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Feature: 'Using Scrum: Top 10 Pitfalls'

In this feature, industry veteran Paul Miller looks at the leading Agile methodology for game development, suggesting the ten top pitfalls - and ways to overcome the
In this feature, industry veteran Paul Miller looks at the leading Agile methodology for game development, suggesting the ten top pitfalls - and ways to overcome them - for those using Scrum to manage a video game project. In order for daily meetings to be productive and not degenerate into quick round table status reports, Miller notes that action items need to be established. Otherwise, the meetings are a waste of time. "Maximizing everyone's 40 hour a week bandwidth pipe is more important than a daily 15 minute meeting. If one person on the team has the lion's share of work to do and others are waiting for the next daily build or the next two week sprint there is something wrong with the project or the project management. The workload needs to be evenly distributed. Make sure all meetings have an agenda, and the agenda is part of the meeting invite. An action item includes the task that will be performed, the name of the person who will do the task and should also have a deadline or at least a time frame. For example: 'Joe will have placeholders for the character model checked into source control by the end of the day tomorrow, so designers and engineers can work with it this week.' If there were no action items for anyone after the meeting, there was no purpose to having developers stop working and gather into a conference room. Status reports and other communication can be done over email, instant message or a phone call." Another common problem Miller points out is the belief that "Sprint Zero" is pre-production time. He argues that creativity and innovation cannot be managed, and you can't demand that someone come up with the best creative game idea instantaneously. Pre-production for any great product involves lots and lots of prototyping. Think on the magnitude of hundreds of prototypes. You would like to be able to mass produce these prototypes. Some ideas may never be more than a scribble on a little yellow piece of paper. Some prototypes might be full-featured software demos with hundreds of tuning knobs and ways to adjust content on the fly while the game is playing. You need powerful prototyping tools that allow non-technical people to do lots of iterations every day. Pre-production does take time. The more prototypes that the team can create and demonstrate quickly will result in a better product." You can read the full feature on the top ten pitfalls common to Scrum software development and the best practices to overcome those challenges (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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