging and whining.  It was more like the folks weren't trying to improve the product but more trying to persuade the developers to create a game they want or they weren't going to play it.   And when some people did try to give good feedback they were drowned out by people giving them grief or insult.

What kind of input is quality?  What kind of feedback would make the developers say, "Brilliant, I'm glad this guy is helping us out", and what kind would make them say, "Is there a way to muzzle this guy?"

I'm not looking for a simplistic answer to this question, because I have seriously thought about it, I'm asking specifically like what are some good examples. 

Well, as they say a little higher, before the beta part, having a contact help a LOT! 


If you are writting in beta, this is a start, but does ANYONE actually know you?  Meh, I know I sound silly...but E3 could be a start, even if it is FAR from the best start hehe.  Stumbling and sharing the same guild as ANYONE, even a lowly programmer, would be priceless, a lot better than E3 or whatever.  So you know the guys who take the trash out?  Befriend him/her unless you can't stand that person! 


And there is something weird about the industry, they will try to BS you about been nice and all, but don't listen to them if you are applying on design stuff.  A designer is someone who can beat the crap out of the team when necessary!    See, a designer has to be able to stand, against everything, to make his point.  Yet, don't overdo that either!  Sometimes, a company would make a decision, such as raiding for example, and you have to bend to such a decision.  But point is, peoples in the team would always want to change everything, and they must ask my idea worth confronting that evil bastard at the design office?  And you want the staff to teld themselves no most of the time, so the work can advance.  Good ideas are likely to survive, since good ideas give extra dedication to whoever held them.


See, designers are humans and want to be popular, but fact is, best games are usually developped where designers are nearly hated by programmers and artists alike!  You have to make them WORK harder, put them to the limit.  Manage to get them do that EXTRA shiny which make everything a sheep might be a designer, but if your whole crew of designers are sheeps and everyone love them, you are screwed!  See, with programmer A you might need to talk about the latest Batman to get him motivated, with Programmer B you might need to be ruff and hard and play the bad guy.  With Programmer C, you might have to be sweet, nice and charming.  With artist A, you might need to be nearly crying!  Haha, judging what to do with who is hard!  Most peoples are nices and would require you to be nice, in a way or another, but sometimes, you will have to be rude.  And this is something not everyone can do.  But the quality of the game is at stake here...are you ready to pay the price; aka your soul? 


The Lead Designer where I work until I quit a few month ago was a cool guy, and I respect him a LOT.  But it is fair to say, that he wasn't a friend with most of the team.  I think I befriend him, and honestly I am not sure it was for the best for the work, but heck, even this hard boiled veteran has some sweet spots and weakness; or he understand that my path was leading to leaving the company so he allows befriending.  But despite everything, been a designer is harsh.  See, myself, I know, as a designer, my main flaw is...I ain't clear enough!  Haha, that is quite a flaw for a designer!  Blah with me!  Anyway, point is...find someone in the company you want to join, get him/her to KNOW you, to put a good word for you so you get to the interview.  Becoming Lead Designer would be above my skills hehe, as a Lead Designer has to be able to adapt to the team, see, some peoples need a beat up, other a cruncky joke, encouragement, hehe...LDs are like professionnal whores, every offenses is not really meant, but neither do I care to refine this sentence and make it look nicer, LDs like it that harsh! 


However, I would rather warn you, Sigil is located in California, which IMO is a rather expansive place to live!  You really should start stalking on BioWare if you are looking for something great!  Haha, I would if I know where to find them, and no, I won't waste my precious time at E3, I am not that charismatic to make my way out of a place such as E3!  Or pick any company you want to join.  Yes, I know it is immoral, but who let's you believe that peoples who may come up with raiding where anything short of immorals?   Humans contacts and friendship is what rule that industry, which is far less bad than the school boards anyway!   Ideally, you have to adapt and be immoral with immoral folks, and be sweet and nice with kind folks in the company and so on...that is a LOT of surfing the social web!    But that doesn't mean you have to lose all grasp on morality, morality is a great weapon, when it is on your side, use it and crush the enemy to win an argument; especially that players in general like to see "moral stuff" in how the game evolved.  For example, raiding eq-style is impossible to defend, from a moral point of draw the argument around morality, sticking to the main gameplay, the gameplay the player was in for 50+ levels, that the best peoples in an activity should do say activity...hehe.


See, let's take an example.  FoH peoples have been hired by Blizzard.  Now, IF you think that these are nices peoples...ROFL.  These are awful bastards that deserve a serious beating!  However, you have to learn when and how to be nice, with who and when...and when to be a bastard.  See, work must advance, it must progress, it must be constructive.  However, FoH are the first persons I have in mind when you talk about means persons, folks with no integrity, no loyalty (suck to be LoSers model hehe)...however, they know when to bend and when to lick. 

- "If I understand you well, you are telling me until next time. " - René Levesque about the denial NO on the poll to his dream, project and goal. (Free translation)


Novice Member

Joined: 9/23/05
Posts: 23

"Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity; I'm uncertain of the former." ~Einstein

1/02/07 9:44:50 PM#12

     Just keep testing and providing well documented reproducable testcases, that you yourself have been able to reproduce; reliably each and every time.  Developers know how to use the search for posts made by <insert quality tester's name>.

     As for ideas for changes and suggestions, beta isn't always the best time to start making drastic changes, but....  Better late than never,  if you have a suggestion...  Make sure it is well thought out and presented in a clear and concise manner.  The fewer words to convey your thoughts the better.

    The fastest way for your idea to become lost is to start off with negativity.

     Avoid, merely stating you don't like something.  If it isn't right, take the time to come up with a seriously thought out alternative.

     The best way to get your foot in the door is an entry level position in support or quality assurance.

     If you really want to be a designer, sit down with pen and paper or a level editor like Never Winter Nights and pump out a few adventures.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/28/05
Posts: 2

1/03/07 6:54:31 AM#13

I just have 1 comment or question about the Women thing REALY!!

its something very intresting to me hihihi


Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/06
Posts: 432

1/03/07 7:18:22 AM#14
Go Glip go !!

I don't want your job (or your coworker's job, for that matter :P) but that was still a good read, thanks :)

Fyrr Deerdan - HolyAvenger - The Sci-Fi Sandbox.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/20/06
Posts: 2158

I like green eggs and ham, I am Isk I am.

1/03/07 9:16:03 AM#15

Two Things:

One ---The woman part....... yeah right, I'll buy that for a dollar!

Two --- Please for the love of Pete do not do what SOE did to SWG with this MMO... please... no joke at all on this.

I usually picture the Career builder commercial with the room full of monkeys and upside down sales chart when thinking about the SOE/SWG decision making process.....
SOE's John Blakely and Todd Fiala issued a warning: "Don't make our mistakes." Ref NGE
Winner of the worst MMOS goes to.... the NGE and SWG..!!!


Novice Member

Joined: 8/07/04
Posts: 370

1/03/07 11:42:48 PM#16
This is definitely a great read, especially for me.   Gives me some insight as to where I have to go and what I can look forward too.   But my question is,  do companies usually hire designers that don't go to college for this sort of thing?  Or do they expect you to go to college for it?  My reason for asking is that I haven't found many colleges that offer these courses nearby.   My grades as of now aren't too great either,  I'm a sophmore in highschool.   Would they be seriously looking at my grades to consider me working for them?  It's like he said "Creativity can't really be taught"

Sorry if I sound like a lazy kid,  I just have my mind set on certain things.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/21/06
Posts: 38

( #_x(O=(-_-Q)

1/04/07 8:36:55 AM#17
I think he mentioned in the article how only 2 people on staff actually went to college for what they were doing.  Many of them came from other professions.  This usually is the way things work with most tech jobs.  What you can do and what you know far outweighs what you have on a piece of paper.  It doesn't hurt, but you can get by without it.  For instance there's this guy I work with that went to college briefly and not for what he's doing now.  He's worked with Linux for over 10 years and knows his shit.  He's one of the top guys around here and he's not had a formal education in Network Security but he knows what he's doing.  Which, as I stated previously, is much more important. 

As long as you work hard at what your doing and get to know your shit then you've got a pretty good chance.  Probably won't happen right away but the more you know and the longer you work at it the better the chance you'll have.

Good luck.

Yes, I also find that shallow and pedantic.

  User Deleted
1/08/07 12:59:21 AM#18

Very good read, I must say and it will give my son who want's to do art for games something to look forward to as a read.

I also like the word "Dink" and will use it more now when I find them on the forums


Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/06
Posts: 9

1/13/07 3:01:52 PM#19

Make mods for NeverWinter Nights or Morrowind.

MORROWIND FTW! Morrowind is the best game ever, I have a few mods for it I made myself.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/12/10
Posts: 177

4/29/10 5:45:56 AM#20

I am working on my own world in Neverwinter Nights. Feel like a developer already :-P