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Old 07-12-2006, 10:57 PM   #1
DarkPhoenix
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Hello everyone! I've finally decided it's time to get off my rear end and put all my ideas and passion into something I've been meaning to do for years. I have noticed a lot of mud projects have been popping up for the last few years and have been going head on into making an actual company out of it.

My studies in business are limited; however, I'm no dumb cookie. I'm a game design student with a strong entrepreneurial spirit with the talent and will to create muds. What I need from you more experienced people is a good shove in the right direction.

To start off...
How did you start the actual business?
How much did it cost you?
Did you do it alone or with a partner or group?
Did you continue to work your day job or did you find enough funding to pay your bills and really focus on the games creation?
How many years did it take?
How did you find good staff?
Did you have to prepare a business plan for a bank or did you take the credit route of funding?
If your chose a bank, who did you choose and how'd you present your plan?

Any good advice is welcome, as long as it’s actually helpful

(Should anyone post a reply, believe me I'll have more questions!
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Old 07-13-2006, 12:02 AM   #2
Baram
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Your options are pretty limited if you want to make money off it. I believe LPC does offer a commercial license, but I'm not sure of the cost. We went with Rapture, which comes with basically no game code(bugged WHO/SAY and working QUIT). It's far from cheap, but if it's something you want to look into you'll have to discuss that with Matt.

My partner has been funding it out of his own pocket, he saved up for quite a while. We both still work full time jobs(well, I took a month off from work in May and switched to part time last month). If you can code, that's a good start. You will need to find others to help you, there's no way you could build good area's and do all the coding on your own... well at least not in a reasonable amount of time.

We re-started(from scratch) in February, and are on track(a little ahead actually) to start Alpha testing this year and open beta early 2007. It's been a lot of work, and finding good builders has been the biggest problem.

Finding good staff is not an easy task, there are plenty of games out there for people to build on. Many seem to prefer a game that is already open, so they can chat and RP as well as build. Many builders of ours did seem to quit before we got a larger team, which makes getting a large team harder. Once there are more people on your team, people seem less likely to quit(at least they can chat it up with other builders).

As for the business side, Ryan did all of that so I'm not sure. The two biggest places to form an LLC(best way IMO) is California and Delaware. Both will allow you to do it without a physical location, just a PO box.

Then there's the hosting choice, we used Wolfpaw(minimum set up, about 20USD/mo) for most of development. A few weeks ago we switched to a dedicated server with 1&1(Root II if you want to look at it). Since we are getting closer to release, and need to integrate some things with the website it was time to move to our permanent home.

For costs, with all hosting and such involved... I'd say we've probably gone close to 20k, maybe even up to 30k. We've also had a few builders that have wanted to be paid for their work, which we just can't afford at this time. What we have done is offer each one Angelstone(our version of credits, if you use a pay-for-perks style) and the best have a chance to stay on as volunteer admin. From there we will pick 2 producers(one for the building side and one for the coding side) that will be paid on commission.

Over all, expect 1-2 years for development, depending on the ability of yourself and your team. What codebase or platform you decide to use will also raise or lower the time. If you want to take the cheapest route, you could code everything from the ground up, but that would take a lot longer.
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Old 07-13-2006, 12:05 AM   #3
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Oh, I almost forgot. You'll should also find someone that is good with web marketing and SEO, or learn more about it yourself. We get a lot of traffic and perspective players(and idea makers) off search engines. Along the same lines, you'll want a professional made website and artwork. First impressions are the most important ones, a java client can help too.
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Old 07-13-2006, 12:38 AM   #4
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Thanks for replying Baram I actually used to write for the game you're working on but then school got in the way

A lot of the main areas are already mapped (square to square on paper - they were graphically done but due to my entire system crashing and having to be reformatted several times Ive lost that) and the overall geography is already finished. Its been a work in progress for at least 2 years now. As for backstory the backbone is there but it hasnt' been flared out into a full creature yet.

I would -like- to build the codebase from the ground up and could probably find the help at my school, since I go to a tech school, or online. I know it'll take time but in the end it will be 10x better. The ideas I have behind the combat, guild/clan, and social (city, towne, etc) system is pretty intricate and I have yet to find a codebase that would remotely meet my needs - Not even the covetted Rapture (though I still love IRE).

I already have two close people (my husband and a close friend) to do the artwork and as I'm a freelance designer I've got the website side of things covered (and if I need help I have a ubercoder to help with that too!. I'm planning to either take some more classes and even get another degree in the process to fill in the holes (more php, asp, java, and ecommerce lessons).

Definately agree that LLC is the way to go, I just don't remember all the processes for it. Business 101 was a looong time ago.
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Old 07-13-2006, 12:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (DarkPhoenix @ July 13 2006,14:38)
Thanks for replying Baram I actually used to write for the game you're working on but then school got in the way

A lot of the main areas are already mapped (square to square on paper - they were graphically done but due to my entire system crashing and having to be reformatted several times Ive lost that) and the overall geography is already finished. Its been a work in progress for at least 2 years now. As for backstory the backbone is there but it hasnt' been flared out into a full creature yet.

I would -like- to build the codebase from the ground up and could probably find the help at my school, since I go to a tech school, or online. I know it'll take time but in the end it will be 10x better. The ideas I have behind the combat, guild/clan, and social (city, towne, etc) system is pretty intricate and I have yet to find a codebase that would remotely meet my needs - Not even the covetted Rapture (though I still love IRE).

I already have two close people (my husband and a close friend) to do the artwork and as I'm a freelance designer I've got the website side of things covered (and if I need help I have a ubercoder to help with that too!. I'm planning to either take some more classes and even get another degree in the process to fill in the holes (more php, asp, java, and ecommerce lessons).

Definately agree that LLC is the way to go, I just don't remember all the processes for it. Business 101 was a looong time ago.
Rapture should be able to handle about anything, if you're creative enough with the coding. Ilyrias does a lot of things that IRE can't do(and probably never would as it would require rewriting a good chunk of the game). Rapture just does your networking side of things really, rest is up to you. Going from the ground up is the cheapest, and legal, way to do it but it will take some time.
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Old 07-13-2006, 06:15 AM   #6
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My reply is mostly to agree with/reiterate what Baram said.

Back in 2000 I decided I wanted to program my own Mud codebase - back then I wanted to do it as a learning tool, to become a better programmer.  As the next few years passed, I wanted to turn it into a business.  Since at the time I already owned 2 businesses, 1 successful, 1 not - I figured it was the next logical step.

So I officially started in early 2003 - by myself.  And since that time, I have found that it's very difficult to find people who share enough of your vision AND dedication to get the job done in a meaningful timeframe.  It's been my experience that most of the people who are in this "industry" (that being text-style MMOs) approach it with a hobbyist mentality.  No real rush, no real need for professionalism - it's a game afterall.  Which there is nothing inately wrong with and which might be good for a hobby-style Mud, but not for something that is supposed to make money.

If you decide to take the leap, a few suggestions:
- Don't worry about how to start a business now.  There are plenty of people/books that explain it.  And if you find a good attorney (and accountant) ... they should be able to explain almost everything you need.  Instead plung into all the other decisions about the what, where, how, and who of your goals.
- Don't create the business too early, unless you are paying other people, since filing reports for your company with the government can get to be pain (if you do it yourself), or costly (if you have someone do it for you).  You can create/buy/find good "contractor" style work agreements for people who are working with you that will still apply even if you are not an actual company, so you don't need to worry about that.  And if you choose, you can still use a partnership agreement without being a company - just check with an attorney for some details.
- Get a good team around you.  Maybe start small, but bring in enough people to get the project done!  More minds attacking a problem usually brings about a better solution (up to a point).  IE: two heads are better than one!  Plus when there are multiple people on the project - it helps with motivation and accountability to the progress of the project.  Just make sure each person that joins the team has the same vision and dedication.  And I suggest to make sure each person brings something new to the table.

If you find out how to get good quality people on board without offering money up front - let me know!!  I would LOOOOVE to get some help ... but I just can't seem to find it.

As for the money (how much you will need and where to get funding) - that largely depends, like Baram said, on if you choose to write your own code or purchase one.  And if you choose to quit your day job right away or wait some.

Good Luck!  And keep us posted with your progress - I know I always love to hear about people who want to make something in the business side of text MMOs!
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Old 07-13-2006, 08:14 AM   #7
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I second that, if you find a way to get good and dedicated people without paying up front, let me know too!
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Old 07-13-2006, 08:28 AM   #8
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Just a quick clarification.

Using a current LPmud for a commercial mud is pretty much out
of the question. There is one driver that permits it, but the
license is literally $100,000.

The other drivers I know of are hampered by the fact they
are derivative works from the original LP driver, which is
explicitly non-commercial in its license.

Sorry

-Crat
http://lpmuds.net
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:34 AM   #9
Baram
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (cratylus @ July 13 2006,22:28)
Just a quick clarification.

Using a current LPmud for a commercial mud is pretty much out
of the question. There is one driver that permits it, but the
license is literally $100,000.

The other drivers I know of are hampered by the fact they
are derivative works from the original LP driver, which is
explicitly non-commercial in its license.

Sorry

-Crat
http://lpmuds.net
...... That's just.... .....

Rapture is like... 1/10th of that....
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Old 07-13-2006, 10:35 AM   #10
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If you want a nice, cheap and attractive Java client customized for your commercial mud, dont hesitate to contact us!
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:28 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies guys I'll be sure to keep you updated on how everythings going - or maybe I'll just be lazy and start a blog for it! *chin rub* hmmmm Not a bad idea.

-runs off to go customize a wordpress layout for it-

P.S. If anyone needs writing (technical, historical, whimsical - any and all really) let me know. I've got some free time and I need material for my portfolio.
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Old 07-16-2006, 03:48 AM   #12
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okay.. so I got distracted by a mob of eager female readers and didnt do a custom theme.. but the blogs up heh

http://carnival-macabre.net/
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