109: Scrumming It

Scrumming It

"Two years ago, the word "scrum" started to buzz in game management circles, a buzz that in the interim has turned into a roar. Developers in producer positions are becoming Certified Scrum Masters (to the hefty tune of $1,200), a title that is now starting to show up in job headers at companies like BioWare.

"The industry focus point for the effectiveness of Scrum was the team at High Moon Studios. The two Scrum gurus were the studio's CTO, Clinton Keith, and then-Chief Architect Noel Llopis. Keith joined High Moon midway through its debut title's production, Darkwatch, and the studio was having a rough time. The introduction of Agile methods brought the game to ship, and High Moon has been a case study for Agile and Scrum ever since."

Erin Hoffman explains game development's new hotness, Scrum.

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This is a rather interesting article. Not for its content, but for its location. I would not have expected to see an article concerning development models in the escapist. Frankly, I think it is a bit out of place. Games are hard to make, yes, but, nowadays, all software seems to get that phrase attached to it. So, why is an Agile methodology something that is worth noting when discussing games in particular? I think the lack of exploration of that question is where this article falls short.

Also, the article seems to gloss over one of the most biting threats to any project's success; the influence of outside forces on the development team. Sometimes a development path has to change because of sales or marketing, etc, but these outside influences need to be carefully compromised with. Discussion of this has particular relevance to gaming because we have seen so many hopeful projects either thrown out completely or released as something far below expectations for just such reasons: KOTOR 2 and NWN 2 stand out in my mind(and that's just one company).

I think that the real success Blue Moon had was not necessarily with the Agile methodology, but with good development management. Leaders willing to try new approaches to software development and who took a critical look at the progress of that development.

Now all that being said, I'm glad this article was written. It would be nice to see more articles that deal with some lower level development of games. This is often the gritty(and boring?) truth that is ignored by game journalist and yet has some of the most significant impact on the quality of a game.


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