The End is Nigh!

The senior show is rapidly approaching, and everyone is busy cutting reels together and scrambling to put the finishing touches on their games. This is also the time of the year that crunch rears its ugly head. However, here on The Firing Squad, we’ve managed to keep our scope under control. We’re borderline anti-crunch at this point, and I wanted to discuss how we’ve managed to do that this semester.

Firstly, we tired to have a strong vision of what we wanted our game to be at the end of our development cycle. With this, we can develop a rough, skeletal plan of major feature deadlines.

Secondly, and this is the most important activity, each sprint, we planned out the next four sprints. This allowed us to stay ahead of developmental growing pains without pigeon-holing ourselves into an inflexible plan. Each time a sprint grew closer, it would become clearer and clearer so our next sprint was clearly planned, and had at least 4 weeks of thought put into it.

The end result is that we’re feeling the crunch far less than some of our peers, and the project is looking fantastic. I’m incredibly proud of my team for achieving all they’ve done this semester, and I’ve super happy with the final product.

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Dealing With Team Discord

For the most part, The Firing Squad has worked together exceedingly well, and communication has been more than exceptional. So what happens when team members stop communicating, and how can we fix it?

In my process, first step is always determining the cause in the computational lapse. In this case, a major industry networking event was hot on the minds of some team members. The focus shifted (understandably) to this event and away from the project, and communication levels fell.  Now that the conference is passed, we can direct our efforts toward restoring communication.

In some cases, it might be necessary to setup dedicated tasks inside of your management software to facilitate communication. In this case, I did create those tasks, and so far it’s been a great help in plugging communication holes.

I’m keeping a close eye on it, as it’s near the end of our development cycle, and I’ll update how team communication is going in my next blog post.

Progress Update

Hi all!

We just passed our alpha milestone, and the next 4 sprints are looking bright. We scoped appropriately for the time we had to finish the project, and the team is having a blast picking the stretch goals that aren’t so much of a reach anymore. In the next two sprints that make up our beta milestone, we’re working on polishing our existing systems, finalizing assets for menus and UI, adding the 3 remaining weapon parts to complete our part roster, and possibly implementing a duel map and mode time permitting.

We’re excited that we get to dedicate some time to the polish goals we’ve had for a while. We’re on track to finish strong, and we’re hard a work for materials for the senior show. I constructed a rough skeleton of our final trailer, and I’m scripting/scheduling the shoot this sprint so we can have ample time for editing and re-shoots as necessary. We also have a few drafts of our official poster for the gallery.

Overall, the project is progressing fairly smoothly. As soon as I’ve made the first rough cut of the trailer, I’ll post it up here.

Thanks for reading!

Bringing on Additional Help

We are rapidly hurdling towards the end of our senior project. We only have 4 sprints left before we reach gold master. This means we have to shift to showing off the game, and think about final additions we want to add. Therefore, we have reached out to two underclassmen who have shown interest in producing music for our game/trailer. We had a very productive meeting, and I’m very excited to see what they produce.

Speaking of meetings, we recently had a leads meeting in which we talked about overall team health, project health, and our plan for finishing the semester up. To put it simply, we’re in a great position. Much of our final sprints will be dedicated to polish, and we have a bunch of breathing room for feature completion.

Overall, I’m feeling fantastic about this project, and the rest of the leads feel the same.

Seeing Change and Growing Excitement

Congratulations to the team are in order! We have officially passed the greenlight milestone, and have moved on into production. This means we can really start to execute the plan we’ve had in mind since the beginning of the semester.

This week also marks an important leap forward in implementation. The past 3 sprints we’ve been spooling up and creating, everyone working in separate branches on our repository. Finally, we’ve been able to implement a ton of that work, and it’s made the game so much more. re[Mod] is starting to feel good as a shooter, and that’s an incredibly important point to hit.

However, this new implementation comes with some stumbling blocks as well. Due to the number of things introduced, bugs have reared there ugly heads, and we need to spend some time squashing them. Luckily, the increased number of issues isn’t affecting the feedback we get a QA. Despite a major issue or two, we’re still seeing massive excitement for our game at QA. People recognize it, it generates buzz in the testers that play it, and more often than not players at QA participate in matches above the 1 mandatory match we have them play before filling out the form. QA response quality has also been stellar this semester with far more specific feedback on game systems and bugs.

Overall, we’re in a good place on this project. We’re trucking along and completing our tasks, and most importantly, the plague affecting our team has ceased.

Down With the Sickness

I’ve touched on this topic before, but unfortunately, I have to touch on it again. There are some impediments in development that you can’t avoid, sickness being one of the main pain points. We’ve had a few of our team members who have been suffering from illness after illness, and as the producer I’m concerned. First and foremost, I’m concerned for the well being of those team members. No one wants to be sick, and these two have been dealing with it for nearly the entire semester so far. It’s my sincerest hope that they recover.

So what does this mean for the project? A few members being out of commission means an overall decrease in project velocity. Because of this decreased velocity, we have to start shifting responsibilities for those out of commission onto those who can currently work. This decreases our bandwidth overall for what work we can get done, and we need to make scope adjustments as necessary.

This has been a hit in our productivity, but otherwise, the project is coming along well! We had our greenlight milestone last Wednesday, and I believe it went well. I’m looking forward to what the rest of development has in store. Hopefully, good health!

Closing in on Greenlight

This sprint is an important one. It’s the last sprint before our first milestone: Greenlight. For this milestone, we need to examine all aspects and moving parts of our project for potential issues, and work on possible solutions we could implement down the line during production.

Luckily, we’ve been doing this proactively throughout production, so many of the requirements of this milestone have been completed already. This lets us focus on starting to implement and solve the problems we’ve identified instead of spending entire sprints doing documentation.

My team and I are feeling confident that we’ll pass the greenlight requirement, but we’re spending this sprint to cover all our bases and ensure we’re set.