Monday, May 3, 2021

The Business: What You Need For An MMORPG

Josh Hayes is one of the best observers of the MMORPG space. Heed this.

Putting it together: The MMORPG is an apex product. You cannot succeed unless and until you possess the skills, experience, and audience required to build the team and attract the funding necessary to build one worth playing. To get to that point, you are best served taking on smaller projects that focus on one of the key elements to successful MMORPG design and build an entire game around that instead. Do good work, get your name out there, build a reputation and brand. Network, cross-train, and build the foundation for that MMORPG over 10-20 years.

Then--when you're, at the youngest, abou 30-35--begin that MMORPG; deliver no more than five years later, and preferably three. Be efficient in your development work, play into your genre tropes and not against them, keep the launch goals simple and build upon them after launch. You'll be able to keep your MMORPG running for years, profitably, with a modest start followed by carefully-cultivated growth on a regular schedule than by waiting for it all to be perfect.

Do it right and you'll be like Chris Metzen: able to retire before you're 50. Do it wrong and you'll end up in a ditch.

Okay, that's great for MMOs. What about the rest of gaming?

Those five elements still matter in other forms of gaming, but the importance will vary. Small, simple indie games are perfect for newbs regardless of medium. Tabletop RPGs, taken as a hobby, are also fine for newbies given that they follow the Basic Fantasy model. Board and card games are not necessarily more involved, given that you follow the old Cheapass Games model and even that can be cut down by having players print PDFs instead of selling physical product.

The point here is that, due to the immense costs required to turn out an acceptable product, investors will demand maxmimum risk mitigation. That is why you need those five things Josh talks about. Fulfilling those criteria map well to making the MMORPG an apex career objective, so you might as well build your path with that as the final step, so do that and check back in a decade or so.

In the meantime, master those things you can to make your odds of recruiting the rest the best that you can. Todd Howard didn't just stick to coding. You shouldn't either.

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