MRPG Limited is the code-name for a precursor project to the final Mage Wars RPG MMO. The basic plan is to make a somewhat simplified version of the game, significantly scaled-down in both size and scope, and in addition to making it playable online, actually sell server licenses to basically anyone who wants them.
The idea, here, is to sell to the demographic of people who desperately want to run their own servers(a demographic effectively ignored by the current industry.)
Right now, there are hundreds of functional "shard servers" essentially illegal pirate servers for dozens of popular MMOs. Peoples spend countless hours, even years learning to code and operate these servers, often for absolutely no personal gain beyond the satisfaction it gives them to do so.
But these servers are, essentially, illegal. These are servers perople create by emulating or otherwise illegally obtaining the serverside software for their games. The core products are woefully incomplete(imagine logging into the World of Warcraft and finding it eerily empty: thats what a basic pirate server looks like without months of coding).
MRPG Limited will offer an actual, functional, pre-populated client and server engine to the masses. For a modest fee, of course.
MRPG Limited will offer three tiers of licensing.
- Private: this would be the server for the casual demigod. With extreme limits on number of accounts and active users, this is essentially a server designed for yourself and a handful of friends to get on and screw around.
- Indie: designed for the enthusiast who is not in it for the money. This license will have relaxed restrictions on accounts and active users. However, the licensee will not be allowed to collect a monthly fee or expressly charge for the use of his or her server.
- Commercial: a commercial server license is essentially the same license the game's designers will have. Buying this license(at fairly great expense) will allow you to operate a fully comcercial server, complete with credit card processing and automated monthly billing.
Limited will, as the name implies, be a limited or heavily stripped-down version of the complete Mage Wars RPG. It will lack skyships, be considerably smaller in scale. It will also use a very different PVP system, scaled-down crafting, and a much more simplified(if at all present) reincarnation mechanic.
Basically, Mage Wars RPG Limited is going to be built as a "practice" version of the final game.
Limited will use a strict opt-in PVP system. It will be similar in principole to the system used by World of Warcraft in that in order to participate you will have to "flag" for PVP. Nothing in the game besides the delibrate act of the player can possibly turn the flag on. PVE players will not be able to cast spells on or group with PVP players. PVP Players can turn the flag off at any time, however it will take 5 minutes to do so.
Races and Classes
Limited will use the same basic game mechanics system as the complete game, that is one the same or similar to the planned PnP game. The same base classes, spells lists, weapons, etc.
The crafting system will be scaled back to just Smithing, Runeing, and Enchanting. The system will be the same however the number of recipes will probably be significantly fewer.
Player housing is still a must, but on a considerably simplified scale. Because of the much smaller area, it is important to find ways to limit the housing more carefully, otherwise the entire landmass will eventually become a sort of urban slum.
This is where I intend to take notes and save my thoughts on the development cycle for limited. The possibility, however unlikely, has been raised that I could find venture capitol and possibly have a real shot at making this game. This game being "limited" as I suspect the game I truly want to make will be ludicrously expensive and ultimately unprofitable.
The first step, should I successfully find capitol, will be to hire someone with business sense and a background in project management. This individual will essentially fill in for my deficiencies, managing the day-to-day operations of the company and allowing me to focus on being the creative director.
The next step will be to find my leads. This will be a challenging search, as these individuals must be dedicated, motivated, problem-solvers; who at the same time will not attempt to usurp creative control. I need to be able to tell them "I want it like this" and trust that they will come through for me. If something is too difficult/time consuming/impossible with the technology at hand, I want them to come back and say "We can't do that, here's what we can do" or "What can we do instead?" not "We couldn't do that, so we did this."
There are numerous approaches, here. These range from cheap fees, costly development up to cheap development, huge fees.
The cheapest technology we could license is Torque 3D, we are talking about perhaps a few thousand dollars for the rights to use a very polished, powerful engine. However, this would add to the cost of development in that we'd need to convert the engine into something it isn't really designed for: a massively multilayer online game. This is POSSIBLE, just challenging, and requires an expensive investment in human resources(programmers).
Alternately, there are free MMO engines available(free and open-source). This offers the same advantages: no-cost licensing, but compounds the major disadvantage: now we need better programmers and more time. There is more work to be done, more potential bugs to crop up in the process.
The Dev Convention Route
I am calling it this for simplicity, but the basic idea is to literally attend some conventions and see what technology is available. There are some fantastic MMO engines out there, its just going to cost us some serious scratch. The upside is we need less talented programmers and have a shorter development-cycle.
Big World Engine
What I'd really LIKE to do is just straight up license the Big World engine. No fus, no mus, just away we go with a perfect, polished, beautiful engine. The indie license is, shockingly, just $300 per year! The limitation? Development team is restricted to only 25 people, plus a bunch of other crap. But... that puts it back in the running.