Finding the right game development methodology is a challenge that every game development studio faces. Some ways of working allow the production team to have full reign over their creative processes without a timeline while others turn their employees into robots.
Now, before you think I’m going to spout off a bunch of nonsense about a Scrumified, Waterfall, Leaner-Agile method of working, stop. We’re going to talk about a way of working in a human way and with minimal buzzwords. Let me start by saying two things:
- A new testable feature everyday
- Daily validation of those features
Your face right now
Nope, we’re not crazy. That’s what we can do with our unique methodology. But it wasn’t always this way.
Life before lean
Like many gaming companies, we kind of implemented Scrum and lied to ourselves every day that we were efficient.
We thought to have milestones lasting the length of time it took to have an almost-completed alpha or beta of the game was the right way to do things. This caused huge problems in setting our clients’ expectations and our own.
Boy were we foolish
One day, we decided that enough was enough. We were going to overhaul our whole way of working.
A leap of faith….into the arms of our beloved game development methodology
After abandoning what we knew, we arrived at a Scrum methodology with a Lean approach. The game development methodology to end all methodologies.
What it means is only having 3 weeks of work in our product backlog, one week-long sprints, and making user stories that lasted no longer than 1 day.
Because people’s minds change. And problems come up when you least expect them.
Shortening the product planning time means we can change direction quickly and less effort is wasted if the product needs to change.
We also established company-wide standards of success that we apply to all of the projects we work on. No more than one user story per person per day. Testing occurs on 4 specific devices. One testable feature each day. Daily validation of each feature.
Our standards are visible on each project board along with burndown charts and problem sheets. And each project includes its own set of standards related to key KPIs. When we don’t meet a defined standard, everyone shouts “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.”
“No more,” we say!
That’s ridiculous. We just write the problem down on our problem sheet and discuss it to find the solution.
Take a page from Oscar Rogers’ book
Now, we were, of course going to run into problems. We had to completely change our way of thinking about and solving problems. Plus adopting a new way of working takes time to adjust to.
Our methodology calls for an hour-long retrospective each week where we voice problems and concerns with the project.
We get to the root of problems through a variety of methods, but what we’ve learned to do in these problem-solving sessions is to be open and honest with each other. We’ve also become better at identifying the problems and implementing solutions.
Just call us a bunch of Oscar Rogerses.
We wish we could be as cool as Oscar
Was there a point?
YES! This methodology has changed all of our lives significantly and those we work with. Before, we had problems with being late, delivering a product that was not up to our high-standard, or delivering something that our client just didn’t want. Problems were swept under the rug and huge amounts of effort were wasted.
This methodology provides a huge amount of value for us and for the people we work with. For us, it makes tracking our progress easier and is a more effective tool in our mission to always self-improve. For our clients, this provides full visibility on the project progress as well as the ability to be more involved in the direction of the project.
Now, we are by no means perfect at this methodology, but no one ever achieves perfection. But we can walk the path of mastery to constantly improve upon ourselves and this process.
What we hope to do is to work with people who share our interest in this methodology, have a persistent love of learning, and an insatiable drive to improve themselves and the way they work.