Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Third Jam Session: Postmortem

What went right?
Everyone is very proud of the work that is being produced and now that we have integrated a new artist and audio engineer into the team we expect even bigger and better things.  On that note, welcome Arnoud Moes and Greg Morningstar to the team. Though we are becoming a larger team, communication remains open and constantly high amongst the various units – which is allowing rapid development and quick resolution of issues. Additionally, we’re finding and using new tools to help speed our development process up further (e.g. external terrain editing software).

What went wrong?
Our preferred method for production, at least what works for us, is working over weekend jam sessions – you could call these our sprints – and keeping up the focus for the 48 hours can prove very daunting.  There is also this idea that things need to be “perfectly” completed by the time they are first integrated into the game (e.g. levels, models, and even code segments) and this might not necessarily be the best approach to take when trying to make it to a play test that allows us to verify that the elements we are working on “work” in the game.  On a similar note, we have kind of an asset backlog that is growing for many reasons; we need to do more integration work with what has been “completed” because soon we will have a sound backlog as well! One thing that seems to effecting many us is hardware difficulties – however, it is pretty difficult for us on (a mostly) student budget to improve this last item.

What can be improved? How?
In general, more planning as to what tasks are most important during a jam session could be performed prior to the event, which would save time on Friday night – and even getting people working before the event takes place. We could, perhaps, develop a plan for each department per session that is a part of a greater plan that outlines how we get to a submittable prototype for the IGF Deadline in October. Additionally, we tend to plan our schedules one jam session at a time versus planning our working schedules a few months out – we have a lot of problems trying to work the upcoming sessions into people’s schedules and providing more notice will hopefully make this better.

What is important to do next?
The art department has been cranking out models and this has generated quite the backlog of items in need of textures. Additionally there is a thought that the artists need to implement a documentation system beyond just a simple assets list to facilitate communication and track progress amongst the team. On the management side, we should develop a global project plan and we should get to some serious play testing in - which encapsulates design validation, artistic direction review, and confirms the closure of items on the issue list.

Our next jam session, though ripe with scheduling conflicts, occurs on March 23rd.

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