M.M.G.

Mordechai Moshe joined

Chief game designer of Total Rendition and before that Fifth Column. Studied Computer Science at the VU University Amsterdam and Philosophy & Religious studies at Leiden University, among other things. Targeted by far-right student fraternities and newspapers.

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Iterative prototyping

M.M.G. Blog

Reposted from the Total Rendition devlog. Original can be read here.

Since 2015 give-or-take, many gamers are familiar with the idea of early access. For Total Rendition, a radical approach to early access is in order. For instance, everyone who has contributed to the GoFundMe.com campaign in some way, now has access the Total Rendition prototype. Early birds for the mailing list have received Earliest Access as well. We might call this approach iterative prototyping.

The necessary resources are currently extremely hard to find, in spite of ambitious goals. The first prototype for Total Rendition, version 0.0.8.6, was developed in the Dundee Makerspace between March and May of 2019. During that period, I even lived there. The key to how Total Rendition can be built despite the small amount of resources available, is to prototype iteratively – that is, make lots of versions. Iterative prototyping with a lot of bootstrapping to boot. To raise the funds necessary for Total Rendition I have since temporarily stepped down from development. These funds will then be used for the next version and the versions after it. Rinse and repeat, until Total Rendition achieves Gold Status.

Fifth Column

During the production of Fifth Column, I perpetrated the major fault of not allowing early gamer-feedback. However, gamer-feedback is actually very crucial in making sure a video game becomes a success. Success, not only in the commercial sphere, rather – in fact especially – in the artistic sphere. I kept postponing release of content. In doing so, I deceived myself there is only one chance for a first-impression. Game development does simply not work like that. What sounds bad on paper my turn out to be very good and vice versa. The only way to figure out what works, in order to convey the experience you intend to give to players, is giving players the opportunity to actually try-out.

Total Rendition is not only a different kind of game. Its produced in a very different fashion, both in comparison to Indie games or AAA games. Development of Total Rendition like a movie production. Everyone involved in Total Rendition is part of a crew.

Further inspiration on the production of Total Rendition, came from Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. It details how projects in general (not just projects to build a video game) fare best by keeping bureaucracy and overhead to a minimum. Even the most established movie production studios are more or less like a lean startup. Contrast with the many AAA video game studios, which have become highly bureaucratic instead. In so doing, they stamp out artistic initiative and gamer-feedback in the process.

It(eration) is done, when it’s done!

The current prototype is at 0.0.8.6. If you subscribed to the mailing list, you may be due to receive the opportunity to play 0.0.8.6.

A thing is only done, when it is done. With received feedback we make the next iteration. Each new iteration gets new features, improves existing ones and marks an increase in production values. Building Total Rendition is like completing a puzzle: Step-by-step.

This atypical workflow hopefully will inspire other upcoming game developers and help them overcome challenges all too typical in game development.

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