Making video games is a hobby (for now), but as a professional I am a certified project manager (PMP). So can you guess how organized my work is? If you thought, "Extremely, possibly overboard" you are right! I use Asana for my ticketing system and I arrange them as "Minimal Viable Products" (MVP). The concept of an MVP is the smallest amount of work, features, and size of features that you can do to product a version of the software for "early adopters" and that is useful enough for feedback. While not strictly adhering to an MVP, and being more like milestones, I've set up the MMORTS project as a series of MVPs that should culminate in an alpha!
I currently have 5 slated MVPs:
- MVP 1: Basic RTS mechanics. A basic tech demo. Three units (worker, archer, warrior) for two sides (human, undead), the keep for both sides, graveyard for humans. A player, given a collection of units, should be able to have the units: move, queue movements, patrol, attack, and gather & transfer resources. Basic NPC AI should notice the player's units and attack. Units should be able to die and the player should be able to resurrect their units (for free), and heal structures using collected resources. Additional basic UI and account login.
- MVP 2: Advanced RTS mechanics. The end result is to have a client (and accounts) that can be given to friends that allows everyone to play in the same zone together. This will have the addition of resource carts, knights (cavalry), and healers, with the addition of "unit slots" to restrict the number of units allowed deployed. Structures expand to flesh out a full city/town with warehouses (resource collection points), towers (turret attacks), Walls, and unit purchasing locations (stables, barracks, archery range, and Shines). NPC AI becomes smarter with a better event response (e.g. you attack an NPC and all his buddies notice and come attack back). Additionally some server upgrades of pathfinding and the caching system is planned.
- MVP 3: MMO Features! This milestone introduces more MMO features and goes beyond a basic RTS game. This includes player levels/experience, specialization points, unit experience & veterancy. Units in this release see artillery and mages. With them are toggleable buffs, area attacks, AC & damage types, and such. Our cities will be filled out with Houses and Farms, a zone map, and zone buffs. (Future blog post about houses, farms, and zone buffs!)
- MVP 4: Extra Fun Stuff. This milestone is more about adding extra/unique mechanics. Units will have the addition of necromancers, warlocks, ships (water-only units), and transportation. Along with those is the mechanics of transporting other units, temporary units (and their creation), and better damage over time. The Elf, Orc, and Dwarf factions will be added in preparation for the real factions (another future post), with more/large scale advanced NPC AI. Multiple zones and zone connections will be introduced, a global day/night cycle, and anything else that didn't get accomplished in MVP 3.
- MVP 5: Home Stretch! This is the final milestone before what I would consider an alpha. It moves everything from a "testing" or demo state to the real ones (minus the final models). This milestone is planned as a large defect and tech debt fix because by this stage hundreds of people should be playing on the test server and finding all of the stupids left in the code.
Of course this is just the plan, and we'll see how things adjust as life happens. As well there are minor things (account creation, different UI, loading screens, client-server message updates) that will come in as needed to support other features. But with that plan, how am I doing? I present to you MVP 1's success!