It’s difficult to explain anything that went right with our project without first explaining everything that went wrong. So for this post-mortem, I’ll be examining the major obstacles we faced in creating the casual action runner that is Misorderly – and what it took to overcome them. I should mention that all points raised here relate to soft skills – design, project management – so if you’re looking for a technical post-mortem, this isn’t it.
Problem 1: Mixed Vision
Misorderly wasn’t our first idea. Originally, our favourite concept was a god game where tiny people wandered around a rubik’s cube planet and each square was a different land form that evolved depending on the other land forms it touched. But at the time, the teachers felt it was more of a toy, than an actual game, so we shelved that idea.
All the other ideas we came up with, only most, and not all of the team loved. And at VFS (Vancouver Film School), you’re encouraged to only go forth with an idea for your final project if everybody loves it. So if I were to go back even further, I’d offer the notion that something that was done incorrectly in our class was team forming. Each person on our team had such different player preferences. To the extent where one of our teaching assistants, Brant Stutheit, suggested that we do an activity where we write down our top 5 favourite games and see which ones we had in common. It took us until our top 20 games to eventually reach consensus – Bioware’s Dragon Age series. We then explored what it was about the series that we enjoyed, and we realized we all liked playing as mages. This was the beginning of Misorderly.
We decided to make a game centered on being a mage. So we brainstormed what we each enjoyed about playing as a mage – healing, buffs, spells, support – and we deduced our mage would need a party. But given the scope of 5 months and 5 relatively inexperienced students – how could we manage to capture the essence of the RPGs we loved?
Suggestions were made for things we thought would make our lives easier in production, such as a side-scrolling camera to reduce environment art assets needed. Or a cartoony art style over hyperrealism, to invest in creating more characters versus polishing a fewer number. Or restricted, grid-based movement, to simplify combat. But not everyone was ecstatic about these changes in direction.
Everything I’ve mentioned thus far formed the basis for the mixed vision we had for the majority of production. We were so concerned with placating everybody’s wants that we A) wasted a lot of time in pre-production changing our game concept and B) ended up with a “swamp water” game concept that had too broad of a target audience (not that we were able to accurate pin point what our genre or expected player experience was for the longest time).