The 3 Requirements For MMO Game Creation (K27)

There’s a big gap between the following things:

  • “I have an idea about this cool MMO where use of fire is the central element of the game”
  • “I’ve now finished an MMO that runs smoothly on computers and has massive amount of locations to go, raids to kill, hundreds of thousands of paying players, excellent and well balanced economy, tons of new content every few months, and hundreds of other ongoing features that make this game worth playing, buying and developing”

The gap is just huge. Having “idea of MMO” and having “completed MMO game” is two totally different things.

Many wannabe developers go into “MMO creation” as their first project (I base this fact on my own experience since I was developing this “cool MMO where you could pick up a torch” around year 2001), and it’s kind of okay to mess up with picking-up-cool-looking-torch-with-flames game, but thinking that it’s going to be “MMOG” (massively multiplayer online game) is way too much. The “G” (game) alone is more than enough to tackle. Or a mockup demo. That’s totally cool to aim for such a small thing and practice.. but MMO, heck no.

There’s about 3 requirements needed for creating your own massively multiplayer online game. Here they are:

  • You must have played MMO games for minimum of 100 hours (preferrably 1000) to get some understanding where you are diving into. Then, consult this guy who actually knows where you are diving into.
  • You absolutely must have read book Designing Virtual Worlds, because it tells you things you don’t pick up by playing. (It’s good to read even if you aren’t making an MMOG, but essential if you plan to make one)
  • You absolutely must be 27 years old or older, since MMO creation is not allowed for younger. After you’ve got to 27 years age, you are either (1) old enough not to have such a stupid hopes* any more or possibly (2) a budget to actually create one.

* Doesn’t apply for filthy rich people.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. One of my first ever blog articles was about this same idea, jumping in head first. You really can’t just create an MMO, creating a classic arcade style game such as space invaders is enough work in itself, there’s just too much to learn. Even if you knew what you were doing, the lag issues, and actual marketing of the game, is a massive task. Nice post, I definitely agree.

  2. Sorry forgot to check back on my comment so please forgive the slight necroing here :-D

    @Juuso – not yet, I’m currently debating using UnityPlayer or one of the 3D flash libs in the next version of our browser based rts AOW 4025
    I obviously enjoy pain ;-)

  3. @Iain: with browser games… at least you aren’t doing a 3D mmorpg… ;)

    @Lumooja: :)

    @JC: So true.

    @Brian: indeed. Good points. Added you to the list of requirements ;)

  4. I’d add one more thing.

    4. You should know your history.

    I think this is a crucial step in what many people overlook in game development, but it’s especially true in MMO development. Knowing what has gone on in the past keeps you from making the same stupid mistakes.

    For example, many people talk about making an MMORTS. “Why has nobody done this before?” I’ve heard people say, “I have this tremendous idea for one!” Except they don’t realize it’s been tried a few times before. Sony Online, flush with the success of the original EverQuest, was going to make an MMORTS called Sovreign. Long story short, they canceled the project. If Sony at the height of their MMO dominance couldn’t make an MMORTS, then mere mortals should pause. Of course, there actually have been a few MMORTS games, mostly Korean, such as Shattered Galaxy.

    The fact that there is no popular, existing game that uses your idea may not mean nobody thought of it. It may instead mean the idea couldn’t be done successfully, or the idea languishes in relative obscurity. Of course, a real game developer/mad(wo)man will simply state that previous implementation wasn’t good enough. Still, knowing your history will tell you why that idea didn’t work out previously and help you avoid repeating the same mistakes.

    Did I mention I do consulting on MMO development? ;)

  5. Actually, you don’t need to be that specific:

    There’s a big gap between the following things:
    “I have an idea for a game”
    “I’ve now finished my game”

    That work the same ;)


  6. That’s why I call my game project MO, and not MMORPG.
    I’m happy when it runs with a few players, and the basic things work.

  7. “You absolutely must be 27 years old or older”

    Haha, I’ve got to say I absolutely agree with that :D
    Although to be fair I started when I was 25 and I wish I’d waited till I was a bit older :(

    I would also say you must have completed and released at least 5 commercial games.


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