Laws of MMO development

I really wish I had the chops to develop some games, as I am getting sick of seeing the dumb-ass mistakes of “popular games”. I sear, some of them require real-world recursive SAN checks,

  1. If your monster with X ability never uses X in the game, then it doesn’t have X ability.
  2. If your dungeon/maze/etc. can be completed without confronting more than 50% of the mobs, it’s not a dungeon/maze/etc., it’s just a bad neighborhood.
  3. If your exchange rate for in-game currency is higher than $1:NG 1000, you’re just asking to get DDoSed or TJMaxxed. For reference,NG is in-game purchasing power. If it takes more than 10c to purchase a one day resource boost, you’re just a robber baron, IMHO.
  • The same goes for requiring materials or items, which can only be obtained with purchased in-game currency, in order to continue the game at any point.
  • “Buy This” quests are never justified.
  1. If a “STAR” player perk can’t be found within ten clicks of the mouse, it’s not a perk, it’s a broken promise.
  2. If your help file is less than 1000 words, it’s the opposite of help.
  3. If any level before level 10 requires a Youtube walkthrough, it’s not a game. No, “strategy” and “tatics” are not excuses.
  4. Stop using terms like “astrogation” or any terms related to propulsion unless you’ve taken at least one related college-level course. For physics and astronomy, make that a second-year course.
  5. Using the Cliff Notes version of astronomy automatically precludes you using any planet other than Earth as a base or location.
  6. If players have no way to cooperate on raids or participate in PvE (a lame animation doesn’t count), you are not an MMO.
  7. If players have no input into basic decisions such as class, abilities, race, gear, etc., it’s not an RPG. No, choosing between six different avatars, which have no effect on game play, does not make it an RPG.
  8. Combining inappropriate genre/subject tags is lazy and dishonest. No, ignorance and stupidity are not excuses.
  • An RTS is rarely an RPG.
  • An RTS is never a Tower Defense.
  • A Tower Defense is never an RPG.
  • A “hidden object” is never an RPG.
  1. If you can’t tell a story at the level of “Dick and Jane go to the store”, you shouldn’t be developing any game which requires a backstory and a plot in the quest tree.
  • Any quest tree requires a backstory.
  1. If achievements have no effect on game play, they’re just badges. Main story or side story quests with a badge as the only reward are abusive.
  2. If your only knowledge of mythology is a cursory scan of a Wikipedia “list of” page, you’re not qualified to use mythology references in your game. This goes double for perpetuating Hollywood mish-mashed cross-system mistakes.
  3. It is easy to find a native speaker of any language that would gladly proofread your game for that language. Failing to do so is stupid and lazy. It is just as easy, if not easier, to run a spellcheck and grammar check in your own native language.
  4. Big boobs, BESM, chibi, yaoi, etc., do not automatically make your game good or popular, unless your target demographic is pedophiles and players under 11.
  5. A chat channel requires moderators and filters. Otherwise it is just 4chan.
  6. Posting of links should only be allowed for game forums or game wikis. Anything else is just spam.
  7. Worldbuilding is an art. Just throwing darts or shuffling flash cards is not the way to develop a fictional game world.
  8. If you have never lived in or visited (for a minimum of one month) a region, state, or country, you are not qualified to use it as a location in your game. Watching movies, especially comedies or mindless action flics, does not count as reliable research.
  9. If your game can fail a fact-check by anyone with a 10th grade reading level or anyone with a 5th grade math level, you are not qualified to develop games.
  10. There is rarely a good reason to use lens flare or blood-splatters on the camera lens.
  11. If the background of the game is too detailed or colorful for the player to find their character on the screen, it’s just bad art. A one-pixel “aura” is not a fix to this.
  12. Using all of your budget (or more than 70% of your budget) on any one of the following is not an excuse for poor implementation of any of the others: art, animations, cut-scenes, server maintenance (this one has exceptions, on rare occasions), marketing, sound effects, voice-overs. - Spending 70% of your budget on employees is only permissible if the employees actually work and produce content at least than 33% of the time they are being paid for. (I blame Google and Mozilla for lowering the bar on this)
  13. If there are more than one cut-scene for every three levels or more than one for every ten minutes of game play, stop developing games and go back to Film.
  14. 3D objects in a 2D world probably means that you flunked computer animation. Using characters of less than 128x128 pixels means you definitely flunked computer animation.
  15. Clipping errors can not be excused for any reason.
  16. Using a random name from a limited list is trite. Trite is bad.
  17. In-game jokes, visual puns, “plahts”, etc., can be fun. Don’t push it.

Feel free to add your own.

What’s a ‘phlats?’

A “plaht” is an item or device that is named humorously to coincide with the name of a specific trope or meme.

It comes from an old webcomic where the heroes had to keep running from place to place to access or disable a device created by an ancient race only known as the Plaht.

In other words, a “plaht” (plot) device.

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  • If you think it’s obvious, it probably isn’t.

Oh yeah. There’s nothing like dropping an onion onto the dead frog to open the secret trap door in the ceiling, thus allowing you to escape the dungeon…

How many dungeons make sense to begin with? The nearest real world equivalents would take an adventuring party about two days to go through at most. Now, the real world doesn’t have that many evil races carving out underground lairs. If you take the closest to an evil race we have, Congress, their lair at Greenbriar might qualify. Sewers maybe work too.

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Oh… I see…

The most realistic dungeon I ever created was the catacombs beneath the headquarters/temple dedicated to an evil pantheon. The catacombs were basically used as the archives and storage of the priesthood. The party had to get in and get out without coming into contact with any of the priests, period.

Of course they failed, because only half the players had the slightest clue about sneaking around, and one of those threw caution to the wind when the chance came to rifle through the “treasures”. The cleric in the party was focused too much on sabotaging the rest of the group (new rule: don’t game with a guy who thinks everybody else at the table has slept with his girlfriend before he met her).

The results of that run? The party had to run for their lives before the priesthood found them. They came close to losing the real McGuffin almost before they had it. And the boyfriend didn’t last two months before his girlfriend threatened to cut off his nuts if he didn’t GTFO and stay far away from her. Oh, and the entire gaming group was ready to kill the boyfriend and me.

OMG they got worse. Somebody added “overlap” scenery tiles, so now you really don’t know what’s a path and what is blocked.

Using a single descriptive word as the name of a monster is stupid, especially if that descriptive word originally came from a monster which has no relation to your monster. The following are prime examples:
The Scary
The wyrd (ability… to resist… blunt-force sarcasm… becoming weaker)

I hope it’s a bird. That would at least be sort of clever.


That’s not how it’s pronounced. It is the word that weird came from.

But bird is still the word. And it would have shown some sort of cleverness. Even wrong things can be clever. Look at Catdog.

  • If players are forced to grind in PVP in order to have the resources to proceed in the main quests (or, heaven forbid, the side quests), you are really doing it wrong. Just get rid of the quests and story line (and the RPG tag) and market it as a PVP free-for-all. Grinding on daily and side quests is one thing (and pretty acceptable to most people) but grinding on PVP just turns everyone into a$$holes.

What is grinding?

Doing the same thing (such as a side quest or a daily quest) repeatedly in order to earn resources, money, or EXP.

Grinding on PvE in a hot and heavy PVP area on the other hand is awesome. There is a lot of frustration involved, but if you are on a PvP server in the first place then you are in it for the thrill anyway. Stranglethorn Vale in vanilla WoW was hell on earth, and a huge rush, especially since the area level crossed the mount/no mount divide.

Create times where conflict is unavoidable, don’t create mandatory conflict.

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Don’t blame users when you know damned well that it’s your servers fucking up.

This is not limited to MMOs, but:

If I use a sniper shot to drop a monster at the edge of my range, the other monsters, just as far away, should not be aggro’ed directly at me, unless they’re flipping psychics. And if they were flipping psychics, I wouldn’t have been able to drop the first one.


Should be logic for random walk/drunken circle aggro.

That would seriously fuck with some party dynamics.