Bitksel - Story about why “keeping the scope small” is important

on 2017-09-04

This is another post from my old devlog I'm transfering here. I really liked this post so I thought I'll keep it.

This happened before I started to make that roguelike, but I feel like I should talk about this, I think it’s important for the newcomers in gamedev. This is gonna be an incoherent rambling, but I hope my point comes across.

Dunno about others, but I’m sure many gamedevs have so many ideas they don’t know where to start. I had this panic before the Games Made Quick gamejam started, I wanted a solid project to work on, something I could possibly finish before the gamejam ends. (Even in the gamejam rules it’s said that “even returning an empty unity project counts” so I was basically panicking for nothing.)


I have had this idea of making my own RPG for long time, called Enegrond. It would be a hybrid of Morrowind and some other RPG’s, and it would look like an old PS1 game with blocky graphics and all the polygon jitter and clunky animations. Partially because it looks cool, partially because my artistic side is crap so if I tried something photorealistic I would cry.


Well, I thought I would continue this project in this gamejam, but I wanted to make something concrete, something that could possibly be ready before the gamejam is over. Then I found this roguelike tutorial I talked in my earlier post, however it didn’t really seem like what I have had in mind for this RPG.


Then I thought, hey, what about Gamemaker, I have Gamemaker Pro license thanks to Humble Bundle so I went and looked around how it would work for an RPG and found some nice asset that lets me easily start making RPG’s.


I weighed all my options and..




What to do?! Where to start!? So many options, so little time!


I wanted to make something cool in such a little time, I first tried my Unity project again and realised that hell, it’s gonna take me years to make it complete. So I scratched it.


Back to the roguelike idea, something I possibly could get done rather quick, but not really what I had in mind, so I scratched that too. Before that though, I spent a lot of time figuring things out for the roguelike in case I was gonna make it, wasting precious time.


Then to the Gamemaker RPG idea.. I was thinking it’s plausible, so I went heck yea, bought the 18€ asset (oops) and started making things happen.. Until I realised that this is also gonna take for many months to make correctly.


I was kind of sad that I had bought something I won’t use immediatly and just gave up momentarily. My head was literally hurting from all the thinking, pondering, wondering, whatever. I almost cried because I had wasted what little money and still didn’t know what to do, and had another panic, repeating the process of bouncing all three different engines/ideas again, and one more time!


It was now late into the night, I felt like completely giving up anything gamedev related, I was little ball of angriness because I was angry at myself for not making any solution.


Then I remembered the magic words.


“Keep the scope small.”

** **

These words are often repeated to the newcomers in gamedev stuff. We all have such grand ideas for games, so many amazing worlds, so, oh so many amazing gameplay figured out in our heads.. But we often lack the skill to do these, especially alone, and if not skill then we lack time. We newcomers easily forget this, since we’re so lost in our own worlds.


I took deep breath and figured a new area on the RPG world Enegrond I had been thinking about. “Why not make a roguelike about a dangerous dungeon in this world? Let’s make it into a small-ish dungeon delve, with fun things, extra races, anything that we can fit into our small timeframe…”


This realisation made me smile again. I started to read the roguelike tutorials religiously, creating a list of things I could add to it after I’m done, but keeping it realistic and keeping the scope small.

Now I’ve been working on it the last few days and I’ve loved (almost) every second of it. 


Even I thought I wasted money on that asset I bought, I’ve been thinking of making my next game with Gamemaker and using that asset with it. I’ll start doing that after I’m done with the roguelike.

So the point of this story is:


**Avoid headache and keep the scope small. **You don’t have to make the best game ever as your first game, or even as the tenth game. Make many tiny games, learn more every time, until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to make your “magnum opus”, your biggest and best game ever. And never be afraid to ask for help!