But if a project was designed to be big then releasing it when it's small is going to make it half-baked and poor.
True. But some features are
extraneous and can
be disposed with. The biggest offenders are, obviously, voicework and cutscenes; things of that ilk. Nobody *needs* voices or movies, smaller campaigns did and do well enough without them, and it's not as if leaving them out temporarily will render the campaign meaningless and incomprehensible. Ultimately, they'll be packaged as optional downloads anyway.
More fundamental things likes ship models and missions can't be cut so easily, but in this case the only cure is not to aim too high in the first place. I once had an idea for SAH where the EA happened across a new jump node and discovered a Terran colony in the system beyond which set off from Earth 'round about these times and had developed its own unique (and primitive) spacefaring fleet. There was some hoohah about rebellion and Ancient technology and a mandatory Shivan appearance, and it wasn't very good, but the important thing is that I didn't go through with it because another Terran fleet would be beyond my skills, even if I used my reputation of SAH to team up with somebody with modeling skills.
The point? Oh, right, well, the point is not to write cheques you can't cash. I suppose, though, that it's a matter of perspective and furthermore the example is not applicable to people with, you know, actual pof-making ability and stuff. Even so, everything is still second to the story, and if you've overstretched yourself you've overstretched yourself. Something
can be cut out.
Thing is, if a small campaign can get along fine without any mods at all, then to a certain extent the same principle applies to any big campaign, unless said campaign is all style and no substance, aha. Eh? Eh?
I definately don't think there should be less "big" campaigns and as someone who sometimes stands on the shoulders of giants with his own campaigns (e.g SaH being based on Inferno) I can't see why you'd be calling for less of them either.
Also true. I wasn't entirely serious with that statement, but then again, I wasn't completely joking, either.
Thinking more philosophically: what if every project ran on a schedule of five years? What if every project offered to finish the FS saga in a explosive climactic rush of explosions, supra-juggernaughts and galaxy-sized space battles? What if every project promised full voiceacting and more cinematics than FS1 and 2 combined? What if this horrendous strawman was reality?
We'd be buggered, wouldn't we? Nothing would get done. No campaigns, no individual models, no backgrounds or weapons, because everybody would be saving them for the big projects, and because the big projects are waiting for big releases, there's nothing to enjoy.
Now, what if everyone did small releases? What if people didn't faff around trying to beat Volition at their own game, but instead spent their time making and releasing models and missions and campaigns and such? It's not even as if it precludes a big overarching plan, so long as it's just that and not an attempt to emulate the big publishers. Someone could produce a fighter, individually, and then a bomber, individually, and a cruiser, and a freighter, until he ends up with a complete ship list that just so happens
to share a common style and could, feasibly, be a "new race" or faction or whatever, to be used by the original maker or by others. It'd be harder to accomplish the same thing with missions, as hard-hitting stories don't work so well spread out evenly over several months or whatever, but... lots of releases, all round!
What a terrific, unrealistic, open-development-esque communist idyll!
It's blatantly one-sided, I know, but it illustrates something, and that is I think it'd be better to err in favour of lots of releases than in favour of none at all. A big project ties up resources in the hope of awesomeness tomorrow, whereas small projects can be finished and enjoyed today. If forced to choose between the death of big ideas and the death of productivity, I'd know which way I'd flow.
(And I am coming down heavily on big projects, and it's unfair, and it's not really accurate at all, and in truth I don't really believe this, but I am interested in advocating a particular design ethos even if I am exaggerating the situation greatly. So, disclaimer: I do not wish to freight this or any other post with imperatives, and if it wasn't so sappy, I'd say 'big projects are A-OK', but it is, so I won't.)
Returning back from the detour, I could make the point that projects like Inferno and FSPort, which I have used and abused in the process of making my own campaigns, avoid the trap of big projects by using multiple releases to prevent stagnation. Technically, The Babylon Project is the worst offender of being too big for its team, being an on-going project, but because it releases and develops continuously, people remain interested and they provide feedback, which inspires the team to keep producing, and so on, so forth.
(Maybe I just dream of a situation where people produce things that can be used and enjoyed; filling gaps in current Terran/Vasudan/Shivan fleet lists and small, potent campaigns that can be played right now instead of another GTVA Colossus or an epic tale set a thousand years after Capella and due to be released on the same date.)