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Designing a Gameless Game: Sulka Haro On Habbo Hotel
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Designing a Gameless Game: Sulka Haro On Habbo Hotel

October 10, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

I don't know if this affects you, but it seems to reduce crunch time for some people. You don't necessarily have specific dates that you need to hit with this kind of product, right?

SH: Yeah, but hitting the dates is easier as well. If you're really focusing on coming up with designs that are implementable within one sprint... once you get the system up and running and you start to hit the sprints, it will mean that you will know exactly what you'll be getting in the next thirty days.

If you would have a project that would fail the whole schedule, you will learn that sooner. So instead of working on the project for a couple of years and only then figuring out that you need six months to a year extra, you'll probably start to know that pretty early on. Because of that, it's going to be easier to go back and talk to whomever is financing the project and say, "Okay, we either need to change the scope or change the schedule, or come up with new ways of actually implementing it."

If you actually let the developers tell you, it could be that you will figure out new ways of accomplishing the same goals as you had, but something that's actually accomplishable within the schedule, which might be pretty hard to do if you had a big spec that's supposed to be implemented.

I also meant like within Habbo, since you don't have to target holiday releases or things like that. You don't have to deal with the typical...

SH: What makes you think that we don't have releases for the holidays?

I guess this is my question -- do you have fewer or do you have more periods where you're like, "Wow, we have to get this thing done right now!"

SH: Yes and no. Obviously for things like holidays, we need to have stuff out.

I suppose you need to have different content?

SH: Yeah. Then again, what we're doing nowadays is waiting for people to get ideas as to what we should be doing. We generally have an idea of whether it should be something that's doable within one sprint or two sprints, and how many teams will be working on it. We just cut down the scope so that it's something that is doable. That also means that you don't need to do that much crunch, because you already knew how big of a project it's going to be, and you can make the calls on how big [the project is] you're going to be doing.

How large is your team size?

SH: I can't remember exactly. Something like thirty people.

That's quite small. By comparison to your userbase, it's incredibly small.

SH: That's just the developers, though. Obviously there's a lot of people who work on different aspects.

Network administrators and things?

SH: Yeah, exactly.

Do you anticipate continuing Habbo for a long time, or do you have other types of projects that you hope to pursue as well?

SH: I can see us working on Habbo for a long time. There's millions of users who are pretty happy about it, so...

Yeah, and it doesn't seem like it's going to necessarily going to slow down anytime soon.

SH: Yeah. I want to continue working on it.

To what extent do you think it would be beneficial to expand onto console as well? Is that of interest in any way?

SH: Well yeah. It's a shame that you weren't there for the keynote. Really, the fundamental thing is really like text-based roleplaying, and with consoles, people don't have keyboards.

Though they could.

SH: They could, but they don't. It's a fact.

You could just plug in a USB keyboard.

SH: Still, people don't. We're trying to not fight the force of nature. If people don't have keyboards, I don't think we would like to be the first people to go onto a console and try to get people to use keyboards.

The first people to fail at that?

SH: Yeah. Obviously, we're really trying to push an update every month globally. That basically also means that if we did go to the consoles, I'm not sure if the mechanisms to actually do such a rapid pace of change in products is out there. Obviously you can download stuff to the hard drive, but still...


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