Dev Process: Order More Stickies Please!

When will BioBeasts launch?! When can I play it on my Android, iPhone, Tablet, Beeper, Gateway 2000, and PalmPilot?

Great question!

We actually get this question all time and in the past we've screwed up BIG TIME on the answer. It's definitely fair to say that Artix Entertainment as a whole has done a poor job of delivering on timeline promises. So why is that and how can we fix it?

Here's the deal... believe it or not, everyone here at Artix has a super-strong desire to satisfy the players. After all, getting people excited and telling them what they want to hear can be really rewarding... for a while. Unfortunately, this desire to satisfy the audience has been a short-term trap; we've learned the hard way that over-promising comes with heavy long-term costs. So while it's easy to assume that the company hasn't hit the mark because of laziness, apathy, or a deep burning hatred for the players, it's actually quite the opposite. I would argue that ALL of us at Artix have failed to meet deadlines in the past because of an intense desire to impress and satisfy the players. It's incredibly easy and rewarding to make a promise, but magnitudes more difficult to deliver.

It compiles! Let's ship it!

I believe our team can break this negative trend by adhering to these simple rules:

  1. Focus on quality, don't cut corners
  2. Improve process efficiency everyday
  3. Don't make promises you can't deliver upon
  4. Believe that great things take time
  5. Release a polished, well-tested product
  6. Provide as much transparency as possible
  7. Think long-term

While these might seem like common sense, there is a constant pressure to disregard these rules in an effort to please people TODAY. So I'll ask that you help us adhere to these guidelines and understand that we won't discuss the launch date until we're certain we can deliver. I will make you this promise: If you support BioBeasts by staying positive and providing constructive criticism, I promise you we will deliver a fun, polished, quality game that you'll be proud to say you had a part in developing. So please keep the feedback coming in the comments below.

Now as a demonstration in transparency, I wanted to let you in on the primary secret of our incredibly high-tech development process. Hold on to your butts, and prepare for your mind to be blown... it's all about Stickies!
Sticky Note

Wow, lame. Yup. It really really is. Well, actually it's not. Ok, maybe a little.

Here's how our process works in a nutshell:

  • The BioBeasts team consists of 4 members: Nightwraith, Charfade, Rabblefroth and myself (Titan)

  • Together, we first came up with a master list of high level features, game play mechanics, interfaces, and systems that would need integrated into the project. These are really broad stickies, like "Make a Bunch of Beasts", "Integrate into the Google Play Store", or "Build 10 Beast Powers."
    SCRUM Master List

  • We then brainstormed what the basic interfaces and game play flow would be:
    BioBeasts Interface Flow

  • Once we had a clear picture of what we wanted the game to be, we put together a prototype to make sure the basic game play concept had the potential to be really fun:

BioBeasts Prototype

  • Next we created a Sprint Schedule. This schedule takes the broad topics from the Master List and allocates them to one of several development "Sprints," each that lasts 2 weeks. The Sprint Schedule gives us a rough estimate of when we believe we can complete the project.

SCRUM Sprint Schedule

  • We then launched full development of the project with the start of Sprint 1 about a month ago. Currently we're in the middle of Sprint 3, so here's how it works. At the start of each sprint the team meets up for a sprint kickoff meeting. Together we review the Sprint Schedule and determine what broad tasks need completed. We spend the day drilling down into the specific tasks required to complete the sprint and create a stick note for each actionable task. Each sticky is given a value depending on the difficulty and uncertainty of the task. These tasks then get stuck to an area on the wall we've designated as "Active."

SCRUM Active Tasks

  • When a task is completed by a team member during the sprint we move the sticky over to the completed section on the wall. At the end of the 2 week period it is our goal to have ALL the stickies in the completed section.

SCRUM Complete Tasks

  • At the conclusion of the sprint, we tally up the value of all the stickies completed so that we can better estimate how much we can tackle in the next sprint. If any stickies remain in the "Active" section at the end of the sprint we know that next time we either need put in more hours or select fewer tasks. The theory is that with each sprint, we become better and better at predicting what the team as a whole is capable of completing.

  • Finally, before the next sprint begins, we as a team review the good and the bad from previous sprint and address any issues, bottlenecks, or process inefficiencies that can fixed going forward.

We'll continue to keep the transparency going as development continues. I hope you found it interesting to see a little behind the scenes in the BioBeasts bunker. If you have any questions about our process or our new guidelines, ask away in the comments below!