Agile-Designed MMOs

I’ve been reading through the Software Development Process collection of article in Wikipedia in an attempt at getting my mind more fully wrapped around the situation that MMO design is in.  The Big Design Up Front article was the article that prompted me to make mention of this topic here.

While conceptually the Agile-like methodologies out there are very attractive, and I personally find their decentralization  a good thing, I can’t see how an MMOG can be made without loads and loads of design effort before any coding actually happens.

I think this may be the crucial difference between what works and doesn’t work with full-on Agile (or is it more Extreme Programming?) methodologies.  Agile methods are great when making tools.  Loads of design is required, however, when you’re making an environment.  I think there is a difference.  And I’m not saying Agile methodologies are wholly inappropriate.  I just think that good time should be spent early on purely doing conceptualization and design work.

An environment is a big collection of tools.  That’s how humans view everything around them, everything that’s not their own self.  So, when making an MMOG each of those tools should be made Agile-style.  It’s how all those tools are related that cannot really be done Agile-like.  That’s what I’m saying needs to be heavily designed.

So, when I say good time needs to be spent up front doing purely design work, I’m talking about the decisions on how all those tools which make up the environment are connected.  Once all those tools are identified and understood to [someone’s] satisfaction (as well as their inputs and outputs, loosely speaking], then the various Agile or Extreme Programming teams can do their piranha-style devouring of the tool-design and implementation tasks.

Maybe that’s all been hashed and rehashed thousands of times though.  But still, I’m sure someone will get a good idea or make some great connection after reading this musing.