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Managing Risk in Video Game Development
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Managing Risk in Video Game Development

May 3, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 8 of 9 Next

7. Develop a list of Checkpoints

Finally, we use the sensitivity analysis developed in step 6 to create a list of Checkpoints.  Each Checkpoint should give us an opportunity to learn more about our assumptions and reduce our assumption-to-knowledge ratio.  If our learning process shows us that the project appears to be falling below our profitability hurdles, we have a choice of either terminating the project or attempting to re-plan.

As much as possible, we try to order our Checkpoints so that we test as many of the most critical assumptions as we can as early in the schedule as possible, and at the lowest cost.

In the chart below, we list 16 sample Checkpoints, along with the set of assumptions that each Checkpoint will test and the cost of completing that Checkpoint. 

Because our retention rate, conversion rate, and new users per month are so important, we schedule several focus group tests as Checkpoints -- in this case, at the first core gameplay prototype, the first full playable version of the game, and the completed full game.  We also determine the total of all the cost values to compare it against our previous estimate for total project costs.

Note that Checkpoints are not the same thing as project milestones.  They are broadly similar, but Checkpoints are more high-level than project milestones and are used to help drive and define the production milestones.

Our actual production milestones should include the ability to run several Checkpoints as part of a single milestone (for example, when marketing and engineering are involved in two separate but adjacent Checkpoints, we can run them in parallel inside the same single production milestone), or to split Checkpoints into multiple milestones (as with the "Finalize game development & testing" Checkpoint in the table above, which would likely be split into several production milestones). 

Article Start Previous Page 8 of 9 Next

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