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    Text-Based Game Questions


    I want to build a fairly complex, non-traditional text-based MMO (sort of along the lines of Cyber Nations, if you've ever heard of it). Nearly all of the finer points (like the math and features) have been worked out, so now it's just a matter of... well, actually building it. The problem is that I don't know anything about programming, and I'm not sure whether or not to hire someone for that or to just do it myself.

    A friend pointed out Microsoft's Visual Studio and SQL programs, and I watched all the videos for that and was able to put up a very rough version of all the pages I would need, link them together, and people could create accounts and sign in. But everything outside of that, like saving information to an account, adding more complex features to the site, allowing players to interact (basically the core of the game) has just been a real b***h to learn. But I may just be looking in the wrong places for information, so I'm not sure I should totally give up.

    The friend from before looked at my outline and figured it'd be about 300 hours worth of work, and would probably cost me about $3k. So, my options are to either wait about a year and a half 'til I can afford to spend that much on a game, or try and learn how to code the backend stuff myself. If it's something I'll need to spend a year learning, I'd rather not bother, as I probably won't need to do something like this again.

    Anyone have any advice? Either way, I'm fully determined to see this thing through.
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    I want to build a fairly complex, non-traditional text-based MMO
    Are you aware of the term MUD? Thatís what comes to mind when you say text-based MMO.

    Nearly all of the finer points (like the math and features) have been worked out, so now it's just a matter of... well, actually building it.
    Ah yes, the tiny and trivial question of actually building something. Iím not trying to be snide, Iím saying that youíll find the task of building to be the big thing. Up front design is good, but the finer points get revealed in the building. Thatís why iterative approaches to software design are important. Especially if you are not a programmer, how do you think you worked out any details?

    If it's something I'll need to spend a year learning, I'd rather not bother, as I probably won't need to do something like this again.
    This gives you a bit of an issue. Learning to program takes time and you cannot rush or shortcut the learning process. If youíre relatively new to programming, then cobbling together something will require a significant investment of your time.

    $3K for 300 hours of work? A bit on the low end. But letís be realistic. Your question effectively boils down to: I want something, but I donít want to pay much for it nor learn how to do it myself if it takes too long. Itíll either cost you a pretty penny, or take a while to learn. You make the choice, because we donít have a third option to offer you.
    When you ask a question, be prepared to tell us: what have you tried? If you think you don't need to try anything, we will never be interested in helping you. If you agree with the link, and you refuse to answer that question, you are being a hypocrite.

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    Originally Posted by Oler1s
    $3K for 300 hours of work? A bit on the low end. But letís be realistic. Your question effectively boils down to: I want something, but I donít want to pay much for it nor learn how to do it myself if it takes too long. Itíll either cost you a pretty penny, or take a while to learn. You make the choice, because we donít have a third option to offer you.
    That was just his estimate, though, and he said it's been awhile since he dealt with this kind of thing. My original estimate was around $5k but I don't know too many programmers, so I thought I'd take it here. I don't imagine it would take that 300 hours, though. For a text based game (and its definitely not a MUD. "Online geo-political simulator" is the official genre title, I believe) I wouldn't imagine it taking that long. Fairly simplistic stuff, as far as online games go.

    Either way, I did design it with programming in mind, and the numbers and math involved are based off the sort of calculations similar games use. And I assumed I'd be building it, so most of it is pretty straight forward. But, as my one friend pointed out, the algebra I use would need to be "reworded" a bit, but I don't think it would be that big of a hurdle.

    As for time, I didn't mean to imply that I gave up because I didn't want to take the time to learn, it's just that there's no real guides for this sort of thing. Watching the videos and reading the books, I don't see the kind of information that's actually relevant to a project like this. There's no beginner books for building online geo-political simulators, and to get the features I need to work, it feels like I'd need years and years of experience in the area. And, since I probably won't need this again, I'd rather just throw down a few grand.

    But I have tried to build this myself. I used Miscrosoft's VB program, built the site, got about 40+ pages in. I had it so that a user was brought to a special page, where they were forced to login or register. Once logged in, they were brought to a "City Creation" page, they could select options, fill in names, etc., they hit "Next", and were sent to a "My City" page... But then I needed that data tied to an account, so MySQL came into play. I had a half dozen people try to explain it to me, and I had some examples sent to me, but none of it took. And the more I went on, the more my webpage got tangled up on itself. Now it either needs to be fixed by someone else or restarted from the beginning (I'm leaning towards the latter).

    I went back and read over some VB guides, watched the videos, got some more advice but, eventually it just started to seem worth the money to hire a bored professional. But, if there are some guides that deal with this, I would definitely be up for learning. I just don't want to learn all of VB, php, and MySQL if I don't have to. I mean, I don't expect to get through building an online game without having to learn something, I just don't want to dedicate all of my time for the next few years into this if there's a better way.
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    Look, Iím not trying to shoot down your idea or plans, I just think that they sound unrealistic. I know you think it sounds simple, and thatís the mentality of all beginner programmers. Itís simple, until you look at the details. You think you have everything set, a good idea of what it takes, a design that is ready to be used by a programmer. Yet youíre not even a programmer. Please understand that this sounds outright ludicrous.

    You have two options as you noted: do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. As you said, you donít find information on how to build something like this. You learn the principles of programming and acquire knowledge. Then you use those rules and ideas, and what you as a craftsman have learned, to create something. It takes time, which you arenít interested in dedicating too much of (justifiably, because this is a one-time requirement).

    That option is always open, so my next suggestion is get quotes from programmers on this. Post here in the hire a programmer or help wanted sections, or on other advertising venues like craiglist, rent-a-coder, or whatever exists. They should go over the details with you to get an idea of what it would take. Iím all talk. Real numbers and time estimates and costs are what you want to know, right? You donít have to accept the offers, but just having quotes and estimates would indicate what other professionals think. Also note that they probably underestimate. So factor some amount upwards and you get a good idea of what to expect.

    Iím the only one voicing my opinion here. You might want to hear what others have to say. Since this subforum is a bit low on traffic, moving this post to the lounge might not be a bad option. Just ask a moderator (private message one) about doing so. The lounge has pretty good traffic, and youíll get more opinions. If you make a new post, please link back to this post.

    I donít have any advice to simplify the effort and resources involved. Thereís no shortcut trick to what needs to be learned. You have an online game, and just learning how to design the frontend of the site, let alone program anything, can be a while. And the only way you can get a better idea of what you need to pay is to spell out the details and ask for quotes sincerely. I donít know if it would take only 300 hours, but even $5K is a low amount.

    I canít offer anything more than my perspective on your situation.
    When you ask a question, be prepared to tell us: what have you tried? If you think you don't need to try anything, we will never be interested in helping you. If you agree with the link, and you refuse to answer that question, you are being a hypocrite.

    Need help with broken code? Your question should be like a good bug report: (1) It has the smallest number of steps to reproduce the problem you see (2) It tells us precisely what you expected to see and (3) It tells us what you saw and how it differed from what you expected. We need all three to help you.
    Want better answers? Tell us what you Googled for and what steps you took to answer your own question.
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    The Rent-A-Coder bids I'm getting seem to be really low. Like $400 low. They've looked at the game's I'm basing mine off of and say they've built their own but... I guess that's why people have been telling me to figure the end cost will bet about x3-5 the original estimate. $400 just sounds kind of shady.

    But even after giving some people the details, its hard to get an idea of how long something like this would take.

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