Idea for a VOCALOID game

approx 1500 words written on Wed Nov 13 @ 10:01 AM PST

Ok so today’s the day! I have a 1PM interview with Hack Reactor to see if I am elligible for their program. Excitement! Nerves! Mystery!

I did some practicing yesterday. Ran through the practice problem two times while recording myself. Figured out that my microphone is very noisy, so I switched to a phone headset which is equally noisy. If I get accepted into the course, I’ll have to purchase a better headset.

Also I need better internet. I’m thinking of going to my sister’s house for studying, or using my phone’s 4G connection instead of the crappy DSL or Ptera here at the house.

We’ll see.

Ok so something I thought of yesterday while on the VOCALOID discord is how well suited I am to create an MMORPG such as Habbo Hotel, Coke Studios, or Club Penguin. I have been training my entire adult life for creating something like this! I can draw isomorphic pixel art. I can finally work with CSS somewhat competently, I can make JS apps, server backends… I think this is my next project, to create a VOCALOID MMORPG.

The games I listed above are actually pretty simple. I’ll use Habbo Hotel as an example. Players join the game, create their character, and get a room in the vast Habbo Hotel. The room is theirs for as long as they have a game account. They are free to decorate their room any way they like, with posters, plants, furniture (furni), interactive objects such as phone booth teleporters, and more!

It is a game featuring 50% customization, 50% chatting. I used to play it all the time when I was a teenager.

Habbo has fallen out of popularity in the past few years. Most people I talk do don’t know of it, and I think that has a lot to do with how Habbo has not upgraded their systems to HTML5. Habbo is 100% Adobe Flash, and requires users to run legacy systems to continue playing. This is no good in 2019! I think this weakness opens up the opportunity for disrupters to come in and take market share from Habbo. An HTML5 game which features many of the positive aspects of Habbo could be a popular service!

And a service it is. Habbo gives players a very limited number of in-game currency. Enough for a few chairs. Beyond that, players must subscribe to Habbo Club where they get a monthly stipend of in-game money, or acquire furniture from other players through trading.

Advanced traders in Habbo Hotel set up their rooms with piles of furniture, and allow individuals to enter their room and barter. Usually there is a queue of people and one by one, the guests offer whatever furniture they have in exchange for the furniture stacked in the room.

The markets in Habbo are impressive. Long time traders accumulate masses of wealth, with furniture piles spanning several rooms.

There are mini-games in Habbo, set up not by the developers, but creative room owners. Room owners will set up trivia games with furni prizes, dating games with prospective virtual romantics, and seemingly never ending mazes which require traversing dozens of furni cluttered rooms linked together with teleporting phone booths. Be the first to reach the end and the event staff grant you a prize.

All this is within my grasp. I can make something like Habbo which is uniquely tailored to my interests and the communities I’m a part of. So my idea is what I’m calling VOCALOID Studios. A big part of this idea is a copy of Coke Studios, a short lived MMORPG put on by the creators of Habbo and CocaCola. It shares similarities with Habbo in that it was Flash based, allowed users to create music studio rooms, customize them with furni, and customize their character.

The new aspect of Coke Studios was an addition of an in-game music maker. Players could compose tracks, and share them with their friends. I can’t remember the exact details of how this happened, but I want to say that the songs could be written onto vinyl. The vinyl could be stored in the player’s inventory, shared with a friend, or played on a turntable for the occupants of the room to enjoy. I can’t remember if that’s how it worked, but that’s how I would have implemented it!

VOCALOID Studios would be very similar. Players could customize their vocaloid, make tracks, buy/sell furni, visit friend’s studios, and chat all night. I could literally recreate the good old day, yet upgraded for today’s web standards technology. I could even incorporate up and coming technology such as blockchain based currencies meant for video game microtransactions, or federated servers for hosting your own instance of VOCALOID studios. Of course, a solid concept must come first, so these technologies would be something added down the line.

Firstly, I would have to create a client side game. I would need to put my CCS skills to the test to create an isometric grid, and then use my artistic talent to create pixelated art assets. Players love customization, so I would need to maximize the possible combinations to ensure every player could have something unique.

I could even pay artists to help me create custom assets. For example, I could implement popular Project Diva modules into the game by paying artists to create the art for me.

The thing with an isometric game is that every art asset needs 4 different views. front, left, back, right. That would be a lot of art to make, which would really help if I could afford to pay artists to help.

That brings me to monetization! I would copy Habbo for the most part. Their system really incentivized buying in-game currency. Players who don’t join Habbo Club are given less choices for customization. They can’t buy furni unless they trade for it, or make friends with someone who likes to share, or devise devious methods of obtaining. And yes, Habbo has a dark side, with scammer players tricking their victims into dropping furni on the floor of the scammer’s room and never being able to pick up the furni again. And that was just one of the scams.

But that’s life, of course. I did lots of learning about human behavior through Habbo.

My love for chat rooms and VOCALOID makes this project an inevitability. I’d start right away if I wasn’t already working on my jeopardy project. If I can’t get into Hack Reactor, this is my next project. I’m already looking at the calendar for the next game jam which I can use to start this project.

I love game jams. They have great communities, and the jam itself offers a perfect amount of excitement and pressure to get a game off the ground. There’s no requirement to submit your game at the end, which means it’s a perfect time for just digging in and hashing out an idea.

The prize is your game!

Ludum Dare Lore

Every project has it’s challenges. An MMORPG is no small task. Actually, I heard this quote recently which really resonates with me.

There are no small jobs.

Unknown

This is so true. I often see some problem on the internet that I could solve using a webapp. My impulse is to start a new project and get started makng the thing, but after starting 200 some repositories on github for the same reasons, I have dialed back my impulsiveness a bit. Projects which I estimate will take 2 days usually take closer to 2 months. There is a ton of framework that is required for seemingly simple web apps.

I think I could cut this amount of work down by using a scaffolding generator such as yeoman, or employ a framework such as fortune.js or similar which gives the developer a solid foundation to start with. But my point is that I often gloss over the details of the apps I imagine.

It’s not all bad. It’s a great thing to be uninhibited by potentially tricky details, and just jump in and get started.

The bad part comes when the project never see the light of day because I run out of steam to complete the lengthy process of turning an idea into a working concept.

There has to be a middle ground. A happy place where my expectations are realistic, my pace is sustainable, and my idea is worth continuing.

Here’s another quote I like. This one is from a TED talk.

Can you do it? Will it work? Is it worth it?

Scott Geller

These three things are the keys to motivation. If I have all three, I am motivated. With only two or less, I may not have the will to go on.

So back to my idea. I cannot start working on this game at the moment, since I have not completed my jeopardy game project. If I am accepted into Hack Reactor, I’ll be spending all my time on that endeavor, and I’ll become a better developer more readily able to create this game I dream of.

Either way, this idea really excites me, and I’m looking forward to when I’ll be able to make it a reality!