Articles

A collection of things I’ve written.

Myth of the Silver Bullet Game Production Process

There is no one development process that fits all; Scrum, Prince, Lean, Extreme and whatever the current fashion is all have their place and can work but it's typically a hybrid that works best for you now. Things will change over time and the next team, platform, role or project may require an entirely different approach. Having an adaptable approach will make things smoother for you.
Consider more formal methods for the meta-project such as milestone structure and operate an agile process within those. Consider "beach head" style changes to your production pipeline by introducing the new process to aspects of your project, e.g., introduce Scrum on your AI team before you unleash it.
This way, you'll get to iron out the bugs and if things go well then at least you'll have trusted people on board when it comes to making the broader change.
Consider running agile process for the highly creative periods such as pre-production and concept and more formal methods for the middle bit where you're largely implementing your design.
Whatever it is, think about the implications on the production and people involved as they're both intrinsically linked.

How do you think?

2 min read

When working with other people it’s important to consider how they see things, as their view is often very different from your own perspective. In our world of game development there are, broadly speaking, 2 high level ways of looking at things.

Firstly let me put things in perspective by explaining that I come from a background of logic that took me in the direction of Programming, which I found a good fit for me. I lived in a world of abstract languages, numbers and weird concepts and the ‘creative’ people just didn’t understand. I arrogantly thought that anyone could draw pictures and it took raw talent to do what I was doing. These were the days when non-programmers were paid a pittance and weren’t coveted by businesses. Those were the days when programming skill made for better games.

Opinion - Small businesses STOP USING AUTOMATED REPLIES!

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s receiving an automated reply from a small business, in particular one that’s supposed to connect with me as a person. OK, I’ll confess I’m having a rant about recruitment agencies, which is a pretty dangerous thing to do when you’re looking for work.

I have a special hatred for ones that pretend to be from a person. I know you’re not there due to the nature and content of your email so the “personal touch” is just lost. There’s no name, there’s nothing.

Also, PLEASE don’t direct me to a web-site to fill in my details. If you’re too busy to even bother to talk to me in the first place and find out about me then I know for definite you won’t “process” my CV in a meaningful way and you definitely won’t find me something that’s relevant.

There’s one fundamental point, I know you only get paid when I find a job! In the modern world I have many means of finding work but I recognise that the recruitment role is important and can make a real difference.

My point is, there are recruiters out there who maintain the personal touch and they succeed and get my vote every time.

When I get back to recruiting, which I will, I will absolutely focus on the agencies who I had the best experience with from both sides.

Make it personal, make the candidate feel like you have their best interests at heart and you’re not just looking  for your next 10%.

What’s your experience been like? Recommendations? Story to tell? Keep in touch.

Thought - How do you prefer to communicate?

There are many ways to communicate with people, what’s your preference?

I have to admit that I find telephone conversations the hardest, they fall between the disconnection of something like email or status updates and the ‘proper’ face-to-face meetings we have with people every day. Telephone conversations also tend to be one-to-one too, conference calls are a nightmare. There’s no visual clues on when it’s anyone’s time to talk or how people are reacting.

We all know It’s entirely possible to hide behind emails, you can spend hours crafting every word, editing and re-editing until your happy.

Meeting up with people is always fun, the spontaneity and interaction obviously surpasses everything else.

I’d rather write a long, carefully crafted email or make a long distance journey to meet up than make a call.

Everyone’s different, do you have a preference?

Thought - You Need Slack To Succeed

Slack is the need to have capacity to adapt to change, it's no good running things on such a tight thread that the smallest wave capsizes your venture. How do you cope if someone is ill, how do you cope if there's a better way of doing something? How can you test that new fantastic idea you had?

Thought – Who will make the 1st carbon neutral game?

Hmmm…. this could be a tough one to work out. Imagine all of the power used; development hardware like PCs, food eaten, servers, travel for business and commuting, air-conditioning, manufacturing of the discs, manuals the list goes on and on. Don’t forget everything at the publisher too. A killer title like God Of War 3, Modern Warfare 2 or Dead Redemption must have an astronomical footprint!

Has anyone made a carbon neutral game? Wouldn’t that be a great USP for your game? Who will be the 1st?

Book - Agile Game Development with SCRUM

I recently connected with long time promotion and pioneer of Agile game development, Clinton Keith.

We got talking and he pointed me in the direction of his book, Agile Game Development with SCRUM, which I’ll be picking up soon.

If you’ve read it, what did you think?

Do you connect with your video game audience?

6 min read

The relationship between games and their audience has changed over the years, thanks to the internet we’re now able to reach out and touch them directly. This relationship is precious and much more important than just “cutting out the middleman” to make more money. There’s something more valuable at stake. Do you know what it is?

15 seconds of fame

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." - Andy Warhol, 1968
Time has become compressed, 15 minutes is a long time now. Move fast or get left behind.
The take away here is that everything has a much shorter lifetime now. Recognise that your job won't be for life, your game will be forgotten within 2 months of launch, 10hrs of gameplay is a lifetime, even the massive investment in a typically massively multiplayer online game will only last 3 years. 
Things change rapidly and you need to be prepared with your next successful venture, always think ahead, always expect change, never be complacent.

10,000 hours to success as a game developer

In 2008, Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success” repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. This equates to 1,250 working days, or 5 working years of focus on your core skill.

Is this how long it took you to get to call yourself a successful? I certainly wonder just how much of anyone’s skill or experience is relevant anymore. I believe only the last 5 years is relevant to what you do as the rest is just old hat and knowledge that can be easily achieved by someone chasing your heels.

The kicker is, it can all disappear in an instant for no apparent reason.