TEAM SIZE: 11 PLATFORM: PC ENGINE: UNREAL DEV TIME: FIVE MONTHS
Circuit Slinger is a VR rhythm game where players purge corrupted code to a beat.
After a failed milestone, the team’s leadership requested my help. Coming on board as co-producer, I re-established agile methodology, set up a series of go/no-go decisions, and guided the team through prioritization to ensure we used our remaining time as effectively as possible.
Prior to switching roles, I served as the UX Producer. In that role, I organized usability and gameplay tests, then analyzed the results and presented them to the team. The insights I discovered were often used to guide game design decisions. For example, the team reworked the appearance of score after I demonstrated that most players were unaware of their score.
MY DAILY TOOLS
Worked with leads to establish go/no-go decisions
Facilitated communication between disciplines
Managed TRCs and publication requirements through to release on Steam
Served as scrum master, greatly improving efficiency of the daily scrum
Coached team members on agile fundamentals
ROLE: UX Producer
Worked with game designer to identify testing needs
Organized and performed usability and gameplay testing
Presented insights to team
RISK ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT
ASSESSMENT: LEVEL CREATION TOO SLOW
MANAGEMENT: PLAN FOR CONTINGENCIES
METHOD: GO/NO-GO DECISIONS WITH LEVEL DESIGN TEAM
At alpha, our team did not have a single song at a shippable state. I sat down with the game designer and our level design team and worked out a series of go/no-go decisions. Later, when we needed to cut multiple songs, the team accepted the decision because they understood we had not hit the requirements established in our planning.
ASSESSMENT: LEADS FUNCTIONING LIKE SPECIALISTS
MANAGEMENT: EMPOWER LEADS
METHOD: DAILY LEAD MEETINGS, emphasis on pipelines
Prior to my role change, our game designer held was also the acting producer. As a result of this unique situation, team members went to him instead of their leads. To empower the leads, I first instituted daily lead meetings so that we would all be one step ahead of the team. Next, I emphasized communication pipelines, making sure that I spoke to leads when requesting progress updates. By the end of the project, our specialists consistently informed leads and submitted their work for quality checks.
ASSESSMENT: INEFFECTIVE SCRUM
MANAGEMENT: GET BACK TO BASICS
METHOD: SERVE AS SCRUM MASTER
Over the course of the project, scrum had transformed into a long status meeting. To fix this, I instituted a number of changes. First, I required all team members to stand in a circle during scrum. Secondly, to make scrum more efficient, we stopped moving tasks during our daily stand-ups. Finally, I stepped in whenever our scrum devolved. Within days of these changes, the entire team was much more focused during scrum.
ASSESSMENT: UNPOPULAR DECISION LOWERING MORALE
MANAGEMENT: BACK UP DECISIONS WITH DATA
METHOD: PERFORM UX TESTING
When conducting informal playtests, we discovered that our game was too difficult for the average player. However, some team members did not agree with that assessment. Ultimately, to convince our level designers to lower Circuit Slinger’s difficulty, I conducted a series of gameplay tests. After seeing data and videos of struggling players, the designers agreed to make the game easier.