So recently I created a block diagram of all the 'milestones' in Morning's Wrath, each milestone being somthing important that happens (some, more important than others). This was a good way to gague what is still left to be done, and thankfully it showed that we are very close to completion (dramatically morso, than say, four months ago, when it was slated for release), this also made me do some more in-depth thought of how we have approached the development of MW.
'Block' vs. 'Layered' Development:
Back in March, when our development kick-off started, we took the initial approach of developing in 'blocks', that is, the game would be split into managable 'chunks' and each chunk would be completed before the next could begin. Now, the important work to notice there is 'completed', as we soon found out, it is hard to label somthing as completed when it is all you have to base your oppinions on. we continued with this 'block' approach until the completion of Map2, this marked about 1/3 of the pre-game being complete, and all involved decided that somthing had to change with our development style.
It was incredibly hard doing block development, since it required certain group members to wait on others, for instance, art could not be made without decisions, maps could not be made without art, scripting could not be done without maps. So the list of chained dependancies rolled on, and it soon became a nightmare.
Zac and I had a few conversations on how things were going and soon after he proposed a change, instead of marching on as we were, making graphics,making maps,making scripts, we would instead break this down into a series of large-scale passes, which would go somthing like this...
- Pass1: Make all Graphics and All Maps
- Pass2: Make all scripts
- Pass3: Pollish everything
This method looked better on paper, and worked better in practice, it's only downside was a lack of playable production (getting a map done doesnt ususaly impress people, as much as being able to play that map).
Team tested, Management approved:
We are currently speeding twoards the end of our second pass, and everything has been going fine, things are still very 'rough' which is what the pollishing stage is for, cleaning up things like dialogue, lighting, and other scripted scenes. Durring the pollishing phase we will have every, Large and Important thing inside of the game, allowing us to see the big picture, and then asjust that picture to our liking.
Hopefully, somone finds this post helpful when planning how to execute thier development cycle =)