Launching an MMORPG

anyong qt3 users out there have any experience with LAUNCHING an MMORPG? I am not talking about beta testing, but rather being on the other side attempting to launch a game?

Lum’s on vacation. I think there’s a couple of others floating around, but their names escape me.

well, since launching an MMORPG is such a dasterdly business, wreaking with havoc and server crashes… my question for a business idea is:

why aren’t there more companies out there that provide this service? a consulting service for new companies wanting to launch an MMORPG. The consulting service can also have a server farm that hosts games where the game devs pay them for their hosting services.

It takes the load off the game devs and lets the “experts” focus on what they do.

Anyone interested in working on this sort of thing with me? (since I am “Bored Shitless”)?

IBM is working on technology they call Butterfly that will do what you’re suggesting, at least the hosting part.

About the consulting side, what would you tell a game company? “Make sure your game works and has good netcode”?

Actually yes, if consulting runs true to the consulting in other areas. Consultants are often brought in so that upper management can be told the same thing that internal staff would have. The difference is that these consultants are “experts”, and can also serve as the goat for a project failure.

What’s that old saying?

“A consultant is somebody who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is.”

About the consulting side, what would you tell a game company? “Make sure your game works and has good netcode”?

Exactly. And will laugh all the way to the bank.

Yes I have some experience, though I wasn’t on the dev team specifically.

The problem with this plan (I think how you are describing it) is that stuff like hosting and things of that nature need to be figured and inked out way in advance of any launch. Contracts should already be solidly in place, with load testing and caching tested out the wazoo. The technologies you use should either be thoroughly tested or tried & proven in a release environment – the more experimental technology you wind up using, the bigger the chance for a total clusterfuck.

Believe me, I know. Helping launch WW2OL scars you for life :) Rebounding from it like we have has been one of the hardest things I think a game company has ever done, and it’s taken us two years.

Another issue is the fact that the stress of launch will probably be unequaled at any other point in the lifespan of the product. There’s nothing quite like launch day in this industry. That said, a bad launch can kill you, but the dependency on keeping the user base of a lengthy period of time (retention rate) and growth is just as important, and it’s an interesting thing to juggle.

— Alan


after learning all that you have learned from a bad mmorpg launch, why don’t you and your buds make a side-consulting business and consult for other mmorpg companies on your “free time”?

if it works out it would certainly be worth it… what a business oppoortunity for you!

Game Developer Magazine just had an article on a couple of different companies that are building MMOG engines for licensing. One of them was (co?)founded by a guy that used to work here at Maxis on TSO.

I seem to have forgotten my Gamasutra login or I’d go find the article and link it.

I think I’m going to use “Launching an MMORPG” as my new potty euphemism.

Dude, you just made me spew beer all over my keyboard and monitor. NOT cool… ;)

Post of the day.

Great. Now Tyjenks is going to tell us again how he and his wife started “Launching MMORPGs” together soon after they first met.


The place where me and Cathcart work used to bring in consultants. Without exception they always caused far more problems than they solved.

The consultants weren’t always to blame though, because they were often given extremely poorly defined tasks.

Hiring consultants is tough.

You have to know enough to understand that you don’t have anybody at your company that can really do the work in question. But you also have to know just enough about the area in question to evaluate the skills of the consultant.

These two things don’t usually go together.

I think we pretty much have our hands full, along with a possible secondary project that doesn’t involve public consumption.

Isn’t Jessica Mulligan’s company in the business of doing consultant & backend work for MMOG companies?

— Alan

Didn’t Jessica Mulligan (btw, same as the Qt3 Jessica?) just write a book on this? I’d swear I saw an excerpt from it this morning on Gamasutra.


You just made me laugh so hard my wife came in to ask if I was OK…

Actually, there are at least a few companies I can think of off the top of my head that are trying to market their game engines as platforms for online games. I’d imagine some, if not all, would provide consulting service. Microforte is apparently still working on its Bigworld engine, for instance (which they’re specifically marketing as an online RPG engine). I believe the Artifact guys are also still trying to market the Horizons engine for licensing deals. Turbine had originally planned to do something similar with the Asheron’s Call 2 engine, I believe, though they’re apparently focusing on being a developer now, rather than a third-party software company. You might even look at some of the commercial game engines, which may come with SDKs and tech support/warranties. Mythic used NDL’s NetImmerse for its most recent games, and the company was apparently giving out free licenses for the newest version (GameBryo)–that’s where the Kohan II guys got their 3D engine from, or so I hear.

There are also a bunch of second-rate MMOs that are either already released, or in development, that stand little to no chance of being decently successful, but whose developers would probably be overjoyed to sell you an engine license and contract consultations. If you’re serious about launching a MMO, you might either check with the above companies, or just shoot off some quick emails to MMO developers that have a good-looking engine and see if they’re willing to license/help launch.

Since you’re so bored, let me help you out:

Why not create the world’s first MLMMORPG?

That’s Multi-Level Marketing Online Role Playing Game.
Early adopters gain value for every player they bring in, who can then gain bucks down their “chain” for players they bring in.

But is that value the players are generating in-game or is it in real dollars?
You can hire me as a consultant to find out.

Your Power Pill

She co-wrote a book, correct, which deals with developing, launching, retaining, etc.

— Alan