I came across this Tweet the other day:
Next time someone says ur project is overscoped, say “Let’s just do it and be legends man” but by “it” u mean “cut scope & focus on quality”
— Teddy Dief (@TeddyDief) May 4, 2017
It seemed to resonate with everyone, the comments being large agreement that scoping was difficult. And I couldn’t help but think how much it related to my current side project.
For the uninitiated, “scope” in project terms refers to how large a project is, in terms of content and systems. Open world games like Grand Theft Auto and The Elder Scrolls tend to have a large scope: a very realized world with thousands of NPCs, items, and hand-crafted narratives. Games like Splatoon and The Witness have a pretty modest scope, focused around a few features and never straying too far from that. And games like THOTH or my own Tetris Fighter have a tiny scope, with short completion times for both the game and the project.
Games with large scope require large teams, while games with small scope don’t require nearly as much, naturally. In fact, having the wrong scope for the wrong team size is problematic. 5 people trying to make Breath of the Wild? Not going to happen. 300 people sitting down to make Super Hexagon? Waste of resources. The problem always comes down to a mismatch in resources.
And one of those resources is time.
My goal was to make a game a week, with an extra week of buffer time if things got too crazy. That means two weeks from game realization to completion. With such a short amount of time, scope needs to be small. No original music. Simple systems. Not a lot of hand-authored content.
So why did I choose to make an RPG?
“Pretty Concise” was an attempt to make a very simple RPG. Abstract a lot of the systems out. Few stats. No combat. Story handled by little blurbs of text. English-only.
But RPGs, by nature, are not small scope games. Even this one, with a tiny scope, ended up needing a lot of work. After all, there were locations to hand-craft. 3D models to make. And, more than anything else, formulas and balancing to do. And those take time.
I wasn’t originally going to make 3D models. I was going to have everything be cubes. Nor was I going to have money or side areas. But, here we are:
And still there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
But all that said, I’m becoming more and more proud of this little game each day. While it still has a bit to go before it’s actually fun, I think it’s a good start.
So maybe instead of making 3 games, I’ll just make one semi-big one.
Next game, however! That’ll have a better scope. Hopefully.