Life twists and turns, gets really busy and priorities shift. Since my last post (January of 2019), work got busier thanks to my employer trusting me and promoting to management, I got a new house, worked on things for my long-term career, starting writing a book on my other passion (Agile & Project Management), my son (now almost 5) takes more of my time in the evenings and weekends, and I worked more on my game concept "Sub-Strata". This is not an excuse by any means, but when you have limited hours in the day you have to prioritize what is important. As much as I love game development, I love my son more.
Furthermore, I am more interested in making these games right rather than "right now". For example, I have been sitting on my MMORTS concept since 2005 and didn't start programming it until 2015 when I figured out a better way to architect the server fro such a massive endeavor. If work on a game isn't exciting me then I'll put it on hold and work on other things on my priority list. Admittedly, that is not the most productive but developing games is still a hobby so it needs to remain fun for me.
With all of that being said, what did 2020 bring? Well, I'm still writing my book on software development project management, I updated "Shards of Magic" to go back to 2D graphics, I re-branded my company to be better themed, and starting in May I have been back to work on the MMORTS with a lot of improvements!
Deciding which game project to work on is hard for me. I have completely stopped development on Sub-Strata. I like the concept, but I just don't see a long-term advantage of it when I have two other designs I prefer. For "Shards of Magic", I liked the simplistic 2D top-down "link to the past" SNES graphics, so I went back to those. The sub-game "Shards of Magic: Puzzle Heist" is at the point where I need better graphics and level design to produce a demo. I'm just not yet ready to spend the kind of money it needs in assets. On the other hand, my MMORTS work has been going very well. Back in 2018 I upgraded the server architecture, moving it from Java to C#, adding a caching system, and better split up the micro-services. While a huge step forward, this left a lot of features broken. I have now caught up to the feature list of the original Java server and am starting to make real advancements.
That was the first half of 2020, going forward I'm trying to commit myself to the MMORTS by doing several key things.
- MVP 1 - I have chunked the work into a series of 5 MVP (minimal viable product) milestones. After the 5th I should be just about ready for an Alpha. Each MVP introduces more advanced features building up the game. MVP 1 is the basic RTS feature like moving units, attacking, resource gathering, basic AI, etc. I'm hoping for it to be done by October.
- Build a community - It is time to start making this development effort public and showing what I've done. I have a lot to learn in this area.
- Name it! - I've been holding off on the name of the MMO until I was ready to brand the game. While I've owned the url for ages, I was scared of releasing the name until I had a better logo and pitch, and start of the game.
- Logo & Concept Art - The two above means I will need to hire an artist for concept art, a logo, and such. If I want this thing to be a "real game" it is time to start putting my money to work.