When I took over as Head of Development at SCi, I found that 70% of my staff was working on a game called Kingdom O’ Magic or KOM for short. It was a comedic spoof of JRR Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” and was the brainchild of a most gifted writer and gamer, Fergus McNeill. It was to be a non-linear adventure game, a game industry first or in other words, no one had ever succeeded in producing one that worked before!
KOM was game development run-amuck. It contained over 100 locations, more than 90 characters, a 70,000+ word script and 3 different quests for 2 separate characters. So here was a potentially great, ground breaking game that had a very funny script that was almost 2 years into production, was only 60 to 70% complete, and only 4 months away from our publishing deadlineKOM’s programming was to a point that reducing the game’s scope to get it back on schedule would literally kill it. My only option was to finish it without any more bells and whistles. I reorganized the development team into functional groups (Set Design, Collision Detection, Texture, Animation/Character Dynamics, and Game Play) each with a team leader and monitored their progress on a daily basis. In 2 months we had an Alpha version to play. Our beefed-up testing team (paid with coke & pizza) over the course of several weeks identified over 800 bugs. We categorized them into types and graded them by severity and went to work fixing them. It soon became apparent that the rate of fixes to days left would fall short of our deadline. Now I have distributors to contend with. They want product for the Holiday season. How can we appease them? By making a “Pocket” version!
By making a “Pocket” version we could show them how it played and convince them that this game was going to be a bigger hit than anyone thought. Yes, it would miss the Christmas holiday.. but it would garner a big profit in their traditionally slow first quarter. Assembling a “D” (demo) team we identified the most functional part of the game, cut it loose from the rest of the game (hard to do as this is a non-linear game), fixed all the bugs and showed it to the distributors. The loved it.. and they bought into the “delayed” release.
It was a great team effort by all my staff and a game I’m most proud to have been part of.Oh, by the way… KOM won the coveted Platinum Award from PC Power, a Golden Triad Award from Computer Game Report, and Adventure Game of the Year from Gamezilla – 1996.