This applies to massively multiplayer online games, but also to any other kind of game that is only playable online against other human players (or has only limited offline playability) - even something like an internet chess client.
While it's not easy, it's certainly possible to make a decent online game in MMF2, using lacewing.
The thing is, even if it's the greatest game ever made, if an online game doesn't have a large base of regular players, then it won't be fun to play, and therefore won't attract new players (and will quickly lose those it did have).
So, how do you get that critical mass which is required for a game to sustain itself?
Is it even possible without the big brand name to attract players?
The reason I ask, is that I have what I think is a pretty good idea for a simple online game (not an MMORPG or anything too ambitious like that), but I'm wondering if there's even any point trying to make it if noone's going to play it.
When I think of the strengths of the Internet, I immediately think of interactivity with others. Here are a few ideas I'll bounce out for you.
For a long-lasting, fan-filled online game, I think a high score table should be standard. If there's a way to implement ladders, tournaments, and other recurring competitions between players, then so much the better. Recognition as the game's best player (AKA "bragging rights") could be enough, but you could also offer some other rewards that don't necessarily cost you any actual cash. In-game perks for the top-seated player or top 10 players might be a good idea. Maybe you could have randomly (or "randomly," in the case of arbitrarily chosen) perks for players, even if they don't make it into the top 10. That way you can rope previous players back into the competition, as they have a (temporary?) way to one-up the competitors.
A notion that I want you to recognize in all this, however, is that it's a lot of maintenance. The growth period for the vast majority of games is prior to release, and unless you have the time and/or resources for the ongoing maintenance, then it'll be a challenge to persist with it. A truly elegant system will allow you to maximize growth while minimizing maintenance; add persistent play to the mix, and an already formidable challenge becomes legion.
Good luck to you on whatever it is you're trying to accomplish, Sketchy!
The important thing to remember with small games is that whether it takes off or not is up to who's paying attention at the time. I'm sure there's some significant formula you can come up with, but when it comes down to it, make it fast and simple. If you want to get out there with small games, remember that it's quantity over quality, HOWEVER, that doesn't mean to skimp on the quality. When it comes down to it, the only real qualities it needs to have is that it be easy to pick up and polished.
Never forget the power of marketing. It can be boring, it can be tough trying to find people to help spread the word, and it can even annoy people if you throw it in their faces too much, but if you market something strategically then it should really boost sales/downloads/players.
And don't underestimate the power of Flash and social networking sites like Facebook. Very powerful viral potential there.
Case in point:
When something as ridiculously stupid as Farmville can become a viral sensation on Facebook, I think you're pretty much a shoo-in to win with any well marketed idea. Especially if you actually have quality behind it.
Not sure how compatible my idea is with some of those suggestions, but never mind...
For anyone who's curious, the game would be a clone of the legendary "Sopwith", which even back in 1984 could be played by 4 players over a network. However, in this game you could have many more than 4 players, and instead of just bombing static buildings, there would be player controlled tanks as well (the gameplay for those would be similar to the old "Artillery" type games - ie. "Worms").
So kind of like "World of Warplanes/Tanks" would look if they were made 30 years ago.
Here's a mockup of how it might look:
And here's an actual screenshot of my new terrain engine in action:
That's looking pretty cool already. I don't know how you do these things so fast Sketchy. Not sure if it would work well in an MMO as simple as that but it would be cool if there was good physics involved.
I can definitely see how something like that would get addictive.
Something like that terrain demo is actually really quick and easy to do. I've added a few extras like saving/loading and aiming the gun, and it's still under 20 events.
Another little experiment I tried (won't be using it in the game) is a system for generating the scenery by taking a cross-section through a height-map image:
The physics will be as close as I can get to the original Sopwith (so if anyone's good at reading C source code... ).
The gameplay is kind of a mixture of Sopwith, Artillery, Armor Alley, and World of Warplanes/Tanks. It wouldn't be a truly *massive* multiplayer online game - rather an online game for small teams.
The game will be played by two teams of players. The teams will have bases at opposite ends of the map, and the aim of the game is to capture the enemy base.
In addition to bases, there will be a few other structures that can be captured or destroyed, and which confer some advantage to the owner - eg. factories allow players to respawn more quickly after dying; control towers allow planes to land/spawn at an airfield; fuel depots allow them to refuel/re-arm/repair while on the ground; etc.
Players will be able to choose from one of 3 vehicles:
* Tank - Gameplay is like Worms or the old Artillery games, where you select angle & power to aim shots. Tanks are the only vehicles capable of capturing buildings, including the enemy base, which makes them essential.
* Bomber - Good for destroying tanks and buildings. They're not very fast or maneuverable, but have a tail-gunner for defense.
* Fighter - Fast and agile, so good for intercepting enemy bombers. Can also use guns to strafe ground targets (but bombers would be far more effective).
There may need to be some limit on the numbers of each type allowed, in order to keep things varied and intersting. It may be more fun to scrap the idea of bombers, and just let fighters drop bombs like they do in Sopwith.
There could be an online highscore table, listing the best teams and individuals, both overall and in each vehicle - eg. best pilots; best tank commanders; etc.
What you're talking about reminds me of the "Domination" game mode in Unreal Tournament. That and Assault are my favorite game modes of the bunch.
How big are the maps you're planning to make? How long would it take a tank to drive from one side to the other, for example?
As for online Risk...Start off small, but keep in mind the notion of combining the game with an overlay map/Clan Wars concept. Build up your fan base with the Sopwith game, then build towards the world conquest/Domination feature.
...The "World of Everything" clan game sounds absolutely massive.
I'm not really familiar with Unreal Tournament (I don't like first person shooters), but it's a pretty common game mechanic. Another example would be HitmanN's "Tank Game" ( http://www.create-games.com/download.asp?id=8170 ). Speaking of which, where is HitmanN these days? That platform RPG of his is supposed to be due out soon...
I haven't thought a lot about map size. I guess I'll just experiment a bit and see what works. There'll be an editor anyway, so they can be made as big or as small as the players want.
In Sopwith, on level 1 it takes 25 seconds to fly from one end of the map to the other (3000 pixels). I'm likely to go a bit bigger than that - maybe 5000 pixels, so it's more like 35 seconds for a plane or 2 minutes for a tank. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it though...
Next up is finishing the tank gameplay (just need to add shooting, which should only be a 10-minute job). After that I'll add planes and buildings - and then I'm just left with the hard part - all the online stuff (expect a few more pleas for help if and when I get that far).
"SCREW YOU DOUBLE POST", i laughed at that (just double-posted on one of the front-page games myself a moment ago). Sketchy this looks pretty cool, looking forward to seeing hat you do with this, especially with the online-ness (word? it is now!)
@ Miss Chloecakes - I guess there's a certain similarity... To me, "Cortex Command" just looks like "Liero", but with an added base-building element. I'm really not a fan of complexity for complexity's sake - most of all in multiplayer games. If a player wins because they've played a lot and become very skillful, that's good; if they win because they've played a lot and learned the intricacies of 100 different weapons, that's very bad game design (there's no way CC needs all those weapons - it just dilutes the core gameplay).
Also, if they win because they've played a lot and that in itself gives them some advantage (ie. "grinding"), that's bad too.
Probably the closest thing to what I'm planning would be "Rescue Raiders" or one of its clones ("Armor Alley", "Super Army Wars", "Glory Days 2", etc) - the major difference being that the ground units are under player control, instead of just constantly moving forwards.
@ Marko - cheers
Assault Andy Administrator
I make other people create vaporware
30th November, 2012 at 30/11/2012 09:46:14 -
As others have said, one of the hardest parts about making an online multiplayer game isn't the online coding aspect, it's having a community of players that will be able to play.
The game I'm currently developing, Dungeon Dashers, will use Lacewing for the multiplayer component, but it's intended that it will also be a very similar game in singleplayer, this means that players don't need to have lots of friends to play with.
So having a game where it's "better" if you have lots of people playing, but still playable with a handful of people might help lower the barrier to entry to get people playing.
Yes, that thought had occurred to me too...
I think the minimum for it to be really fun in the planned form would be something like 4 players per team - and 8 players online at the same time is actually quite a lot (I guess I'd need to organize some scheduled testing sessions to try and get everyone online together).
However, there could be alternative gameplay modes which would be playable even 1 on 1. For example, a pure dogfighting mode with no tanks (exactly like the original Sopwith), a mode with just the tanks and no planes (basically a Scorched Earth clone), or a mode with AI-controlled tanks and player-controlled planes (similar to Armor Alley). We'll see...
The level editor is now completely done, so that's good I need to go back and finish all the tank-related stuff next. I was working on a parallax scrolling effect, but I don't really like it so I'm scrapping that.
btw: I'm very much looking forward to Dungeon Dashers - I've been watching it for a while and it looks awesome. And plus roguelikes are always fun