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The State of Agile in the Game Industry
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The State of Agile in the Game Industry

March 4, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next


Many of the respondents who rated agile benefits low got right to the point about the challenges they faced:

  • "My studio changed our entire development process based on a few Gamasutra articles about Scrum. It was a classic case of chasing a trend without understanding it. It was obviously a huge flop, resulting in a dismal game released to market." - Anonymous
  • "Makes management feel forced to adhere to specific rules and makes interaction with employees less 'real'." - Anonymous
  • "No one knew exactly what it was, how to do it... and if they did they would run away screaming, because they just want to make games, not appease a cult-like managerial fantasy." - Anonymous
  • "ScrumBut -- my employer chooses to warp Scrum in ways that guarantee inferior results." - Anonymous
  • "It's easy to get hung up on the process rather than focusing on the quality of the game." - Anonymous
  • "People don't want to use something they a) didn't come up with themselves, or b) don't have experience with (or trust)." - Anonymous
  • "Unfortunately the idea of Scrum being agile can be lost on people." - Anonymous
  • "[One challenge was the] constant pressure from external forces. It takes a lot of firmness of mind to tell your clients they need to chill on feature creep. Secondly, disabusing management of the mythical belief that more hours means greater productivity. This was overcome by us by having strong data tracking on projects to measure true productivity versus just hours worked." - Chris Oltyan, Director of Product Development, ZeeGee Games.
  • "One of the biggest challenges for management faced was a resistance to change. Adopting a completely different (and in some cases, unheard of) project management methodology can be a very scary thing. But after a while, we found that people either experienced the benefits of Scrum firsthand, or saw the results speak for themselves on our end-of-sprint demo days.

    "Another challenge was establishing lines of communication, pipelines, and procedures between the prototype teams and other teams that weren't working in Scrum (e.g. engine team and external QA team). How do these teams interface with each other when the backlog is constantly changing and being reprioritized?

    "I guess the biggest challenge for me, personally, coming from a producer background and had only ever worked in waterfall, was embracing change. Taking on the role of a ScrumMaster required me to complete change my style of management. As Lyssa Adkins said recently in her blog, and I quote, 'You will have to give away your belief that having a checklist makes things run smoothly. You will have to stop chasing the perfect process and, instead, start cultivating your ability to trust the resourcefulness of others. You will cease using line items checked off on a plan as your measure of value. You will face your fears, all of them, about yourself and other people. You will stop making progress and start making products.' I couldn't agree more." - Kim Sellentin, Producer, The Creative Assembly, Australia.
  • "I attempted an implementation of Scrum on a project that was in need of general management and solidifed creative vision. It did two things rather quickly: 1) created more progress (and more measurable progress) than the project had previously experienced, and 2) caused an allergic reaction with entrenched leadership that resulted in the top-down destruction of anything that wasn't 'The Old Way'." - Keith Fuller, Producer, Raven Software.


Although there were numerous challenges, there were also stories of success:

  • "Scrum has affected all areas of production at the studio. Everything from meeting structures to report generation is more agile." - Mark James, Lucas, External Technical Director, LucasArts
  • "Initially, we adopted Scrum with one prototype team that comprised of two programmers, one animator, one artist, one designer, and one quality assurance tester. The increase in productivity was almost immediate. Our cross-disciplinary, co-located pilot team produced great results, faster than we'd ever seen, and with little micro-management. They really took to Scrum, and enjoyed taking ownership of their own work." - Kim Sellentin, Producer, The Creative Assembly, Australia.
  • "When we founded our studio we trained each and every member of our staff in agile at the same time. This made an enormous difference in getting everyone on the same equal footing and using the same vocabulary." - Jason Robar, VP of Studio, The Amazing Society.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

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