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We're almost ready to release the project! In this post we summarise the challenges of working on and managing such a large scale project.

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DEV DIARY FIVE – THE FINAL HURDLES!

Welcome to the fifth, and probably final Eviternity Dev Diary! At the time of writing, there’s only 1 week left until the release of this project. The final ‘grind’ has begun and is in full-swing. Today I wanted to share another set of screenshots, and also talk about the importance of project management and managing expectations of others.

MANAGING THE PROJECT & MANAGING A TEAM

So let’s talk about the management of this project. Given the sporadic nature of Eviternity’s inception, going from “I’ll check out this texture pack” to “I’m making a megawad” in the space of about a week, it was clear from an early point that this project will need good, focused management to see the light of day as soon as I hope for it to.

The release date is going to be December 10th, 2018; on Doom’s 25th birthday! I decided this date specifically for a few reasons: A relatively classic-style megawad such as Eviternity would be a fitting birthday gift to a game and community that has been a major part of my life. OTEX (the texture pack I’m using) is also seeing a public release on the same day for similar reasons. Lastly, I’m also working on a few other projects, such as Elementalism, and would like to be able to return to working on those within a reasonable amount of time!


THE GOOD

So what’s gone well with the project management?

  • Firstly, I feel that my constant progress and determination has been a huge asset to meeting this self-imposed deadline!
  • I spend most evenings working on maps for this project, and my lunchtimes at work I’ve been known to crack open my laptop and work on the smaller stuff like difficulty balancing, and automap cleanup.
  • I’m often spending time while travelling or at work communicating with the team via discord, answering any questions I can and supporting the guest mappers in any way I can
    • This includes collaborating with a few of them, and/or taking over and finishing maps on their behalf.
  • Setting deadlines and trying to stick to them
  • Incredibly strict monitoring of the project in terms of progress status and credits. Take a look at the spreadsheet here!
  • I’ve become acquainted with a few more people in the Doom scene and feel I’ve made some great friends; hopefully they can say the same in return!


THE BAD

It’s not all song and dance, for as great as it’s been, there’s been some negatives to the process!

  • Increasing stress levels
    • This is the main negative aspect – As the main mapper and manager of the project, there’s been moments of intense stress for me; which naturally occurs with any deadline-based project.
    • Mappers dropping out or extending deadlines
      • This is somewhat expected, but a couple of mappers have had to drop out of the project for various reasons; be it studies and exams, lack of inspiration, etc. As such, I’ve had to take over and partial maps and finish them off. While I’ve found it very fun to work in collaboration, it is an added time consumption.
      • Struggling to meet deadlines was completely expected, so I initially set a deadline which was relatively tight. Some guest mappers were able to adhere to that deadline, but others needed an extension, so it’s good I prepared for that possibility.
  • Overambition / extreme inspiration
    • This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but when you’re trying to pump out a megawad in this short of a timeframe, it’d be ideal if several maps weren’t being made out of several thousand lines/sectors.
    • In addition to this, several hours have been spent into remedying unexpected issues, and/or trying to repair problems that are caused by inconsistencies between PrBoom+ and GZDoom, which typically appeared in the more ambitious maps.
  • Negative Sleep Impact
    • I’ve occasionally stayed up to 4am-5am on weekends to work on this project, and giving myself 6 hours sleep time on work-nights to ensure this project sees completion on time. That’s… not healthy.


LESSONS LEARNED FROM EVITERNITY

If I were to make another ambitious project I’d certainly put a few things into use that I’ve learned here.

  • Pre-plan for technical issues and other mappers dropping out better.
  • Test early, test often – This is something I’ve done during this project, and it’s been an absolute life saver; so much so I’d employ this in all projects going forwards
  • Don’t publicly announce completion dates / deadlines, keep them internal in case you can’t achieve it. Admittedly, there’s something poetic about releasing on Doom’s 25th birthday, and you can’t postpone a birthday!
  • Do set individual milestone deadlines – nothing overambitious; this is to serve as a motivational boost. For example, it was fun to be able to say “episode one is done, go wild, tester team!”. Seeing your fellow mappers cheer in response to a milestone and the feedback from the testing team come in is conducive to a positive environment and “keeps the troops rallied” so to speak.
    • On this note, I recently left a project because it’s sat with a full year of no progress. I won’t name the project, but I definitely wanted to keep daily communication happening so nobody ever felt like the project was ‘paused’ or doomed to fail.
  • If a specific deadline is important, scale the project to the deadline. Eviternity would have been more comfortably achievable if I settled for less maps, perhaps 20-25 maps instead.
  • Share your progress often – The morale boost gained from a few likes on Doomworld, or a pleasant comment from a fellow mapper is a great motivation booster!
  • Get your friends / the community involved sooner! – I brought on guest mappers to help meet the megawad milestone; I feel if I’d done this right from the start, some people would have had more chance to contribute before ‘real life’ caught up with them.
  • Remember this is ‘just a hobby’, and get some sleep.

SCREENSHOTS, SCREENSHOTS, SCREENSHOTS!

What Dev Diary is complete without a segment of pretty pictures?

Check out the below gallery to see some of the recently completed work, some of which is done by myself, and some of which is collaboratively built with guest mappers!

dev-5-12dev-5-08dev-5-09dev-5-07dev-5-05dev-5-03dev-5-06dev-5-10dev-5-11dev-5-04dev-5-01dev-5-02

TO CONCLUDE

Eviternity has been one hell of a ride! It’s not over yet, but I know that I’ll always fondly look back on this project. I’m very proud to have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time; I’m also very thankful for the opportunities this project has presented – giving me the opportunity to work alongside many of the community’s “greats” and become good friends with them all in the process!

To close off this post, I wanted to thank each and every one of you who’ve taken the time to show interest in Eviternity and follow it’s rapid development – I hope that when you get your hands on Eviternity it’s everything you’re expecting!

Cheers!

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