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Author Topic: Fledgling project.  (Read 3850 times)

ProjectDiomedes

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Fledgling project.
« on: Feb 20, 12, 03:14:18 PM »

Hello, this is probably a very premature introduction, as currently the project is in a very early stage of development and has a staff of only 1.5 people currently.

I'm going to start off with background and expectations. 
Me.  I've been playing and modifying role playing games since I first cut my teeth on them back in 1975 or 76.  I've played and worked with D&D, AD&D, Gamma World, Traveller, Space Opera, Melee, Wizards, Rolemaster, the assorted White Wolf Games, Monster! Monsters!, the Dave Arness Wilderness Adventures, Chainmail, Megatraveller, Assorted Steve Jackson Games, Gurps, Shadowrun, and about 50 other obscure systems and games. I've played as both a player and a GM/Worldmaster/Whatever you want to call it.  I have taken various systems and imported or merged systems to allow for cross over between games, and designed independent systems for games, but nothing professional or circulated beyond a small group of people (this was after all the pre-world wide web days).  Of course I've also played the many computer games, the Elder Scrolls series, the old Gold box games, Wizardy, Zork and it's protogies, Ultima, and hundreds others.  I went on to play in various BBS MUD's, and provided uncredited feedback and development suggestions on one MUD, though I've forgottent the name of it.  In fact I've forgotten the names of most of the MUDS.  I then moved to MMORPGS, Everquest, Everquest II, Vanguard Saga of Heros, City of Hero's, Worlds of Warcraft, Matrix Online, Asheron's call, Age of Conan, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars The Old Republic, and many many others.  I've also played other computer games, such as I-76 (a rip off of car wars essentially), Mechwarrior, Carmageddon, etc.  I have also participated to one degree or another in several BETAS.

All of which means very little in this current endeavour...except, in all of that experience I've seen what worked, what didn't work, what was clumsy.  I've seen great idea's with poor execution and design.  I've seen what was fun, what was tedious, what I enjoyed and what I didn't enjoy about each gaming system. Over the past nearly 40 years, I've talked to literally thousands of other gamers.  I've talked to them while playing, in chat rooms, over coffee, at conventions, and on message boards.  I have tracked games under development and watched their development curves, I've watched games start off as one thing, build excitement for that thing, only to change course and direction and deliver a product very different than what was hyped.  I've watched games promise to be centered on one concept, only to change course to try and be more like WOW.    I've watched games that were clearly mishandled in development, that went out of control.  I've seen horrible marketing decisions made about timing of release, I've seen games launched prematurely because backer's got antsy and the games were released very buggy and in a couple of cases with vast numbers of zones completely unpopulated, one game even had zones that weren't even territory mapped.

Okay so your rolling your eyes saying "another gamer who thinks he can quickly turn out a successful MMORPG".  Maybe you're right.  But I'm not walking into this project blind.  First I know that probably around 80% or more of MMORPG projects never get past the ALPHA stage, many don't even reach that level, and that includes the well financed and experienced variety.  Secondly I know an MMORPG is a huge undertaking, with a lot of hard work by many different people.  Heck, back when I used to modify or create Pen and Paper systems it would often take me several weeks to get it fully tweaked, and by comparison (at least in some regards) much more simplex.  so there are no delusions here.  I know it's a project that will likely fail in the end.  But it is a labor of love and a concept I've been dreaming about for nearly a decade.  Herocloud at least provides the opportunity to try to bring it to fruition.

That said, I've done more than just played the games.  I've watched how the games were run, the mistakes companies have made, and the things that companies have done right.  And we all know that you can learn a lot from watching the successes and failures of others.

I do have a limited background in programming, though that goes back in to the 1980's and a long forgotten language called PASCAL.  So I'm not really a coder, but I do have an understanding of how the systems involved in coding work, and a basic grasp of databases and what they're capable of, though admittedly I'm very out of date. The coding I did back in the 80's included a rudimentary chess program (college project), it played a very very bad game of chess, but it played a legal game. I also wrote several database programs for baseball/football and bowling statistics, very rudimentary random text access files, very very basic). I do some 2d and basic 3D art, not good enough for game useage, but good enough for conceptual art.

the .5 person is a graphic artist that is not personally comitted to the project at this time.  However, they are providing me to a conduit of other 3D artists and animators who may be intersted in joining the project on a partnership basis, talks will be on going.  I also have a conduit for programmers who may be interested in joining a partnership as well.  But I am currently looking for another person to work with basic game mechanics with, and as a co-story writer/qeust designer.

But bringing more people on the team right now isn't a high priority.  Right now I'm working on finishing the basic game mechanics and concepts into a polished Pre-ALPHA state.  No point bringing in coders until we know what needs to be coded and how.  I'm currently working on the Character system, the basic quest system, the Merchant system, the combat system, and making choices as to setting and theme.
I'm going through my lists of what would want in the game and then dividing that in to 4 catagories:
1) what has to be in the game at launch.  (assuming luanch ever happens).
2) what would be nice to have in the game at launch, but isn't necessary.
3) what can definitely wait until expansions (assuming a successful launch and assuming enough profitability to justify expansions)
4) what is impracticle or would bog the playing experience too far down and, while not totally discarding it, definitely removing it from the production pipleline entirely until such time as it seems worthy of revisting.

The game is being designed from a character up perspective.  Most games today, well and probably in the history of gaming, have started with a world concept, or a concept on a particular system and worked "down" to the character.  And while it is true that I have concepts, and even base systems, in the works, the primary focus is on the character and player experience as the starting focal point and building outwards from there.  After all, the character, and not the world or the system, is the players primary focus.  If you have a great world, but crappy character development, the game isn't going to go far.  In fact more focus is being put into what is rewarding from a play standpoint than the "wow" factor of a system. 

I'm probably at least a month or two away from seriously seeking coders, although if I come across a coder who can help devlope the system concepts that'd be great, it's always dangerous to follow just one persons vision, we often wear blinders.

At this point in time, without divuging much detail here's the project. (although should the project totally flounder I will be posting full concepts and work ups down the road for others to "steal" if they want to  ;D )

A semi-open character development system.  I'm currently working on a fairly unique system that borrows some aspects of one or two MMO's out there, but also draws heavily from the old pen and paper days.  (yes I know there is a difference between what works in a pen and paper and what works in a real time MMO, or atleast a pseudo real time mmo environment).  NO cookie cutter class system, but rather a system that guides players into specific roles based on their skill choices as they develop.  There is currently a parallel development going on here as I'm developing both a leveling model and a non leveling model.  Most likely it will be a leveling model in the more traditional sense.  But I am looking at making a workable model where there isnt' leveling, at least in the traditional sense.  I mean many MMORPG's you can reach level 50 as a casual player in a month or so...why bother leveling at all if it's that trivial to level?

Providing a deep, but not overly complex, economy.  Many games today ignore craftsmen or minimalize their importance, in some games you can't sell anything crafted at all.   Other systems make the game unplayable if you don't have craftspeople and a thriving crafting community.  I've got a system in development that insures crafters always have a role to play and a market, but doesn't require players to HAVE to depend on crafters.  It is a system that's influenced by several games, but not a copy of any system.  If I get the kinks all worked out it will be a very uniuqe implimentation. 

Combat system is still a work in early stages, I have a concept and a base framework, but at the moment the mechanics are stuck on how to impliment it on a game mechanics level, both from the server side and the player interface side.  I know the game mechanics will work, just having some issues with it, and probably this is stuck pretty much in it's current phase till there are some coders on board to help develop the mechanics efficently.  On the player side not a lot changes, but on the underneath engine side I am not aware of any MMORPG that uses the design concept I have in mind, there may be good reason for that, or it may just be laziness and unwillingness to try something different.

The magic/psionic's system is in need of a major overhaul and is the area I've paid the least attention to.  I have concepts but my main focus has been on the combat system, character system, and economy system.  (in short there's only one of me right now and only so many hours in a day).

The games target Demographic is players 26 and up, primary focus on RP PVE.  It will have a PVP system, but it will be a secondary focus to the RP PVE experience.

That's enough for now, though I will answer questions if asked.

I'll answer one right now that I'm sure will either come up or at least be thought.

If there is only 1.5 people involved, why sign up for heroengine? And do you really think you can succeed?

I wasn't going to sign up at all, but in thinking about it signing up for the heroengine at this point made sense on two levels.  1) while I'm not a coder, I do understand things well enough to look through everything and determine what will and what probably won't work.  I also can probably code just enough (after teaching myself some things, I'm a very quick study) to do some simple test codes to test concepts, it would be buggy and inefficient, but good enough to see if it's even remotely workable.  2) and the more important reason, as I talk to coders I'll be able to bring them ento the engine, to see what they'd be working with to help them in their decision process.  One of the biggest things my .5 person pointed out was there is a lot of work in network architecture and such, having an open Hero account will allow me to show them what is built in, so they can get a real feel for if they think the project is feasible or not.  After all up until HeroEngine I never thought my concept was even remotely possible to develop.  Now it's a long shot, but at least in the realm of possibility, albit not the realm of probability.

Do I really think I can succeed with this project?  To be honest, it depends on who, if anyone, comes on to the team.  I have full faith in being able to develop the core gaming systems to be encoded, with some feedback and assistance from others.  I have full confidence in being able to design a world, a story, quests, etc, again with help from others (it is after all too big a job for one person alone).  But it also depends on if the "Vision" of the game works for other people and catches on.  There are some great game designs that people just don't play because they never heard of it, or the game suffered a horrendous launch or the company running the game has a terrible reputation with the gaming community.  Case In point, Vanguard: Saga of Heros, it's really a great game now.  It looks nice, has a good quest system, a decent crafting and marketing system, great guild halls, cruddy player housing, but the game had a horrible launch, diverged from what was promsied, and well lets face it, SOE doesn't have a great reputation with the player community at this point in time. 

Part of a games success or failure is just timing and luck, I dont' think anyone expected World of Warcraft to shatter subscription records and reach over 10 million subscribers, but it was the right game at the right time.  Which brings me back to Vanguard, the ideal time to launch a new MMORPG is not the same week as the 20 ton gorilla launches it's hotly awaited expansion....very poor business decision, especially for a game that really needed another month or two of development before launch.

But long answer short, yes I think there is a possibility of succeeding, I'd consider it a success even if went live and only had 2-3 thousand subscribers out of the 20-25 million MMO players in the world.  But even if it doesn't go live, and some of my ideas wind up in other games, that in and of itself is a win, at least for me.  And the latter is far more likely than the former, but if you have a dream, and the pathway opens up to at least begin the pursuit of that dream, why not investigate it fully?  Nothing to lose but time and sweat, and I'd rather lose time trying to reach a dream, than lose it just dreaming a dream. 
This is just the first step of thousands of steps to come, and the journey may end at any time.

To philosophical? probably....
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StarlitForum

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #1 on: Feb 20, 12, 03:20:49 PM »

First off, nice to meet you! I must be honest I did not read the entire post (very detailed, thumbs up!) but I want to wish you luck in your new venture. As you stated in your post (yes, I did skim/speed-read the whole thing :D) looking over the examples is a very good place to start as an amateur coder. Look through the various tutorials around the forums and on the wiki. I'm new here myself, they are very informative!

Again, good luck and welcome.

p.s. There is no such thing as "To philosophical"  ;)
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ProjectDiomedes

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #2 on: Feb 20, 12, 03:26:52 PM »

Thanks for the encouragment.  It's a long road ahead.

I've read about your project as well, and wish you all the success in the world on it.

I've been reading through the wiki.  I've also been doing a lot of reseach on world economy in MMORPG's, there are some great thesis level works out there on the subject.  I drew inspiration for the system in devleopment from one of those writings.

Your right, never can be too philosophical, especially when working on projects that fail on such a high percentage.
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LastJudge

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #3 on: Feb 20, 12, 03:33:09 PM »

Hi and let me welcome you to HeroEngine.

Honestly, I didn't read the whole post, just a few parts.

I just wanted to say, that it would be good if you took a look at other projects and if you find one similar to yours, you can join them, that way you might have a higher chance to succeed than waiting till someone joins you ;) Of couse if you are convinced you want exactly your design, I wish you good luck finding people to help you :)
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ProjectDiomedes

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #4 on: Feb 20, 12, 04:02:34 PM »

Thanks LastJudge,

At this point in time it's a very fluid situation.  If I came across a group who was just looking for a conceptual person and mechanics person/writer, and who's concepts and end goals were similar I would have no issues joining their team.  But to be honest, besides concept and game mechanics i don't bring much to the table other than vision and what I've learned through observing. 
I've got a few people who I know, or are friends of friends who do coding and graphics for a living who have expressed at least some interest.  so I'm going to pursue that first, but I'm not closed minded to joining an open project that I can be useful to.

But to be honest, if they already have their systems in place, and there setting in place I probably wouldn't be much help to them.
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quakkeldackel

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #5 on: Feb 21, 12, 01:37:58 AM »

Hey a hearty welcome to the HE!

I read the whole post (haha seems like Im the first one ;P )
I like what you wrote there and i agree with most of the points. I see myself also as a concept-generating machine and have written a lot of concepts in the last years (I keep the in a big old paper file, there they wait for their day to rise =] ).
I am also a coder and know how to forge my concepts in code.
I can only advice you to get your feets wet in HSL, when you ever coded you should be able to pick the concepts up in 1 or 2 weeks. This will help you a lot when designing concepts, as you can think about solving problems in the HE way.

If you have any questions feel free to ask ;)
kind regards
floAr
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LastJudge

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #6 on: Feb 21, 12, 03:48:10 AM »

Yeah, I also recommend you to try HSL, problem with indie communities is that there many ideas people, but not enough coder and artist.
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ProjectDiomedes

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Re: Fledgling project.
« Reply #7 on: Feb 21, 12, 06:52:54 AM »

Thanks for the advice, I plan on learning HSL, and the DB probram used.  In fact it is my hope to have done HSL well enough to script encounters and and quest lines directly myself.  Not all of them of course but to be part of that team.

Quakkeldacel, careful I'm bound to have a flood of HSL questions as I piecet hat together :)

LastJudge.  That's why my search for 3D artists and coders is focused outside of the indie community.  I'm blessed to have well connectect friends in both the Programming area and art area, and while only one of the friends has expressed partial interest in the project, they've all agreed to network out for me to search for people with an interest in the project. 

The flood of idea people in the indie community is why I didn't seek to join another team, I currently bring nothing to the table but ideas and a history of mechanics, well that and a very objective viewpoint on why companies and projects have succeeded.  In fact because of this glut of idea people I wouldn't even be this far on the project if I didn't have faith in my connections and the connections of my friends, to get developers from outside the existing indie community. 

That said, it's still a project like any other and far more likely to fold before launch, or even beta.

I've actually got more to say on this matter, as I've heard from one of my contacts, but I don't want to "jinx" it by saying anything prematurely :)  But I will say if he comes on board the odds of this project progressing goes up 10 fold, which would mean it's only 99% certain to fail lol.
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