How to make MMO Game?

I google'd for how to go about building an MMO and of course all I got was garbage. And no, I don't want a pre-built fully-featured gaming engine, even building that is going to be part of the excitement. I want to build an MMO. Let's say a dozen players, pathetic 2D graphics, dots simply able to move around the same blank screen together. Maybe someday I'll let them interact. How do I start?

My experience ends with c++ and allegro to produce a 2-player graphical quest-based game which I've built over the course of the past week (80 hours, few thousand lines of code).

If anyone has some direction for how to build an MMO I would appreciate it. The shorter your response the better. (Please keep to under 10 paragraphs.) And I don't want to hear anything about how hard it is or easy it is etc. Please just educate me.

Oh, and of course, if possible, I'd like to stick to something as wonderfully powerful and obvious and simple as c++ and allegro, but I'm ready to take steps in a new direction if I have to.

12 players doesn't qualify as an MMO. That first M is Massively.

That's good though, because the jump from MO to MMO is, pun intended, Massive. I'm talking Grand Canyon Massive. Although even building a simple networked multiplayer game comes with it's own challenges.

First step is to get familiar with socket programming (or winsock if you're on Windows). Google Beej's Guide for one of the oldest, but also best, guides to Network Programming with sockets.
I've seen lots of people/indie game makers chatting about MMO creation at forums. I hope that helps. Best luck!
As I understand it, a multiplayer game is not entirely unlike an IRC session. There's a server to which clients connect. The server waits for actions from the clients (e.g. move, grab something, attack, etc.) and also keeps track of automatic events (e.g. something re/spawns). When there's an action or event, the server notifies the clients and the clients update their state accordingly (e.g. by taking damage).
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