Scrum for Building Video Games

One interesting challenge in explaining Scrum and the iron triangle to game
builders is confusion about quality vs. scope. To a software engineer,
“quality” means maintainability, scalability, reliability, etcerability.
But “quality” to a game designer might mean landscapes are highly detailed,
objects move realistically, guns jam just like in real life, and other
things that we’d consider robustness or scope. As I’ve discussed with Vic
and David, I think the word “quality” is too subjective and submit we use a
specific measurable term such as “maintainability.”

A second challenge is that the specialization in game building is more
diverse than in software engineering. For example, there’s a bigger
difference between a graphic artist and an audio designer than there is
between a J2EE programmer and an Oracle DBA. This drives the team size up,
reducing cohesion and accountability.

Another interesting discussion they had was whether “fun” (another
subjective attribute) should be part of the definition of done.
Sometimes they will build things as specified, but people will play with
them and report they’re not “fun.” They’re starting to get that some kind
of UAT should be built into the Sprint cycle. The jury is still out on to
what extent making things “fun” is a Product Owner responsibility (in what
features he selects) vs. a team responsibility in the definition of done.

Michael James

Michael James is a software process mentor, team coach, and Scrum Trainer with a focus on the engineering practices (TDD, refactoring, continuous integration, pair programming) that allow Agile project management practices. He is also a software developer (a recovering "software architect" who still loves good design).

Posted in Agile
One comment on “Scrum for Building Video Games
  1. Clinton Keith says:

    From our experience:

    The Product Owner has to be the arbiter of fun in our experience…and he has to be a pig (we call them “Pirates”). The iteration of finding fun is far shorter than 2 weeks and it is near impossible to get all teams for a game dev project (> 70 people) on board with the goals and theme of the game. Fun cannot be spec’d at the Sprint planning session.

    As we move forward it’s a high priority for the PO to build a team of designers that can communicate together while on dispersed teams.

    Clinton Keith
    CTO – High Moon Studios

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