Forge of Legends: Post Mortem

February 10, 2014

It has been quite some time since the last update was posted on the Forge of Legends project.   I am finally able to share some information.

In the time since I last posted, the single largest factor in delaying work on the game is that I have moved my family twice.   Selling and buying a home turned out to be a bit more than I bargained for.  Moving twice even more so.  I totally stopped coding work during this period.

However, even while I was still coding the game, I noticed a few troubling trends.  Foremost was that when I began coding on FOL years ago, there were precious few examples of the kind of game it is intended to be.  That is, a party-based, turn-based dungeon crawler, old school in every way.  At the time, I wanted a game like that so badly that I decided to make my own!  After years of coding, the market has shifted.  There are more and more games like this out there.  I feel the moment has passed, in essence.

Even when the game was making steady progress, I had outlined such a large feature scope that I was probably doomed never to complete the game.  This in spite of lots of good advice out there about keeping your scope limited!  I knew it was too much, but every feature was just too precious to cut, it seemed to me.  I was designing the game I always wanted to play…

This is one of the lessons I have learned: if your gut tells you there is too much to do, there is.  Start by completing a core, then you can add more and more neat stuff if you finish that.  Don’t start out to build an aircraft carrier — start with a fishing boat.  Tack on the AI-controlled pneumatic arresting gear later.

Speaking of lessons, there are several I have taken away from this effort.  To list a few more:

– I tended to agonize over resources, like images, spending days on these alone.  That in itself is not such a bad thing, but I think it would have been better to get “something” in place, then come back later and plug in the ideal art or image.  Too often I allowed myself to bog down working on pieces of the project whose time had not yet come.

– A development soundboard is exceedingly useful.  What I mean is someone who understands your project, and even may have projects of his own.  A fellow coder or game designer who you can bounce ideas off of, or just help you stay interested.  You know who you are, and thanks :)

– Marketing too early.  One of the things I most regret about this project is that I reached out and set expectations which I have not met.  Take for example the fine folks at RPGWatch, who posted game updates from a nobody.  In the future, I think I will postpone this phase until I am practically ready for beta testing.

– Reduce scope.  Did I mention reducing scope?

What happens next?  I haven’t explicitly stated what I now intend for Forge of Legends.  Partly that is because I am not sure.  I will say that I am putting the code down for now, and moving to another project.  There is still a largely complete 2D/3D game engine, however, and a usable level editor.  I think I would be open to making the code for both of these available, given the right kind of person was interested in it.  I have also given some thought to releasing a free, scope-reduced version of the game.

There is also a chance that I could return to the project in the future when the winds have changed.  Who knows?  Never say never, right?

As for me, I do have another project underway.  One of my first and primary efforts is now to design what is minimally viable (see reduce scope above).  I intend to bring it almost to completion before I bug anyone about it.

If you have interest in past or future projects, you can contact me via my website!

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One Response to “Forge of Legends: Post Mortem”

  1. NE1 Says:

    Even starting with a small scope it is incredibly easy to lose focus during the project. The art is difficult with games because often the process of finding the correct look and feel has design implications.
    All this is to say I completely sympathize with you here and wish you luck on your next project.


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