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  1. Author: Craig Brady Version: 0.1 1. Introduction So you want to build your own Online world, like many who have come before. Let me start of by saying you've a long road ahead of you; Not to discourage any potential developers, it's just this line of work is backbreaking. There's an old figure I remember reading saying you will need to put in over 10,000 hours of ground work before you have something that can be considered a solid release. While this figure isn't an exact science by any stretch of the imagination it's important that we respect the amount of work will be required. Different people will have different development times, different software/skillset/experience all contribute to this. MMORPG's differ to traditional games as we all know. The games operate under perfect market conditions generally when it comes to in-game economies, you have hundreds, if not thousands of players who could possibly stumble upon something you didn't anticipate and break your world. Not to mention we need content that the players engage with and enjoy, while providing them with a reason to come back. ( After all, they pay the bills! ) What is the best thing about MMORPG's that no other game has to offer? It's simple, social interaction. These games are worlds inhabited by many players, who engage with each other to further themselves in the game or just to socialise. It is an outlet, and often due to the nature of these games characters can be designed to be co-dependent on each other; With teaming up and forming groups essential to complete tasks and quests and so on. They allow us to tell our story, a magnificent world in our eyes that we want others to experience and enjoy. ( Or you could be in it for the money, I don't judge ) The average person will play an MMORPG for 1.9 hours at a time for 5 sessions a week on average. I imagine this statistic fluctuates greatly and is a mathematical average as opposed to the statistical average. And your content will have to cater for not only them, but for players who playtime can greatly exceed that! Is it possible? Yes. The trick is to do it in a way that hasn't been done before, make yourself unique and stand out. Every great developer started off where you are now, it's completely possible. 2. So what should I do first? Take a deep breath and put the kettle on, what you need to do is take out a pen and some sheets of paper. This is known as a brainstorming session. What you need to write down are basics, we need to decide some things. I often compare this session to planning a fantasy novel, because that's what it is. This should serve as an example for developers. I do not pretend to be an omniscient authority on the matter by any stretch of the imagination, and some people have different development methods. Humor me and give it a shot. 1. Where is our story located? Talk about the world, sketch a crude map. Design map features like forests, mountains, rivers, hills. Don't throw them in to look cool, they all were created for a reason and they effect the world. Humans developed settlements near rivers because they needed water, etc. 2. Who are the main intelligent species of the world? What's their population, their government type? Their average Age, height and unusual characteristics? How will this work with the game play you had in mind? 3. Now that we have some races tell me their faction backstory, their leadership type and their long term goals and short term goals. 4. Tell me about the sub-intelligent species, the animals, the monsters. Get personal, draw sketches no matter how crude. Where do they come from? Why are they there? Who first discovered them? Describe them in detail and the role you want them to serve. 5. What has happened in the world up until now to make it the way it is? Has there been war, famine, a magical curse on the land? Tell me the driving force that's creating and shaping your world. What's so special about the world that it makes a player want to join at it's present state. 6. Decide about magic, decide if you want it, who uses it, how it's used and how you want it to affect the overall world. The general rules on magic are don't make it over powerful and don't use it to explain everything you can't think of a good backstory to. Think Lord of the Rings, Gandalf was more than powerful enough to take on mordor by himself ( Tolkien fanboys don't hurt me I love gandalf! ), but he never used magic unless it was an absolute neccessity, a gentle touch. 7. Fill in the finer details. Government types ( Who rules who?, class systems( is there a large wealth divide? ), Down to the type of vegetation you expect to find flourishing/ not flourishing in certain areas. 8. What makes your world unique? What type of game-play are you going to include? Does this make sense in the context of the world? This process shouldn't be rushed, it's going to be your figurative Bible. What you create here is what decides if your world will make sense to some degree or fail. What you need is something unique, something to grab players attention about this world, make them connect and want to re-visit and engage with the world. The reason being thorough here is important is that we don't want to revisit constantly to correct details, adding details within the parameters you have set is perfectly acceptable, but if we want to tackle the monumental development task than we might as well do it correctly. 3. Other types of planning. This is the part that's more the technical side. The approach most people are familiar with is the "Scrum" approach. Basically what you do is set out a series of goals to be completed over an iteration of time (Weekly/Monthly) You work and finish these goals, marking your progress as you go. Breaking the project into manageable chunks you can monitor your progress and man hours, you can see when you're productive and when you aren't and make changes accordingly. Diving in and tackling the "fun stuff" isn't a great use of your time, might be fun, but it's not what will get you finishing that game. You need to think about the following 1. What software does my team require? Do we all need a licence? Is there a free alternative? 2. Do I possess the required skillset or do we need to bring additional personnel on board? Can we afford them? Can I learn the required skills? 3. Do I have any contacts in the gaming industry? Is there anyone I can ask for advice? 4. Is the capital we have enough to see the project through to completion? Do we need an investor? 5. Is the project income from the project greater than the estimated expenditure? 6. Do I have the time to devote to a project right now? Should I join another team and gain experience/develop my skillset? When you hopefully finish your project you will also have other worries such as Marketing, hosting and management. I'll cover them another time, you don't need to know about these just yet and you're a long way out from them just yet! Earlier I advised you to create your world on paper. Now what I want you to do is break down creating your world into manageable chunks of work. This is going to be boring, but it's crucial. I want you to tell yourself the order in which you will tackle creating every aspect of the world, how the work will be distributed and estimated completion times. These can always be adjusted, but when working off a plan you'll find yourself much more focused. People are drawn to this focus and this drive, and it stops yourself reaching the stage of not being bothered to work on a project anymore, I mean you have your list of work, why not just tick one or two things off on a slow day? You'll find your enthusiasm coming back when you see that big list of completed work, and as the list ticks down you'll find your project firing towards completion! I highly recommend further research into this area, into things such as business plans and software development models. These are topics that require their own article entirely. What I wanted is to give you a quick idea into how much planning goes into creating your world on paper. Yours in development, -Craig
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