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a Handy Devs Guide to Being Productive
Many new games fall into the trap of pushing for early release, such as in time to come out for that peak holiday season. While this can boost initial sales, it can also backfire over the long haul if the quality of the game suffers because of it.
Constant downtimes, being unable to connect, and bugs are a frustration to gamers, and with all the MMORPG options in the market today, too many of these factors will quickly send players looking for a new title to invest their time and money into.
Before a game goes to release, what can a developer do?
- Test the code, over and over, from the deepest level to the smallest quest. Make sure voice tracks sync up with visual rendering, and in the case of graphics, stress test these to ridiculous limits. Players will latch onto the little details that they see, and these can be a hallmark of quality creation in a game.
- If you plan on fixing bugs and constantly upgrading your game (and I hope that you are!) Maintain a test server, where you can integrate new code to be certain it fits with the world as it currently is. You can invite a select group of players to help stress-test new changes, and help insure that any new code or changes won't have adverse effects upon your public version.
- If you have yet to develop the core of your MMORPG, research game engine possibilities. Cost is of course a factor, but remember that a casual, chat-based MMORPG may not need an engine capable of next-gen graphics, so the best game engines on the market might make your game unwieldy in terms of cost to play and support.
- Beta Release! It's a common fact amongst people who script that nothing truly tests a game like players. As a developer or coder, you know how it's supposed to work, and so deviating from that is unlikely. Gamers, however, will always use your product in ways you didn't expect, with a very real possibility of breaking the game in the process. You can advertise for beta testers before the actual release, and use their input to fix bugs and problems you'd otherwise not have caught.
Communication is key. If you ever make it to release, ensure your players have an avenue through which they can bring up problems and report bugs. Let people know a patch is incoming, and try to schedule these for off-peak times. No one minds a game being bettered, but keep players informed.
Nicola Newton has played one of the world's most popular MUDs for years. She has contributed fan art, game ideas, and worked as a volunteer for the company. When she's not dedicating herself to making her favorite game more enjoyable for others, she can often be found out†