Chasing "feature creep" or taking on too ambitious of a project can doom you to fail. In this article, I talk about how I manage the scope of my project.
What Is Project Scope?
To manage Project Scope, it helps if we first define it, so here's my stab at it:
A project's scope is the total amount of work required to achieve the project’s desired objectives.
Why do we want to manage Project Scope? Being too ambitious with your ideas, biting off more than you can chew, or suffering from feature creep can derail your game fast.
Failing to manage scope is one of the main reasons games never get finished, so it is in my best interest to start small with a working prototype and expand from there.
Managing My Project Scope
I know my Goal is to create an homage to Traveller in an old-school-style JRPG game. Now I need to define what will be included and what will be excluded from the Project Scope.
Since this is my first RPG Maker game, and I had no idea what the limitations of RPG Maker were before I started, it has become clear that I need to take a step back and reevaluate.
Oh, I'm still going to use RPG Maker for this project, but I got to thinking that most of the skills listed in the Traveller rules would never be used in a computer RPG that lasts only a few hours.
Of the skills that would be useful in most adventures, how would I implement them in-game? How could I make Game Skills that are usable in combat or out of combat and that are relevant to each Class?
..and how many Character Classes should I have? There are 12 standard Careers in Traveller and each one has 3 subclasses for a total of 36 classes - and that's not including Prisoner and Psion!
Narrowing The Project Scope
Since this part of the development process is still the Planning phase, I am testing things out and not getting tied to any one idea.
Some things will be easily converted, others will take a little work, and some things will just be impossible.
What I need to do is manage the Scope back to 2 or 3 Character Classes, 2 or 3 Weapons, 2 or 3 Skills, 2 or 3 Armors, and so forth.
This will allow me to build a minimum viable product (MVP) featuring a couple of examples of each aspect of the game.
Always keep the minimum viable product (MVP) in mind when prototyping your game.
I mean MINIMUM! Don't add in everything you can think of to start with; put that all on paper someplace. What you need to focus on is one or two examples of each of the main features of your game. This means one character class, one weapon, one armor, one item, one NPC, one shop, and one quest.
Once this prototype "proof of concept" is working, it can be expanded from there using the lessons learned to that point.
Join My Game Dev Journey!
It's nice to have company on a long trip.
If you want to follow my production progress, check my blog at MakeYourOwnRPG.com.
You can also join the CyborgPrime Discord server, where I post my progress and interact with the community.
Click here for more articles in this series about my RPG Maker game dev journey.
Your Turn. What Do You Do?
Do you have any tips for managing project scope?
Please share with us in the Comments section, below. I want to know more about how other people manage project scope.
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