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An observation from my own experiences thrown in for good measure

I’m a Game Developer. Naturally i’m interested in how Scrum can be implemented by Game Developers. It needs special attention because we’re more than “just a bunch of programmers”. Sometimes Scrum can be easily dismissed as programmer-friendly by non-programmers. And it’s true, it has its roots in code shops and most teams that use Scrum are probably mostly programmers. However Scrum can be universally applied but it’s still hard to come by any useful information on how to implement Scrum in Game Development.

For example, if you have an artist and a designer working on the same file with different goals but they can only do so in sequence, and each of them works on that file for at least 2-3 days and this file is passed back and forth at least two times. Do you put these two roles in the same pod or not? They don’t really work together, do they? Yes and no. There’s no golden rule here, you can stick to the traditional seperation by department or you can put them together in a pod but the work of these two people would have to perfectly overlap while working on 2 files. But since one of them has to start first, what’s the other going to do in the first 2-3 days? And how does he feel when he’s always the one to finish it off at the end of the sprint – the pressure to be done on time is always on him!

One solution might be to see it as an impediment and work on that. Enable them to work on the same file at the same time so they can finish it together. Yes it will cause new problems but now they will have to solve these problems together as they appear – not one after another, then (secretly) blaming each other after each hand-off! The morale here is: consider changing your processes and pipelines to foster collaboration. If you’re adopting Scrum be ready for such changes.

Beyond Scrum: Lean and Kanban for Game Developers (Clinton Keith)

This Gamasutra article details exactly the main problem game developers face when implementing Scrum or other agile practices. How to keep the pipeline running? How to go from Design to Concept Art to Level Design to Detail Art to Audio to Polishing without stalling the pipeline, without one of the specialized members or groups waiting for things they can work on.

If there’s one article all Game Developers using agile practices should read, then this is it!

Clinton Keith, High Moon Studios

Clinton is an experienced Game Developer turned Scrum Trainer. The above link brings you to his homepage where you can hire him and find all his blog posts on which is also his site. There you can find his Articles & Presentations as well as a list of recommended books.

Top 10 Pitfalls Using Scrum Methodology for Video Game Development (Paul Miller)

Scrum can be a beneficial for some kinds of software projects. There are, however some pitfalls that are easy to run into when employing Scrum to manage a video game project. Some hazards can occur because the importance of well-established, existing best practices is ignored. There can be consequences when Scrum is used as a replacement for existing best practices. Here are 10 pitfalls that were experienced on a recent project while employing Scrum methodology.

Scrum for Video Game Development (Mike Cohn, PDF)

This presentation was given at a meeting of Agile Austin and was focused on the application of Scrum to video game development. It is based on experience helping a variety of video game development studios and publishers adopt agile practices.

Agile Game Development: Dealing with Chaos in the Real World (Noel Llopis, 2004, HTML and PDF)

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. In game development, detailed milestones, complex schedules, and careful planning often go out the window as soon as the project starts. Agile development provides a set of techniques to steer the project in the right direction and embrace change. Is your game not shaping up to be as fun as you thought? Has a game come out with features that you must match to remain competitive? Has your code degenerated into an unmanageable mess?

This talk discusses how agile development can help in all those scenarios. In particular we look at methodologies like XP and Scrum, and techniques such as test-driven development and pair programming.

Traditional Roles vs Scrum Roles (Richard Kronfält, with pictures)

Wow. You now have a team, the person who used to be “project manager” who is now called “Scrum Master” instead, and the person who used to be Product Manager is now called Scrum Product Owner. Sounds alright, right? Wrong!

Check out the rest of his blog, too. I especially liked his take on the tasks that get stuck near the end and take longer and longer. It’s called the 1 day remaining forever symptom.

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