I Dream of mmorpg

Ok, so maybe the title is a bit of an exaggeration but just like every other noob I want to make an mmorpg. I have wanted to do so for a long time but due to my lack of 3D programming skills I have never gotten past initial design & research stages. The other deterrent is that supposedly it takes a large team to make an mmorpg. However After reading an article series about Eternal Lands an open source mmorpg it sounds like it started with just two people. Which begs the question is it indeed possible for a handful of part time programmers/artists to create an mmorpg of reasonable quality?

The other detail to mention is that Eternal Lands is a from scratch engine. What if the team started with an existing engine. That should allow them to focus on just the game features correct? What about the server that is a whole task in of itself? Could projects Such as EAthena provide enough information about how commercial game servers work to allow developers a leg up in development?

What about development tools. Can a volunteer project collect the tools required to built such a complex piece of software? I think that they can. I think Code Blocks would be the tool of choice for this type of project it is available for Linux & Windows plus it is free and works pretty good from what I have seen.

What about 2D art in a game you need photoshop for that right? Wrong I used Gimp and although I'm not a graphics professional I think it has the features needed for creating textures and such. If I can manage to make the graphics I need for projects then someone with talent in that area should have no problems.

What about 3D models you need maya or 3D studio max for that right? Wrong again. Again open source software makes it possible. One 3D modeling program I think is rather powerful is Blender. The most I ever made was a rather simple sword but again that's not really my area of expertise. I have read many posts/articles about people that think it is fantastic.

I mentioned using an existing engine but don't those cost allot of money? Nope not all of them. If you were to license The Unreal engine I'm sure you would pay a pretty penny but If you instead went with Irrlicht for example it wouldn't cost you anything. This also solves the I don't have the 3D programming skills to make an engine from scratch problem. Now I should mention up front that Irrlicht doesn't provide audio last time I looked. Also I haven't seem an mmorpg built with Irrlicht so I'm not sure how it will handle levels with a 100 or so people running around. My guess is pretty well. One of the samples I looked at was running around 1000 fps. Granted it was a simple example and I have a pretty good graphics card but still that is something.

Alright well audio is important to the user experience what about audio? Well as for the library there is SDL which actually provides a complete rich media/game API. There is also OpenAl which would probably be my choice as it handles listener, source, and buffer details. I'm not really that up on audio algorithms. So ok what about audio editing surely you need some expensive software to handle that? Nope Audacity can handle that and it is open source and free as well. I have never gotten deep into audio manipulation but Audacity has always done what I needed.

So now the question is tools to make the game with for example a map editor. Well believe it or not if you use Irrlicht there is a free editor that can open & create maps/levels in the engines native format. It actually uses the engine to achieve this.

So after thinking about this topic and coming to the for mentioned conclusions. I think it is safe to say that you could make a game for free with volunteer labor. Also that the only code not specific to your game that you would have to write would be tying the various libraries together.

So at that point all that is left to do in simple terms is actually make the game.

So the real question is why isn't this common place? Wouldn't it produce higher quality games if people could focus on game play more so that low level details?

These questions I don't really have answers to but I'm wondering if actually trying to make an mmorpg would provide me with some of them. I'm sure there is some reason the big guys do it the hard way the question is to any of these reasons hold weight for small companies and or volunteer edutainment projects?

So lets pretend we have all the initial design stuff out of the way what kind of skill sets would be required to complete a game that is actually worth playing?

1. 2D Artist
2. 3D Artist.
3. Story Writer & Quest creator.
4. Server Developer.
5. Client Developer.
6. Public relations
7. Management
8. Server Administrator.
9. Game master.

So I think in most cases if it was a small team all of the team members would end up doing multiple tasks.

hmm... I think I'm gonna try it :-)


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