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Raise your hand if you remember the tutorial starter zone in your first MMO. It's sometimes hard to stretch back that far and it proves one of the points in Mark Kern's latest editorial here at MMORPG.com. See why he believes 90% of MMO real estate is wasted and then leave your own thoughts in the comments.
It’s incredibly arduous to create a zone for an MMO. After all, you are talking about detailing something like 5-10 square miles of land (or more). Everything has to be placed by hand: mountains, roads, caves, dungeons, valleys, trees, rocks, points of interest, themed/unique monsters and even grass! I would argue that zone creation is about 70% or so of an MMO’s total cost to develop including features, programming, art and world design. That means, on a 100M budget (typical for a mid to top end MMO these days), and a 20 zone game, you are spending about 3.5 million dollars a zone.
Read more of Mark Kern's Up to 90% of MMO Real Estate is Wasted.