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r1ft Gaming Blog

A mirror of my gaming blog at r1ft.com. The jaded game designer turned corporate lackey. Feedback is always welcome.

Author: Daedren

I Blog! Hire me to make a MMO!

Posted by Daedren Friday March 28 2008 at 8:50AM
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With the recent influx of writers and bloggers (are those the same thing?) talking about upcoming games such as Warhammer Online and Age of Conan, I've seen quite a few comments regarding people having "good ideas" and wanting to work in the gaming business.

stickman.gifI'm going to try to take a constructive and productive approach here instead of pointing out that most people that do this sound like little whiny bitches. I read stuff all the time like "They should give ME X $USD to develop an MMO! I'd do it right!" and "I have all these great ideas - if only I could develop them..." -- here's a tip: if you haven't done the legwork to even research on how getting these ideas developed, you fail. Wait - I just pointed out that they sound like whiny bitches, when I said I wouldn't. Damn!

Attention to readers and other writers: if you think that you can copy and paste news from another site, put some witty comments on it along with pick apart some game mechanics and expect someone to stumble across this and exclaim "Wow, this guy has some good thoughts. Perhaps we should hire him!" -- you are wrong. Not only is it extremely difficult to get hired as a Dev from the outside, there is fierce inside competition for them. My experiences working for Blizzard were complicated because I was working for their EU branch in Paris: but even there, even mentioning you were potentially going to look at going into game development was enough to get snickers from people that had worked there for a while.

On to the constructive part. Here is the deal: if you want to get into the gaming development business, you have to work your ass off. If you really are interested, take a look at Sloperama's excellent advice to doing this. It's a serious reality check, so be warned. Highlights include:

How do you go about getting it made? First step: write the game design yourself. Then you can either make the game yourself (DIY) or use the design to get a job as a game designer (DIFTI).

apartingshot.jpgWriting a game design is a huge task. It's all like... business-like and stuff. You need models and graphs and projections and tabbed sections and concept art. Even then, when you pour your life into it for months or years: chances are, no one will buy it. The most you can hope for is using it in your portfolio to get some sort of position in a design company. Or you can do it all yourself - and venturing to make a game yourself, much less an MMO - the beast of them all - is no small task.

Anyway, there is a nearly epic amount of steps and things you need to do to really get in the market. A basic outline is:

- Transfer your idea from your beaner to paper - make a real game design document.

- Apply for jobs in the game industry, even lowly ones like QA testing and level designing.

- Learn the process of making a video game. Really, really learn it. All the steps. Not just the idea step.

- If you don't want to work for a game design company, prepare to go indy. You should either be rich or have some sort of useful skill in making a game - coding, modelling, AI / level design, etc. Oh, and if you're heading this project up, make sure you at least know about all these things from a project management level.

- Be prepared for long hours, not being appreciated for your work, and bad job security. Such is life in the gaming industry.

If you read through the above site, you might be thinking to yourself that MMO design and development isn't like this old-school type stuff, console games and the likes. That's correct - it's not like it - and it's considerably harder to make, plan, design or get hired to be a part of a MMO. The problem with MMO's is that they are very expensive to develop - practical behemoths - that have many layers in development that a normal game won't have. MMO might be the "buzz" on the gaming street, persay, but with recent failures such as Vanguard and Tabula Rasa, investors and companies are becoming even more skeptical in developing them.

On a more positive note - the purpose of this article isn't to try and say you can't do it. Hell, I don't know you. Maybe you can. The purpose was to hopefully educate you - and the above link will most certainly do that. Once you're educated on how the process works, you can move on and start doing stuff. It's a long, difficult process. The good news is, though - if you're a hardcore MMO player, you already have the time to do such a thing like creating a game design document and/or learning valuable game design skills like coding or graphic design. You might have to jump off the level / item / raid treadmill of whatever MMO you're playing. If you don't have the metal to do that, then you're not cut out for the game design industry.

For the love of God, though - stop with the whiny altruistic attitude of hidden game design gurus stuck in a normal day job, blogging by night and just waiting to be found so they can revolutionize the world of gaming. The MMO world needs more creativity and original ideas - it's getting the idea down and convincing the corporate idiots that it's good that's the hard part.

This article originally appeared on r1ft.com and is posted at mmorpg.com with permission from the author(s).