How I made an ARPG MMO video game in just one Month!

CraterMan
9 min readNov 25, 2020

If you ever wanted to make video games, and I am talking about full blown AAA video games, the present is the best time to follow your dream. Yes, due to remarkable new technologies, this can be done! I won’t only share how I was able to pull this off, but also give you some first insight of a young hobbyist game designer. If you still don’t believe me, here is my story.

Let’s start with the present. My game is called Kingdom Fall, I released it at the end of October 2020 on a platform called Core, and as of today it had almost 20,000 people playing it. Wild right?

(If you’d like to try it, this is the link, make sure to leave a thumbs up :))

Before I start, I just want to let everyone know that while I have always dreamt of making video games, I am not a professional game developer. I don't have much knowledge in coding, and game design is just a hobby of mine. Yet, I was still able to create an online Action-RPG game in just one single month. Yes. You heard that right. One. Single. Month. If you would of told me that a year ago, I’d call you crazy.

The game has all of the ARPG unique feature set such as multiplayer, fun monster slaying mechanics, a versified arsenal of really epic weapons, and a large open world map you can explore.

So, how on earth can someone like me make create such a gigantic game? Keep in mind these type of games would usually take very large teams (dozens/hundreds of people with a huge budgets). There are a few layers to answering that question, but first and foremost, the answer is Core.

What in the world is Core?

Well, Core is the future of gaming! I also want to note right here, that while I am a huge fan of Core, and I was offered to join the creators program, I am in no way affiliated to Core, I am just a fan. More about Core in their own words:

“Core is an endless universe of games and worlds designed by a global community of creators. It’s a radically accessible game construction kit, content exchange, and game-playing platform, all in one. With Core, you can create multiplayer games, using the power of Unreal Engine, with no coding or art skills required. When you’re ready to share your creations, publish them to the Core platform where they’ll be instantly available to play.”

Why does building a game usually take a couple of years? Well, a lot of it, is just building the infrastructure. Building the foundations to release a game can take years, even for the most experienced teams. Core solved all of that for me: Coding, Accounts, Avatars, Multiplayer, Publishing, Marketing, Monetization and more, Core just takes care of all of that for you, and helps you make games quickly, easily and without requiring to have in depth knowledge of the above. All you really need is a good imagination, and commitment to seeing your game through.

So, how did I actually pull it off?

Let’s talk details. Core offers a Dungeon Crawler framework; It’s a premade game with all of the basic mechanics you need to create an Action RPG (or any RPG for that matter). It has a leveling system, loot system, weapons purchasing mechanics, linear increase in monsters difficulty, environment asset and much more. It’s completely free, easy to set up, and you can build whatever you want on top of that. It also has the same Avatar across multiple games, so you don’t have to worry about character creation/looks, mounts, and animations.

When I first played the out of the box Core dungeon crawler framework game I immediately fell in love with it. It’s addicting. You slay monsters, get gold, level up, buy a cool weapon and do it again. For any ARPG fan, what’s not to like?

From that, the rest was easy. Immediately a bigger vision spun up in my head. While without coding, you’d think there isn’t a lot of depth you can add to such a simple framework, you’ll be surprised. Here are some of the ideas I was able to bring to life:

An open world — I used the tiny dungeons that come with the framework and switched them to a true open world experience. A big map, multiple zones, giving the player a feeling there is a world to explore.

The map of world one. There are actually two more continents. the Frozen Realm and the Druid Birth Lands.

Weapons — I added multiple unique weapons in the starting town “Druid Square” to give players a sense that the grind is worth it. It is!

Some of the epic weapons

Monsters —I used the same enemies that came with the framework, but was able to build a large repertoire of monsters, not only changing the sizes and colors, but also making tweaks to the AI, HP, Damage, Movement speed and other variables that were easy to play with.

A variety of monsters that can be found in Kingdom Fall

The third and last part was constantly polishing the hook of the game

My biggest insight is that at the end of the day the players don't care. They don't care about how much code you’ve written, how much time you spent designing the environment, how long your game has been out there. The players only care if this is fun or not, and if it’s worth spending my time here. — CraterMan

I have learned that the main reason player leave games is they die too early. While you want to make a challenging game, most creators tend to neglect that thought. If they die early they leave. So here are some of the adjustments we made to the first hour of playing Kingdom Fall:

  • Constantly added healing potions and healing locations to verify new players don't die too fast.
  • Lowered the attack speed on the default sword to make it more fun.
  • Changed the default weapon to be a sword so the players will be able to hack multiple enemies at once.
  • Raised the number of enemies per spawn point, to make sure players can kill multiple enemies at once, just like all classic ARPGs.
  • Made the first mobs humans, I noticed people enjoy slaying humans more then the other creatures. Weird I know.
  • Significantly raised the players HP and kept lowering the amount of experience it takes to level up in your first 60 seconds, you should reach level four.
  • Lowered the damage of all monsters until the player reaches level 15. Again this is a safety measure that the player doesn't die and quit.
  • Significantly buffed all weapons to give the players a feel they are succeeding and progressing. Nothing is more fun to get rewarded for your hard work.
  • Made the first zones closer to each other to give the feel of progression. Exploring new worlds is intriguing.
  • Constantly tweaked the amount of money you make in the first five minutes, and lowered the prices of all levels 1 to 15 weapons.
  • Made an open world environment, so while the first zones are still actually confined, it feels open world.

The second reason people leave a game is they just don't understand what to do, in order to address that, here are some of the things we’ve done:

  • We have kept the traditional WASD and Mouse button press in order to not have people guessing. We haven’t introduced any complex functionality beyond that. Usually players understand how to play right away.
  • We have created a large stone gate the player spawns right in front of, and a path that leads to the first zone. Once you enter the game it’s crystal clear that path is the only road you can take getting the player into the action right away. You can also always see the passage to the next zone, to keep you engaged and constantly exploring. Always make it crystal clear what the player has to do.

A few more insights and words of advice, and please take this with a grain of salt as I don’t have much experience developing games.

Prioritize.

I had to make constant trade offs making KF; Kingdom Fall’s environment did not launch visually appealing at all, while a lot of the new RPGs on core have beautiful landscapes, it’s not always on the top of the player’s mind, I learned early players prefer a fun pace to a game and I usually prioritized that over everything else. I did however, as the game gained popularity came back and have redone most of the land. Now it has pretty foliage, mountain scenery, music, ambience and much more.

Iterate.

Be obsessed with your players and iterate based on what they do, not what they say. I have constantly watched new players play the game. Where they go, what they choose to do, what weapons they buy, what’s crystal clear based on the UI and how the game is designed and what confuses them. I have constantly changed things just based on what I was seeing making the game easier to get into.

Stay true to your self.

Players constantly asked for quest systems, inventory, and various other features. Your time is limited and you can only build one large feature at time. Beside prioritizing (which we discussed) understand what your game is about, and what will actually make it more fun. For us it was another system that will help their players in their ultimate ARPG purpose, kill monsters. When we finally had the time to build a new system, we introduced a basic skill system. The idea was simple: Monsters drop gems, and gems are used to level up damage, block, speed and regen. Players loved it, and we know that based on the spike in daily players and returning player.

Build a community.

Core it self has a great community, and most members are really delightful to work with. While we weren't very welcomed by some members of the community, we let that brush off and focused our energy on the great people who were trying to help. We also started our very own discord server for the game, where we got a lot of love from our hardcore players. Besides love, they also shared a lot about the game. Bugs, ideas, weapons, feature, balance suggestions and more. You can meet our awesome community here: https://discord.gg/tUsKDCCZq2

Stick to your vision, and know what game you are playing.

Part of the frustration that came from the Core community, is how a simple game was played so much, especially due to the fact that there were so many great RPG games and this one was mainly based on the premade framework that is available for everyone. the simple truth is Kingdom Fall was going for a different genre. We did not try to make a complex RPG game, our mission was always a simple Hack and Slash, Grindy action RPG. Sticking to those fundamentals helped us bring in a different player base and make a lot of decisions building the game. My suggestion, to any new game developer, lay our some of your principles and pillar game design foundations before you get started.

Thank you!

That’s it! To summarize I just want to say, that if you read this far, and you have always dreamt of making games, and although you don't know how to code, and even if you are currently at school or have a full time job with limited time, you can still make your dream a reality. I’d give Core a chance, see for your self how easy it is. Don’t forget to send me a friend invite or hop in to Kingdom Fall and say hi, I’m usually there :)

Yours truly,

CraterMan.

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