Post-Mortem: Booze Quest

Hi, I’m Pepeshka, creator of Booze Quest, which recently won first place in the Browser Based Game Zone’s contest. I hesitate to call this writeup a ‘post mortem’ because to my eye Booze Quest’s system is only about 75% done and its content is somewhere around 10%, but here we go!

Booze Quest is a browser-based game written in C# using the ASP.NET framework. The game started about half a year ago as a few pages of scrawled notes. From then, the idea rolled around in my brain and I fleshed out a real design document over a period of several months. When I heard the BBGZ was hosting a competition, I decided to finally take the plunge and give the game an honest shot.

What went right?

- The design document. I wouldn’t have made it thirty lines of code into this project had I not had a solid design doc. The time limitation made it absolutely essential that I didn’t rewrite code or hammer things out on-the-fly, and fleshing everything out on paper beforehand saved my butt. Typically, I tend to write code in my spare time to learn something new and not to actually produce a finished project, so I’m not in the habit of producing documentation for personal projects.

- The beta testers. I’m blessed with some vocal beta testers who really acted like a free QA department for the last month or so of the project. I’m still getting great feedback, in fact.

- The humor! Booze Quest’s idea is that it takes a traditional fantasy RPG game and turns it backwards, making you the questgiver instead of the adventurer. I was afraid that nobody would get the overarching joke that is the game, but I received some positive feedback regarding the yuks so I consider the humor as a point which went well.

What went wrong?

- Time management. I suffered from the same problem everyone else did: I ran out of time, leaving some things undone. I had hoped to include player-versus-player combat in the game before the deadline, but ultimately I had to put that portion of the game on hold.

- Balancing was never done. The game was balanced using the “whatever sounds good” method, and the time I had allotted for proper balancing was swallowed up in bug testing. Ultimately, I’ll be adding more content before I take a stab at balancing everything.

- Database code & hosting policies. I never considered where the game would be hosted until about halfway into the project, and that was a big mistake. I ended up going with a shared hosting plan, which put me in a trust environment which broke ALL my database code, requiring a total rewrite and swallowing several days’ worth of time. Next time, I’ll be doing my research and upping test code to a real server early in a project.

What I learned

This was my first browser-based project (first multiplayer project, in fact), so I learned volumes about web technology, web page interface design, database manipulation, and HTML. I learned that you should open as many avenues of communication between you and your players as possible, because they will take advantage and you will benefit. Finally, write down every idea you have for a game! Keep a binder or something and just jot down notes, you never know which of them will mature.

Wish there was more?

I'm considering writing an ebook - click here.

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Friday, January 23rd, 2009 postmortem
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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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