Sprint Retrospective – First Playable Build

5 Nov

We are finishing the first playable build today!  This last sprint had a lot of organizational change and refocusing, and it will be exciting to see the positive results of our first playtest over the weekend.  Looking back at the sprint (and my first sprint with the team) I learned a lot and saw some positive trends emerging.  There is also some things we can improve on!

Pre-production work is so critical, and so often it is overlooked or just skimmed over because there is always such pressure to create a game quickly.  I can vouch from experience, though, that longer pre-production equals less headache and more success down the line.  As a team, we are still catching up on things that may have been better accomplished before all of the “work” started.

Design is spread a little thin over many tasks, and had we approached things differently, we might have given them better tools to work with and an increased chance of timely success.  Right now, design is still catching up a little with story elements and character arcs.  With a new sprint approaching, these things will end up backlogged and will definitely put a little extra pressure on them.  Pralie continues to impress me with the number of hats she is wearing, while still managing to organize her design team and keep them on task.  A strong leader is definitely a valuable asset to any team, and we are fortunate to have her.

The art team is absolutely crushing their tasks right now.  They are pushing the envelope toward our alpha build, and have taken a lot of initiative to flesh out how the artwork impacts the emotional flow of the game.  Delirium should be pretty eye catching, based upon the current style and I look forward to art as one of our key strengths competitively.  The real challenges the art team faces are waiting for specific assignments as design approves new game elements.  Lucky for us, there really is no shortage of things for them to work on!

The engineering team had to spend a lot of time this sprint on basic mechanics.  The character animations and menu work have been big for them, but Brian’s team is ahead of the curve as well.  They have been well organized and thorough, and are awaiting some more artwork to move forward past the current build and toward a much more involved and robust Alpha build.

If I could change anything about the current process, I would have joined the team in September and helped Pralie organize her pre production timeline.  Operating without a producer is something that does happen in the gaming world, but when you work so closely as creative types, designers, etc, quite frequently there are logistical details that get overlooked.  The design team needed a little more time during the first sprint to develop feature lists and define the exact nature of the game experience.  While it is much clearer now, as a team we could have worked much more effectively during the previous sprint had we already accomplished that level of clarity in the beginning.

One of the biggest improvements we have made as a team has been implementation of a more exact work process than before.  The tasks have a more defined beginning, middle, and end, can be checked and approved quickly, and are easily moved from one team to the next.

Motivation is something I haven’t had to worry about at all with the Delirium team – the enthusiasm for this game is extremely high and I can’t thank the team enough for staying so positive.  I really want to thank the team leads for their focus and communication; without such a concerted effort my task list would be a lot longer!

Mike

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