General

The challenges across the board

Being the sole developer for a game is a challenge in and of itself. There is art, design, logic, testing, and writing the occasional dev blog. And pending on the style and size of the game, the challenge can vary greatly! Since this game isn’t my first rodeo, I was able to approach it with a realistic mindset. Coupled with the fact that all MMO’s have some very unique challenges and you’ve got yourself a situation that tests many of your limits; both creatively and logically.

Game Objects

No, not the chunks of code and data elements behind the scenes – the actual items and interactive elements in the game that players can buy, find, use, and create (maybe, not entirely confident about this yet). To date, there are over 200 unique items, from weapons to droids and consumables. This number will increase into the tens of thousands post beta. There are two challenges I’m facing:

  1. Name
  2. Design / Art

I’m fairly confident and happy with my naming convention and system so far. I’ve been able to create item names that both sound futuristic as well as pronounceable. There is the Starkin 1, which is an entry level mining droid. Then there minerals that the droids can mine for, such as Zetholite and Liridium. Coming up with names are fun, but there has to be a level of consistency and ‘realness’ to them. Then there is the second challenge: Art.

Since I am not an amazing artist, I can either scour the various free/paid art depots around the web or I can hire an artist. The obvious being I save money finding pre-made assets with most being different than what I had in mind. Or I pay a skilled artist and get less items in the game initially that closer match my vision.

Testing

Even in my day job and non-game development work, I’ve always found it hard to test my own code. This is because I know how it’s supposed to function, and know what will/won’t break something (for the most part). Yes, I can spend time writing functional tests or even visual tests to ensure things are exactly as I intended them to be. The truth is, it’s usually best to have a human tester go through and try to break things. Someone who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of what the code can and can’t handle. Does entering a certain string of numbers and letters into your player’s character name field break anything? After you’ve assigned a weapon as your primary one, does the UI reflect this information correctly? When you have several hundred to thousands of the various micro-actions, it becomes insanely difficult to continuously test AND develop the game.

Post Management

Once the game is launched, there will be areas of the game that will require moderation and monitoring. While tools will exist to help aid this and cover a lot of the game, it still requires some level of human observation and decision making. There will be forums to watch over, game event logs to measure, and player reports to read through. One person alone can not do this effectively, and so it’ll be a challenge to compose a team that can handle this in the early stages.

Learning on the Fly

A lot of game development requires a willingness to learn new technologies and ways of doing things. When it comes to implementing something that seems cool, sometimes you have to pick up a new library or package to make it happen. For example, I’m learning how to use Vue.js – a modern Javascript framework that makes it super easy to implement dynamic UIs and reactive elements. While this would ideally be handed off to a developer who is familiar with the technology, it’s up to me to learn it good enough to use it and ensure it’s a stable piece in the game.

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