Agile Game Development process for Indies

By December 17, 2018Games

Hel­lo my friend!
In this post I would like to talk about the game devel­op­ment process we’ve acu­tal­ly used dur­ing the last years for our games.

To start by, I would sug­gest you to read even the “Agile Game Devel­op­ment with Scrum” book by Clin­ton Kei­th:
Ama­zon link

The process we’re acu­tal­ly using is very sim­i­lar even if it’s applied to a much small­er scale stu­dio (of 5 peo­ple instead of 200).

What is Agile?

Agile is an approach for devel­op­ing prod­ucts using short and fast iter­a­tions.

The ideas is to make small fea­tures for the cur­rent project in small peri­ods of time. In this way the results of each iter­a­tion are used to adjust the project plan: each iter­a­tion is like a short project in itself.

What is SCRUM?

SCURM is an iter­a­tive and incre­men­tal Agile process that pro­duces demon­stra­ble work­ing soft­ware every few days: for exam­ple a build of the project that can actu­al­ly be tested.

How Agile can be used for Indie Games? 

I think Agile can be real­ly use­ful for indie game stu­dios if used wise­ly:
Since the ini­tial con­cept of a game does nev­er per­fect­ly reflect how the final game will be, I think a Water­fall Devel­op­ment process is use­less in most cas­es.

We usu­al­ly start with the Con­cept of the game and then start the Pre­pro­duc­tion and Pro­to­typ­ing process for test­ing the main mechan­ics of the game.

While we’re still in the Pro­duc­tion process, the Con­cept and Design core of the game can still be mod­i­fied depend­ing on the feed­backs of our testers that are test­ing the first pro­to­types.
If some­thing is not work­ing well in a game mechan­ic, we’re still able to mod­i­fy it with­out great effort from the Pro­gram­mers.

This is just an exam­ple, but this process can be used to every phase of the devel­op­ment: for exam­ple while the Sound Design­er is mak­ing the sound effects of a char­ac­ter and the Ani­ma­tor is mak­ing the ani­ma­tions for it, the Game Design­er can test both and give feed­back on how well the sound effects are linked to the ani­ma­tions.

Per­son­al­ly I think that Con­cept and Design can be mod­i­fied through the entire devel­op­ment process of a game (even in the final Post Pro­duc­tion stages) if this does not change too much the Dead­line Release.

Extended Agile

I think Agile can be even extend­ed while work­ing on mul­ti­ple projects at the same time.
We usu­al­ly devel­op 2 or 3 games at the same time and Agile is real­ly use­ful since some of the ideas, con­cepts and mechan­ics could pop up in the devel­op­ment of a game and can be used even on oth­er projects.

This process can even be use­ful to avoid Depen­den­cies of mem­bers of the team: for exam­ple if a pro­gram­mer is wait­ing for the ani­ma­tions of the main char­ac­ter in order to fin­ish the code for the run mechan­ic, he can mean­while work on oth­er mechan­ics or on anoth­er project.

It’s impor­tant to have a cohe­sive team, since the poten­tial sav­ings in cost for team is lost when time and effort is wast­ed through iter­a­tion delays and depen­den­cies between team members.

Final Considerations

One of the most inter­est­ing phras­es from the Agile Game Devel­op­ment book refer­ring to the best team Clin­ton worked with is:

“Much of the chem­istry of that team is a mys­tery to me. There does­n’t seem to be a for­mu­la for how such teams can be cre­at­ed, but I’ve found that it’s quite easy to pre­vent such teams from form­ing” - Clin­ton Kei­th

Agile and Scrum are sure­ly some of the things that real­ly can help these kinds of team to form since it allows all the mem­bers of the team to com­mu­ni­cate and have a larg­er view on the project.

Useful Resources: