If you're really into the whole internet thing (which I'm assuming you are, or you wouldn't be on a webmaster's forum), then a really cool way to make some money is by designing and producing your own game. Now, I know this might sound like a huge task, and well, it is: but I'm creating this step-by-step guide to help you through this adventure of a lifetime and, hopefully, you'll not only come out alive but also a good bit richer.
The first thing you'll need to do is to come up with the plot. The plot, just like in a story book, is the foundation and fabric in which your entire game will be based around. The plot can be anything you want it to be: It can include monsters, noble creatures, vast territorial claims, a maiden, a thief, it can be in space, or in an underground cave network, or even a microscopic fairy tale such as Alice In Wonderland. Whatever your story is about, it must contain a number of key factors that all stories possess: A good guy, a bad guy, a delimna, a solution, a quest, and a finale. The finale is actually optional.
I'm telling you right now that people prefer to play games that they can interact with the story on a personal level. Take Runescape, for instance. In Runescape, you start off as a simple citizen, must learn various skills in the game, and then you're off to do whatever it is you want to do. You can trade with both the shops and other players, fight both creatures and other players, compete with other players by outdoing them in skills and finance, and explore the map by either doing quests or simply traveling around on your own. It's truly a gamer's heaven. Anything you can do in real life, aside from sex and drugs, you can pretty much do in Runescape. If you're going to make a game, you better make it a good one.
After you come up with your story for the game, you must draw out your map. The real map will, of course, be created by computer, but you must first design how the map will coordinate with itself and the players. Draw out the cities, the items, the armor, the roads, the countryside...use your imagination to design what the perfect place would look like to you. Make sure the map fits your plot, however. If the story is in medieval times, then make your map look like it's in medieval times. Same goes for whether it's in space, underground, or whatever. Feel free to mix it up, just not too confusing for the player. For example, you can make a game based on what medieval people would be like if they had space exploration and futuristic technology but with the same mindset; just don't make it look futuristic if that's not how the story goes. You see my point?
The programming is gonna be tough. T-U-F-F: Tough. If you HAPPEN to have the expertise that is required to make a game (a good game, not one of those crappy freeonlinegames.com kind of games), it will still take you many months to write all of the scripts needed to make the features work. If you don't have the expertise, as I'm sure you don't, you will need to hire professional programmers to write the scripts for you. This can get expensive. My suggestion is to see if you can collect a team of programmers together willing to work for free for now, but collect a percentage of your profits after the game is sold. Stock is a wonderful way to get things done, but I won't get into that in this post. The programmers, whether that be someone else or you yourself, will need to be able to work with CGI (Computer Generated Imaging), create moving functions like walking, talking, fighting, plus the other features of the game like popup windows (in the game screen, not your browser: this can be useful for when players talk to certain computer generated characters in the game), banking features, and inventory. There's probably a dozen other things the programmers will need to be able to do but these are basics. If you want a more in-depth overview of the whole process, I suggest you pick up a copy of Game Programming For Dummies (or whatever the title is).
In addition to the programming, you will also need to purchase (or rent) a server to host your files and accounts on. If you expect to ever have a game as big as Runescape or World of Warcraft, you will need lots of server space because you will need lots of customers. You'll probably be able to run 200 customers on each server, but 200 people really isn't all that much when it comes to MMORPGs, that's why you'll need more like 100-200 servers. Don't worry, though, you won't have to add all these upfront, just don't forget to add them on as you get more customers. Also, the more servers you have the faster the game will be for the player because they can spread out over multiple servers. Think of it like the old dial-up rule: The more people using it, the slower it is.
Selling a game is the easy part, considering all the rest that you will have gotten through before this step. You will need to make a website that equals in comparison to Runescape's website or World of Warcraft's. Spread it around that you have a new game up in running, put ads online, offer a free account option and then a membership account which has more features, and get critics to review your game and website (there's plenty of online companies that will be more than happy to review your game for free).
If you've gotten through all of that, then I assume you're still alive. If you've been successful (ie. stayed motivated and didn't get lazy/give up), then you will have made a good bit of money in the process. When I say "good bit", I don't mean nickels and dimes, I mean the big bucks. Both Runescape and World of Warcraft have millions of customers each paying $5.00 a month, which means that every MONTH, they're bringing in about $25-$30 million dollars. Granted, there's server fees to pay, stock holders to take account of, and customer service charges, but whoever designed these games will definitely not have to worry about money anymore. So keep your head up, your socks on, and go get cracking on the world's next big game: I look forward to spending my "hard-earned" money playing it.
Thank you for reading,