While I see why people warn new guys about taking on too big projects, saying that an MMO is impossible for a single person, I have to disagree with that.
First of all, as soon as people hear the word “mmo” they think of World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, SWTOR and such.
Taking on a game like that as a very small team would indeed be more or less impossible within any reasonable time frame, but you have to keep in mind that not all games are the same and made by huge companies for the AAA market.
Just because you play the most mainstream MMOs it doesn’t mean there aren’t smaller ones out there, that are still good and played by a lot of people (although of course not millions of people).
Xsyon which have a huge world and still sees success today, 3 years after launch and just recently got greenlit on steam have a team of (as far as I know) 10 people today, I can only imagine it being smaller back before the initial release 2011.
WURM online was made by 2 persons and now, 2 years after release they are 4.
LOVE might be very strange and different but it’s a still huge, open world mmo and it was made by a single person.
Runescape had 2 people before it’s success.
A tale in the Desert was made by one person.
You see my point, the list goes on, so don’t go crushing someone’s dreams just because you have a narrow idea of what an open world MMO is.
I agree that it’s a good idea to start small, but to tell someone to start by making pong, then going on to make Pac-man and so on sounds like a terrible idea and bound to put people off.
I don’t think a lot of people would find it interesting to work on stuff they are completely sure they won’t use at all, this is not how you keep motivated.
What you should do is split your project up in tiny, tiny goals.
If you want to create your game idea, what ever it might be, start by making one tiny part of it and learn what you need to know to make that happen.
I’m not saying make a finished starting area of the game, think even smaller:
Make your first prop, learn from that and create another one that you want in your game.
Keep going and before you know it you have learned some basic 3d, shaders(materials) and how to use the UE editor.
After that you might get into making some basic functionality, make that door you made open-able with blueprints, keep going, make a fireplace and learn some basic cascade for the particle effects, use blueprints to start the fire, keep going and so on and so forth.
After a while you’ll have a tiny part of your map made with assets you created and you’ll have something to look at, knowing you created it and it’s something that will make you proud and keep you motivated. I hardly believe pong will do that.
You’ll most likely come back to a lot of these first things you created later and make them better or completely redo them because they aren’t up to par anymore, when you are a lot better. But at least it was something that got you excited and you could see your game grow and a lot of it can probably still be used.
Don’t let yourself be put off by the enormous mountain in front of you, see it as tiny goals you overcome and sooner or later you’ll have climbed the whole thing. Don’t let the nay sayers get to you, work for your dreams.
When I started working on our project, we didn’t know smack about making games, now, years later we are still working, we’re still a very small team and we have learned tons and tons of techniques and skills and the game is taking shape, and it’s something I can be proud of which is the most effective motivation.