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A company approached me to design an MMO for the mobile platform and I have the perfect idea for them. My question is how much would a server for a FTP game that has both a PVE element and PVP cost? Also do you think that it would be better or is it even possible to back load the data onto the phones (trying to come up with some interesting way to back up the data in case of emergency). I don't want the game to be totally online reliant (I want to appeal to not only phone users but also iPod touch users) and for there to be an offline mode.

If you can't tell this is my first game besides simple projects I've done on the side. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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That's impossible to say without knowing any details about your game and your protocol. –  Philipp Dec 11 '12 at 15:26
    
Philipp is right. Server costs for a free-to-play MMO with both PvE and PvP? Probably somewhere between zero if you go entirely p2p and any of the wildly speculative seven-digit figures a year that come up on a quick google search on World of Warcraft's operating costs. –  Marcks Thomas Dec 11 '12 at 15:54
    
You might want to consider the jobs you accept in the future. Getting in over your head is a bummer and saying "no" to start with instead of "turns out I can't", is better for your reputation. Simple projects -> MMO is a huge step up. –  Byte56 Dec 11 '12 at 18:22
    
The idea that I am pitching to the investors is already flushed out and the lead partner that brought me on is very excited about it. I understand that I am new and I don't pitch myself as the be all and end all but my role is design. For the sake of the investors, I wanted to learn more about the back end and this site has more than helped me with that. Because of the short conversation that happened I narrowed the pitch down. –  user23844 Dec 11 '12 at 19:56

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About estimating the required server capacity

Making any guess here is impossible without knowing very specific details about your game and your protocol.

Just some of the variables which have a huge impact are:

  • how many users will be online at the same time?
  • how resource-intense is your game per player?
  • how much data does each user send to the server per minute?
  • how much data do you have to send to each user per minute?
  • How do these metrics scale with the number of users? When you have 100 connected users, do you need to send the data of everyone to everyone (which means 100 users do not create 100 times but 10.000 times as much load as a single one) or can you minimize this scaling issues by only sending data of those other players which are relevant for each user?

Making even vague estimates for any of these numbers without actually coding and measuring it requires a lot of experience and very detailed knowledge of the game concept.

About offline play and storing data client-sided

When you store data client-sided, you have to be aware that users will be able to manipulate that data and cheat! You can try to make it harder through encrypting it, but that will only slow them down for a few days, because your encryption key and algorithm must be somewhere in your application.

For that reason, offline play in a competitive multiplayer game is generally a very, very bad idea. When you want to stop people from cheating, then all calculations which are relevant for the gameplay must take place on the server. Anything which happens on the client can be manipulated by the user.

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This was actually a lot of help. The game would work fine as P2P and I can minimize the cheating aspect with proper design. Thanks again this is going to help me out a lot. –  user23844 Dec 11 '12 at 18:12

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