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MMORPGs and the Indie development

ClerigoClerigo MatosinhosPosts: 400Member Common

In a time where the future of the MMORPG genre is being tested, discussed, by every single community, players and professionals, websites and magazines alike, one has to think that there are forces working hard to bring this genre to brighter days other than big label companies.

Maybe its our responsability, as end service customers, to provide the correct line of feedback about finished products in order to correctly balance and polish a given game, but the original quality of the product, its design and production quality rests fully on the label working the tittle.

Now, its my opinion that, despite the efforts being made by the major game developers in trying to innovate the genre or polishing the traditional aspects of it to the maximum potencial, the majority of those efforts fall short in accomplishment. I know its not easy, and that gamers are not an easy crowd to please, but the facts are clear and this genre is currently under fire.

But, once in a while, we see something being done correctly, something that makes us smile and have good hopes for this genre and, well, lately i found my smiles being fired towards some indie developments i am currently following.

Yes you can say that the majority of indie development projects are towards other market segments, many of them even for core games, custom engines, etc, but theres also room for our beloved mmo genre. I recently played "Path of Exile" and was very happy with the outcome, following closely "The Repopulation" wich im happy to say had a very nice run in its Kickstarter fund campaign, and very surprised with this simple DayZ mod and itching it can find a way to see life as a finsihed mmo product. And im sure there are others.

My question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?

Thank you.

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Comments

  • darkedone02darkedone02 Louisville, KYPosts: 552Member
    Originally posted by Clerigo

    In a time where the future of the MMORPG genre is being tested, discussed, by every single community, players and professionals, websites and magazines alike, one has to think that there are forces working hard to bring this genre to brighter days other than big label companies.

    Maybe its our responsability, as end service customers, to provide the correct line of feedback about finished products in order to correctly balance and polish a given game, but the original quality of the product, its design and production quality rests fully on the label working the tittle.

    Now, its my opinion that, despite the efforts being made by the major game developers in trying to innovate the genre or polishing the traditional aspects of it to the maximum potencial, the majority of those efforts fall short in accomplishment. I know its not easy, and that gamers are not an easy crowd to please, but the facts are clear and this genre is currently under fire.

    But, once in a while, we see something being done correctly, something that makes us smile and have good hopes for this genre and, well, lately i found my smiles being fired towards some indie developments i am currently following.

    Yes you can say that the majority of indie development projects are towards other market segments, many of them even for core games, custom engines, etc, but theres also room for our beloved mmo genre. I recently played "Path of Exile" and was very happy with the outcome, following closely "The Repopulation" wich im happy to say had a very nice run in its Kickstarter fund campaign, and very surprised with this simple DayZ mod and itching it can find a way to see life as a finsihed mmo product. And im sure there are others.

    My question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?

    Thank you.

    I've been keeping an eye on most indie games that been poping up like Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, Bit.Trip.Runner, and other games out there and some of them are good and some of them are meh. One thing I don't like about indie game is some of them don't look very appealing or addictive unless it's somewhat like a sandbox like Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft (before it gone mainstream). Some add in fusterating challenge in the game that sometimes is not that fun to me like Super Meat Boy.

    Now for todays mmorpg indie games out there like Face of Mankind, The Repopulation, and other unfamilar people who pop out of nowhere and develop some nice mmo games, I just want to know how long these games would last and who is their targeted audience? When I play most indie games, something just always feel missing... like innovation and fun for me, something to get me hook instead of playing it one day and uninstall it the next.

    I've played Path of Exile for a bit, and gotten as far as pass the submerge cavern to head to this fort, and I already getting bored of the game because there is some things I don't like about the game. one of issues that I have is so much inventory micromanagement and how big the items are space-wise on items that after collecting 6 pieces of 3x4 spaced items that i have to walk all the way back to town or to my local waypoints and sell them all to get my scroll of identify pieces. The second issue is how the bartering system in this game is nice and all but it felt repetitive and things cost to much. a single scroll of teleportation cost me 3 scrolls of identify, and a single scroll of identify cost about 10 or more items considering it comes by pieces instead of a whole scroll (5 pieces of the scroll of identify = 1 whole scroll of identify + 2 more needed for a single scroll of teleportation = at least 30 or more items bartered). I got tired of the whole economy system and inventory management.

    image

  • VorchVorch Somewhere, FLPosts: 800Member

    Personally, I don't understand why MMO companies don't buyout smaller succesful independent developers.

    Even indie developers outside the MMO genre.

    I think many of these companies provide a fresh take on gaming in general, and if that creativity can be harnessed and nurtured, you can add add a truly unique flavor to a traditional style of gaming.

    "As you read these words, a release is seven days or less away or has just happened within the last seven days— those are now the only two states you’ll find the world of Tyria."...Guild Wars 2

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,860Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by ClerigoMy question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?Thank you.

    Nothing has changed in regards of indie developers.

    There are 2 general ways how to run a business:

    1) You go with a main stream and follow the largest demand.
    2) You go with alternative approach, trying to avoid most competition.


    What we see now is market getting saturated and 1) not being as viable for business because it exploits low supply.
    Option 2) is still same risky venture as it always has been.


    The mistake I believe you make is that you assume that new demand raise upon other demand satisfaction.

    This assumption is false.

  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member
    Originally posted by Vorch

    Personally, I don't understand why MMO companies don't buyout smaller succesful independent developers.

    Even indie developers outside the MMO genre.

    I think many of these companies provide a fresh take on gaming in general, and if that creativity can be harnessed and nurtured, you can add add a truly unique flavor to a traditional style of gaming.

    The big companies don't want a fresh take, creativity and something unique - it's bad business. Millions of people buy the themepark formula games, why should the companies change anything? Millions bought SWTOR, millions will buy GW2, the big companies would be crazy if they tried something new.

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vorch

    Personally, I don't understand why MMO companies don't buyout smaller succesful independent developers.

    Even indie developers outside the MMO genre.

    I think many of these companies provide a fresh take on gaming in general, and if that creativity can be harnessed and nurtured, you can add add a truly unique flavor to a traditional style of gaming.

    Most small successful independent developers do get bought up.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member

    MMO is very expensive to develop, even for a barebone game. You need a lot of art assets, client-server code, big database .....

    It is not like having a few people together and make an iphone tower defense game.

  • darkedone02darkedone02 Louisville, KYPosts: 552Member
    Originally posted by Gdemami

     


    Originally posted by Clerigo

     

    My question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?

    Thank you.


     

    Nothing has changed in regards of indie developers.

     

    There are 2 general ways how to run a business:

    1) You go with a main stream and follow the largest demand.
    2) You go with alternative approach, trying to avoid most competition.


    What we see now is market getting saturated and 1) not being as viable for business because it exploits low supply.
    Option 2) is still same risky venture as it always has been.


    The mistake I believe you make is that you assume that new demand raise upon other demand satisfaction.

    This assumption is false.

    May I ask you this one simple question: What is the demand of today's mmo market?

    image

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    Originally posted by Larsa

    The big companies don't want a fresh take, creativity and something unique - it's bad business. Millions of people buy the themepark formula games, why should the companies change anything? Millions bought SWTOR, millions will buy GW2, the big companies would be crazy if they tried something new.

    True, but I look at it from a slightly different angle: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 

    Lots of things that look good on paper turn out to be duds in practice.  It's a pretty big leap of faith to go the Field of Dreams route.

     

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,906Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Clerigo

    My question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?

     

    I'm of the opinion that new heights in innovation and design/mechanics are not enough on their own to make a hit game in the MMORPG genre.

     

    Many players have come to expect, or maybe a better world would be demand, that an MMORPG must have:

    huge world (think tons of art and content)

    content for 3 months non-stop gameplay with little repetition

    non-stop content updates for continued gameplay

    huge feature set (think expensive to design and program)

    graphics (art, animation, rendering effects) at least on par with AOC

    modern hardware support (multi-core, pixel shader materials and lighting fx) with 60+ FPS at HD resolution

     

    On top of this, the market has changed from the old trend of "grindy virtual worlds" to the current trend "cut-scene driven SP gameplay with competitive or cooperative embedded mini-game content".  This 3rd generation content is extremely time consuming to produce.

     

    The combination of the above is difficult to impossible to achieve with a small team and limited budget.

     

    Simply stated, it's next to impossible to build what looks and plays like a one hundred-million dollar game, with a team of six and a few million in budget.  As long as players expect / demand that level of content / graphical perfection, I see very little hope of an Indie (great innovation or otherwise) ever producing a hit with wide market penetration.

     

    Bottom line, expectations of the MMORPG playerbase has priced Indie games out of the realm of being competitive.

     


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,423Member Uncommon

    IMO we will NEVER see a top notch AAA indie MMORPG.This genre takes way too much effort and cost to pull off a good effort.Every single game in this genre right now is missing lots of content that is quite doable but ignored to save cost.So if big developers can't do it or won't do it,Indie devs most certainly are not.

    When i think of Indie i think of failed games rehashed or browser projects.Browser games,at least for now have no chance of being a top notch game.

    There has been several not even make it to sales,which is sad.However MANY of these developers i beleive never intended on making it to market but instead used investors money to give them a living for several years.We just had one such game that did that,the one Cheyenne Mountain [i think was the developer name].The guy that ran that had a past of stealing peoples money and yet still got tons of new investors to keep giving him money.

    Fallen Earth was the first big Indie title to actually make it out that was mentioned around these forums.It had many short falls,but i did respect them as a developer.Another former highly hyped game was Dark and Light,again we all know what happened there.

    I cannot see one Indie game in the future ,the ONLY game i see right now worth any mention is Archeage and Jake Song who is in charge is no Indie guy.

     


    Samoan Diamond

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    IMO we will NEVER see a top notch AAA indie MMORPG.This genre takes way too much effort and cost to pull off a good effort.

    Leaving out "AAA" due to its lack of a defintion we can all agree on, I can list several MMOs:

    • Wizard101
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • EVE Online
    • DOFUS
    • Entropia Universe
    • MicroVolts

    They may not be what you want in an MMO, but they are polished, profitable, award-winning MMOs with a healthy playerbase even years after their initial release.

     

     

    Ooooor... does an MMO need to have cutting edge 3D graphics for you to consider it a 'top notch' MMO?

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,860Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by darkedone02May I ask you this one simple question: What is the demand of today's mmo market?

    Simple, magic question any person involved in the business is pursuing to answer.


    Unfortunately, only hints are what other people do and tried already.

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Gdemami

     


    Originally posted by darkedone02

     

    May I ask you this one simple question: What is the demand of today's mmo market?


     

    Simple, magic question any person involved in the business is pursuing to answer.


    Unfortunately, only hints are what other people do and tried already.

    If you actually want to go with past data, it is 47.5M in 2010

    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/31562/Report_475m_Americans_Play_Online_Games_But_More_Still_Play_Consoles.php

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,734Member Uncommon
        The problem that most indie companies face is that they dont have the cash to market the game effectively......Also there is so much competition out there now that it is very hard to lure in new players for any length of time.....Also with so many games f2p most indie devs have to find creative ways to bring in revenue.
  • NyhmNyhm Canton, OHPosts: 82Member


    Originally posted by Theocritus
        The problem that most indie companies face is that they dont have the cash to market the game effectively......Also there is so much competition out there now that it is very hard to lure in new players for any length of time.....Also with so many games f2p most indie devs have to find creative ways to bring in revenue.

    This is exactly what I'm experiencing right now. I've even created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds largely for marketing purposes, because I can't compete with the major budgets of large publishers.

    I think Island Forge (I'm the sole developer) brings something really unique to the players (it's all about player-created content), but it's not a mass-market title, and hard to find those specific creatively-oriented players to establish the community.

    Island Forge: Create Islands with Stories for Others to Explore!
    Free-to-Play with Membership and Upgrade options!

  • ozmonoozmono Not tellingPosts: 1,211Member

    I think indie games can satisfy particular needs and offer certain parts of an MMO in an improved fashion but I don’t expect them to take the entire genre to new heights atleast not in the eyes of the mainstream players. Indie companies, I beleive however, have the potential to satisfy particular niche areas of the market and by focusing on a particular niche, they can take that part of the market to new heights just not the entire genre.

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,754Member Uncommon
    Two words, funding and graphics.
  • BenediktBenedikt PraguePosts: 1,406Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    IMO we will NEVER see a top notch AAA indie MMORPG.This genre takes way too much effort and cost to pull off a good effort.

    Leaving out "AAA" due to its lack of a defintion we can all agree on, I can list several MMOs:

    • Wizard101
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • EVE Online
    • DOFUS
    • Entropia Universe
    • MicroVolts

    They may not be what you want in an MMO, but they are polished, profitable, award-winning MMOs with a healthy playerbase even years after their initial release.

     

     

    Ooooor... does an MMO need to have cutting edge 3D graphics for you to consider it a 'top notch' MMO?

     

    sorry but i dont think any of these games except for eve online are considered by most of the players as AAA and eve online didnt started as one, it started small and grown to be AAA game over the years.

    "Ooooor... does an MMO need to have cutting edge 3D graphics for you to consider it a 'top notch' MMO?"

    for me - no (i spend most of my online gaming with haven & heart and aardwolf mud). and its quite possible that for wizardry neither, but for most of the mmorpg players yes.

     

    i 100% agree with what XAP Games wrote. mmorpg players expectations are the hugest obstacle to having some interesting game. seriously - didnt you noticed all those threads like "TSW animation is horrible" "TSW graphics sucks"?

  • GrixxittGrixxitt New Orleans, LAPosts: 543Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    IMO we will NEVER see a top notch AAA indie MMORPG.This genre takes way too much effort and cost to pull off a good effort.

    Leaving out "AAA" due to its lack of a defintion we can all agree on, I can list several MMOs:

    • Wizard101
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • EVE Online
    • DOFUS
    • Entropia Universe
    • MicroVolts

    They may not be what you want in an MMO, but they are polished, profitable, award-winning MMOs with a healthy playerbase even years after their initial release.

     

     

    Ooooor... does an MMO need to have cutting edge 3D graphics for you to consider it a 'top notch' MMO?

     

    Rift

    The above is my personal opinion. Anyone displaying a view contrary to my opinion is obviously WRONG and should STHU. (neener neener)

    -The MMO Forum Community

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    I think it will all depend on the development tools. Currently, there are development tools for games, but not for all the infrastructure that allows the games to exist. Developers have to write the server software, networking software and even the chat portion of the software. There doesn't need to be a product, there just needs to be libraries available to do those sorts of things, so that developers can focus on writing the game instead of all the support infrastructure for the game.

    I think the second stumbling block is the place to host the servers themselves. This is an additional expense that developers of co-op multiplayer games don't have to worry about. I'm not sure what can be done here.

    ** edit **
    I'd move the hosting from the developer to the players. Have it work like Minecraft where players can host their own servers. That's just me though, not everyone wants to play on some random individual's server.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • WereLlamaWereLlama Lubbock, TXPosts: 243Member

    We are building a small online game and the costs typically are:

    1. Unity3d Licensing ( platform dependent but expect 3-5k  per developer ) 

    2. 3d Modelling and skinning (300 - 800$ / mobile )  (statics are much cheaper typically)

    3. Rigging/Animation (200 - 400$ / mobile )

    4. Levels ( 1000$ - 4000$ / level )   ( wide range here obviously )

    5. General Programming ( Do it yourself or plan to spend a fortune )

    6. Server management (100$ / month - Beta,  est 500$ / month release for 30k-ish  total playerbase) 

    7. Project Management ( Do it yourself or plan to spend a fortune )

    8. Illustration / Artwork / Music (  bare minimum stuff 2 - 3k )

    9. Developement hardware (2k a year maybe )

    9. Paying for stuff that you ended up throwing out ( 10-20k per year ) ( I just suck at forcasting everything perfectly )

    Of course,  the more you do yourself the less time you have for project management and running the business side  but can save some money.  Personally,  I find it easier to work full time on non-game stuff, and pay others to do as much as possible.  

    Im curious what other indie online game makers are budgetting.

    -Blitz

     

     

  • dna_mordna_mor Richboro, PAPosts: 10Member

    There was a mention of  Repopulation on here already. That is a Hero Engine game. I'm pretty sure they aren't using  a source license. 

  • NyhmNyhm Canton, OHPosts: 82Member


    Originally posted by BlitzVF
    We are building a small online game and the costs typically are:1. Unity3d Licensing ( platform dependent but expect 3-5k  per developer ) 2. 3d Modelling and skinning (300 - 800$ / mobile )  (statics are much cheaper typically)3. Rigging/Animation (200 - 400$ / mobile )4. Levels ( 1000$ - 4000$ / level )   ( wide range here obviously )5. General Programming ( Do it yourself or plan to spend a fortune )6. Server management (100$ / month - Beta,  est 500$ / month release for 30k-ish  total playerbase) 7. Project Management ( Do it yourself or plan to spend a fortune )8. Illustration / Artwork / Music (  bare minimum stuff 2 - 3k )9. Developement hardware (2k a year maybe )9. Paying for stuff that you ended up throwing out ( 10-20k per year ) ( I just suck at forcasting everything perfectly )Of course,  the more you do yourself the less time you have for project management and running the business side  but can save some money.  Personally,  I find it easier to work full time on non-game stuff, and pay others to do as much as possible.  Im curious what other indie online game makers are budgetting.-Blitz 

    This is a very insightful breakdown - thank you for providing this. I have taken a low/no budget approach (hence my need for Kickstarter). I've been doing all the technical and business stuff myself (Island Forge is written from scratch in Java, without even any external libraries). Most graphics are used under open source license (I am not an artist, and can't afford to hire one yet). Development hardware: $263 self-built computer.

    Island Forge: Create Islands with Stories for Others to Explore!
    Free-to-Play with Membership and Upgrade options!

  • ZylaxxZylaxx Erlanger, KYPosts: 2,574Member
    Originally posted by Clerigo

    In a time where the future of the MMORPG genre is being tested, discussed, by every single community, players and professionals, websites and magazines alike, one has to think that there are forces working hard to bring this genre to brighter days other than big label companies.

    Maybe its our responsability, as end service customers, to provide the correct line of feedback about finished products in order to correctly balance and polish a given game, but the original quality of the product, its design and production quality rests fully on the label working the tittle.

    Now, its my opinion that, despite the efforts being made by the major game developers in trying to innovate the genre or polishing the traditional aspects of it to the maximum potencial, the majority of those efforts fall short in accomplishment. I know its not easy, and that gamers are not an easy crowd to please, but the facts are clear and this genre is currently under fire.

    But, once in a while, we see something being done correctly, something that makes us smile and have good hopes for this genre and, well, lately i found my smiles being fired towards some indie developments i am currently following.

    Yes you can say that the majority of indie development projects are towards other market segments, many of them even for core games, custom engines, etc, but theres also room for our beloved mmo genre. I recently played "Path of Exile" and was very happy with the outcome, following closely "The Repopulation" wich im happy to say had a very nice run in its Kickstarter fund campaign, and very surprised with this simple DayZ mod and itching it can find a way to see life as a finsihed mmo product. And im sure there are others.

    My question is: can the indie developers bring this genre to new heights when it comes to innovation and game design/mechanics? Whats your toughts on this subject?

    Thank you.

    Nope for all their hopes and aspirations I have yet to see an Indie company produce anything wit hthe production quality of a AAA game studio.  This doesn't mean that some of their ideas arent valid or good but usually overall their games are pretty horrible.

    Everything you need to know about Elder Scrolls Online

    Playing: GW2
    Waiting on: TESO
    Next Flop: Planetside 2
    Best MMO of all time: Asheron's Call - The first company to recreate AC will be the next greatest MMO.

    image

  • TruthXHurtsTruthXHurts El Do, KSPosts: 1,555Member
    Originally posted by Vorch

    Personally, I don't understand why MMO companies don't buyout smaller succesful independent developers.

    Even indie developers outside the MMO genre.

    I think many of these companies provide a fresh take on gaming in general, and if that creativity can be harnessed and nurtured, you can add add a truly unique flavor to a traditional style of gaming.

    If they just bought them out and closed their doors then we would have nothing to point at and say "See they are trying somethign different!" Then the AAA could develop their mindless trash and send mankind plummeting down into a pit of complacency and despair of which the world has never seen before.

     

    McDonalds doesn't want you to eat steak. They want you to eat their mass produced worm burgers. They don't even try to make a steak because they know it would suck, cost them too much to make, and would just make you want real steak that much more. 

    "I am not in a server with Gankers...THEY ARE IN A SERVER WITH ME!!!"

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