Online game development: 9 things to consider in early stages

Whiteboard with post-it colored notes
27 January 2022

Everybody's gaming now! It's the perfect time to flex your dev muscle and put the work into your dream project. But developing an online multiplayer game is not an easy feat - so what do you need to look out for when planning your masterpiece?

Table of Contents

Preparing the development of your online game

Online gaming has been more widespread than ever before. New online experiences are popping up all the time, with more and more titles exploding in popularity within weeks of their launch dates. With their respective player communities forming stronger bonds over the gameplay, the stories, the mechanics, the camaraderie of a group activity. If you’re a game developer, the timing is perfect to break through with your idea for something new. Preparing your game to run online and give everyone an ideal experience is a task that should be taken very seriously, requiring careful planning and preparation.

With so many tools at your disposal, multiple platforms for game developers with various levels of offerings, as well as a tempting possibility of doing everything by yourself before you even begin forming your game, you should consider a few key elements that will help you get going on your adventure and ensure that it’s a successful endeavor. With players happy and engaged, you can definitely feel accomplished and satisfied.

1. What kind of a game are you making

This may seem a little too obvious, but it’s an important step – you need to make sure you’re 100% certain of what exactly your game is. There is no half-stepping when it comes to planning, so ask yourself a few key questions:

2. How do I want to engage the players?

Games mean so much to the players. You want to make sure it will resonate with the community in the right way. Otherwise, the experience will be forgettable and, ultimately, not successful.

It’s also vital to know what kind of an online experience it will be; will it include a multiplayer mode? How will it work? It’s crucial to nail an excellent multiplayer mechanic, as this will either bring the players together and make the gameplay amazing or bog the game down and make people jump ship. Look at your plan and ensure that your idea of multiplayer or co-op actually works in real life, for example by researching similar modes in other games. Talk to your friends and co-workers and see if they get that idea just from you describing it, or do you have to explain it twice or more. This will give you a good idea of how easy it is to understand.

3. What exactly are the goal of the game?

So many games try to cram every single possible idea into them. Our advice is to edit – make sure you know precisely what your game’s primary goal will be, what mechanics will enable the player to reach it, and what will fill the time in between. Your game should be specific enough to not be confusing but broad enough to not be boring. Finding that sweet spot in the middle is a balancing act for sure, but it’s important to get as close as possible. Many massive, widely anticipated games with huge budgets fail because, in the end, they turn out to be a jumbled mess of every single idea that was thrown onto it during development. Plan wisely, edit liberally and focus.

4. What makes it different from other online experiences?

It’s not easy to be unique in the current gaming market – one could say it’s an impossible task – but it’s crucial to stand out enough to be visible. Make sure your blend of ideas is unique enough to warrant a new experience to take up the online space – if it’s more of the same as what’s currently popular, not everyone will be willing to hop on. Analyze the market, find your niche, and stick to your guns.

5. Who is my target player? What do they like? What do they hate?

Obviously, everyone wants their game to be a universal experience. Still, it’s essential to narrow it down to at least a few things that will help it resonate with your community. What elements of games do they enjoy the most? Which parts of games make them frustrated? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and create a general profile of a player that will play your game. Make sure you know who will be on the other side of the screen and cater to them specifically. Of course, this profile will change multiple times, so keep enough space for flexibility to adapt to those changes but keep a general idea of who will interact with your work in the back of your head.

6. How are you going to make the game

If you have created the most beautiful and thought-out plan for your adventure, it’s time to think logistics. Crafting a work of art takes time, patience, consideration, and skill – so you need to carefully pick the right tools that will assist you on your journey to the finish line.

A lot of decisions that have to be made early on will have a large impact on the costs later on, and not everyone realizes that”, says Stefan Ideler, Chief Technology Officer at i3D.net. “Integrating solutions sooner is a blessing.

7. Tech specs

Analyze your technical possibilities. Your hardware will influence any platform or engine you need to run, so it’s important to set yourself up properly and select every element of the workflow from the very beginning. Make sure to thoroughly test how instances of the game run and take note of resources needed. How does the hard drive speed influence loading times? How much RAM and CPU power is needed to enable a smooth experience? Optimizing for limited resources can seriously expand your target audience beyond hardcore gamers and is definitely an uphill battle that’s worth fighting.

8. The choice of game engine

The choice of game engine will impact the entire development process, so choose wisely. Find something that works perfectly with your budget, your technical possibilities, and the game itself, as mismatched engines can lead to the game feeling clunky and unfinished. Commit to an engine that is constantly developed, has a large community around it, and has a future – the world moves fast. If your engine is deprecated before you even finish, you’ll be in a challenging position when it comes to updating the game and patching vulnerabilities.

9. Bringing the game to life

A big part of creating an online game is making sure you’re ready to actually run it online. Many developers leave it as an afterthought, while this decision could affect the development process itself in most cases. Optimizing the game for an online solution available to us can drastically alter its final performance – how many players can you allow at the same time, should you divide servers into regions to combat lag and lower the latency, which assets have to be compressed to reduce the resources needed, etc.

If the game has constant issues with connectivity, no one will be playing it. It will become a burden”, says Stefan Ideler. “It’s best to commit to a solution that takes that burden away, or you’ll be stuck with something that’s basically deadweight.

What’s next?

After considering all of the above, it’s time to take that knowledge and put it into action. In our next blog in the game development series, we discuss how to choose the right network solution to bring your game online!

Main Take-Aways

Online performance and latency can make or break a game. Make sure you run on a high-performance, low-latency global network with years of experience handling massive online games. With an extended suite of products tailored for seamless, safe, and fun online experiences, i3D.net offers a Game Hosting Platform that’s flexible, scalable, and fast. It just works.

Get in touch with our experts and discover what our network can do for your game.