A little heads up: this is my personal opinion and it’s based on my personal experience that I have so far with being a complete newbie game developer, on how to attempt an mmorpg as a newbie and solo-dev.
You have been warned, click away, if you are here to look for some kind of tutorial, stay if you want to know which mindset is good to have when starting out 🙂
I will start on how I started thinking about even making games.
So in my life, I wanted to become an artist, most of the time, people were supporting me more or less for it. I got to meet other artists and I tried to be accepted on universities and special schools for art related stuff. All the while I was gaming away at home. Thanks to my dad and uncle I was even able to experience the C64 despite my young age and thanks to my dad I got a huge interest in computers and everything electronic. My dad was also a hobbyist programmer, making his own lottery programs to try to predict number outcomes and he made a program for his workplace machines, which was then being used for the whole company(even though programming wasn’t part of his job).
Moving on, my brother got similar interest in games and computers and because of neglecting homework and school, he was being asked, why he isn’t turning his love with games into work, also since he was good with math. This got stuck in my mind, wondering, why I wasn’t asked the same thing and that it most likely was because I’m a girl and not really good at math, thats atleast what I thought or was made to believe.
So going for the artistic direction, which seemed to be more accepted and I didn’t need to worry about math, was the logical choice for me and also alot of fun, at first. But soon after I started at a school that was supposed to be more illustrative based, they changed the school system to be more “job-related” and the only thing they could think of, was advertisement.
It felt like it was breaking me. Sure I didn’t mind learning Photoshop in this time and learning how to operate another Operation System besides Windows, but I wasn’t very happy with it, that suddenly I was being told what to draw and HOW to draw. Suddenly whatever drawing I did it was never good enough. My style either too childish/comic-like or I was not making enough sketches before drawing the finished project. And I’m not talking about making 1-3 sketches, before settling on something…no…I was expected to do 20 sketches, that I can’t just decide to take an early sketch I like. It seemed “weird” that I was having an idea in my head, which I just tried to bring on paper, instead of having to find an idea.
Needless to mention, this caused me to question whatever idea I have in my head or whatever I already started drawing, that I could have done always a better idea, that there always is a better way to solve it, which then concludes to not finishing anything. This was taking all the fun out of drawing for me, so for a long time I didn’t really progress like before and I felt cheated for years, but atleast I was certain at this point that I don’t want to do advertisements for the sake of advertisements!
I left that school after 3 years and started looking for an art university to study on, because I didn’t feel in any way ready to be hired anywhere with my art and because I felt quite aimless where to even go, since it seemed that the only things I could draw was comic characters/anime and alot of sketching out ideas, that looked nowhere near anything usable (I could draw realism also, but I rarely did, because I thought it’s just tedious work, that makes everything look more shiny, but it doesn’t bring across ideas any better)
I was mostly drawing Anime characters I liked and self invented fitting into those Universes, aswell as game characters of mine, I even did win a small contest for drawing someone elses character from an MMO 🙂
Yes, this was also the time I started with MMOs and interestingly enough, my first one wasn’t Ultima online, but an Asian MMO called r.o.s.e online.
Actually, this is also where my affinity for sandbox games came from, since alot of those 2D stylized asian MMOs were heavily social and freedom based, so housing and skill based system was “normal”.
Back to looking for universities: In short, I was literally being told that my art is too symbolic and figurative and not refined enough. Meaning I was drawing too much actual humans, animals, angels etc. instead of experimenting with colors and shapes (yeah right…) so I was not accepted. And I was baffled because I thought Art Universities would be about learning drawing in general, not to learn a specific kind of drawing, which also led me to believe that ALL Art Universities must be like this (in germany).
So I tried figuring out, what kind of Art I like to do and where I could find it in Internet, looking for examples of sketchy figurative work and maybe also something that I could combine with my love for games, so I found out about concept artists and character artists.
so I had set my goal to become that, because figurative and symbolic was WANTED and needed in this kind of Art or rather Design. Also I had experimented with some 3D games, playing around with their editors to see how I can change things, but nothing really serious came out of it, mostly because I always had that nagging thought, that this is not mine, whatever I build, it’s on top of some other persons game.
Now to come the following 7 years after I got my school graduation:
I met a man, who is a fantasy book author and since I lvoed everything fantasy and he seemed to be interested into games also, I fell for him, for around 7 years. It was in that time, that I thought he could help me gain confidence in myself and reach my goal of becoming a concept artist or anything I would want to. Sadly, those were lies. And even though I got to an University study, that was oriented towards Animation and Games, I couldn’t invest myself into it properly, because of the stress I experienced every day at home.
I somehow managed though, to learn a few things and to make some games with university groups, which were really making me more confident in myself, since I learned so much on what my strengths are by working in a group and also where my weaknesses are. Also, doing those studies and getting a free choice on what to study for each hour spend at university, was making it more clear where my interests are laying and where not. As example I have a huge interest in everything electronic still and I had alot of fun trying to program a small RC cart to work with a wii nunchuck 🙂 I had alot of fun switching roles in teams alot, from working on code, drawing, animations, 3d modelling and overall Design. In overall I loved making composition for games and helping others realize that it doesn’t need an artist to be creative and that whatever idea one has, it can be used to make a game from it, no matter how silly or stupid one thinks it might be.
We are getting closer to the “how to make an MMO” btw 🙂
So after crashing really hardly with my past partner, who seemed so promising, because he not only promised to fix my personality “issues”, but also, he was saying that he is a veteran programmer and that he would be interested in making games with me, he even went as far as making a company in whos name I could work and make my internship in.
I worked really hard on collecting all the necessary knowledge to create a character creator for our “mmo” project, everything that I could do without needing programming. I made a working prototype which supported different body shapes, gender, hairstyles, basic face shapes, all smoothly transitioning within 3dsmax.
I also started a smaller game idea of mine, for ipad, that used the gyroscope inside of it to play it and as the main game element. I had the character model ready and I was even creating a working prototype inside UDK, WITHOUT any programming.
Sadly after many promises of helping me with programming he never did a single line of code and in many other aspects I figured out that he is only abusing me and talking down the achievements I had made by putting it all on his plate.
So we seperated and I lost alot of the work I had done and no one except him was seeing it. It felt like a huge mistake and drawback and I needed to kinda redefine myself, before I figured out this one truth:
There is no limit!
If you want to be a programmer, start programming.
If you want to be an artists, start drawing.
If you want to be a game developer, start developing games.
You don’t know where to start? Start where you feel drawn to, start what is interesting you, start what you want to have.
Because only that will eventually involve us deep enough into the subject, that we will also become willing to do the necessary hard work for it.
If you want to make an MMO, then go ahead and start doing it!
From all I have learned, is that no one will do YOUR dream, everyone follows their own dreams and while some dreams seem to work nicely together, some are clashing really hard. Like in my case. As long as I was believing that someone else could be the only chance for me to make my dream come true, I was not doing it myself and the moment our paths were split, I lost alot of my hard work that I had put into it.
You can not change other people, you can only change yourself and how you interact with the world.
Also, quality is an illusion. When it comes to drawing as example, the moment an idea is successfully communicated, it worked!
The moment a program is running, it works!
What we define as good or bad, is how “flawless” something seems to be, how “perfect” it is and that has no reasonable definition. It is open to the top. You can always improve yourself, there is no limit to that.
So WHY should you bother yourself with what someone else did?
Your skills/quality WILL improve with time, the longer you are doing it, there is no way around it and there is no way you would suddenly loose progress or not progress at all, even if you take a break, you won’t loose it!
Your body might need to remember after a longer drawing break, how to use the pencil, but it only takes a few warm up sketches to get back to it.
Or programming, of course you can always improve your code, to look better organized or to make it work faster, use less memory etc. But you don’t need to do it right now, when you just start out learning how to do things! You don’t need to know how the professionals are doing it.
You don’t need to make that PERFECT MMO, if you wanna make an MMO.
All you need to make your dream come true, no matter what it is, is to not give up on it. Work on it, dream about your dream, live your life.
You can not predict the future and it’s not possible to tell anyone what exactly you need to do, to reach your goal. Some people start out as a carpenter, work for 50 years in it, before they turn towards game industry and become an Indie developer.
If you wanna change your life, start changing it, but do not make the mistake of changing yourself how others think you should change yourself, do what feels right to YOU, do what YOU think you need to do, what you love to do.
It’s not always easy and I can tell you that quite often I bash myself for not doing enough or for thinking that I’m just blabbering empty stuff and how it seems I have nothing to show for all the work I have done already towards my goal and dream.
And sometimes I’m thinking it’s bad that my dream seems to change quite alot also…I don’t have a fixed dream of becoming a game developer, you could say I have a vague direction, that I know I want to go and where I don’t want to go.
But no matter what, as long as I stay true to myself and follow MY path, make my own choices and decisions, I will be able to stand up for them!
I will be able to stand up for myself and be confident in myself, because it’s lasting, because it won’t just vanish, my experiences will stay with me all my life and every step I do towards learning how to be true to myself, I feel less helpless and depending on others.
Which then allows me to allow others into my life and work also.
The moment you decide what you want to do and know that it is truly YOU wanting it (emphasize YOU not the want), then no matters what others might say, they won’t make you budge. They won’t be able to talk you out of it anymore. Specifically if you know that those who usually scream loudest: “Dreamer!” “get realistic!” etc. are usually the ones who have not allowed themselves to dream anymore, it’s those who gave up probably a long time ago and they can not allow anyone else to get what they couldn’t get.
They are griefing and they have no clue that they do, so it turns into hatred, mean comments and trying to bash others down, the same they felt what happened to them.
Don’t take it out on them, it’s not their fault. We live in a world where everyone is raised like that and it’s only a few who (even though increasingly more) who break out of that and live their own lifes.
Now I sounded increasingly more like some motivational speaker 🙂
Yeah, the truth can be quite cheesy and hopefully somebody out there will read it and not needing to spend years to figure this out.
Not sure if I wrote everything I wanted to write, but I’m finishing this now since my baby got cranky XD