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Designer's DiaryMay 2000

Sunday, 30 April 2000: It's a beautiful day outside and here I am, alone at the office on a Sunday and working on MOO3 to try and make the deadline on the design document so that the engineering can kick off their part of the project on time. This beast (the design document) is well over 100 pages long at present. By the time the game is published, I expect it to be two to three times as large as it will be when Bill Levay and Hasbro finally approve it. I've written it in such a way that is should serve as the foundation for a good manual and a hefty strategy guide (like Tom, Petra and I have done for Master of Orion and Master of Magic).

Thursday, 4 May 2000: A major milestone is reached today. The "beta" of the complete design document is sent to Hasbro for inspection and comments. Where this game is going and the philosophical approaches we're taking to get there are all laid out. There are examples of many of the details, though the majority of tables and formulae are yet to be cooked. Still, it's a pretty good road map to follow: 125 pages, 70,000 words. Rantz has cooked up a lot of screen mock-ups for this milestone, and we should be meeting with some folks from Hasbro next week when they're in town for E3.

Thursday, 11 May 2000: While the rest of the gaming world is in orbit just up the road at E3, I'm still grinding away on the design. With the "overview" of the design complete and in Hasbro's court for approval, I'm now doing "fill in" design (e.g., the hard part). This is where you take a section that says "and then this will do approximately that and the outcome will be modified by the other" and start nailing down numbers, tables, formulae, and specific modifiers in exact quantities. Not surprisingly, the Devil is in these details and it's brain-wracking work. Currently, I'm slugging it out in Ground Combat. Sid Meier should approve of my design approach. That is, the players will have all the fun because the designer is doing all the work. (If you've played some of my other published game titles, you'd know that a philosophy I try to live by.)

Monday, 15 May 2000: Back from E3, I put in some time on this web site over the weekend while the office was nice and quiet. Hasbro approved the general layout today and we got word that the Master of Orion III subtitle was shaping up to be: The Fifth 'X'. This works on a couple of levels. For one, we're adding a "fifth X" to the 4X game genre. More significantly, though, when playing, it is the "fifth X" that reveals the Antaran Mystery and allows a player to win the game. After meeting with the Art Department, we'll be cooking up some graphics to serve on this site and will start mocking up some logo designs and maybe a cover design or two.

Monday, 22 May 2000: What a week! After learning how to build message board from scratch on Delphi, I got all of the web stuff "in the can" on our end and awaited for the connections to the official URL (www.moo3.com) to take place. Apparently, that will be happening tomorrow. In the meantime, designing proceeds apace with Ground Combat still at the front and center. Presently, I'm focused in on the Battle Plan Matrix (both sides select a plan before a ground battle takes place and these selections are compared to see who got the drop on who, among other effects). Since the Battle Plan matrix is 20 x 20, there's a lot of boxes to carefully fill in.

Thursday, 25 May 2000: Not surprisingly, my email box has been flooded with requests and questions from you MOO fans, God Love Ya. Consequently, forward progress on the design has slowed a bit. But the email seems to be easing up a bit today, which is fine since there is plenty of other work to do. In addition to the Battle Plan matrix (which is like a mountain of spaghetti, the more nibble at it, the bigger it looks), Tom and I have been working on a piece of fiction narrating a segment of a space battle that we hope will give you guys "the right idea" about what to expect in MOO3. Presently, it is with the art and engineering departments so that they can make sure we plan to deliver everything it describes from their respective standpoints. Other than that, I'm blowing this pop stand for the weekend to attend a Game Convention in LA (I need to unwind) and won't be back at my post until Tuesday.


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