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

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PRODUCTION
T
ECHNIQUES
In This Chapter
Getting a Project Back on Track
• Project Reviews
• Running Meetings
Weekly Status Reports
Preventing Feature Creep
Preparing for Milestones
Establishing Approval Processes
• Task Forces
18.1 I
NTRODUCTION
A
s a producer, it is your responsibility to navigate through the various
development phases and successfully run a project from concept to com -
pletion. This is a big, but not impossible, challenge, especially if you are
constantly monitoring the development process to ensure that the game’s goals
are being met and if you are actively looking for ways to improve the quality and
efficiency of the production process. Many production techniques can be used
to get a project back on track, monitor progress, and improve efficiency. This
chapter discusses a few techniques that are simple, but effective to implement.
Chapter 18Chapter 18
306 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
18.2 GETTING A PROJECT BACK ON TRACK
In order to fully understand how the project variables of schedule, resources,
features, and quality fit together and directly impact each other, it is useful to
envision a triangle. Figure 18.1 is a diagram of this.
The sides of the triangle correspond to the resources, the schedule, or the
features that are necessary to complete any given project. The area inside the
triangle represents the quality of project. If one of these factors changes, it will
affect the other factors; one measurement of a triangle cannot change without
affecting the others. If all four of these factors are constantly changing during
the development cycle, the project will never be stable. This makes it hard to
estimate when the game will be completed, how much it will cost, how many
features it has, and the quality of the final version.
For example, if the schedule is shortened, either more people are added,
features are cut, the quality of the product is lessened, or any combination of
these is necessary to get the project completed on time. If head count is re-
duced, either more time is added, features are cut, or the quality is lessened to
DEALING WITH SCHEDULE SLIPPAGE
Stuart Roch, Executive Producer
Activision
The truth is that it’s tough to tell when a project starts getting off track. As
Frederick P. Brooks Jr. says in his book, The Mythical Man Month, “How does a
project get to be a year late? One day at a time.” Minor schedule slippage is tough
to identify, and it only becomes easier to spot when the damage has already been
done. The best way to deal with schedule slippage is to have a good defense for it
from the start.
A clear and concise schedule is a must as are monthly milestones with razor-
sharp definitions. Even the best schedule isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the
production team doesn’t follow up on the team’s progress aggressively on a regular
basis. Only by realistic analysis of the team’s progress can the producers identify the
minor slippage and make minor course corrections after the monthly milestones as
appropriate.
Waiting until the slippage is obvious makes it easier to identify the problem and
means the team will deal with the problem more aggressively, but by this point, the
damage has already been done.

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