Posted On: 2019-03-04
Today's post will be a follow-up to describe the progress I've made on my plans from the beginning of the year. (I have the old plan in front of me as I write this, so you may want to look at the earlier plan for the context to understand this one.) Additionally, while I haven't quite finished everything that I had originally planned, I will describe my plans for the next stage of development, as I should be close enough to start thinking about what comes next.
Over the past couple months, I have managed to achieve most of my goals:
Regarding what I plan to work on in the near-term, completing the in-progress prototype is an obvious first step. Beyond that, my priorities will likely change based on playtest feedback from the prototype. If the prototype is well received, I'll likely focus on getting a good architecture in place to support expanding the range and types of combat interactions. If the response is lukewarm or mixed, I will likely focus on analyzing that and determining whether it's something that can be fixed- and iterate on that. Finally, if the feedback is clearly negative (or if I determine whatever made it lukewarm cannot be fixed) then I will likely prioritize finding a UI library, as that will likely afford me a lot more flexibility in how combat can be represented.
Regardless of the path to get there, once I have a solid prototype for the project, I will focus on extracting the value from the prototype, so that it can be migrated into the final product. This will likely involve quite a bit of rework, but it is definitely better than trying to re-use code that was intended to be short-lived (in essence, this is the architectural value of a prototype: seeing where the design breaks down and requires workarounds will help inform the design used for the final product.) Unfortunately, at this point in time I don't have a good sense of which systems will require rework and which work as-is, since the combat prototype that I end up using may be significantly different from what I currently have. As such, I think this is a reasonable place to cease planning.
Long-term goals for the project have not changed. The one noteworthy thing in this regard is that I expect to continue developing prototypes, even once I've started work on the larger project. My experiences developing software (outside of making games) have taught me the value of prototyping mid-development, as this can be an excellent way to experiment with new ideas without impacting the health of the project. I expect that prototyping player expression of narrative intent will be one of the prototypes that will be needed during development- partly because getting that right will be tricky, and partly because there is value in starting a project even if you are only confident about some parts of it (rather than waiting for everything to pinned down, as that can lead to a never-ending preproduction phase.)
As always, I hope you find this window into my approach to planning useful. Writing this out has been a useful excercise for me (I better understand just how much my plans hinge on how well the current prototype works out), and I hope that it's been useful for you to read it as well.