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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
By Robert Basler on 2019-11-04 17:03:58
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
This coming Saturday I will have been working on Miranda for a decade. I know, super-weird.

November 9th 2009 was a cold rainy Monday and my amazingly exciting first day working on a project I had been thinking about for five years.

My best friend and I used to play co-op Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 every Thursday evening until the wee hours. I had a couple of networked computers with old 19 inch CRT's in my office we'd play on. We'd each take an RA2 disk (the game came with 2 play disks) stick them in and team up to have at the AI. Those evenings were so fun! Our wives got to know each other pretty well during that period. Eventually my friend and his family moved away, putting an end to our Thursday evening play sessions. So when World of Warcraft came out in November 2004 I knew I wanted a bigger Command and Conquer I could play with my out-of-town friends. Working at EA I always kept my eye out for anyone making such a game, but it just never happened. In 2009 I was given the opportunity to pursue that dream myself, and I took it.

So on that Monday I was busily putting together onemanmmo.com from the bones of the CMS I wrote for MMORTS.COM and I needed a logo. I made a bunch of alternatives (sadly I don't have anything that reads Corel Draw files anymore to show you the earlier iterations.) I thought it would be cool to put my silhouette in the logo, since it was just me making the game. I got my wife to take this photo.

firstweek.jpg
[My first week on the job, you may recognize the pose from the logo above.]


One of my main reasons for deciding to leave EA was that my daughter was young at the time, and I'd only see her for a few minutes in the morning and she'd usually be in bed by the time I got home. She was fully on-board for the new job.

firstweek2.jpg
[Alternate take.]


On November 16, 2009 I launched the project and blog with a short post.

oldlayout.jpg
[The original onemanmmo.com site. I quite liked the orange.]


Miranda is available to play in Early Access now and is 20% off for a limited time.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-10-16 18:23:06
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

I made a video to demo the upgrades I've made to Miranda's HUD (Heads Up Display) and map. I really liked the old hud with it's blue and white color scheme, but apparently not everyone agreed with me because I got feedback that the HUD was too web browsery. This makes a certain amount of sense given that Miranda's UI is actually the Chrome web browser. I turned the Fallen off so I wouldn't get attacked during the demo.


[There's no mouse cursor in the video, that's a new bug in GeForce Experience. It shows fine when you play.]

The new HUD came about because early last week I discovered that Miranda's UI was encoded with "pre-multiplied alpha." I'd never learned what that was, but it turns out it allowed me to finally add support for translucency for all the buttons and panels in the UI, a feature I had wanted for years. While I was working on the HUD, I decided to make some minor improvements.

All the menu and UI buttons got upgraded art and are now dark themed. I did some rendering upgrades on the minimap as well as making it round, and it displays static if your base doesn't have sufficient power or if the player doesn't have a radar station.

Both the minimap and the build panel can now be hidden like the chat and mission list panels for a maximal view of Miranda. The build panel's power meter is much cuter, and the unit count and unit cap are now displayed on the top right of the build panel. The Kills Today stat has been retired.

Once I had the HUD all working, I realized that I had forgotten about the base layout HUD, so that got an upgrade too.

Weird Fact: Miranda's client has a complete commercial grade web server built in solely so that it can talk to the Chrome UI.


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By Robert Basler on 2019-10-02 13:39:07
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
So on Friday Hacker News turned its firehose of people on the One Man MMO Project blog - thank you larksimian whoever you are! The blog made it to number 1 on Hacker News around 9am, and had dropped to #13 by the time I found out about it late Friday night. The 100+ comments on the Hacker News page were entirely positive, which was really nice.

I was also pretty pleased that the blog's hosting worked exactly as it is supposed to and happily served up tens of thousands of pages to all those people without falling over.

So if you don't do this for a living, this is an astonishing number of people to visit an indie game. I've been at this ten years and this is 100x larger than my previous largest traffic spike. A post from a smaller news site typically generates only a couple dozen visitors. A spike like this Hacker News one will typically generate sales to support months of work. If I was paying for ads to get that traffic, Adwords would charge me on average $97,542. My ISP charged me $23 for the traffic.
By Robert Basler on 2019-09-27 14:44:25
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
One of the big new features in Unnamed Update is the revamped loot system. I've been working on this for quite some time as part of other features I've been doing. The most visible change is that players will now get the new consumable crates in battlefield loot crates after enemy units are destroyed. Internally there have been a lot of changes.

Where there used to be just one loot table, there are now a number of them for various features within the game, and the loot you get from any particular loot table will change as players advance in level. I also reworked the way the game determines the value of units within the game so that more valuable units give more loot.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Bad%20Login_Lo.jpg
[TFW: You log in, and immediately hear "Unit under attack! Unit lost. Unit lost. Unit lost. Unit lost." Zoom to that area. "Aww damn."]

By Robert Basler on 2019-09-09 17:29:45
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Unnamed Update is still coming along. My regular work schedule got slightly derailed the last couple weeks of August with travelling, a bunch of unreasonably hot weather and back-to-school. I have a whole bunch of things that I have been working on, none of which are finished. Most of my thought and effort the last month has been focused on level progression through the game. Other games I have seen have a little notification screen every time players level up that tells them all the new abilities they have unlocked and sometimes even gives loot. I'm not at the point yet where every level adds new things to do, but that is the direction the game is heading.

Level Requirements

There is now a minimum level requrement for components, so if players aren't a high enough level for a component they can't put it in designs and can't buy or build units that contain it. Each time a player levels up, they will gain access to new, better components. Most of the existing components will be assigned to level 1, so I'll be adding new components to fill the higher levels.

I started work on some of those new components I mentioned, my favourite is this tank chassis with ten guns on it. Those white boxes aren't part of the model, and don't show up in the game, they are how the game tells where to add guns and exhaust and other effects.

10guns_Lo.jpg
[Upcoming unit with white-boxes for positioning dust and weapon effects. And 10 guns!]

By Robert Basler on 2019-08-12 15:25:35
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Production is the part of game development where the game's design and features are mostly set, and the team starts taking all the systems that have been developed and filling them with all the tens of thousands of individual things players will interact with: swords, shields, guns, outfits, soccer players, teams and much more.

component.png
[Every item in Miranda actually looks like this...]


Miranda has been in production for a little while now. When I added loot crates I didn't make just one loot crate, I made 78, 12 different types in all. I plan to add more, but that is at least a respectable start.

The feature brief for my current feature is "Add plasma rifle weapon effect like the one in the Terminator movies." With the requirements pretty clear, I started digging in to what that actually means to implement with production in mind. First I need new art for the weapon, then a shader that will run it because it isn't exactly like previous beam weapons, then some code changes to support the additional data requirements of the shader, then code changes to the simulation to support weapons taking time to arrive on target. Doable.

Then I looked at my great list of components in the game - every tank, crate, weapon, building, power source, shield and so on. I realized that I need that plasma rifle's art and many, many stats to vary by 4 levels of veterancy, by as many as 8 quality levels (blues/greens etc) and by a to-be-determined number of level ranges spanning the player's 80 levels. OK, I can do that with my current system, but I'm immediately overwhelmed by the sheer number of components and stat variations that will be needed. How can I build all those in a reasonable amount of time without having tons of bugs in the thousands of numbers I would need to calculate and enter? How do I tweak the weapon afterwards? How do I back-port those veterancy/quality/level variations to all the existing weapons in the game? How do I quickly iterate to develop the art variations and test all of those weapon variations?

I don't know yet, but I'm working on it.
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By Robert Basler on 2019-07-12 14:37:47
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

It's been over a month since I've blogged, mainly because I don't have any one big thing to talk about. So here are a bunch of the little things I've been working on.

Redeploy Forces

The tricky change this month was adding a main menu option to Redeploy Forces which allows the player to move their base to a new location. This is a shortcut for the log out, log in, relocate base dance players have done up until now - but it is much faster. I think I might disable this if the player is in combat.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Redeploy%20Base%20(was%20Move%20Base)_Lo.jpg
[Redeploy Forces - back when it was Move Base.]


By Robert Basler on 2019-06-07 01:38:08
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
I did a bit of work on The Fallen, adding guardians at monoliths and vendors, increasing the size of base attack forces and modifying the guardians at resource fields to respawn more often. I discovered that the Fallen were having difficulty teleporting which turned out to be a number of bugs working together in concert in addition to my choice of formation. With teleports fixed a lot more Fallen are now at large on Miranda. There is still a bit more I have planned for them.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Inventory_Lo.jpg
[Destroying a stack of items on the Inventory Screen.]

By Robert Basler on 2019-05-21 16:59:29
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
There is no level editor for Miranda. The terrain is built in a tool called WorldMachine and then all the textures, plants, rocks and everything you see in the game are added procedurally based on a bunch of text files. So when I added all the vendors and monoliths to the game I randomly assigned them locations, but I didn't have a way to check that every single one was in a good location (not on the side of a cliff.)

Monday morning I decided I wanted to address that bug. I figured I'd need to add keyboard controls to visit all the discoverables, and some debug prints so I could figure out which discoverable to modify in the text files, then it would take a couple hours to move them all, then another hour to verify after the moves. That should take a day.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Vendors%201_Lo.jpg
[A Vendor in her new home.]

By Robert Basler on 2019-05-16 12:12:30
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Attributes have been in Miranda for some time, but they reached their final form this month.

The%20Imperial%20Realm%20-%20Miranda%20-%20Attributes%20Final_Lo.jpg
[Miranda's Attributes]


There are nine attributes in the game, and each attribute is assigned a value from 1 to 9. There are a total of 45 attribute points available right now. 9 are automatically assigned. Players are given 18 to assign when they start, and one is given each time the player levels up until they reach level 19 for a grand total of 45 attribute points. 9 bonus points will be available through rare consumables.

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Recent Comments

Crash Reporter - 2019-11-08 14:42:11 (1 comments)
Addendum: Some virus programs will block transmission of the dump file unless you lightly encrypt the dump data when sending it from the client.
Being Rejected by 36,261 People Feels Really Bad - 2019-10-04 13:10:20 (3 comments)
Thanks for the detailed feedback, that is really helpful. I hope you enjoy the game. There's another big update coming pretty soon now.
Being Rejected by 36,261 People Feels Really Bad - 2019-10-03 16:57:50 (3 comments)
Some thoughts as someone who was brought here by HN and buying it didn't even cross my mind.

1. It wasn't immediately obvious to me where to get this, or that it was available to the general public at all yet.
You need an eye catching "BUY" button. ...
Being Rejected by 36,261 People Feels Really Bad - 2019-10-02 14:06:15 (3 comments)
P.S. I debated quite a while about posting this at all, but bad things are also part of the indie gamedev experience and often people don't talk about them.
Off Topic: CanonImport - 2019-06-07 23:45:27 (1 comments)
Uploading videos to PC from HF-S100.

1) If you want thumbnails:
Connect camera power.
Connect camera to PC via USB cable.
Turn camera on
Open Screen
Press Camera/Play button below screen.
Generate Thumbnails.
2) Run canonimport for directions.
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