Veure: Artists and Narrative Designers

This has been a busy week with Veure. As usual, my daily routine is:

  • Wake up
  • Hack a couple of hours on Veure
  • Work for $client
  • Have dinner
  • Optionally hack more on Veure

Hack, in this case, does not simply mean "write code." There are many other things involved, including research, research, and more research. And legal stuff. And writing. And hiring.

Yes, hiring. For example, we think we've found a great artist. If it works out, we can replace my crappy concept art of a space station:

New ships can be done, new background graphics, and so on. In fact, this could turn into a full-time job for him if Veure is successful. But that's not all we're hiring.

We've been interviewing narrative designers. We've built the game, now we need a lot more work fleshing out individual story lines, designing space stations, creating NPCs, and writing more interesting quests than this one:

That's going to entail me being able to write much better editing tools. Currently, I hand-craft JSON files for these, but given the volume, that wouldn't be fair to a narrative designer. Even the limited ALPHA work with fewer than 30 stations and maybe 200-250 areas will be overwhelming if you're hacking JSON by hand (after the ALPHA, there's a lot more, with over 500 stations and well over 4,000 areas and growing).

We've another developer who will start hacking next month, another one who's started now (but just part time until his real contract kicks in) and a lead on yet another.

So what really sets Veure apart? For a graphic MMO, top-tier titles cost $50 to $100 million to develop. For a text-based one, well, the barrier to entry is significantly lower. The first version of Kingdom of Loathing was written in a week by one person. With such a low barrier to entry, developers are encouraged to churn out crap. Here's a fantastic quote about browser games which sums things up:

But if it's free, you can practically throw anything up -- even if it's buggy, even if it's not feature-complete, even if it crashes sometimes -- and see how people react to it. If they like it, great. If they don't, you can either fix it and watch what your customers do -- or abandon it altogether. That's the great thing about the Web and about free-to-play.

That's why in even popular games such as or Hobowars, there's not much in the way of worlds. Just reviewing most of the popular text-MMOs shows plenty of games whose worlds are probably even less developed than Angry Birds.

Everything I'm doing with Veure seems to be something the industry isn't doing.

  • It's huge
  • It's well-tested (famous last words)
  • It's science fiction
  • Non-linear quests

All of those suggest that I'm setting myself up for a huge failure, and yet here we are, throwing more money at it.

We're still working out some legal issues with the name, we're crafting a crowd-funding campaign, and, as mentioned, we're hiring professionals for various areas. This is, quite possible, the stupidest thing I've done. But damn it, there's really no game like this on the market and I'm gambling it's because the market just hasn't gotten there yet. Text-MMOs are dominated by low-budget entries and the big players all want to do graphics. Maybe I can slip in between them.

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About Ovid

user-pic Freelance Perl/Testing/Agile consultant and trainer. See for our services. If you have a problem with Perl, we will solve it for you. And don't forget to buy my book!