Monday, February 22, 2010

Scrum: You're Just Going to Fail, So Don't Bother

Some tough words to soak in.

Making an MMORPG on a shoe-string

Just read an article about Forever Interactive, which calls itself "a completely virtual agile game development studio" and how they are developing their MMORPG:

The nearly 50 programmers and artists working for Forever Interactive are not pulling paychecks but instead banking on eventual compensation that will be a percentage of the revenue - a percentage based on their performance - when money comes in, Harmsen says.

It's a "sweat equity" model, and performance includes things such as communication, meeting deadlines, reaching milestones, with accomplishments compounding until the game launches.

I'll be keeping an eye on them over the next year.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Micromanage at Your Peril


Have you ever worked with a micro-manager? This is someone who thinks he or she needs to be involved in everything that happens within the company. These leaders are closing out the talents of others by not divesting themselves from the day-to-day problem-solving activities of the company. Great leaders let go of the day-to-day, problem-solving activities of the company. Rather, they choose to maximize strategic and relationship-building efforts. These contribute to the forward momentum of the company rather than causing a "bottleneck" at the leader's desk. No one person should do it all — and if they are self-aware, most people will realize that they really aren't capable nor knowledgeable enough to do it all.

thanks to Kim Sellentin for the link.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Agile Game Development Checklists

The Agile Game Development Checklists are meant to help drive discussion about the implementation and effectiveness of agile practices (including Scrum, XP, TDD and Kanban) for a team and stakeholders.

This first version contains a checklist for the ScrumMaster role. Revisit how this role adds value to a Scrum Team and how that role can be improved.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Agile Game Development Book Online

My book is now available at Safari Books Online.
The printed version will be out at the end of May.

This is the "rough cut" version that is available while the book is in final production.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ed Catmull, Pixar: Keep Your Crises Small

Ironing out the little problems can make it so companies can avoid big disasters.

Notable quotes and points:
- "The trick is to stop that behavior (of not showing something until it is absolutely right)"
- "We confused the organizational structure with the communication structure"
- "Managers: you don't need to be the first person to learn something.  Don't get upset.  Get over it."
- "Because the were working on things they loved, they put up with stuff they didn't like."
- "Success hides problems."
- "This isn't good for our souls to do that (mix quality projects)."
- "If you have a good idea and give it to a mediocre group, they'll screw it up.  If you give a mediocre idea to a good group, they'll fix it, or they'll throw it away and come up with something else."
- "The goal of development [department leadership] is not to find good ideas, it's to put together teams of people that function well together.  And that change altered the way we thought about making movies."
- Nice retrospective (five questions) and empirical process!
- "Human organizations are inherently unstable.  They will fall over and you have to work to keep them upright.  But they fall slowly.  Most people don't notice it.  They let their success blind them.    You have to do constant assessments.   You have to look for the hard truths."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

100+ Resources for Video Game Professionals

This list contains resources for people in - or interested in - the video game industry.  Here you'll find general and specific news resources, career resources, and more

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's always been about common sense

A response to another Scrum-bashing article:

"I believe no single model or framework is enough when managing complex systems. Anyone who favors one method and pisses on another is just showing off his ignorance of complexity thinking. "

Scrum isn't the goal.  Agility isn't the point.  It's about finding ways for groups of people to make better products while reducing wasted effort.  It's about creating never-ending cycle of improvement.

Brand loyalty or bashing shuts out wider possibilities.  Labels allow higher cognition to be disabled.  The goal is to always explore practices, use common sense, knowledge and observation to decide what works better and what doesn't. 

Friday, February 05, 2010

Product Owners and Innovation Games(r)

A product backlog needs to be well thought out.  Are we prioritizing the right features?  Are the features really what our customers want?  Are we missing anything?

The least effective product backlogs come from limited viewpoints or from seemingly endless boring meetings dominated by a few voices.  They result in one-dimensional backlogs whose vision isn't understood or shared by the team.  This impacts the potential of what a game can be.

How can backlog creation be made more collaborative, innovative and effective?  The best way I've found is to introduce gaming to backlog creation. 

In search of solutions, I recently attended an Innovation Games (r) Master Class for Scrum trainers in San Jose run by Luke Hohman.  Innovation Games (r) have been used in a wide range of product design and is the subject of a great book.  For two days, we practiced selecting, running and facilitating each of the game types.  Some of the games I'd used in past training (like "Product Box").  Most were new.  It really opened my eyes to the science and psychology behind such games and the power they hold.

In March, I'm planning to attend the first Certified Product Owner training class designed with Innovation Games(r) with Luke and Mitch Lacey, an excellent Certified Scrum Trainer, in Seattle.  I'm very much looking forward to attending this class.  I highly recommend it for any product owner, especially those working on video games.

I can't imagine a better application of gaming for product planning than for video games!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

If you can see this post, everything is working

You've either changed the feed location or the redirect has worked.

This could have been easier!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The blog has been moved.

The new address of this blog is now:

Apologies for any inconvenience.  Blogger is dropping their FTP service, which is what I used in the past.

Blog move complete

The new blog address seems to be working!

Agile Game Development Blog Moving....

Blogger is soon going to drop the publishing service I've been using, so I need to change it.  As a result, this blog's feed will become

Blogger is promising me that this change will be transparent to you and that the old address will redirect your readers to the new address.  

See you there!