All posts tagged: agile

Game Design Logs

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If you still practice or encourage the outdated practice of writing long design documents, you are doing your team and your business a grave disfavor. Long design docs embody and promote an insidious world view: They make the false claim that the most effective way to make a game is to create a fixed engineering specification and then hand that off to developers to implement feature by bullet-pointed feature. Great game development is actively harmed […]

Post-it note design docs

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I happen to fall into the artist-designer skill set, so I often find myself trying to prototype ideas on teams rich with programmers. As such, I’m always looking for better game development techniques that work well for this particular team mix. Here is a very lightweight prototyping process using Post-it notes that I quite enjoy. Initial idea: I sit down with an available programmer (and artist/UI designer depending on the system) and we chat about […]

Improving Bug Triage with User Pain

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  The traditional bug triage process is miserably inefficient. Over my decade in this industry, I’ve spent months of my life sitting in windowless offices manually reviewing (and re-reviewing) thousands of bugs. Often times, there are three or four folks on the triage team, typically the most skilled people on the team, sitting about and bickering for hours over the finer points of obscure bugs. Politics, boredom and arbitrary decisions are unfortunately common. The result is […]

The Scary List

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In every project, there are issues that that frighten the bejesus out of the team. They are so frightening that no one wants to talk about them publicly. The schedule might be impossible. There might be the lurking suspicion that Management does not believe in the project. More commonly, there is a major technical flaw that no one is handling. Such problems linger over the team. A handful of people hold hushed conversations in hallways […]

Lessons about failure

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I happened across a wonderful nugget of design philosophy, while reading an interview with Clinton Keith, the head of High Moon Studios’ technical department. It bundles up lessons from Miyamoto, the joy of failing fast and the benefits of using Stage Gate-type processes in one delightfully juicy quote. “If you want someone to fail, you want them to fail fast, before they spend a lot of money. That’s how Nintendo was. When I was working […]

Rockets, Cars and Gardens: Visualizing waterfall, agile and stage gate

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The further I dig into new product development practices the more I crave a simple way of helping folks new to the concepts visualize them quickly. In that spirit, I’ve assembled a little pictorial journey through the intriguing landscapes of waterfall, agile, portfolio management and stage gate. For fun, there is also a description of how you can apply portfolio management techniques to individual agile project as a technique for additionally reducing the design risk. […]

The Passion of the Developers

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A thousand little decisions go into the creation of a great product. Most are not in the specs or master plans. Instead, they are implemented by testers and programmers. Yet, these are the same people that are traditionally lampooned as geeky and out of touch with the target customers. What would happen if the developers possessed a deep understanding of their customers needs and desires? Suddenly, those thousand little decisions aren’t introducing random noise into […]

Persistent myths about Game Design

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The straw man concept of game design involves the sole genius game designer who writes his thoughts on a golden tablet and passes it down to the production minions to build. There are several beliefs about the process of game design and development evident in this stereotype. Heavy upfront design and preproduction are critical to the creation of a great game. When these activities are not done early in the process, there will be mistakes […]

Team culture matters

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I just thought I would repost this lovely Slashdot comment that I came across recently. For some reason, it caught my eye. “Having lived through the Microsoft buyout of a game studio, perhaps I provide some insight into why acquired studios seem to lose their mojo. Disclaimer: This are my opinions only, and come from the individual contributior perspective, not that of the studio management. First off, Microsoft corporate culture does not map well to […]

Managing game design risk: Part II – Data Driven Development

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Read part Managing game design risk: Part I here. It provides an overview of different classes of production processes and their relationship to various forms of risk. The next two essays will talk about common techniques for reducing risk. The first technique, data driven development, involves lowering execution risk by investing in lower risk product features and processes. This low execution risk strategy is the predominant technique used by game developers to reduce risk and […]