If youíre not familiar with the project Iím speaking about, check this thread out: http://www.loremaster.org/showthread...ume-I-Villains
Process initiation is just a formal term for defining the parameters of the overall project. This allows the team to establish quality standards as well as go over broad topics that will affect the process moving forward. One key point during this process is to ensure that the project definition is acknowledged, understood, and accepted by all stakeholders. Stakeholders include anyone that will be working on the project, from the game designer (writer), to developers, editors, artists, and graphic designers (layout). The more you put into this part; the better off youíll be in managing expectations as the process goes forward. It will save a ton of heartache and will save you in costs; both time and money.
For our Realms project here on Loremaster, weíll want to put as much into writing as we can (within reason) to set up our project plan. Developing this plan is crucial to ensuring that many issues that might arise are mitigated early. The project plan includes:
- Project Charter: The definition of the project that will provide the foundation for all efforts that go into the product. For our project, we can keep it simple and adapt it as necessary. We are creating a book on villains. We want to include a variety of ideas as it relates to villains, and not just something as simple as non-player character (NPC) write-ups. This includes profiles, locations, organizations, items, and more.
- Cost: What is the cost of developing this project? Cost can be defined in terms of money, or time. Think: resources. This one is a bit trickier with this kind of project because I am spending my own money and time. That said, I will have to consider the amount of resources I am going to dedicate to the product's final layout, as well as the stories and content that goes into it. I will need to decide if I will pay a professional editor, layout guru, and also consider the cost of incorporating art. This portion of project initiation can be it's own solo topic, but I won't go into it here. Just know that understanding your budget constraints will go a long way in defining how your project will look in the end.
- Scope: The scope of your project are like bumpers on a bowling lane. The scope defines your parameters so that things donít get wild with additional ideas. Adding to a project is fine, but you need to know that the cost and scope of your project (and maybe even your charter) will change and increase. As a project manager, I carefully chose to restrict the content of this first booklet on purpose. It helps to define a specific outcome and allows me to manage the project more efficiently. In the end, the product will be better for it, and the consumer will enjoy the specificity of the outcome.
- Schedule: This one is self explanatory. Scheduling is crucial to a projectís life. It can affect cost and can derail a project if it is not adhered to. I have put out a call for authors and have given a deadline for submissions. Because I know the rough estimate of how long editing and layout will take, I can afford to keep my window open this long with the intention of publishing in late January, around the time that the Winter Fantasy game convention comes around. In many cases, you want to plan backwards from the date of completion. We'll talk about this more in future articles as we go through the project's various phases.
After your project plan has been finished, you then move on to plugging it into tasks required to finish the project initiation phase. After all is set, and approval has been reached, you can move on to the next phase: Planning and Design
Matt James is an award-winning game designer from Washington, DC. In addition to many articles in Dragon and Dungeon magazine, his works include Soldiers of Fortune (Open Design/Kobold Quarterly), Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, and Lair Assault: Attack of the Tyrantclaw. Follow Matt on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matt_james_rpg