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Creating game designs suitable for incremental development

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Hi everyone!


A current trend in indie game development is to sell early access, as in pretty much development builds of your games. I imagine most games having design documents detailing some final version of the game, which is then broken down into technical milestones which can be released. For my next project, I wanted to break it up into more managable pieces so that I could complete something to attract attention etc.


For example, I want to create some Settlers/Anno style RTS, with resource chains and some exploration but in a very different setting. In order to make it a more realistic less unrealistic project, I want to design it so that I can complete (implement) a subset of my vision and still have a playable game. Maybe I could start with a single island and some 20-ish resources+buildings and have goals like managing to produce a certain amount of resources in a set time limit. Once I had that, I could then start adding exploration and expansion to find new "worlds" and new resources, which could make it more challenging finding all the resouces needed to produce whatever. As a final step I could add other civilizations to trade with and/or go to war against which could potentially turn it into another game completely.


A potential problem I can see with this is that it might result in wasted work. For example, once there are enemies in the game, the whole "farm X of whatever in Y minutes" concept might be completely irrelevant.


Has anyone worked on a project which was designed like this? Did you encounter any problems? How did it work out?

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I suggest you to read a real gem book, "Getting Real" from 37signals, it is wise to have a not-so-brief GDD and a scalable plan allowing an MVP and milestones.


This way you can get feedback on the fly also.

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