Agile Game Development: Build, Play, Repeat, 2nd edition

  • Clinton Keith

Agile Game Development: Build, Play, Repeat

ISBN-13:  9780136527817

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Overview

The definitive guide to more effective and personally fulfilling game development with Agile Methods—now revamped to reflect ten more years of experience and improvements


Game development is in crisis—facing bloated budgets, impossible schedules, unmanageable complexity, and death-march overtime. It’s no wonder so many development studios are struggling to survive. Fortunately, there is a solution. Agile and Lean methods have revolutionized development in the game development industry. In Agile Game Development, long-time game developer and consultant Clinton Keith shows exactly how these methods have been successfully applied to the unique challenges of modern game development.


Clint has spent more than 25 years developing games and training and coaching hundreds of game development teams. Drawing on this unparalleled expertise, he shows how teams can use the practices of Scrum and Kanban, customized to game development, to deliver games more efficiently, rapidly, and cost-effectively; craft games that offer more entertainment value; and make life more fulfilling for development teams at the same time.

  • Contains several new chapters on live games, leadership, and coaching, including an all-new section on Agile for large teams of up to 1000 developers
  • Updates to all chapters to reflect a decade of experience with more than 200 studios
  • Now covering Kanban and other Agile approaches alongside Scrum
  • Understanding Agile goals, roles, and practices in the context of game development
  • Discovering how Agile benefits every specialty in game development from art to QA
  • Communicating and planning your game’s vision, features, and progress

Game developers and leaders are recognizing the modern challenges of gaming. Game development organizations need a far better way to work. Agile Game Development gives them that—and brings the profitability, creativity, and fun back to game development.

Table of contents

Foreword     xxvii

Preface     xxix

Part I: The Problem and the Solution     1

Chapter 1: The Crisis Facing Game Development     3

The Solutions in This Chapter     3

A Brief History of Game Development     4

    Iterating on Arcade Games     5

    Early Methodologies     6

    The Death of the Hit-or-Miss Model     8

The Crisis     9

    Less Innovation     9

    Less Value     10

    Work Environment     10

    Mobile/Live Challenges     10

What Good Looks Like     11

Summary     12

Additional Reading     12

Chapter 2: Agile and Lean Development     13

The Solutions in This Chapter     13

What Is Agile?     13

What Is Lean?     14

Why Game Development Is Hard     16

    Learning from Postmortems     16

    The Problems     19

Applying Both Agile and Lean     23

Why Use Agile and Lean for Game Development?     24

    Cost and Quality     24

    Finding the Fun First     25

    Iterate More, Fail Fast     26

    Agile Values Applied to Game Development     27

    Lean Principles Applied to Game Development     30

What an Agile Project Looks Like     33

    Agile Development     35

    Projects Versus Live Development     36

    Pre-Deployment Releases     37

The Challenge of Agile and Lean     37

What Good Looks Like     38

Summary     38

Additional Reading     38

Part II: Scrum and Kanban     39

Chapter 3: Scrum     41

The Solutions in This Chapter     42

The History of Scrum     43

    The Big Picture     44

    The Values of Scrum     47

    The Principles of Scrum     47

Product Backlog, Sprints, and Releases     48

    The Product Backlog     48

    Sprints     50

    Releases     51

Scrum Roles     52

    The Scrum Team     52

    Development Team     54

    Scrum Master     54

    Product Owner     59

Customers and Stakeholders     62

Chickens and Pigs     64

Scaling Scrum     65

What Good Looks Like     65

Summary     65

Additional Reading     65

Chapter 4: Sprints     67

The Solutions in This Chapter     67

The Big Picture     67

Planning     68

    The Sprint Goal     69

    Part One: Identifying the Sprint Goal     69

    Part Two: Planning How to Achieve the Sprint Goal     70

    Length     74

Tracking Progress     78

    Task Cards     78

    Burndown Chart     79

    The Burndown Trend     80

    Task Board     82

    War Room     84

The Daily Scrum Meeting     84

    The Practice     84

    Improving the Daily Scrum     86

Sprint Reviews     88

    Review Format for Smaller Games     88

    Remote Stakeholders     89

    Studio Stakeholders     90

    Players     90

    Honest Feedback     90

Retrospectives     90

    The Meeting     91

    Posting and Tracking Results     92

Sprint Challenges     92

    Sprint Interrupted     93

    Sprint Resets     93

    Problems with the Sprint Goal     94

    Running Out of Work     96

What Good Looks Like     96

Summary     97

Additional Reading     97

Chapter 5: Great Teams     99

What Are Great Teams?     100

The Solutions in This Chapter     101

An Agile Approach to Teams     101

    Cross-Discipline Teams     102

    Generalizing Specialists     104

    Self-Management     105

    Team Size     105

What Good Looks Like     108

Summary     109

Additional Reading     110

Chapter 6: Kanban     111

The Solutions in This Chapter     111

What Is Kanban?     112

    Visualizing the Workflow     112

    Measuring the Workflow     113

    Managing the Workflow     114

Improving the Workflow     117

    Reducing Batch Sizes and Waste     117

    Reducing Handoffs     118

    Responding to Bottlenecks     118

The Difference with Scrum     120

What Good Looks Like     121

Summary     121

Additional Reading     122

Chapter 7: The Product Backlog     123

The Solutions in This Chapter     123

A Fateful Meeting     124

Why Design Documents Fail     125

The Product Backlog     126

    Product Backlog Items     126

    Ordering the Product Backlog     127

    Continual Planning     128

    Allowing for Change and Emergence     128

    Encouraging Team Engagement and Alignment     129

Creating the Product Backlog     129

Managing the Product Backlog     131

    Backlog Refinement     131

    Who Attends the Refinement and When?     132

    Techniques for Ordering the Product Backlog     132

Defining “Done”     137

    Types of Debt     137

    Managing Debt     138

    Development DoDs and Stakeholder DoDs     139

    QA and DoDs     140

    Sets of Done     141

Challenges     142

Dysfunctional Product Ownership     142

    The Proxy Product Owner     144

    Product Owner Committees     144

    Silo Product Owners     145

    Attention Deficit Product Owner     146

    Tunnel Vision Product Owner     147

    Distant Product Owner     149

What Good Looks Like     152

Summary     152

Additional Reading     153

Part III: Agile Game Development     155

Chapter 8: User Stories     157

Speaking Different Languages     158

The Solutions in This Chapter     158

What Are User Stories?     159

Levels of Detail     160

Acceptance Criteria     161

Using Index Cards for User Stories     163

INVEST in User Stories     164

    Independent     164

    Negotiable     165

    Valuable     166

    Estimable     167

    Sized Appropriately     168

    Testable     168

User Roles     169

Collecting Stories     171

Splitting Stories     174

    Split Along Research or Prototype Dependencies     175

    Split Along Conjunctions     175

    Split by Progression or Value     176

    Other Splitting Tips     176

Advantages of User Stories     176

    Face-to-Face Communication     177

    Everyone Can Understand User Stories     177

What Good Looks Like     178

Summary     179

Additional Reading     179

Chapter 9: Agile Release Planning     181

The Solutions in This Chapter     181

What Is Release Planning?     182

    Release Planning Meetings     183

    Chartering a Shared Vision     184

Estimating Feature Size     186

    Velocity     186

    How Much Effort Should We Spend Estimating?     187

    Where Are Story Sizes Estimated?     188

    Story Points     189

    Alternatives to Story Points     194

Release Planning with Story Points     195

    Updating the Release Plan     197

    Marketing Demos and Hardening Sprints     198

What Good Looks Like     200

Summary     200

Additional Reading     201

Chapter 10: Video Game Project Management     203

Midnight Club Story     203

The Solutions in This Chapter     204

Minimum Viable Game     205

Contracts     207

Hitting Fixed Ship Dates     208

Managing Risk     209

    Incorporating Risk in the Product Backlog     210

The Need for Stages     211

The Development Stages     212

Mixing the Stages     213

Managing Stages with Releases     214

Lean Production     215

    Production Debt     216

    The Challenge of Scrum in Production     218

    Lean Production with Kanban     220

    Working with Scrum     234

    Transitioning Scrum Teams     235

What Good Looks Like     235

Summary     236

Additional Reading     236

Chapter 11: Faster Iterations     237

The Solutions in This Chapter     238

Where Does Iteration Overhead Come From?     238

Measuring and Displaying Iteration Time     239

    Measuring Iteration Times     239

    Displaying Iteration Times     240

Personal and Build Iteration     241

    Personal Iteration     241

    Build Iteration     242

What Good Looks Like     250

Summary     250

Additional Reading     250

Part IV: Agile Disciplines     251

Chapter 12: Agile Technology     253

The Solutions in This Chapter     254

The Problems     254

    Uncertainty     254

    Change Causes Problems     255

    Cost of Late Change     256

    Too Much Architecture Up Front     257

An Agile Approach     258

    Extreme Programming (XP)     259

    Debugging     265

    Optimization     266

What Good Looks Like     269

Summary     270

Additional Reading     270

Chapter 13: Agile Art and Audio     271

The Solutions in This Chapter     271

Concerns About Agile     273

Art Leadership     274

Art on a Cross-Discipline Team     275

    Creative Tension     275

    Art QA     276

    Building Art Knowledge     277

    Overcoming the “Not Done Yet” Syndrome     278

    Budgets     279

    Audio at the “End of the Chain”     280

    Shifting to Kanban     281

What Good Looks Like     281

Summary     282

Additional Reading     282

Chapter 14: Agile Design     283

The Solutions in This Chapter     284

    Designs Do Not Create Knowledge     284

    The Game Emerges at the End     285

Designing with Scrum     286

    A Designer for Every Team?     286

    The Role of Documentation     286

    Parts on the Garage Floor     288

    Set-Based Design     291

    Lead Designer Role     295

    Designer as Product Owner?     295

What Good Looks Like     296

Summary     296

Additional Reading     296

Chapter 15: Agile QA and Production     297

Agile QA     297

The Solutions in This Chapter     298

The Problem with QA     298

Most QA Is Just QC     299

Agile Testing Is Not a Phase     300

The Role of QA on an Agile Game Team     301

    QA, Embedded or in Pools?     303

    How Many Testers per Team?     303

    Using a Bug Database     304

    Play-Testing     305

    The Future of QA     307

Agile Production     307

    The Role of a Producer on an Agile Project     308

    Producer as Scrum Master     309

    Producer as Product Owner Support     309

    Producer as Product Owner     310

    The Future of Production     311

What Good Looks Like     311

Summary     311

Additional Reading     312

Part V: Getting Started     313

Chapter 16: The Myths and Challenges of Scrum     315

The Solutions in This Chapter     315

Silver Bullet Myths     316

    Scrum Will Solve All of Your Problems for You     316

    Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt     316

Scrum Challenges     321

    Scrum as a Tool for Process and Culture Change     321

    Scrum Is About Adding Value, Not Task Tracking     323

    Status Quo Versus Continual Improvement     323

    Cargo Cult Scrum     324

    Scrum Is Not for Everyone     326

    Overtime     326

    Crunch     327

What Good Looks Like     329

Summary     330

Additional Reading     330

Chapter 17: Working with Stakeholders     331

The Solutions in This Chapter     332

Who Are the Stakeholders?     332

The Challenges     332

Focus Comes Too Late     333

Milestone Payments and Collaboration     334

Limited Iteration     335

First-Party Problems     335

Portfolios Drive Dates     336

Building Trust, Allaying Fear     337

The Fears     337

Understanding Agile     338

Publisher-Side Product Owners     339

Meeting Project Challenges Early     340

Managing the Production Plan     341

Allaying the Fears     342

Agile Contracts     342

Iterating Against a Plan     344

Fixed Ship Dates     345

Agile Pre-Production     348

The Stage-Gate Model     348

What Good Looks Like     350

Summary     350

Additional Reading     351

Chapter 18: Team Transformations     353

The Solutions in This Chapter     353

The Three Stages of Team Transformation     353

    The Apprentice Stage     355

    The Journeyman Stage     359

    The Master Stage     367

What Good Looks Like     369

Summary     370

Additional Reading     370

Part VI: Growing Beyond     371

Chapter 19: Coaching Teams for Greatness     373

What Is a “Great Team”?     373

Why Coaching?     374

The Solutions in This Chapter     374

Coaching Skills     374

    My Path to Coaching     374

    The Coaching Stance     375

    Facilitation     377

    Coaching Tools     379

Coaching Teams to Higher Performance     381

    Psychological Safety     381

    Common Goals     382

    Shared Accountability     382

    Working Agreement     382

    Root Cause Analysis     383

Team Maturity Models     384

    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team     384

    The Tuckman Model     385

    Situational Leadership     386

Coaching Tools and Practices     387

    Lighten the Mood     387

    Love Card Wall     388

    Notes of Encouragement     389

    PechaKucha Introductions     389

    Socialize the Team     390

    Measure Team Health     391

    Group Confession     391

    360 Reviews     392

What Good Looks Like     393

Summary     393

Additional Reading     393

Chapter 20: Self-Organization and Leadership     395

The Solutions in This Chapter     396

Self-Organization     396

    Valve Software     397

    Supercell     398

    Growing Teams     399

Leadership     403

    Agile Leadership     403

    Studio Leadership     404

    Discipline Leadership     405

    Director Roles     406

    Mentors     407

    Reviews     407

    Servant Leadership     408

Systems Thinking     409

    Turning a Vicious Cycle into a Virtuous Cycle     409

    Seeking Out Systems     411

Intrinsic Motivation     411

    Autonomy     412

    Mastery     412

    Purpose     412

Flow     412

    Finding the Right Challenge     414

    Increasing Skills     414

Studio Coaches     415

    Shifting Roles     416

    Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS     417

Adoption Strategies     418

    Beachhead Teams     419

    Full-Scale Deployment     422

What Good Looks Like     426

Summary     426

Additional Reading     426

Chapter 21: Scaling Agile Game Teams     429

The Solutions in This Chapter     429

Challenges to Scaling     430

    Loss of Vision     430

    Adding People Late     431

    Communication Among Large Teams     431

Should You Scale Up?     433

Scaling the Wrong Process     433

The MAGE Framework     434

    Whole Game Focus     435

    Communication, Purpose, and Autonomy     435

    Systems Thinking     435

    Scaling the Right Way     436

The Product Backlog     436

    Tools and Mind Maps     436

    Pooling Functions and Dispersing Components     437

    Pillars     438

Team Organization     438

    Feature Teams     438

    Component Teams     439

    Production Teams     439

    Support Teams     440

    Tool Teams     442

    Pool Teams     443

    Integration Teams     443

    Feature Area Teams     443

    Communities of Practice     444

Product Ownership     445

Additional Roles     447

    Project Management Support     447

    Supplemental Roles     448

    Pillar Champions     448

Releases     448

    Release Planning     449

    Rolling Out the Release Plan     451

    Forming Teams     452

    Updating the Release Plan     452

    Using Project Boards     453

Sprints     454

    Aligning Sprint Dates     454

    The Scrum of Scrums     455

    Sprint Planning     458

    Sprint Reviews     458

    Sprint Retrospectives     459

Managing Dependencies     460

    Team Formation     461

    Release Planning     461

    Team Dependency Management     462

    Reducing Expert Dependencies     462

Distributed and Dispersed Development     463

    Distributed versus Dispersed     463

    Challenges to Distributed Development     464

    Challenges to Dispersed Development     466

What Good Looks Like     468

Summary     468

Additional Reading     469

Chapter 22: Live Game Development     471

The Solutions in This Chapter     472

Games As a Service     472

Why Agility for Live Games?     473

DevOps and Lean Startup     473

Feedback Loops     474

    Live Games and Fighter Aircraft     474

    Live Game Feedback Loops     475

    Measuring the Feedback Loop     478

Part One: Plan     478

    Have a Vision     479

    Model the Players     479

    Establish the Goals     480

    Identify an Incremental Step     480

    Develop the Hypothesis     480

Part Two: Develop     482

    Map and Measure the Entire Pipeline     482

    Identify Ways to Improve the Pipeline     483

    Reduce the Batch Size     485

    QA for Live Games     487

Part Three: Deploy and Support     487

    Continuous Delivery     488

    Live Support Tools     490

Part Four: Measure and Learn     494

    Measure Results     494

    Do Retrospective Actuals and Update Your Vision     495

What Good Looks Like     495

Summary     496

Additional Reading     496

Chapter 23: There Are No “Best” Practices     497

The Solutions in This Chapter     497

Visualizing Your Work     498

    Feature Boards     498

    Story Mapping     501

Developing for New Platforms     504

    Launch Title Development     505

    Parallel Development     506

Agile and Indie Game Development508

    The Draw of Indie Development     508

    The Challenges of Indie Development     509

    How Agile Development Helps     509

What Good Looks Like     510

Summary     511

Additional Reading     511

Conclusion     513

Index     515

Published by Addison-Wesley Professional (July 9th 2020) - Copyright © 2021