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Learning from My Failures: Realm Rates

Ah, Realm Rates, another ambitious project that I had such high hopes for that never got to see the light of day.

What it was

Way back in 2015, I was semi-addicted to an MMO-RPG game called Realm of the Mad God. Similar to how other MMO games work, in RotMG, there are plenty of rare items that have a small chance of  "dropping" while you play. However, the difference with Realm of the Mad God is that the developers of the game specifically chose to keep the drops rates a secret.

Being the naive wanna-be "entrepreneur" that I was, I immediately saw this as a business opportunity. Just about anyone who has ever played RotMG has been curious about what the drop rates for their favorite item might be... I knew what I had to do. I was going to create an information-based website called Realm Rates that would make public what was previously a secret.

What went wrong

So, how was I going to accomplish this? Simple! By playing the game for tens of thousands of hours, recording the drop rates of literally every item and event, calculating the rates based on the results, and publishing them on my website for all to see! And faster than you can say "innocent little boy", I recruited a few friends and got to work!

(Screenshot from one of the Google Docs where we were storing our drop rate findings)
(Screenshot from one of the Google Docs where we were storing our drop rate findings)

My friends and I went at it pretty hard for a few days, but I officially called it off only two weeks after starting (probably one of my quickest failures). It's really not that hard to see why this project was a failure... I was blinded by my own ambition at the time. There were simply too many items and events within RotMG for this idea to work.  With the method I was using the collect data, Realm Rates was simply not a realistic project.

What I learned

Don't worry, this project wasn't all "doom and gloom". Yes, it was a failure from an objective point of view. However, I learned a valuable lesson that would save me from similar failures in the future. I learned to slow down before jumping on an exciting project.

It's very easy for me to get excited about a project. When I get a sudden burst of inspiration or creativity, I want to work on something right away. Often times, that seems to be a good thing, but not in this case. With Realm Rates, I had the idea one day and got started on the next. Very little planning and thinking were done beforehand. I could only see one thing in my mind, the end result. I wasn't thinking about the process of getting there. A huge mistake, but hey, I was 15.

In the end, I'm grateful that Realm Rates failed. Sure, I was embarrassed that I gave up (especially since I boasted to my friends about how awesome it was going to be), but I know that it helped me in the long run.

Side note: Looking back, the concept of a website like Realm Rates is still a good idea. If I were to re-create this project today, here's how I would do it. I would develop a custom RotMG client that is linked to a Realm Rates database. When a player using the client slays enemies or completes dungeons, the client would report what drops they received, if any at all. This game client would be distributed to a limitless number of players, rather than just a few friends writing down their numbers.