[MUD-Dev] R&D

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Fri Jun 7 08:07:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com>
> From: Brian Bilek

>> I would enjoy exploring if there are parallels between the effort
>> that Game Developer magazine is undertaking and the management
>> techniques developed in some of the knowledge houses like PMI,
>> SEI, and SEL.

> I've never attended any of the PMI or SEI sessions. But what I
> have heard back from those in the game industry who have is that
> they tend to miss the iteration factor above all, and to a lesser
> degree, tend to miss the fact that "good engineering" often has to
> take a backseat to business realities or fun.

I went through some PMI training and I would highly recommend it for
any development or business manager.  (Just going through the first
course would be a huge benefit as it covers the project management
process in good detail and the subsequent courses seem redundant).
Project management skills are not industry-specific in that the same
process used for planning a development effort can be used to plan
painting one's house or putting together a birthday party .  It's
just a tool that allows one to better 'plan their work and work
their plan' and teaches processes to monitor results in terms of
variance versus budgeted time and money for that project.

I wish I could remember the actual numbers that the instructor had
recited regarding the percentage of time Americans spend planning
their work/doing their work/fixing their work versus other cultures.
Americans tend to spend a very small amount of time planning their
work and a very large amount of time fixing their work.  (We seem to
be in a greater hurry than other cultures.)  As Raph pointed out,
this just may be a given in the game industry where everything can
be technologically perfect, on-time, and under budget yet still not
be fun.  However, instead of just throwing away the tool, adapt it.

If it is important that player 'fun' be the primary output of the
software, formalize the review process for 'fun' in the project
plan.  If you have a sub-project that is estimated to take 2,000
work hours to develop, have a 'Why is this Fun?' session at the
concept stage and at various points throughout the design and
development process.  It may be that somewhere along the line that
the technical implementation of the feature removed the 'fun' from
it and it's better to catch the loss of 'fun' at 20% than during QA.

Cheers,

Ron

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