Brewing the Minimum Viable Product

Fighting in a cave full of pillars

Fighting in a cave full of pillars

That of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP henceforth) is a concept in both design and business. The idea is to distill your product to its core components as soon as possible during the product lifecycle and use it as a benchmark to evaluate if your design is solid at its core and get feedback from the early adopters as soon as possible.

The MVP has to be truly minimal: what you want to test, for a game, is if the core mechanic is solid enough to interest your players and possibly correct your aim when changes are still easy to implement and would not snowball into an unmanageable mess.

Because of our inexperience and because of self-producing the game, we skipped the prototyping phase for Wizards’ Duel and instead decided to proceed with a cycle of building up the game one piece at a time. This, actually, served us well: we managed to accumulate experience and with time developed a positive loop of constant improvement of our work.

Now we are nearing the point where we can actually create and share this MVP in the form of a minimal but playable Alpha Build. This Alpha will be but a very small fraction of the full experience, of course.

For Wizards’ Duel I have identified these points as part of the MVP:

  1. Casting mechanics of a single spell (actually two of them, the basic attack and the basic defense);
  2. Wandering monsters (a couple of variants that will just follow and try to attack you, no sophisticated AI);
  3. Random level generation;
  4. A single Environmental Hazard.

These represent the bare minimum of the experience, there are no spell combinations or bosses and environment interaction is limited to a strategical approach to positioning, but that’s the whole point, to see if the things that you will keep doing for the whole game work.

Do you have a prototype of your game to share? What was your process for releasing it?

Thanks for reading.

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