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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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PROJECT MANAGEMENT
M
ETHODS
In This Chapter
Pros and Cons
Personal Software Process (PSP)
• Scrum
Project Management Institute (PMI)
3.1 I
NTRODUCTION
G
ame developers tend to shy away from using a formal software engi-
neering process (perhaps because they are afraid of stifling the creative
energy on the team) and instead jump right into production without
making a clear decision on how to manage the development cycle. This worked
fine 25 years ago when the teams were small and everyone clearly understood
their development responsibilities. The games were also much simpler to
create—fewer assets, fewer lines of code, and fewer features. Today, teams
are larger; games are more complex; and games are simultaneously released
on multiple platforms and in multiple languages. Developers are now realizing
they must find better ways to manage the development cycle. In order to do
this, they are looking at how software engineering processes are managed in
other industries and finding ways to adapt these to game development.
Personal Software Process (PSP) and an Agile Methodology known as Scrum
are two software development processes that have been successfully used by
Chapter 3Chapter 3
42 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
game developers in recent years. Other software processes can also be adapted
to game development; which one you choose depends on the type of game, the
constraints, and the available resources. There are pros and cons of using any
type of process, so take this into account when researching which one will be
best for your development team.
Formal production processes are a large topic and to discuss them in detail is
beyond the scope of this book. However, this chapter presents general informa-
tion about the pros and cons of using a formal process, how two studios success-
fully implemented PSP and Scrum, and the benefits of the Project Management
Institute (PMI).
3.2 PROS AND CONS
Because many game developers are not trained in project management pro-
cesses, no common terminology or method is used from project to project. This
makes it difficult for teams to understand how their tasks fit into the develop-
ment process and impact the work of others. For example, a designer cannot
script a level until the artist has built it, or an artist can’t add lighting to a level
until the lighting tool is coded. It is important for the team to be aware of these
dependencies, so they can schedule their work accordingly. When the work is
not properly scheduled, the critical path becomes overloaded, and bottlenecks
develop in the workflow, putting the project at risk. Using a formal software en-
gineering process can alleviate some of these issues.
Many software engineering processes, such as PSP and Scrum, require the
team to be involved in determining what tasks need to be done, estimating how
long the tasks will take, and tracking the progress of these tasks. This level of
team involvement gives people more ownership of their work. Morale increases
because people directly control their tasks, which means they can have a direct
effect on the success (or failure) of the project.
When people see that the game production is under control, they are more
confident in the game’s success. A formal process allows the team to clearly see
tangible progress, which motivates them to move forward in their work. For
example, Scrum uses burn-down charts to show the progress the team is mak-
ing. These charts allow teams to see when they are ahead of schedule, behind
schedule, and right on schedule. If they are behind schedule, they can see this
sooner rather than later and correct the timing before it becomes a problem that
puts the project at risk.
Another benefit of using formal software engineering processes is that proj-
ect metrics can be generated on how long it takes to do a task, and this informa-
tion can be used when estimating similar tasks on future projects. Overall, this
allows the producer and the team to generate more accurate task estimates.

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