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Building an Indie-MMO (2/2)

More Information about how to build an Indie MMO can be found at our friends website: Indie MMO

4. Don’t twist and turn the asset (beyond its original use)
Im now with uMMORPG for almost a year and met a lot of new and interesting people on the forums, as well as the official uMMORPG discord server. Every now and then I come across somebody who wants to use the asset in a way it was not intended by the original author. For example by adding dynamic,  destructible terrain, custom playerworlds, realtime action combat system, level- and classless systems and so on. Basically, all of these changes are possible if you have the proper skills, time and resources at hand. But those changes are also major modifications that make the asset do something it was not designed for. This is also referred to as a total conversion and is a daunting task, especially if you are lacking high grade coding skills.

I strongly disadvise such an undertaking unless you are 100% dedicated, willing and competent enough to do so. Your plan might start well, but after a while you will run into serious issues as well as the impossibility of receiving official updates, the usage of AddOns and a whole lot of maintenance and compatability problems. Just imagine the amount of content you can create using the time spent on a total conversion in a different way.

If you want to actually finish a game using uMMORPG, stick to what you get and expand the core asset via AddOns (your own, free ones and maybe a few commercial ones). But keep the core aspects like movement, targeting, combat, the world itself, class and level system – as they are. If you plan to re-design any one of these sensitive areas – you might be better writing your own asset from scratch instead.


Warcraft 3 Digimon Total Conversion

5. Don’t get AddOn greedy (use a few selected ones instead)
Another lesson I learned in almost one year of uMMORPG projects, tests and writing AddOns: Some people out there are not satisfied with the number of features the core asset ships with. Of course I agree with that fact, but I also understand that the author is not able to provide each and every feature the community wants to see. Vis (the author of uMMORPG) is in fact adding features to the asset in regular intervals, and a sprawling scene of AddOn developers emerged as well, trying to fill the gaps and expand uMMORPG wherever possible.

This particular situation: “We don’t have every feature we want yet, but we might get that in the near/mid/far future” has lead to a form of AddOn greed that took toll on several developers out there. AddOn greed on the one hand makes you scavenge the web for all kinds of AddOns to put into your project. Trying to get as close as possible to the “next WoW killer” in terms of feature quantity. On the other hand, it causes a stalemate to project development because you go into a “I can’t continue to develop my project unless feature X becomes available” endless loop. By playing the famous MMOs out there (look – so shiny!), some Dev’s become even more AddOn greedy and completely cancel out their own development cycle. Waiting for better days instead of advancing the development of their projects.

My advice: Don’t get AddOn greedy, as you will never ever gonna catch them all. And there will always be new stuff on the market. There won’t be that “golden 1.0 version” you are waiting for. Limit yourself to a few selected AddOns and maybe one unique feature. AddOn greed will put your project into eternal stalemate. Development is the exact opposite of standstill. It means you have to take the destiny of your project in your own hands in a pro-active way.

Comic by http://themeatly.com

6. Don’t think of “development” as a simple asset flip (understand what dev means)
Another thing I’ve encountered several times over the course of the last months is that many people think that game development using Unity 3d is just a simple asset flip. But exactly the opposite is the case – the more assets and technology you have at your hands, the more complex development becomes as all parts must work together in harmony. Just think of every asset as an instrument in an orchestra, your job as a developer is to conduct them to work together in terms of rhythm, harmony, length, volume and pitch.

Amost every day, I encounter people who saw just another asset on the store and want to combine that said asset with uMMORPG. Multiply this by the number of subsystems found inside the uMMORPG asset like inventory, combat, ingame shops, npc dialogues, networking, character progression, enemies and so on and you get a massive list of assets that seem to fit your needs at first.

But you should be aware, that all of those assets are standalone and where not designed to be used as part of the uMMORPG asset or a networking environment. This means, all assets require professional coding to integrate them into your uMMORPG version. Now each and every asset was written by an individual, with individual goals and a individual coding style.

If you go that route, your job as a developer will be far more than just a simple “asset flip”. You have to understand (that means “learn”) each asset as well as the uMMORPG assets code in order to bring the loose ends together. As 99% of those assets are not plug-and-play-able in the unique “MMO client/server networking environment that uMMORPG is” – you will need a solid skill set and a couple of hours per asset to make that work with uMMORPG.

In theory, it sounds so cool to simply dump the “Third Person Controller” into your uMMORPG3d project and have immediate access to all of its features with 0 coding involved. In practice it’s more like opening the gates of hell (alongside a 75$ waste)…

 

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Building an Indie-MMO (1/2)

More Information about how to build an Indie MMO can be found at our friends website: Indie MMO

Introduction
Time for some myth busting – in this new blog series I would like to share some personal thoughts on the process of creating an Indie MMO using Unity and the uMMORPG asset. It’s all about realistic game design and how to manage such a project – things you should do and things that you should better not touch (not even with a stick). Please note that the following pages represent my personal thoughts and are in no way representative for all opinions out there. Also note that I write exclusively about creating indie games using Unity and the famous uMMORPG asset (but I am not the author of uMMORPG).

Summary: The purpose for this blog series is to give advice to game designers who are set for one single thing: To create and finish a game using Unity within a reasonable amount of time, using a reasonable amount of resources and still generate a reasonable amount of joy/revenue.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

SamuTale Unity based Indie MMO (Unity Client + Custom Backend)

1. Do Not…switch to MySQL (if you are not a programmer)
uMMORPG was built with simplicity in mind and therefore uses SQLite as it’s database system. SQLite is a subset of MySQL with reduced complexity and stripped down features. It also has several advantages as it does not require you to setup a database server and can therefore be run locally and on a dedicated server without further configuration. The uMMORPG core scripts and all of our AddOns where built around SQLite, if you want to switch to mySQL now, that means replacing each and every database script in your project. Now imagine you add a new AddOn (that will most probably also be based on top of SQLite): You have to replace that script syntax with a proper mySQL syntax as well. This goes on and on for every AddOn you add and everytime the core uMMORPG version is updated.

Of course you can still do that, especially if you know how to program both in C# and mySQL. But if you can’t – I highly recommend you get a programmer on board of your team or pay a freelancer. Otherwise just keep your hands off. SQLite is not bad at all. The only problem are networked databases and multiple databases. But do you really need that? Do you have one server up and running – and how about three? Do you? Do your game and your community allow for such a complex setup already? Furthermore imagine all the content and features you can get done in the amount of time that is required to switch uMMORPG over mySQL.

Finally, there are several Indie MMOs out there that rely on SQLite for years – and they are still alive and kicking! Just do a quick google search or check out Wurm Online for example.

Wurm Online (SQLite)

2. Do Not…aim for MMO (aim for MO instead)
Unity (and especially UNET) was in fact not built for massive multiplayer games. There is not a single MMO out there that utilizes Unity as it’s server backend. Of course there are several Unity MMOs on the market (not just Indies – check out Crowfall for example) but they all use a highly sophisticated and very powerful server backend written either inhouse from scratch in C++ or C# or using professional 3rd party software. What Unity is used for in terms of MMOs is the client. And just the client (Summoners War is another example). There might be exceptions, but thats what I observed in the past years.

Im not saying that a MMO is not possible, just ditch that “massive”. In my eyes, any Indie game will always have to struggle for players and you will have a hard time attracting thousands of online players to your game. If you do your job right, you will be able to have hundreds of players online. Thats not MMO, thats MO – and thats absolutely perfect both in terms of revenue and technical limitations.

Just imagine how much marketing power is required in order to attract 10.000 players – and how many servers and people who manage those servers must be paid (or be very dedicated to your project). It’s a nice dream but nothing realistic. Instead you should aim for a small but tightly knit community and good content. Content that offers your players areas to explore, quests to complete, monsters to fight and items to acquire. And all that represented in a appealing and polished way, with a special care to the details. You won’t be able to populate a world with content, that is capable of satisfying 10.000 players – but if you work hard, you will be able to create a world with enough content to keep 1k players around.

Project Gorgon (Indie MMO)

3. Do Not…alter the core beyond recognition (use AddOns instead)
I tell you the story of my very first uMMORPG project: After getting used to Vis coding style and a bit of knowledge about the asset, my first thought was: This is lacking so many features – I have to add as many of them as I can! Said and done, new features where tacked on and stuffed into the core asset. A few days later, Vis released the first update on the store that contained only minor changes. I was able to update by hand and did setup a GIT repo for the future. Several tiny updates followed that where all easily manageable, but the process got slower and more tedious each time. This made me skip one update or another, leaving a gap in my personal series of uMMORPG version numbers.

After a while I wanted to start a side-project based on the same uMMORPG asset and realized that I cannot move my features from one project to another. Then – all of a sudden – Vis released a new AddOn that allowed parties. This rendered my own party code obsolete and I had a hard time A. removing the old code and B. updating to Vis new code. A period of smaller changes followed that I spent stuffing even more features into my Frankenstein core, updating turned more and more into a chore. I was so happy when everything worked that I skipped a few of Vis official versions. You should know, that when you do – catching up to the newest available version becomes even more difficult. My little frankenstein engine was only missing a proper pet script now, the code was all spaghetti like but it worked. And then Vis released the Pets update. And I jumped around, screaming and pulling my hair out!

My advice: It’s OK if you want to modify the uMMORPG core system, we all want to add our own features and make the asset unique. But do by using the AddOn system. Because that is was the AddOn system was made for. That system also allows you to sell your AddOns, but thats not it’s primary use. The AddOn system enables you to add more or less extensive modifications to the uMMORPG core system (using partial classes and hooks) while the core scripts remain intact. This means you can update your uMMORPG asset, you can import/export AddOns, you can move them to other projects and share them with your team members. The AddOn system will make your life easier and your project much more manageable. Think about it!

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The world of Gods & Minions

“In the dawn of the sixth age, the sky itself descended – for the world as they knew it, was coming to an end. The Mortals strived for eternity long ago and built a kingdom of high magic, technological advancement and cultural treasures. Of course, as Mortals do, they squandered it, fought over it, and, finally, lost it.

The Gods imposed a final test of dignity upon their children in order to prove them worthy. Now, while the Mortals struggle to succeed in their test, their once great empires are falling apart. Anarchy reigns over the known world and new leaders are vying for power as the false prophets proclaim the end of known civilization. The end times are now, and this is where our story begins…”

Welcome to the world of Gods & Minions

(Please note that the Gods & Minions project is defunct. The game is neither available online nor offline. All artworks and text are copyrighted).

Gods & Minions – dark fantasy wargame & RPG background world

Welcome to Gods & Minions, a fast paced wargame set in a world of dark fantasy. In this dynamic game, players simulate small skirmishes or even epic battles between the various factions of a world called Ascendallion. The game takes place after the Fall – a historic event that dispossesed the world into a age of hostility and turmoil.

In Gods & Minions each player will command one of the many factions that take part in the conflict. Before choosing an army, you should read the history of the world and the background information provided for the various races. After you have done this, select the faction that suits your passion as well as your style of play most. Each nation features unique units and special abilities that allow you to vary the composition of the army further.

After selecting your faction its time to construct your army that you will lead into battle. Although there are very powerful individuals in Gods & Minions, a battle is never won due to the strength of one hero or beast. Instead its important to choose all army components wisely, so the the arrangement of warriors is as efficient as possible. The clever use of the right combination of infantry, cavalry, monsters and war-machines sparks synergy effects that lead you to victory. Whatever design you select, you will populate your forces with beautifully painted cards that describe their strengths and weaknesses.

The cards will mirror your style of warfare and represent troops on the battlefield. Each card shows a painting of the creature or war-machine it represents, as well as a detailled description of the troop type together with its name and vital statistics. You will also need a bit of table space that represents the battlefield where the game takes place. The battlefield is divided into different zones and your cards can move freely across them, unless the terrain or other circumstances hinder them. The zones allow your units to charge at your enemies, attack them with melee or missile weapons or retreat to more secure zones to recover. Finally, you win the game by controlling game zones or fulfilling special objectives.

As mentioned above, every Gods & Minions player maintains a deck of cards to represent the heroes, minions and gods of his army. Each card represents a squad or individual creature whose statistics and abilities are defined by numbers and rules text. During his turn, the active player brings new cards into play and activates groups of cards (units) that are already on the table. When a unit is activated, all cards in that unit will get to make a number of actions. With these actions, the cards may charge, shoot their ranged weapons, continue to fight in melee combat, cast magic spells or perform many other actions. In this manner, Gods & Minions gives the player complete control over what every unit in his army does. By the skillful use of your armies strengths, you attempt to outmaneuver and outfight your opponent. In the end, only one player is victorious!

“And, as if we had foreseen the coming cataclysm, we dug deeper into the bowels of the earth and sealed ourselves away. Knowing that our civilization was safe far below the surface, we awaited the end. Centuries passed. And whilst we fed our children with cave fungus and drank water from the subterranean sea, strange horrors from the abyss below assaulted us and our numbers dwindled. Thus, we opened the great gates of Torgmar-Banor and emerged once more to the surface. What we set foot on was a world very different from that of our ancestors. The once green valleys and rolling hills of yesterday are now twisted into deserts of sulfurous ash and polychromatic salt.”

– From the diary of Grak, Son of Orak


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy over 1.500 professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

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What is a tabletop RPG?

As you may already know, role playing is akin to playacting. The referee, or gamesmaster, serves as a sort of actor/director, while the players portray the main characters. Everyone combines their imaginative talents to conceive a spontaneous story which is never short of action, intrigue and adventure.

The easiest way to understand a table-top role playing game is to think of it as a work of fiction such as a novel (or a play, or a movie, etc.). In a novel the author determines the setting of the novel along with the actions of all of the characters and thus the plot; however, in a role playing game, the author (called the Gamesmaster) only determines the setting and some of the basic elements of the plot.

The actions of the characters (and thus the plot) are determined during the game by the game “players” and the Gamesmaster. Each of the “players” controls the actions of his “player character”, while the Gamesmaster controls the actions of all other characters (called non-player-characters). Thus each player assumes the role of (i.e. role plays) his character and the Gamesmaster role plays the non-player characters. In other words, a fantasy role playing game is a “living” novel where interaction between the actors (characters) creates a constantly evolving plot.

The Gamesmaster also makes sure all of the characters perform only those actions which are possible within the framework of the setting that he has developed (his “fantasy world”). This is where the “fantasy” part and the “game” part come into the definition of a fantasy role playing game. A Gamesmaster creates a setting which is not limited by the realities of our world, and thus the setting falls into the genre of fiction known as “fantasy”. However, the Gamesmaster uses a set of “rules” which define and control the physical realities of his fantasy world. The use of these rules makes the process of creating the role playing “novel” into a game.

The Setting
Thus, a fantasy role playing game is set in a fantasy world whose reality is not defined by our world, but instead is defined by a set of game rules. The creation of the plot of a role playing game is an on-going process which both the Gamesmaster and players may affect, but which neither controls. The plot is determined by the interactions between various characters and the game’s setting.

since fantasy role playing is after all a game, it should be interesting, exciting and challenging. Thus one of the main objectives of a role playing game is for each player to take on the persona of his (or her) player character, reacting to situations as the character would. This is the biggest difference between role playing games and other games such as chess or bridge.

A player’s character is not just a piece or a card; in a good role playing game, a player places himself in his character’s position. The Gamesmaster uses detailed descriptions, drawings and maps to help the players visualize the physical settings and other characters. In addition, each player character should speak and react to the other players as his character would. All of this creates an air of involvement, excitement, and realism (in a fantasy setting of course).

The Gamesmaster
The Gamesmaster has been described as the limited “author” of the game; actually, he functions as more than this. The Gamesmaster not only describes everything which occurs in the game as if it were really happening to the player characters, but he also acts as a referee or judge for situations in which the actions attempted by characters must be resolved. The Gamesmaster has to do a lot of preperation before the game is actually played.

He must develop the setting and scenarios for play, much material concerning the setting and the scenario is known only to the Gamesmaster. In addition, the Gamesmaster plays the roles of all of the characters and creatures who are not player characters, but nonetheless move and act within the game setting.

The Players
The players each develop and create a character using the rules of the game and the help of the Gamesmaster (for the character’s background and history). Each player character has certain numerical ratings for his attributes, capabilities and skills. These ratings depend upon how the player develops his character using the rules of the game. Ratings determine how much of a chance the character has of accomplishing certain actions.

Many of the actions that characters attempt during play have a chance of success and a chance of failure. Therefore, even though actions are initiated by the Gamesmasters and the players during the game, the success or failure of these actions is determined by the rules, the characters’ ratings, and the random factor of a roll of the dice.

Finally, a fantasy role playing game deals with adventure, magic, action, danger, combat, treasure, heroes, villains, life and death. In short, in a role playing game, the players leave the real world behind for a while and enter a world where the fantastic is real and reality is limited only by the imagination of the Gamesmaster and the players themselves.


Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.

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What is a Social RPG?

The rise of Social RPGs begun with mobile phones running Android and iOS systems, as well as tablet computers – and are therefore to be classified as a mobile phenomenon. But this genre also has it’s niche on desktop computer systems as well. The birthplace of this genre is Japan and the additive “Social” also origins from there (despite being an english word). Im not sure if the tag “Social RPG” will be enforced or replaced by “Casual RPG”, “Mobile RPG” or any other combination later on, but Im quite used to the term already and stick to it.

The premise of this article is that you already know what a “RPG” is and have a good knowledge about the genre. So we take all the basics like a characters, enemies, maps, progression via a leveling system, inventories, items, abilities and magic for granted. For a good example of Social RPG’s check out games like Brave Frontier or Summoners War.

But the “Social” part of the name tag is not that obvious and should not be confused with its literal meaning. Instead it originates from another genre: “Social Games”. This kind of games became very popular as browser games in the past, distributed via social networks like Facebook. Social Games are usually free-to-play and can be played endlessly, similar to MMOs (for example building up a farm or managing a city). Social Games usually provide only light multiplayer aspects, as they are casual by nature (so no fixed raid times and lenghty dungeon runs or such).

Most of the social interaction comes from showing off your work to others, competing with other players and climb up the ranking ladder. The times when these games where distributed via social networks is almost over, but Social Games continued to exist elsewhere until today – for example in the AppStores and Steam.

The Japanese are renown for unique game concepts and a individual way of mashing two genres together. It did not take long until casual game concepts (like Puzzle games) where mixed with certain RPG aspects and light multiplayer feature to create this new genre. In terms of labels, the american trend leans towards mashing two game titles together (like “Metroidvania”), while the Japanese simply combine two genre titles to create a new genre label. This way, the term “Social RPG” was born.

Social RPGs often actually only feature very light social elements. Limited to a fighting with or against friends, joining a guild or clan, inviting friends from outside the App for bonus points and so on. These social aspects have not changed much since the invention of the genre, but their presence is one of its defining elements. This fact makes the label a bit hard to understand, if you are confronted with it for the first time. But, the label “arcade game” has not much in common with “Arcades” anymore as well and every now and then we see tags like these pop-up and stick around forever (like “roguelike”).

So, what defines a Social RPG? Like with most genre labels there is no perfect definition for the term as the individual games can vary a lot. But here is a list of common concepts that helps to nail the corner posts down:

  • A single, repetitive core mechanic (like a combat system)
  • Micromanagement of game objects (like teams) to complement the core loop.
  • Leveling up through experience for both the account and game objects
  • Features increasingly difficult, short single-player challenges (combat etc.).
  • The focus is on challenges rather than exploration or story
  • Light multiplayer features like a friendlist, fighting with or against friends
  • A wide array of game objects to collect and use
  • Loot is gained via a random lotto mechanic termed “gacha”
  • Game Objects are tiered according to power and rarity
  • Game Objects can be evolved or increased in rank
  • Hard cap on all inventories to force players to invest resources to lift the cap
  • Rare premium currency that is used for a variety of purposes
  • Free-to-Play with optional in App buys of premium currency
  • Puts a limit on game sessions via a stamina meter (or energy meter)
  • The main battle mechanic can draw from a variety of other genres such as action, puzzle etc.

Quality games require quality artwork. We are here to provide you with affordable, royalty free fantasy artworks for your board-game, card-game, computer-game or mobile-game. Browse and buy professional artworks available at our art shop: Fantasy Stockart.