[MUD-Dev] MMORPG: where to start for making and running a gam e

ceo ceo at grexengine.com
Fri Oct 17 10:21:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Peter Tyson wrote:
> From: Richard Brown [mailto:richardlbj at yahoo.com]

>> We know very little about MMORPG but believe it or not we decided
>> to do one. I am the one supposed to "get it started".

> Without sounding facetious the fact that none of you know anything
> about making an MMORPG means that your chances of success are very
> very small, especially if you plan on making a big main-stream

As a gross generalization, fair enough.

However, if e.g. Sun tried to do an MMOG now, from scratch, they
wouldn't have too much difficulty. The necessary skills to cover the
majority of the development exist in abundance, although not within
the games industry. They'd need to hire in a few Jessica Mulligan's
:) (http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/2003Q1/msg00779.php) - or
any of the experienced people on this list - and probably have to
throw a lot of money at it, but that's not to say it would be
particularly hard for a team accustomed to large, complex dev
projects with major unforseeable problems.

[Sun because they have money, enterprise systems expertise,
programme managers, and marketing expertise. I can think of a good
few reasons why they'd be terrible at it too :) but it's a good
enough example of someone who could fulfil]

> Yup, you need everything. Hire 20+ people for two years and you
> might have most of that. Maybe.

Or hire 5 now, and grow organically. Look back in the archives, and
there has been discussion of whether big teams are a necessity or an
ego-trip (to compare extremes). I believe that *if you know what
you're doing* you can start very small, grow very big, mostly
organically. I submitted a proposal for next year's GDC on this, but
they don't seem to want it (or else they've forgotten all my contact
details :)).

>> Now the question: what am I going to do with my rich friend's
>> money in the next six month? What should I buy, who should I
>> hire, what do I tell them to do, and the most important: what
>> should we try to accomplish?

> I think you should tell him to keep investing it or consider using
> it as an angel finance fund for other developers. Alternately, set
> up a small developer and publish a couple of normal mainstream
> games for a while. You'd need a lot less people and you'd be
> taking on a lot less risk.

Sure, MMOG dev is very risky - but so's general games dev. AFAICS
the risk/return ratio for a non-specialist angel is much better for
an MMOG than for a "standard" game. More than 60% of games produced
each year fail to break even (a statistic frequently quoted,
although I've never found an original source for it yet :( ). IIRC
there are currently close to 4000 games published each year (source:
ELSPA industry surveys, IIRC) and given how few anyone's ever heard
of - even within the industry - the 60% figure sounds less

More than 90% of startups are wound-up/insolvent/bankrupt within the
first 3 years. Comparitively, MMOG development isn't that bad a bet
(and the market and revenue model details are a heck of a lot better
than those of the majority of proposals that go before angels; I
used to work with VC's, angels, and corporates on business-plan
competitions a la MIT 50k - and an MMOG would fit right into the top
10% of the best proposals).

Adam M
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