By far, the greatest response was in the descriptions of the adaptations that studios have made to their process and practices for their unique studio culture and process to become more agile:
- "Almost immediately, the variety of qualitative demands and concerns has required the exploration of various hybrid forms of Scrum/agile development. This includes using stricter Scrum processes for technology development, while using a much looser form for artistic development and design." - Anonymous
- "Scrum was the basis for estimation and planning. A problem we encountered was due to a lack of adequate sprint review. This was compounded with some instances where the ScrumMaster ended up being the product owner. The end result was that quality started to slip as the ScrumMaster realized it would not be possible to meet certain deadlines, so they arbitrarily decided that lower quality would be acceptable.
"Instead, we've now modified this out of the process by firmly separating quality control from production, and by forcing the team to complete their sprints, even with crunching. This quickly resulted in programmers taking more time with planning, and figuring out tasks more accurately to re-establish better (40 hour-ish) work weeks." - Anonymous
- "We are a small startup focused on mobile games. We have been using Scrum since day one of the company. Our approach to Scrum is heavily influenced by the size of our team. We are only three people in the studio (the two founders and a graphic artist), and we were not even sure if it was possible to use Scrum with a team that small.
"In the beginning everything was very irregular. We had some fantastic sprints when everything worked as a clock, and others were estimations failed terribly. As we gained experience with Scrum we started to experiment with different sprint times and estimation methods, and in a few months we found the variables that fit our team and keep us more productive and predictable.
"The single most important programming practice we implemented as a complement to Scrum was test-driven development. It has proved itself as a fantastic tool for preserving the game quality as the code base grows." - Manuel Freire, Founder and Lead Developer, Touchcreate.
- "We use our own proprietary agile methodology that uses some of the Scrum practices. We use different terminology (closer to XP). We've evolved our own rigorous design/implementation approval process. We added a requirements review process to ensure we aren't fooling ourselves on the backlog." - Anonymous
- "We went from waterfall to a hybrid-iterative-waterfall to now full Scrum. We went from project managers being ScrumMasters and sole owners of project plans to now ScrumMaster not necessarily [being] the project manager and everybody is accountable for project schedule and getting it done.
"There is now less micromanagement from the project manager side, who learned to let go and trust the team. The executive team is starting to see and understand the value but have not totally accepted it yet. Resource management went from software engineers being pigeonholed into the same work, to now all software engineers can move around and volunteer for work. Art is one area where it is evolving slower to Scrum, mainly as for our studio, it is a central team." - Anonymous.
- "Developers are encouraged to just "trust their gut" when making story point estimates (and not worry about how many days it actually takes them to complete any given user story), since as long as developers are fairly consistent in their intuitive estimation of user stories, the story-point completion-velocity of the team becomes the best metric I know of for long-term scheduling.
"The publisher producer has no official Scrum role, but sometimes feeds into the product owner/creative director's user story prioritization by setting very broad milestone criteria that become more granular as each milestone approaches. We have weekly meetings with the publisher producer, in part to facilitate this." - Nathan Front, Lead Programmer, GiantSparrow.
- "When I first started at my studio, they'd just implemented Scrum and things were rocky. We had 11 teams, each with varying sprint lengths, and varying team members every sprint. We pulled our ScrumMasters out of the teams to wrangle stories and tasks, but I gathered the teams' data daily.
"We realized this wasn't working to our advantage, because velocity was impossible to gather, and the developers resented having to work as ScrumMasters. I was given the job of full-time ScrumMaster for half the teams and we promoted someone else to handle the other half. We were sent for ScrumMaster certification and came back and made even further adjustments.
"We locked in sprint lengths and team members, began creating correct stories and having more useful standup meetings. Due to this, we were finally able to get a realistic look at velocity and get a better grasp of the scope of our project. The sprint retrospectives are invaluable and have directly impacted our process as we continue to 'inspect and adapt.'" - L, LaRae Brim, Assistant Producer, NetDevil.