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Feature: 'Why Extreme Programming is Great for Game Development'

For today's technical Gamasutra feature, Blue Fang Games' Bill Schofield advocates the usage of extreme programming - an Agile methodology designed to allow design iteration on th
For today's technical Gamasutra feature, Blue Fang Games' Bill Schofield advocates the usage of extreme programming - an Agile methodology designed to allow design iteration on the programming level. In this excerpt, Schofield explains the power of extreme programming, despite the fact that it's greatest asset -- rapidly steering design during development -- seems counterintuitive to many programmers: "The power of XP methodology is that it allows game developers to reliably make great games while meeting the diverse (and often competing) needs of publishers, management and the developers themselves. Conventional wisdom tells us that doing more for one of these groups will take away from the others. XP challenges this conventional wisdom and enables the development team to deliver high quality results that meet the needs of all stakeholders. XP more reliably yields great products because of its focus on rapid releases of working software. Rapid releases of working software means that the game designer can see what the highest priority features look like without having to wait for very large systems to be implemented. This allows the designer to find fun gameplay more easily and “steer” the game towards the most fun features as quickly as possible. So XP encourages the designer to steer the game during development and make more changes to the game design? This is exactly what most programmers don’t want to hear! If your software is difficult and painful to change, then rapid steering is the last thing you want. But the reality is that in order to find the fun gameplay, the designer is going to want to change direction as she learns more about how the game actually works. If the programmer’s job is to make a great game then we need to do our best to allow as much steering as we can. Extreme Programming practices focus development energy into delivering results quickly and keeping the project flexible." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including five key XP practices including Test Driven Development, Pair Programming, Continuous Design, Real Customer Involvement and Energized Work (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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