The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Monster MMORPG

Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Furkan Gözükara, the Turkish developer of free-to-play Monster MMORPG, explains how he made a game based on Pokemon better than Pokemon. You heard it here first, folks.

What's your game called and what's it about?

My game is called Monster MMORPG. The game is all about catching, training, and battling with monsters.

You start out as a simple trainer with a starter monster, fresh to a world full of action and discovery. You must venture out into the vast lands and search for monsters both common and extremely rare.

The community of Monster MMORPG is also very important. Trainers are what make the game, and the relationships built between trainers creates rivalries and friendships. A trainer could be out helping another trainer find a monster one minute, and turning his monster team into shambles the next.

How do you reply to those who might say Monster MMORPG is too similar to Pokemon?

Monster MMORPG is the same in that respect as any other online MMO. You can't traverse the Internet stream without hearing, "That's just like...."

We all loved Pokemon, so why wouldn't you want a game that is very similar, but much better? Games like Empire Earth and Age of Empires 2, or Torchlight and Diablo 2 are very similar, much like Monster MMORPG and Pokemon. They were all still very successful.

What inspired you to make Monster MMORPG?

I am a computer engineer; a friend suggested the idea to make a PHP-based Pokemon MMORPG. We made the game and despite it being really simple and full of bugs, it was very popular. I was simply amazed with the demand of "Pokemon MMORPG." So, for the graduation project I chose to do the Pokemon MMORPG and opened it with the name PokemonCraft.

After the great success of the game, Nintendo requested that I shut down my game, even though I was advertising their official games on my main page. So, instead of completely burying my whole project in the rusty pages of history, I decided to take action on my own. I shut down the game for months and removed everything belonging to Nintendo. I avoided copyright laws by using original images for the monsters and using unique names for everything in the game. Also, by using unique game mechanics, I have made a game that will allow Pokemon fans of any age to enjoy a game very similar to the one they love without any copyright or trademark violation.

It brings me great pride to be able to see hundreds of players online enjoying my game.

What makes Monster MMORPG sustainable, both financially and to the players?

There are a number of dedicated players who help the game by donating. This shows that they want the game to continue and that they love it enough to spend money on it, even though they are in no way obligated to.

What are the major differences between Turkish- and English-speaking players, if any?

Fans of this kind of game rarely have differences. Both the Turkish and English players have a strong dedication to the game and contribute to it by helping throw in-game events, create databases of information, and to give suggestions and ideas that will help improve the game. The only major difference is in the language we speak, but in the language of our hearts we all say, "We love Monster MMORPG!"

Anything you'd do differently?

So far I love the game very much the way it is. My only wish is that I would be able to get things into the game faster so that the player-base could enjoy the true depth of my dream for Monster MMORPG.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

I wanted to make the dream and vision I had for Monster MMORPG in my own way. Working for an established company would only limit what I could do, because all changes would have to be agreed upon. I want the freedom to give my players what they ask for and to do what I want with my game.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

I believe that I have a vision, a dream, that I am trying my best to achieve and share with others, much like others in the indie movement. I am simply doing my best to bring the highest quality and fun to players of my game. However, I see that the support that indie games get is very low.

Recently, I attempted to make a page at Wikipedia and they informed me that my game was not notable enough for their site and deleted the page. I have over 370,000 registered players and am in the top 100,000 of Alexa Ranking, but because I don't have the financial backing to invest millions in newspapers and advertisement, I could not make my game notable enough for such a website. This puts a brick wall in front of indie gamers that is very disappointing and sad.

What's the coolest aspect of Monster MMORPG?

I would have to say the coolest aspect of my game right now is the real-time PvP battling feature. Players can send a request to each other and the challenged player will immediately have a button appear showing they have a PvP challenge. After they click the button, they will be redirected to a PvP offers screen where they can choose to accept or decline. If they accept, they will be taken to the battle screen where they can choose their monster and battle another player's monster team. The system is far from complete, but with the implementation of PvP maps, live tournaments and an updated ranking system, it will be the best feature in Monster MMORPG.

Sell Monster MMORPG in one sentence:

Catch, train, battle, conquer and PvP with rivals anywhere, any time without downloading anything!

What's next?

Currently, I am trying to complete my thesis for a master's degree in computer engineering. When this is finished, I am going to work on the game full-time. Although the game is not complete yet, it is very popular. In the near future, there will be maps devoted to PvP, very similar to Knight Online, in which players can go into battle with other players without permission and the winner will earn points from the loser.

Along with the rest, we will have a more advanced ranking system, a full team (guild/clan) feature, and higher-quality monster images including over 10,000 new monsters already designed by talented individuals at DeviantArt that we are obtaining the rights to.

There will also be an arena system for battling ancient sages -- like gym battles -- thousands of NPC trainers to battle and obtain items from, higher-quality and quantity of maps to explore, a completely new and professional theme to the layout of the game, massive live tournaments and events, and much, much more.

Monster MMORPG is free to play, so if Pokemonsters are your thing, check it out!

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.