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Midgard Saga: Making the Switch to Kanban
by Trevor Hilz on 10/09/13 11:59:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Midgard Saga: Making the Switch to Kanban

Hi there!

This is a blog for my team's game, Midgard Saga, a student team from The Guildhall at SMU. The students at The Guildhall, myself included, are experienced in working in Agile with Scrum. For those unfamiliar, I would encourage you research it, it has lots of advantages! But alas, I am here to discuss Kanban!

Why we chose to do it:

Firstly, we are not using pure Kanban. This is Kanban with Scrum. We still incorporate many of Scrum's processes such as morning stand up and sprint retrospectives to improve processes and increase communication. We chose to switch to Kanban for two reasons:

1) Better Visibility During Development

For task tracking, we use Trello, a free online task management system that really visualizes a project/sprint's current progress. For those who are on JIRA, it's similar. Kanban allows production to expand the lanes in which a task travels.

For instance, our Engineering backlog expanded due to the switch:

Before: Open / In-Progress / Done

After: Backlog / Roadblocked / Research / In-Progress / Integration / Test / Polish / Done

While the increased number of lanes seemed daunting at first, it allows the engineers to visualize where each feature is in its stage of development without breaking the workflow of others.

2) Increased Agility

Our milestone deadlines at The Guildhall are very quick. To give you an idea, we have four weeks between Vertical Slice and Alpha. Therefore, being agile is an absolute must. While Scrum does this well, Kanban potentially allows teams to move even more quickly. We've found that through consistent planning of the future during our already existing meetings we can remove much of the start-stop environment that interrupted development. By continually inputting into the backlogs and doing routine backlog groomings we've developed a push-pull system that drives development forward.


Future Expectations:

My expectations is we'll continue to refine how we do our processes. The biggest learn I've had so far in my nearly two years in various production roles is removing unnecessary process is absolutely necessary to make production work. Furthermore, developing proper processes for the team and project is imperative, but even more so is gaining the understanding from the team so they know the why and how of the process. As a high school teacher of mine once said "You can invent the best feed in the world, but if the horse doesn't like it, it's useless." That said though, I think we've found something that works well for this team and the project!


Midgard Saga - The Game

If you're interested in following our game, Midgard Saga, I've provided links below to our Facebook page and IndieDB. We're regularly updating these pages with new screenshots and playtest information. Playtests are open, just "Like" our Facebook page and you'll be prepared for each playtest to come!

Midgard Saga         Facebook Page!


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