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Old 08-05-2010, 07:02 AM   #41
Milawe
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Re: Developing from scratch

It would be awesome to do it in a few weeks or even months, but I'm not sure how you would accomplish that and have any kind of an original game. I think that if you completely copied the game designs of another codebase, then maybe it wouldn't take as long, but you would still have all the time spent in creating the content of the game. If you have anything more than "This is a sword. It stabs things." or "This is a garden room. It grows things.", that alone would still take a long time for a good size game.

We could be talking about completely different types of games, though. For Primordiax, we had to write the lore, which is completely original which, in and of itself, required us to establish a detailed timeline. The driver was being coded at this point which included connecting and all your basic commands. Then the wold map was designed. Then we had to decide what parts were given to the player, what parts were to be discovered in game, and then what parts were possibly never to be discovered. Then we designed many of the game systems around the lore. Then we generated the world map and created the three city maps. Then we coded the backbone of the systems which included combat, crafting, guilds, buffs, grouping, mob AI, skill trees, collectibles, task system, quest system, achievement system, etc. Then we had to design, describe, and code all the content for those systems. Then we had to code the three cities and their contents. I'm just going to stop there for now because the list goes on and on before we even start to try getting players.

I don't think I really see this as pessimism, though, but a description of what CAN go into building a game from scratch. I understand that many developers choose to get the basics in, develop a few areas, and then throw open the doors. I'm not sure that I think that's the best way to open a new mud and may perhaps kill several infant muds before they really have a chance.

You're right that a decent engine doesn't take that much time to code. It took far less time to code the engine than it did to design and code the game and its systems. I would never presume to tell you that the game is better than a game that was coded in a few months or a year. Time spent on something is definitely not the determining factor of how good a game is. Duke Nukem Forever was in development for almost 13 years, and I can't say that it was better for it... since it never got released.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:38 AM   #42
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Originally Posted by Kylotan View Post
I'm happy if you guys want to continue insisting that doing this sort of thing takes years. At hobbyist rates of a few hours a week then maybe it does. But some of us are pretty good coders and also good designers and it really doesn't take that long to code a basic but functional mud engine if you know what you're doing.
That's exactly what I used to think, too. In fact the original plan for God Wars II involved only 3 months of development prior to beta testing.

It actually took 11 months, and the gameplay was still so basic that the beta testers soon lost interest and quit. After another 9 months I realised that I'd opened prematurely, so I spent 1 week creating another spinoff mud to test the engine - a much simpler pure PK game that had no mobs or character advancement, just player-versus-player combat.

It wasn't until after another 21 months that I finally had enough infrastructure in place to start properly beta testing God Wars II - that's a total of nearly 3.5 years development just to reach open beta. The mud then spent another 5 years in beta before I felt it was functional enough to be labelled "fully playable".

To put that in perspective with my earlier projects:

Creating a 16K mud from scratch: About 1 month of design, development, refactoring and testing, including extensive documentation.

Turning the above into a 7000-line pure PK mini-mud: Around 5 months, with most of the effort spent testing and reworking the mechanics.

Creating a fully playable game: Around 1.5 years of design and 8.5 years of development.

You want to know why the fully playable game took so long? Read my weekly progress reports, and perhaps you'll get an idea of the sheer scale of it.

Producing a fully playable game from scratch is not a short-term project, but many people don't seem to believe that until they've actually tried it themselves. And of course most of them fail...which is a real shame, because some of the projects I've read about showed incredible promise.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:32 AM   #43
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Producing a fully playable game from scratch is not a short-term project, but many people don't seem to believe that until they've actually tried it themselves. And of course most of them fail...which is a real shame, because some of the projects I've read about showed incredible promise.
Most who claim it can be done fast also links the word "basic" to the engine it would create though.

I read that one of the first compilers took 11 or so staff years to develop. One of the reasons it took that long was because it was a new field. Now there's a lot of nice theories and even tools to help develop compilers so that the time to make one is decreased. It should be similar for MUDs.

You often see claims such that the wheel shouldn't be reinvented associated with suggestions to use a stock MUD. That comparison is not correct because what is not reinvented is what a wheel is. People still keep making new wheels using the how-knowledge of the past. If you know how to make a MUD you could write any MUD you wish to create - but if you only know how to use already made MUDs then you are stuck on relying on what others provide.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:38 AM   #44
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Re: Developing from scratch

You do over 90% of the work on GodWars II Kavir?

If you have several skilled and experienced people it should be possible to make fast progress.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:17 AM   #45
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Most who claim it can be done fast also links the word "basic" to the engine it would create though.
"Basic" is a relative term. This thread start out discussing muds comparable to Diku derivatives in terms of gameplay - that means a fully playable game. Producing a fully playable game is not a short-term project.

There was also some discussion about not wanting to be tied to pre-existing features. Producing a generic underlying codebase or driver for a mud is obviously less work than creating a full game, but there are already numerous options available that don't impose restrictive licences, don't force specific features on you, and which could save you months or even years of work.

And as I pointed out before, the first few months are crucial, particularly for a hobby mud. That's your honeymoon phase, when it's all new and exciting, and motivation is high. What happens when the honeymoon phase is over, and you've still got nothing operational?

I'm not saying you shouldn't start from scratch - that would be hypocritical. All I am saying is that it will take more time and effort than creating a mud using an existing codebase, and based on my past observations there will be a much greater chance of your mud failing.

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If you know how to make a MUD you could write any MUD you wish to create - but if you only know how to use already made MUDs then you are stuck on relying on what others provide.
No. You can create any mud you wish, from any codebase you wish - you are only limited by your time and skill, and starting from scratch requires more of both. Obviously it's far better to pick a codebase that meshes well with your vision of the mud, and in some cases that may mean going for something fairly barebones. But the only real reason to create a mud from scratch is because you want to. It can be kind of fun, after all! But recognise that it will not make your game better, or more original - all it will do is increase your workload.


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You do over 90% of the work on GodWars II Kavir?

If you have several skilled and experienced people it should be possible to make fast progress.
Yeah, my management skills suck though. My staff tend to disappear.

I'm trying to push more in the direction of player-generated content, hopefully that'll speed up progress somewhat.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:18 AM   #46
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Don't forget your team of coders, creators, and staff. Remember, you cheated, you have to do this single handedly all within a couple of months.
I started coding AoA in July of 2008 from scratch. By December of 2008, the game was in "test" -- and in February of 2009, it went live to production. Not only did I write the game single handedly, but the Flash client as well. Oh, and that was "part time" since I had to work a real job 40+ hours a week, spend family time with the wife and kids, and take care of other personal affairs. Let me also note that all the graphics for the Flash client were done solo(by me), too. As was the website and content supporting it. These things were all "done" (to the degree they were releasable) within a 6 month window, and polished for another 2 before opening. So, writing a MUD from scratch in a short time is completely doable. However, it certainly is no small task.

I have to agree with whomever (Kylotan?) posted that language and tool choice makes a world of difference.

I caveat this with saying that what AoA is today is definitely heads and tails over what it was a year ago. Regardless, if I would have cut out the custom client/protocol/gfx/website and left the game wholly telnet, I can say with a high level of confidence that I would have had the game from scratch to a decent release candidate in a couple of months. It really depends on how pedantic you want to get on terming a MUD as "release-able" and I personally feel that MUDs, by their nature, are in "constant development" ....

Last edited by ArchPrime : 08-05-2010 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:15 PM   #47
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Re: Developing from scratch

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It really depends on how pedantic you want to get on terming a MUD as "release-able" and I personally feel that MUDs, by their nature, are in "constant development" ....
I agree that a mud is in constant development, which is why I didn't use the term "release-able", but "fully playable". Obviously the value of that term is relative, too - technically my 16K mud was fully playable, but it wouldn't have kept people entertained for long.

Within the context of this thread, we're comparing "starting from scratch" against "using an existing codebase", therefore it makes sense to compare equal feature sets. If you want features X, Y and Z, you need to compare the effort involved in writing them from scratch against the effort involved in downloading and modifying a codebase that has some or all of those features built-in.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:03 PM   #48
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Re: Developing from scratch

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I agree that a mud is in constant development, which is why I didn't use the term "release-able", but "fully playable".
Ah. Release-able to me is fully playable. And fully playable means people can create characters, join guilds/classes, beat up mobs, find and sell loot, work a puzzle or three, explore a world (albeit a "small" world... 1000 < rooms < 3000), interact with the world through a multitude of commands, etc. I think the general perception is that "release-able" means you can log in and "walk" between two rooms.... and that's about it. That is certainly NOT what I am referring to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Within the context of this thread, we're comparing "starting from scratch" against "using an existing codebase", therefore it makes sense to compare equal feature sets. If you want features X, Y and Z, you need to compare the effort involved in writing them from scratch against the effort involved in downloading and modifying a codebase that has some or all of those features built-in.
Anything pre-built is obviously going to have the upfront time advantage over something you must build yourself. And, building it yourself does not guarantee that you're going to lower your overall maintenance costs (time/money/however you measure "cost"). I have to agree 100%: if a person finds a codebase that meets all their needs, they are going to have a better time at it as they really only need to create content at that point in time.... still no easy task.

One a side note:
I still rail heavily against the concept that its impossible (or almost impossible...or whatever sort of impression folks like Newworlds are trying to imply) to write a "playable" MUD within of couple months, from scratch. "Time" in development is not a good indicator of feature set quantity or feature set quality, either. Stating that you've had an army of developers, content creators and volunteers also does not necessarily provide an inkling of truth to how many hours is required to "release a playable MUD". Whatever the case, it is NO EASY TASK.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:36 PM   #49
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Re: Developing from scratch

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So why the pessimism now?
No pessimism, do it and stop talking about it and show us your end product.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:51 PM   #50
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Re: Developing from scratch

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I started coding AoA in July of 2008 from scratch. By December of 2008, the game was in "test" -- and in February of 2009, it went live to production. Not only did I write the game single handedly, but the Flash client as well. Oh, and that was "part time" since I had to work a real job 40+ hours a week, spend family time with the wife and kids, and take care of other personal affairs. Let me also note that all the graphics for the Flash client were done solo(by me), too. As was the website and content supporting it. These things were all "done" (to the degree they were releasable) within a 6 month window, and polished for another 2 before opening. So, writing a MUD from scratch in a short time is completely doable. However, it certainly is no small task.
It's hard to comment on what your game looked like in Feb of 2009, since it is now over two years from when you started.

I'd be happy to look at your game but from what I can tell your website dictates that most of the features are "more to come" and "more coming" so I'm not really sure what that means. But again you are almost 2 1/2 years in the making now, not a few months.
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:04 PM   #51
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Re: Developing from scratch

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I'd be happy to look at your game but from what I can tell your website dictates that most of the features are "more to come" and "more coming" so I'm not really sure what that means. But again you are almost 2 1/2 years in the making now, not a few months.
I played AoA a ton over a year ago, and it was definitely something to look at. The game was very playable a year ago, but like any good online game, he was always adding stuff, taking feedback, tweaking, etc.

His stuff is definitely coded from scratch, but I'd say he's an exception to the norm.
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:10 PM   #52
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Re: Developing from scratch

Also, while it may not take long to get those basic features out, that still doesn't determine the success of the game. If we're talking about just getting the basics done and enough for a few players to log on, that could be done in a few months or even a few weeks.

I'm definitel not trying to discourage anyone in coding from scratch. I still think it's the best way to go if you're looking to do something new and different or even if you just feel like you need to do it. I just think that things can be very different in practice than in theory.
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:17 PM   #53
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Re: Developing from scratch

The six month time frame mirrors my experience as well. Alter Aeon was online for testing and building after about six months, and I declared it officially open somewhere around 10 months. That's not to say that it was great at 10 months; but it was definitely playable, fun, and had a decent playerbase.

In spite of being a poor college student, I somehow managed to save archives from that time period on floppies, and a few years ago I collected every backup and disk I could find and added them to my permanent archive. Occasionally I'll boot up the november 1995 version and let people play on it so they can see how it's changed over the years. Even for me, its quite a blast from the past.

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Old 08-05-2010, 08:57 PM   #54
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Yeah, my management skills suck though. My staff tend to disappear.
Good help is hard to find.

I've been wondering if the Wikipedia approach could be used for a MUD server.
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Old 08-12-2010, 11:30 AM   #55
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Re: Developing from scratch

I read this thread and see people handwaving that they could, or have, created a MUD from scratch in what others have dismissed as an infeasible amount of time. And two thoughts are raised, firstly what exactly constitutes the MUD they have created, and secondly whether scratch is all it is claimed to be.

Not all games are equal. One person's MUD completed in a short development period, may only be a small shadow of another's longer term perpetual development project. This is not necessarily a given, but well, when subjective claims are being bandied around who knows.

It is a lot easier to implement something you have implemented before. Even if you are not reusing code, you may simply be reconstructing systems that you have constructed before. Maybe you only worked on it part time, and you implemented a flash client, and you have six kids and two fingers on each hand. Regardless, an achievement of a certain goal does not mean that all achievements of that goal are equal. It maybe be that you develop in flash (is the technical term flashturbate?) professionally.

I don't mean to pick on the poster who the last paragraph attemts to parody in order to highlight the point I was trying to make, it was simply the possibilities that came to mind. The fact is that I could write a game completely from scratch in a week, if I knew ahead of time what I was going to make. The game design, or an existing idea I was going to pretty much adopt. The game systems, or existing ones that I was going to remake.

Fair? Not fair?
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:57 PM   #56
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Re: Developing from scratch

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I don't mean to pick on the poster who the last paragraph attemts to parody in order to highlight the point I was trying to make, it was simply the possibilities that came to mind. The fact is that I could write a game completely from scratch in a week, if I knew ahead of time what I was going to make. The game design, or an existing idea I was going to pretty much adopt. The game systems, or existing ones that I was going to remake.

Fair? Not fair?
Completely fair. And your entire post is probably what I was getting at. After running NWA for 10 years, I could make another MUD in a few weeks. From scratch? Depends on your definition. Fully operational? Depends on your definition. Is it fun, lame, one line descriptions? Does it matter?

So let's cut to the chase and have a competition. Anyone who wants to prove their competetiveness and super coding abilities create a MUD from scratch (use no other code but what you hand create--no snippets, no cut and pastes from websites) and post a link to your MUD that includes all the source code for review and proof of "scratch" creation.

Winner will be chosen at the end of the three month period based on the quality and playability of the MUD submitted. (Bonafied time stamps showing revision times will be required on your MUD code files to prove they were created during this time period).

Ready...Begin!
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:18 PM   #57
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Re: Developing from scratch

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It is a lot easier to implement something you have implemented before. Even if you are not reusing code, you may simply be reconstructing systems that you have constructed before. Maybe you only worked on it part time, and you implemented a flash client, and you have six kids and two fingers on each hand. Regardless, an achievement of a certain goal does not mean that all achievements of that goal are equal. It maybe be that you develop in flash (is the technical term flashturbate?) professionally.

I don't mean to pick on the poster who the last paragraph attemts to parody in order to highlight the point I was trying to make, it was simply the possibilities that came to mind.
Fair? Not fair?

Actually, said poster(SP) has 7 kids, ailing live-in, elderly parents, 3 energetic dogs, a parrot, 3 pet rats and only ONE hand with 2 fingers -- he is missing the other hand altogether. SP was forced to resort to using a special keyboard that allowed toe typing, which of course made his efforts in flashtubation rather difficult. Not only that, but SP had to type uphill both ways while drinking coffee through a straw. Interestingly enough, SP still managed to find that special groove that allowed thoughts to flow from his mind, through his toes, across the keys, and ultimately take the beautiful form of code.


Parodies aside, Noodle's points are valid and spot on. Noodle's thoughts, though, do illustrate some additional requirements needed to really pull something decent out in a short amount of time: prior experience, clearly defined goals, extreme dedication and a thorough understanding of your chosen toolset.

Fair or unfair? I think it's silly to downplay people's achievements. Whether their achievement meets "your" definition is irrelevant. What is relevant, and what should be celebrated, is that people put forth the effort and desire in the first place and actually do something -- something that they can be proud of, whether it be big or small.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:34 PM   #58
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Re: Developing from scratch

With ConQUEST's lair feature, I'm getting a taste of world-building.
I now have nothing but respect for people that manage to name and describe over 10,000 rooms. O.o
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:38 PM   #59
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Re: Developing from scratch

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Fair or unfair? I think it's silly to downplay people's achievements. Whether their achievement meets "your" definition is irrelevant. What is relevant, and what should be celebrated, is that people put forth the effort and desire in the first place and actually do something -- something that they can be proud of, whether it be big or small.
I don't understand what this means, or what it is referring to. I thought it was a coding related forum, where discussion of coding takes place. To question why it was possible for someone who claims that it is possible to make a MUD in a short period of time to have done so, adds perpective. And it helps those who hope to emulate the achievement know exactly what they would have to do, without a false belief that it is generically possibly for anyone to do it in that time period.
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Old 08-15-2010, 01:34 AM   #60
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Re: Developing from scratch

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I don't understand what this means, or what it is referring to. I thought it was a coding related forum, where discussion of coding takes place. To question why it was possible for someone who claims that it is possible to make a MUD in a short period of time to have done so, adds perpective. And it helps those who hope to emulate the achievement know exactly what they would have to do, without a false belief that it is generically possibly for anyone to do it in that time period.

Eh nothing to understand. I probably was suffering from foot-in-mouth syndrome or something --- it was early and the coffee hadn't set in yet. ;-) Whatever the case, we can certainly start a new thread and regale interested parties with insight on "writing a playable MUD from scratch".
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