Hi there! With this article, I'll try to give you an overview of our production routine. You will discover the tools we commonly use and our production habits, but please keep in mind that it's only our choices and there are many ways to manage a production!
Firstly, I would like to highlight the necessity of project management and the role of the project manager in a small game development team. Contrary to a popular misconception, the project manager doesn't have to give orders to the team. He's not a powerfull boss who decides what to do and when to do it. Decisions are taken by the whole team and the role of the project manager is to be sure that they are consistent with the aim of the project and, then, to formalize them.
If you want to succeed as a project manager, you should not act like this.
Concretely, his aim is to ensure that the game is released in time and corresponds to all of the expectations of the client - if there is one - or the team. Then, he has to guarantee the consistency between the different aspects of the game (game-design, graphic design, sound design, development). In order to reach these goals, the project manager has to do a lot of tasks. The most important of them are communication with the team, scheduling, organization and animation of meetings, work monitoring and management.
There are a lot of methods that could be used for project management. In our case, we have decided to adapt a famous agile method called SCRUM. The main specificity of this method is to give priority to communication, adaptation and iteration. In a few words, direct communication is preferred to huge and non-read documents, schedules are made for short periods and are often updated and the developers always work on a functional prototype they regularly upgrade with new items. Basically, the production is divided into short periods (two weeks, in our case) called sprints. Each sprint has its own goal and is completed with a functional new version of the game, which can be played directly on the iPad. In fact, each version is an increase of the previous one.
The aim of the SCRUM method is definitely not to copy... that.
Thanks to this method, we are always able to show a functional version of our game and it's really motivating to work in these conditions, because we have a good view of the game we are creating. And it's very pleasant to be able to test our game directly on the iPad at every moment!
The SCRUM method suggests some tools and a routine which we commonly use (daily meetings, back-log document, etc), but I will not describe them in this article. I will probably dedicate a next article to this method, so please be patient until this next issue!
We use a lot of tools which allow us to know at every moment the advancement of the project. One of the most significant is the scrum-board - a white board full of adhesive notes - which allow us to know the progress of the different tasks we have to do during a sprint. Concretely, the white-board is divided into columns and rows, each column corresponding to a state (to do, work in progress and done) and each row to a section (game-design, sound-design, graphic design, etc). A post-it is related to each task that needs to be done, and stuck on the correct cell of the board. Thanks to it, everyone can easily know the advancement of the sprint by glancing at the board!
We also use a lot of production documents (assets list, tasks list, schedule, etc). These documents are not created in the aim of saying the persons what they have to do, but in order to help them to organize their own work in consistency with the other ones and to communicate easier. That's why they need to be easy-to-use, pleasant and clear. Anyway, I will not introduce these documents more precisely in this post, I think their names are enough explicit!
Some high color documents!
It's important to keep in mind that a document is useful only if it is read by the team and if it helps people to communicate and monitor their work. That's why documents must be as clear and succinct as possible!
The end's word
As a conclusion, I want to highlight that project management is not done only by the project manager. It's a team work which needs the participation of every one to be conclusive! There is not a project manager, and, then, his team. There is a team which includes a project manager. There is a little difference, but it's an important one!
I hope this post will help you to understand better our next issues, and if you have any question or remark, please do not hesitate to let us know!
Thank you, and see you soon!