Former Valve Designer Kim Swift on using Scrum at Valve for Left 4 Dead 2.
Full Gamasutra article.
It sounds kind of funny, just because it's really quick. A quick sequel, which is not Valve's well‑known trait.
KS: Yeah, definitely. We're pretty proud of ourselves for not moving at "Valve time". We practiced a new organizational tool. We used the Scrum method this time. We decided to give it a shot, and it's worked really well for us on the team.
And also, heading into the project, we were pretty sure about what our deadlines were, so we were able to try and be more deliberate with our planning to actually get the sequel out.
So the first game wasn't developed under Scrum and the second one is?
KS: Yeah. We decided to give that method a try.
So have you been seeing more productivity? Obviously, you have one more mission to do. Do you have a perceptible increase in productivity?
KS: I think more than anything it helps us prioritize what to work on. Since we knew that our shipping date was a lot sooner, we were able to sort out which ideas were actually doable in that amount of time, and that we knew were actually going to be successful, rather than trying a whole bunch of different stuff that wasn't necessarily going to be what we shipped.
It is interesting to see them cite that SCRUM is helping set priorities. Could it be that it is exposing value more quickly?
It certainly could, but I think the greater value was seen from identifying what they could not do. The "problem" with sequels to successful franchises is deciding what to leave out. Fred Brooks (Mythical Man Month) called this the "Second System Effect", which "refers to the tendency, when following on from a relatively small, elegant, and successful system, to design the successor as an elephantine, feature-laden monstrosity"
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