Hello. A friend of mine have decided to attempt to start a grass roots development of a mmorpg. We are both tired of the same tired and cookie cutter cloned mmorpgs out there that are all the same. It's a daunting task but even if we could get an alpha copy running on a pc with a few online players we would be happy with that and worry about any commercial paths after that.

So here's my problem. I am the Content Designer and Community Manager of said project with no programming skills. I need a volunteer to help us in his/her free time with basic projects we have no idea how to start on. Obviously we have no funding so it's more of a basement weekend project kind of thing at this stage. I'm willing to work a few years on the idea getting single pieces of the puzzle together over time.

Perhaps someone here can help supply even one piece of that puzzle.

I can be contacted via email at craig.sanderlin@edm-inc.com or at MSN IM at lordpenquin@hotmail.com.

If this post is in the wrong location I apologize but I figured game development might be a good place to start to make my plea. Thank you for your time.

It's a sci-fi mmorpg that concentrates on exploration, construction, crafting and socilization instead of combat. There is combat of course, but it is not the focus. No killing 10 space rats over and over again!

well, the first thing you'll need to figure out is if you'll be going with a in-house game engine of your design (you'll need atleast 1 if not more very good programmers).

That option is tough, and if done part time, like Our Genius of a programmer did, you could be doing that for a long time. "Zonker" just recent moved from part-time work to full time on his game engine ( we have investors now), and it adds up to be about 7 years by himself.

Or to look into some of the Game engines available online, and see if the free ones are worth it, or try jump for something that can work for the budget.

At the end of the day, starting from the very beginning, and wanting to get away from the cookie-cutter clones as you say you'll need some good programmers, and artists to work of unique content, all which you might already realise, but what you have to remember, this is a project they could be on for many years.
Find some good friends for that sort of trust and belief is not going to be easy to find.

I am aware that it is an uphill (read 90 degrees) battle but I feel it's worth a try. I never considered one of the pre-build engines for sale because it's not a typical mmo. Not only will there be ground based avatars but there will be ground based vehicles, space ships, and atmospheric flight. I'm not aware of an existing engine that has programming to support that. I've heard multiverse has picked up the Firefly licence from fox though so perhaps it has something to support it. Perhaps it's worth toying with at least for some concept work.

True, most of the low cost ones won't do exactly as you want, especially if it is as you said abit non-standard. But it will be an easier building block, to then add to it, than starting from fresh, unless you have the experience in building them from scratch or the time and persistence to learn.

C4 Engine and DX Studio, do offer some very decent options and flexibility, it's worth researching those too. I often refered to www.devmaster.net when i've had to get more info on game engines and programming in general.

C4 Engine

DX Studio

Best of luck, with the project.

Kudos on taking the leap. It's quite a learning experience building one of these monsters. It takes knowledge in just about every aspect of computing, from software development to distaster recovery to networking to database design (if you go that route) to... well, you get the idea. I'm three years into the process and still learning.

I commend you on the choice of developing from scratch, though I will tell you that everything you've been told is right: it's much, much more difficult. The up-side is, of course, that you'll have a total understanding on how the whole thing works, which can be really helpful when chasing bugs. The downside is, however, it'll be quite some time before you're actually playing your own game. Patience is a huge part of it.

I'll tell you this from our experiences so far: it can be done, but you've got to stick with it, even when you don't seem to be getting anywhere. Design your protocol carefully, it is KEY to your success. You can learn anything if you decide you want to. Things don't have to work right... they just have to LOOK like they work right. You'll learn more about Newtonian physics than you ever really wanted to. Cannon balls bounce on water... wait... you won't need to know that.

And in space, no one can hear you scream.

Good luck!