I just received an email from the great Doctor Alienus (an amazing GM in Golemizer who’s been there since launch day) and I feel like time is passing by so fast. Yep! Golemizer is now 3 years old! That feels a bit surreal when I think about it. This was my first game and while I had to neglect it for some time it’s still active. Considering that I’m now loosing money with it the logical thing would have been to shut it down but I just can’t. And that’s fine that way as long as it doesn’t get me into trouble. It helps me to remember what was my objective when I first started to work on it 4 years ago…

Which is to create. Games yes but create. 4 years later I’m still doing it and now feels like I have at least 1% more of chance to turn this passion into a job. Don’t ask me to what I add this 1%. I just know it’s at least 1% more.

It’s not what I hoped for but it’s also what I could never hope for

Nope. No money from Golemizer but how can you buy that kind of experience! Of course you can’t! Even though it was far from being all pinky and princess stuff today I could not appreciate more what it got me. It sure takes time to be able to say that but anything that happened since 2007 would have not happened without first going through my mad plan of building my own MMO.

So I stand by what I said in my Why you should build your own MMO and So you want to make games? posts. You can’t sit on your ass all day long waiting for someone to tell you what you should exactly be doing to make your dreams true. Just go out (well actually don’t as you need to sit down in front a computer) and do stuff! If you get through it you will get something out of it. Maybe not what you expected but just trust in life. You’ll eventually get something out of it. Just make sure to have the right people around you to help you while you feel like giving up.

4 years later here I go again

Oh sure just like 4 years ago I don’t know what’s coming for sure. Sure there are times I’m worried since I’m currently unemployed. But hey… Something will come out of it. Maybe it would help if I was some kind of genius or a real geek I guess but I still appreciate what I’m able to do with what I have. I just know that at least I’ll stick around long enough to see the outcome. Good or not.

I’ve been into Star Corsairs for a bit over 3 months. Well to be honest I did start to do experimentation/design before that but the official Star Corsairs MMO development started when I lost my job on June 2nd. Now I’m on the verge of the beta release which is the point at which I will open the “if you enjoy this would you consider paying a bit for it” valve.

Sure after 3 months it’s not SWTOR but it’s playable and enjoyable.  Sure not all the features I dream about are in yet and it’s still not as sanboxy as much as I’d like it to be but if I would wait for that to happen the official release would probably be in a year or more (at which point I’d probably be starving to death). But it’s an MMO. It’s always evolving. Heck! Star Wars: Galaxies just introduced atmospheric flight some months before shutting down! I still remember discussions about that on the beta forums back in 2002…

The mistakes I did not make for Star Corsairs

Like I said I’ve learned a bit and I’m doing my best to make sure it matters for this new project. The first mistake I did not make was to build everything myself. I cannot thank me enough of going with SmartFoxServer for the server-side. Want to know how many issues I had with it? None… It just worked. I had to adjust a bit to dive back into JAVA but other than that I never had any trouble with it.

Sure I’ll have to pay for a license once I have more than 100 concurrent players online (I swear I’ll never be happier to spend $1,000) but it’s well worth the price. I’m not trying to sell SmartFoxServer to anyone here though. All I’m saying is that I went with a software that others have used successfully and was doing what I needed. I don’t even think I had to adjust the design at some point because of some limitation. So it might come at a cost but I would have not got at that point so fast by doing it all by myself or by using something a bit more obscure. Surely some other solution would have been equally great but that’s the one I picked and I don’t regret it one bit.

Another mistake I did not make was to spend way too much money before having something that players could see. Now that can’t be applied to everyone but for me it was the right thing to do. I still have some memories of Blimp Wars for which I have spent quite some money on art only to shut down the game soon after its release. Even for Golemizer I did end up spending quite some money just to get the first character models and clothing. Of course back then I had a job so it was still a safe bet even if it was considerable money.

For Star Corsairs I really did everything myself. For best or worse you might say I guess. Sure I’m no artist but a game set in space do gives me some more chance. Even though my work is not of professional quality it’s much easier to do nice space art and a few spaceships than having to design a full world with trees, houses, roads, wells, mines, clothing, faces, etc. All I know is that Star Corsairs seems to make more sense as a whole than Golemizer did when I released it (it was later improved by some very dedicated players). I also adapted the style to be a bit more cartoonish to match my abilities so while it might not be “top of the art” everything still match together (and it really didn’t in Golemizer).

Another mistake I tried to avoid (and did more successfully than the last time) was to keep to the minimum required to be fun. I still have many ideas for Star Corsairs but those ideas are in the “will make the game better” category and not in the “is required” category. I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself correctly here.

What I mean is that I could still hold the game for many months and add those nice features I have in mind but those features would probably please more players already enjoying the game than to appeal to non-players. If you don’t like the direction I’m taking with Star Corsairs than it will probably not change a thing even if I add that amazing feature I have in mind. I first need to test my initial idea and tweak it before going wild. For Golemizer I kinda threw everything I had in mind without thinking about the benefits of doing so. The end result was that I went too far and lost track of the basics. The basics for now is to interest players into a space MMO with sandbox tendencies. I need to do that well but I don’t need to do that more than necessary right to begin with otherwise it will take me way too much time without any result and I might run out of time/funds to accomplish all those ideas and never have any players to enjoy any of that.

Finally I have thought of the business model and it’s part of the game. Surely it’s not perfect but Golemizer had no business model so that’s still an improvement! Creating a game and not making any money out of it is no good if you don’t have any other revenue otherwise it just means that the game will die and people enjoying your work won’t be able to enjoy it anymore. So money is part of the equation and this time I thought about it.

The beginning of 3 more years

I wonder what I will write in 3 years from now. Hopefully I’ll still be writing about the games I create. Time will tell…