Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Certified ScrumMaster for Video Game Development Course, Austin May 8-9

This two-day course not only provides the fundamental principles of Scrum, it also gives participants hands-on experience using Scrum. This course puts theory into action through extensive use of exercise and a project simulation. All exercises and discussions are specifically tailored for those working in video game development. During the course, attendees will learn why such a seemingly simple process as Scrum can have such profound effects on an organization. Participants gain practical experience working with Scrum tools and activities such as the product backlog, sprint backlog, daily Scrum meetings, sprint planning meeting, and burndown charts. Participants leave knowing how to apply Scrum to all sizes of projects, from a single collocated team to a large, highly distributed team.

Upon completion of the course, each participant will be designated Certified ScrumMaster.

PMPs: This course counts for 16 Professional Development Units.

You Will Learn
  • Practical, project-proven practices that have worked for numerous video game projects
  • The essentials of getting a project off on the right foot
  • How to write user stories for the product backlog
  • How to help both new and experienced teams be more successful
  • How to successfully scale Scrum to large, multi-continent projects with team sizes in the hundreds
  • How to help producers, artists, designers and programmers work together effectively
  • How to work with publishers and others outside the team who may not be familiar with Scrum
  • Tips and tricks from two instructors that combine 15-plus years of using Scrum in a wide variety of environments and ten-plus years of video game product development
  • Overview of Scrum
    • Why Scrum works and what it is
  • Sprints
    • Potentially shippable
    • Architecture on a Scrum project
    • Correct use of Release sprints
  • The ScrumMaster
    • Responsibilities and mindset
    • ScrumMaster as team member
  • The product owner
    • Description and responsibilities
  • Product backlog
    • User stories on the product backlog
    • Backlog-writing workshops
    • INVEST in your backlog
  • Sprint planning
    • Prioritization and the sprint goal
    • Sprint planning meeting
  • Release planning
    • Estimating the product backlog
    • Release planning meeting
  • Project planning with a publisher
    • Preproduction vs. production
    • Scrum and milestones
    • Choosing the right product owner
    • Working early with marketing groups
  • Meetings
    • The daily scrum
    • Sprint review and retrospective
  • Tracking progress
    • Burndown charts and task boards
  • The team
    • Composition and cross-functionality
    • Organizing
  • Scalability
    • The scrum of scrums
    • Focus of initial sprints
    • Shared vs. specific product backlogs
    • Scaling the product owner
  • Introducing Scrum to your organization
About the Instructors

Clinton Keith is the former CTO of High Moon Studios, a video developer in San Diego and now an agile coach. Clinton has over 20 years of professional development experience and 14 years in video game development experience. His games include Midnight Club, Darkwatch, Boume Conspiracy and numerous others. Clinton introduced agile development methodologies to High Moon Studios in 2003 and to the rest of the video game industry in 2005 through his popular blog at

Mike Cohn is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development and Agile Estimating and Planning. With more than 20 years of industry experience and over a dozen years using Scrum, Mike has previously been a technology executive in companies of various sizes, from startup to Fortune 40. A frequent magazine contributor and conference speaker, Mike is a founding member of both the Agile Alliance and the Scrum Alliance.

For more information please visit

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Life as an agile coach - month one

I've had quite an amazing first month as an agile coach. I've made a few trips to studios adopting Scrum to give classes and coach quite a few teams. These studios were ideal because they had:
  • Talented and very experienced teams and management.
  • A history of successful games.
  • An openness about exploring improvements to their process and practices.
  • A critical eye towards evaluating agile. They didn't take things at face value, but they weren't cynical either.
Given this, we were able to have real discussions about the issues they had with adoption and very productive classes with entire teams. I'm sure I'll face greater challenges in coming trips, but this was a great set of clients to start with, but to use a surfing term: I'm "stoked"!

One other thing to note is that the issues with adopting Scrum seem very common with the various developers I've worked with (High Moon, Vivendi owned developers, developers on the AGD list and my clients). I'm beginning to see a common arc of adoption traits with game companies. The experience is very similar to those that Ken Schwaber describes in his latest book "The Enterprise and Scrum". I'm documenting these and working out a more defined road-map with game teams adopting Scrum.

Other news: