MMORPG Tycoon post-mortem. Sorta.

So it’s been about a week since I released MMORPG Tycoon for the TIGSource procedural generation competition, so it’s probably about time I wrote about what went right and wrong.

But all the same, I don’t feel right calling this a “Post-Mortem”, as I’m not actually finished with MMORPG Tycoon.  In fact, I’m taking a break from coding on it right now.  But I’d like to talk a little about where I think it is right now, and where I see development going.

What went right:

  • Having the “Procedural Generation” theme nicely focused my attention on the procedural aspects of MMORPG Tycoon, including the prebuilt level configuration, the names of the various players, the names and sizes of the competition MMORPGs, etc.  This theme also convinced me to avoid spending time letting the player change any of these procedurally generated factors.  This is why, for example, the player cannot unzone water, or change the names of player classes or monster types, simplifying the UI work dramatically.
  • Substantial hustling to get the basic game framework up and running quickly.  I had the zoomable map interface and basic zoning within the first week.  The second two weeks were taken writing the user AI, and the final week was spent writing UI classes.  Most of the reports you see were written within the final 48 hours of the competition.
  • Grabbing this game concept on the first day of the competition really meant that I didn’t waste any time trying to figure out what to do.  Being able to think about it for a few days before the compeition started also helped me hit the ground running, and get the most work possible done during the one month limit.
  • Also, I happened to have some time off from work during the competition period.  This was purely by chance;  I’d arranged it long before the competition was announced, but it gave me some extra time to work on my entry, and that polish really showed up in the final entry.

What went wrong:

  • The big “went wrong” issue here was that I hadn’t accounted for how long it would take me to implement the mouse control and UI features.  I wasted a lot of time trying to get the mouse scroll wheel to behave properly (needed input system modifications to support multiple ‘clicks’ per frame), and to implement a vector graphic UI system from scratch.  This UI implementation time thing really sucked up most of my time, and stopped me from tuning the MMORPG simulation nearly as well as I should have, and prevented me from implementing some very important “Quality of Life” features.

What’s still to do:

  • The big obvious features that are missing are:  Fullscreen, changing video resolution, changing music volume (or disabling it altogether), and the big one:  save game support.  I’m working on these right now, and hopefully should have a 1.1 version within a week with all of these implemented.
  • As for the game itself, there are some real bits that should get fixed.  Raising the box price of the game doesn’t slow people from purchasing the game as much as it should.  Raising the subscription price of the game makes people unsubscribe more than it should.  Class and monster attack/defense ratings aren’t taken into account when generating “too easy/too hard” complaints.  And the “Issues” report is much too vague anyway;  I need to find a way to really hilight the problem areas on the map view.  I’d like to revamp the way that roads work, so you actually get a real road network, instead of merely paint roads directly between two buildings.  User AI should be more aware of roads.  Users should have marital and social statuses displayed in the “Inspect” dialog box.   The game should generate names for regions and towns.  The player should be able to change the names of virtually anything in the game.  Maybe allow more in-depth construction of towns, or at least procedurally generate real town floorplans, instead of the current iconic “there is a town here” indicator.  Etc.

So overall, I’m extremely happy with how the compo edition of MMORPG Tycoon came out, but there’s still plenty of stuff left to do.  But I’m still actively working on it, and so hopefully there’ll be some exciting updates soon!  :)