You Really Don’t Want to Make an MMO

in Opinion

One of the questions we get a lot about our software is “Can I make an MMO with this?”

Usually, my answer is, “Yes, technically its possible, but its not really made for that and it would require a ton of custom coding, and if you had to ask, you probably have no where near the skill to do it.”

People usually get the idea, and start working on a single player RPG with our software, or move on to doing something else altogether, and don’t pick up RPG Maker at all. Which is fine. Not everyone has to use our products,

Ignore previous sentence, hypno-toad requires you to buy RPG Maker stuff.

Ignore previous sentence, hypno-toad requires you to buy RPG Maker stuff.

But, today, I’m going to give a slightly longer answer. Not just to say that RPG Maker isn’t really designed to make MMO games, but also to point out that you probably don’t even want to make one to begin with. And that is because:

MMOs Need A Large Player Base

No one wants to play an MMO by themselves. The fun of an MMO is mostly in that it is an MMO. And that means being able to jump on and play with other people at about any time. Large MMOs will have thousands of players at a time. Even the smaller MMOs have hundreds.

You have to find a way to attract a very large player base, or your game will not survive. Not only that, but you have to RETAIN the player base to keep people coming in, and that means:

MMOs Need To Be Time Consuming

Wow, I finally got that Legendary armor. Now with 100 more hours, I can get the SUPER Legendary armor (OK, seriously, I know this terminology is wrong, I haven't played an MMO in over a decade...)

Wow, I finally got that Legendary armor. Now with 100 more hours, I can get the SUPER Legendary armor (OK, seriously, I know this terminology is wrong, I haven’t played an MMO in over a decade…)

With a single player game, a game can be 1 hour. 10 hours. 40 hours. It doesn’t really matter as long as what it gives you is fun. In an MMO, you need to retain a large portion of your player base, so the play time for your game needs to be as near to infinite as you can get. If someone has completely maxed out their character in 10 hours, they aren’t likely to ever play your game again. You’ve lost them, and they may have only played for one day or two days.

And even with 10 types of characters and expecting them to play each for 10 hours (and expecting the to max out all of them is super optimistic), you are still only hitting 100 hours. And for an MMO to survive, it needs even MORE gameplay than that. You need the players sticking to the game.

Without players hanging around constantly, new players will flake out even faster playing your game all alone. So you need a ton of variety in characters to keep people maxing out more characters, and you need enough variety in the game that the player keeps seeing new stuff each playthrough. Because of that:

MMOs Need To Be Huge

Building the world of an MMO is time consuming. They are HUGE. Every area usually has a good bit of variety, and you are going to need a ton of variety in areas. You need to have a lot of area for the players to explore and learn. Enough that someone playing for hundreds of hours is still finding new things.

Compared to a tight single player game, you will have to spend an incredible amount of time just making maps. Making cities. Making forests. Making mountain passes. Making deserts. etc. etc. And all of these places need lore and worldbuilding, so you won’t JUST be spending time building them in the engine, you have a lot of writing to do on them as well. And filling them with a variety of enemies. And tons of side quests. And just eighty million other things.

And Finally:

MMOs Take a Lot of Upkeep

Unlike a single player game, where you might need to run in to do a bug fix every once in a while, an MMO is going to be constantly in need of upkeep.

keep-calm-the-server-is-down

You need a server for it to run off of, which can mess up and require fixing. You need to be doing constant bugfixing. You need to be adding new things for people to discover constantly. You have to constantly be trying to keep your player base happy, because unlike with any other type of game YOUR PLAYER BASE IS PART OF THE EXPERIENCE OF THE GAME.

I can hate the fans of a single player game and the game is still fine. But if I hate the players in an MMO, that MMO is also useless to me.

The thing is, an MMO is a huge, time consuming endeavor. More so than a standard RPG, which is a time consuming endeavor on its own. You have to be focused around retaining players, which is a very difficult job, and requires a very very dedicated combo approach of marketing and dev time that is larger than any other kind of game you could work on. And not by a small amount. By a ridiculous amounts.

What do you think? Do you still want to make an MMO? How are you planning on getting around the problems I’ve listed here? Can you think of more obstacles I haven’t listed? Join us in the comments section below, or on the discussion topic on our forums.

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