The One Man MMO Project
I've been playing Guild Wars quite a bit over the Christmas vacation. I have to admire their business model. The simplicity of it is wonderful. Sell the game, sell some account-wide addons in a secure, off-the-shelf online store, and you're done. It's a shame it's an impossible business model for an indie. The cost of selling that first package is simply too high a barrier without a huge advertising budget.
With my requirement for in-game microtransactions I spent a lot of time over Christmas thinking about how to manage and record those transactions.
My design criteria ended up being:
I've done a fair amount of accounting over the years for my various small businesses, so my first thought was to look into how commercial accounting software systems operate. I spent a bit of time googling around and with the help of Stack Overflow I was able to find a specification document for a General Ledger which gave me the basic table design for a double-entry accounting system.
I never could have predicted in a million years that my little indie game would need me to develop a double-entry accounting system.
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I keep a log of everything I do each week. With the year coming to a close I thought it a good time to look back through it and see what I've accomplished. It turns out there have been a lot of accomplishments this year. I thought it would be nice to pick out a few of them to share.
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I like to do little features in the evening, separate from the bigger stuff I work on during the day. Sunday evening I thought a Terms of Service (TOS) screen would be a nice easy feature.
Little did I suspect I would encounter an international cascade of fail trying to get the TOS to actually work.
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I'm just finishing up Dragon Age Origins Awakening. Playing that game so much during the last year has definitely influenced the design for my game. RPG's often feature stuff you can collect: swords, armor, potions, runes. With those items you can usually add enhancements to improve their stats. Sometimes you can combine several items to make completely new items (crafting.) The meat an potatoes of a lot of RPG's is a zillion items and enhancements that can be combined in myriad ways to give the player the choice of how to gain advantage in-game.
I'm not saying I'm making an RPG. But I have been building a data-driven system to support both item enhancements and building new items from components the last 3 weeks. There's still a lot to do yet, but as of today, much of it is working and new entities are appearing in the game. So cool.
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So as of yesterday I'm Tweeting on Twitter. The writer in me quite likes how Twitter forces you to refine your thoughts to make them fit in just 140 characters.
I'll be Tweeting links any time I put a post here, so if you prefer Twitter to RSS, go ahead and switch over.
My tweeting is a result of me attending the Canadian Games Conference this year. One of the more interesting presentations I went to was the social marketing talk. You can check out the full talk on video, there's a link here: http://onemanmmo.com/?cgc11.
I also wrote a URL-shortener for the blog. It is something I've been meaning to do for a while - ever since I first considered using Twitter. In an ironic twist, there's no point in having a URL-shortener with Twitter anymore, since they shorten all URL's with their t.co service. But I've long wanted to be able to post more human-friendly URL's for pages on this blog, so I did it anyway. Only took a couple hours to add the database table and forms for entering the short URL's. In case you're looking, I haven't made it a public service. I will probably integrate it further into the blog in the future. Baby steps.
My Twitter picture looks like I'm looking at the birds on my Twitter page. Note to self: get a new picture.
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This is appalling.
Not that Hangame lost their data due to botched backups. That happens all the time. It's that they're killing the game over it. What that says to me is that the game wasn't really economically viable anyway and maybe that one of the commenters on the story is correct that "it is a ruse and [they] are taking the money and running."
For the rest of us working on microtransaction games, this is the doomsday scenario.
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I've been following Star Corsairs which is an indie MMO being developed here in Canada by Dave Toulouse. (He also wrote another MMO called Golemizer.) A couple of months ago he got laid off (like me) so he decided to work full time (like me) on an independent MMO (like me.) He developed his game in just 4 months (not so much like me) and released it in October.
This weekend he announced he is quitting as a full-time indie to go back to outside employment, just 3 weeks after the launch of his latest game. He got a reality cheque - for $273.31 - his game's total income for the first two weeks after release.
For me that's very troubling, given that this is his second game and at least 100,000 people have heard of Golemizer. This single data point has forced a rethinking of my schedule. Up until now I've been building features based on the theory that all core features are needed equally, so it doesn't really matter what order they're done in. I've been doing them in whatever order is most convenient. That changes today.
I realized I've been making a classic error. One I've been warned about, and to a certain extent, one I recognized I was doing, but one I was nevertheless still making. I failed to recognize the urgency of the situation until I read about Star Corsairs launch. So thanks Dave, for sharing.
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I broke 100,000 lines of code this week! 100,223 lines in 642 files. This doesn't include libraries I'm using that I didn't write - Berkelium alone is 40 times the size of my game code. My game isn't a million lines like some of the games I used to work on, but the build times are sure a heck of a lot shorter.
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You SHOULD build your own MMO! - 2013-05-20 12:11:16 (6 comments)
Trackback: crydev.net - Want to make an MMO? Read this first.
You SHOULD build your own MMO! - 2013-05-19 13:57:11 (6 comments)
Yeah, and to meet you part way I'm not saying that there are no overly negative game developers. (Bitter game developers? Heh.) But, I think there is some wisdom in pointing out the warnings rather than being simply enthusiastic.
Honestly? The ...
You SHOULD build your own MMO! - 2013-05-18 22:00:37 (6 comments)
I should clarify: there have been a few game developers I have spoken to who have reacted quite enthusiastically when I tell them about Miranda, so it isn't exclusively negative. I have just found the ratio to be really disappointing.
You SHOULD build your own MMO! - 2013-05-18 16:29:09 (6 comments)
I have a family, a mortgage, a history of entrepreneurism going back to the '80's, 31 game titles shipped, 4 non-game titles shipped, 3 years work on this title and a small amount of startup funding, and still when I tell someone in the industry ...
You SHOULD build your own MMO! - 2013-05-18 12:27:14 (6 comments)
Keep in mind that game developers usually have to speak in generalizations, because every game project is unique. Some of us get paid a hefty amount to go and advise people on the specifics of their projects. I try to be generous with my advice ...
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