[More at onemanmmo.com.]
Whenever I tell someone in the games industry what I'm doing, they give me a look. A whole lot of information is packed in that expression: you're crazy, it's never going to work, try something easier, you're wasting your time. Non compos mentis.
This experience doesn't seem to be unique. A couple days ago Dave Toulouse said, "When you have no experience making games and you work on an MMO you avoid telling too many people what you are doing because nobody believe you can pull it off and many will make sure to discourage you from doing it."
I knew from the beginning that I could build an MMO. Of that I had absolutely no doubt. I've been building games since I was a kid. (Space Mines II on my Ohio Scientific Superboard II had spectacular ASCII explosions!) I've finished big software projects, the building an MMO part wasn't even a question.
Could I finish it before I run out of money?
Would it be any fun?
Could I make a living at it?
These were the questions that defined the risk I was taking.
But for years I had been dreaming of building an MMO on my own. And it wasn't something I could keep putting off. I don't think I'll have it in me to tackle a project this ambitious in ten years. Carpe diem.
Don't make the mistake of thinking making an MMO is going to be easy. I have over 5,000 hours invested in The Imperial Realm :: Miranda so far. I think about its difficulties constantly. It keeps me up at night.
But building an MMO can be easier. License Unity or Unreal or HeroEngine or Torque 3D as the core of your game. Don't quit your job (unless you have at least twice as much money as you think you'll need in the bank.) Most importantly, make sure your family is completely on-board. When the belt-tightening comes, it will affect them more than you.
If you're lucky like I was, you'll find a couple of industry insiders who do believe in you. They will provide invaluable feedback on how to make the game better, and even more important, they will tell you when things are good enough.
Any time you need a boost, don't talk to people that make games, talk to people who play games. They'll want to hear about your game. They also think that making an MMO sounds like the coolest thing ever. And they're right.
I could have kept the money, worked for somebody, had a career, made a living, been mostly bored, and missed my daughter's childhood, but instead I chose a bolder path. Maybe it won't work out. But I believe it will.
If people tell you your dream is too big, what they're really saying is that your dream is too big for them. All of these guys did it. So can you. Get to work. Audentes fortuna iuvat. It's going to be amazing!