How can I use Agile methodologies to deliver better and faster with my planned update on Find the Gnome?
It is a question that is bothering me for some time now.
This is an article in the ‘Behind the scenes’ category where I share my personal experience developing games professionally.
The things at hand
When I look at developing games from a birds-eye perspective, I see the following area’s where Agile development has its impacts:
- Planning and executing on work
- Delegating responsibilities, building on trust
- Team-only driven improvements, Full-product deliveries after (a few) iterations, Course alignments on real consumer data only. (Inspect & Adapt)
For point 1, I think everyone is already on board. Across all industries we know the iterative approach is a more manageable way to execute on work. I had trouble finding evidence that game studio’s are on-board too, but I recently saw this YouTube video from a big studio that confirms my thoughts on this (link below).
Point 2 is already a bit more difficult as it seems. I know from personal experience this delegating/responsibility thing (and most of the times, combined with true multi-disciplinair teams) takes already place in the smaller companies. For larger companies though it is really difficult to get away from the line thinking, because due to the scale of the organisation the money and legal things tend to be too concerning to let them being handled by individual teams.
However, I’m seeing signs of change too. Due to the huge amount of pressure to innovate. But they are still doing it ‘differently’ from the small companies because at large there are KPI’s, organisational guidelines and other steering tools that are introduced to keep things in line.
Point 3 is where the icing is on the cake. Because this is where even small companies don’t dare to venture. In this area of Agile, the bosses aren’t the ones leading but facilitating (and don’t like being called ‘the boss’). It is this area where you aren’t an expert when you have idea’s but you are an expert only when you are able to execute on proven demands from consumers, or when you are data-proven able to forecast real consumer demands.
I know of a few companies that seems to have this down, or at least had it down in some point of time: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tesla, Netflix (or the Chinese counterparts). But these are way too big to be an example for most of the companies in the world, especially game companies.
I did find one example of a small game dev studio that is even able to execute on point 3, see the links on Gram Games below.
To succeed on my own game development projects, I have to think big when maximizing benefits from my experience as software developer in business software.
So, I think I have to go with the maximal Agility on my own projects. Inspired by the Gram Games YouTube video I think it will look like this:
- Keep releasing full products at steam at low intervals
- Release features stand-alone to mobile platforms
- Move winning features to the full product release
The release-feature-to-mobile-first is the core idea, and here is some more depth to it:
- 1-3 iterations
- Real stand-alone gameplay
- Full of metrics (but AVG compliant: I don’t need user specific data, only the global feeling)
- No monitization
- When 10 people use it 7+ days it is a win for me
Do I think I am right by choosing such a strange method?
Well, I can only think of 1 real cave-eat
- It is really hard to separate features and prove their individual value
But other than that, I think It is worth the try.
The video on a recent (2019) big company (Total War series, 550 people) that are doing some Agile form of planning and executing on work:
The video on a recent (2019) small company (Mobile games, 20 people) that are doing maximum Agile: