Defining Awesome — Why your next 3D MMORPG will fail
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  • Why your next 3D MMORPG will fail

    Written by . Posted at 4:22 pm on July 20th, 2007

    From time to time I get e-mails from fellow game developers, people just starting out asking me for advice. Usually when people start their journey they want to make the next big 3D MMORPG. I have decided to write down my answer to them for everyone to enjoy.
    This is for the people that are making or want to make games, but what I will write about spans nearly everything in life. So be sure to read what I’m saying if you have ever wanted to achieve something.


    The Ultimate Vision


     To boil it down into one sentence:
    The 3D MMORPG is your ultimate vision, it is not the game you will actually do in the nearest future, it is the game you will eventually make if you aim for it.

    But you want to have this game right now, yes? You learned how to program or draw in MS Paint and you want it all? The holy grail of games, the best game in the universe, you want the fame and you want the glory. Most of all you want to actually play this game because there is nothing like it out there. You think hard and you come up with a brilliant idea…

    There will be a beautiful world, a continent surrounded by a sea in which evil has arisen. The world will be inhabited by various creatures… let me be creative now… let’s say dwarves, elves, orcs, humans. There will be traditional medieval combat weapons and armory… let’s add to that… yes, magic! Potions, spells, runes, mana! How brilliant my mind is! How do I come up with this stuff!? I must be some kind of mastermind. Now let’s see… yes, let everyone play this game, like all people from around the world can join in, form parties, travel woods and kill boars together to gain experience points! Yes, there would be like different levels and classes… OK enough I’m so pumped up about this, I regret writing it down, somebody might steal it!

    Yeah… but I’m not here to bash you, I’m here to tell why you will fail, and it is not because of the idea for the game. Blizzard stole my idea and World of Warcraft is now the most popular MMORPG of all time, so that works.


    The problem is the point you are standing in time.


     You do not have the abilities or knowledge to create such a big game right now. This is not because you are just genetically stupid and don’t have the talent for it. I’ll write about this in a second, cause it will be the most important piece of the puzzle. First think about this.

    Knowledge is a tricky thing. If you want to achieve anything in life you must have the knowledge of how to do it, then you use your intelligence to map out specific tasks to accomplish. But if you don’t have experience you actually don’t know what you don’t know!

    It was Socrates that first stated it, first realized this concept:

          I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing

    You really know nothing about what you want to do! (me too of course, I just don’t know slightly less, but I still don’t know more than say Bill Gates).
    When you’re learning any type of skill, like playing tennis, learning to drive a car, playing guitar the best thing to do is take an instructor. That is a person that knows what you don’t know and gives that knowledge to you. I’m not saying take an instructor (although it would be the best idea) but realize that you know nothing about the area you are going to work in. If you’re starting to make games you have completely no idea how to make them. Even if you are confident, you learned how to program, how to design a game, you’ve played WoW for 100’s of days etc., if you’ve actually not done games before and failed while making them, you’ve learned nothing.

    You must fail when making games. The only way to know there is a wall in front of you, is to run into it and smack your head against it. Then you know there is a wall and that you must overcome it.

    So my advice is really simple: start small and move steadily forward. Start by making really small little games with no graphics at all or start by modding existing games. Get bored with them and move forward creating another game slightly more complex than the other (boredom is a sign that your brain has learned already everything about the subject). With each of these games you must come with the same attitude as if you were about to make “the greatest game in the universe”. You must be really excited and motivated to do it. How do you do that I’m not going to tell you, cause you have to find out what fascinates you by your own.
    If you fail doing the game it is just a signal that the game was too big, you expected too much from yourself at this specific time, and you should’ve made a simpler one. It does not mean you are a loser. It means you are one step closer to that ultimate game.

    Now we can come back to the most important advice. All else was just a prerequisite. Woody Allen once said:


    Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once


     When you want to create the next big 3D MMORPG you are acting as if time does not exist. So you go and start making the game, you realize it is just too difficult, you analyze the situation and conclude “I’m too dumb” or “It’s too hard” or “I just lost motivation” or “The illuminati (or any other mysterious power) prevented me from doing it”. All of this is the same side of the coin. All these thoughts come from hitting the wall. Now you must use your intelligence to actually see where you are, where do you want to go and how to get there. You must realize where you are standing in time. How far are you from making that big project of yours. To do that you must have knowledge of what needs to be done. But you don’t have that knowledge so you have no idea where you are standing!

    Paradox it seems? Yes it is a hopeless case if… you think about.
    So don’t think about it and just use my advice, start small. That is the only way you get out of the lack-of-knowledge hole.

    The key point you must remember from this is: everything happens in time. Time would not exist if nature wanted you to get everything today. The 3D MMORPG of your dreams is your ultimate vision. It is the game you want to create and which you desire the most, but you won’t make it. You won’t make it ever? NO! You wont make it NOW! This is the point.

    Actually this is one of the core secrets of every succesful person. Everyone from Beethoven to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m not comparing myself to those “almighty greats”, but I am following this secret instinctively all my life, I’ve just come recently to understand what it is and word it out. This is the core concept of any great self-help book like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. If you understand what I wrote there is no need for you to read that book. The problem with understanding, believing and finally accepting this truth is that you think you are different from succesful people.

    You look at Arnold and say “I could never have muscles like him, it’s genetics/steroids/whatever”, or you say “wow look at his acting abilities, I could never act like that!” (well maybe not that). You listen to Beethoven and say “He was born with this ability to compose”. You play John Carmack’s games like Doom or Quake and say “He’s a genius, look at this amazing compression!” (if you’re a geek).

    The first guy was a skinny little kid like anyone born in a shit-hole in Austria. The second had constantly been reminded by his teachers that he has no talent at all. The third made crap games working in Softdisk.
    They are not geniuses, they are regular people. If you ever listen to them (including Socrates and Woody Allen) they will say it straight in your face “I’m no different than you”.


    Everyone is average!


    Once you realize this, you come up with an understanding of why these people act and achieve differently than the average. And that is only because of a simple concept that they follow.
    Know your ultimate vision, realize it will not happen today, tomorrow or even in 5 years, but some day, and to get to that point you must work slowly, learn, experience, fail, build and create every day with something new that will bring you closer to that goal even if it doesn’t look like you’re anywhere close.

    The true skill to do this is PATIENCE. If you think you don’t have patience then I’ll tell you what it is. Patience is just a deep understanding of this concept I wrote about, plus the enjoyment of the actual moment, of what is happening now. If you are content with what is now and you believe you will achieve that ultimate vision one day, you are on your way to making that next World of Warcraft.

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    1. Yep that’s true. And sometimes the funniest thing is that does people never code before and they think they can code that big

    2. SpiltCoffee

      Are you doing philosophy at a university or something? That’s an absolutely astonishing thought.

      I think I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

    3. I think a follow-up post at some point would be helpful, explaining how this fits in with your game-developing progress/process and how each of your games fits into your “big picture,” maybe what kinds of things you hope to do in the future and whether or not game making is something you want to do for the rest of your life, or whether you are seeking another occupation.

    4. Too right Bricks. Philosophising about game-making = job at Burger Kròl.

    5. MataGyula

      Michal, you surely just broke the dreams of 1000 wannabe game developers ! … ‘t was the right thing to do tho 😀

    6. So MM what where some of your small projects before Soldat?

    7. Oh :( You just ruined a few more hours of laughs while reading some posts in the soldat forums…

      “Hi! I’m going to make an online multiplayer soccer game with some rpg elements! What is the best application to do such kind of games?”

      Nice reading Michal

    8. PerroAZUL

      He’s so right, why trying to make a big 3D crappy game if you can have a lot more fun making a multiplayer pacman? 😛
      Simplicity rules.

      “Hi! I’m going to make an online multiplayer soccer game with some rpg elements! What is the best application to do such kind of games?”

      I found a game “NetSoccer” two days ago heh, it’s free, simple and cool 😀
      I love games like that.

    9. SpiltCoffee : Are you doing philosophy at a university or something?

      Heh, philosophy doesn’t teach you anything practical, this is practical advice.

    10. SpiltCoffee

      Fair enough. Thought I’d just ask…

      But what you said is pretty true. I’ve looked at trying to write a forum script before, I started doing it, and I gave up because I found it too hard. It’s not to say I can’t program, but… well, OO programming is still just beyond my reach.

    11. theres maybe a good exemple of people thinking to far with creating games in the lounge of soldat forum you cant miss it

    12. GHG (Gradius)

      I thought that problem didnt apply to compiled languages. Forums for interepreted languages such as Game Maker get flooded with “ZOIMFG 3D MMOPRGPGS HOW?!!?!11116″

    13. SpiltCoffee

      You can do a 3D MMORPG in Game Maker as well, but you still have to apply what MM said. Start with making small games and build them up.

      The people who go nuts about asking how to make a 3D MMORPG probably have made a maze with Game Maker from a tutorial.

    14. SpiltCoffee: It’s not to say I can’t program, but… well, OO programming is still just beyond my reach.

      Exactly, I felt the same way once. The fact is everyone does at some point even the so called ‘geniuses’. If you push long enough eventually you will become fluent at anything you wish.

    15. Could someone PLEASE summarize that? Like SplitCoffie said its an amazing thought, although I don’t feel like reading all of it 😀

    16. SpiltCoffee

      Ivel: Like SplitCoffie said

      It’s spelt SpiltCoffee… 😛

    17. Ivel: Could someone PLEASE summarize that? Like SplitCoffie said its an amazing thought, although I don’t feel like reading all of it.

      Oh come one… you are on the road down even before you read the statement.


    18. Zero: I remember that once MM said he made a game called “Sumo Fight”, something like that. But I guess he never released it to us. :(

    19. Hunterish

      i have read all this and understand this, im 16 yrs old and my dream is to become a game developer or something along those lines, and yes everything you said is true… you DO hit a wall you cant really get through.
      anyway ive never had an intension of making the next WoW or 3d MMORPG due too i KNEW i could not do that yet, i know no REAL programming, (but willing to learn if i didnt have school and life got in the way.)

      (i know the RPGcode() from the rpgtoolkit and i know how to use gamemaker (but no coding)… im am pretty pro with the game maker im making a resident evil 2d RPG at the moment i am very surprized what i have done on the game, ive failed on so many, and most of my games were just to test out my skills, as you see, ive never read the game maker tutorial, eveything i have learnt, ive taught my self, ive messed around with it ECT. i belive the way to learn is to do it your self, BUT if you cant figger out a single thing, like codding for example, then seek a tutoriail/help ect…..

      well, the thing is, even if i dont know how to code something, all i have to do is look at someone elses code, and i just look at it, and i understand it int eh back of my mind, and ian edit it so easly, even if i dont understand a thing of the coding…

      well im tired right now.. so i hope ive made sence, i would write more LOL but im tired………….. geez hope it wasnt too long….

    20. SpiltCoffee

      Yeah, you end up just knowing what you’re doing without knowing what you’re doing. And it’s not like you’re expected to know everything about the language.

      It’s best if you have some kind of documentation you can look up on when you’re stuck on something. (Which makes Game Maker easy to use.)

    21. Contortionist

      A very good piece of information.

    22. man u blew my mind.. it amazing to hear such great philosophy from you.. i get what ur saying to the last point .. but shhhhheessssshhhh i had this in my mind and try to explain it to other plp who are lost in their passion or careers.. i could never put it like you did… GJ

    23. Profound…!

    24. Hah, luckily for me I know everything alrerady…

    25. Including spelling already >.

    26. It didn’t post all of the last comment D: michal can you replace my last three comments with “Hah, luckily for me I know everything already…”

    27. […] is that you have to know about the bad things that will happen. As I stated in my previous post Why your next 3D MMORPG will fail, if you’re a beginner, you don’t know what you don’t know. So educate yourself, read my blog cause I’ll […]

    28. Well put. This is one of the most positive precautionaries about amateur game programming that I’ve read. My history in Flash has enabled me to understand the limits of the Flash platform, now I know how to restrain myself from being too optimistic and try to start learning everything that I need to know first, so I know the limits of each component.

    29. Lol Nice article man I know what you mean wow cost 1 Billion dollars and 2-3 years of time and 300+ people

    30. greatings…


    31. My first real project was a 3D MMORPG – however, like many others, I set out to be different from WoW…dynamic and such (if you are interested in taking a look, it is still slumbering at Anyway, I would have to agree nonetheless that any type of MMROPG is too ambitious for a first project (even given I already had 13 years of programming experience). Just stumbled across your page, love it — new engine looks cool. Keep up the good work.

    32. Thanks man. I’ll check what you were up to.

    33. It’s not just the experience problem. If your alone to do a Mmo it’s a big task you need to be a group working on a massive project

    34. michal, personally i think you are my rolemodel. I would love to learn a complex language and make something like soldat. I don’t really want to go to college and then end up with some crap software job being told what to do. I’ve practiced with game maker and I’m going to see if i can start something bigger like Delphi or C++ and see if I can create something worth buying
      If you’d like

      great advice also

    35. Sugarskull

      Very inspiring philosophy, I’ve been realizing that game design/creation is what I want to do with my life and this helps a lot. Start simple,start small.

    36. […] my article Why your next 3D MMORPG will fail I wrote that everyone is average. Although I meant the same thing, ‘average’ has a […]

    37. More fanboys need to complement him. fucking fanboys.

    38. Dude.. you ought to write books. People would pay for words such as these.

    39. Jessie…

      I really agree with you….




      I mean comeon .. .you release some game engine,you should be focusing on answer to fellow developers using that code base,supporting them,making it popular…

    42. this is cool

    43. Haha, I dream about my awesome ultimate 3D MMORPG, and yes it will be very cool. Right now though after doing some fun stuff interacting with people (Just some basic, if user does this and some OOP) I’m starting out with a blue screen, a black box. and then moving around the black box.

      Next I’ll put in a second box and make it moveable. Then I’ll go and find out when I collide with a box. But that’ll be in about 2-5 months time :)

      Start out small, and build that to perfection. If you know how to make a perfect black cube on a perfect blue background. And if you can perfectly move around and through that. Then it’s time for your next cube, who knows maybe you can even color it :)

    44. love it

    45. Anonymous

      well emm once I get into school program that helps on coding and game design I might start making it since I’m 13 it will get really big once I’m like 21 and the official release will happen… which will take lots of years and get a certificate because I’m gonna make it Java so hacking will take along time and a good anti-hack but this will take time. My dad’s a great graphic designest, I’m a good frame editor like the guns telling what should be done you know 😛

      But my Internet is too slow to host a server or game of any kind plus I found out how to get free linux computers so I can probably get like 5 servers 😛 or something but yea I’ll need alot of help from the school so yea… it’ll take 4 years it said so yea if anyone wants me to make graphics just give me a good program which is very hard to find

      *note* I hate hackers

    46. Anonymous


    47. Wow, the irony of it all.

      When I and my friend first considered game designing, what you’ve spelled out in the beginning is exactly what we thought. It’s been about 4 years and we’re still no where near where we thought we would be by now. “Oh yea, we’ll have a working Beta out by June” – gimme a break! It’s been 3 and 1/2 years since then.

      I’ve been modding/designing maps for a very long time, and at one point, even tried to make a Metroid take-off using a program called Gamemaker 6 (unregistered version). I’ve been tootling with Starcraft maps for many-a-year… all of my inspirations for designing new game environments in which to play in started before I even had the opportunity to do so: while playing the game “Army Men: World War”…

      I always thought about new ways to play a map.. or what new mini game-mode I could make inside of the already provided game-modes. “How many different ways could a battle be fought.” What the problem was with that game was there were only 3-4 good “skirmish” maps out of the ~16 offered. There were good things in each map.. and I thought that “only if I could just combine these unique qualities, I could create a fun level.” Of course I was only.. 10 then? I turned geek young.

      Well it all boils down to now. Since then, I’ve learn intermediate 3D modeling with Blender, made a million maps in Worms Armageddon, Starcraft, Warcraft 2, and now Soldat… each getting more mature and better with age. Long short of it is, it takes a lot of time.

      Still haven’t made my MMORPG though… but just you wait, it’s going to be better than Wurm Online when it’s developed!

    48. Присоединяюсь, статья интересная и поучительная

    49. Статья интересная, добавлю в избранное для дальнейшего ознакомления

    50. Интересная статья, добавлю в избранное и буду следить за обновлениями

    51. Давно искал подобный материал, перерыл весь инет, а тут на тебе. Благодарю автора

    52. Не могу сказать, что мне не понравилось. Достаточно интересно и втолне интересно, но тем не менее есть кое какие добавления

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    54. I never, and I mean NEVER post on blogs, but here I am, making a hypocrite of myself. This was so inspiring and insightful I saved it just now to my desktop.

      Going to print it out at Wal-Mart, biggest print I can get. Highlight all the important quotes and hang the damn thing on my wall.

      So congratz for changing someones life with your blog.

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