Project Management - Diving into the World of Multiple Projects

Today's blog is going to talk a bit about project management and how we're very soon stepping into the world of multiple projects (not necessarily multiple games, but multiple things between which we need to divide our attention). 

Early on in the company's existence, and up until this point, our development has been fairly linear. What I mean by that is that we were always prioritizing features and tasks that contributed directly to the betterment of Ultimate Chicken Horse, our first game. There was still prioritizing to do, of course, and making the decision to add online multiplayer about halfway through the development was a very big (and important) decision for the health of the game and company. 

As far as project management is concerned, this was a fairly simple task. Do stuff as well as possible, as quick as possible, without any real hard deadlines and always trying to make sure the next release has significant improvements (or bug fixes). What we did was we had a big backlog of features and improvements that we pulled from and put into our sprint, as we mentioned in a much earlier blog post

Now that we've started work on consoles, and we'll soon be thinking about a next game, we're going to have very different work to do and different tasks to prioritize. This is certainly more interesting and more fun, but also means that we can no longer stick with a single, static backlog and pull from the top of it without worry. The problem with simply having 3 backlogs, say, for UCH / Console / NewGame, is that nothing tells us what needs to happen first and when it needs to happen. How will we know to pull tasks from one backlog instead of the other if the priorities are all relative to other tasks within that backlog?

The solution that we've devised, which is probably standard for many people, is a milestone system that divides the backlog into key milestones. For example, the next milestone could be a new build for the PC version of the game with bug fixes and some new improvements, and the one after that could be console work and getting the game to be playable on them. Each of these backlogs will have tasks within them and will have a due date, and before each sprint, we'll look at how many tasks are left to determine how likely we are to finish before that milestone date. If we see that we have three weeks until the next milestone but we've done most of the tasks for it, we'll prioritize some tasks in the later milestone, or even some bigger tasks two milestones from now. 

So what does this do for us?

  • Allows us to work toward small goals (milestones) instead of seeing a huge looming goal 6 months from now
  • Allows us to break our work up into different projects in an organized fashion and without forgetting about one project or another
  • Simplifies meetings by giving us somewhere clear to put tasks
  • Creates a nice mix of priority set by upcoming due dates but also by project, without focusing 100% of our attention on one goal

Project management is something we've obviously done and kept in mind, but as things ramp up and as we start working on several different things that have different requirements, we needed to find a solution to make sure that the work doesn't get messy. We're going to see how this new system works, and see how we feel about the process. Just figured we'd update you and maybe give some inspiration for your own projects... it's not always the most interesting thing, but project management can be an important ingredient to the success of a project!

Starting to Plug In Consoles, Lots of Bug Fixes

Hi everyone!

Back this week with a short update, since 2/4 of us are away and there isn't that much new stuff to update with. Kyler is away on his honeymoon and we're all jealous from the pictures we've been receiving, and Alex is away for part of the week for American Thanksgiving. 

Consoles! Well, not this console. But we've finally plugged in our dev kits and are starting to figure out how to get the game running on them. Throughout the development process, we probably won't be able to share a lot of information because of non-disclosure agreements and because who we're working with and where we're at won't be public info. Apologies for that, but wanted to let you know that it's going to be a long-ish process and we're working on it!

Next up, we did some patches recently that fixed some things and it looks like they broke a bunch of other things. We're short-staffed this week as we mentioned, but we're working on those patches as quickly as possible.

We uncovered a few things that might have caused other bugs as well, so we're looking to do real fixes as opposed to slapping band-aids on the problems (which is never a good solution for any problem, unless that problem is that you cut yourself).

See you next week!

MIGS, CVAs and Thanks for the New Levels!

Hello world!

A few big things happened this week, and we wanted to share them with you. 

MIGS (Montreal International Game Summit) took place this week, Sunday to Tuesday. MIGS is sort of a mini-GDC, where we have international guests giving lectures, a large expo area with games, tech and services, and parties (of course).

During MIGS, we had some great productive meetings, and a healthy little bit of partying as well. The show is really great as it brings together people from around the world, but also allows Montreal developers and companies (of which there are very, very many) to meet when they might otherwise never do so.

Next up we have the CVAs (Canadian VideoGame Awards)! We were actually nominated for two categories: Best Design, and Best Innovation. This was super cool because we were up against games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, NHL17, Call of the Starseed, and Rainbow Six. 

Unfortunately, we didn't win... BUT we got some of the loudest cheers when they announced the nominees and our name was called, so that was pretty cool. The awards show was quite cool still, and we got to dress fancy which is always nice.

This week, we also wanted to give a huge thanks to our community and to Steam for making the Midweek Madness sale happen last week. We had a great week in terms of players and sales, and we're really happy that people enjoy the new Free Play and Level Sharing features. We had over 4000 levels in the first few days, so that's really encouraging for us.

Anyway that's all for this week, we're continuing to fix a few bugs that are lingering from the update, and we'll update you soon :)